|Last year's festival in Mallorca|
Jess was tired after a day's work, so we drove her to Hannah's flat for the rehearsal, and then went to the nearby Embankment Hotel for dinner (a lovely place with excellent service and excellent food - apart from the Banoffee Sundae which had far too much offee and far too little ban!) As the name suggests, the restaurant is on the embankment of a river - the Great Ouse - so after we'd eaten we went for an amble alongside the river for an hour or so.
It was beautiful. Trees and bridges were tastefully illuminated under a warm night sky, the moon peering through dramatic Gothic clouds from time to time. Autumn leaves covered the walkways. The broad river hosted myriad swans and geese, and not a few ducks.
Then we came to an information board that reminded us of the decades-long project to connect the Ouse at Bedford with a 20-mile canal from Milton Keynes. The project is still alive and well, and the board presented us with the whole vision and the story so far.
|(photos courtesy of geograph.org.uk)|
We stood on the suspension bridge, and looked up and down the river, thinking about this project, realizing what a fantastic thing it would be to connect the River Great Ouse and the Grand Union Canal. The interest it would draw from boaters and gongoozlers alike - and from local businesses, too. And as we considered the river and its embankments, the parkland that's there now and the water-parks planned for the connecting route, we saw an excellent opportunity for the IWA to host there one of their annual Festivals of Water such as we attended at Pelsall last year. It would be the perfect venue, and I'm certain the people of Bedford would love it, too.
The canal link will certainly open up new travel opportunities to boaters. The current journey for us from Yelvertoft to Bedford would be 184 miles with 88 locks - about two weeks of relaxed boating. The new route would shorten that to around 60 miles and 22 locks in about five or six days. It isn't all about time, though. As the map shows, the link makes it possible to cut out the River Nene and a large chunk of the Ouse, with their dozens of (some say difficult) locks - not everyone's ideal cruising. And once on the Ouse at Bedford, a journey to Cambridge or Ely is a relatively easy possibility. We'd love that!
So all power to the Bedford & Milton Keynes Trust in their endeavours, and the greatest of respect for their vision and determination. This is indeed an exciting prospect!
(photo B&MK Trust)
(The Maidens had a really good rehearsal!)