Thursday 25 September 2014

Cosgrove to Soulbury to Great Linford

On Thursday last week (for goodness sake, where does the time go?As I write this it is Thursday this week ...) we travelled a HUGE distance (not) from Cosgrove to Stanton Low with a stop at Wolverton for Tesco shopping – the two granny trolleys were extremely full with food as well as beer, cider and wine! Barry and Pauline were coming for the weekend after all, and there were entertainment standards to maintain!
Waka Huia on the moorings at Wolverton close to the Tesco and Asda and Wolverton High St shops

We moored at Stanton Low, had a lesson in double pinning from Les, and then had dinner onboard nb Valerie – a lot more laughs and hilarity – it was important that Jaq and I made sure David and Les felt a bit unbalanced ...
On Friday we did a whole hour's boating from Stanton Low to Milton Keynes and moored at Gt Linford – a lovely part of Milton Keynes with an old estate and a big church. The 48 hour moorings are on the offside next to about 4 permanent mooring spots, opposite 14 day moorings. A beautiful place to live on the canal.
While I did some of the cooking for the weekend and a bit of rust proofing and priming, David worked on editing the video of his dad’s funeral. Then we went out for a walk to what is called the Local Centre on the bus timetable - a Co-op, a pizza place and not much more, thankfully all well away from Gt Linford High St - which incidentally only has the pub and houses plus a parish council park. In spite of its bad press, Milton Keynes is lovely - my Aunt Daphne told me once that when it was being constructed they planted 18 million trees. Now the number may be wrong, but it is extremely green and well planted. And it is lovely from the canal - hard to believe you are in a city. I think that the people who criticise it have never been there, or just whizzed through on the A5.  
On our way back to the boat, we had a conversation with a slightly strange man re living in Oz, even though we had told him we lived in NZ. Then he asked questions re ‘do you believe in god?, ‘do you believe in Jesus?’ – how do people of faith get to think this is acceptable? I wouldn’t ask 'are you an atheist?' in the middle of a conversation with strangers.  AAARRRGGGHHH!!!
Barry and Pauline arrived after a very short train trip from London (only 3 stops) and a taxi ride - we arrived back from our walk as they were disembarking from the cab - excellent timing!
Usually when B&P are with us, we get them up early, but we all had a sleep in on Saturday, and started boating at 10am after Pauline, Barry and I had gone blackberry picking along paths at Gt Linford. David and I had seen them the day before so we had to make sure they were gathered for our feasting.
We also picked up conkers as Tony from nb Holderness said they repel spiders – we will do a test and report back.
I decided it was time that Pauline was inaugurated to steering, and, as I expected, she found it easy peasy as she has crewed on hobie cat lots. She easily became expert. A big yay – meant a day/weekend off for me!
Pauline looks relaxed and in control and Barry's knuckles are not white - all good signs!

We had a few stops along the way – lunch, blackberrying, and then a feeble tooting was heard – it was Jaq and Les. They were pleased to see that we did have real friends – Les had thought we were making up that we had friends coming to visit. Barry did rather spoil the effect by telling Les that he’d be getting off shortly and was expecting to be paid for showing up as our friends. He will keep, but not for long!
We attempted a water stop just through a bridge hole – there were two boats already moored on the waterpoint: one boat (unregistered, unlicensed) with its hose attached to the tap but not switched on, and another boat looking permanently moored. 
We left without getting water but having taken photos of the offending boats – just as we were about to leave the guy from the attached but non-functioning hose arrived back in his vehicle with a load of shopping, and complained about meddlers ...
Unlicensed and unregistered by the look of it, and tap not turned on
Permanently moored at the waterpoint apparently

