Conversations (and a massive Monkton Moment*)

Grafton Regis to Bugbrooke:10¼ miles, 7 locks

           It’s not reaching the destination that makes boating such a joy but who you meet and what you see en route – take today for example…
           It was drizzly first thing

but luckily the rain had stopped by the time Stoke Bruerne Bottom Lock was reached. In a smooth operation the locks were climbed, paired with the rather shorter Shufflepast whose crew of two adults, three children and a spaniel made the upward trip enjoyable and efficient.  Both the 10 and the 13 year old boys proved themselves promising helmsmen

while their younger sister was an expert gate pusher and breakfast dish drier. The boats, though not tied together, moved smoothly as a pair between the locks, even managing the angled entrance into the Top Lock without mishap. Up the boats rose and as the Captain set off to look for a short term mooring there was Kathryn of nb Leo No 2,

just emerging from her lock side house, offering to put her kettle on.

           The Captain strode on and waved Cleddau into a mooring space a little further along from the Waterways Museum. The boat slid into the indicated space, right in front of nb Phyllis May 2.

Through an open window came the question “And when did you last go to Pembroke Dock?” Wow, a Monkton Moment* with a famous author!  It was Terry Darlington himself, author of the three Narrow Dog**  books, who had grown up in the street behind the Captain’s house and attended the same Grammar School as both Cleddau’s crew, albeit some years earlier…

           Cleddau was moored and a beeline made for the house with the boiling kettle. A house tour: wonderful; then conversation: planes, boats, the Jubilee River Pageant, all fascinating. Thanks again, Kathryn.
           There outside the Museum was Terry Darlington;

you might have come across him at the recent Crick, Braunston and IWA Shows promoting his books. Now it never takes much to set Pembrokeshire tongues a-talking: Humbers and Freshwater West, Bentlass and Neyland, Stackpole and Angle, Bethany and St Patrick’s. Conclusion mutually reached: time for all to make another trip out west…    

            On the stretch up to the tunnel there was blue shirt and high vis jacket activity:

three C&RT workers were digging a hole, presumably for a visitor mooring sign stipulating the new regulations about to come into force.  
           Blisworth Tunnel then beckoned
– an empty Blisworth Tunnel on this transit, no oncoming boats, just periodic drenches of water. Just along from the tunnel exit Tarzan was swinging in the trees

– and how he has grown over the last couple of weeks. Last time a mere boy swung from the trees, today a grown man! All through Blisworth there were signs of the coming weekend’s Blisworth Canal Festival, trade boats lined the banks

and bunting fluttered on buildings, boats and in hedge lines. Several miles further on, after a brush with the breeze at Gayton Junction, not a mile further on from the Grumpy Old Git sign, a mooring was found.

(Pleased to report no Grumpy Old Git on board here today!)          Tomorrow: up Buckby Locks to Norton Junction.

 ** Terry Darlington titles: Narrow Dog to Carcassonne; Narrow Dog to Indian River; Narrow Dog to Wigan Pier

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