I'm very lucky to not only have Starcross but also to have good friends in Kris and Bernard who often invite me aboard their boat Sunshine. Based at Pillings Lock on the River Soar they usually cover territory I can't easily get to on my own boat.
This year they've been down to London and the Thames and are currently heading home up the Grand Union. They rang last night to invite me to join them in Stoke Bruerne for a few days as they head north.
Part of the fun of trips like this is planning how to get there: it's complicated this time because I can't get away from Lancaster until mid-afternoon and Stoke Bruerne is accessible only by infrequent rural buses. In fact, buses seem to go out of their way to avoid Stoke Bruerne. Two of the three routes from Northampton to Towcester go nowhere near the village and the 86 which does runs only five times a day, with the last bus from Northampton leaving half-an-hour before the first train I can catch arrives.
The main A508 road that passes within a mile of the village is served by two long-distance routes X4 and X7 with departures from Milton Keynes that I could make if I took the train to there; but these are limited-stop services and don't have a stop anywhere near the junction to the Stoke Bruerne road. I suppose I could try and get the driver to drop me there but if he or she wouldn't then I'd face a long and dangerous walk in the dark, along what Google Street View shows to be a fast and busy main road with no facilities for pedestrians, or indeed anything other than motor vehicles.
I was about to give up and find out how much a taxi from Northampton might be (I was brought up to believe that taxis were for emergencies only and I still think of them as "cheating") when I discovered the "33". Run by the slightly-dubious sounding outfit "Z and S International" (International? - It's only Stoke Bruerne) It runs from Northampton to Milton Keynes via a tortuous route that does at least have the advantage of passing through the village of Ashton, about two miles from Stoke Bruerne to which I can walk along what appears to be a minor road. All being well I should reach Sunshine by 20.00 and assuming I do I'll tell you how the whole trip went when I get back.