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The Odyssey 2010: Day 21

Posted by indigodream on 9 June, 2010

Saturday 5th June

Bridge 86 (near Eaglestone) to Bridge 111 (Globe Inn)

New and old - such a contrast between bridges....

We woke up unnaturally early today – we hadn’t slept that well – nothing to do with the moorings, they were very peaceful.

Anyway, we set off from the moorings at the extraordinary time of 8.10am. It’s not our earliest start ever, that the unbeatable 5am during last year’s BCN Challenge, but it was pretty good by our standards. We were delighted – we had a busy day ahead with all of the outstanding items from yesterday’s to-do list plus a visit to the Greyhound Extravaganza in Newmarket.

Richard went off to do the car shuffle and I carried on along the canal, enjoying the peace, the view, everything really. It was a fine morning and the perfect temperature for cruising but I knew it would soon get hot, hot, hot…..

Grass coating....

Luckily Richard did short car shuffles today otherwise he wouldn’t have had any boating time at all. His first stop was Fenny Stratford, and he was able to cycle back to meet the boat and get some time at the helm. We spotted the name of the fragrant factory just outside Fenny Stratford – that’ll be the subject of today’s trivia.

We stopped for water at Fenny Stratford and gave the boat a wash. BW have been out strimming again and when we got back to her yesterday, Indigo Dream was plastered with grass cuttings. I’m very ambivalent about it because I do like a well-maintained towpath but I don’t like a grass-encrusted boat – hmmmmm.

We met a hire boat full of New Zealanders at Fenny Stratford Lock – sadly they didn’t seem to be enjoying themselves – they were finding the locks a bit difficult and hadn’t built enough experience yet to feel confident. We helped them through while our tank was filling. They looked a bit horrified at a lock AND a swingbridge in one place! I hope they get to see the benefits of boating as their hire progresses. Richard swung the bridge for them and then helped nb Patricia through the lock – he had nothing else to do whilst waiting for the tank to fill.

Once the tank was full, Richard went off to do the car shuffle again and I pressed on down the canal. This time he left the car at Soulbury and cycled back to Stoke Hammond Lock in time to help me through. He had plenty of time – the canal was exceptionally slow today – the towpath has sprouted an unbelievable number of moored boats since we last passed this way. The pounds were also quite low – just by a few inches but enough to make the offside shallow.

Fenny Stratford - another attractive boater's village....

We caught up with nb Patricia at Stoke Hammond – she’d overtaken us at Fenny Stratford while we filling with water. Now, the crew of nb Patricia consists of a very spry, I assume, pensioner and his extremely well-behaved border collie. We shared lock with him right up to Soulbury and he was delightful company. His narrowboat is named for his wife, who died five years ago. He said that she was a landlubber and would never have taken to boating, but when he lost her, he decided to take to the water. He loves his new life on board with a passion – he was especially enamoured of the friendly people he’s met on the canal. Well, it’s impossible not to like him, so no wonder everyone he meets is so genial!

My dad died over 20 years ago – he was a flamboyant character and my mum was always rather in his shadow. The meeting with nb Patricia reminded of what my mum said recently, that you wouldn’t chose to lose your life’s partner, but when it happens it can be an opportunity to find yourself . That’s certainly what she did – she’s a different person, and I suspect that nb Patricia’s crew is too.

We got up the Soulbury 3 in no time at all and we had the last car shuffle of the day – Richard took the car to the Globe and I cruised again – I’m such a lucky girl!

Despite our early start, the slow pace meant that we didn’t get to the Globe until 12.45pm – we’d expected to be in Newmarket by then! We packed a hasty lunch, bundled the dogs into the car and set off for the Greyhound Extravaganza.

We had another immensely slow journey, having been led through the roundabouts of Luton – why oh why do we not check the map before listening to the satnav!

Five narrowboating greyhounds - from left - Blue, Lou, Miffy, Susie and Ranger; oh, and some people as well........

We got to the Greyhound Extravaganza at 3pm and soon found Greygal and three of their pack. This is the first time that our dogs have met and it was much more peaceful than either of us expected. Susie and Lou are both top bitches (in every sense of the word!) but after a few little growls just to establish who’s who’s they were fine. The two of them took delight in synchronised, quiet but exceedingly ominous growls at any passing male dogs, none of them loitered, they all got quickly clear of the two bolshie dames. We admired Ranger’s rosettes – he came third in the over 10’s class – quite an achievement because there were hundreds of hounds there – more than I’ve ever seen in one place. We enjoyed watching the last of the hounds compete – Ranger was robbed in the ‘dog the organiser’s would most like to take home’ class. Mind you, we were very taken with little Miffy – she’s such a sweetie. If you don’t know the pack then read Greygal’s blog – you don’t know what you’re missing 🙂

We’re so glad that we made the effort to go to the show – it was a long drive but well worth it to meet up with old friends and support the cause.

It took a while to get back – we picked a better route, 1 hour quicker that our route there but got caught up in a queue around a very nasty head-on collision between two cars.

By the time we got back it was far too late to clean the boat ready for our guests. We decamped to the pub and had a fine meal. The dogs came with us and made friends with the landlord, who gave them a few leftovers. He’s an interesting chap – he and his wife rescue battery hens and have done a lot of fundraising for a battery hen rescue charity. Richard offered him a charity cruise – we exchanged business cards and it will be interesting to see whether he gets in touch. Now that would be a departure from cruising for rescue greyhounds!

The dogs have been exceptionally quiet today – Blue’s been off for a few bobbles but it’s been too hot to bother. Luckily we have a fan on board and both dogs drooped on the sofa for most of the day.

We’d had another busy day but it was fun…..

Today’s Trivia

If you’ve ever cruised through Fenny Stratford you may nave noticed the large factory by bridge 94 and the sweet fruity smells wafting across the canal. Well, we’ve found out that the factory belongs to a global giant Sensient Technologies which manufactures a whole range of products from food flavours and colourings right through to cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and industrial inks.

The factory at Bletchley produces a range of  botanical extracts which can be used in food and drinks but also in household products and fine fragrances. The site also produces “beverage and sweet flavors and systems alongside a dedicated area for sensory evaluation”. I wonder if this is what we smelt when we went past?

I did find this interesting article about the chemistry of what they do at the plant – is seems that the art of distilling flavours needs a lot of science!

3 Responses to “The Odyssey 2010: Day 21”

  1. Greygal said

    Oooh, what a handsome bunch of dogs..don’t think much of the humans though…a right rabble:-) We can send Miffy over anytime…

  2. Neil Corbett said

    Aah the Globe, we love it! Our friend Pete complained last time we were there because the stepping off point of the boat was misaligned with the pub door by two feet. Some people you just can’t please.

    We’ll probably be heading up that way on Herbie in a couple of weeks time, leaving Iver on June 20. Maybe we’ll meet if you haven’t already gone south of us before then.

  3. indigodream said

    Greygal – poor Miffy, her only offer of a second home comes from one with a bitchy alpha female – she should fit right in!

    Neil – I feel that a pint and an an opportunity to admire Herbie’s new look are long overdue. We’ll hope to pass you on our way down…..

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