Friday, 20 April 2018

Flecknoe (Karen’s final day of work)

Gifts for Karen on her last day
Karen went into the office on Thursday morning to complete her final handovers.  She was a bit apprehensive as she had seen in one of her team member’s diary an entry for “Karen’s leaving lunch”.  Her team obviously knew her well and hadn’t let her know what was happening as she would have declined 😉

Karen’s last walk to the car for her morning commute

My last look at Napton-on-the-hill when Buddy and I went for our morning walk

It promised to be such a glorious day, so Buddy and I left our mooring early and made our way to Wigrams Turn marina where I knew I could fill up with diesel at 100% domestic thus avoiding the duty.  I feel it’s OK for people like us as we run the engine to get hot water or to run the washing machine and don’t cruise for hours on end each day.  It wasn’t too bad a price either: 70p a litre, the same as getting red diesel from Napton garage or Fen End in jerry cans as I have been doing lately.

Entering the alien territory of a marina

I knew it hadn’t been long since our last pump out but as they did a good job at Wigrams last time I was there I had one anyway.  It also means we will be setting off on our travels up north with an empty black tank but full diesel tank.

Moored up for diesel and a pump out

We were soon on our way again and travelling the three miles to Flecknoe.  As expected with the weather there were a lot of boats on the move.  Also, the section of the Grand Union between Calcutt and Braunston has many marinas on it so it does get a bit like the M25 at times.  To make it worse, the trees on the offside have been left to grow for the last few years and in many places you either have to wait for a boat to pass or plough through the overhanging branches.  I was rather surprised to see that it had all been cut back since we were last here.  I was also surprised when I looked back at the log and saw that it was as long ago as December 2016 when we were last here.

When we reached Lower Shuckburgh I was reminded of the hottest day of 2016 as Sophie and Yanos were staying with us and we were moored at Lower Shuckburgh for a week or so.  Yanos and Buddy were so hot that they sat under the bridge – Buddy asleep and Yanos doing some PhD work.  Ironically, I was going through the bridge on the hottest day of 2018 so far.

The bridge at Lower Shuckburgh

Even though there were lots of boats on the move, the whole cruise was rural and it was great hearing skylarks singing for the whole journey.

Nearing Flecknoe with no boats in view for once

I was hoping that our favourite mooring spot was going to be free when we arrived.  I know I often talk about favourite mooring spots, but this one at Flecknoe really is in our top three.  When we got to the straight at Flecknoe there were very few boats moored so I risked it and carried on round the corner to find our spot was free 😊 If it hadn’t been I was resigned to carrying on to the next winding hole, winding and coming back again to moor on the straight.

Moored at Flechnoe   

…and looking the other way

Buddy was still finding the sun too hot so was seeking out any bit of shade he could.  I did take him for a gentle walk later in the afternoon, but he wasn’t really up to it.  He kept standing in the water to cool down – he only really goes in when he gets too hot.

I saw plenty of butterflies including my first green veined white of 2018.  In one spot there were dozens of cowslips growing.  In some parts of the country you can find Duke of Burgundy fritillaries where there are cowslips as their caterpillars eat cowslip leaves.  I did look for them here, but I don’t believe they occur in this part of the country.

Fresh cowslip

When Karen got home from work we sat outside for drinks before dinner whilst she updated me with what happened on her last day at work.

Glass of fizz whilst Karen opens her cards

Her team had booked lunch at a restaurant in Leamington and, knowing that time was tight due to her meeting schedule, had pre-ordered the food to save time.  One of the guys gave a really moving speech and they gave her some flowers, a rather special bottle of wine and a pack of inland waterway flares - ideal for the commercial waterways of France 😉 All in all she had had a very happy last day.

We will now stay here until Monday before we finally leave the area.

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