Monday, 29 June 2015
Today was a day spent with the canal Duke, or at least, with his monument. Having spent some time enjoying his canal, the Bridgewater, last year, we spent today "dog sitting" at the foot of his memorial, looking after Mellie and Clover, two corgis, while Margaret and Bob were out for the day, the hottest of the year to date. It was very relaxing overall and gave me the opportunity to reconnect with my roots, as I was born and raised nearby.
Today is Monday I am assured. The reason for the two June 27th's in my blog sequence was due to a dongle malfunction rather than me being lost in space or losing my marbles. However, having cleared up that possible source of confusion I'll move swiftly on.
A bright, sunny morning and yet another lay in till 0800 hrs ( it's getting to be a habit ) with no pressing appointments or secrets to keep (that I am yet aware of, with the emphasis on yet). Yippee. I am quickly discovering there is a very fine line between insanity, drip fed information, and lies,the solution is having faith in the information source.
We had a quiet morning on the boat in Berhamsted and a quiet afternoon at Ashridge monument, although I was allowed to mow Margaret's lawn during early evening when the temperature began to drop, which I enjoyed.
Sunday, 28 June 2015
A combination if tiredness, following our birthday exertions, and a quiet night combined to make the start of the day 0830, something of a record for us on the boat where anything around 0600 has been normal. It is great to wake refreshed as apposed to needing another night's sleep. Relaxation and the successful completion of a plan making sleep easier to come by. No pressure or expectations. We now have halved the number of secrets to maintain, thankfully, so life should be more relaxing for a while.
It rained all morning but turned into a reasonably summer's day in the afternoon when we got whisked away by Margaret and Bob to visit Ashridge House and Gardens, where I started my horticultural career and education at the age of 15, over 41 years ago. I was relieved to find the huge gardens were still in excellent condition. I managed to suffer a bout of low blood sugar again late afternoon which makes me wonder if my tumour treatment has affected my diabetes control ?
Saturday, 27 June 2015
A brighter start to the day in all respects. We needed to fill with water and empty the oblutions which involved a trip through 3 locks to Kings Langley, where the facilities were appalling. Filthy and badly planned.Hidden away behind a large petrol station with the water tap on one side of a stream and the cassette emptying toilet on the other, with no connecting pathway they were not the easiest to use. We left them considerably cleaner than found, turned in a winding hole and returned to our original mooring in Berkhamsted, but facing the other way which mysteriously caused the TV to work better than before.
Today was Margaret's 70th birthday and, thanks to an elaborate plan by Chloe a surprise party was thrown for her at Emberton park, within earshot of SIlverston Grand Prix circuit, attended by our family and the majority of Margaret's friends. Chloe drove most of us there and back in a hired "people carrier" car. The weather was warm and dry. A good time was had by all
Not a great start yesterday. Slept well but woke in a deep depression for no obvious reason, unless the recent losses of a very dear friend and two cats, plus the strain of several pressing events in my life within a very short time span ( to be explained shortly ) can be counted as possible factors. In the event my hastily made plans to return home alone by train were thwarted by swift action by Lynne and Margaret, whisking me off for the day to Stowe House and Gardens in Berkshire. Stowe gardens are currently owned and maintained by the National Trust, who specialise in such things, and are magnificent both in size and quality. We had a good, if tiring, day out and I came back to the boat fully refreshed and reasonably mentally stable. The reason for the day's delay in publishing this post had nothing to do with my mental state, but rather a glitch with the dongle, now fixed.
When we left the boat was leaning away from the towpath bank but not putting adverse pressure on the ropes, apparently caused by leaking lock gates at each end of the pound and low water levels. The boat was firmly on the canal bottom, but in no danger. By the time we got back the boat was floating in fairly deep water again, the level adjusted by other boats using the locks during the day.
Wednesday, 24 June 2015
The male swan recommenced attacking the boat at 0730 hrs today. We now think he sees his reflection in our paintwork, which is clean and shiny, and thinks he has a rival for his "territory" which he is determined to see off. We need to collect my watch from the jewellers which is having a new battery fitted and get some provisions in, then we'll move further up the canal and hopefully out of the swans territory for a peacefull night or two.
