After many months of procrastination, I'm finally making time to work on our 'coffee table book' that Barry has put many hundreds of hours into. It's amazing how fascinating things become when we eventually give a focus to them. Watch this space for news of our progress ...
You may also notice that we've added a link to the ''Sanbar Canal Photography' website of Barry's stock library of stunning photography, painstakingly but lovingly put together in the past six months - so now if we're asked for a copy of a photo from the blog we can direct people to the specific link from where they can order said image! We've had many requests in the past and have released images free gratis out of the goodness of our hearts, but we're now on a mission to return to the waterways so need to use all means available to us to realise that dream.
In between posts in the future, we may just throw in a few random 'favourite shots' for you to savour and whet your appetite ...
Sunday 17 October
It was pretty noisy around Leighton Buzzard last night, with lots of random shouting of unknown origin and location. Probably similar to most towns in the country on a Saturday night, with teenagers roaming around looking for something to do. I went for a walk this morning into town to see if any of the shops were open, but disappointingly hardly any were - I did however discover three broken shop windows seemingly smashed since my visit yesterday. Ah well, such is life sadly. I returned to Tesco to get what I'd forgotten just a day ago, then we hastily escaped the madness on our way to Milton Keynes.
It was a busy day on the canals with an abundance of boats around. We got chatting with a family gongoozling (I know, it's not a 'real' word, but it sounds good!) at the first lock who'd had a narrowboat holiday years ago for a week on the Llangollen and loved it, they now have small children but were eager to return to boating once they're older. Sensible people I thought, no point doing it while the offspring are young. I'm sure it's possible, but for me I can't see the enjoyment of being on a boat constantly having to watch young children every moment, it's not supposed to be stressful!
Burnt out wreck of a poor cruiser - there's not much left of them after a fire
We then shared a few locks with a delightful couple on I think NB Shennan? They'd just retired, having sold their house in Kent and bought a place not far from Northampton closer to their boat and were planning to spend about half of the year on board, having previously been boating for around 25 years in one form or another. They were at Leighton Buzzard taking part in the canal cleanup.
NB Shennan waiting for us at Leighton Lock
We were last in but first out - very clever!
One man and his dog, happily 'slipping away'
Passing 'The Globe Inn' pub at Linsdale
Doesn't come much nicer than this ...
Every boaters nightmare - a fishing competition
Under Bridge 107 and into Soulbury Top Lock ...
... though we had to wait for a boat to come up first
Good sized pounds between but could be fun with four 70ft boats passing
Now it's our turn into the first lock ...
It was a pleasure to share some time with them, but we parted company at the third Soulbury lock to visit 'The Grand Union' pub at 'The Three Locks'. A very pleasant place, in a fantastic position, with a rather pricey but delicious sounding menu (our budget only stretched to a home-made baguette on the boat!). They have outdoor seating alongside the lock, and when we passed by the sun was shining brightly - by the time we'd had lunch and ventured out sadly the clouds had reformed. Never mind, we still had a relaxing half hour chilling on a couple of large armchairs indoors, enjoying a pint of Guinness and half a Kronenberg and lime! We know how to push the boat out, lol!
Alongside 'The Grand Union' at The Three Locks
Time for a quick drink at 'The Grand Union' - formerly 'The Three Locks'
As we returned to the boat, low and behold the sunshine reappeared! Typical! We still had a fair distance to travel to get to Milton Keynes, and it was such a marvellous stretch of canal made even more pleasant by the reappearance of the sun. It was still mightily cool, but so picturesque in the autumnal light with the leaves making a glorious display of their continually changing colours.
I had four layers of clothes on, as well as a hat, scarf, ear warmers and gloves - unfortunately I hadn't really got any thick jumpers as surprisingly I couldn't I fit them in with the 20kg luggage allowance! I was also determined not to buy any, as I've loads back in NZ - I'd have checked the charity shops, but they appear to be getting extortionately expensive nowadays.
A charming setting, especially in the sunshine
Stoke Hammond Lock thankfully in our favour
The old narrow lock would have been where the path is now
Sandra on lock duty - all layered up
Stunning new-looking Dutch barge
A smart, modern development at Fenny Stratford Basin
There were lots of herons and other birds around and many quaint villages, then arriving at the south of Water Eaton on the outskirts of Milton Keynes and all the way up on one side was rural tranquillity with urban conurbation on the other. It was as if the canal formed a boundary wall between the two.
The wildlife enjoying the sunshine while they could
Fenny Compton Lock with a 12" drop and a swing bridge across the middle
Fenny Stratford Lock with the 'Red Lion' pub alongside
We finally moored up just before sunset, a little short of bridge 82, not far from the proposed site of the entrance to the 'Bedford and Milton Keynes Waterway'.
The evening marked the end of our final weekend on our beloved Northern Pride,so we were appreciating the time left on board. The end of our journey in 2009 wasn't so difficult because we knew we'd be returning - this year we weren't sure when (or if) we'd be back on the cut ...
Bridge 92 on the outskirts of Simpson
We watched 'The Secret Life of Bees' that night. Kim had lent me the book and I'd enjoyed it, so she bought me the DVD for my birthday. I loved the film too, though not as much as the book (doesn't that so often happen?) but Barry wasn't so enthralled. Despite appreciating the film and book, it did leave a bitter taste as I so dislike seeing some people's racial prejudice - how can people speak to and behave towards their fellow human beings in such an appalling way, just because of the colour or their skin? It always amazes me and makes me ashamed to be a white Caucasian. 'What the world (still) needs is a great big melting pot'.