Another day in the green and pleasant land. From Barton we drove today over the increasingly familiar route through the delightful little villages of Harlington and Toddington toward the A5. We headed north to Milton Keynes for some shopping and after lunch back south to a little place on the Grand Union Canal called Stoke Hammond. We had arranged to meet Samuel and Nick there, courtesy of Nick’s mum and grandmother. We arrived first and wandered up and down the canal while several long narrow boats negotiated their way either up or down the stairway of three locks.
Once the others arrived we spent some time “assisting” with the opening and closing of the various lock gates. Its a slow process, this getting boats up and down locks. A stark contrast to the road traffic constantly humming just beyond the buildings which line the three locks in that spot. One of the buildings was a pub called the Three Locks, but there were no nice Devonshire teas – it was very much a drinking house – so we were not tempted to linger, especially once rain began to fall. So Nick and Sam said their goodbyes and we were on our way again, thinking perhaps we would stop and explore Leighton Buzzard, a little further south.
However, the traffic was heavy and somehow I missed the parking areas and we ended up driving out of the town almost before we realised it and we decided to head for home, back to Barton. Once again we found ourselves passing through Woburn, another village we keep encountering. The stately home stood majestically in the distance as we drove past yet again, back across the fields of ripening wheat. Maria has sneezed her way around the hayfever inducing countryside for almost a week now. At last we wound our way down the hill from Harlington toward Sharpenhoe. “Is that the Clappers?” asked Hanna, who is also becoming familiar with the countryside around the Giles’ home.
Today was my birthday, having “filled” 46 years (that is the way they say it in Sweden), so to celebrate Maria and I went out to the local Barton-le-clay Italian restaurant. The kids were at home with the various other people who are currently staying in the Giles house while they are away on holidays. I ate far too much, and am now sitting up to let the excellent meal digest a bit before I “lay me down to rest.” Tomorrow we head south to Maidenhead.