Soon after our return to the boat last night we were joined by several police officers and 3 police cars, seemingly concentrating on a large, but quiet, gathering of teenage boys and girls in the park on the opposite bank. The police remained until 2330 hrs by which time the large gathering had dispersed, either on foot or in police cars,but again quietly, and we were able to overcome our nosiness and retire to bed, thoroughly exhausted, only to be woken by this bloody swan !!!
Collected my watch so back in touch with real time at last. Moved the boat through the lock, overlooked by that bloody swan, and moored in the next pound, near the railway station but still within easy reach of the high street and the Wednesday market. I returned to the boat to catch up with my sleep whilst Lynne shopped for Britain. Margaret and Bob turned up with our clean washing and we ate dinner on the boat. We're moored in a pleasant place, surrounded by parks, no loony swan, no police, but time will tell.
Tuesday, 23 June 2015
The swan got fed up ( or went for a tea break ) around 0830 hrs so we nipped out to remove the offending fender and took the opportunity to move Tardis Two from overlapping the bow of the boat in front into a more comfortable space vacated by the boat behind. Lynne took any remaining boxes of cat food and cat litter to the vets,glad to remove all evidence of her beloved pets from the boat. She is still very upset by the happenings and losses of the past few days, as are we both, so Margaret is arranging to remove us from our boating environment for the day, firstly taking Lynne to have her wrist x-rayed, as ordered by the vet ( she refused to listen to Margaret or myself ) then giving us a"day in the country" to help ease our pain. The swan returned around 0915 and made it plain he was enraged at having his plaything removed by pecking the boat in between charging up and down the boat side at an amazing rate of knots for half an hour or more.
Berkhamsted has certainly been memorable.
Margaret and Bob took us out for lunch and gave us a tour of my old childhood haunts before giving us tea and returning us to the boat, a great old folk's day out. Lynne refused to take the vet's advice and x-ray her wrist at the local hospital A & E, but claims it is less painful today.
Monday, 22 June 2015
FWe attacked the Marsworth flight with the help of a single boater on his way to Tring where he works as a painter, houses rather than Moyet. All went smoothly until we reached the Cow Roast lock just past Tring railway station, where our companion left us. However, Sadie made a big drama of leaving the boat by falling in the canal. We have suspected she has been going blind for some considerable time,perhaps coinciding with her latest craze of strange yowling at night? Lynne rescued her from the canal and nothing seemed to be hurt, except perhaps her pride. A quick towelling down and she was back to her usual position of sleeping on our bed. Once we arrived in Berkhamsted Lynne took Sadie to a vet recommended by Margaret, but the news was not good. She was confirmed blind but with other terminal complications ( stomach cancer ) and very sadly a decision had to be made to euthanise her at the commendable age of 15. It goes without saying Lynne and I are upset, having spent 15 years of our lives together and having lost her and her sister Phebe in the space of less than a year
This has been a particularly dark period of our lives. We aim to stay in Berkhamsted for a few days to chill-out and regroup our thoughts away from the boat.
The evening was punctuated by a male swan aggressively and very noisily attacking a stray fender on the "wrong" side of Tardis Two. What the hell can be done in this situation? In the end we opted to wait for him to get fed up or for the fender to disintegrate.
Thankfully he gave up around 2300 hrs, much to our relief, only to return with renewed vigour and anger at 0400 hrs, much to our dismay. A swan attacking a narrowboat sounds a minor irritation, I know, but, being steel, every noise is magnified inside. We are not moored near a swan nest or interfering with his life in any other way that we can see, and boy have we looked !!! His wife and two fairly large youngsters glide nonchalantly by every once in a while, but otherwise there are no clues to his odd behaviour. Swans are protected birds in the UK, but even so it takes a brave soul to take one on, unarmed. Any volunteers?
I had several attempts at taking a photo of him flinging the fender against the boat side but each time he spotted me and launched a high speed attack, which cowardice convinced me to avoid.
Saturday, 20 June 2015
Moored in a pound above the bottom lock of the Marsworth flight around 22.30 we noticed Tardis Two was on the tilt. Emerging into the darkness and rain in Jim-jams or dressing gowns we quickly discovered every boater moored in the pound was frantically loosening ropes as the water level had risen considerably and all boats were leaning precariously towards the bank. Our neighbour bravely volunteered to check the gates and/or paddles on the lock above and later confirmed the last boat through had left them open. With ropes adjusted and gates/paddles closed,calm returned to the pound and it remained so overnight. The rain eventually stopped, quicker than the anger and excitement levels, leaving us contemplating what moron's could possibly be responsible. Being Sunday and having no idea which boat/crew were involved there is little can be done,but I intend reporting the incident to CART later today.
