Saturday, July 04, 2015

Our week with Michelle - part 3

It really makes me mad when boat-owners are rude and thoughtless towards holiday boaters. There are a lot of hirers on the cut at the moment, and they are having to put up with a lot of "more experienced" boaters, too. What is it about boats that attracts so many grumpy old gits? They stand at the tiller looking as if they're being forced to do something they don't like. A friendly "Good morning!" is greeted by a grunt, and a look which says, "And what do you have to be so flipping cheerful about?" Then they head off to look for some poor holidaymakers, no doubt to complain that they didn't let him through the bridge first, even though they were much closer. They were never novices, of course.

Michelle arrived at Stoke Bruerne. The Pay & Display fee is a fixed £3 per day or any part thereof, but they allow people in Michelle's situation to stay overnight as well for the same cost, and issue a special pass to display in the car. Very convenient. A quick cuppa and a piece of cake, and off we went down the Stoke Bruerne Locks, aided by the same volunteer as had deserted Jess and me last year, failing to go ahead and prepare the locks for us as he'd said he would, in favour of going to the pub with his mates. He didn't do it this time. Perhaps it was my glare which kept him. A bright sun lit up the clouds between short spells of rain. A stiff breeze kept it cool.

At Cosgrove, Michelle introduced us to the friends she'd brought along with us. Three small furry animals. A koala, a teddy and... well, I didn't want to offend her by asking what the third one was. They came from work, where each one is named after a friend. Several times each day of this week, Michelle was to take photos of these three in canal-holiday settings and poses, and send the photos back to work with a "wish you were here", or "glad I'm not there" sort of message. The photos were brilliant. The first shows them by the magnificent Cosgrove bridge. The next, by the "Welcome to Cosgrove" sign. I'll post some of them here as soon as I can.




Continuing, we turned left at the lock. We missed it last time. This stretch of the GU has a motley collection of long-term moored craft. I can't imagine that's unique, though. There are broad-beam canal boats, Dutch barges, plastic cruisers (I use plastic in the derogatory sense of the word), and some strange hybrids. There are boats with 30-foot masts. One with folded wooden wings (well, that's what they look like to me). And the ubiquitous narrowboats which have quite clearly recently lost a paintball battle.


Then there are those who have been turned into beautiful, floating gardens. I miss having tomatoes and flowers on the roof, but we're feeling really protective towards the new paint, and there's no doubt that the pots and the plants are both bad for it.


On now through Milton Keynes. A boat called "Moose Drool". Whaaat? Michelle was fast asleep, enjoying the tranquillity and the removal of stress, as we passed through Fenny Stratford with it's swing-bridge across the middle of the shallow lock. Different!




Soulbury Three Locks was easy-going. No flooding this time. Last time, Jess and I very nearly had water running into the pub. "Yes, it happens a lot", said a lockie, casually.




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