Friday 28 February 2014

Railway and canal mural in Milton Keynes

21st February 2014

What does this remind you of?

It reminds me of the bridge over the Oxford Canal in the Rugby area with the mosaic murals (they are mosaic, aren't they?)

This is the former Wolverton to Newport Pagnell railway line, and a modern concrete bridge has been enhanced by the artwork. A little further along the same wall is a representation of the original, extant, bridge over the canal.

I didn't do anything quite so sensible as taking a wider photo of the bridge with the murals, but this substantial brick bridge is nearby.

It's well worth exploring this old railway line. A good access point is the iron lattice bridge (76A) which carries the line over the Grand Union very near the Black Horse pub at Great Linford. This is the one depicted in the mural.

I expect you could easily walk it at night if you really wanted to - it has streetlights along the entire length.

Thursday 27 February 2014

Canal scene

Friday 21st February 2014

The breeze had got up when we set off for New Bradwell.

The Grand Union approaching Bridge 75 is particularly open to the south. I think we'd have been going along diagonally had it not been for the trees along the towpath.

Wednesday 26 February 2014

Draining water from the diesel

When I was on the boat last week I wanted to drain off any accumulated water from the fuel system. The first thing the fuel line encounters after the tank is a stop cock, then there is what I think is called the agglomerator. On Jubilee it's a Bosch unit. On its underside is a rubbery/plasticy projection which I tried to turn, but which refused to cooperate. Here it is.

(I held the camera underneath, pointed it up and clicked.)

That black thing is what I tried to turn, but it just felt rubbery and would not budge.

Am I doing the right thing? Is this where I drain the water off? Should it twist anticlockwise? How much force can I apply?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Tuesday 25 February 2014

Cricked neck day in Milton Keynes

As promised, here are the photos of a sculpture we came across while walking from Campbell Park last Thursday.

Many of the columns are inscribed in celebration of a particular day.

This one reads:

The first passenger train from London to Birmingham stopped at Wolverton. The whole 112 1/2 mile journey took 5 1/2 hours. The Wolverton Locomotive Workshops were established the same year.

And here's one commemorating Britain's first teabag, made by a Tetley factory in Bletchley on 5th July 1953.

You will have noticed that, to save you getting a cricked neck, I've put the above pictures on their side.

This is the whole thing, with the Light Pyramid behind.

And some nice clouds.

Monday 24 February 2014

CRT stuffs bridge voids with fibreglass insulation

20th February 2014

This is what I saw from the back doors as we were tied up by Bridge 82 at Campbell Park on the GU in Milton Keynes last Thursday.

A strange raft with an aluminium platform lashed to it, with a Canal and River Trust man on top inspecting the bridge at close quarters.

Actually he was doing more than looking: he was stuffing fibreglass loft insulation into the crevices.

Now why might CRT be doing this when, clearly, the bridge needs something rather more substantial than a bit of fluff to hold it together for another two hundred years?

The man with the insulation told me it was to prevent bluetits (or, presumably, other birds) nesting in the gaps and thus preventing the actual repairs which are scheduled for later in the year. But he was a little doubtful that there'd be the funds for the bridge repairs as lots of money would be needed to fix the landslip on the Mon and Brec.



He and the holder of the string on the towpath side were very grateful for the tea I made them. (I was mortified when I discovered later that I'd left a teabag in one of the mugs - oops!)

To manœuvre the craft to the next bridge Mr Fibreglass pulled himself along the moored boats while Mr Towpath held the line over chimneys etc.

What a strange operation!

But hang on a minute... surely the bluetits are rubbing their little wings together in glee. Look at all that nice nesting material! Perfect!

Sunday 23 February 2014

Feb half term cruise: the first of the photos

We're home again after a splendid few days on Jubilee. We didn't go far - in fact the engine ran for less than ten hours altogether! But we found an excellent new-to-us mooring at Great Linford, and explored new places on foot.

This was a view from that mooring - on the offside as at Campbell Park - on the Wednesday evening. Late sunshine lit the trees and the moored boats.

Earlier in the afternoon we'd walked round the old part of Great Linford. Here's Jubilee from the vicinity of the Nag's Head pub. Somehow I forgot to take a photo from the boat looking towards the pub.

Top Thirty, 2014 week 8

Here is the UK Waterways Site Ranking (top thirty-six places) as it stood at 2000 on Sunday 23rd February 2014. This is taken, with permission, from Tony Blews's UK Waterways Ranking Site.

