Great Barford to Bedford

Great Barford is a picture perfect riverside village best known for its pub…

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The Anchor Inn Great Barford

… and its (at least partially) early fifteenth century bridge.

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Also the residents aren’t short of a bob or two. This one arrived home via helicopter.

PoshNeighbours

As far as I’m concerned one of Great Barford’s biggest attractions is that it’s situated just three miles away from Tempsford where there is a large stained glass supplier called, appropriately enough, Tempsford Stained Glass. Tempsford itself is actually on the river but unfortunately has no moorings so last Friday morning we walked over there and spent a couple of hours (and a small fortune) buying glass and accoutrements for various projects. Needless to say we couldn’t manage to cart it all back on foot so we had to have a taxi home. I now have no excuse not to get on with Ray and Diane’s ‘Ferndale’ lamps and Roger Griffith’s window.

In the evening we went to the Anchor and had a meal for my birthday – have I mentioned that I’ve just turned 60? Perhaps just in passing.

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Reserved? I don’t think so!

It was a lovely birthday dinner – that’s half a delicious boneless duck on my plate – but it was even nicer to sit outside on the green by the boat coiffing port in the dark afterwards.

Then it was on to Bedford and the head of navigation of the Great Ouse at Kempston Mill.

OasisBedford

Egypt? Vegas? Na – Bedford Leisure Centre with a very handy Tescos just a couple of minutes away from the mooring

While Bedford itself is fairly unremarkable, the approach via the river is amazing. They’ve developed a green corridor of parkland all the way along the river for several miles so your approach to the town is entirely rural. They seem to specialise in attractive bridges.

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ButterflyBridge

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A black swan amongst all the mute swans, ducks and geese – I wonder where he arrived from?

The moorings are in the middle of the city beside quite a busy walkway. The only problem was with gongoozlers but by and large they were friendly and curious – just wanting to chat and ask loads of questions about what it’s like to live on a boat. We did have one slightly disturbing incident though. A rather inebriated bloke was cycling past while we were sitting on the back of the boat. He screeched to a halt so that his back wheel spun round 90 degrees and he began to hurl abuse at Gordon. ‘Who do you think you f’ing are you f’ing w**ker. Think you’re hard do you?’ etc etc etc. He kept this up for a good three or four minutes while we completely ignored him before he got bored and wobbled off again. Lord alone knows what prejudice Gordon triggered. Maybe he doesn’t like bald blokes with beards, or perhaps blokes on boats or blokes wearing boiler suits – who knows?

Apart from watching people watching us we were entertained by a canoe water polo practice session right beside the boat.

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We’d wondered why there were lines strung across the river and we found out when this lot turned up and hung nets on them.

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It does seem to be a bit of a contact sport – they seemed to slam into each other with a fair degree of force – and this was a ‘friendly’ game amongst club mates.

Just past the centre of Bedford is the head of navigation on the Great Ouse and, although there are a couple of pretty low bridges, we had to take down the chimney and give it a go.

WillWeMakeIt

Are we going to make it?

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Only just!

It was only a couple of miles but it was worth the bother.

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Head of navigation on the Great Ouse at Kempston Mill

Although there are some lovely things waiting for us in the next month as we travel back down the Great Ouse – including more visits from friends and family – there’s still a slightly sad feeling about going back over old ground and temporarily losing the excitement of the new.

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