The May blossom was really wonderful this year and I was sad to watch the glorious blossom fade and disappear, to be replaced by the shy dog rose and honeysuckle. Splashes of vivid yellow flags glow by the murky water as we chug along and the elder flowers are a creamy white contrast to the vivid greenness that is everywhere. We've had a gentle week since I last wrote, doing nothing more strenuous than a chug up to Weedon and back, making the journey last for several days. We returned to bridge 45 and the farm mooring in time for band practice on Thursday.
On Monday, we called in at Nether Hayford and walked up to the village for some local new potatoes, always a treat at this time of year. As we left the boat, we found 2 black bin bags of rubbish dumped on the tow-path, together with several large pizza boxes and empty beer cans. I'm afraid to say that it was boaters who had left their mess to be cleared up by others. We saw the offending party boat, covered in balloons and streamers, returning to the hire base on Sunday evening – if I'd know I was going to be clearing up their mess the next day, I wouldn't have smiled and waved and called 'Happy Birthday' to the captain.
It was hot and sunny on Monday afternoon and we tied up in Flore opposite a rather beautiful house with gardens that run down to the canal. I sat out in the shade, listening to the birds and catching up on my e-mails and watching the comings and goings of the gardener across the water. I was envious of his ride-on mower and trailer, which was humming busily to and fro while I lazed in my deckchair. I could hear Carl strumming on his guitar through the open hatch and the warmth of summer soaked into my bones – what a wondrous thing is a warm summers day. Then the gardener lit a stinking bonfire and clouds of smoke rolled along the canal, polluting the sweetly scented air and that was the end of that. What is it with men and bonfires?
Next day, we pottered off to Weedon and moored by the very attractive Wharf House. The tow-paths are very overgrown along here which makes getting off the boat hazardous. Every time you step off with the rope you're knee deep in grass and cow parsley which looks very pretty, but you can't see where you're putting your feet. Carl grumbles about stepping in doggie-do but I worry more about the hidden holes waiting to trip you up. I'm looking for a post box again so we set off towards the village down some very steep steps. I clip Tricky on the lead in case she does that thing where you start running downhill and can't stop. Tricky and I make a slow and stately descent, as befits our age and weight handicap while Carl leaps down like a mountain goat – honestly, given that he consumes his own weight in chocolate most weeks, I wonder how he stays so nimble and trim! We wandered along in the shade, past the lovely old church, now overshadowed by the extremely close proximity of the viaduct – Sunday sermons must be a challenge for that vicar! The old part of Weedon is very pretty - there's a cafe, post office, Spar, chemist and an olde worlde shop selling the kind of goodies that hungry boaters like. Fresh bread, vegetables and gourmet pies and lasagne. The young girl in the shop very kindly helps me sort out the ton of change in my purse and I tried not to feel like a pensioner as she helped me count the change out to cover the bill. I suppose I must have seemed positively ancient to her and so, I let her do the counting and thanked her for her help. Will boy scouts be helping me over the road next?
No jotting would be complete without a weather report and as I type this on Sunday afternoon, it's hailing, thundering and lightening. Tricky is looking for somewhere to hide and to be honest, I feel like joining her. The noise of the hail beating on the roof drowns out the music playing on the Ipod (Savage Garden if anyone's interested) and I worry about the holiday boats that are still chugging along through the elements – I bet those hailstones sting on their bare legs!
I'm definitely feeling my age today, I think that may be partly due to the late night we had last night. We staggered down the tow-path in the early hours after a night out with our friends Richard and Mel to hear a rock band playing at a pub on the other side of Northampton. It was a great evening - we left Tricky with her friend Mr Tush (there's a good reason for his name but I'll spare your blushes and just say that he's a Yorkshire terrier, with impeccable manners nowadays). We all squashed into the little blue car which has such a weeny engine that I wondered if it would be up to the challenge of getting all 4 of us there. I was urged on by my co-pilot to try to get the rev counter round to 6000 rpm but I resisted the challenge – sometimes being older does mean being wiser! It wasn't very rock and roll to arrive at the venue and park the puddle jumper next to the most beautiful Harley Davidson but hey! My usual form of transport is 57 feet long – so there! The band were playing to a select audience and the volume was turned way up high. My old eardrums couldn't take it and I had to make some earplugs out of a paper hanky to prevent my eyeballs from vibrating. It was a great night and eventually, some of the locals got up to dance which is when I realised just how ancient I have become as I could only watch, when once I would have been out there rocking with the best of them. Three ladies stood in a group with their feet glued to the floor and flung there hair about, another lady came onto the floor and jumped around regardless of anyone who might be in the way which totally perplexed a group of young men playing air guitar. These youths were fairly normal looking until you saw that their trousers were hanging right off their bottoms and looked in danger of falling down as they flung their pretend guitars about. The highlight of the night for me was the grand finale when the band played 'Whole Lot of Rosie' and a couple in the corner got so into it that I gave up watching the band to watch them instead. It was a complete body workout for them and I felt like applauding when with a last flourish of the cymbals, the couple fell back against the bar and carried on drinking as if nothing had happened.
That's all for this week – more ramblings as usual next week
Love as Always
The Floating Chandlers