Friday, 9 August 2019

And here we are in Berkhamsted

This is the salad I made the other night when David got back from Manchester and Sarah had helped me move up from the Aylesbury Canal Society Marina. Looks SO healthy! Tasted good too. We had asparagus, chicken and bacon and avocado alongside it.

Not the best photo, but there were hundreds of these little waterboatmen leaping across the surface of the water at the top of the Aylesbury Arm. Amazing things!
Across the mown field - I think this is where I saw the red kites on the way down the Arm.
This is another shot of the very beautiful cottage garden at Lock 4

We did 16 locks yesterday - the top two of the Aylesbury Arm, the 7 from Marsworth Junction to Bulborne, and then the 7 from Cow Roast down to Berkhamsted.
Looking back out of the lock by the Tring Reservoir. The pound was quite low and the water was very shallow over by the towpath ...

David had the bike out which sped us up. However we had the help of the volunteer lockies on the Marsworth locks. I am not sure that they increased our efficiency though. In part that was because David had people to chat to (remember the old adage about 2 things at once ...), and in part it was because as a team the lockies were a bit disorganised.

However it didn't matter. We weren't really in a hurry, but I must say the Julia mode has rubbed off on me and I am not keen on seeing inefficiency.

As we were ascending the Marsworth locks, I had time to get the washing on and to make bread ...

It pays to be attentive while the locks are filling, so I brought the water/syrup/yeast mixture and the scales/flour out to be attended to on the stern deck. As we were on our own in the lock, I had a rope around a bollard and I tied it off around the stanchion on the stern - as the rope only gets looser as we ascend, it is a safe way to hold the boat into the lockside without hanging on to it for 10 minutes.
David and the VLK - see, I even had time to take photos ...
I do like this cottage - if I remember correctly, it is a B&B.
Bread rising - it did used to rise faster when we had a black roof ... One of the VLKs said that in 20 years of boating, he'd never seen anyone making bread on a boat.  Now that did surprise me, as I meet lots of people who make their own bread.

David was keen to go and explore the Wendover Arm but not by boat, so I suggested he bike down to the limit of the canal restoration and I'd go on and get water and have a shower while the tank was filling - see: efficiency again, parallel processing, two things at once, replacing the water as I showered...

I'd tied up, had the hose started, and was just about to get in the shower when David appeared - obviously he hadn't biked a mile down and a mile back up the Wendover Arm. Apparently there is too much towpath vegetation for pleasurable cycling, so he gave it a miss.

Once I was showered, he suggested we get our skates on and move off as there had been two boats starting the Marsworth flight as we were leaving the top lock. So I started putting my boots on, but they came past - clearly they had not been 6 locks behind us!

Botheration, we thought, and other rude words. So we slowed down, completely filled the tank, made a cup of tea - to give them a head start and make sure they were into and out of Cowroast Lock when we got there.

An interesting and slow cruise through the Tring cutting while the bread was baking - places like that always make me think of the effect of winter storms and high winds. Even in the sunshine, there are a number of trees and tree branches that look dodgily precarious!

However there are places with CRT mooring signs. Not sure that I would though, unless it was an extremely hot day and I was trying to avoid the sun.

So we arrive at Cowroast; and as we come down the cut, we talked about how this was where we last saw Les when we visited by car one day and joined Carol and George from Still Rocking. It was a visit that was sad but joyful, and extremely honest in the discussions about terminal illness (Les's) and death (also Les's). I think both he and Jaq appreciated all of us coming; and for us, it was lovely to have the opportunity to say goodbye and assure him and Jaq of our ongoing support. Biggs hugs, old buddy, old pal.

So, as I say, we arrive at Cowroast - and what is this I see before me? Those two bloody boats moored on the lock landing, and then two men who scurry off to wind up the paddles as soon as we hove in to view. AAARRRGGGHHH!!!

We think they moored up to use the services and have lunch - surely they cannot have taken so long to empty loos, ditch rubbish and fill with water!?

