Parked on the North Oxford Canal just on the outskirts of Braunston, we needed some groceries, to collect an fRoots package from the Post Office, and some small boat bits from the huge Midland Chandlery, so off we set across the muddy field for a stroll around town.
In the Post Office, a tall slim person, we guessed late 60s, dressed smartly in women’s clothes, and without a trace of stubble or Adams apple spoke just like a bloke; having changed a massive £20 into Euros s/he expressed surprise when I said the magic words Poste Restante and said s/he didn’t know that service existed. and asked about it.
The assistant in the shop called him Bryn. We moved across to the community cafe across the road, and shortly after we’d got our coffees, s/he came in and we got chatting. S/he’d been a sea-going engineering person for many years, travelled most of the canal system years ago in a narrowboat, and still worked in the marina for the boat sales company, even though s/he was now over 70. Knew Piper Boats well. Clearly a well known figure around town, s/he was off to France on the bus for the weekend on the annual village exchange visit (hence the Euros), it was equally clear that the totally unfazed locals still referred to Bryn as “him”. Clearly rural England isn’t as hide-bound as one might think…
Returning to Song & Dance via the chandlers, we set off after lunch for the delights of Rugby. Arriving at the top of Hillmorton Locks, we decided to lock down: there are six locks paired up so only three to work, and tied up at the bottom at what used to be a pleasant mooring “out in the sticks”. Apparently Hillmorton locks are the busiest on the system. It was quiet when we passed through, although we did spot nb Rebellion who we’d helped out last year as we leapfrogged each other down the River Soar and past Leicester.
These green fields now seemed pretty well churned up, and diggers and stuff were beavering away. We discovered the next morning that the whole area that used to comprise the VLF Rugby Radio Station (for submarines and self-setting clocks) was being turned into a new town: hundreds of houses, two primary schools, a secondary school, yadda, yadda. And doubtless no improvements to the local transport infrastructure. Not quite true: there were rumours of a Rugby Parkway railway station. Wonder what we’ll find next time we pass.