"Life is a series of pulls back and forth. You want to so one thing, but you are bound to do something else. Something hurts you, yet you know it shouldn't. You take certain things for granted even when you know you should never take anything for granted. A tension of opposites, like a pull on a rubber band; and most of us live somewhere in the middle. " ~Mitch Albom, Author of Tuesdays with Morrie
This is a mostly pictorial blog. I hope to do a more in-depth post about Old Linford Manor another time. We've spent a shade over three weeks waiting to hear about Les' upcoming RFA procedure. Knowing we couldn't just take off and cruise northward as we wanted--as we had planned--we've been staying 6-8 days at a stretch, turning for services, and cruising back to moor somewhere for another 6 day stretch. Les and I both get itchy feet after four days somewhere, so this has been an interesting change for us.
We've been back and forth from Fenny Stratford to Stantonbury and points in between, passing through Milton Keynes, stopping for a couple of days at Linford Manor Park, turning to get water and dump our rubbish, pick up groceries, turning again to moor somewhere with bus service allowing Les to travel to Luton to pick up our mail, purchase decking boards and other bits and bobs for projects, hunkering down for days at a time waiting out rains squalls and high winds; all the while keeping busy while waiting to hear from the Royal Free Hospital.
|NBV moored up at Great Linford Manor Park on a warm spring afternoon.|
|The view of the Manor Park from our windows. To the left is part of the old stone wall surrounding the large Manor house. Off in the middle distance is the village of Great Linford. To the right are the old Almshouses.|
|Another view from the front of our boat, across one of two ponds, to the old church tower. The almshouses can just be seen on the left through the trees.|
|Les and I wander amongst the headstones reading what epitaphs have not been erased by time and weather while the living gather inside.|
|I decided to have a closer look...|
|and peek through the back gate. These are now used as artists studios and nearby stable buildings are occupied as an Arts Centre.|
|England at its finest! A rare sunny day lights up spring blossoms by an ancient dry stacked stone wall.|
|My Best Beloved looking on through the trees towards NB Valerie.|
|A view of the Almshouses from the central path. Once could easily believe it was still the 17th century.|
|These two lovely buildings were once the stables--designed to appear as posh gate houses. The Almshouses are directly off to the right, the church is off the to the right behind the Almshouses and the manor house is directly behind me.|
|This manor house was built in 1678 by Sir William Pritchard although a manor of some sort has been recorded as standing here since 944 ACE. In 1984 its new owner converted the two story ballroom in the right wing, into a recording studio.|
|As we stand at the Manor Park gate, ahead is the thatched roof Nag's Head pub dating back to the 15th century.|
I love the composition of this picture which includes the old stone wall, the ancient pub's sign, and a bright red phone box in the distance.
Many layers of history are in evidence and it is easy to lose one's self in it--like diving into a layer cake!
|Looking back through the gate and down the long pathway across the park, to NB Valerie moored in the distance.|
|Here is a view of boating backwards for those readers who have never been on a boat!|
|"Every Castle Has Its Keeper Behind Locked Doors, Waiting Silently in the Dark Shadows Lies The Grim Reaper." Cheery, no??|
|Moving on again we pass through a bridge with a sign stating the Bedford and Milton Keynes Waterways will start just North of here on the right....|
|One never knows what one will spy along the cut! A bride and groom begin their new life with wedding photos taken at Campbell Park in Milton Keynes.|
|We braved several days of high winds and the absolute mania of boaters on the Easter four day weekend while moored here.|
|On the towpath side, just beyond the hedge lies private farm land with the ruins of St. Peter's 12th century chapel which was in use until 1956. If you would like to read more of its truly fascinating history, including how this parcel of land came to be owned currently by Earl Spencer, Viscount Althorp (Princess Diana's brother), click on this link to my earlier post dated February 08, 2013. The church is now in the process of being rebuilt and its historical society contacted me for permission to use my post in their records and blog site.|
The lakes were created after gravel pits were dug out in past decades. There are a string of almost a dozen lakes--two of which are held in a 91 acre parcel just adjacent to Viscount Althorp's field and belonging to Hanson Environmental Study Centre. One can enjoy the views of the lakes and the wildlife from the footpath we followed, or one can join the HESC and gain access to its grounds which include paths through woodland around the lakes and several bird hides from which splendid views may be had. As we walked along the path a green woodpecker landed on a nearby stump with an insect in its mouth. It rested there for several minutes while we stared in awe and misery as we hadn't brought our cameras with us.
|Photographs © Tony Bedford 2011|
As we continued around the lake we spotted over fifteen Cormorants, countless different kinds of ducks, geese, Terns and off in the distance on the brow of a farmer's field we spotted a dozen or so pairs of nesting swans. We also saw three barn owl nesting boxes.
We hiked in between the two lakes, climbed a fence and found ourselves at the doorstep of the HESC. It was locked up tight so we walked up the road to the Black Horse Pub and back down the towpath to NBV for a 3 mile hike.
As Easter weekend bore down upon us, our quiet stretch of countryside quickly filled to the brim with boaters and soon we were nut to butt with other folks seeking to enjoy a slice of nature on their four day weekend.
We were also entertained by hundreds--and I do mean hundreds--of boats coming and going in a frenzy all four days. From the way boats were piloted and the livery on them I spotted: small day boats loaded with family and friends whizzing by at top speed, hire boaters--mostly from Canal Boat Club and Wyvern Shipping Co. Ltd.
Many of these folks wore the broad smiles and "fake-it-till-you-make-it" glazed eyes of boating newbies as they plowed around the bend in the canal beyond us without slowing down-only to meet a wide beam creeping out of the curve aimed directly at them. Hire boats turned up in a row, stacking up behind one another like five o'clock traffic, not slowing down until they were right on top of the boat in front of the boat in front of the boat in front who was dueling for right of way with another wide beam!
We also witnessed a few shiny boats out with their no nonsense attitude of "It's my holiday and I've paid to use this slice of canal so get out of my bloody way!" We saw beautiful Share ownership boats thoughtfully and carefully piloted, tatty live aboard vessels looking like floating rubbish bins, and everything in between. We smiled and waved to many folks who slowed down, passed politely and were obviously thrilled down to their socks to be out on a boat pootling up a canal on a four day weekend.
Of course the towpath was not devoid of action either. Swarms of joggers, dog walkers in the several dozens, bicyclists--oh everyone and their mother's brother's sister's cousin's kids were out and about. Thank the Goddess for the end of the holiday and for our lives aboard every day. We are so incredibly lucky we don't have to turn in the keys at the weekend, trudge back to the car, battle traffic and head to a house for another week in the rat race.
While pandelerium reigned on the water, Les and I enjoyed evening walks up to the old farm bridge over the canal and waited for the gloaming to fall and bring with it barn owls quartering across the fields, hunting for dinner. Watching these beautiful birds fly on silent wings, dip, dive and come up again with a mouse is magical.
Too keep ourselves busy we worked on our new large wood box. Les picked up the deck boards in Fenny Stratford, I chose the stain color, and Les took my inquiry as to whether we could move or small wood box to the back of the roof and reinterpreted it into a brilliant large box upon which both of our solar panels will be mounted sometime soon. My baby does beautiful work!!!
|Les staining the pieces for the new wood box.|
|A view of the top as it currently sits unfinished. Plenty of time to complete this project and we are in no hurry.|