We are cruising up the Grand Union Canal to Bletchley. We are presently in Leighton Buzzard. The railway, as usual, roughly parallels the canal, and that is bringing up memories for me. Do those memories ever end?
For about 15 years my parents lived in Bletchley, and when I visited them from Canada Dad and I would often have a day together in London, and we would take the train. Milton Keynes and Bletchley are within the commuter belt of London, and the trains are frequent and take about an hour.
I believe I have already written about one of the days outings when Dad and I walked along the south embankment and he told the me about his early life with Mom, how they survived financially while he was getting his education and having children. All still during rationing, which didn’t end until sometime in the 50’s. So it has been quite stirring to slowly pass the towns on the canal that the train would have stopped in on the way to London. Who could ever forget a town who’s name is Leighton Buzzard, and the next one is Fenny Statford. In many cases the names of places are a combination of Norman French, Anglo Saxon and goodness knows what else, maybe even Latin. Dad had a pretty good handle on their origins, but they are lost on me. If he was interested in something he found out about it, before the World Wide Web, or as Peter Gzowski called it, the information super highway.
Tomorrow we are going to Bletchley Park, the home of the codebreakers during the Second World War. While Dad was living in Bletchley he was part of the group that was trying to save Bletchley, it was going to be redeveloped. Now it is a major, and important, preserved part of our history. I am looking forward to it.
Bletchley is next to Milton Keynes. One of those towns that was consciously planned rather than grew up in bits and pieces. It was not well done. The set up many squares, and at each corner is a round about, and instead of having names they have letters and numbers and they all look alike. It is easy to get lost and disoriented, but I am sure it is better now with GPS and with SatNavs as they call them here. They also put pedestrian walk ways under the roads instead of bridges over them. Of course they were not used due to the risk of mugging and rape. I wouldn’t have used them.
Sadly, by the time Mom and Dad moved to Bletchley Mom had largely lost interest in her creative ability. Dad and I remained close, but I drifted from Mom. Growing up I had loved to sew with her mentorship, and knit. And I learned to cook partly by being in the kitchen with her. I loved it. We made pies on Saturday morning, meat, then apple pies, basically the only kind of pie Dad would eat, no cinnamon. And then Mom would use the heat of the oven to make a rice pudding. Dads other favourite. We didn’t like it, so Mom and I would make bread and butter pudding for us.
As the years went by it was harder and harder to connect with her, and I regret not trying harder. There are so many questions that I would like to ask, and she never spoke of the past, neither of them did. I miss them both, they were so different from each other, and gave us kids the benefits of each of their skills. I often have dreams with them in it which I very much enjoy. It is like a little visit with them.
My latest hobby. I was disgusted by the rubbish in the canals around London and Birmingham. The rural ones are less offensive, but still lots of garbage. I bought the grabber on Leyton High Street, 1.55 pounds, and have filled at least 5 bags with garbage. This is today’s take, including a kids soother. That rope would have loved to have wound itself around a propeller. Yesterday’s included a shoe, mens, large, and a huge thick plastic bag. I think this is going to be an ongoing habit. I read Junk Raft about microscopic plastic in the oceans filling fish so that they think they are full, but actually starving. Now I have read that cigarette buts are worse than straws. Owen Sound doesn’t know what will have hit it when I move there.