Today was the Marsworth steam rally and vintage car show which we attended after enjoying a hearty breakfast at Bluebell's cafe. There were a tremendous number of giant steam engines and vehicles on display, similarly with vintage and historic cars, vans and lorries, all in brilliant, warm sunshine.
We have opted to remain at Marsworth tonight ready for an assault on the Marsworth flight in the morning, weather permitting.
Friday, 19 June 2015
A chilly morning requiring winter clothes yet again which transformed itself to a warm, sunny day later on as we worked our way through 5 double locks on our own, as traffic was light on the Grand Union today. It was very hard work but rewarded by stunning views of the Chilton hills.
I was born very close to Ivanhoe Beacon and Tring, an area we are currently passing through. I spent many hours fishing in the grand Union canal as a child, so this trip is like returning home to my childhood and is proving to be a very moving experience. After 5 tough locks I was physically and mentally exhausted, requiring a relaxing sleep for the afternoon. We have Seabrook locks ahead of us, overlooked by Ivanhoe Beacon and the chalk white lion cut into the hillside of Whipsnade Zoo.
We were joined for lunch at "Bluebells" café adjacent the bottom lock by Margaret and Bob, when the rain set in with a vengeance.
The Grand Union is currently short of water caused by leaking locks. Indeed, the pound in which we were moored last night dropped at least a foot before we got up. Luckily we had moored with loose ropes thus avoiding hanging by them as the water dropped, but we were on the canal bottom until a CART employee let some water down, also freeing at least two other similarly trapped boats.
We stopped for water and to empty the oblutions before the new Aylesbury Arm and moored for lunch at Bluebells cafe with Margaret and Bob, before heavy rain set in for the late afternoon/early evening. A quick inspection of Startops End Reservoir, only two thirds full, confirmed a water shortage for the canal. The water was crystal clear and the reservoir bottom easily observed. 6 more locks of the Marsworth flight to go before reaching Bulbourne Junction, where the Wendover Arm restoration project began, now almost half completed.
Thursday, 18 June 2015
Another warm sunny morning leading to a very warm, sunny day for our trip to Leighton Buzzard via Fenny Stratford lock near Bletchley and the Soulbury Three near Stoke Hammond,taking in some superb scenery through Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire en-route. We moored for the night in a less rural site than normal, mainly due to a severe lack of visitor mooring through Leighton buzzard,and where available forces you to use mooring pins, hardly a warm welcome?
From the pagoda we continued our journey through the city centre and out travelling south through equally beautifully landscaped surroundings, only the occasional abandoned supermarket trolley, litter,or graffitied bridge giving an indication of the gradual slipping of social standards or status.
A beautiful sunny morning gave a pleasant welcome to the new day after an unusually disrupted night, boat rather than environment. Lynne has not had the best of days lately, suffering a series of unfortunate incidents, including the engine cover board falling on her head whilst emptying, by hand, the bilges, using a siphon and a bucket (the bilge pump refuses to work,another failure to be investigated on our return to base). Following my diagnosed brain overload /reorganisation and physical exhaustion Lynne elected to operate the lock paddles, and gates . We have only encountered three since implementation of this new regime, but Lynne, understandably, struggled with the first and suffered a badly sprained wrist on the second and I was not the most admired boater by gongoozler's and fellow boaters, so we opted to revert to the previous routine as the locks and paddles in this area are spectacularly tough and heavy.
Wednesday, 17 June 2015
Milton Keynes, a new city in the heart of England was built around the Grand Union canal and consequently fully embraces it. The two compliment each other like a newly married couple ,a delight to see. We cruised for over an hour through the city suburbs but could equally be out in the countryside. We moored adjacent the Peace Pagoda for lunch and an explore.
The weather is warm and lightly breezy.
The peace pagoda was erected in 1980 by the nuns and monks of Nipponzan Myohoji and stands in the specific hope that the earth will be spared from nuclear annihilation
Tuesday, 16 June 2015
This morning the air is filled with wild flower seeds floating down slowly on unseen air currents, mostly from the prolific cow parsley that has for several weeks decorated the canal banks with it's white flowers. Recent "confetti "attacks have been by the petals of cherry and hawthorn trees, more gravity reliant than "weed" seeds and far less romantic.
