We took a little longer to get to Stoke Bruerne than we thought having caught up with our friends on NB Moody Blues – Jane and Michael. We interrupted her work and his painting to enjoy a long conversation about pram covers and paint and other things narrowboat over a couple of cups of tea. Very informative and always enjoyable. When we finally moved on it was getting late so we covered about half of the remaining distance and moored alongside a field of sheep – Bunion was eyeing them off!!!!
Our other delays were caused by the need to catch up with things in Australia. Technology helps and skype is a godsend. But it is always difficult coping with sharing the ups and downs of life for our family at a distance. Bron’s parents are ageing and have ever increasing health needs which is difficult for those providing the care. When things become acute the tension rises and the need to communicate promptly increases. But this is part of the complexity of our life choices and despite the emotional roller coaster we know that this is part of the journey.
On Friday morning we finally arrived below the first lock at Stoke Bruerne and walked to the campground to find Bob’s cousin Mick and his wife Cheryl. Within a very short time we were like old friends, despite Bron never having met them and Bob’s last connection being 48 years ago with his cousin!!! There was much conversation and laughter and getting to know each other amid a few beers and Bron’s first ever Pimms!!! This was something that Cheryl and Bron had been planning on facebook for a couple of years. Very civilized……..
The return to the boat – about a mile at this stage – was by torchlight but we made it with no incidents.
On Saturday Mick and Cheryl came to Celtic Maid and we cruised back down the canal for about an hour, then stopped for lunch before turning around to head back. This gave Mick and Cheryl (who are avid motorhomers) a chance to experience narrowboats in action with Mick choosing to take the tiller for most of the journey. When we stopped for lunch, Bob, Cheryl and Mick went blackberry picking so that yet another apple and blackberry crumble could be constructed!!!!
Meanwhile Bron was busy in the galley preparing lunch and dinner.
But her turn to captain the boat soon came around once we got back to the locks, and with Cheryl as chief photographer, and Bob and Mick hard at work on the lock paddles and gates we made short work of the 5 locks and were soon mooring up close to the campground. After more conversation a drink or two, many laughs and dinner, it was Mick and Cheryl’s turn to walk back to their motorhome alongside the canal but they took Bunion for company and made the short trip safely.
When we got to their campsite on Sunday morning we were surprised that Bunion had not been well behaved and had apparently been harassing the other campers but we think he was just excited to have had a sleep over!!!!
We enjoyed a great brunch, followed by a tour of the Canal Museum in Stoke Bruerne and then to The Boat Inn to sample their fine beers and ales. This is where we found the ancient game of skittles and our collective competitive spirits took over. Michael eventually won knocking all 9 skittles over with just 2 throws but a good time was had by all.
There being a conker tree close by the canal we also took the opportunity to stock up on some more conkers to drive away the evil spiders that seem to think Celtic Maid should also be their home. Anyone who knows Bron is well aware that this is just not an option!!
We decided to sample the Indian delights of the Spice of Bruerne restaurant for dinner. To say that we highly recommend this fine establishment may be underplaying our total satisfaction with the food. Well worth a visit for anyone passing by.
On Monday we bid Mick and Cheryl a reluctant farewell after breakfast. We had spent some time problem solving our impending heating, insulation, condensation and drying issues as winter is fast approaching. Bob and Bron have some research to do now but Cheryl and Mick have offered to return and give us a hand, this time to stay with us and enjoy a little more canal life. Bunion has been mooching around since they left – I think he wanted to go with them!!!!!
We will head off toward Braunston in the next couple of days where we hope to have some minor modifications done and get our cratch and stern pram covers made. Where to after that is anybody’s guess – any ideas???????