Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Barry is on board!

On Monday we travelled down to Apsley Mills and moored across from the retail park moorings in a lovely sunny spot beside some attractive flats.

What we didn’t realise until we went past on our way down to Leavesden Green today is that in the pound below us there were some lovely restaurants adjacent to the Aspley Marina. Doh! Ah well, neither of us have been up to much over the last couple of days, so not to worry!

David spent yesterday afternoon in bed nursing his man flu cold and I walked back up to Hemel Hempstead to have a cup of tea with Carol and George who had also moved from Winkwell. While there we hatched a plot that today they would come down and slot into the spot we were moored at when we were ready to head off.
Even right next to Hemel Hempstead it is surprisingly rural

Last night David and I came to a decision that we would abandon going into London and out on to the Thames to Oxford – our thinking was that we needed to be somewhere where David could go and get the grandsons by train from Carlisle and we don’t want to take them on the Thames. Given our rate of progress over the last couple of weeks and last week in particular we couldn’t see ourselves getting to Oxford via the Thames in time. So we decided we would go back up the GU from Uxbridge. In terms of miles and locks the distances are reasonably similar – did you know that it’s about 124 miles and about 88 locks from Apsley Bottom Lock to Oxford via the Thames, and about 112 miles and about 77 locks via the GU and Oxford Canal. But it is only 49.5 miles by car via Aylesbury!!! It’s a bit like David’s 3.5 hour trip by train from Waikanae to Masterton (via Wellington) to visit his mum and if he could go as the crow flies, it’s only 50 kms – of course there’s no road through or over the Tararua Range …
Via the Thames

Via Linslade

Overnight though I thought again, and realised that in the interests of David’s poorly foot, we would be better to do the Thames route as those locks are manned and push button operated, whereas the GU ones are heavy and manual. So the volte face has been volte faced again. Talk about flip flop plans!

This morning I went to meet Barry off the train while David went to Argos to buy some amplifier/signal finder thingie he was keen on. 
This lovely house was across the road from the retail park and close to the station. I really liked the shingled walls.

Barry and I came back via a short trip into Sainsbury’s and David was already back and on the towpath talking with George, and the kettle was whistling its head off onboard Waka Huia. As he said he had cooked the water for the morning tea.

Before we headed off I prepped most of the stuff for a sweet potato soup (at home we call it kumara) and then David was in charge of putting in together, sauté-ing the onion, bacon and garlic, then adding the chopped kumara, chicken stock and water. 
Apsley Bottom Lock below which were the lovely restaurants ...

Fuelling up while locking down ... Great service. You can pay buy cash, cheque or internet banking

We finally stopped for lunch after we’d bought diesel from the fuel boat Hyperion in one of the locks as we penned down together – very cool! Phil and Mary are neat people.

David finally gave in and stopped trying to still do locks, hold ropes, tear backwards and forwards along the towpath; then he sat and investigated some stuff on the net, and prepped the veges for the cassoulet.

We then locked down a few locks with a single-hander called Dave and his lovely dog Ozzie. (Did you know that 90% of people have a mate called Dave? Well, at least in the UK so I gather from that source of all good statistical info the TV programme Have I got News for You with Paul Merton and Ian Hislop.) We had one very interesting exit from a lock when a widebeamed charity boat waiting to lock up covered more than half of the lock exit. And it was on a bend under a bridge too …

We have passed under the M25 so we are now within Greater London boundaries, I think. 
About to head under the M25 - not its busiest section

We are now moored across from a golf course at Leavesden Green according to Nicholson’s (Grove Mill I think), the sun is filtering through, the solar panels are still drawing in a few amps, we can hear the traffic in the distant background and when the boat is closed up it will be even less audible.
I am not sure if these are moorhen chicks - the mum has a white beak and these have fluffy red heads. I photographed them while David was getting ....

... this fishing line off the prop after we'd moored up.
Wine, beer and nibbles to make sure that our fab lock-wheeler, Barry, is well fed and happy to stay on!

Forgot to say that we have abandoned the flag on the broomstick attached to the swan’s neck – the day after it had been rescued from the cut and re-attached, I snapped the broomstick when I backed into the gate inside a lock. David is going to attach it to one of the poles for the TV aerial so at least we can fly it when stationary.


Neil Corbett said...

If the mum has a white beak then the chicks are coots. Moorhen and coot chicks are very similar. The veggie restaurant at Apsley was very nice when we last went there.
Kath (nb Herbie)

Marilyn McDonald said...

Hi Kath, I knew I knew they weren't moorhen chicks but I could not remember the name! Thank you for reminding me of it. They were definitely coots - they have such a funny little red ruff on their heads as chicks and are much bigger than moorhen chicks which are like little skeins of black mohair wool skittering across the water, I think. Cheers, Marilyn