All I know at the moment is we are heading South on the Grand Union canal, to where I haven't a clue, but at least it is pleasant cruising weather.
Passing Taveners Boat club we were in new territory for us, horsey territory no less. Lots of stables and paddocks full of horses, a pleasant change from sheep and cows, but the beautiful countryside and views continued. We ran aground for lunch, attempting to moor, but easily escaped later.Cosgrove is easily missed if you blink,but the only boating facilities of note are Cosgrove Marina and a couple of pubs. Cosgrove to Wolverton lacks scenery of any kind unless derelict corrugated asbestos sheds float your boat, whilst New Bradwell consists of acres and acres of mid-priced Lego houses, stretching to Great Linford and then the canal passes through a series of pleasant country parks, one containing a peace pagoda and another Gullivers Land, a children's theme park, which we moored nearby but out of earshot. A useful tip if you're looking for free parking for a children's day out. We transferred from Northamptonshire to Buckinghamshire Imperceptively earlier today.
Sunday, 14 June 2015
Phil and Kirsty of BBC "Location, location" fame would have been hard pressed to improve our current location, albeit in the middle of nowhere somewhere between Bugbrooke and Gayton on the Grand Union canal. Bright sunshine, very little breeze and surrounded by various forms of farmland, birds singing happily and, I guess, reasonable summer temperatures. Following yesterday's brain overload and subsequent sleep therapy Lynne has thoughtfully omitted informing me of any plans she may have for today and beyond. The only plan I am aware of being, cruise, cruise, cruise, which kind of suits me pending my natural curiousity kicking in, but until then I'm willing to trust Lynne's judgement. There are no locks for the foreseeable future so I will not be able to answer fellow boaters questions about our destination, "I don't know" being the absolutely honest reply. Pity.
The day is hot, nothing much else to say,other than we got sucked into descending the 7 Stoke Bruerne locks before mooring at the base,much as we did before.
Saturday, 13 June 2015
The non-stop rain eventually stopped in time for us to walk to our nearest pub for an evening meal. During the walk we inevitably bumped into two other friendly boaters to share the evening with, which we did. Both meal and company were excellent.
For the first time in ages I had a clear head but it was short-lived, as our basic and easily understood plans were blown to smithereens and replaced by complex and unfathomable ones as innumerable dates and seemingly impossible venues were added to our schedule. My brain went into meltdown and my head became foggy once again, forcing me back to bed for a couple of hours whilst it cleared. Late morning I arose once again to brilliant sunshine and warmth, but I daren't ask what our "latest" plans are for fear of the fog returning. A cup of coffee and onwards and upwards. Ignorance is bliss.
We teamed up with an odd couple to tackle the 7 double locks ahead of us, the nervous lady learning to steer while her obnoxious husband joined me operating the lock gates, whilst being more and more obnoxious as the morning passed. I resisted the temptation to wrap my windlass round his head whilst enjoying the excellent humour and charm of his wife, opposites attract some people say. We moored for lunch in the middle of nowhere but moved to a more suitable location later for our overnight stay.
It was pouring with rain when we retired to bed and was much the same when we got up, or at least when I got up for the third time before retiring yet again to attempt catching up on lost sleep, caused by dreams of different outcomes of accidents and incidents to family, friends and me throughout my life, with all worse outcomes than reality. Nightmares?
I won't list them now but they were in chronological order, factual up until the outcomes - and graphic.
I actually slept peacefully to lunchtime, when it was still raining, with no dreams of any denomination. Very few boats ventured by. It is worth noting the Grand Union seems very quiet, traffic-wise, emphasised by it's great width and ample mooring places. ( The lousy weather giving a false impression, I'm sure ). Scenery is a pleasant mix of undulating arable farmland and "posh" residences, far distant from my premonitions.
Today has been a washout. Rain all afternoon yesterday and overnight, now a wet day. No wonder those scare-mongers changed global warming to climate change, and they are supposedly our top scientific boffins. What hope do we have?
Today my general mood has further improved, despite being marooned inside a narrowboat with no TV signal, not the most enlightening circumstances. We have booked a local pub meal for tonight, which gives Lynne a break from cooking and us both a change of scenery. Given good weather we will change our outlook and get linked to a TV signal in the morning.