Tony has a poll running inviting you to vote on some aspects of the ranking system: click here for details.

1 Canal World Discussion Forums (=)

2 CanalPlanAC (+1)

3 Pennine Waterways (-1)

4 Living on a Narrowboat (=)

5 Jim Shead's Waterways Information (=)

6 Retirement with No Problem (=)

7 UKCanals Network (=)

8 nb Epiphany (+2)

9 Towpath Treks (-1)

10 Waterway Routes (+1)

11 Water Explorer (-2)

12 boatshare (=)

13 boatrent (+1)

14 Captain Ahab's Watery Tales (+2)

15 boats and cruising (=)

16 NB The Manly Ferry (-3)

17 BCBM Ltd (+1)

18 Canal Shop Company (+1)

19 Narrowboat Chance (+9)

20 nb Waiouru (+4)

21 Seyella's Journey (-1)

22 Halfie (=)

23 Narrowboat Dreaming .... Parisien Star (=)

24 The Association of Continuous Cruisers (-3)

25 Narrowboat Briar Rose (+2)

26 Contented Souls (-9)

27 Skippy's Random Ramblings (+3)

28 Eileen Inlanding (-2)

29 Boats and Canals Forum (+4)

30 Marpessa2 (-)

31 Milburn Boats Ltd (+5)

32 Tony Clayton's Canal Photographs (=)

33 freespirit (-4)

34 Herbie (-9)

35 Narrowboat Harnser (-)

36 Baddie the Pirate (-5)

The figures in parentheses denote the number of places moved since the previous chart;
(-) denotes new entry or re-entry into the chart;
(=) denotes no change.

There are 111 entries, the same as two weeks ago.

Saturday 22 February 2014

February half term cruise day 5: New Bradwell to Thrupp Wharf

This morning we returned to the railway walk and set off in the other direction, i.e. towards Wolverton. We soon came to a bridge over Grafton Street parallel to the aqueduct. I resolved to take a photo of Jan steering Jubilee across this when we moved later in the day.

In a short while we'd left the course of the former railway and found ourselves alongside the canal, but opposite the towpath. This brought us to Bill Billings's black-and-white mural depicting scenes from Wolverton's history, mainly railway related. Then this fascinating path turned sharp left under the west coast main line and into the Secret Garden. This is a community garden on the site of two "railway villas" and other buildings from the very first days of Wolverton's long association with rail. Volunteers have, over the last ten years, uncovered the "footprint" of the two villas and planted out a peaceful space for relaxation. We sat on a wooden seat for a few moments in the warm February sun. And watched the Virgin trains thundering by on the other side of the canal.

As we were now in Wolverton we called in on Ally to see how the painting was going, then the three of us went for lunch at the North Western. Three meals for £12.90 - not bad!

As soon as Jan and I walked back to the boat we started up and headed for the marina. In no time we'd reached the Grafton Street Aqueduct, so I hopped off with my camera, legged it to the railway walk bridge (relatively recently constructed as neither Milton Keynes nor Grafton Street existed when the Wolverton - Newport Pagnell line did), took some photos and rejoined Jan after she'd crossed the aqueduct.

After a stop at Cosgrove to empty the Elsan and deposit some rubbish we carried on the short distance to the marina. I had decided to reverse in to the mooring for a change, so that we would have a more interesting view (of the canal now, rather than a steep grassy bank a few feet away) from the bow. This operation went smoothly, and I was pleased to find that the mooring rings were perfectly placed (as they had been for mooring bow first).

This evening we ate at the Navigation Inn next to the marina. It seemed quiet for a Saturday night - but I suppose 6.30 pm was early. The food was served quickly and was acceptable (fish pie with mash and veg; lamb pudding with chips and veg. Each meal cost £8.95).

Now I've made a list of jobs for the morning including checking the batteries (thanks to Brian of Harnser for reminding me about that). Then we'll drive home after what's been an excellent short holiday. The weather has been amazing for the time of year: yes, there's been a cold wind most of the time, but we've had plenty of sunshine and hardly any rain. Certainly no ice or even frosts which might have been expected.

