Now deep in the heart of Buckinghamshire we continue to weave our slow and languid journey south along the Grand Union Canal, beside low wooded hills, green with the abundance of Spring. The occasional lock with jaws wide to welcome us, is the only interruption to our reverie as we steer mostly through the endless miles of sunshine that has bathed us in this early May. Even passing close to Milton Keynes, so well designed as such and laid out, has not spoilt the image of this near pastoral bliss.
Artistic Graffiti at Wolverton
St Mary’s Church at Woughton-on-the-Green
Poplars blown sideways by prevailing wind at Little Woolstone
This afternoon we have moored right outside the Globe Inn, just to the north of the twin towns of Leighton Buzzard and Linslade and the Sun is still shining with its continued golden munificence. On this bank holiday weekend the pub is doing well and the clientele are spilling out alongside the towpath. Sunday lunches are being served beneath well weathered umbrellas by harassed bar staff and as I write now the excited chatter and laughter wafts in through my open forward doors. Life is good and we have done well.
We plan to stay here another night so that we can visit tomorrow Ascott House the National Trust property about four miles from here. Hopefully the weather will remain in a generous mood for yet another day.
From Wolverton we travelled down to a suburb of Milton Keynes called Little Woolstone, near to the site of the proposed new canal between Milton Keynes and Bedford and in the glorious evening we walked across to the medieval village site of Woughton. All that remains of the western end, except for earthworks veiled by grass, is the church, still the parish centre point of the surviving village of Woughton-on-the-Green.
St Luke’s cruciform church at Stoke Hammond
Yesterday we journeyed a little further south to Stoke Hammond, the small village that is rather strung out along the busy A4146. But still it did its best to look pretty for us in the Sun and appeared well looked after with grass road verges well cut and manicured with Spring flowers. The small ancient church of St Luke looked mainly of the Thirteenth Century but we were unable to see inside unfortunately as it was locked. It was unusual in being built in the cruciform plan, reserved normally for large abbeys and cathedrals only. Stoke Hammond is one of only a handful of villages that was spared any casualties during the First World War and there is an unusual memorial in the centre of the village to commemorate the fact.
Stoke Hammond’s Unusual War Memorial
Sunset at Stoke Hammond
In the last couple of days birds have been more plentiful. As well as hearing the Cuckoo, for the first time for many years in fact, just a few days ago, on two separate occasions since then I have seen Mandarin ducks in the water as well as a Kingfisher sitting very close to me on a low branch. I reached for my camera quickly of course but none of them were prepared to wait until I was switched on and focussed up so I have no pictures to show unfortunately. Surprisingly today was the first time I spotted a Heron since leaving Banbury but he was much tamer and actually posed for his picture. Also there was a pair of Arctic Terns with their twin Swallow-like pointy tails overhead at Soulbury Locks earlier today, hoping no doubt that we would churn up some delicacy with our propellers for them to swoop for.
Therefore all seems well with everything and everybody on this sunny evening in Buckinghamshire and I am content.