We pulled over into the services area ourselves and emptied the rubbish. I gave them a hand with the lock and checked where they were heading for. One woman told me they had a booking at Paddington on 11 August so they needed to keep moving for a fair while if they were going to make it. Remember that yesterday was the 8th and there's over 46 locks and about the same number of miles (Mick will tell me if my guess is close) between Cowroast and Paddington. They really will need to get a wriggle on if their performance yesterday was anything to go by!

An amusing interlude after they'd left as a widebeam was coming up to use the now empty lock. The women said 'no, it's not moving.' I suggested that perhaps he needed to wait well back for them to exit ... The widebeam eventually arrived and I gave that crew a hand too. They were going to turn around in the winding hole above the lock and pull in for water. Fortunately the boat wasn't a full 70 foot, as people were moored on both sides of the winding hole, damn their eyes!

He yelled for his son to come and grab the front rope and pull him in to the side. The kid, a young teenager, did as he was asked, and hauled valiantly on the rope - he got the nose in alright. But his dad had not told him not to pull so tight that the side of the boat could not come alongside the bank - it's that triangle thing with the three sides being
  • the towpath, 
  • the line of the bow and 
  • the length of the rope. 
If the rope is pulled tight and shortens that side of the triangle, the rear of the boat slews out across the cut. David knows it well ... as he told the teenager who was a bit distraught by the unfair bollocking he got from his dad.
In all of this fray, I had noted (being the tall person that I am) that there was a narrowboat approaching down the canal. Perhaps they were coming down the lock and didn't want water? Yes to both! Yay!!

So we locked down the next 7 locks with Annie and Dave on nb Capital. Efficient lockers, so it was a pleasure. David used the bike, Dave walked on to the next lock on occasion, Annie and I chatted and laughed.

There is a pound on that flight where the water was beautifully clear - there was lots of grassy-type weed wafting in the water and lots and lots of fish swimming - some very tiny and a few much larger and chubbier black ones. It was cool! Not much mooring though as there was loads of silt against the edge.

And as I came in to the lock at the end of that pound (Dudswell Top, I think), there was something impeding my progress - a wooden stepladder! I hoiked it out with the short boat hook (we have one, Mick, but you don't, sorry) and as it was in a poor state of repair, I hiffed it over into the flourishing nettles. As I had the short boat hook handy, I also hoiked out a few loads of the weed - nice to look at on the bottom of the cut, but not so pleasant in clumps in the lock.
Between locks on the long pound, with the railway close beside us.
Another lock followed by a long pound, and when I arrived at the lock, there was a woman closing the bottom gate; she then came up and opened one set of the top paddles. WHAT?!! I thought. And where is David and where is David's bike? As I got off the boat and tied the middle rope to go and open more paddles, David arrived back from further on. 'We have caught those boaters up' he said, 'so I went on and opened the next lock for them, so they'll get a bloody move on.'

And on we came through Bushes Lock - efficient, no mucking about. And as we approached the penultimate lock of the day, there are those boaters again - just exiting the lock, and not having prepared the next lock which was about 15 steps away ... Julia and Lisa, as Sergeant Majors, you would have had to give them some very clear coaching!!

And then we were in Berkhamsted. There was no mooring as far as the eye could see, so we pulled over and breasted up under the footbridge only half inside the 14 day mooring area - the arses of the boats were away from the lock mooring bollards by about a metre, so we decided that was good enough. Noisy as all get out because the railway line is just across the cut with no trees to block the sound.

Dave and Annie headed off to Waitrose to buy a paper and as I was putting up the pram cover I saw them walking back - too soon to have been to Waitrose. They were excited to tell us that there was a big space further down - with rings! So we all moved on, very pleased with ourselves, only to get there and discover it was the shopping mooring - a 4 hour limit. Buggeration.

Still and all, we both needed shopping, so we tied up and a certain person fretted about breaking the rules, about being the subject of badmouthing by other boaters, about looking bad.