Friday 21 February 2014

February cruise day 4, including a walk along a disused railway

21st February 2014

After resuscitating the fire, having kept it in all night, we had breakfast and then cruised to New Bradwell. We tied up just before the New Inn. After coffee we walked east from there along the former railway line connecting Wolverton and Newport Pagnell. We didn't quite reach Newport Pagnell as our stomachs were telling us that it was lunch time. The walk was very enjoyable, passing over the canal and including a couple of former stations. One overbridge had some rather good murals of railway and canal scenes.

Back at the boat Ally joined us for a salad lunch, then she took us back to her house. There we did more helping with the seemingly endless task of painting and cleaning.

We were unfortunately too late for food at the North Western in Wolverton, so we got some ready meals from Tesco and microwaved them at the house. I was very hungry! (Perhaps I'm getting better, although my cough won't go away).

Then Ally and Ben drove us back to Jubilee where I relit the fire and we had some of Jan's apple cake.

That's about it for today; tomorrow we'll cruise back to Thrupp Wharf Marina where I have plenty of boat jobs still to do.

Thursday 20 February 2014

February half term cruise day 3; and a tease

20th February 2014

Set off in the rain after breakfast and got to Campbell Park at coffee time. All the visitor moorings on the offside were taken, and some of the boats there looked as though they haven't moved for some time. Perhaps they are genuine CRT winter moorings. So we carried on to the winding hole round the corner, and tied up on the towpath opposite. As Jan was preparing lunch I happened to look out of the rear doors - and saw something which made me dash back inside for my camera. Now this story will work much better with photos, so I'm going to have to leave you on tenterhooks!

After lunch we walked up to the Light Pyramid sculpture, and continued to Central Milton Keynes shopping centre.

When we lived on the outskirts of MK in the 1980s it was always referred to as "CMK", as in "Central Milton Keynes". Now it seems to have rebranded itself "The Centre: MK". Still CMK, I suppose. (In our day all the parking for the shops was free - not the case now.) In another twist the main railway station is now called Milton Keynes Central.

On the way to CMK we walked through a sculpture, I suppose you'd call it, consisting of stone columns of various heights. Some of these had inscriptions on, each celebrating a specific "day". There were the obvious commemorations of Saints George, David, Andrew, Patrick and Valentine. But more interesting were the paeans to First Teabag Day, Aston Martin Day, Wolverton Railway Day, Amazing Grace Day etc. Again, photos would help, but, again, you'll have to wait. Sorry. First Teabag Day, did I say? Yes, according to the inscription the world's Britain's first teabag was made in Bletchley in 1953.

Back at the boat we had a very welcome cup of tea (yes, made with one of those new-fangled bag things, I'm afraid) and relaxed by the stove.

At 5 pm I decided I was feeling well enough to do a bit more cruising, so we set off for Giffard Park, arriving while it was still just about light enough to see. Incidentally, a boat came towards us as we were almost at a bridge hole in the twilight. He had his tunnel light on, which was pointing straight ahead and dazzling. As we passed he gesticulated at the front of our boat, and then castigated me for not having my "headlight" on, saying that he nearly didn't see me! Well, it was plenty light enough to see. As always seems to happen in these situations, I couldn't think of an appropriate response in the one second before he was gone. Perhaps I should have got in first with "Your tunnel light dazzled me". Yes, that would have been good.

Outside the Giffard Park pub there was a mooring with rings between two boats. Perfect. Only as I pulled in a woman from the boat in front said that she needed to move her boat back into "my" space when she had finished taking on water - something about being worked on by the boat behind, and would I mind not mooring there? There didn't seem to be any other moorings for a long way, but I managed to squeeze in just after the water point.

We had tea on board; now I don't know if I'm feeling up to a visit to the pub. Perhaps later.

Updated to correct info about Teabag Day. Also: I had a half of a totally unimpressive Bombardier in the Giffard Park. Sparkled to death.

Wednesday 19 February 2014

February half-term cruise days one and two

Tuesday 18th February 2014

We left Thrupp Wharf Marina yesterday (Tuesday) afternoon, after removing nearly all of Ally and Ben's remaining things. Hooray! Now the mess can be ours mine and not theirs! (They were very tidy, really.) If I were not feeling so grotty I'd be putting lots of my things away, but it's still sitting in a fruit box*.

Another thing I did yesterday was wash the side of the boat against the pontoon before setting off. I managed to pick about the only rainy spell to head down to Cosgrove, but it had stopped by the time we reached the service block. For a change Jan set the lock while I motored in.

