Sunday, 15 May 2016

The First Cuckoo

I remember telling you I had moved the chairs into 'Summer Setting' last week – well, as I expected, it was a short lived rearrangement and we're back to staring at the very welcome glow of the stove this week. It was Thursday before we got a really warm, sunny day and I was able to sit outside in tee shirt and a summer skirt. Carl found us a perfect mooring spot, far from civilisation, where I felt safe to get my lily white legs out. I was disturbed only by a pack of Old Age Ramblers whose legs were also looking like they'd just lost their Milky Bar wrapper. Their leader was equipped for a polar expedition with a huge rucksack, walking pole and the obligatory map in a plastic bag round his neck. They ignored me and I them, although I was ready with a cheery smile and a 'Good Morning' just in case they were in a good mood but, on this occasion, they were 'On a Mission' and had no energy to spare for idle chit chat. I went back to my crocheting and watched the swallows fly-catching. They darted down, skimming low over the water which is thick with pond skaters and newly hatched gnats. The occasional boat swishes by, most are crewed by Baby Boomers who, like us, are making the most of these golden years between leaving work and getting the zimmer frame. We got a grandstand view of a beautiful wide-beam boat called 'Slow Motion' as it made it's stately way along the muddy waters of the Grand Union Canal. It was a treat to see it on the move, we'd moored behind it in Stoke Bruerne and I was a little envious of their spacious stern deck with seating for 6 around a large table. At 14 foot wide it's more than twice our width and I'd cast a sly eye sidewards as we walked by with the dog, catching a glimpse of a 3 seater sofa, posed invitingly in the centre of the large saloon. I was only envious for a fleeting moment as I thought about the narrow canals like the Llangollen – he'd never get that beast over the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct!
Here I am rambling on - shall I start at the beginning? Well - we left Gayton on Monday morning, happy to be off on our travels once more and with a fine, warm start to the day. I raced ahead in the car and found a convenient hedge, where I'm hoping our little brum will be safe until we return. Carl scooped me up as he went by and I hung up the car keys 'in a safe place'. I have a fear of getting back to the car and not being able to find the keys! It's bound to happen one day – my memory is getting worse. I had to ring Mum up this morning and describe a beautiful blossom I saw yesterday – she didn't do well with my description – large purple clumps of blossom hanging down. Did you guess it? Of course, I meant wisteria and it popped into my head, just like that, as I was telling Mum. Its a good job I remembered because she had no clue what I meant from my description. In spite of the fine day, Carl had on his Crocodile Dundee hat and waterproof coat – we were heading for Blisworth Tunnel and he was expecting a bit of water to be coming down from the ventilation shafts – he wasn't disappointed! Once through, we tied up in the first spot we could find and settled down to enjoy the sunny afternoon. I had some urgent crocheting to finish but it didn't stop me from chatting to the tourists as they passed me by. For some reason, I had chosen to sit right by the water, probably to make the best of the sun streaming through the trees. A lady came by and asked me if I knew that one of my squares was floating down the canal. WHAT! I was horrified – I needed 20 squares to finish the blanket, if one was lost then I didn't have enough wool to make up another. Carl came running, thinking something terrible had happened as my brain completely forgot the words to explain the direness of the situation. I think its fair to say that I panicked. Of course, there was no reason to get in such a state – Carl has this wonderful extending boat hook, he soon fished the poor thing out and it was pampered in a bath of warm water and softener to get rid of any canal germs that might linger. I think it might have still been a little damp when it went off to it's new owner, I'm hoping that she'll smile when she reads this!
Tuesday morning was glum, drizzly and cold and we set off to walk Tricky back towards the tunnel and the Blacksmiths shop which I'd heard was interesting. It was indeed fascinating and the blacksmith was very happy to tell us at great length about the marvellous work that he does. I hope that doesn't sound sarcastic – we really were fascinated. If you are ever in Stoke Bruerne then do go along and meet Bob the Blacksmith, but make sure you allow plenty of time to get the full experience.
We made a run for it on Wednesday, down the locks and moored at the bottom just as the really heavy rain started and that was it for the rest of the day. Torrential rain drummed on the roof so loudly we couldn't hear ourselves think and we were glad we had a fire going to drive away the damp. The rest of this week has been delightful – we heard a cuckoo on Friday and saw the first goslings and cygnets as we came through Milton Keynes. Its a lovely cruise along here and the hawthorn is just beginning to blossom, scenting the air with a delicate perfume. I think summer is almost here.
I've rambled on again, I hope you're still awake and not nodding off over your morning coffee. This week we are continuing down the Grand Union heading south towards the Smoke.
I hope you all have a good week and I'll write again soon
Love as Always

The Floating Chandlers