On our brief view of the marina office/ shop/ facilities building last night I had seen a room with sofas and armchairs and books. It looked like a pleasant communal space to meet up. This morning just after 10, I went to ask about getting a mooring for the night, so it would be sorted before coming back along, and we didn’t have to return before the office closed. I tried the shop/office door but it was shut and someone from the communal space called out that it wasn’t open until 11. There were a group of women in that comfy room with knitting needles and another was just arriving. That looked like just the place to be!
I reported back to Shane that we had a while to wait. He was filling up with water and I thought I might as well wait at the marina and take my knitting as wait at the boat. I was slightly nervous about crashing an established knitting group and disturbing their conversation, but if they were all interested in boats and knitting, they must surely be friendly! And of course I was indeed warmly welcomed and invited to pull up a chair. The woman next to me (if you read this, I am so sorry I have forgotten your name, as you did introduce yourself) made warm and enthusiastic conversation and informed me of a spectacular display of knitted structures in nearby Cosby. Amazing water themed designs are on show until September 4th. I was soon introduced to the Scottish member of the knitting group, from Glasgow, who had heard of Fochabers and often goes to Cullen. In the short time we had covered boat travels, blogs, canal television programmes, cancer treatment, rescuing an inflatable pool, the meaning of blether/blather and even a little about knitting – though I did only knit a couple of rows. It was a delight to meet them and they gave permission to be blogged. They don’t meet tomorrow but if I am here again I will certainly drop in – 10.00 till 12.00 on a Saturday – and bring my 20p for milk ( not needed today) – Thanks for extending the needles of friendship and allowing me to take a photo.
The lady at the office did appear and eventually I managed to tear myself away and go and do what Shane thought I had come for. It was certainly fine for us to stay the night but finding a suitable berth proved harder than expected and we had gone to look at three different ones before she found one that worked for us. She was very accommodating and wanted it to be a place that was easy for us to find as we would arrive when the marina was unstaffed. She took me right to the berth so I would find it easily. We were to be right next the “Penny Lane”. That was memorable.
We got off at last. Shane noticed a colourful flag and was trying to work out what it represented then realised the writing on it was the name of the boat. It’s the first personalised boat flag we have seen.
I had been worried the route would be very slow and full of moments of grounding but they only occurred briefly when passing another boat, and we came to no serious trouble. Even when we passed the trip boat full of a jolly cocktail drinking birthday party goers, crewed by pirates.
I made a quick savoury scone lunch again…I hadn’t even looked in the shop for bread, too much else going on! Shane wanted to carry on quickly so we weren’t too behind time with our later start. I was inside when I heard him cry “kingfisher!” I thought I had no chance to see it but came out anyway and it flew back past us.
Inside again I heard our horn, followed by darkness. Ah I hadn’t realised there was a tunnel on this route at all. To be fair there had been a few toots as occasionally Shane “replies” to a car that toots as it crosses a bridge as we are going under it. There is also a steam railway nearby so in both directions we heard that too.
At the end of the navigable canal (less than usual as there was a block up) there was a little pedestrian bridge to a shop. There was a large array of bric-a-brac, crockery, electrics books and games too and we chose some plates since a couple of ours have got cracked. There was a donation box for when it was unstaffed. It sold ice cream and the volunteer running the shop was there so we were able to get that too.
The return was just as smooth but with a pair of kingfishers this time in stead of one and two boats smelt of curry in stead of one. The people were as friendly, the trains tooted again (but I never saw them) the tunnel was just as dark, but this time we had a toddler singing in it when we first went in!
We found our berth without difficulty and even with a brisk breeze Shane has no difficulty reversing in. A man had come over to offer help if needed but left saying Shane had done a perfect job and needed no help. We are now settled between Penny Lane and Swim Low Sweet Chariot. Mission accomplished….except for not getting to the silver propeller location so we really will need to come back again, all the more chance to catch up with those knitters!