I did go down past the next lock to see what might be available but decided that I wasn't keen to move. Then I went and did a big Waitrose shop - lovely shop, but not a good place to go when I am hungry - I bought stuff we didn't need but that looked yummy. For instance, a piece of slow-cooked pulled pork with a maple and something tangy glaze, Vogel bread (remember I had baked bread on the day's journey), a pack of mint KitKats.

David went for a separate walk much much further down the cut and tricked me into going to see what he had found by telling me that yes, it was above the lock. It wasn't. False pretenses when my feet were sore and my brain was tired. Not fair!

The upshot was that:
  • both Dave and Annie and David and I moved our boats back as far as we could - no git gaps - so another boater, desperate for shopping, would have a place to moor
  • it rained hard and we decided no one would be coming through to shop in such weather (and they didn't)
  • we stayed overnight and went for drinks and nibbles on nb Capital and met some people who we hope will come and stay with us in Waikanae in April
  • I took the Vogel bread and pulled pork to share - yummy
  • David once again decided sloe gin is a desirable beverage (having originally consumed it when we lived in Church Enstone) and managed to consume two or three glasses albeit small ones, I must admit
  • we secured rights to be able to moor on Annie and Dave's end of garden mooring on our way back up the GU.
This morning, pretty much David's first words were that we needed to move the boat. So he went back up towards the locks to where we'd perched briefly yesterday to see if there was any space.

I was going to head down to the lock ahead of us to see if a space had magically appeared and stopped to look in Annie and Dave's boat first. Didn't see them but did see and chat to a man coming along the path from the bridge. We chatted and I said we were struggling to find a mooring and had had to stay on the shoppers' moorings but did need to move.  'Well' he said "My crew are leaving in a few minutes.' Yay!! and Double yay!! So we reversed into their space just two boats back.
To celebrate the legitimate mooring, I made BLATs for brekkie
We can now relax as we are in the 14 day mooring area - and a certain person can stop stressing.

Tim is bringing back our temporary boat dog on Sunday, and Liz and Barry are planning to get here then too.

In the meantime, it is good to be inside the boat - the weather has been a bit iffy today.
At first it started to rain like this

And then it thundered and lightninged, and then this rain came down
And the towpath looked like this. And then the sun came out again. Now it is spitting with rain and the only creatures out are the heron and a few birds that look like small wekas but aren't.
I took pity on David and we played Battleships (2-0 to me, and most painful wins as a certain person hasn't quite worked out how to record the shots he takes or the ones that are hits, and he also tells me I haven't scored hits when it is later proven that I have ...).

Then we had a game of 5 Crowns. A certain person won. so I am not playing again. I must maintain my ascendancy and obviously the only way that can be achieved is for me to stick to my resolve to never play it just with David.

We had dessert (gu pudding, raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, a small splodge of cream) late this afternoon, and now I don't want dinner. That is NOT a bad thing, and it does mean we can have fillet steak and beetroot and carrot salad with scalloped potatoes and fried onions tomorrow.

Lesley sent me this - it took me a while to get it...

Wednesday, 7 August 2019

While waiting for David

Yesterday morning, Sarah opened the lift bridge for me and then hopped on to the stern of the boat as I exited the marina.

I managed the exit quite well - no to-ing and fro-ing, just a gentle turn using forward and gentle reverse to keep the bow moving to port. Looked and felt very competent.

That look was not to last - within 40 metres of the marina entrance, I had to switch off the engine and to the weedhatch thing TWICE!!!
I am very pleased I had Sarah with me as she had to pole the boat away from the offside trees - we were blown there by the wind, and that part of the canal was exceptionally weedy.
The first lot from around the prop and the rudder - and there were 5 more stops and a total of 6 buckets of weed.