Friday, 12 June 2015
This life starts at Norton Junction on the Grand Union canal in warm sunshine. Chloe has left for her next rescue mission involving her sister Katie and our 3 eldest granddaughters, one of whom has broken out with conjunctivitis, thus has to avoid contact or activities with other children, including school. Enter Chloe, Super woman,who has arranged to "babysit" for today and meet Katie at Watford gap services ,Katie heading north, Chloe heading South.
Following MY decision to continue with our current mission, rather than return home, we have left Norton Junction, traversed the top lock on our own and moored the other side of it for a leisurely lunch,during which the sun disappeared and light rain arrived, fortunately spotted before it could re-dampen the almost dry washing,which we rescued. I changed my plan to progress further as the weather forecast is for thunder and lightning so I have settled for this spot overnight, ignoring the proximity of the M1 and it's constant traffic drone, unlikely to rival the odd clap of thunder or two ?
Thursday, 11 June 2015
We had a good night's sleep and were ready to leave at 0530 for my brain scan at St George's hospital in London at 0900, which we made with minutes to spare, thanks to excellent driving by Chloe. It was a long scan but restful. The result was "no change" but the area of my brain invaded by the tumour is where decision making is or was made, but they reckon my serotonin levels are low which can also affect my decision making, so they have put me back on "happy pills" and heavy doses of vitamin D (normally supplied via sunshine )to help replenish them. They are arranging an appointment with a specialist neurological consultant, but date and venue yet to be confirmed. We returned to the boat around15.30 in very hot sunshine and I decided ( see, it's working already) for us to remain afloat for a few more weeks, but at a more leisurely pace.
Wednesday, 10 June 2015
Once again we tackled the 7 Buckby locks, this time with a charming couple who had just escaped from the Northampton arm, closed for several days due to a major fuel spillage. They were in no rush and were a joy to work with, leaving us at Norton Junction where we met our daughter Chloe, who had driven up from London to assist Lynne getting Tardis Two "home" and me a brain scan as my physical and mental health has badly deteriorated over recent weeks. To cut a very long story short and ignore a vast number of plans and revisions I have a scan arranged for 0900 tomorrow at St. George's hospital in London. We will sleep aboard tonight and leave the boat at Norton Junction until our return, hopefully tomorrow night, depending on whatever post-scan treatment is deemed necessary, if at all. Lynne operated the lock gates whilst I got Tardis Two in and out of them, so a relatively stress-free day for me.
Tuesday, 9 June 2015
Having convinced ourselves to shorten this year's adventure on health grounds, turn round and take Tardis Two and me "home" a strategy was agreed Lynne would operate the locks whilst I steered the boat in and out of them,whilst fully informing any "lock partners" of our situation and setting rules regarding speed of operation and stopping times. It took us almost 3 hours to turn around due to a long distance to and back from the next winding hole. Back at the lock where we started we met a very friendly and sympathetic couple and began the reverse journey from yesterday, but inevitably at a much less hectic pace. Seeing a woman manhandling the heavy gates alone attracted men like bees to a hive and the seven locks were very quickly dealt with. Perhaps I should dress in drag whilst doing locks?
Lynne took us through Blisworth tunnel whilst I had 30 minutes with Sadie. The northern side of the tunnel initially seemed warmer as we emerged into sunshine, but it was a pleasant illusion due to the canal being sheltered from the cool, stiff breeze at that point.
I retired to bed whilst Lynne cruised through Weedon Bec, mooring near a pig farm with a pet pot-bellied near bridge 22 carrying Watling Street over the canal.
The day has been totally stress free, helped by a chat with my psychiatric nurse at St George's hospital in London who is arranging a scan at Leicester hospital tomorrow,bless her. The scan will be pinged over to St. George's tomorrow who will hopefully be able to put my mind, or what's left of it, to rest.
Sunday, 7 June 2015
Moored a couple of bends away from Blissford tunnel, as were a number of other boats, I had expected an old fashioned Le Mans motor racing start following the instruction to "start engines".
In the event things were far from hectic as boat "waking times" varied greatly. Even our's was far later than normal as the cat behaved herself as did the boiler timer controls and the battery power, plus outside temperatures were much nearer "normal" for the time of year.
Blissford tunnel is very wide, tall and mainly dry, with the exception of several ventilation shafts which catch you by surprise from time to time .
