Do you think this is it? Has summer arrived? I'm hopeful and my housekeeping duties this morning included dusting, hoovering and rearranging the chairs into 'Summer Setting'. It's not an arduous task, I just move my chair to a place right by the bow doors and place a vase of artificial flowers on the stove top. The flowers are meant to distract attention from the unattractive blackness of the stove which I hope will be redundant until October. Of course, I know that the first morning I get up and the cabin temperature is in single figures then I'll be moving that chair pronto! Its hard to believe that it was so cold last weekend and as I look around the sunny cabin, I'm reminded why I love this boating life so much, it's the best way to be part of the changing seasons. It's a perfect boating day here on the Grand Union, the sun is warm, the breeze is cool and I'm listening to a chorus of bird song over a backing track of Radio 2 and Midland Mainline. It's a shame that we won't actually be going anywhere today but we learnt long ago that sunny Sundays mean lots of boats moving and tow-paths busy with walkers, cyclists and anglers. Better to moor up and enjoy the day, sitting out in our deckchairs with cool drinks and a good book!
We were running low on supplies last Monday so we decided to walk back to Flore and collect the car and nip into Daventry for shopping. It was a fair walk for me and Tricky and we walked slower and slower as the miles progressed. I'm sorry to say that Tricky needed a 'carry' for some of the way – although Carl thought that a dog with four legs really ought to be able to manage five miles without needing a rest every few minutes. I'm happy to report that I managed the whole distance without needing a 'carry' which was a good thing for the ongoing health of the Captain. He's always been able to sweep me off my feet but these days he needs a bit of notice and a plateful of spinach!
As I've mentioned before we do meet some lovely people and their dogs along the tow-path. We set off for a stroll from our mooring near Stowe Hill Wharf and found a tempting gap in the hedge that led to a footpath of sorts. I can never resist exploring a downhill path and we set off with Tiricky, for once running ahead. Unexpectedly, a little dachshund popped out of the hedge and Tricky immediately ran off as if she'd met up with a Hound of the Baskervilles instead of the cutest of miniature sausage dogs. The lady owner was following the little dog but was hampered by a crutch, which she was using to lever herself over a stile. I asked if she needed any help but I could see she was proficient in the skilful art of crutch vaulting and I admired her determination. I asked her where the path would take us and it turned out we were on the Nene Way. We followed the course of the young River Nene for a little way before turning towards the noisy A5 and Weedon. The river sparkled in the sunshine and the banks were beginning to froth with cow parsley. A pair of swans were preening in the shallows and the water gurgled and splashed on its way to Northampton, where it grows up and frightens boaters with deep water and strong currents. It's on our list of 'Places to Go' and every year we dismiss it because of the cost of the licence. Maybe next year.
Next morning we winded at Weedon Wharf and started back towards Gayton. We popped out from under a bridge to see a border collie haring down the tow-path towards us at full stretch and we wondered what was causing all the excitement. It took us a while to work out that the dog was racing the trains on the line just over the canal from us. As soon as one appeared, he streaked away trying to reach the canal bridge before the train, barking joyfully until the last carriage disappeared from sight. Job done, he strolled back to his boat and stood there waiting until the next one came rattling through and off he went again. You never see a fat border collie do you and this one was wearing himself to a shadow, chasing trains. Tricky watched from her usual place on the hatch and pondered on her good fortune to be born a border terrier and not a border collie – she just couldn't be bothered with all that palaver!
We found a delightful mooring just before Bugbrooke, just along from a huge badger sett. I was entertained all afternoon by a woodpecker laughing and a stone chat chatting, accompanied by the distant whinnying of a gossiping woman and the ear-splitting quacking of the leather backed Kawasaki rider - I think the sunshine must have hatched the bikers from a local club for their annual outing. In between times, there was nothing but the birdsong and Carl sawing wood to make another implement to hold up the solar panels. I inquired innocently if the work was almost complete and got a very short answer. I suppose there might have been a measure of sarcasm in the tone of the enquiry – men can be very sensitive when their woodworking skills are questioned.
And now for the weather – Countryfile are reporting a cooling off of temperatures over the coming week but the outlook is dry. I'm looking forward to a few weeks of proper cruising as we leave Northampton (and the car) behind us and make our way south towards the delights of Yardley Gobion and Slapton. Its a while since we were last along this way and I'm looking forward to revisiting some of the highlights. The charity shops in Berkhamstead were a revelation and I'll be sorting through the ball gowns and cocktail dresses to see if I can find myself a new summer outfit. I might also call in at Ikea to browse through their useful storage solutions and we'll probably arrive in time for their pensioner priced breakfast. Don't laugh, I'm never going to be an intrepid explorer – I'm just making the best of each day.
That's enough wittering for now, I'll be back next week as usual
Love as Always
The Floating Chandlers