Indigo Dreaming

The journeys of the Narrowboat Indigo Dream

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Archive for May 6th, 2010

The Odyssey 2010: Day 8

Posted by indigodream on 6 May, 2010

Sunday May 2nd

Stoke Bruerne Bottom Lock to Stoke Bruerne Long Pound (!)

The happy couple - what a great day that was....

Oh dear! We’ve had such trouble getting ourselves moving this weekend – mainly because we’ve been a bit the worse for wear after a celebration, over two weekends, of Richard’s sister’s nuptials. The church blessing was on Friday – a wonderful event, filled with light and love. Richard and I had our parts to play – he walked Danusia down the aisle and I sang them to the altar. The service was followed by a late and lavish reception at South Lodge Hotel near Horsham – mega-posh and totally suited to the event. Danusia foolishly entrusted the ‘father of the bride’ speech to Richard (cue manic laughter in the background) but he was very kind and didn’t mention all the horrible nicknames he had for her when they were kids 🙂

Anyway, Saturday morning dawned and by mid-morning it was clear that we wouldn’t be making it to Indigo Dream today. Sunday morning dawned similarly, not helped by the wild weather in Surrey which made my duvet look distinctly attractive. But we were at our 14-day mooring limit and simply had to move. I’m glad that we did. The wild weather was confined to Surrey and Stoke Bruerne was dry (though pretty chilly).

We had a good drive up – the M40 is more interesting than most motorways as it has an abundance of birds of prey – from the hugely magnificent red kite to the slim intensity of the hovering falcons. I also spotted what was probably a sparrowhawk and something else – smaller than a buzzard, compact and heavy bodied – any ideas? The A43 was interesting too – mainly because of what looks like a spy station with numerous antennae and a suspicious looking dome – it’s helpfully signposted RAF Croughton – I wonder what they do there?

We got to the boat at 3pm – Indigo Dream was fine. Surprisingly the moorings relatively empty – only nb Bix remained (he’d kindly offered to keep and eye on Indigo Dream while we were away). There was a convoy of three Wyvern boats having a conflab on the lock moorings, but then they, too, moved off towards Cosgrove.

Working in tandem - very efficient....

We weren’t sure how far we’d get this weekend but we thought it was wise to fill up with water before we got onto new territory. There are several taps along the lock/service moorings below bottom lock as well as a ‘traditional’ waterpoint on the towpath. nb Mrs Cook went up the locks before us – Richard signalled them on as our tank takes 30 minutes to fill and he’d spotted a singe hander earlier that he though ‘Mrs Cook’ might catch up with.

With the locks set against us there was no hurry to move, so Richard rinsed the side of the boat – this time covered with bits of hawthorn leaves from a spring pruning, or should that be flailing? In the meantime, I went up to set the lock, accompanied by Blue, who was doing his usual “oh no it’s the boat” whinge. He perked up no end when he saw a cat on the other side of the canal – I tied him to the railings out of harm’s way! As I was setting the lock, nb Highbridge joined us as we had a very merry cruise up to the long pound. I was on the helm, as was ‘Mr’ Highbridge – I really must ask for people’s names!  We moved in tandem between the locks, doing a bit of nifty manoeuvering to let down-coming boats to pass. ‘Mr’ Highbridge is in a similar line of work to Richard and they have a common client; Highbridge’s crew is also considering a new boat – a bit longer, possibly an Aqualine – sweet!

With such pleasant and efficient company we got to the long pound in no time at all. There were a fair few boats moored here, but plenty of space for the two of us. I had a nap on Lou’s sofa while Richard took the dogs out for a little exploration. There are cattle grazing on the nature reserve so be careful when walking there. It’s also very muddy – Blue had to be sluiced down with a bucketful of canal water – he was not amused. Neither was Lou when she saw her sofa was occupied!

We went off to the Navigation Inn for supper – it’s a Marston’s pub so Richard was guaranteed a tasty pint. The food’s good there too – it’s such a shame that it’s not dog-friendly. We spent the evening talking to an Australian couple (Jen and John from Brisbane) who were canal enthusiasts and hired a boat every time they were over. They recommended a pub/restaurant called the Walnut Tree which is somewhere between Gayton Junction and the Blisworth Tunnel, in the vicinity of the railway bridge. We can’t find it on our maps – anyone else tried it?

We left the pub while it was still light – we’d had an amazingly convivial afternoon and evening – so much better than moping at home with our eternal to-do list. But there was more to come. As we walked back to the boat we could hear a lot of barking – Blue and Lou in full cry and, on the towpath, a pack of four border collies, a little terrier and two greyhounds. I may be being very silly, but greyhounds seem to know greyhounds – the noise was from the four greyhounds having a conversation! We let our two out and all four greyhounds got on brilliantly (after Lou’s inital growl and vigorous scraping of the grass to let everyone know she was the boss, of course). We nattered for ages – they were staying in a caravan on the site opposite (along with their sister/brother – owners of the border collies). Richard went for a walk with them – four greyhounds having a little rummage together – what a wonderful thing!

Human and canine crew were all well satisfied with out afternoon’s endeavours and happy to fall into our beds….

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