We stopped at the visitor moorings at Wolverton and tied up for the night. I was feeling well enough to go to the North Western pub for a meal: Jan had hunter's chicken; I had liver and bacon casserole. Each meal was less than a fiver. I returned to the boat by myself for some R&R leaving Jan helping Ally with some studying. Ben brought Jan back later.

We have been burning wood foraged from a previous expedition: it's been giving out a lovely heat. All I have to do is remember to feed it now and again. (oh dear: it's just gone out.)

Wednesday 19th February 2014

I washed the other side of the boat this morning as it was against the towpath. There are some tiny rust patches which I need to do something about soon: today would have been a good day but I was ready for a long rest after my bucket and sponge exercise.

Eventually we left Wolverton and got all the way to Great Linford (not far at all) where we tied up on the 48 hour mooring. After lunch on board we walked round the mostly picturesque village.

I would have loved to have tried out the Nag's Head pub, but haven't felt up to it. I chopped some kindling instead.

What ails me? The return of a sore throat and lethargy, mainly. Nothing in comparison to what poor old Keith of Hadar is going through, though, so I'm not asking for sympathy. (It will be nice for Jan when I'm better!)

The original plan for tomorrow was to have winded at Campbell Park, possibly stopping for coffee/lunch, and then returning to Wolverton ready for a short cruise back to the marina on Friday; then doing boat jobs until driving home. The way I'm feeling we might whizz straight to the marina and come home early. Well, it's not as much fun on the boat for either of us when I'm like this.

Photos to come later.

*Supermarket fruit boxes are the most useful free "storage solutions" I have come across. Perfect for transporting actual supermarket shopping in the first place - just load items from checkout straight into the box on the trolley; lift into boot; lift from boot into house: no bags to split or fall over and more environmentally friendly - and then they stack for longer term storage.

Monday 17 February 2014

What and where?

Saturday 15 February 2014

Tuesday 11 February 2014

Header tank losing water - something to fix

I think I've mentioned this before: I keep finding the central heating header tank on Jubilee dry. This is after spells of a few weeks' absence from the boat. It has taken about five pints of water/antifreeze to top it up each time, so it's leaking out somewhere.

I have taken advice from Tony Brooks, who suggests checking all the pipework joints, looking for evidence of antifreeze staining on surrounding woodwork. From memory (I'm not on the boat at the moment) most of the pipework is copper. If there are plastic sections, then a special stiffening section should be present where a compression joint is made, to prevent the joint coming loose.

I have not noticed any water in the cabin bilge, so it's a mystery as to where all the water is going.

Another TB suggestion is to pressurise the system to about 10 psi*, and then any leak should be more obvious. As far as I remember, though, the central heating pipe runs are hidden below the floor. Without pulling up the floor - oak strips - how am I to find a leak down there?

All being well, we should be on board in a week's time or so, so I'll make a determined effort to sort this out. This will be helped by the fact that Ally and Ben have started to remove some of their possessions.

*according to TB: Pressurising can be done with specialist equipment, or by screwing a lorry-type tyre valve into the cap of the header tank and using a bicycle pump.

Sunday 9 February 2014

What I looked like in the panto

Here's a treat for you! A couple of photos from the dress rehearsal of our village pantomime, featuring yours truly - yes, in the white tights!

Second from right in this shot:

I seem to be the only one singing here!

I just went for it.

So, after my first stint on stage (for 40 years), would I do it again? Yes, certainly. As a bit of a bonus I even got some lines for the last two performances, as "Villager 2" couldn't be there. Six short lines - but they had to be in the right place. It was a bit scary having to do it with no rehearsal, but it went OK. Bring on the next one!

Top Thirty, 2014 week 6

Here is the UK Waterways Site Ranking (top thirty-six places) as it stood at 1405 on Sunday 9th February 2014. This is taken, with permission, from Tony Blews's UK Waterways Ranking Site.

Tony has a poll running inviting you to vote on some aspects of the ranking system: click here for details.

I'm surprised that, despite having been "off the air" for a week, I've jumped up six places!

There have been some wild fluctuations: the biggest rise is NB The Manly Ferry moving up 11 places; the biggest fall is Baddie the Pirate by 22 places.

