We want to Break Free

It’s time to say goodbye to our Bedfordshire winter sanctuary and break free from the security of easy access to civilisation.

Sadly this rather odd boat also wanted to break free.

We’d seen it, afloat, when we cruised south in November and both commented that it looked rather unstable with all that metal welded to the top.

I guess Heath Robinson was having an off day and this project has been abandoned. CRT, aka us licence paying boaters, will have to pay to have it removed and properly disposed of.

But as for us it’s farewell Bedfordshire hello Northamptonshire.

Wolverton Park

Either side of the redeveloped area of Wolverton, which thoughtfully has the canal running through, (town planners take note, canals are a benefit not an eyesore) there are two magnificent sculptures called Reaching Forward commemorating Wolverton’s industrial heritage.

This one is holding a row of progressive cyclists, the first being a penny farthing, the last a modern racing bike. And the sculptures body is made of polished steel.

And this one is holding a train and the figures structure represents railway track.

The buildings behind this one are the old railway buildings used when steam trains needed to be refueled with coal and water, so the victorian gentry would alight and retire to the reading rooms to partake of refreshments and attend to their toilette! Apparently when the railway was originally built Northampton declined to have a station in as it attracted the “London riff raff” So the tiny rural village of Wolverton was chosen and consequently became a thriving centre. The Reading Room is now an office overlooking the canal.

This mural must be about 100m and depicts many of the industries that took advantage of the railway.

industry has long since gone and Wolverton itself has been swallowed up by the new town of Milton Keynes. In our opinion it remains a fascinating place worth exploring, with a diverse culture of old and modern, run down and trendy.


Let’s remember Friday

Whilst it was still spring, and the sun was warming our souls. We saw our first butterfly of the year, a bumble bee and a tree in full blossom. We were moored in Wolverton Park by the rather smart flats and rings to make tying up so easy.

John and Martina from NB Burnt Oak stopped for coffee as they went past. I foolishly forgot to take a photo of the two Braidbar buddies moored next to each other, but I’ll sort that out next week as we have plans to do some cruising together. They want to ‘hear’ Firecrest on the move, Ha, they’ll be disappointed cause we really do cruise silently with our electric motor.

I took advantage of being so close to civilisation and used the laundrette to give the bedding an extra good wash. And to refill the cupboards with staples from Tesco.

I also came across the Milton Keynes community Fridge. I’ve heard about these but not seen them in practice before. Surplus food is donated and made available to anyone in the community. I did my usual and struck up a conversation with a lovely lady called Lois. The first thing she said to me was “don’t tell me you don’t need handouts, the community Fridge is all about keeping usable food out of landfill, please help us by taking whatever you can use.” So I accepted and helped myself to a slightly stale but  very edible baguette, 2 pears, 2 oranges, 2 tomatoes, a cabbage, courgette, and a bag of new potatoes, plus a packet of hot cross buns. There was plenty left for the next person. If you’re passing through Wolverton go along and help them out. It’s open over Thursday and Friday lunchtime and every evening from 7 until 9pm. I’m used to giving generously so it was quite a humbling experience to be given something for nothing. And I must admit it did make me think about how it must feel if you need to be on the receiving end of charitable acts.

We moved the boat in the afternoon cause we needed to run our not so silent generator and didn’t want to disturb our neighbours in the flats. Only 5 minutes away but it was out in the open. I got some more washing done, went for a walk and cooked a mash up tea that felt like I was taking part in the Masterchef store cupboard challenge. We both agreed it was a good day.

6Today we woke up to sleet and snow and howling gales. The temperature as forecast had plummeted and nothing could persuade either of us to even open the hatches let alone leave the boat. Saturday was designated a Duvet day. Lets hope Sunday is a bit more promising.


Making the most of spring

While I was walking around mums Lakeland village we found this pond absolutely full of frog spawn. Really took us by surprise because there was still quite a bit of snow in drifts and I thought it was still way too cold for the frogs to spring into action. Hope some of it survives.

We’ve enjoyed a few days reaching double figures in Milton Keynes. But we’re braced for the Beast II due to arrive overnight. As they say ‘Ne’er cast a clout till May be outAnd I’ve not packed my thermals away yet.


Fast running water

While Eric’s been working hard on Firecrest, I’ve enjoying Lakeland’s fast running water.

I’m sure we’ve got this the wrong way around but mum loves to pamper me.No trip home is without the obligatory visit to Sizergh Barn where the cafe has been built over the milking parlour and the raw milk tastes even better than it did when we were children.

And despite the dreary grey weather we did find some colour, albeit in the garden centre.

On the move

Time to say goodbye to my snowman  and move on. The canal still has one or two floating icebergs which wanted to come with us. It seemed to stick to the bow for quite a way.

The melting snow and ice has raised the level of the canal but we’re unlikely to suffer with flooding because of the regular overflows. This one wouldn’t have looked out of place as a theme park ride although I’m glad Eric wouldn’t let me try it out, I’m not sure anything going down that raging torrent would survive.

It was lovely to be cruising again, even nicer not being wrapped up in our thermals and a joy to see the sun shining on the boat in the early evening.

Continue reading On the move

Cutting paths through the ice

We woke to blue sky and sunshine but the ducks were still ice skating. It was strange because the ice had a layer of water floating on it. But they weren’t walking on water for long when the first of the boats came along creating an open channel. 


We were passed by 4 boats making a run for it, including one hire boat-bet they weren’t expecting a week like this.

The only snow left on the tow path was pretending to be a snowman so I donned the boots and went for a walk. I found 6 gloves 2 hats and pair of earmuffs.

Now that the ice is breaking up, the boat’s rocking about all over the place cause our ropes have blackened off. So We’ve re-tied and will stay here another night.

The mighty thaw has begun

And left slush and mud and misery. My poor snowman has lost their smile and so have I. 

The grass is muddy and slippy but the actual footpath is like a mini canal. Having been compressed and indented by thousands of footsteps there’s nowhere for the melted snow to drain away to. So of course people are walking on the grass making the mud worse.

I don’t care how much warmer it is,  I don’t intend walking anywhere until all this horrible stuff has all gone.  Can you tell how much I dislike mud.

And as for cruising, the ducks are still waddling through the slush over the ice, so although there’s growing ice free water, we’ll let someone else go first. We’ve still got enough in our tanks to last another week without worry.

We’re being watched

I will never apologise for letting my inner child come out to play, and after Thursday’s dire biting cold wind and blizzards. Then Fridays trudging march to the shops, to stock up on essentials, I woke up this morning determined to go out to play.

There’s at least 6 inches of snow now, which I know isn’t competing with some other parts of Britain, but as the forecast is getting warmer by the hour and rain predicted tonight, I knew it was now or never to build a friend.

It’s been quite amusing watching the walkers reaction.  I deliberately didn’t build my friend on the footpath, but on the wide grassy verge between the boat and path.  However because the path is obscured by the snow most people are taking the direct route and having to walk around Mrs Snowman. Many have stopped to say hello and take her photo.

From the sublime to the ridiculous

Robins were made for winter and this little beauty really made us smile.
 So did this fella, though not for the same reason. Some might say living on a narrow boat was incomprehensible, obviously not us. But I’ll never fathom why anyone would want to kayak through frozen water just for fun. It took him about an hour to break through about half a mile of ice between the two bridges then he went back and forth several times.

Now the other way to make us smile on days like this is hearty homemade soup.