22 July 2008

Down good memory lane

Many of the best moments on the cut come unbidden and unplanned, the lack of expectation making the spontaneous experience all the sweeter. Our first acquaintance with Market Harborough was one of these. If I recall, it was a sunny Friday in mid-September two or three years back and we’d trundled up the Leicester Arm in splendid isolation before hitting the boat queue at Foxton. But we got down pretty smartly, leaving the rest of the boats behind as we turned into the Harborough Arm around 4ish. Aside from looking like a set from The Land that Time Forgot, this was a sinuous ribbon of reed-fringed water that glimmered in the late afternoon sunshine before gently depositing us on the visitor moorings outside the basin. It was a lovely way to arrive and the fact that there were no other boats in evidence gave us the pick of the moorings – we took the first outside the basin to minimise the walk into town. And it stayed like that for the duration of our 48-hour stay – we had the whole place to ourselves and it was wonderful!

That evening we wandered across to the Italian restaurant, sitting outside to enjoy an al fresco meal with a minimal stumble.. er, walk back to the boat. The next morning we pootled into town and discovered that MH was another in the long line of classic English market towns that have managed to hold onto the essence of what it once was. I smelt a Cafe Nero at 200 paces and it duly materialised, we did a quick provisioning at Sainsbugs and then we returned to the boat for some R&R. The peace and quiet was shattered a bit later when three local greyhounds thought it would be a wizard wheeze to stick their heads through the sidehatch – my gang soon told them what they thought of that particular idea! Curiously, the most innocent, inoffensive and innocuous of my lot, Miffy, is by far the most vociferous when it comes to warding other mutts off the boat....dog psychology anyone? Being original sorts, we went back to the same Italian that night and had a second very good nosh up, once again toasting the Indian Summer with a couple or ten Peronis. All the while we were able to keep an eye on the boat, thus ensuring that no impromptu greyhound raves took place.

We left the following morning, not without a tinge of regret because the whole two days had been cracking – a lovely mooring, nice locals, good food, a pleasant town, fantastic weather, no crowds, and this a place that we hadn’t even intended to visit initially but just popped down to on a whim. The temptation is to go back and repeat the experience but we all know that it can never be the same second time around – you can’t make spontaneity happen, you can’t magically recreate the conditions for your original happiness. We will go again, of course, but with happy memories, not unmatchable expectations.

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