Our friend Sue's condition has worsened so we need to make a decision on continuing our journey or returning home ASAP.
I am a bit of a wuss when it comes to deaths and/or funerals so rather than me compound the situation by returning home early it was decided to continue on our travels pending further developments when we may be nearer, so I found myself playing lock keeper on the 7 Stoke Bruern double locks for Lynne and a frightfully nice guy Lynne befriended operating "Calypso" solo to London.
They were extremely tough locks to operate and the day got hotter,which didn't help much. Before we filled with water after the final lock Calypso and Tardis Two parted company and we moored for a badly delayed injection and a lunch break in full sun.
Things went badly downhill from there (not the canal, obviously, but my mental and physical condition). I fell asleep for an hour or two, which meant any progress on our journey had to be curtailed for the day. I woke Lynne and an interesting "discussion" took place regarding my mental and physical condition, which we both agreed is not good at present. I thought our progress over the past few days had contributed, largely due to the "lock partners" encountered, all of whom had no concept of our age, physical prowess,medical conditions or intended rate of progress Gradually as physica exhaustion had crept up on me, mentally I struggled to accept my obvious limitations of age, hip condition, balance and diabetes control. I fully accept I need urgent medical and mental assistance, but how? We are at least 10 boating days from home. Even if We get a taxi home (which is possible) how do we get Tardis Two back? Leave her in a close Marina and collect her later?
Inevitably,the aforementioned solution (being mine) was rejected and we are turning for home. Kill or cure?
Weedon Bec was far more peaceful than feared on first sight. As expected Virgin trains ceased operating late evening but the maintenance gangs worked through the night, not that I noticed, but Lynne did. After fruit and milk shopping we cruised past Nether Heyford and Bugbrooke in very warm sunshine to Gayton Junction where we intended getting water, emptying the oblutions and dumping rubbish, none of which we achieved as entry to the services was roped off during refurbishment works. Plan B immediately swung into place, whereby all will be completed tomorrow once we survive Blisworth tunnel, Britain's third longest navigable, re opened in1984 after being closed for 4 years whilst the bore was re-lined, so at least we should avoid being soaked as were previous adventurers. Beyond the tunnel 7 Stoke Bruerne locks beckon, so at least we should be relatively fit and rested by then.
Friday, 5 June 2015
After all our noise fears, mooring in the hub of Northamptonshire's traffic system, we had a very peacefull night's sleep until 0630, although our joint knackerdness must have contributed somewhat. Even Sadie slept right through. The morning is still, sunny and warm.
Reflecting back on last night, Lynne did spectacularly well to moor Tardis Two with minimum help from me, verging on sheer exhaustion and a hypo. Post Watford locks has minimum mooring places, so finding somewhere to overnight on her own was a challenge in itself. Credit where it is due. I assume the lorry drivers were fast asleep in their cabs, the aircraft flight paths had changed and the freight trains stopped for the night.
Even the birds were singing.
We set off to collect water and tackle another 7 double locks. Before the first set we had to queue for a water tap , but no problem. I moored Tardis Two ahead of a boat just preparing to leave,aiming to pull her back into the now vacant position. All went well until Lynne, on the centre rope slipped over backwards, giving her head a severe blow on the ground and lay there, seemingly unconscious until I tied the boat and rushed to see what I could do, as did several other boaters. Lynne was fortunately OK apart from a headache, eased by a cup of tea and a paracetamol.
We filled with water and headed off to the next lock where we befriended another boat and traversed 7 very heavy locks successfully, before turning at Norton Junction onto the Grand Union main line, on which we had a lock-less couple of hours until mooring at Weedon Bec for the night. Weedon Bec is a picturesque village with a variety of shops and a couple of pubs, one of which had a real ale festival, complete with live, and very loud, music. The group playing as we moored up gave good renditions of some old Credence Clearwater Revival, Kinks and Morrisey hits from long ago, whilst Virgin trains whistled past, but hopefully not all night. Tomorrow we pass a place (weather permitting) unfortunately named Bugbrooke, once upon a time known as the centre for ladder-making,and Blisworth,home of a tunnel in excess of 3000 yards
Thursday, 4 June 2015
Summer disappeared overnight whilst temperatures dropped and a stiff breeze developed ( again ). With a mile of Crick tunnel looming it is unlikely average temperatures are likely to challenge record high's for us today, but hey ho, this is the UK, after all. Lunch was had moored outside Crick Marina, famous for hosting the annual inland waterways boat show, but little else of particular merit. Crick tunnel is almost a mile long but deteriorating badly. I would have put on full waterproofs before entering if someone had warned me, which they didn't. In the event I was narrowly missed by a liquid brick from the roof which took Lynne ages to clear from the stern once her OCD tendencies kicked in.
