Monday, 23 August 2010

A week of discovery - new friends and an older past

Monday 16th August to Sunday 22nd August

30 Miles, 42 Locks, 3 Swing Bridges – for this week

Totals: 113 Miles 140 Locks, 2 Tunnels, 6 Swing Bridges

As I slowly head north I will at some stage need to decide whether I head to Birmingham on the Grand Union, with a continuation of double locks or will I head up the Oxford (North) – I need to go to Great Haywood and then back to Rugby by the 25th Septmeber.

A decision for later.

On Monday I was indeed fortunate to have the company of Peter and Bill again on nb Thingvellir (which is Icelandic and refers to the place of the Parliament of Iceland) – we ventured as far as Berkhamstead, where we all decided to call it a day
Tuesday was a non-movement day
 and got some work out of the way
and then decided to do some
exploring of Berkhamstead – first it
was to return to find a totem pole –
which was carved by members of
the Kwakiutl tribe in recognition of
 the years that trade took place
 between this area and Canada.

Berkhamstead really is a very pretty place and has faced her best sides to the canal, further walking and I came across Berkhamstead Castle.

By Wednesday it was time to move again and I was in the immediate company of Pauline and Les from nb Nibby (and of course I couldn’t forget Libby the pup).

A truly delightful couple and such a nice and wonderful time doing locks, sitting and talking and enjoying a meal together over the 2 days whilst we travelled through to Grove Lock. We will catch up again after they return home – they had been out since April and were on their way home to Nuneaton after their journey had taken them all of the way down to Bristol.

Friday was another day when it was more important to get some work done and not to move, but the offset was to have lunch (and a beer) at the Grove Lock pub – nice and relaxed.

Saturday, and back on the move just for a short way to begin with and moored up at Linslade for a Tesco’s expedition and back away to moor up after  the Soulbury locks.

Sunday morning and rain down upon the roof just after 6am – not the time to get up yet – just a few more minutes of listening.

A very pleasant early morning cruise through to Milton Keynes Marina for a pump out and then an hour wait for the water point back outside and as I remembered the water pressure is way way down so it is another hour before the tank is full and then off but only for a mile or so to more up after bridge 81B just in front of nb Nibby who have already spent a full day here and are off tomorrow – such a very nice spot – I think I might spend some time here myself.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Whiled a little while in Watford and then whiled away

Monday 9th August to Sunday 15th August

5 Miles, 15 Locks – for this week

Totals: 83 Miles 98 Locks, 2 Tunnels, 3 Swing Bridges

The clear intention of this week was to not move anywhere at all – I wanted to spend the week down in Watford and be able to start and hopefully finish a number of tasks that I had down on my To Do List.

I also wanted to get as much work (that’s paying work) done as I could, as there is a great amount that I have started and which is much longer term stuff – hopefully this week I can finish some and make a great dent in the remainder.

That is the intention – I will have to wait and see how they end up.

Tuesday was an extremely fruitful day in my quest for this week – I have finished turning the bed around – now have a 190cm x 137cm bed (for the imperial minded that is 6’3” x 4’6”) – it is a little bit tighter fit around but suits my height much better – so that is now done.
The weather was fantastic for ducks – it really did rain all day – didn’t stop boats moving and moving faster than they should – in a hurry to get to where they are going without ANY consideration for moored boats.
Workwise it was a pleasing day – plenty did get done.

Although I am not the seasoned liveaboard just yet and haven’t travelled all of the waterways yet – I am going to be surprised if there is a lovelier lock setting than this one in Cassiobury Park – Lock 77 and Bridge 167 – I think it will take some beating.

Weatherwise, if you were someone looking forward to enjoying some sunshine in this English summer then this week would have been sadly disappointing for you – essential outdoor wear was the wet-weather gear and umbrella.
As it was this is perfect weather for me and the ducks – love the rain and there has been a lot of it.

Maggie and Paddy came over on Thursday to give the boat a lookover

Paddy thought that he might be able to catch dinner – fishing from the back of the boat – he caught a fairly small bream, but by the time I managed to get the camera and position it for his attempt to kiss it, the fish had decided this was enough and jumped out and back into the water. But did get an after-the-fish-got-away photo

Well Saturday arrived and I felt that it was time to move northwards – so set off late morning and travelled only a relatively short distance but will be trying very hard to keep to short travel days. The rain continued in heavy bursts and I was fortunate only to get caught in one, but the coat was drenched through but I was not.
One of the many bursts of rain

Very nice weather for Sunday’s short cruise to end on the northern end of Hemel Hempstead; met a lovely German family over here for 2 weeks of cruising – the two boys were keen to look after the locks and in the interests of appeasing others – I let them. Another pair of boaters Peter and Bill accompanied for the earlier locks – Bill, according to Peter was around the 80 mark – he certainly looked mighty good for those years and able to handle the work of the locks with just a little help – after all they are all double locks.

