Monday 26th September to Sunday 9th October 2011
79 Miles, 86 Locks, 3 Tunnels, 3 Swing Bridges – for this fortnight
Totals: 875 Miles, 754 Locks, 27 Tunnels, 18 Lift Bridges, 18 Swing Bridges
The first week was very enjoyable at times – just plain too warm at others, but we were to find out how much it would change for the second week – from shorts and t-shirts to long trousers and jackets.
After a very enjoyable weekend down at Rickmansworth we journeyed back up to Watford to say our goodbyes to Maggie and Paddy – and we also caught up with Lisa and son, Jonathon (off to University next week).
That notorious Chelsea supporter Phil was also home, but we managed to have a very good night anyway.
Wednesday morning came and we were off after getting some work completed and we have made very good time and distance without being too crazy about it all.
Our first time-frame was to be past the Winkwell swing bridge by 3rd October when it was being taken out of action for a month – achieved that with 3 days to spare.
Further along we stopped overnight at Berkhamstead – we do enjoy it here and it is a most friendly location – next time we will be spending more time along the way – circumstances for this trip mean that there was limited time to stay more than overnight.
The moorings at Marsworth on the reservoir were very good and the early morning sights really were so very delightful – especially after enjoying the late afternoon/early evening light the night before with a beer or two.
Watching the flocks of birds landing and using the water gave one an added perspective and greater understanding of the need for these sanctuaries.
But onward we must and we did – reaching the Grove Lock later on Saturday before deciding this would be fine for the rest of the weekend – after all from our mental schedule we were a day ahead.
A morning walk into Leighton Buzzard whilst it was still coolish was a good way to start the day – the walk back once the heat had started was less welcoming.
Sunday lunch at The Grove was good without being something to yearn for in the future.
The weather this week has been the source of constant conversation – with the temperatures more reminiscent of a British summer than a British autumn.
We were still in need of getting more miles (and locks) behind us – although we were well on schedule, it cannot be taken for granted that we will want to travel each day – the weather being the main interruption to progress.
We travelled to Water Eaton, a now favourite spot as it provides a very good area to walk Banjo and also it is extremely quiet and peaceful.
Through the ubiquitous Fenny Stratford lock and swing bridge and we moved a long way after that.
With a lock-free pound for some 11 miles, Diane took control of the tiller and sent me below – not for domestic duties but to get on with my work. It added a new dimension to working afloat – watching the scenery constantly changing and meaning that by the time we reached our destination we had both travelled and I had finished a fair share of the quota of work for that day.
There was an occasional whistle from the tiller as she decided that the obstacles immediately ahead – mainly moving and moored boats in combination needed a steadier hand while she could just watch.
There was the later afternoon experience with canoeists starting to increase in numbers – sprinting past the boat and suddenly darting in font – very similar to a motorcyclist and a semi-trailer (HGV) – there was even an attempt to try and make it through a bridge hole in front – only at the last minute did they stop – sensing that I wasn’t making any allowances for their potential stupidity.
Speaking of things stupid we had two consecutive days travelling through the Stoke Bruerne Locks and then the Buckby Locks where we encountered groups of boaters who waited until the lock they were in was filled before thay sent someone forward to set the next lock and then waited in the lock until the next was ready – effectively holding up everyone behind them.
Diane could not help herself and went forward telling them to get someone to go ahead whilst they were working one lock and prepare the next – didn’t work – some people are just thick and don’t deserve any sympathy.
Still we arrived in Braunston on Saturday and after a reasonable Sunday lunch we were off to Hillmorton – Monday we need to be in Rugby to catch up with my eldest daughter Rebecca – over here on 2 weeks holiday.
We have started watching Strictly Come Dancing and I fear this may overtake our Saturday nights – now that the darker cooler/colder nights are rapidly approaching – still it could be worse (I will just need to think about how)