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Thursday May 6th - POLLING DAY

The trouble with not doing a blog every day now is that I can't always remember what has happened over the last few days!!!  Now, let me think????

Not long after we set off on Friday we arrived at the Blisworth Tunnel.  This is actually the third longest navigable tunnel after Standedge up in Huddersfield as it is 3076 yards long (just under two miles).  It was reasonably dry most of the way but I had the umbrella at the ready for when we passed under the ventilation shafts, which tend to be rather like waterfalls!  It was quite busy, there were two boats following us and we met three coming the other way - scary stuff!  The tunnel is just wide enough to allow two boats to pass each other but it is a tight squeeze!  We finally emerged from the other end and a few minutes later we were in Stoke Bruerne.  We went down the first two locks in the Stoke Flight and moored up. 

One of my Burwell friends, Caroline Creasey, lives not far from Stoke Bruerne and she had asked me to let her know when we arrived.  I sent her a text and later we had a chat on the phone and she arranged to come and visit us that afternoon with her two daughters; Tasha and Mia.  Neither of the girls had been on a narrowboat before so I gave them the guided tour, then we all sat around the table and had a chat.  I told Caroline that Clive had written a tune so she produced a whistle from her large handbag!  We had a bit of a toot and by the time she and the girls left she had just about got the tune in her head.  Caroline had also informed us that there were several sessions on from lunchtime the following day and kindly offered to come and pick us up and take us to one of them.  Brilliant!

So, Sunday lunchtime we walked up the towpath and across the lock to The Navigation pub where we met Caroline in the car park.  We went to a pub called The Globe (not sure of the name of the village though!).  We had a great afternoon playing tunes and met a guy who lives in a caravan at Cogenhoe (pron. Cuckno) on the River Nene - we moored up there last summer and will be doing so again this year so we have promised to let him know when we get there and maybe we can have a jam.  He's a very good melodeon player called Dave Jolly!

Once back on the boat we got a text from our friends Shirley and Barry asking if we were in their neck of the woods yet (they live in Cranfield).  I said no, we were in Stoke Bruerne.  Shirley's reply was "that is our neck of the woods"!  One forgets that distances are much less when travelling by car - it will take us several days to be anywhere near them on the boat but it is only a 40 minute drive in the car!  Anyway, they decided to come and visit us the following day and we arranged to meet them in The Navigation for lunch.

Bank Holiday Monday dawned reasonably pleasantly but the forecast said rain - surprise, surprise!  Sure enough Shirley and Barry arrived on cue and we met them in the pub.  We had an interesting lunch - we ordered double starters and no main course, it was great!  Then we all trooped back to the boat and had a lovely time just chatting, then we got the instruments out - Barry played Clive's guitar - Clive tried his hand at the mandolin which my sister Thelma has lent him and he didn't do half bad.  I played my flute and Shirley sang every now and again!  The afternoon wore on and we lost all track of the time.  The next time we looked at the clock it was 8.0'clock!  I happened to have a box of curry in the freezer so I defrosted it and put on a pan of rice so we didn't starve!  Then it was time for Shirley and Barry to go.  Hopefully, as we are going to be in their "neck of the woods" for a week or so yet, we might get to meet up with them again.

By Tuesday we reckoned we had overstayed our welcome at Stoke Bruerne and set off, following another boat which had just left their mooring, so that meant we could share the locks together.  This made life a lot easier and we were soon down at the bottom of the flight and we moored up to fill up the water tank, so did the other boat.  We were all chatting at the water point whilst supping our coffees when Clive noticed a movement on the bank.  On closer inspection it turned out to be a little pigmy shrew!  It was so intent on getting a worm out of the ground that it paid no attention to Clive at all and he managed to get really close and take its photograph!

Pygmy Shrew

Once the tank was full we said goodbye to our lock-mates and continued on our way.  We wanted to reach Wolverton as soon as possible so that we could go shopping - there is a large Tesco there only a few minutes walk from the canal.  It took us a couple of hours but we finally arrived and quickly got the boat secured then off we went with our shopping bags.  We managed to get everything we needed then whilst I was unpacking all the shopping and stowing it away Clive untied the boat and set off again.  We were heading for a spot where we have moored before, we call it "The Owl Field".  The reason is we moored in the same place in January 2009 and opposite the mooring was a large fallow field and there were several Short Eared Owls living there.  We spotted them several times and managed to get some photographs of them. 

We arrived at our destination a short while later, having been informed earlier that the place is actually known as Linford Lakes.  Sure enough in the distance you can spot the lakes and even see the masts of some of the moored yachts!  It is still a really pretty spot, very quiet and peaceful but unfortunately the owl field is being developed and there are already some properties at the very top of the field - what a shame!  Not long after we arrived we spotted a guy walking his dog along the towpath and he looked familiar - we had actually spoken to him when we were moored here before!  We had a chat with him about the owls and he informed us that the Short Ears hadn't come back this year unfortunately however in the field next to the boat on the towpath side there are a couple of Barn Owls - ooh exciting! 

In the afternoon Clive decided to do something he planned to do when we first set off on this adventure - sketch and paint!  So he dug out all his art materials (once he remembered where he'd put them!), took a folding chair and headed off down the field for some quality time.  He had been gone a while and I went to look out of the window to see if I could see him - sure enough, there was a little speck in the distance - bless!

The Artist!

Can you spot him?  Can you also see the property up on the hill behind him?  It is absolutely huge and at night is floodlit - I wonder who lives there?

Sure enough, that evening around dusk we spotted them but it was a bit dark and we couldn't get a decent photograph, he tried again last night but still didn't manage it however he got up very early this morning and this is the result!

Barn Owl

Earlier I had been on the laptop checking my Facebook profile and suddenly my Skype started ringing!  When I looked it was our granddaughter, Indeia, calling us from Colorado Springs in the USA!  We quickly got the webcam plugged in and switched on and it wasn't long

before Indy was showing us her new bedroom and all the new toys and things that she got.  It was wonderful to see her and listen to her chattering away.  It is really good to know that we will be able to keep in touch with her regularly this way.  Isn't technology truly amazing!  I still find it hard to grasp that we can be sitting on our boat on an English canal out in the middle of nowhere yet be able to speak to and see someone on the other side of the world - what was once just science fiction is now science fact!

We are staying put here for another day at least because tonight we intend to have a marathon election night - its a bit of a tradition that we stay up to watch the election results coming in until the wee small hours when it becomes pretty obvious who is going to win.  So we may well want a lie in in the morning!  Actually, Clive was up ridiculously early this morning, around six-ish in order to go owl spotting and therefore by 3.00pm he could hardly keep awake so I suggested he went for a lie down.  He is still quietly snoring away in bed - bless!  I sensibly didn't get up until well after nine so I'm hoping that I will manage to stay awake for the duration!

I will point out that Clive and I were both very keen to be able to vote in the election but were not sure how to go about it, as we are basically "of no fixed abode"!!  So we rang our local council and they advised us that as we still own a house in the area we could apply for  a postal vote, which we did.  So we cast our votes last week.  I must say though, it's not quite the same, I used to quite enjoy going to the polling station on election day - maybe its the suffragette in me!

So - will we have a new Prime Minister tomorrow or not - we'll know soon enough! 

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