Sunday, 1 May 2016

Going Dutch

You do meet some fascinating people on the canals – I'm always interested in finding out about why they're boating and where they're going. Carl says I'm being nosey, but I think most people are happy to talk about themselves although they might change their mind if they knew they would feature in my witterings!
We started off the week by making the short journey from our overnight mooring outside Welton Marina to Long Buckby Wharf.  It only took us about an hour and most of that was taken up with going through Buckby Top Lock! It was hardly worth casting off just to travel that short distance but we have the usual problem - the car's in Crick and we need it for an excursion to Birmingham. We have tickets for 'Let It Be' (Great Christmas present - thanks Rob and Stacy) and we're looking forward to a Beatling good night. After a good deal of googling I found a bus that will pick me up from Long Buckby Wharf and drop me in Long Buckby village, where I can catch the Rugby bus to Crick.  Its a bit of a trek for a journey that takes about 15 minutes by car, but I'm not complaining, after all what else am I going to do on a wet Monday morning? It was too chilly to sit in the bus shelter (why call it a shelter when the wind whistles through it and brings in the rain!) so I went off to the Co-op with the other pensioners and poked the bread and inspected the cauliflowers, for something to do. A little gift shop drew me in and I fell into polite conversation with the owner, who looked a little glum at the lack of customers. I felt sorry for him so I bought a ladybird fridge magnet and a birthday card. The card I will use, but really! – what use are fridge magnets??
I retrieved the car and parked it as close to the boat as I could get, ready to nip down to the train station later. We had to share the carriage with some girls who sprawled out and put their plimsolls up on the seat. They smirked at us with those faces that say 'Come on Grandma – I'm ready for you' but I'm too old for that kind of confrontation! It's a relief to be too old for some things – I don't have to cram my feet into stilettos any more and I'm allowed to dress for warmth and comfort instead of freezing in some fashionable item of 'Body Con'. If you haven't heard of that last item then don't worry – I only know about it because I had to read something during the two hour bus journey to Crick!
We had a great night in Birmingham but had a very wet walk home along the tow path.  We splashed along in the moonlight, singing about 'Yellow Submarines' which seemed very appropriate given the amount of water on the towpath! I discovered that my best brown boots aren't waterproof and we were glad to get in to the snug warmth of our stove.  We were greeted by a sleepy Tricky, who wasn't a bit pleased to be woken at that time of night.
We had a bit of a lie in on Tuesday before setting off down the rest of the locks towards Whilton. I'd just opened the lock gates for Carl to bring the boat in when a Napton hire boat came into view and we waited for them to join us – we love hire boats, they usually have an enthusiastic and willing crew. A couple came off the boat to help me, and I noticed at once the beautiful cream coloured yachting coat and the yachting wellies – unusual attire for lock-wheelers - that outfit would have been more appropriate for a weekend in Cowes. I grimaced as he crossed the lock and wiped his lovely coat on the greasy paddle gear and left black marks across the front. I had a little trouble communicating with him until I gleaned that he was Dutch and not deaf – its an easy mistake to make when you can't really hear each other over the thunder of water pouring out of the locks. By the time we got through the flight of locks we'd learnt a lot about Dutch culture and Carl and the Skipper were chatting about 'Brexit' and the cost of living in Holland. They owned a yacht at home and come over to England every other year for a narrow-boat holiday. They always come in April and weren't in the least bit put off by the wind/rain/hail/snow. It just goes to show that you can't judge a person by his coat.
Do you know any Spanish? Here's a word for you 'Libelula'. It means Dragonfly and I met the very interesting owner of this lovely boat as we walked down the locks on our way to the farm shop for sausages. We started off talking about the weather – how very English! He went on to talk about his winter cruising along the Thames and then he mentioned that he was off to Columbia for a few months – what an adventurer. He was single-handed on his boat so Carl and I helped him down the locks – our good deed for the day. I didn't find out his name and so I've been wondering ever since if he was Ben Fogle or some other dashing adventurer.
I found myself stranded in Daventry this week. Its not a bad place to be stranded - they have a Waitrose right by the bus station and I popped in for a browse amongst the high class merchandise while waiting for my bus. When its windy and cold and you don't want to drink Costa's over-priced latte, Waitrose is a good place to get a free coffee and a warm. I treated Carl to some Eccles cakes and watched the snow and hail beating down outside thinking I was lucky not to be out in that lot waiting in a draughty bus shelter. I'd checked the bus times and was waiting for the 15.15 bus back to the car which was still languishing on a bridge in Buckby. I hadn't checked it well enough though,  I failed to spot the small blue square against that bus time and the next one. They only run on Saturdays apparently and this was Thursday – it was bound to happen sooner or later, a timetable malfunction!
Did you enjoy Carl's offering last week? It was lovely to hear from you all and, as it was so popular, I will be handing over the keyboard more often.
Have a lovely week everyone – the warmer weather is coming, I heard it on Countryfile so it must be right.
Love as Always
The Floating Chandlers