Return to Stretton day 3
Fenny Stratford to Gayton Junction
Not much to show for a day's boating, you might think, and you'd be right. Just as I texted Clair to say we were on schedule and hoping To be enjoying a birthday mixed grill in the Greyhound, than the engine started to slow down of its own accord. About a mile south of Stoke Bruerne, we pulled into a lovely (if nettly) overgrown bit of towpath for Jim to investigate.
Having first suspected a fault in the fuel lift pump, the problem was eventually traced to a loose banjo joint, allowing air into the system. Tightening that up seems to have done the trick, but as the starter motor won't engage when the engine's hot, it took us a while to check it out. In all we were stopped for about four and a half hours. I'm not complaining; it was a lovely spot and the sunshine was just perfect.
We set off again about five o'clock, up the Stoke Bruerne locks, once again pairing, fortuitously, with the Wyvern hireboat Bluebell, and then through the tunnel, stopping not very far the other side as dinner was ready. I have discovered that the Beatrice stove is excellent for this all purpose recipe - cut up whatever vegetables you have to hand, add a tin of chickpeas or beans of some kind, and a jar/tin of Pataks curry sauce or some Italian tomato stuff, and put over a low flame until the vegetables are cooked. It barely needs stirring and all the veg, including onions, is done to a turn, even without prior frying. Tonight was fresh broad beans and cabbage, an onion, a tin of butter beans, and bolognese sauce, topped with cheese. the vegetables might not sound inspiring but it was lovely and very substantial.
I have started remembering to make the lunchtime sandwiches before we leave, which is also useful.
Anyway, clearly our tight schedule is now all gone to pot, so in a way the pressure is off. We have arranged to leave Chertsey at Alvecote this weekend, and have booked birthday dinner at the Nelson insterdof the Greyhound. I shall miss visiting the latter pub, butbthe food at the Nelson when we visited last month was outstanding, so that will be something to lok forward to.
It's extraordinary to think, now that Chertsey is back on the Grand Union after probably thirty-odd years, how many hundreds of times she must have been up and down it in her working life. I know it's fanciful, but it's almost as of the boat knows its way around the bends and into the locks. Not instinct maybe, but perhaps engineering. Apart from the trip down to Cassiobury (and I only did that as far as Cowroast) this os only the second time I have travelled this part of the GU (the first was on Chiswick, a long time ago) and I only now appreciate how lovely it is.