1st to 10th July 2016
Simon and Alyssa arrived on 1st July to prepare Jannock for a week onboard with Alyssa’s family – Ashley, John and Jack – arriving from Boston on the 2nd July. However, due to storms in the USA, the arrival of the American contingent was delayed by 24 hours.
After a whistle stop tour of London, during the journey from Heathrow, the boat was prepped and the crew trained ready for the off. During the lock ‘training’ Simon managed to take chunks out of his fingers before they had even cast off. Then northwards towards Berkamstead where a visit was made to Waitrose to finalise the vitteling and beer stocks.
The crew rapidly learnt how to work locks before reaching the Tring Summit pound where they passed a number of moored working boats at Cowroast. Then down the first six locks of the Marsworth flight before mooring up for a July 4th BBQ with the Keens family joining them by car for the evening. Dinner was something of a disaster with the chicken breasts taking on the chemical taste of the BBQ lighting fluid and a sudden drop in temperature due to the wind increasing but in the end it was all forgotten because SIMON PROPOSED TO ALYSSA and so Jannock hosted an improptu and epic engagement party!
Somewhen during the after party preparation for sleeping Jannock’s toilet packed up. We collected another crew member, Jessica, the morning after the party and then continued on to Linslade where Simon’s Dad had arranged to meet us that evening to sort the toilet out. Simon heroicly spent his first morning as someones fiance by bailing out poo-water from the blocked loo. In Linslade the crew had shore leave at a pub whilst the toilet was being unblocked, sampling local British beers.
The next morning, after a full English breakfast, cruising continued towards Bletchley. Having thoroughly enjoyed lockwheeling the previous days, John was disappointed to find that todays most significant locking challenge was the three locks at Soulbury. Here, distrustful of the repaired toilet, the crew decided to visit the Three Locks public house to use their facilities and – coincidentally – sample more local beers for a couple of hours. Later they completed the cruise to Bletchley to moor for the night.
The next morning we went to Bletchley Park to learn about the Code-Breakers, visited the spectacular exhibits, the huts and some film sets. We also sampled the beer specially brewed for Bletchley Park. Ashley had a run-in with a piece of playground equipment. After a pub lunch at the Eight Bells, a pub near Bletchley Park that was there when the town was still tiny, we continued on to moor for the night just outside Milton Keynes where we had a cheese dinner on the boat.
Friday morning we dropped Jess off at Wolverton Station and continued on, via a couple of aquaducts, through Cosgrove to Thrupp Wharf where we moored for the night near the Navigation Inn. We had Friday Fun Night (it’s the best night) dinner there which was so good that we went back the following morning for breakfast as well. Once the yummy breakfast was over we continued North and met Alan (another friend) at Grafton Regis. This is where a former King of England (Edward VI?) was married.
We then continued on to Stoke Bruerne where we climbed five locks and then met Nat (Alan’s wife). We took a table at the Boat Inn (it was cooler inside than out) and played historic skittles with a pint or two and a meal. We then all crewed Jannock up the last two locks, under the watchful eyes of loads of gongoozlers, and realised that the American tourists had actually become part of the British canal tourist attraction! Ironic!
Blisworth tunnel then presented a challenge to novice steerers and those a little nervous about cruising under a hill for the best part of an hour. We then passed through Blisworth and said Hi to Alan’s mum aboard her boat before continuing on and mooring for the final time near Gayton. We had a lovely steak dinner on the boat with Nat and Alan before they ordered a taxi to collect them from a canal bridge to return them to their cars.
The next morning, July 10th, the American contingent said their goodbyes before heading to Heathrow leaving Simon behind to clean up and lock the boat. Overall, we had a delightful week of cruising and have converted a group of Americans to the joys of English canal cruising (and we also got engaged!)
Simon and Alyssa
P.S. The boat garden drinking game is a good one! When you see a garden on top of a boat – drink! It increased our ‘social’ interaction with such owner enormously.