1 Canal World Discussion Forums (=)

2 Pennine Waterways (+1)

3 CanalPlanAC (-1)

4 Living on a Narrowboat (=)

5 Jim Shead's Waterways Information (=)

6 Retirement with No Problem (=)

7 UKCanals Network (=)

8 Towpath Treks (+7)

9 Water Explorer (-1)

10 nb Epiphany (-1)

11 Waterway Routes (-1)

12 boatshare (=)

13 NB The Manly Ferry (-2)

14 boatrent (-1)

15 boats and cruising (+6)

16 Captain Ahab's Watery Tales (-2)

17 Contented Souls (+3)

18 BCBM Ltd (-1)

19 Canal Shop Company (-3)

20 Seyella's Journey (+2)

21 The Association of Continuous Cruisers (-)

22 Halfie (-4)

23 Narrowboat Dreaming .... Parisien Star (=)

24 nb Waiouru (+4)

25 Herbie (-6)

26 Eileen Inlanding (-1)

27 Narrowboat Briar Rose (-1)

28 Narrowboat Chance (-4)

29 freespirit (=)

30 Skippy's Random Ramblings (+1)

31 Baddie the Pirate (+5)

32 Tony Clayton's Canal Photographs (-)

33 Boats and Canals Forum (-)

34 Google Earth Canal Maps (-)

35 NB Northern Pride (-3)

36 Milburn Boats Ltd (-1)

The figures in parentheses denote the number of places moved since the previous chart;
(-) denotes new entry or re-entry into the chart;
(=) denotes no change.

There are 111 entries, up from 108 last week.

Friday 7 February 2014

Shadow sale confirmed

Yup, it's all above board, watertight and a done deal. After deductions for winter maintenance and a sale fee some money has indeed arrived in my bank account, meaning that I have no further responsibility for Shadow.

It would be interesting to calculate how many miles and locks we travelled in Shadow, but it wouldn't be easy. Our ownership started before the days of blogging, and I haven't kept a proper "ship's log". It would be a lot, anyway.

I hope the new owners - and all the current ones - enjoy the refitted galley which I have partly paid for!

There may yet be some more Shadow posts to come: I still haven't quite finished with our Easter cruise of last year.

Tuesday 4 February 2014

Shadow share sold

At last, I think I can now go public with this. I have been waiting for actual money to land in my bank account, but the boat management company BCBM has received the agreed sum from the purchasers, whose name has been circulated to the other members of the syndicate as new owners. And I was excluded from the list (I know about it via my brother, who still has his share). So I can be 99.9% confident that all is in order, and that we have finally sold our share.

The delay in my receiving any money is because my share of the winter maintenance costs needs to come out first, and that calculation has yet to be made. Once that is deducted I'm expecting a small amount of dosh to boost my finances a touch, and so we can concentrate on running one boat, rather than the 1.05 boats of recent times.

We had our Shadow share for 12 years, and have had some excellent holidays on it. I can remember only three breakdowns while we were on board: a throttle linkage broke, which I was able to repair myself; we overheated once or twice necessitating a bit of a pause in proceedings; and a gearbox oil pipe broke, which was fixed for us within a couple of hours.

So for us it's a mixture of sadness - at saying good bye to an old friend - and happiness - at not having to pay for a boat we don't need.

It's odd how I have managed almost completely to blot out the disastrous end of OwnerShips from my memories of Shadow! I don't like to dwell on how much money we lost; on the other hand OwnerShips did open the door to boat (shared) ownership for us. I think we did well to end up going to BCBM, who have been completely open and transparent, especially where the finances were concerned.

May the new owners have as much fun with Shadow as we did.

Monday 3 February 2014

Working a boat through Banbury Lock? No problem.

Having dropped Jan off at her BCF committee meeting close to the canal in Banbury on Saturday, I walked slowly along the cut towards the lock. I was feeling not too good, having a sore throat and a higher than normal temperature. I thought I'd find somewhere to linger with a hot chocolate ... but first came the lock.

Not only was one set of paddles open, but both sets. A notice explained that CRT was allowing excess water to drain through the lock to alleviate flooding higher up.

Having taken this photo I started to walk further down the canal, and saw a boat coming up. I always relish the chance to help a boat through a lock, if required, so turned back to the lock. Looking back I thought I could make out a familiar boat name on the bow flashes, and I could also see that it was stopping at the services just below the lock.

Yes, it was No Problem guarded by Meg and Penny.

After Sue topped up a water container Vic took the boat up the lock. I thought we might have had difficulty with all the water gushing over the top gate, but the bottom gates opened quite easily.

With the boat in Sue raises the top gate paddles again.

