In August 1987 Rubicon hired two canal boats named 'Lapwing' and 'Shoveller' from 'Willow Wren' in Rugby. We navigated to Milton Keynes and back along the Grand Union canal . On board 'Lapwing', the lads boat there was Robin Sibson, Me, Clive Rhodes, Jon Duffy, John Widdop, Richie Harris, Mark Welling, Simon and Andy Bailey. On the girls boat there was Heather Rhodes, Joanne Sibson, Sally Knifton, Anna Whitehead, Yvonne Hulland, Helen Coleman, Edna Blount and Pat Hallam.
The Log Book, Summer Camp 15th to 22nd August 1987 By Sally Knifton
Saturday 15th Aug
We all arrived at 1.00 (it was more like 1.10 by the time every-one had arrived). It was decided to get off the motorway at junction 19, and we left Breadsall around 1.30.
We passed junction 20 and to junction 18 but we hadn't passed any junction 19, we all arrived at the wharf at around 2.30 after getting off at junction 18 and going back.
The boats were boarded and luggage was taken on, beds were chosen and the vast area of both the boats were explored (?)
After the leaders were given their 'pep' talks we set off around 3.45, and that was the last time that the girls saw the boys' boat until the decided it was time for a drink; they collected their bottle of orange and we were off again.
While the boys were speeding ahead Pat and Edna were busy washing the potatoes for tea. The boys stopped and waited for the girls (by a pub!) and once the girls had arrived tea was served.
Then Robin gave a little talk about the teams and their various duties (washing, cooking and lock duty). The team with the day off the next day was voted to do the washing up, John did not like this idea as it was going to make him miss his first pint of the holiday so he swapped duties and went off to the pub with the other lads whilst the girls stayed and washed up.
The girls joined the lads later. How everyone managed to get back to the boats still remains to be a mystery as the tow path was almost non-existing.
We had our experience with the locks, three in a row, well it was good practice! The girls were helped by another group of Venture Scouts, it was quite handy them being able to help.
Going through Blisworth tunnel.
Sunday 16th Aug
Arose around 8.00, the lads were all energetic and went off running whilst the girls took a leisurely stroll to buy some milk for the cereals. Breakfast was sausages, beans and bread cooked by Mark, Richard, Simon and Prof. It tasted fine but the washing-up team (Anna, Andy, Robin and Clive) weren't too pleased with the pans which were left to be washed.
The boys' boat left first followed closely by the girls' but the gap widened and the boys had to wait. At the watering hole everyone jumped off the boats and left to go to the pub and stayed there until closing time.
By now all bare legs were getting a little burnt, especially John, Yvonne and Helen's.
Prof made a dramatic rescue at the water hole, cutting his toe in the process, the drowning subject in question……….. Pat's reading glasses!
We left the watering hole expected a nice gentle peaceful run but came up against six locks, a mile long tunnel in which the noise level was meant to be kept to a minimum but singing could be heard from the boys' boat whilst the girls were telling ghost stories, followed by another seven locks.
After the tunnel half the cook team (Mark and Simon) hijacked the girls' kitchen, the onions were a little bit of a problem as they couldn't see what they were cutting because of all the tears. This must have affected Simon's brain too as when told to put on the Top 40 he replied "It isn't on 'cause it's not Sunday" the chorus answer: "Yes it is you *#¥?0!"
We moored right after the 13th lock at a place called Whilton Marine soon to find a busy railway and the M1 were in earshot, but as everyone was getting hungry we stayed.
Tea was served an hour after mooring, the menu was a traditional camp delicacy - corn beef hash! followed by chocolate cake. Again the washing-up team were displeased as there was four corn beef hash tins to wash up.
The major event of the day, from which she is still recovering, was Helen fainting whilst on lock duty. Luckily a near-by woman assisted with the situation and all was well.
The evening was spent in a pub called 'The Locks' trying to figure out :-
No-one could answer any of them! (except Simon who though he may have won because he said a gavel was a fish when it was in fact a crocodile). He didn't win.
Again the girls boat was hijacked as the boys were all starving, taking back to their boat :- peanuts, crisps, cake, biscuits and pickled onions (and that was only Simon and John!)
Surprisingly enough neither the trains nor the cars were heard through the night.
