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  • clivenmel

Jan 21st

Normal 0 false false false st1\:*{behavior:url(#ieooui) } /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0cm; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} We woke once again to blue sky and glorious sunshine and surprisingly the canal wasn�t frozen � at least not where we were moored.  We had decided to push on today, albeit reluctantly.  However there was no rush.  We had breakfast and then did a bit of bird spotting, we were both delighted to see the Short Eared Owls once again.   We finally set off at about 11.45 and as soon as we rounded the first bend we hit ice!  It wasn�t particularly thick though and didn�t take much breaking.  We soon passed under the bridge at New Bradwell where we had walked to yesterday � actually it took about 20 minutes, as long as it took to walk it!  One thing we were short of was coal and it was imperative that we find a coal merchant as soon as possible.  This is not as simple as it sounds because they are not marked on our canal maps.  I mentioned yesterday that we had met the boater who sold coal, diesel and gas from his old working boat, so you would think we could have got it from him � unfortunately though we were moored about half a mile beyond him and he was facing in the opposite direction plus his wheelbarrow had been trashed by a council worker who was trimming the verges and managed to trim right through the wheelbarrow!!!  So other than carrying very heavy bags of coal on our backs there was no way to get it back to the boat, so we decided to press on and find another coal merchant further along the cut.   We had a short stopover in Wolverton as we needed a post office.  Fortunately we knew exactly where it was as we had been there before Christmas in order to post Clive�s father�s Christmas present!  We were soon back on the boat and had a quick cuppa soup and a sandwich before setting off again.   The landscape was changing again � Wolverton is quite built up and there are a lot of new developments going up alongside the canal, but soon we were back in open country again.  One interesting feature along this stretch is the aqueduct that takes the canal over the River Great Ouse, but looking at this sluggish trickle its hard to believe it is the same river that gushes out into the Wash at Kings Lynn!   Soon after the aqueduct and after passing many moored boats, we arrived at the Cosgrove Lock.  A strange lock only 3�4� deep and right at the junction with the disused course of the old Stratford and Buckingham Branch � now used purely for moorings.  Just at the side of the lock is this rather sweet sculpture. I was a bit peeved when we got there � we had seen a boat just leaving the lock as we were approaching, but when I got there I realised that the boater had left the front gates wide open!  Anyway it didn�t take long to get through the lock and just as Clive was negotiating the front gates an elderly pedestrian with a lovely long white beard and two miniature Schnauzers at his heels stopped and apologised for not helping me with the gates � he said he had a broken shoulder!  He excitedly told me that he had been to see the Council last week and that they had found him a bungalow for which he gets the keys a week on Monday � he had a big cheesy grin on his face as he was telling me so he is obviously very thrilled about it, but I asked him if he would miss his boat (he was so obviously a boater � could it be something to do with the beard?!) and he said he would very much as he had lived on it for 70 years!  Wow!  I do hope he makes the transition smoothly and doesn�t pine too much for his boat � bless!  I then asked him if he could tell me where the nearest coal merchant was � he pointed to a cottage just beyond the lock � �there� he said �just go round the back by the red car and knock on the door, he�ll sort you out�.  So after saying goodbye to him I did exactly what he had said.  There were no signs on this cottage, absolutely nothing to indicate that there was coal for sale.  Anyway a little Jack Russell soon came around the back of the cottage and said hello, closely followed by a man � I asked him if he sold coal and he said he did � wonderful!  So we bought four bags of the smokeless stuff and it was cheap too, only �8 a bag, the last lot we bought was �10.50 a bag!!!  I asked him why he didn�t have any signs up and he said he just relied on word of mouth.  I said it was a good job I had asked the old gentleman � �oh you mean Santa�, he said  � bless!  It would never have occurred to Clive to ask anyone (coz he�s a man!!) and therefore we would have cruised straight past!   As there is absolutely nothing we are short of now, well for a few days at least, this means we can moor up anywhere we like, so we cruised on out into the countryside. At one point we could hear the sound of a helicopter and sure enough a large Chinook twin-rotor chopper flew over us.  They sound quite different to the single rotor ones.   The views over the fields were lovely and the sun was still shining so it was a very pleasant cruise.  I was just drinking it all in when I saw something moving in one of the fields.  I grabbed the camera and berated myself for having swapped lenses again when we set off this morning, there wasn�t time to swap back to my long lens so I had to make do with the normal one unfortunately, so I am afraid the object I was trying to photograph looks like a pea on a drum!  However I assure you it is a fox!!!  Anyway it was great to see it, even though it was a long way off.  As we have mentioned before, we have seen very few wild mammals on our journey so far.   Not long after our encounter with the fox we decided it was time to be looking for a mooring.  We came round a bend and there was a grove of trees on the left and open fields on the right, a really nice spot - also we saw and heard buzzards amongst the trees.  So we pulled in and moored up.  We have quite a reasonable TV signal here but the dongle signal isn�t as strong, still, never mind.  We are hoping to see the buzzards again in the morning.  Watch this space!

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