We followed CRT's instructions and left the lock as we found it. Vic chucked me a windlass and I opened the liftbridge. How the chimney didn't catch I don't know! The wind was pretty strong and unhelpful.

I left Sue and Vic tying up by Tooley's Boatyard while I went into the Museum Café for that hot chocolate.

A little lock therapy was very good for me! It was good to meet you both at last, Sue and Vic, and I'm sorry I wasn't more sociable. I didn't want to give you what I had (and still have).

Sunday 2 February 2014

Top Thirty, 2014 week 5

Here is the UK Waterways Site Ranking (top thirty-six places) as it stood at 2030 on Sunday 2nd February 2014. This is taken, with permission, from Tony Blews's UK Waterways Ranking Site.

Tony has a poll running inviting you to vote on some aspects of the ranking system: click here for details.

I'm surprised that, despite having been "off the air" for a week, I've jumped up six places!

There have been some wild fluctuations: the biggest rise is NB The Manly Ferry moving up 11 places; the biggest fall is Baddie the Pirate by 22 places.

1 Canal World Discussion Forums (=)

2 CanalPlanAC (=)

3 Pennine Waterways (=)

4 Living on a Narrowboat (=)

5 Jim Shead's Waterways Information (=)

6 Retirement with No Problem (=)

7 UKCanals Network (=)

8 Water Explorer (+1)

9 nb Epiphany (-1)

10 Waterway Routes (+2)

11 NB The Manly Ferry (+11)

12 boatshare (-1)

13 boatrent (=)

14 Captain Ahab's Watery Tales (+3)

15 Towpath Treks (-5)

16 Canal Shop Company (+4)

17 BCBM Ltd (+1)

18 Halfie (+6)

19 Herbie (-)

20 Contented Souls (-5)

21 boats and cruising (-5)

22 Seyella's Journey (-3)

23 Narrowboat Dreaming .... Parisien Star (+2)

24 Narrowboat Chance (-1)

25 Eileen Inlanding (-4)

26 Narrowboat Briar Rose (+1)

27 Narrow Boat Albert (-)

28 nb Waiouru (+1)

29 freespirit (-3)

30 Marpessa2 (=)

31 Skippy's Random Ramblings (=)

32 NB Northern Pride (-)

33 Still Rockin\' (+3)

34 The Real Life of a Narrowboat Wife (-)

35 Milburn Boats Ltd (-1)

36 Baddie the Pirate (-22)

The figures in parentheses denote the number of places moved since the previous chart;
(-) denotes new entry or re-entry into the chart;
(=) denotes no change.

There are 108 entries, down from 109 last week.

A post from Jubilee, including a look at Ally Pally

I've been too busy to blog much in the last couple of weeks. First there was the nine-performance run of the village pantomime, in which I even got a few lines in the last two performances replacing someone who couldn't be there; and then I've been helping Ally and Ben with painting etc. Add into the mix the fact that I got a sore throat and high temperature - and lost my appetite - and you will see why I haven't been around the blogosphere for a bit.

After coming to see me in the Panto A+B took me and my folding bike back to MK with them. I used Jubilee as a base, cycling the four or so miles to Wolverton every morning. In the evenings they drove me (plus bike) back to the boat. On Thursday Ben and I enjoyed a "Western Breakfast" in the North Western pub (they do terrific fry-ups, with proper butcher's sausages and perfect fried bread) before I caught the 1137 train to Euston.

Unfortunately I forgot to bring my camera, as there came a sight I hadn't been expecting. On the train from King's Cross to Cambridge (an "express non-stop" as the train announcement put it) we passed the place where my BBC career began back in 1980: Alexandra Palace, where the world's first "high definition" television service began, just 44 years before I joined. (The 405-line Marconi-EMI system eventually settled on was certainly high definition in comparison to the previous experiments with 30-line systems.) A good website for the early days of television is here.

Once home I suffered with my cold/flu before loading the car and picking Jan up from school. Then she drove while I tried to snooze to MK. The reason for this second visit only the next day was that Jan had a committee meetin of the Boaters' Christian Fellowship to attend in Banbury on Saturday. The boat made a good stopping-off point, meaning that the drive through the lovely Northamptonshire and Oxfordshire countryside in the morning would take less than an hour.

Well, that's enough for now. Jan is packing up around me and I think I ought to do my bit. I'll write later about who I met in Banbury.