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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Scrumping in Gayton

“You young folks today think you invented the world,” Aunt Will said. “Still, a dash of unlawful scrumping might work for you."  from The Lovesick Cure by author Pamela Morsi

   Cruising once more as we did when I first arrived here in 2011, we've made decent time from a pleasant spot near Yardley Gobion. While sitting at our dinette we were passed by Tony and Helen on NB Holderness and were so besotted by the heat we didn't realize who they were until they had passed us! Sorry and hello!  
   Les and I stopped in the pound of the second lock at Stoke Bruerne for a Tesco delivery and went on up through Blisworth tunnel. I steered NB Valerie all the way through the 3076 yards of dark, dank underground, passing four boats coming in the opposite direction.
   After one night moored up just before Station Road bridge we upped sticks again as there were signs posted from beyond there all the way back to Blisworth High Street indicating mooring along that stretch of the canal was restricted to traders and officials attending the Blisworth Canal Festival. Although the Festival is the weekend of August 9th and 10th, the spaces along the canal from Blisworth clear to the Walnut Tree Inn were reserved beginning July 27th!
   So we left the next morning, stopping at Gayton Junction for H2O and rubbish disposal, after which we cruised northward until a relatively quiet spot appeared just after Bridge 45, adjacent to a horse farm, with only one other boat moored way off at the other end of the section near bridge 44.
   It didn't take long for four other boats to join us--the final one mooring closer to us than was necessary in my opinion. There was at least two and half boat lengths (57 ft average) behind them yet they chose to moor less than half a boat length in front if us and soon our quiet was shattered by the woman on the boat in front of us whose loud braying laughter and continual squawking commentary pierced our solitude frequently. 
   The sun was relentless, beating down on NB Val, making us swelter. Still, I washed two loads of clothes and Les hung them to dry on the airer out on the grassy verge. I baked another loaf of bread and whipped up some fruit smoothies for lunch. Then I took a nap while Les foraged online for some info on car hires in the area. Dinner was grilled hot dogs and potato salad, after which we sat and read. I just finished the brilliant book Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Super Athletes and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen by Christopher McDougall. When we could keep our eyes open no longer,  we made our way to bed in the quiet dark, happy and sleepy. 
The gloaming--my favorite time of the day.
Looking back down the lane toward the bridge.
   After an early breakfast on the veranda of muesli (me) and granola (Les) with fresh strawberries and coffee, Les realized all the other boats had moved on and we had the entire stretch to ourselves! With joy we dressed and manually moved the boat closer to bridge 44, mooring the bow under the shade of an oak tree. 
   We grabbed our hats and sauntered up the towpath, over bridge 45 and up the lane to the village of Gayton which sits on a hill 135 meters above sea level opening out to a shallow valley in which sat our boat on the Grand Union canal.
   We took in the view as we climbed until we reached the village church, St. Mary's. It was locked tight but we wandered through the churchyard, thinking about its eternal inhabitants, enjoying the architecture (parts of it date from 1209), settling on a bench to sip water from the stainless steel bottle I brought along. 
St. Mary's Church Gayton. Like so many churches now it is locked and has a notice posted indicating the roof is wired with an alarm to discourage metal theft and vandalism.
Once upon a time...there was a door here which has since been bricked up.
In the churchyard wall another bricked up doorway.
Who was she I wonder...and how long has she gazed upon Gayton?
   Before we set off again Les informed me that every churchyard had a spigot (water tap) and he found one conveniently nearby with which he refilled our water bottle and off we went to find the High Street. Gayton is a small village of 510 inhabitants (slow in growth, as it only had a population of 427 one hundred years earlier). 
Looking down an alley at the back gardens.
Remove the blue plastic buckets, the rubbish bins and the yard lights and one might be in the 15th century. This stable is located in the heart of the village.
Is it a bird?  No...not a bird. Is it a plane? No, not a plane. Oh I know what it is...
An Alpacapoodle!
   We followed the meandering lanes overlooking the valley, enjoying the scenic view as well as the old homes and farms in the village. I plucked a Beech nut from an overloaded tree to check on the ripeness of the nuts. Eventually we made our way back around and stood on the kitty corner (or opposite corner) from the church. We were on the sidewalk in front of the ancient Gayton Manor--once a grand manor house dating back to the reign of Henry II (d. 1189)--now a farm with stone walls hugging the perimeter.
   As I stood  in the shade of overhanging trees I looked up as short people often do and lo and behold glistening globes of ripe purple hung just out of my reach! Les brought the branches down to my height and we plucked a few ripe plums. Just further on were two more large trees with branches overhanging the manor's stone wall. Cherry plums and large green plums respectively fell into my hands. It was then Les told me with a wicked grin that I was "scrumping!"
   I beg your pardon??? I thought Les was suggesting I was engaged in some louche and unsavory behavior of a sexual nature when my Best Beloved informed me it means stealing the fruits from someone else's trees, which could--on the face of it--also be a metaphor for louche and unsavory behavior of a sexual nature. Hmmph!!
   I had never heard of the word scrumping and a check in the American Miriam-Webster's Dictionary indicated it wasn't even a word in American English, however the Oxford Unabridged English Dictionary did indeed include it and underscored that scrumping was less a crime than stealing in general but still frowned upon. Well!!!
large unripe plums, purple plums, cherry plums, a hairy beech nut in its husk and a couple of chamomile flowers.
   Well indeed and where I come from any food hanging outside a person's lawful yard is fair game. As an herbalist I have spent many happy hours foraging in the woods, ditches and old homesteads of Eastern Washington for medicinal herbs and wild food sources. I also availed myself of windfalls from the yards of folks who grew fruit but never picked and used it.  I figure what the manor doesn't know won't hurt them. 
   As we walked back down the hilly lane to the boat I discovered a small patch of Chamomile! All in all it was a lovely day--a bit of history, some foraging about, and scenic views which took our breath away. 
Busy little bees!
   I also took the opportunity to try a new technique or walking, based on the running techniques in the book above, and for the first time since I broke my foot in December 2011 it did not hurt me after a mile of walking! I don't know if I will ever become one of the Running People, but I am hopeful I can engage in walking for exercise again without suffering pain and swelling which makes it a miserable chore instead of the freedom and fun of moving. I've got 60 pounds to lose so I am feeling very motivated. 
   As we sat on the veranda (as I call the bow) eating sandwiches made from fresh baked bread, Les noticed a hole in the ground under the oak tree which had many, many insects buzzing in and out. Closer inspection indicated a bee's nest. They buzzed harmlessly around Les as he squatted nearby to film their coming and going. My guess is a species of non-stinging bee. 
   The next morning we were watching the horses at pasture when Les spotted a young fox take a rabbit in a field across from our present mooring. Of course a clutch of Magpies showed up uninvited for breakfast so the fox took its kill back to its den. Les was tickled pink and I was excited by his pleasure in discovering nature.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Jaq ... I so love your pictures and perception and appreciation of what's around you. Scrumping is a Great new word ... not much chance of it here except for the occasional berries.

