Friday, 20th August: Moored at Irthlingborough (rope-hauled boat 80 yards to and from water-point)
As planned and as promised the gasman came to call... chatted, serviced the boiler and left, all in less than two hours. I had slid off the boat when I heard he was on his way lest I be subjected to another gasman confessional... Two months ago, after much badgering of our gas servicing supplier, the three times cancelled servicing of our domestic boiler happened. I was on my own in the house, the boiler was tested and swept, then pronounced healthy despite its significant age - but the engineer decided to disclose all sorts of private matters I 'd really prefer he hadn't. Locally this afternoon I couldn't occupy myself long enough off the boat but this gasman was a delight: polite and efficient and he talked of boats, caravans, mobile homes, trailer tent - and plans for a Pembrokeshire holiday. He left with a list of Pembrokeshire Must See places: I hope his visit boosts the local economy there! His visit compelled us to clear the Glory Hole, that area by the mid-hatch that houses my wonderful washing machine (seen doing some "Whites" this morning), brooms, vacuum cleaner, boots, life jackets, bags etc so that he could get at the boiler and airing cupboard.
This morning, as yesterday, the senior football team were out training; by mid-morning the Youth Trainees were on a different training ground, white skeletal models deployed presumably to develop tackling skills. Whistles and barked shouts on the wind, while not intrusive, are not the sweetest of sounds. Far better the shouts and laughter from the children's nursery attached to the stadium complex.
The Geo map and Imray River Nene Guide both refer to the Doc Martens shoe factory and factory shop. One building has signs for the Doc Marten's area, and a sign elsewhere points to the "Doc Shop". Not particularly a fan of Doc Marten boots nonetheless I had thought I could easily while away a happy hour looking for size 3 gems, but no, the shop is gone (to High Street, Wollaston, I gather), and the footwear factory is now in China ... The town is struggling; a woman asked contractors installing a new shop front what the shop would be selling: it is to be Bargain Booze. "This town doesn't need any more alcohol places," she complained. Even for needle and thread these days shoppers need to go to Wellingborough (5 miles away). What use just the Diamonds, one wonders.
An extremely blustery afternoon - see the wind lanes on the water; cruising further on for an hour or so might have had its challenges!
A compulsive reader of cereal packets and sauce bottles as a child - now I can barely pass a notice without reading it. See some signs around the football stadium. Which one saddened? Which one exasperated? But the bit I found on an Environment Agency board was interesting: this is just the plant we see by the holy well below the church in Stevington, flat nothingness in winter, over my head height in summer.
Plan for tomorrow: to Cogenhoe Lock or Billing Aquadrome.