Monday 17th Aug
Arose 8.15 the weather looked promising. Breakfast was bacon and egg cooked by Anna, Andy, Clive and Robin. Milk for the cereals was fetched from the near-by shop. Yvonne had a chance to drive the girls boat.
The event of the day was when Prof and Richard nearly got squashed by Clive's driving. Luckily he just managed to steer clear of the canoes which they were it.
Another long tunnel which the boys (especially John and Jon) missed as they were asleep. They were woken up, by Robin, when we got to the first of the seven locks of the day as they were on lock duty.
The locks went well as everyone helped. The weather turned for the worst and everyone (except Heather and Robin who were driving) stayed inside to shelter from the rain.
Fish fingers were the main meal of the day, accompanied by potatoes and carrots.
The 'refreshment house' for the evening was quite a walk, but after a few drinks it didn't seem so far back on the way back.
The boys again hijacked the girls' kitchen for cheese and pickle sandwiches and then went back to their boat to play cards until the early hours of the morning.
Most nights after the pub we played three card brag for very modest stakes.
Tuesday 18th Aug
Arose 8.30 Breakfast was cooked by Yvonne, Sally, Heather, Jo and Jon; it was sausage, bacon and egg. We set off rather later than we wished to. We would have liked to set off earlier so we could get to Milton Keynes with plenty of time for shopping.
We stopped off to empty the boys' toilets, fill up with water and pump out the girls' toilet. Who would empty the toilets was decided by a 'death cut' this was won (or lost depending on which way you looked at it!) by Clive and Simon.
We passed over an aqueduct in which Sally's t-short went to join Robin's trainers, his shirt and John's sunglasses in the bottom of the canal.
The team on lock duty has an easy day (Richard, Mark, Simon and Prof) as there was only one lock, and this is the place where the first person fell in, and the lucky person ? Mark! Oh well, someone had to be first!
We travelled through Milton Keynes, some were admiring, and some were loathing the architectural design of the area. We stopped near a pub not far from the main road into Milton Keynes town centre.
After some discussions and arguing uniforms were put on. Some people were going shopping and others had the idea of going swimming but Milton Keynes has no swimming pool or leisure centre so everyone ended up going shopping.
Whilst ringing home Edna received some very bad news, her husband had died that afternoon. Pat's husband came and fetched both Edna and Pat. We were all greatly saddened by his death and had a collection for a wreath. The teams were changed a little because of Pat and Edna' absence, Sally moved from her team into John and Helen's team.
The idea of going back into Milton Keynes that evening was ruled out by the expense of the bus fares, 52p for about half a mile, the taxis were cheaper, £1.60 for four people.
A small pub was found in the middle of a housing estate. This is where Robin and Jo, Heather and Clive had their evening meal, everyone else had eaten at McDonalds (some had eaten a little more that others)
Robin, Heather and Clive decided to try their hand at fishing, Robin's fishing rod was made out of the mallet, Clive's a canoe paddle and Heather's a draining spoon, no wonder they didn't catch anything.
After we over stayed our welcome in the pub we managed to get back to the barge, the boys made their sandwiches and went back to their boat to play cards, they were joined by Yvonne, Helen and Sally who helped Andy lose all his money and then on the last hand they won and this made Andy's night.
The lads boat had a traditional toilet system. We had to have a 'Death Cut' to decide who was going to empty it.
Wednesday 19th Aug
Arose early (around 7.30). The cook team (Helen and Sally) were surprised when the other member of their team, John, was all set in the kitchen to make breakfast before they were up. Breakfast was bacon and egg.
We set off around 8.45. We stopped at Cosgrove for lunch and water and also to buy provisions.
Simon thought he would have an easy day and swapped his washing up duty with Anna's lock duty. He though we would only be going though one lock today, unfortunately for him due to the early start we made it through another seven.
We arrived at Stoke Bruene at around 4.30 and whilst the cook team were busy making the spag bol the others went around the Waterways museum.
Yvonne agreed to wash John's hair for him and this gave Sally the opportunity of a good photograph.
Whilst the cook team were busy Clive and John managed to misplace the football in the canal. A passing canoeist kindly agreed to retrieve it for them.
After dinner Rich, Prof, Simon and Mark did the washing up and then everyone went down to the pub for 'a few jars'. Mark and Andy wore ties and shirts so the girls, not to be outdone, wore skirts. When we returned to the boat, after closing time, Simon woke Heather when he tried, and succeeded, in getting into the girls' boat which was locked to get food. The girls went to the boys boat to play cards but this time they did not have the same luck as the night before and lost everything. Jon went to bed half-way through as he looked a little rough !!!
