A Very Infrequent Altercation and a Chance Meeting.
Tuesday 22nd May
Quite a late start this morning and there was quite a wind blowing all the May blossom down towards me from the top of the boat. Now I know why that mooring space was empty, because it was under the hedge.
I always look out for the sign that tells me that the MK to Bedford Waterway will be built here and what a surprise to find that action has been taken at last with all the earth moving equipment doing the job on both sides of the cut.
MK to Bedford - off side.
MK to Bedford - towpath side.
All was going well and I decided to moor up outside The Giffard Park for a pint. It was also a CRT services stop for water, rubbish and Elsan disposal, so there were bollards where I tied up. Naughty I know, but I was only going to be there for 30 mins. After a pint I went back to the boat and there was another one in front of me, but also not taking on water. The boat was moored by the stern and centre lines only and was drifting out from the centre line, so I knocked on the boat and told the woman who appeared that her boat was drifting out. She didn’t thank me for telling her, but just set about pulling the boat in to the bank. At that moment another boat appeared to water up and tried to put the stern between the two boats. I took his line and pulled him in, at the same time telling him I was leaving. As I was passing the drifting boat, the woman said that I might have told her I was leaving and I asked, “Why?” “So that I didn’t have to move a 60 ft boat.” she said. But the boat had to be moved anyway, because it had drifted out. It turned out that there was a man on board, who did not appear at the time. I think she flung a fair bit of foul language my way, but by that time I was out of earshot. I don’t suppose she had ever heard of springing the boat using the engine.
Shortly afterwards I spotted a convenient mooring to have a bite to eat on the park with The Nags Head within sight. I will have to go there next time. Later nb Slow Pace came past and I asked the woman if she wanted to continue the argument, to which she replied with more foul invective. Well Mrs, if you are reading this, it cuts no ice with me and you can continue to be as foul mouthed as you like on the cut, but believe me, word will soon get around about you and you will be castigated like no other by boaters, who in my opinion are a great community and we all get on very well together. So just disappear up your own fundament with you nice shiny boat called Slow Pace! You are not forgotten!
After quite a long afternoon, I came to Cosgrove and some hire boaters set the lock for me, for which I was grateful. I watered up at the services and sprayed the worst of the blossom off the top. Shortly after I moored up close to the horse tunnel, which goes beneath the canal to the other side. I then set about making a marinade for the chicken stir fry tomorrow. I repaired to The Barley Mow for a pint and some food, which was almost too much to cope with, but it was well cooked and enjoyable. Nb Corona moored up behind me, having been to the Ricky Festival. The boat was totally unchanged since Trevor Maggs died last year and I think the new owner is going to keep it that way as a tribute to Trevor, who will be sorely missed by all the old boaters.
Wednesday 23rd May
Woken at 06.30 by Corona departing the mooring, so it was an early start for me. I actually left at 3 hours later. The sky was overcast and there was a cold wind, so I was dressed for the part. As I went past another moored boat, the crew commented that they were from Byfleet, although the boat was moored in Denham Marina.
Another boat was waiting to accompany me up the seven Stoke Bruerne Locks, which was fortunate and although I was complaining of my back problem, I still had to climb the ladder to help the lady close one of the gates. A CRT volunteer appeared at the third lock down and drew one paddle of the lock above us and I thought he was going to stay and open the gates, but no! Instead he made the excuse of walking down to check water levels. On the four top locks, that is all he did – about as much use as a chocolate teapot!
Kathryn appeared at the top lock and was walking very well. She was off for her daily walk and we had arranged to meet up for an evening meal at the Indian Restaurant there. By this time the weather was back to normal with the sun beating down once again.
Kathryn and I had a drink in The Boat and caught up with a few things a little later before departing again with a promise to meet up at 19.00 for an Indian meal. About 18.00 Nuneaton and Brighton were just mooring up, so I strolled up for a chat with Captain Kirk aka Kirk Martin, Nick Scarcliff, Ian Johnson and Helen MacGregor. When I mentioned about going to The Pride of Bruerne with Kathryn, the crew decided to come too, apart from Nick who had to get home. We had the usual splendid meal with stories of the trip and other varying experiences that we had encountered when boating. It was another serendipitous occasion that just came together on the spur of the moment.
NBT pair in Stoke Bruerne.
The Motley Crew in The Pride of Bruerne.
Thursday 24th May
Helen had already asked me if I could give her a lift this morning, saving her a bike ride over the tunnel. Eventually I asked where she was ending up and it was at Rugby Boats, where her car had been parked for the last three weeks. Normally I would not boat in the rain, having got soaked so many times when I didn’t need to get wet, but I agreed to go that far as it had stopped raining by then. After she brought her bike up, which was stowed in the cabin, she had another three trips back to nb Nuneaton for the remainder of her baggage, so she was carrying a great deal. Had I know it was going to be this much, I would have reversed Stronghold back to the pair of boats. We had arranged to leave at 09.00, but I had a faulty connection on the tunnel lamp wiring, which needed to be fixed first. Helen had accompanied Kirk and the wheel barrow to the Elsan point to empty the ‘bucket and chuckit’, which was at the bottom of the seven locks, so that was a mile there and back. Needless to say we finally started through Blisworth Tunnel at 10.30, fortunately we did not pass any other boats coming the other way. As soon as we entered the tunnel, I realised that the fore end light was not on, so Helen went forward and as she opened the front doors, the light came on – strange, as there were no obvious bad connections after later checking. I already had a stern floodlight on anyway, which I find very helpful in keeping the right distance from the tunnel wall.
Stern Tunnel Light.
On arrival at Rugby Boats, we moored on their services point to unload Helen’s gear into her car, as well as fixing the relatively new bike rack to the back. After that was done, we had say goodbyes quite quickly, as another boat was wanting to get diesel. I was hoping to get to the top of the Buckby flight of seven locks, but realised that I was too tired to cope with them today, so moored up just below the bottom lock and had a stroll over the lock to Whilton Marina Chandlery, with a view to looking at stainless steel chimneys, but there was nothing suitable and I came away with the June edition of Towpath Talk, hoping the results of Cannie Cavalcade would be in there, which they were. I now have April, May and June copies of TT and haven’t read any of them yet!