This was a common sight for Sarah. Good thing I was wearing old shorts that came down below my knees and an old top!
Sarah at Lock 14
Two NZ women

Yesterday's statistics:
  • cheese scones baked by 7.30am
  • water tank refilled by 7.35am
  • breakfast prepared and eaten by 7.55am
  • Actual Time of Departure: 8am
  • Distance travelled : 2.3 miles
  • Effective speed overall: 1 mile per bloody hour
  • Locks: 1
  • Number of stops for weedhatch clearing: 6
    • when possible I stopped in bridgeholes so Sarah could hold the boat and then empty the bucket of weed into the hedge - away from the cut, so there would be no re-contamination
    • other times I stopped mid canal. 
    • most of them were only weed, but one had a large piece of hawthorn mixed in - the tile grouter scraper was employed then to save my fingers, and another had a long slender branchlet (a cross between a branch and a twig)
    • very very few bits of reed though
  • Actual Time of Arrival: 10.15am
  • Other boats on the move coming towards us: 2
    • 1 near the very narrow reeded stretch
    • 1 coming in lock 13 as we moored up below it.
Brian's method of flicking the weed off the rudder and prop did most definitely not work for me.

I moored at the locklanding below Lock 13 (Red House Lock). David was not far away as he was in Morrison's opposite the station a few minutes ago, buying chocolate for me when he called to ask what kind of chocolate - anything that isn't Cadbury's sez I.

I know, I know - mooring on the locklanding is verboten. However there were no moorings above the lock and the CRT guys moored on the locklanding above said I should moor here and tell anyone who complained that they said I should do so.

One of the guys, Wayne, (having given me the name of one of the others) came down to the boat with the address and postcode for me to give to David; so I gave him scones and a wodge of butter for the guys.

Sarah and I discovered there are probably only 3 or 4 degrees of separation between us:
  • her mum used to teach in Masterton so probably knew David's dad
  • her dad came from New Plymouth and so my dad probably knew his family - Dad knew (or knew of) everyone ...
She and Rigs come over to NZ for a few months each year, so we will catch up at home in Waikanae over the summer.

And away she goes, back to Aylesbury Canal Society's marina, where she and Rigs were going to rake weed out of the marina basin.
David arrived close on 3pm, and we cruised up to above Lock 11 and then moored. The pound was low so we were a couple of feet away from the bank and armco. Not to worry, as we weren't planning on getting in and out of the boat much. We had moved on from the earliest part of the mooring as there was a wasps' nest - I saw a number of wasps entering and leaving as I stepped off the boat. And then I moved rapidly in the direction of away.

He showed me a photo of his sleeping companion from the night before:
Apparently Kai rearranged the pillows so she was comfortable and ready for David to share the bed. He tells me that when he woke in the morning, Kai had maneouvred him over so he had 25% of the bed and she had the rest available to her.


A very peaceful mooring and as we finished putting up the pram cover the rain came down in giant drops.

Sarah had talked about the dinner they had the night before so I decided to mimic it - chicken breast sliced up and marinated in lemon juice, salt and pepper then panfried with chopped bacon, salad with all sorts of vegetables in it, plus avocado and asparagus. Yum.

Early night, early start, but we didn't get far today. We had intended to get to Bulborne Junction, but instead we have stopped below the staircase pair on the Aylesbury Arm. For some reason, I am a bit weary!

We have seen the CRT guys again today as they brought up the digger and the two engines. They have a great sense of humour and were very helpful. No scones available to hand over today though, as David and I had them for morning tea/lunch - toasted, buttered and with a slice of tomato on top ...

Monday, 5 August 2019

Tiredy-pops

Today I have done at least 17,000 steps - there will be more because at times I was holding my phone to check the route I needed to take and the phone doesn't record steps while the phone is in a hand.

So now I am tired! In part that is the distance I walked (into Aylesbury to the station this morning, in and around the underground station at Marylebone and Oxford Circus and Victoria, and along to Rupert's rooms in Pimlico. Then pretty much the same again on the way back to the boat.). In part though the tiredness arose from not sleeping well last night, and it's also been very hot in London today. And we all know about my relationship with the heat ...
Saw this guy in a building on Wilton Road ...

Successful session with Rupert. He is a gem. My back, neck, ankles and feet feel much better.

He is also keen on narrowboats and often joins friends on their traditional boat at festivals. One day, I will make sure to attend one so I can see him in a different guise!
I had lunch at Rosa's Cafe (Thai) on Wilton Road after my appointment. Spring rolls followed my mussamam chicken curry - yummy but forgot photo (I was reading). No dinner required.

Me and Ronnie.

When I got back to the boat, I had to change out of jeans and boots (latter required for comfortable walking) as it was so hot. And I had to open the boat right up and close curtains on the sunny side and then stand outside where there was a bit of a breeze for a bit. So I didn't look like I was loitering, I hung some washing out at the same time 😅

I took some feijoa jelly over to Sarah, an NZer living on her boat here with her English husband. She has volunteered to help me up to and past the weedy/reedy stuff in the morning - before David gets back. Yay!! I need to get going as Liz told me today they are leaving London on Thursday, so we had best get a move on if we want to get down to Berko - and I do!!

I've filled with water, taken the rubbish over to the bins, washed the recycling bucket, done another load of washing, done a very small tidy up seeing as Sarah will see the boat tomorrow, washed the dishes, had a cup of tea and a cup of chamomile and two mandarins. Now I am going to bed.

Note to self: remember to send David a pin of where I am as he approaches Aylesbury tomorrow ...

Sunday, 4 August 2019

Aylesbury Canal Society rocks!

No one in this direction ...


and no one in this direction. Very peaceful place to be. after lock 9.

































Yesterday afternoon we made our way down to the Aylesbury Canal Society marina. It was not easy!

Firstly, David lost his windlass out of his beltloop when crossing the boat from one side of the bottom of the lock to the other - knocked it out on the tiller, so clearly the windlass was just resting in his beltloop at its elbow, not firmly implanted down to its holey bits. But did I remonstrate? No. Did I help drag the area with the magnet? Yes. Did we find the windlass? No. Do I care? No. David did say that he would bike back up and drag for it later, but I think G&Ts deservedly won out - read on ...

We had clearly done most of the easy part the day before when we moored up after lock 9, because from lock 13 the canal was reedy and only a boat width to the first bridge in the 2 mile pound. That was a pain but no big deal.
At least two boat widths available here and a permanent mooring on the offside.

And just one boat width here - a bit slow but it was OK

But then the weedy stuff started. It was not diabolical like the GU down near the junction with the Paddington Arm was when we were down there with Barry and Pauline a few years ago, where the amount of weed stalled the motor and Barry had to tow the boat with a rope for half a mile while we cleared tubs full of the stuff out of the weed hatch - there was no point in starting the engine again, as the prop got jammed within 15 seconds. Read about it here

On the Aylesbury Arm, as I said, it wasn't that bad. And that was a good thing too, as the reeds between the boat and towpath meant that rope-hauling the boat would not have been possible.

And at first it was rather minor, but there was enough shaking of the tiller meant that I cleared the weedhatch a couple of times.

Amazing how such a small amount can disrupt steering. This was the haul from 2 clearings.
However after lock 14 it got substantially worse - and just as I thought I was clear on the home straight!

David had got off the boat after the lock to go down and cross the canal and enter the marina on foot and open the lift bridge. Ha!! The best laid plans and all that ... He has explored previously unseen parts of Aylesbury in his attempts to access the marina. The first bridge apparently gave no access as there is also a stream to cross, so he walked down to the next lock: no access; so back he came and over the bridge directly in front of the marina and made his way on the streets to the marina entrance - which was locked ... 😅😆😉😊.

In the meantime, I had stopped the engine and removed the ignition key (a safety precaution - even though I was alone on the boat 😉), lifted the cover, removed the brace, lifted out the weedhatch cover, and removed blanket weed from both the prop and the rudder, replaced weedhatch, replaced and tightened brace.

Multiply that event by 3; and I ended up with a whole overflowing bucket-load of weed. Fortunately there was no other boat around and I could do weedhatch duty while the boat was coasting slowly to a halt (or not if I was quick enough). I didn't bother putting the cover down as it saved one job ...
The last stuff (the little topknot of weed) David added to the rest of the bucket after we moored up - the remainder, i.e. 85.7% of it, I collected in the last 500 yards before the marina entrance.

So I arrived at the entrance to the marina while David was still touring the streets, occasionally phoning me to report on progress or lack thereof. I have to say, I truly didn't care as I was just a bit pre-occupied ...

For a couple of hours we were moored outside the marina as a boat was occupying the space that had been set aside for us - the boat owners had been welcomed in with the thought that it was us, but no. They were due to leave at 5pm, but weren't back till nearly 7pm, after I'd had a couple of G&Ts at the communal BBQ.

But I decided to bring the boat in - maybe I should boat all the time under the G&T influence, as I got the boat in through the lift bridge, into the mooring amazingly competently - or maybe that's just what it looked like through G&T-hazed eyes! And there was no wind, and David pulled the stern around (come to think of it, maybe he should be infused with G&T before boating as he didn't argue or debate, just did exactly as I asked him ...)

OK scratch the G&T assisiatnce for me at least, but I am seriously considering whether I should pour gin in a certain person's fruit, yoghurt and muesli each morning. Thoughts, people?

Anyway, the Aylesbury Canal Society is lovely - very welcoming people and very convivial. They offer a week's free mooring as part of their articles of constitution, in part to encourage boaters to come down the arm and keep it open. Their facilities are sparkling clean and very attractive. And in spite of the weedy approach, it is worth coming down here.

Today we have been out to explore Aylesbury, in part to find the bus station (for David) and the railway station (for me).
We didn't see the statue of Ronnie Barker that Mick tells me is in the market square,  but we did see David Bowie.
And from the other side
Quite an attractive clock tower in Market Square
On the way back, we saw these ducks keeping cool in the overflow.
Not many boats moored in the basin, and we only saw a few moored on the visitor moorings on the way in to town. Is it my imagination, or is the 2nd boat from the right very low in the water?
This dog had dropped her ball in the water of the stream and valiantly got in after it. She didn't look fazed, but I gather she was in for a hosing down when she got home. She didn't rescue the ball, but the guy did and he wasn't throwing it for her again today, for some reason.
I spoke this afternoon to Brian, the president of the Aylesbury Canal Society. He doesn't have to open his weedhatch to get weed off his rudder or prop - he is so practised that as soon as he feels it on there he bursts reverse and flicks it off. I am going to try that - my problem is that I wait for a bit. So no more waiting - clearly impatience is the key!

Tomorrow I am going in to London to visit Rupert the osteopath and David is taking the opportunity to have some father/son bonding and is catching a train up to Manchester to spend the night with Tim. He'll be back on Tuesday and we may then set out off back up the arm. I reckon we may just get to where we moored on our first night, and that will be fine. Perhaps we will see the red kites again!


Friday, 2 August 2019

On the Aylesbury Arm

Lovely canal this, but I am feeling a bit sore: no fault of the canal, mind you, but when I went down into the boat from the stern deck, I was stepping into the relative darkness and forgot there are 3 steps and only used two of them! I landed flat on my back, grabbing at the bench both sides as I fell. I must have landed on or wrenched my right shoulder, because it hurts!

We had intended mooring up between Lock 8 and 9, but git gaps left by gits who are not onboard meant there was no space available. So we moved on down into the next pound, the towpath bank of which is mostly overgrown with reeds. However there were a few gaps and we took the first one that presented itself. Pins are deployed - 6 of them, in 3 pairs, and we hope the bank is solid enough to hold if any boats go past. None so far, so so far, so good!
Seabrook Lock Cottage - next to the first lock of the day.
Last time we came down this way we moored opposite this boat. I remember photographing it then too. Today I emailed this photo to our friend Derek who is in hospital recovering well from a heart valve replacement.

And my other mess-up today was early on, while I was waiting for the middle Seabrook lock - I wasn't concentrating (texting with Liz on nb Dollytub ...) and the boat got pushed back and skewed across the wide pound. David was worried enough to stop the lock emptying so I didn't have the strong waterflow to contend with.

See, children, concentration on a serious task is important!