Thursday 20th Aug
The most popular activity on board was sitting on the roof obscuring the view of the driver.
Arose later than yesterday at about 9.30 and the girls had breakfast in bed courtesy of Andy. The choice was either fried or scrambled eggs.
We set off at about 10.00 and stopped for water at Blisworth, and provisions ( and ice-creams!). The girls went onto the boys' boat for a while and played cards and read the newspapers. We stopped for lunch at about 12.30 at the Barley Mow and left at 2.45. The boys tried for a new world record of how many people they could squeeze on the roof of the boat (width ways) they managed five but not for very long! (John, Jon, Andy, Rich and Mark).
During the seven locks of the day, the second to fall in, fell in, the fortunate person this time was Helen, she tried to jump a little further than her little legs could reach after following Robin's advice of "You'll make that easily". This set of locks must be unlucky for Helen, as this incident happened one lock after where she fainted on the way down.
At the seventh lock the boys' boat went through but the girls' boat had to wait as the lock had been locked due to a regatta and they were saving water and only letting boats through in pairs so we had to wait for another boat so we could go through together.
Whilst waiting, the smell of the pizzas, which was being cooked by Mark, Simon, Richard and Prof, got too much and we ate ours.
We managed to get through the lock after about half an hours wait.
We tied up, and the boys' boat ate their pizzas. Pudding followed with custard. The washing up team quite liked the idea of pizzas as there wasn't much washing up to be done.
We went to the New Inn, the boys played darts, most of the darts managed to hit the dart board! Clive skinned everyone's butt.
On the way home the path took a bend, but Clive didn't and was the third to fall in. His fall was the worst as all of him got wet. He managed it back to the boat where a hot shower and a drink was waiting for him.
Yet another shock was in store when we arrived back at the boat as it was facing the wrong way, so everyone started blaming either Robin or Andy, the arguing got louder until a voice from the neighbouring boat said "I turned it round as it was floating off towards the lock". The blame was then placed on the near-by camp site.
Friday 21st Aug
"Sally, Sally, quick the boat's drifting away" woke the girls' boat up at 4.00 in the morning, it was Anna and her wild imagination.
At 6.30 yet again Anna woke everyone up, this time the message was only a little bit different "Sally, Sally, the boys' boat is drifting away" and this time she wasn't imagining things, Prof and Robin pulled the boat back in and at the same time turned it round so it was facing the correct way again. The boys woke up unaware of all this commotion and wanted to know how the boat had turned round.
Breakfast was eggs and was cooked by Andy, Robin, Clive and Anna. The washing up was done by Jo and Heather.
We set off at about 9.00 and stopped at the Boatman Hotel for lunch. This took a little longer than anticipated as the service was a little slow and we started off at around 3.00
We got to the mooring place for the evening but before we were able to stop for the evening the boats had to be turned round so we could have a short run back to the wharf on Saturday morning. After this had been done everyone jumped off and when to the pub. The boats were quite tidy as whilst still travelling they were tidied up and the pots which belonged to the boys' boat but were on the girls' were piled up ready to be taken over.
After the pub had closed we left and went back to the boats. The girls went and played cards on the boys' boat until Clive wanted his beauty sleep and as we were sitting on his bed we went outside. As it was a nice evening (well there was no rain anyway) we decided to stay outside a bit. We were getting cold so Yvonne and Sally went to fetch some blankets off the girls' boat and we wrapped there around us.
At about 3.00 am we though it would be nice if we could stay and watch the sun rise so we waited until 6.00 but as it was cloudy we couldn't see anything.
Before Andy went to bed he got everyone laughing due to his impressions of Yvonne and Mavis Riley. Yvonne didn't mind at all, well she couldn't really due to all the tears streaming down her face.
Saturday 22nd Aug
Arose at 6.30 (although Yvonne, Helen, Sally, Simon and Richard we all ready up) and sorted out the boats. We had cereals to save washing up. The boats were tidied up until they were in the same condition as last Saturday and we went back to the wharf.
At the wharf all the luggage was taken off the boats and everybody went home a little more tired than when they came but with a memory of a most enjoyable holiday.
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