Pat and I subscribe to several other blogs and we try to keep up with them all, at least once a week. But I have been somewhat deflated recently, after reading in more than one blog, that kingfishers had been sighted in various parts of the country as a matter of course.
After nearly 1,000 miles this year, and despite a collective heightened gaze, we had not seen one, and then bugger me, in the space of three days, we saw two, albeit though the second one was more of a blue flash, than a major sighting.
|Spot the Kingfisher. ..... It's on the end of the green boat's tiller arm|
Pat has always been a bit of a bird fancier. Back in the garden in WGC she would spend a fortune on bird food. My contribution to the study of all things “avian” is the observation that wherever you go in the world (and we have been around a bit) pigeons look the same, be it Madrid, Melbourne or Machu Pichu. One almost got me Sunday coming under a railway bridge just north of Milton Keynes. With so many of them living in the rafters under bridges it was inevitable that one of us would be “dumped on” sooner or later, and that one missed me by about an inch. We have noticed a lot of seagulls about as well over the last few days, and it is glorious to look up and see red kites soaring above the boat these days, a sight which is becoming increasingly familiar. Blimey this blog is turning into “Autumn Watch”. Let’s move on.
The Indian Summer we have been enjoying has meant that we have cruised for much longer each day, than we had planned and we find ourselves a couple of days ahead of our planned schedule. On Sunday we covered 15 miles, which is quite a journey, at 2.3 mph, which took us from Milton Keynes to Stoke Bruerne. And on Monday we did 11 miles, though admittedly most of it was lock free.
With hundreds of boats travelling around the network it is quite surprising how often you see the same ones. We pass the time with many of them and some have become pals. On Sunday morning we passed “Free Spirit” at Campbell Park in Milton Keynes, home of Ian and Eileen, who we know from our time on the Erewash, while moored at Kingfisher Narrowboats, where our boat was built. Shame they were out. Then a few miles on, NB “Chance” pootled by. The boys follow our blog, and we follow theirs, but that had been our first encounter with them on the system. And then, finally, we were chatting to each other how we had not seen “Jandai” on the system. This had been the boat built before us at Kingfisher, and we had got to know Jan and Dai, the owners well, and were shocked when we got the news while in New Zealand, that Dai had passed away after a tragic heart attack on the tow path. Jan had sold “Jandai”, and blow me down, a couple of hours after talking about it, around the corner it chugged, near Marsworth. If you are reading this Jan, be assured that the boat looks good and the current custodians Roger and Anne, are experienced boaters, who are enjoying her immensely.
|"I've got the coke but where's the ship's rum Grandpop?"|
The Grand Union is familiar territory for us, but it looks very different since we were here last. The trees are now ablaze in reds, yellows and browns, which makes the landscape look completely different to what this area looked like at the end of June.
We had a couple of nights in Leighton Buzzard last week and caught a train and a bus into London to see our daughter off at Heathrow as she returned with her family to New Zealand after her four-week stay. Just north of LB is Linslade and “The Globe”, which is quite a well-known waterside pub. About 100 metres from the pub (and the canal) is the main railway line into Euston and it was at this very spot in 1963 that the Great Train Robbery took place. I remember it well. It was August and I was camping with the Boy’s Brigade in Wales.
|We cruise by the site of 1963's Great Train Robbery site at Linslade in Bedfordshire|
There are still a lot of hire boats about round here. We love going through locks with these boats, especially if they have a big crew. Generally they are wildly enthusiastic, so I let them get on with it, and Pat supervises, discretely. I always insist they go into a lock first though. Just in case!
Both of us weighed ourselves at the weekend for the first time in ages. I was rather surprised that the ravages of beer festivals and pub lunches would have sent my weight spiralling but it’s much the same as it was at the beginning of the season in March. I have decided though, to lose at least half a stone, so watch this space. I will not comment on Pat’s weight. It would not be gentlemanly to do so, but she keeps fit on lock duty, so has no weight issues.
So this weekend we will be in Leamington Spa and Warwick. We are hoping to meet up with two pals we cruised the Kennet & Avon with last year while in Leamington. They have a daughter living there and are combining a visit to her with our arrival and it will be great to see them again.
On Sunday we have our old pal Vic joining us to help us up through the marathon Hatton flight and on to the North Stratford canal, which is littered with locks at this end. Vic was last on board when we tackled the Tardebigge flight in driving rain and wind, so the Hatton flight should be a breeze for him. So, I would imagine our next blog will be from Birmingham, where we will take a rest for a few days.
I’ll leave you with this thought. What was the greatest thing before sliced bread? Answers please in a bottle you can drop in any canal.