Here we are back in Milton Keynes briefly after a very eventful 10 days.
On Sunday 7th September we had a brilliant farewell meal with our friends Mick and Kendra, their daughter Rose, Chris and Sue, their daughter Sam and grandson Riley at the Crystal Palace in Berkhamsted. Highly recommended and all Bron’s gluten free requirements were well catered for in a delicious roast lunch and desert!! We could hardly breathe we were so full as we headed back to the Celtic Maid collecting conkers to ward off the spiders along the way. We also had a kick in the park with young Riley who demonstrated significant ball skills – pity its the round ball version!!!!
After a sad farewell (Mick, Kendra and Rose went back to USA last Wednesday – we are looking forward to their next visit next May!!), we prepared to leave in good time on Monday morning to cover as far as we could in a quest to get to Leighton Buzzard by Wednesday.
With Bron at the tiller and Bob rapidly becoming a gun on the locks, we made great progress and moored above the Marsworth Locks where we had moored on the way down. We had covered 16 locks and 7 miles – pretty good effort. Bob’s final job was to pick the blackberries ready for Bron to make blackberry and apple crumble – yum yum!!
We were a bit disappointed that we did not have time to go down the Aylesbury Arm this time but we were in for a hectic time. Next time we hope!
We made good progress again on Tuesday 9th and found a reasonably secure mooring within walking distance of the train station in Leighton Buzzard. On Wednesday we walked to the train station – about 2 kms – and then into Leighton Buzzard for a look before returning to our boat to pack for our little adventure.
Thursday morning we set off, catching the train to Watford Junction before walking to Watford Underground Station and making our way to Northwick Park hospital – again. We had good news that the dendritic ulcer forming on Bob’s eye had healed and the pressure and inflammation were managed. We have a 4 week break now until the next visit! It took much longer than expected to get through this visit and pick up the required prescription supply so we were a bit concerned when we got onto a bus (unsure if we had the right one) and phone calls revealed that Bob’s cousins Julie and Phil were already waiting for us at Chris and Sue’s. Arriving about an hour later than planned we were soon off battling the London traffic making our way to Maldon in Essex where Julie and Phil live.
We had a lovely night getting to know Julie and Phil better and preparing to make an early start to their boat Tickety Boo which is moored at Horning on the Norfolk Broads.
As we drove north through Essex, Suffolk and into Norfolk we witnessed different scenery than our recent familiar canal environment. One of the hardest things to get used to is travelling at 60 miles and hour rather than about 3!! As we neared the Broads region the land became very flat and low and the boats very different from our canal boat. Lots of sail boats and cruisers of all sizes all vying for space in the marinas.
We were soon introduced to Julie’s mother Joy (Bob’s first cousin) and her husband John and their boat Blue Sapphire, as well as Tickety Boo – our home for the next few days. These boats are so different from a narrowboat but nothing beats life aboard a boat!!!!
After lunch we followed Joy and John out onto the Broads, passing Cockshoot Broad and mooring in Ranworth before a walk along a boardwalk to view a wildlife conservation area. Just before returning to the boat Bron got her icecream – a rare treat. Back in the Marina Phil cooked a lovely mackerel dinner and we finally retired to a restful night.
On Saturday we went to Wroxham to do some shopping – by boat of course. There are some beautiful houses along the route and we can see why people love it here. Once in Wroxham we went to look at the steam train that runs on a narrow gauge railway and found out lots from the driver and engineer. Didn’t take a ride… this time!!! This town is full of Roy – Roy’s supermarket, Roy’s garage, Roy’s toys etc etc. If your name is Roy you are big in this town!!
Shopping done and back to Horning in time to clean up and head out for dinner with Joy and John at the Fur and Feathers. The women all had the cod and chips (delicious!) and Bob sampled the local brew accompanying his steak and kidney pudding (along with John) while Phil enjoyed a red wine with his beef and ale casserole in yorkshire pudding! We returned to Joy and John’s boat for desert and a good yarn. It seems that Bob has not seen Joy since her sister Brenda’s wedding 48 years ago at which Julie was a 7 year old bridesmaid. A long time and lots to catch up on!!!
Sunday morning and we were off again early to see some more of the Broads, enjoy a delicious English fry up brunch cooked by Phil and return to Horning in time to drive back to Maldon. We were all a bit tired but that did not stop Phil cooking us a lovely chicken roast dinner, Julie showing us her workshop and beautifully crafted silver, copper and gemstone jewelry and Bob and Phil watching the classic Australian movie – The Overlanders.
We had an early start back to London on Monday as Bron had a phone appointment with her GP and we had to pick up more prescriptions before heading back by bus to Watford Junction and train to Leighton Buzzard where Cletic Maid was patiently awaiting our arrival. It was sad to say goodbye to Julie and Phil but we had a wonderful time and are enthusiastically looking forward to welcoming them back aboard Celtic Maid someday soon.
It is great to visit family and friends and new locations but always good to get back home again.
We made slow progress on Tuesday – needing to finish the washing, fill up with water and supplies and remove refuse – before travelling a few miles on our way to meet more cousins – Mick and Cheryl – in Stoke Bruerne on Friday. We were fortunate to meet up with Carolyn and Gary from NB Inca and moored nearby.
Today we covered the miles required to moor at Campbell Park tonight before the final leg to Stoke Bruerne tomorrow.
There are lots of new photos in the gallery and if you want to see some of Julie’s great jewelry check out her website juliesjewels.co.uk