Day 20: Friday 16th July: QI (for gongoozlers)
Distance travelled: 0.25 mile
So, at about 1pm Cleddau finally nosed into Bedford Lock, after a queue, a fair bit of rope-throwing – and absence of the hands to help as had been promised. But of course, the Sea Cadets were all in school and no doubt will be much in evidence over the next two days. At the lock was the last of several very low bridges and the the Pembrokeshire flag (essential as a windsock) had to be wrestled from its socket. An hour or more earlier we had negotiated our way out of the marina, past two large cruisers tied up waiting for the river level to be lowered and then on towards the festival site. A couple begged us in broken English to stop so they could pose for photographs in front of us, but river flow and 20 tons of steel boat aren’t that immediately obliging! The Pyramid came into view, white against the white clouds, the Oasis swimming complex. The Harbourmaster provided us with our berth number (71), a Bedford Town of Markets goody bag (info, balloons – any volunteers to blow them up – and a super strength black bag for rubbish, very practical!)
Though tricky to moor here (gusty, shallow, angled bank) our location beside the weir leaves us in a very conspicuous place: draw a triangle across the river with its apex at the weir and the base line between the Embankment Hotel and the Castle Mound, and you’ll see us. The view is good, straight down to St Paul’s Church spire, the Swan Hotel, the new Castle area development and the Mound. Ken has spent a happy afternoon rigging bunting and light decorations so that we will be “dressed overall” for tomorrow… We didn’t end up beside the Bedford – Milton Keynes Trust boats (they’re a lot further along) but we’ll be draping a banner for the cause. As for the QI bits: creeping in behind Mill Meadows you could see banks of loos, traders’ vans, the community stage, lots of focused activity. . On the river we’ve espied the Mayor’s Launch, the BBC Three Counties launch and two cruisers with sails rigged. One has even sailed down to Town Bridge and back.
To any readers in Bedford tomorrow or Sunday do come and say hallo (and say whether you’d like mint in a drink!)
Miles travelled from Lyme View, Adlington (North Cheshire) : 301.5 miles
Locks negotiated: 141
Total mint miles: 551.5