Okay so I checked out the website about barefoot running and watched the video and read more and Googled correct walking ... and so I am more confused than before ... you were walking not running right? And you were Not barefoot I presume. One article said the biomechanics of walking and running are very different...well what do I know? Were you making a point of Not landing on your heals but the center of your foot? Tell us more please. Guess I'm glad I wear Z-Coil shoes with the springs in the heels.

Glad your finally back to doing what you love full time (well almost)... and cheers for your boat steering Jaq. Hope the Captain appreciates all you've learned.

By the way ... when I lived on the sail vessel SV Anna Maru with Charley he had a t-shirt that said Captain and I had one that said Admiral. :-)

Keeping cool in hot Pullman - Karen

Jaqueline Biggs said...

Hi Pal,
Indulge in serious scrumping over there and you could get shot by the land owner! ;)
When I walk now I lean forward a bit keeping my back straight and land on the mid foot or ball of my foot. I also bend my knees more. I actually ding I tire less easily walking up hill this way too. Get the book Karen, it's a hoot to read and we are also modifying our diet a bit with a Tuamerhara food for energy which I will not say any more regarding...you really need to read this book!
Love Jaq aka The Admiral

Jaqueline Biggs said...

Hi Pal,
Indulge in serious scrumping over there and you could get shot by the land owner! ;)
When I walk now I lean forward a bit keeping my back straight and land on the mid foot or ball of my foot. I also bend my knees more. I actually ding I tire less easily walking up hill this way too. Get the book Karen, it's a hoot to read and we are also modifying our diet a bit with a Tuamerhara food for energy which I will not say any more regarding...you really need to read this book!
Love Jaq aka The Admiral

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs