Friday, 5 June 2015

Leighton Buzzard to Tring Reservoirs

Wednesday was a mixed bag: the weather was lovely and improved steadily throughout the day. We moored at Little Seabrook between the first and second locks in the sunshine. David prepared the veges for a stir fry that I cooked. I planted out the lettuces, basil, bush tomatoes and spring onions, and sowed the rocket seeds – I did have to find stones later to weigh down the pots in case of wind – so stones are on top rather than at the bottom ... The top of the boat cannot hold any more pots without them getting in the way of ropes.

So Wednesday ended well. It started well at Leighton Buzzard as we got water and chatted with a couple of sets of boaters before heading off towards Grove Lock and the marina.

The cruising was pleasant, peaceful and the countryside is just lovely. We managed to see but not photograph the Whipsnade Lion on the hills. I remember seeing that with Daphne way back in 1988 and we saw it with Tim and Kirsty in 1990 when we boated towards Slapton. 

We saw no boats on the move, but quite a few moored up – most of them looked like liveaboards. It's the roofs used as storage lockers that is a bit of a giveaway. As we approached Grove Lock there was a line of moored boats, two of whom were breasted up with the outer one’s skipper untying and heading off when we were within a couple of boat lengths of him. He saw us but, as he is a fuel boat and therefore much more important than us, he just pulled out and, even though I was in tickover he was going much, much slower. I held my line and got quite close to him; at which point he yelled back to me asking if I was impatient, and that he hadn’t said I could pass so I should get back. This with much waving of arms and gesticulating.

Naturally I pulled back, as I am nothing if not biddable ;-) What was hilarious was that having pulled out in front of us and asking if I was impatient he pulled over  about 200 yards further on to meet up with the oil truck – what is it with some commercial boat skippers? Who was the impatient one? As we had approached the moored boats and saw him we had decided we would buy our fuel from him – supporting waterways businesses and all that. But that did not happen – we have no idea what his price was compared to the price at Grove Marina, and we don’t care. 

I have since been told though that trading boats operate by legitimately different rules than other boaters. Is that true? Anyone?
This is the endlessly patient skipper's boat. He moors it alongside a similar coloured boat called Beverley

We moored up for lunch across the cut from some farm buildings just after a lock. 
Cows inside

Cows outside

I made BLATs on french bread and took the bread board out to throw the crumbs in the canal. As I waved it around distributing crumbs for the local birdlife, I knocked the Nicholson’s canal guide off the back of the boat. AAARRRGGGHHH!!! Surprisingly it didn’t immediately sink. I tried to reach it with the tongs – arms too short, David tried – same problem. Fortunately we had delayed attaching the new broom handle as a flag pole to the swan’s neck so I used it to scoop the book out of the water. Phew! It has all of the info in it provided to us by Jaq and Les about good mooring places and water points on the Thames, so losing it would have been a pain in the rectum!
Rescue has been affected

Over the course of the afternoon it dried in the sunshine, and while not as good as new, it is still serviceable but much fatter, as it the way with books that have been dunked and dried.

Yesterday we decided to stay put. Where we moored after the first of the Seabrook locks is beautiful and peaceful – we could hear the trains over in the distance, but the noise barely intruded. We knew I was still poorly really – one sure symptom is that I haven’t drunk any chardonnay for days! That does count as serious, doesn’t it? Also I’ve been off my food a bit. Couldn’t face eating the pork stir-fry I cooked the night before, so had dessert instead – well, Garfield does say to eat it first, given that life is uncertain. Last year we bought a pack of meringues and left them with Tim and Marta who gave them back to us when we were up there. I decided that unless these things were going to travel between the boat and Dalry on an annual basis, we needed to eat them. So one each crushed with strawberries and whipped cream – a sort of deconstructed eton mess. That has only just occurred to me, so don’t get any fancy schmancy ideas about the culinary arts in play on THIS boat.

