A Most Interesting Coincidence
Thursday 17th May
Being such a quiet and pleasant mooring, I decided that today would be another ‘Day of Rest’. I am certainly in no hurry to get anywhere and I had a lot of e-mails, texts and blogging to catch up on, which altogether took me through until 3pm. If this technology had been available in the days of cargo carrying, I can’t see that much carrying would have been done. The main part of networking in those days was by towpath telegraph and stopping for the night with a pub close by.
By the time it had got to 6pm, I decided that a walk to The Cowroast Inn was appropriate. Before I had even crossed the busy main road, I could see that the place had been boarded up, which is hardly surprising, because every time I had been in there in the past, there were hardly any customers. So another pub bites the dust. I also noted that Cowroast Marina chandlery was now closed for good.
Friday 18th May
It was a chilly night and although I had not lit the fire before going to bed, the temperature dropped to 10C by the morning. I had more photos from Leslie than I expected this morning, so updated the blog where they appear. I seemed to amuse Mike no end in the pub.
A bit more blog written and e-mails to be answered, so it was 11am before I contemplated moving on to Bulbourne for another light day of not doing much. It is only about 2 mls away and no locks to strain my aching back.
A visit to The Grand Junction was a must as soon as I got to Bulbourne, as it was another scorching day. The garden had certainly been improved since I last stopped here and the interior was well organised with 3 ales on tap. Food menu looked interesting and reasonably priced too.
The Grand Junction Inn.
I was quite surprised that there seem to be plenty of mooring spaces and although there were rings on the bank, they were difficult to find in the long grass. The bank here is quite steep and it is difficult to keep your footing, especially in the wet.
Find the mooring rings!
This was being ridden 1,000 miles for charity.
The remainder of the afternoon
was spent answering e-mails and writing up the blog – nothing strenuous!
Saturday 19th May
The day of the royal wedding. My youngest daughter was on TV at some unearthly hour this morning, with children from her school in Windsor. Got to keep it in the family after I had been on TV accepting the Boat Handling Trophy.
I was fortunate to have a volunteer to see me down the Maffers flight of locks, who was also familiar with Tracy and her dad Chas on The Wey. What a relief to be waited upon for a change. I think that if I waited for another boat to be travelling in the same direction as me, I could be there all day as there are so few boats out on the waterways.
After Maffers Bottom Lock I stopped at the services to dispose of rubbish and passed a boat with the TV on the stern of their boat and the crew sitting in the shade of the hedgerow to watch the wedding. Shortly after I came to Bridge 130, where there was a sign on the bridge for The Red Lion and having been only once with Chris many years ago in the dark, it was almost like a new pub to me. What a splendid pub that needs visiting more often. There were 6 ales on tap and one of those was Harvey’s Best Bitter, my local Lewes beer from Sussex and it was cheaper than any pub I knew in and around Brighton at £3.90 a pint! There was also an interesting menu, which appeared to be mostly home cooked.
The Red Lion.
Onward in the heat of the day across ‘the fields’ as the old boaters called it; between The Chilterns and Leighton Buzzard, but plenty of locks on the way – in total to The Grove Inn there were 18 locks in eight miles. Which took me eight and a half hours – too long!
Having now run out of food for a meal, I decided to eat in the pub, having eaten in there two years ago. I chose moules frites from the menu, although at £15 a dish, it was certainly not cheap. The previous moules frites in Cote Brasserie, Kingston was only £12. The mussels were tiny and hardly any meat in them, as well as about 25% being closed, which meant they were dead before being cooked. The chips were thin cut as expected and the sauce was fine too. I complained to the manageress and she said they were normally very good, but I was reimbursed the cost of the meal – so much for eating out at a Fuller’s pub.
I had a phone call from Barry after the meal to tell me that Ian Palmer’s wife Jane had died of cancer that morning, which was unforeseen by me, although I knew she had been in hospital recently and thought things were in the mend. Very sad news indeed and I must get him a bereavement card. I doubt if he will want to talk over the phone.
Sunday 20th May
Time to stock up on supplies, so off the Tesco and/or Aldi in Leighton. I did both supermarkets and got ingredients for a Gui Paht Meht Mamuang Himapahn, which in plain English means Stir Fried Chicken with Cashew Nuts. I popped back to post the bereavement card to Ian and went into the store to try and find a box to hold my growing collection of herbs, which I did not find. Anyway, I found a K’Archer window vac with £20 off the standard price; I had been toying with the idea after borrowing a neighbours. Time to clean the windows of this boat.
I pulled in at The Globe Inn, Lechlade to moor up for the night. Plenty of gongoozlers outside taking in every step of my mooring procedure. I first came here in 1979 on Silver Galleon, our first ever hire boat. After a pint of Abbot and trying to connect to their wi-fi, I gave up. There was no TV signal here either, however many times I tried.
Monday 21st May
Moving on with wall to wall blue skies yet again. How much longer are we to enjoy this ideal summer weather?
There were more chiefs than Indians at Stoke Hammond Three Locks, with three volunteers, which was very welcome indeed. As I have said in previous blogs, these 3 locks were the first flight that we ever did as a family on an Easter Sunday, when the lock beams were covered in customers of the adjacent pub, which was a rather run down affair in those days.
Getting to Fenny Stratford Lock with the swing bridge across it, I was lucky enough to catch it as two boats were coming through. Mooring a little further down, I moored up and took a short stroll to The Red Lion for a pint. I passed a guy on the towpath who had seen me mooring, who said, “I bet I know where you’re going.” A little later I was having something to eat on the stern and we started a conversation across the cut, because he was on a residential mooring. We then continued on his boat, as he had invited me to see his Boatman’s Cabin. The boat was called WOL II which was also his nickname. The interior of WOL II was immaculate, with not a thing out of place and the Boatman’s Cabin was perfect for a modern boat. All this really put the interior of Stronghold to shame, with clutter everywhere, but then I had so little storage. Further conversation ensued and Wol happened to mention pulling a guy out of the water after he had fallen in the tail of the lock some year or two back. It then transpired that the guy in the water was Barry Adams, a very good friend of mine, who had described in detail what had happened at the time and both stories coincided exactly. How coincidental is that?
After spending too much time on WOL II, I progressed as far as The Plough at Simpson and had some help mooring from the wide beam owner behind me. Unfortunately, The Plough closed yesterday for a six week refurbishment!