I spent the beginning of the week, after our banter, on Keeping up cruising along the Grand Union Canal. To say I was apprehensive would be an understatement. I have never been on the boat with Allan and Debbie, and they had never spent longer than a few hours with me, and even then in company. We set off from Milton Keynes, and I knew I was onto a winner as there were no locks! I sat on the back taking in the winding countryside marvelling at how green it was. The amazing thing about this stretch is that it is actualy in town! Many a time I have driven around the torturous roundabouts of milton keynes reflecting on the firey pit of hell, and as I cruised along the waterways I realised I was sadly mistaken about this city - it is truely green.
The lack of locks lasted for quite some time until we arrived at Stoke Bruene whereupon I grabbed the windlass and started the flight. Luckily we managed to pair up with another boat, but unfortunately they weren't terribly efficient, and if there is one thing Debbie doesn't like and that is people who are slow on the locks and too precious about them. Debbie is definately welsh! I can say that because my mother is too. Although the members of the hire boat came a cropper I did as I was told and survived untouched. The blisworth tunnel was a true delight and by the time we moored up in Bugbrooke I was on top of the world. Bugbrook is special place to me, and I spent a great deal of time there, and in Northampton during my teens and received some fabulous guidence and 'time out' from the people there.
On monday we set off up the Braunston lock flight and paired up with Leo and Sarah on a hire boat. They were an adorable couple and great company. Near the top of the flight Debbie and I bought some pints in and Sarah joined us while we waited for Allan and Leo to come into the lock (yes, we did take a pint down to the boys!) The Braunston tunnel was another triumphant experience for me. I really like the tunnels!
On tuesday we made up to the Bascote locks and paired up with a single hander. Debbie thought he would be an ideal chap for me, but I thought there was too much lace in the windows for it to be even viable! A bit later on single handers girlfriend rocked up. Debbie still called him my boyfriends girlfriend - they are funny! We did 22 locks today and I am shattered! We stopped before the hatton flight in a lovely pub and met up with Blue String Pudding from the forum. My delightful cousin popped in, and we went outside for a chat. Cousin and I have a lovely habit of pouring out our troubles and finding eachothers hilarious. He is a good man.
Wednesday morning and the hatton flight was upon us. I didn't realise we would be doing so many locks on our trip! Debbie was very sweet and kept a full supply of trifle (for which I have a superb apetite) on board, and fed and watered me in such a fashion I felt totally spoilt. We eventually made it up to the top with the help of the Suggs who joined us for the morning (they were holidaying in Napton) After the hatton flight I headed home whereupon I passed out.
Due to one thing and another my muscles don't work properly so I was impressed I managed all the locks without passing out, but it did take a couple of days to recover.
The grand union is a beautiful stretch. It is often called the motorway of the waterways, but I don't think it is, it is littered with history, fabulous boats and stunning countryside. Allan and Debbie are easy company and spoilt me rotten for the entirety of the trip, something I was really greatful for. I appreciated the time to think, to relax, to chill and sleep. Although Debbie can be scarey, she has a heart of gold and is a very loving thoughtful person - she just tells you how it is, and that is something I have always respected and enjoyed. I was truely blessed. This probably sounds soppy, but it is the way it was.
I shall post pictures when I extract them.