|In the lock at Cosgrove, on the Grand Union|
I normally blog around once a week and just realised it’s been nearly two since I last we posted our position into hyperspace. It’s a sure sign we are getting closer to home now. In the last few days we have entertained more guests than we had all last year on our Northern Odyssey.
If my memory serves me well, we were around Rugby somewhere when I last blogged, and once through there, it’s pretty rural until you get to `Canalsville Central`, aka Braunston. For those of a non-boating persuasion this is pretty much the centre of things on the canal network. It’s where the Oxford meets the Grand Union Canal and for around a mile or, it’s a mixture of moorings, boatyards, marinas, bridges and pubs, before you climb several locks and disappear into the Braunston tunnel for a half an hour or so.
We had a long weekend in Braunston. The weather was set to be `changeable`, and we had Pat’s Brother-In-Law, Des, visiting us on the Monday. Des is from just outside Melbourne (the Australian one), and he has been on `The Cat` before, when we were down in Gloucester two years ago. We were able to cruise then but this time the weather was pretty dismal, so we had lunch, had a good old chin-wag, and Des returned to his base in North London.
|Somewhere near Weedon, Northants|
The journey south from here follows the M1 on one side of you and the railway on the other for several miles, with Virgin trains heading for Birmingham and points north, hurtling by at regular intervals. It’s rather bizarre that we are doing around 3mph, compared to the high speeds of the trains and cars beside us. Before we left Mercia Marina I did a schedule and by and large we were keeping to it. We had a night at Nether Heyford and then we had the delights of the Blisworth Tunnel, which is a bit longer than the Braunston one at a little over 3,000 feet long. It was a 40-minute journey, passing five boats along the way. It used to bother me meeting other boats in tunnels but I take it all in my stride now.
Emerging from the tunnel you are immediately thrust into the `chocolate box` village of Stoke Bruerne, a magnet for gongoozlers, who hover around the top lock. I do not like being watched going into locks. It often brings out the worst in my boat handling skills, but we are now a `well-oiled` machine again, and I easily got in via one gate, leaving half an inch on each side. A textbook entry.
|The top lock and gongoozlers at Stoke Bruerne|
|Leaving the top lock at Stoke Bruerne. The Navigation pub is on the left|
I like Stoke Bruerne, but we have been through it a few times, so we dropped down a couple of locks, moored up and only stayed the night. I do feel though, that once I have been through the Blisworth Tunnel I am back south, which is a bit strange when we were still in Northamptonshire.
Then it was Cosgrove. This is on the northern edge of Milton Keynes, and we arranged to meet our Canadian pal Vaughn at The Barley Mow, the village pub for Sunday lunch. Vaughn stayed for the weekend and I think it he enjoyed himself. It’s pretty different to the sort of boating he is used to. He is having to come over to the UK several times this year, so I expect we will see him again soon. Martin & Fern, two other old pals, who Vaughn has been staying with, also came up for lunch and stayed until early evening. A great day which we both really enjoyed.
We are now deep in the heart of Milton Keynes, moored at Campbell Park. We’ve never moored here before, and I don’t know why not. It’s a great mooring – a very attractive setting (apart from the Canada Geese) and only a 10-minute walk to John Lewis. What else could you want! Thanks for the tip Ian and Irene.
|The view of Campbell Park from our side hatch|
|Pat uses her window cleaning skills on the side of the boat|
Vaughn left us yesterday morning and today we welcomed Laura, who lives close by, who I have known since I was a teenager. She popped in for lunch, and brought her uke along, as she plays with a local group, and then ran me down to Maplins where I bought a new digital TV aerial. This was recommended to us by a neighbour on the marina and we have seen several boats sporting this model, all who have sang its praises. It’s only been up an hour or so, but we have 80 or so channels, so pleased with that.
|Rog adjusts his new Digital aerial, bought earlier today|
|Vaughn, Fern and Martin. Our guests over the weekend|
We continue through Milton Keynes tomorrow, and will be in Leighton Buzzard this weekend, where we will be entertaining our pal Hubert, who is travelling up from Dunstable for the day. Hubert is an old friend of “The Cat’s Whiskers” and I hope we get the chance to give him a small cruise. The weather is not looking that great at the moment for the weekend though.