In looking back on the week that was, plenty of work was achieved, some work on the boat (the rest will get done sometime), a relaxing time overall – yes I would say starting intentions achieved.
one for Diane to remember what i look like

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Made it to Watford

Monday 2nd August to Sunday 8th August

This week - 27 Miles, 57 Locks, and 2 swing bridges

Totals: 78 Miles 83 Locks, 2 Tunnels, 3 Swing Bridges

Anyone planning on going through the Soulbury Three Locks (locks 24-26) should do so before finishing cruising for the day as apparently these are notorious for leaking overnight as I found first thing on Monday – the pound above Lock 24 was virtually dry – an hour later I was through thanks to the lockie who arrived just after I had opened the two locks above to let water down.
After stopping at Leighton Buzzard on the 2 hr moorings alongside Tesco I was then to find mooring up difficult as the pounds from lock 29 through to Lock 22 were all low and the water depth was extremely low, but thanks to a crew from a day boat I managed to get through to moor above Bridge 123

a view from the mooring point above Bridge 123

Gee, I really enjoyed the Marsworth Locks – even though they were all done solo no help at all – got into a quick and steady rhythm and through them in next to no time – well less than 2 hours and then moored in a lovely cutting just down from Tring station – no train noises for me

I was quite impressed with Berkhamstead - moored by the park and near the Waitrose store – not much else that I saw really.

Berkhamstead - the park is on the left and Waitrose on the right

Why is it that there are idiots out there that are allowed to get anywhere near a boat – on two occasions I had boats moored on the bollards set aside for the locks, so it was impossible to get close to the locks – 1 of them I missed, but the second got a right royal earful of what I thought about him (no four letter words at all) – he left skulking – it was bad enough going through these locks without help but to have people moor up and leave no room at all – there that’s my whinge done.

Almost forgot – I was impressed with the ease of the Winkwell swing bridge – easy to operate and clear instructions – I found no problems with the way it was managed by a lady from a boat coming the other way.

Mother and baby - dad wasn't far away

A very timely reminder about the problems with older boaters, when I moored up at Abbots Langley – a boater was trying to moor up behind me, but the boat was getting away from him in the slight wind – trouble was his arthritis prevented him from gripping the centre line as well as he wanted – together and with help from his friend on the boat in front, we managed to position the boat next to the towpath and he moored up for lunch – when I looked later they were gone – not a question of age, but the greater likelihood of conditions such as this and the problems facing us all in time.

Relaxed final part of the trip to Watford – took on water and then moored up opposite Cassiobury Park. An unremarkable trip but very very pleasant . Weather has been overscast and raining and to top it off sunny as well.
Off to the hardware shop for some bit and pieces I will need for the bed conversion and also to Harlequin for other things including a phone top-up.
Phil and Wendy along with Megan, Georgina and Jessica visited this afternoon to have a look over the boat; so we moved about 300 metres to where the phone reception was infinitely better.
The undoubted highlight of the afternoon occurred after they had left – that’s right ManU beat Chelsea 3-1 in the Community Shield – so had to email Phil (a Chelsea supporter) about it – strange that I haven’t had a reply yet.

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Thursday 29th July

12 miles, 13 locks, 1 tunnel

A much longer day than planned, but glad I did.
Went through the Braunston and Buckby flights today and had tremendous help through both – I neglected to get any details on the Braunston flight but there were 5 people on lock duty, so no problems at all and a lovely couple with the boat .
Then at the Buckby flight I was with nb Tamora – a husband and wife who again were really great – we would have been a bit quicker than the 2+ hours if it wasn’t for every lock having another pair coming up after the pair in front eventually got through – but hey, it isn’t a race and there was no-one hurt in the making of this passage.
Through Weedon, where I would like to stop – maybe on the way back and to a nice and hopefully quiet spot just beyond Bridge 29 – the combination of road and rail ruled many other moorings immediately out.
Just after I had moored up I was noticed by Elizabeth and John from nb Helen Louise who enquired about the Aussie flag and it not being present – they are good friends of Dot and Derek Canvin, from whom I had purchased Gypsy Rover - so we had a chat for almost an hour.
This reminds me I have neglected to mention the website for Dot and Derek – it is nb Gypsy Rover - please visit as they are wonderful people and have a great story of their past travels and those still to come.

Friday 30th July

8 miles, 2 locks, 1 tunnel

Shorter day – away reasonably early – had to pick up some gas and top up with diesel – did so at Fred Tarry at Bridge 32 and they allowed self-declare.
Relatively uneventful, apart from the beautiful Northamptonshire countryside.
Through the Blisworth tunnel which was much wetter than the Braunston tunnel yesterday.
Then down to Stoke Bruerne and the lockie helped me through the first lock with a fair number of people out and about to have a look – fortunately no mishaps. Lock 15 (the 2nd lock) was a completely solo affair – my first on my own – glad to say that I would feel that even the experts would give it a thumbs up. Was pleased that a couple of passer-bys kindly agreed to close the single gate that was open and then moored up in the pound and was back to the Navigation for lunch.

Saturday 31st July

3 miles and 5 locks

Just a short trip today – down the five locks from the pound below Stoke Bruerne – the first two solo and the last three with nb Pharion and then they pulled in for water and I carried onto just after Bridge 61 down from Yardley Wharf.

A really pleasant day – went for a walk up into the village – I found the off-licence / store and got a few things that I needed, but I couldn’t find the pub – so back to the boat and some more exploring of what was in each of the little storage cubby holes.
Some investigation of the bed and how it can be moved around

Sunday 1st August

17 miles, 3 locks and 1 swing bridge

Left earlyish this morning to get some of the distance to make it to Watford by next Sunday. I thought with only a few locks along the way it would be possible to travel a few more miles.
I knew that I would need water but the water point that I was first able to get to at Bridge 88 was terribly slow – took an hour to fill the tank – admittedly the joy of having a large water tank (a tick in one of the boxes) which meant that washing would not be a problem becomes a downside at a slow water point – can’t have everything.
Plenty of moored boats and numerous fishing matches meant more slow going , but I have achieved the distance that I needed.