Saturday 3 June
Soulbury Locks to Leighton Buzzard
So here we are, in Leighton Buzzard, canal trip over and waiting for Part II of our holiday to begin. An interlude of sorts, in the luxury of a comfortable hotel room with a large bathroom. Large by recent standards, that is. I’ve loved our canal boat holiday but whatever way you look at it, the only word for the amenity spaces is cramped
Early start to the day yesterday (Friday). The dawn chorus woke me. By my standards it should be called the pre-dawn chorus because these birds were warming up at 3.45 am, way too early for dawn for me.
We topped up with water and planned our assault on the three Soulbury Locks. The map book makes these sound difficult. Apparently there can be problems when there are lots of boats because the pools between the locks are small. So you have to get the gates to the next lock open before the boat leaves the one it is in, giving a straight run through the three locks and minimizing the chance of boats running out of waiting room and banging into each other in the ponds. We were told it can get ugly if there’s a bit of a wind, no mooring bollards, and boats of up to 70 feet. However, we were first, and only, ones through at that time of the morning so no problems on that front. We did have one hitch, though, in that the last pond was empty. Just mud. Not good for boats that need to float. So we had to open all the paddles of the last lock, both gates, and wait till the pond had filled.
We stopped just above the Leighton Buzzard lock and walked the mile and a bit into the town, to get a bit of exercise. Then back for our customary siesta. Later in the evening, once the outpouring of Wyvern Boats starting their trips had dwindled, we went through our last lock and tied up for the last night at the Wyvern Boats marina.
And so, this morning at 9.00 am, Part I of our holiday came to an end as we handed back the keys to Tulip and trekked our way into Leighton Buzzard, found the launderette, had breakfast in a very nice café while the washing was washing, collected the washing and trudged on to the Swan Hotel.
With the hotel in sight, I must have momentarily lost concentration at the thought of all that comfort because one minute I was looking at the Swan Hotel sign and the nek I was looking at the pavement. I could blame the pack on the back – and it possibly didn’t help my balance once I stumbled – but really, I was doing my usual head in the clouds, not paying attention, and didn’t see the uneven paving. Luckily no harm done.
We’ve loved the month on the canal boat. It’s been a great holiday. The weather has been fantastic, the countryside and villages beautiful, and I’ve enjoyed the boatie bits too. I never imagined I would be able to take a boat through locks. And I can now manage opening and closing the locks with confidence.
Tomorrow we start Part II. I’m not sure if I’ve said in an earlier blog that our plans have changed. Originally we intended to car camp around the UK in a Postman Pat-sized van. Once we arrived and saw the traffic here, we changed our mind. That would have been one stress-charged holiday for us. Plus the reality check of realizing the back of the van would have been smaller than the size of the bedroom on the boat.
So change of plan, with the itinerary still being decided. Tomorrow we start the next stage of the journey with a train trip to Poole and on Monday we take a ferry to Guernsey where we’ll stay for the rest of the week.
Just finally, I’ll try and get a few interior shots of the boat up (this is particularly for L from D — or maybe that should be L from St L near D). They may be repeats, though. My photos are a muddle as I have to keep deleting from iPhotos to free up hard disk space on Little Mac. Plus it takes forever to load photos to the blog photo library and also hard to check what photos I’ve used from that library. I need to find a way I can scroll through all the postings in one go to see what photos have been used. Or how to transfer iPhotos to an external hard drive. Any ideas anyone?