Whatever happened to December

We did survive the coldest of days, it only reached minus 8.  But we were surrounded by a warm glow especially at Hockliffe Baptist church where we joined in with the nativity service.  Instead of the children acting out the Christmas story, they had spent the previous weeks in Sunday school thinking about what it meant to them. They had been asked to come dressed appropriately so they could come to the front and form a montage. The narrator called for the first characters “will all the Mary’s and Joseph’s please come to the stable” there were half a dozen, traditionally dressed in tea towels and dressing gowns each with a baby Jesus, Next came the request for the the Angels, ….joined by several fairies and ballerinas. Followed by the shepherds and sheep and lions, tigers, monkeys and teddy bears, as children, and adults dressed more fashionably in onsies joined the scene, and finally the call for all the kings and wise men of the church including, Superman, Spider-Man and Wonderwoman. The whole service was an absolute joy to be part of and for all the alternative costumes the Christmas story of love and hope, was brought alive. I wished I’d been able to take photographs. We returned to the church a few days later for their weekly coffee morning to see the welcome to all extended to several homeless people who were given food and warmth. (Apparently all the churches in the area offer  similar hospitality)

Once the canal ice had been broken by a brave boat. 

We cruised to where we were going to leave the boat while we returned to Suffolk, and we said goodbye to our friends. Yes that’s snow on their backs. 

I was invited to join my Marie Curie nursing colleagues for their Christmas meal, I took the opportunity to tick another goal off my bucket list and dyed my hair pink.

Back in Suffolk we were joined by Heather, Tim and Veve. Great fun and frivolity was had by all, and we ate so much I worried we’d sink the boat when we returned.

Of course my New Years resolution tonight will be to write my posts more frequently.


Moving down to Leighton Buzzard

Looking at the forecast last week we settled on the sunniest of days to make our move south to Leighton Buzzard. And it was a wise move. Our cruise took us back out into the countryside with gorgeous scenery in near perfect conditions. Bright sunshine lighting up the trees and fields vividly.

And highlighting the beautiful bridges

We got to cruise through locks again, though we made the mistake of not leaving enough time to enjoy the Three Locks Inn before working the Soulbury flight of 3. (Where were you John when we needed a lockie. Oh yes enjoying living on your own boat now. )

And then we got to Leighton Buzzard and it got cold, very cold. The canal froze and it snowed and snowed and snowed.

I’m so glad we insisted on extra insulation under the floor when we had Firecrest built. Tonight the forecast says it will reach -12 – if I don’t blog again you’ll know we didn’t survive…..


The fuel boat

Now that we’re getting frosty mornings there’s always the risk that we’ll wake up to a frozen canal, so we’re being prudent and keeping our diesel tank topped up.  I asked a fellow boater where the best place to buy fuel was and they recommend Jules Fuels, one of  the fuel boats that works the grand union . It’ the first time we’e used a fuel boat but it gave us a great sense of satisfaction to be supporting true working boats. But nothing antiquated, text message two days before giving their schedule, and payment online. And at 75p/l a reasonable price as well. We’ll see you again in 10 days Jules. Thanks.


The Tree Catherdral

I don’t think I’ve ever visited a town with so many trees as MK. Admittedly now we’re into December, they aren’t all looking their best. But as we’ve come to expect MK has embraced this natural wonder by creating a tree cathedral.  It’s an awesome sight, and I’m sure it inspires moments of spiritual contemplation in most of its visitors. I’d love to see it in spring when the crocus bulbs flower and give an impression of stained glass reflecting on the ground. 

If we walked away from the centre of MK we came to Willen Park, the home of the Peace pagoda, Buddhist temple and prayer tree.

It stands proud overlooking the north lake and just beyond that is the M1 motorway.

And inbetween north and south lakes, is the Medicine circle.

The north lake is really a wildlife haven, but the South lake is a recreational area with sailing and skiing and surfing. At this time of year I prefer waterproof to wet suit so you’ll have to wait until the summer before I consider  posing in a bikini.

or just sitting in the boat watching the sunset


A week at Cambell Park

Cambell Park is the large park adjacent to central Milton Keynes and conveniently, the canal runs right along side it. This makes for a very pleasant country mooring spot, with a brisk 30 walk  through the trees into the ratzamataz of the huge shopping centre.

Probably a good thing it’s not any closer, cause I find those palaces of commercialism infuriatingly both enticing and overpowering at the same time. Luckily I’m good at window shopping. I didn’t think this beautiful carousel would fit on the boat.

We are so content with our lot living on Firecrest that we have little need or desire to aquire bigger better sparklier even if it does come with a massive black Friday sales ticket. I will admit to enjoying the food hall in M&S. We had ‘lunch’ there thanks to all the free samples they kept tempting us with.

We were very tempted with the fold up Brompton Bikes and even took them for a spin around the park but as I like walking and Eric likes cycling fast we’re not sure that they’re the right bikes for us.

The park really is lovely and well used. It reminded me a bit of New York’s central park. With both natural and formal areas  and with dedicated recreational and enterainment arenas. All enhanced by Milton Keynes love of sculpture and art. We walked with both purpose and for pleasure, exploring cause we weren’t sure what we’d see around the next corner.

This is the light pyramid. We don’t think it does anything technical to light up except glow in the natural sunset and sunrise. It seems to be at the highest point of MK. And we could certainly see for miles.

This area is know as the MK Rose Each pillar is marked with a date that celebrates or remembers an event. There’s a mix of nostalgic, historical, serious and light hearted pillars. My favourite being international knit in public day!

I forgot to look at the name of this totem pole

but this one is known as chain reaction.

And for some reason this is the Head.

There were several other sculptures, not all to my liking so they didn’t get a photo.

We were listening to a discussion on radio 4 this week, the panel was debating how towns could encourage their residents to be fitter. We were amazed to hear one comment that as an experiment MK new town had failed miserably because you were stumped if you didn’t have a car. They proposed incorporating obstical courses on pavements so when people went to do their shopping they they’d be more challenged…. Well that certainly increased my heart rate. I doubt they’d ever carried the weekly shop with a toddler and a pushchair. And as for MK ignoring pedestrians, how wrong they are, it has been an absolute joy being able to walk for miles without having to cross a major road. If town planners followed MK’s example and built houses around parkland and included dedicated footpaths and cycle ways, the thought of leaving the car behind would be far more appealing.