|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 ...
|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.
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.|
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.
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|
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.|
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...|