We got through the three locks at Solbury fairly early which was a good thing as we were aware that this is a gongoozlers favourite haunt. When starting off for the locks there were two fierce centurions standing guard who were feigning sleep. Even Toque knew not to try and tackle these two.
Being a Saturday, we were in the know that there would be markets at Leighton Buzzard so our aim was to try and make it there by mid morning and see what was on offer. After two hours of cruising in overcast weather, we pulled in right in the heart of Leighton Buzzard. Our guide book tells us that LB is an unexpectedly delightful town with a refreshing period feel.
After our perusal of the market place we decided a coffee was very much in order. What was going to be a 15 minute break turned into over an hour as we shared a table with two retired policemen and started up a great conversation. It appeared they were both members of the LB Vespa Club and met at the café every Saturday.
We proceeded to learn about their club which mostly consisted of older people. As to why the bikes had so many lights on them, we discovered it is all about the “size” issue and nothing else. They also mentioned about how Theresa May had cut 20,000 police positions and how the effects were now being felt especially with the rise in knife attacks in London. Also, a lot of the police stations are being closed and not just in smaller towns.
We purchased some wickedly bitey cheese and fruit and then headed back to the boat. As we were moored right next to a Tesco we used the opportunity to purchase more water. We don’t drink the water from the taps on the boat as the tank might not necessarily be bug free. You can boil the water up for tea and shower in it but otherwise it is bottled to drink and also Toque drinks the bottled stuff. Nothing worse than a dog with a rough tummy in a confined space.
In the early years of the Grand Union, water shortages were experienced and, to go some way to alleviate the problem, a sequence of narrow beam locks were duplicated alongside the original wide locks. These allowed single boats to use less water and also enabled the canal to cope better with its growing traffic. We couldn’t find any remains of the single locks but we did find a few bridges where you could locate the extra arch as above.
We cruised for another couple of hours and moored out in the countryside away from rail lines and motorways. We settled in for an evening of watching the mixed doubles with Williams and Murray at Wimbledon. We were most fortunate to get good TV and Wi-Fi connection out in the middle of the paddocks. In the ten days we have been in the UK we have not experienced any rain until tonight. It can rain all it likes during the evening but would prefer it not whilst we are cruising.
We have 20 more hours of cruising to do in five days so we will only have to average four hours per day. This will get us to Bulls Bridge Junction which is four hours from Paddington Basin in London. Moorings are a little on the first come first served scheme in Paddington, so we need to do those last four hours under the stealth of sunrise and capture a spot as a boat leaves. Let’s hope we aren’t in competition with too many other boats.