Oh Happy Day

Yesterday I declined a walk into Northampton, but it wasn’t that I had heard anything bad about it, I just thought we would move closer and reduce the walk. The boat we had met had suggested that it might be hard to get moored there, so we were aware we might have to look out for spaces on approach. Our mooring last night, which they had recommended, worked but left us at quite an angle. Getting out took a lot of gentle reverse before I could move forwards and steer.

We passed through the remaining 3 locks without incident or seeing any other boats. So if we met nothing, then surely we might struggle to moor. We spotted some places that seemed reed free. Shane had been told it was very reedy here at times. The water was a bit shallow in places and I got a good view of plants and little fish in the water and once, a very big fish, over a foot long. I saw butterflies and a heron too so today was looking more like the bridge mural than it had yesterday, so that was a good start. We drove to the end of the arm and saw no moored boats at all. We are baffled about where the crowded story came from but pleased that it looked to be clean tidy, overlooked by many windows, so seemed safe enough. Shane spotted at the front and I turned in the slightly odd shaped winding hole. His signals of how close I was to the concrete wall were very helpful and I succeeded at last in turning with no scrapes. Despite the threat of storm Kathleen, we weren’t hampered by strong winds either. It was bright and sunny and easy to moor on the empty mooring rIngs.

We both had missions. Shane was taking advantage of being in a town with a building society where he wanted to speak to staff. I was looking for a shop selling the right size of knitting needle for my current project. I had found them on-line and they were a little outside the centre but a straightforward walk. I left Shane in the centre and headed out. I was already liking what I saw of Northampton, we had passed a few interesting statues. Now I was wondering what that familiar music was I heard. I was sure I could hear bagpipes!

A bagpiper in full regalia in Northampton centre

The sun had made me think of summer and I popped into a shop and got some remarkably inexpensive sandals. I know mine are beginning to show significant wear and tear so might suddenly need replaced and I can’t guarantee that will happen when I am anywhere near a town. Flushed with success I continued in the direction that seemed right. Being not famed for my navigation skills, I was a shade concerned that none of the names I expected to see were turning up. The park I could see was called the racing course, while Shane had said the street the shop was on, was named after the park, Kingsley Park Terrace. This park wasn’t called that and no streets on my map were called that either. The road I was on was called Kettering Road. Shane does not usually give duff navigation advice though, and I had looked at his map myself. I had no other landmarks to look for. When I saw a sign for white elephant junction, I thought I might be on a hiding to nothing.

The White Elephant pub

I knew it was further than I had already come so I pressed on and rows of trees in blossom ahead, led me to hope that could indeed be an avenue coming up. There was still no street name visible as I reached the trees but I saw numbers and was relieved to see the very shop there and open. It was surprisingly crowded inside, but a sunny Saturday might bring people out and they prided themselves on being a helpful shop. I wondered if they had a community help group going on. There was a lot of chitchat happening. I found the needles I needed and went to the till and was amazed to hear the lady tell me the price and then add, “And would you like a glass of prosecco?” Then “And cake, it’s our birthday today so we are treating our customers, help yourself!” I squeezed to the back, managed to get my prosecco and had some nibbles. This day was just getting better by the second.

I declined cake or further food as Shane would be expecting to have lunch soon. I stepped out and he was already waiting outside for me. We walked into town and Shane had remembered me saying positive things about the meals I had seen through a cafe window. I was now flushed with shopping success and prosecco so anywhere would do. It was busy but someone was just leaving so we got seated by a window with lots of space. They had a wide menu but specifically had a wide range of crepes. I chose one of their favourites which was in the sweet section, but was a bit savoury too, bacon and maple syrup. Shane went wild with something he has never had before: a full English breakfast in a crepe!

Shane with his full breakfast crepe: bacon, mushroom and tomato inside, beans outside and a fried egg on top.

Replete, we went back to admire some statues we had seen earlier. There was a square with notable Northamptoners within the council headquarters. We got there just in time as it was being locked up as we posed and snapped. The security person was friendly (everyone has been friendly) and she gave us time to finish up.

In the centre was also a large church, we were moving towards there when we saw a fire engine, there were no flashing lights though and Shane remarked that it looked like they weren’t rushing, then we heard the familiar “neenaw neenaw” which is odd when the lights are not on, only to realise it was the bagpiper again, imitating the siren as it was going along past him and he continued into a familiar Scottish tune once the fire engine had rounded the corner. Another first, bagpipes pretending to be a fire engine.

We went into the church, which had a bistro attached… may be another time…and I collected a picture of another great set of pipes.

Golden organ pipes and clock in Northampton All Saints Church

On our way back we found an informative board that told us that Northampton had once been particularly known for it’s shoe making industry, which explained the city centre statue we had seen, at last. I don’t think that is why we were told a load of old cobblers about the moorings. So far the place has been very good to us indeed.

Statue of children playing atop a giant last
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