So that was October…

For the Cleddau crew there always seems to be a breathlessness about October. You see, November follows October and again this year there will be a November Thanksgiving Visit to California… So, things had to be done…

At the outset of the month, after the best part of six months afloat, the boat needed closing up, the house needed opening up and the garden needed clearing up…

Between the jobs that needed doing came social activities. Take Apple Day, for instance. The Godmanchester Friends made a proposal: “How about morning coffee followed by a trip to Burwash Manor (Where’s that? ) for Apple Day? D (the Connecticut House Guest) and L (Falklands Friend) may come too.”

And so on the appointed day six adults piled into the people carrier and set off along the ever-changing, always busy, A14 towards Cambridge.

No-one knew what to expect. Cars were being marshalled onto the Event field, tickets were being sold by young medics clad in green scrubs while tins were rattled to raise funds for Addenbrooke’s Hospital and a children’s hospice.

Connecticut HG set off to inspect the fruit and its liquid by-products, Falklands Friends set off on a site recce (there was much to see in the courtyard shops) while the Captain became engrossed in chairs, more especially in the rush weaving of chair seats 

  – and this chance encounter has launched him into a completely new winter project…

Ever a fan of railways, and of model trains in particular, Godmanchester Friend couldn’t resist a steam trip up the slightly sloping field  while the Captain sized up the steam roller.     Background music from a steel drum band     was the perfect accompaniment to a hog roast and apple stuffing bap lunch, washed down by apple juice squeezed by enthusiasts just a few paces away!   

 

As for the Captain’s winter project: the rush seats of the 44 year old dining chairs are  being restored, inspired by the Burwash conversations. 

Two essential tips emerged:  1: use a paper rush product. 2: Go to YouTube for rush seat tutorials…

 

There was some outlay on a strong stapler which dispenses rounded staples. Each seat is taking 88 metres / 290 feet of rush. The YouTube tutor advises adding additional padding via corrugated cardboard. From this 

to this …     Will the seats (three completed so far) last another 44 years…

…..

“How are your grapes this year?” local friends often enquire. This has been a good year (last year was pitiful). In early October grapes were beginning to fall from the vines which wind up and through a pergola and provide good shade in summer. Squashed grapes on the patio slabs can create a sticky residue underfoot. For several years (always in winter) inebriated birds would arrive inside the house via an open door or down a chimney (capped now) and prove unwelcome guests. Since the cause, fermented fruit, has been identified cutting the grapes down has been a Thing to be Done each October.   A date for the grape harvesting was agreed with two friends but wet weather meant postponing the event for several days. It’s not a swift job, working above shoulder height groping among the vines for bunches of grapes.     Mugs of tea were called for   -and then a second box to contain the crop.     Weighed by the luggage scales a total of 57 lbs (26 kilos) of grapes was recorded, 45 lbs (20 kilos) of which were declared usable.    And the grapes? They were delivered to friends who like to dabble in making jellies and wine…

…..

Mentioned here previously has been the B&MK Trust  Its goal is to create a waterway link between the broad Grand Union Canal at Milton Keynes and the River Great Ouse at Bedford. This would create a direct route from the broad canal through to Bedford and onwards via the river to the sea, a proposal that was first made in 1812. The Trust works continuously to keep the vision alive in the minds of policy makers, developers, regional and local bodies, and the people of Beds and Bucks.….

Over the last twenty years thousands of trees has been planted across Marston Vale to regenerate a wide area. Vast clay pits dug to provide material for the brick-making industry had left a scarred landscape.   Within the Vale, at Marston Moreteine, is the Millennium Country Park which has become a honeypot destination for walkers, cyclists, horse riders and naturalists.     The route of the B&MK Waterway passes through the Country Park and along Stewartby Lake. To raise the profile of the waterway several stunning wood carvings have recently been installed. Stumbling upon them one day a return visit was made, with camera…

 

  

The carvings are prominently placed alongside a popular footpath – see the distances carved into the seat – 12 miles to Milton Keynes,    4 miles to Bedford.    May these items prove informative and inspirational to thousands of Country Park visitors and users; it’s important that the vision is kept alive and that work continues to turn the vision into reality.

  Will this ditch one day be a length of broad canal?

…..

And how did the month end? Not with grimacing pumpkins and weird Halloween costumes but with a mega Monopoly game and some chocolate treats.  The Cheshire One has been in residence over her half-term. She’s ace at Cluedo and dogged at Monopoly. Who else would invest so much money along the cheap side of the board… The brown coloured properties on the traditional board are Old Kent Road and Whitechapel Road; here they are Ben Nevis and Inverewe Gardens.     On the traditional board Park Lane and Mayfair are the high cost, high earning properties: on the Highlands and Islands version they are Cairngorm Mountain and Loch Ness.

In a flashback from last November’s visit to Southern California came a memory of Monopoly played there too, though with a Doctor Who version (mentioned here). With just a few days to go before departure Boatwif at least is up to speed on Monopoly rules, whether based in London, around Inverness or in outer space!

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