Things found (and found out)

Saturday 10th March 2012, A “Grand” walk
Recent events have included “a bit of turning out”. That phrase swam into Boatwif’s head last night: it doesn’t indicate anything as large-scale as Spring cleaning, more an activity which involves the complete emptying out of a box or a cupboard… It was while in search of the inherited heavy iron cooking plank, needed for making Welsh cakes, that a few odd items appeared. First was the key, a fine-looking, serious door key, but which door? Which property? The combined wracked brains of the Captain and Boatwif could produce no answer. If it isn’t a key for this residence (a residence of sixteen years) might it be from a previously owned house, sold to tenants in the mid nineteen-nineties? Should we post it to that address…? Currently it rests on a worktop, its destiny still to be decided.
Then there was a large ring binder, originally a container for someone’s student notes. Within it were recipes, many printed, taken from magazines or picked up in supermarkets. Several were handwritten, passed on by friends, decades ago. There were newspaper cuttings, dated 1970 – and, surprisingly, two Baby Weight Cards, on which had been recorded the weekly progress made by an infant nephew and niece, more than four decades ago. Would the named person on each card take kindly to a battered blue or pink card arriving in the post, of which certainly they would have no knowledge or memory? No, better to return to the mother, for her to file or recycle…
Next appeared a plastic bag containing all manner of baby safety equipment – drawer safety latches, electric plug shields, protective corners for furniture, door jambs – all purchased to protect Cal Guy and the Cheshire One in their toddler days. Aha! There is a brand new babe (and brand new grandparents) in the family: divert bag to the New Parents, aka recent bride and recent bridegroom in Boatwif2010Aug31.
Then, during a hunt for something completely different, a photographic guide to the River Avon surfaced. It was a book loaned last year to swell Cleddau‘s on-board library during her summer Tewksbury to Stratford cruise. TICK!  Book now dispatched to lender.
But strangest find of all was a sealed package, addressed to Techno Son-in-Law, hidden neatly, very inconspicuously, between wall and large wicker basket in the walk-in cupboard. The postage date was 2010… Opened up it revealed an order made, 23rd September, 2010. Inside was Jennifer Aldridge’s Archers’ Cookbook. Had this been a present intended for the Captain’s September 24th birthday? Apparently not. It is known that this is an Archers’ household and Techno Son-in-Law had made an impulse buy, maybe a gesture to ensure that from time to time he can still raise enquiry about a character’s back story or an evolving plotline. Perhaps the next culinary experiment will be Jennifer’s Easter  biscuits. And as for why the package had been hidden away for eighteen long months: “Well, I did tell your husband I was ordering it and it was for him to give to you – probably he wasn’t listening!”
All these finds came back to mind during a walk when not one, but two, other finds were made. Locked indoors for weeks it has seemed, incarcerated by chest infections and desk-bound admin work, Saturday was a day to pull on the walking boots and sniff the outdoors.  A 25 minute car trip to the Soulbury Three Locks (over in Buckinghamshire) was the start, the plan to walk up to the ridge, along through Rushmere Country Park woodland, drop down to the canal at Heath and Reach, pause at the Globe Inn for some lunch and then take the towpath back to the car – about a six mile circuit. Off we set, up the hill, the Three Locks golf course to our left over the hedge. Cars sped past. On we climbed until a white golf ball was spotted on the right hand verge.  Ten yards or so further on and there was another golf ball.  Pity any car driver coming down the hill receiving an unwanted missile from the neighbouring golf course! The two finds were picked up, pocketed – and will be offered to the golfer who has offered his services for the through Manchester cruise next month.
It was a balmy walk, past snowdrops and daffodils, fishing lakes and llamas, back towards the familiarity of the canal. But during the walk something unexpected was found out. The Captain had enjoyed a secret browsing session on the computer, looking up distances, lock numbers and restrictions of the northern canals. “I think we should have two feet cut out of the boat length next year,” he stated. Boatwif’s jaw dropped, her mouth large enough to contain both golf balls… What? Why? Lose precious space; lose precious airing cupboard storage space? The cost… Another project…The topic hung in the air, largely unexplored.
Lunch (and a long wait for indifferent food) at the Globe, then the flat mile or so walk back to the Three Locks. Passing the church and the bridge at Old Linslade we recalled our last time here, last November, tea and coffee with Les and Jaq on board nb Valerie. Back at the Soulbury Locks we gazed down the flight. There were new unpainted beams on the bottom two locks – and in the middle lock was a boat, going down. Drawn to lock action we trundled down and offered help. “We are boaters, we used to be moored just along from here at Willowbridge,” called the Captain. And so the single-handed boater passed Boatwif his windlass, climbed back down to his boat – and the Captain and Boatwif at the end of their walk got to push some gates and wind some paddles. Perfect!  Another discovery, of the finding out kind: the Cleddau crew are ready and eager to cruise again!
FOOTNOTE: The cooking plank remains undiscovered: if any friends or relatives have information about its whereabouts please get in touch!

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