Since she was about 13 years old, Carol has had a Norwegian pen-friend, Inger. She and her husband, Helge, live near Bergen in Norway. Today, they were finishing a two week trip around the Avon Ring in a narrow boat rented from Bidford Boats and we were off to collect them.
Unfortunately the boat was being beached at 9:00 AM and it’s a good 90 minute drive from Leighton Buzzard to Bidford, so an uncomfortably early alarm started the day at 6:00 AM. To be completely accurate, as is often the case when an alarm has been set, an even more uncomfortable fitful hour of tossing and turning waiting for the accursed alarm to go off started the day at 5:00 AM. Nonetheless, somewhat invigorated by an espresso, we set off at 7:30 AM to find the boat yard.
What a foul morning it was weather-wise. It was certainly a good day not to be driving a boat. I felt sure that the forecast had spoken about showers but this was wall-to-wall rain. Carol had been planning a leisurely return trip through the Cotswolds to show Inger and Helge some more of our attractive countryside and villages but anything was going to be very hard pressed to look attractive on such a day.
After two wrong turns, one over a particularly appealing old Avon bridge and another down an otherwise promising-looking dead-end, we located the Bidford Boats boatyard and an only slightly damp Inger and Helge. Having been expecting one suitcase each, as it turned out there was just enough room in our car’s boot for a particularly large suitcase together with its various associated other cases and bags. Carol would not have been happy leaving the car with an obviously fully laden boot so perhaps the rain didn’t matter so much.
We did drive back through Broadway which, as a mark of its charm, was still managing to look attractive despite the appalling weather conditions. Maybe the yellow Cotswold stone manages to look sunny even when it isn’t.
Having arrived home after our Broadway diversion, we unloaded the boot, much to the relief of our car’s suspension, before popping off to a local pub/wine bar/restaurant for lunch. We decided upon the Grove Lock by the Grand Union Canal, as if Inger and Helge hadn’t seen enough of canals and narrow boats during the last two weeks. That did the trick – the rain ceased and the sun put in an appearance. At least our planned Spanish evening meal of tapas and paella wouldn’t now feel totally out of place.
We got out our own drinking horns to continue the reunion party at home while Carol introduced Inger to the traditional English pastime of shelling fresh peas on the back step. This was a new activity to Inger; it seems peas come only frozen in Norway. (I was tempted to suggest that everything comes frozen in Norway, but gamely resisted.)
No rape and pillage these days, then?