And its number - we may be maligning the owners, but I don't think so

We locked at Fenny, and got water after lock, and while waiting Barry and I walked back to see Jaq and Les. We arranged chocolate pudding consumption for Sunday and picked blackberries on our way back to the boat. To be fair, we were away longer than it takes to fill the tank … so it was our own fault that David and Pauline had moved on. See, if I hadn’t got Pauline to steer we would have been in breach of boating rules by overstaying on the waterpoint, so it was just as well really. However, we gather it was David’s idea to abscond, implemented by Pauline …
On we went to and through Stoke Hammond Lock. We happily moored up – the householder over the hedge was using his motor/ride on mower but stopped after 20 mins. Pauline and I sorted out nibbles and were just about to pour the wine when a VERY LOUD stereo started up a few hundred yards down the cut – it was the beginning of a big party. So we upped chains and moved 1km down cut. David walked on for us to find a place where the stereo wasn’t audible – so it was clear that the sound travelled well in the clear countryside.  
Blackberry sponge pudding with whipped cream for dessert

The new mooring was lovely – across from the golf course and very peaceful until the farmer came and ploughed a huge field till well after dark – headlights on and kept going till he was finished …

Our mooring spot on Saturday night
Sunday was a lovely sunny day.
We went up the first 2 locks at Soulbury and turned in the pound – it felt very strange to be there as my Aunt Daphne lived in Soulbury - it is now 7 years since she died and it is that long since I was there. When we come back next year I am going to walk into the village to investigate. At the very least, we will go to The Boot for a meal.
I am not sure why I was clutching my head in this shot outside the Three Locks pub at Soulbury. It wasn't open (too early)  maybe that was it!
Pauline looking supremely confident with the tiller and me looking relaxed without it

We moored up after getting water again and doing the Fenny lock and went onboard nb Valerie for chocolate pudding with Jaq and Les – yummy food as always! It was lovely to see them, and we won’t see them again until next next year. Les is keen that we let him know so he can avoid us, but we are not going to give him that satisfaction. Ha!
I think he likes us really
I think Jaq was keeping Les calm - she was quite firmly pressing him back into the seat ...

While sitting with them there was a huge bang on the back of their boat – it turned out that 2 boats, one under tow (with absolutely no gap between them and no one steering the rear boat) crashed into back of nb Valerie on one side of the cut and a wooden boat on the other side. Les and Jaq were less than amused ... They were followed by a sedate hire boat – so I raced out and gave them some positive feedback - it is always important to make sure hirers know they are better behaved than many owners ...
On the long journey (one boat length) to our boat, I collected a few crabapples to supplement those collected previously for the making of crabapple jelly, only to find David had thrown them out…  Pauline kindly collected more for me to minimise the need for me to take David severely to task.
Barry daringly leaning out from the cratch - must think he's on the Hobie Cat
Onwards back to Great Linford we went. We were cruising along with plenty of time to spare when suddently a warning whistle blew on the dashboard (I think it may be called a control panel on a boat, but not to worry. Shit!!! The temperature gauge recorded that the engine was very very hot. We turned it off, coasted to the side, tied up and checked all the obvious things. The engine was not at all hot though. We phoned Ed for a consultation. Tested in idle: no reading, tested in tick over: 60 deg, tested at 1200rpm: 60 deg. We assumed a failure of gauge or sensor (also known as a sender - sp?) or both.
We once again moored up at Gt Linford, and just in time given the unforeseen delays, and raced across the park with the bags to the Nag’s Head for Barry and Pauline’s taxi to MK station.
We took the wallet so we could eat at the Nag’s Head after they’d left – dammit, the kitchen closed at 6.
Back on the boat, we decided on avocado on toast for dinner and discovered that the home made bread had gone mouldy in the warmth of the breadbin, so into the freezer I went. That was fortuitous, as the freezer was not working and food was thawing. AAARRRGGGHHH!!! David checked and found that one of contacts had been pulled off when he and Barry were checking for condensation on Sunday. That was easily remedied but could have been a real problem.
We watched the first episode of the new series of Downton Abbey and then bed, after a lovely weekend with old friends and new.


Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Great pics and prose as usual Marilyn! We so enjoyed your visits and look forward to amongst other things, seeing you both next year. Perhaps one of these days we might also catch up with Tony and Helen. It was lovely meeting your actual friends Barry and Pauline too. I cannot tell you how relieved Les is; he can sleep now knowing you weren't making them up.
Love JaqXX

Marilyn, nb Waka Huia said...

Great to meet you two too, lovely woman. Barry and Pauline are true friends - when I post the End of Phase report in the next couple of days, you will understand just how great they are.
Love to you both, M&Dxox