After that we tackled the 7 Watford staircase locks (with me in a state of near exhaustion and looming hypo until we found mooring in a spot the complete opposite of yesterday with noise from The M1 Watford gap services, the M1 itself, a freight railway , East Midlands airport and all the associated "feeder"roads. No chance of a cuckoo tonight, or sleep for that matter?
Surprise, surprise, warmth and sunshine this morning at our perfect mooring spot on the Grand Union, close to the Welford arm. Last night was incredibly quiet with no trains, planes or traffic within earshot.
We had a walk along the canal during the evening and listened to our first cuckoo of the year.
Having chosen summer cruising clothes off we went to explore the Welford arm, a short length of recently restored canal, allow 1hour each way. It is beautiful. Our trip took longer as we broke down in the winding hole and ,yet again, had to call Canal and River Rescue. We had no forward drive, only reverse. I checked the weed hatch and removed a plastic bag and the usual array of weeds and debris, but still no forward drive. The engineer immediately diagnosed a broken throttled cable and quickly replaced it. Somewhat later than planned we returned to the main Grand Union in hot sunshine with forward and reverse working smoother than previously. I even stripped down to what Lynne calls my "mohair" suit, a first for 2015. The Grand Union is generally wide but well maintained and passes some fantastic scenery, considering it was the equivalent of today's M1 motorway when built in the1790's. We moored in the middle of nowhere somewhere between Yelvertoft and Crick, in Northamptonshire, home of the annual inland waterways boat show.
Wednesday, 3 June 2015
A bright, slightly windy morning meant we could finally leave our moorings for an attempt at Foxton locks. A gongoozler's paradise, Foxton are 2 sets of 5 single staircase locks with a passing place at the halfway stage. Fortunately, there are 4 lock keepers present every day to help avoid disasters.
In typical Brunoboat blogger fashion we ran out of water on the lower staircase but one of the lock keepers managed to rescue us by filtering water down from the top staircase, which slowed our progress considerably. Each lock has gate paddles painted red and ground paddles painted white. The rule is "red before White is alright. White before red and you're dead". The White paddles are connected to side ponds which can be used to top-up water in the locks and visa-versa.
Through Husbands Bosworth tunnel ( high, dry and wide x 1170yards ) and filled up with 232 litres of diesel at North Kilworth Wharf, plus a bag of coal and calor gas.
Tuesday, 2 June 2015
A very rough night. Gusty winds of up to 40mph caused a few bumps in the night. Tardis two is 62ft, as was" I Dunno" next door,whilst the narrow pontoons are shared and less than half that length, so it was inevitable some contact would be made. Lynne shifted the fenders twice during the night in her dressing gown and at great personal risk to lessen the impact on contact. Fortunately Lynne wears more clothes in bed than during trips out in the day.
At 0700hrs we filled with water, disconnected our power supply and slunk as quietly as we could out of the quay, but only after Lynne had written an apology card for " I Dunno". It was still blustery but we cruised to a fairly sheltered spot near the locks and flopped into bed to catch up on some missed sleep and recover from the effort of steering Tardis Two in unabated winds for 3 hours, although to be fair, she behaved immaculately. The lady on "I Dunno" phoned to thank us for the card and to exonerate us from any blame for last night's shannanigan's.We guessed she had obtained our phone number from the Marina office, but it was kind of her to ease our minds. The combination of all the factors listed previously were mutually agreed. We woke and arose for lunch to note the wind had dropped slightly and the sun was attempting to appear. Whether (excuse the awful pun) we'll attempt to make further progress today remains to be decided, but conditions need further improvement at this stage and time is moving on.
It was late in the evening before the wind gradually faded by which time we had reached a decision to stay put. I took the opportunity of downloading remastered versions of the Fleetwood Mac and Paul Simon greatest hits albums, which should fill future evenings without a TV signal.
The weather for tomorrow is forecast to be almost summer-like, so all being well we should be able to tackle Foxton locks at long last, but we'll wait and see.