This is the old pumpstation next to the second Seabrook Lock, I think. I thought the mooring below this was ideal for sociable boaters - plenty of room for tables, chairs, BBQs. Shall be investigated for the return journey.
The passage today has been lovely - it is surprisingly peaceful given how close we are to London - a bit like the approaches to Birmingham really - often the canal is below the noise or away from housing/industry.

I wondered if this was an old pillbox as it appeared to have a horizontal slit (left hand side 4/5 of the way up). Tony Porter, are you up for a bit of investigation, please?  It is in a paddock next to the top Marsworth Bottom Lock (does that make sense? - there are 7 more locks past the Marsworth Junction.)
And next to the top of the bottom Marsworth Locks is this 1909 stucco cottage - they appear to be ubiquitous in this neck of the woods!

When we came down this way 4 years ago, this was a building site and I remember reading on narrowboat forums that the services would not survive and it was more high-priced housing and boaters would be pushed out. Well, how wrong was that? The services are in that building before the bridge, and the apartments front on to the canal - it all looks beautiful. If I was in the market for a house on the outskirts of London, I'd be buying here - always something going on and always people to wave at, say hello to, pass the time of day with.

Now don't they look like lovely places to live?
And around the corner at the junction, on the Aylesbury Arm, there are more - plus parking for the owners.

The first two locks are a staircase. I was on the phone to Mick when in the first one (and entering it too) so no photos of that. This is us exiting the second one.
And the view to the front - the next lock is in view.

At the 4th lock there is a lovely cottage with an extensive garden. This is their wildflower garden which I think it stunning! When we first moved in to Rata St, I sowed wildflower seeds - mine were mostly cornflowers and big purple things plus lots of cosmos - I love them too. There is something very satisfying about a wildflower garden, I think.

And the front garden is beautiful too. I gather from speaking to the man that he does the front and wildflower garden and his wife does the back garden. She was mowing the lawn by the lock as we were descending.
 And then I lost all concentration for boating: I saw four red kites swirling and swerving up high - the field next to the canal was being harvested and I think they were wheeling about on the look out for mice or rabbits ... They look amazing! The first time we saw these was in Rhayader when we went there with Jo Brownie. That must have been back in about 2004 or 2005, I think. They were endangered then, but seem to have had a resurgence, which is wonderful.

Not the best shots but at least I got them!
So graceful!
I think I had myself pretty much upside down to take this photo ...

OK then, now I am in the lock. The truck driver stopped on the bridge and walked back to check if his undercarriage was going to bottom out ... Not sure I'd be keen on large trucks using this bridge if I was the roading manager of the local council! And I certainly wouldn't have exited the lock while he was driving over the canal ...
While David was busy doing locks, I was busy waiting. And while I was waiting, I had multiple What'sApp conversations going.

One was with Lesley who is allowed out on weekend leave from hospital today and may not have to go back in now the community nurses are going to manage her dressing changes; and her wound (originally the size of the crater that forms Lake Taupo) has been healing in leaps and bounds since they upped her protein intake by about 1000% (icky jellies, I gather, but they are the business).

The other conversation was with Liz. among other discussions, I have sent her my bread recipe (typed in a What'sApp message). They are moored at Kensall Green - a bit different from where we are!
However, it looks like there is ample room on the towpath for a table and chairs with a G&T or two ...

Tomorrow we are going to moor in the Aylesbury Canal Society's marina. We plan on staying a few days if it's possible. I have phoned Rupert, my fabulous Pimlico osteopath whom I have been seeing on and off since 2003. Well, given the fall and the likely mess my neck is in as well as my back after these months of boating, a treatment seems a sensible option, esp as we are so close!

Mick and Julia have given us the name of the president of the Aylesbury Canal Society who they met back in the 80s when their cat (the president's and his wife's) had kittens - howzat for a memory! Julia and Mick saw and recognised them when we were all moored up and sitting outside for the midsummer kiwi xmas party in Edgbaston a few weeks ago.

Time for a blob, methinks, accompanied by a mojito. Dinner is going to be nasi goreng, so David will be on vegetable chopping duty. After all, I have already cooked the rice for it ...