Our day started with an early morning cruise of an hour to Fenny Stratford. Gotta love these British village names. Not a particularly endearing town as it has been swallowed up by Milton Keynes and rather characterless.
The purpose for our lay over was that it was only a two kilometre walk out to Bletchley Park which was made doubly famous by the movie The Imitation Games with Cumberbatch and Kneightly in it. For those of you not in the know, it was the heart of where the German codes were broken during WWII.
The government had commandeered this beautiful old estate and turned it and the grounds into a large area where thousands of people worked to try and break the codes. There were multiple barracks that had been erected and the originals still stand there today.
The main house had been turned into the administration area of the complex and looking closely you will see there are no computers on these desks which is rather refreshing.
But, now a sentence should never be started with a but, but we will make an exception this time, there was more than one of these monster computers out the back. These were the code breaking machines called Bombes. They had 24 hours to break a code as then the Germans would rescramble their messages. Every time they broke a code they would have to build a new bombe.
The film focused very much on Turin and his involvement in the development of the bombe. This was Turins office. Following the war he was persecuted for being a homosexual and not until many years later after his death he was exonerated for his actions.
The Brits used the broken codes very carefully as they did not want the Germans to know they had cracked them. Many a warship was removed from the danger of the U-boats as messages had been intercepted. There was also false messages put out to tell the Germans that the D-Day invasions would be at Calais and not Normandy. In history it is purported that one message that was decoded was that Coventry was going to be bombed. Said history states that Churchill knew if Coventry was warned or that English planes were sent up to meet the bombers that the Germans would know the English had broken the code. Hence, Coventry was very heavily bombed with great loss of life. There is no official documentation to back this story up but it is one of those war stories that abounds.
A bit of war memorabilia that was around.
Back to the boat to tackle our first lock of the day which had a total depth of six inches but it was complicated by having a swing bridge going across the middle of it.
It is rather wise to open the swing bridge as not doing so will impede your forward momentum.
The sign on the old lock house to let everyone know the tonnage of the bridge. There are many examples of these signs around and the interesting thing is that they are made of iron and have been around since the canals.
After the lock it was time to empty the Elsan, yet again. Di fills up the boat with water and throws out the rubbish whilst Fras gets the unenviable job of emptying the porcelain ewer. All along the canals are facilities to fill up with water, drop off rubbish and sort your waste issues out. You need to be constantly aware about where these facilities are located along the canals as you do not want to get caught short.. The infrastructure that is along the canals is substantial and is maintained by the Canal and River Trust. All the facilities we have had to use have been very well kept which can’t be easy. It is really weird what some people will try to destroy. At Paddington Basin in London where there is free moorage for up to a week, some clowns decided to destroy the elsan there which took a number of days to repair due to the amount of damage. This meant that all the boaters with the elsan system were in a bit of a bind. They would have had to frequent many a pub for their ablutions – then again, maybe that wasn’t a bad thing. Honestly though, some yobs need to be put to work cleaning the elsan stations and then maybe they might think twice.
Returning to the boat it was decided that we would do a bit of early evening cruising as we needed to recharge the batteries on the boat and it was a magnificent evening. We are trialling some different ways of keeping Toque engaged on the boat and have come up with this design where she gets shade and is up high to be able to look around. At present she will stay there for half an hour but then wants to go back to her normal cubby hole where she can’t see that much.
We cruised up to Stoke Hammond where we will tackle the Soulbury Locks in the morning. On our walk up to check them out we came across The Lock Pub which was very popular and had a great setting. As it was Friday night we changed out dinner plans and had fish and chips there instead.