So yesterday was a blobbing day for me after I’d sorted two things that had been annoying me,  one I'd been meaning to do since we were in Stoke on Trent last year and the last since we arrived back onboard. One was cleaning off the stains on the panels with Waka Huia’s name on - they are cream and marks show up. So off they came. The second was a bit of DIY using my fab battery drill (which remarkably is still charged up – how does that happen? Maybe boats should have lithium batteries that hold their charge when not in use). That was putting up the flag for NZ ships not in home waters – I am fairly sure I have the right one because Tony from nb Holderness told me and he should know as a seafaring man.

We purchased a wooden broom handle in Leighton Buzzard (already used to rescue Nicholson’s guide – NOT TO SELF: buy another for rescue duty) for use as flagpole. So I drilled two holes in it to slot cable ties through for attaching the flag, and two holes at right angles to the flag holes to cable tie the pole to the swan’s neck. David acted as the vice making sure the pole didn’t slip as I drilled. Cable ties poked through and on went the flag and on went the pole.

The penultimate thing was to attach stick-on plate hanger jobbies to the back of two plates (purchased with a number of others at the outlet shop at S-o-T last year) so they could be set out to dry in the cratch before hanging up, one in the galley and one in the saloon.  And the final task was to stick back on some of the pieces of paua on to the mirror frame the lovely Michelle made for me and hang it on the saloon wall. It looks really cool!

After that, I did blob – I read for ages sitting in the cratch in the sunshine. David spent a few hours downloading OS maps on to various devices, happy as a pig in muck. We went out for a short slow walk up the next two locks and through a woods to Great Seabrook later as his plantar fasciitis heel has to be treated with care. Back for nibbles on the towpath. The nibbles turned out to be dinner. Shock horror – David had a glass of wine and I didn’t. See, I told you I’m poorly still!

This morning we played a waiting game with the weather – it rained lightly, then reduced to  spitting, and then cleared. But Lesley told me it hailed, rained and thundered in Chatham, Kent. 

As the day has gone on the sun has got warmer and brighter. And now we have fetched up by the Tring reservoirs above the bottom Marston lock. It is beautiful.

An entertaining morning's boating tho with some loud marital discord before one lock not long after we set off. Needless to say all is well now and was shortly afterwards, but in the meantime I discovered that cable ties are no match for tree branches. The flag and pole came off, dear readers, as I went through the trees on the offside. I'd watched out for the solar panels but the flag is so new as an accoutrement that I had neglected to worry about it. And PING - off it came.

However, long story short for a change, the guy who we helped coming down the lock after our ascent, went across in his boat below the lock and used our boat hook to scoop it up and bring it back to me. I was delighted to see that the broom handle was intact - it was only the cable ties that popped. The flag is back on, new cable ties and all. It has dried out and looks cool. I am going to get some large jubilee clips to encompass the broom handle and the swan's neck, to give more power to the cable ties.
A Toyota sized BUGGER

But wait, there's happiness - flag rescued and broomstick intact - why am I surprised? Witches' broomsticks are infallible!
Flag restored

The Whit Lio pub (defunct and boarded up) in the background behind the bottom Marsworth lock

Moored with pins for the first time this season, but the mooring was too lovely to pass up. Beside the bank from which David has taken this photo is one of the Tring reservoirs - beautiful!

While I've been editing this post and sorting out the photo post that follows, David has been resting his foot. I just went down to the saloon to ask if he wants a medicinal wine - he's asleep! Headphones on, TV going but he's out to it.

You will be pleased to know that I am recovered though - I am imbibing my first glass of chardonnay for several days! YAY!!! 

There are lots of photos for the last few days, so to limit the length of this post, I will put the rest of them in a separate post - it'll be there shortly!


Gary Carolyn said...

Hi Marilyn, We do know the skipper of the fuel boat in question. His name ,like me is Gary. Normally he is very good and friendly..Maybe you caught him on a bad day. The last time we had diesel off him it was very reasonably priced at 70p a litre. Hope you are now feeling better and those solar panels are pumping the amps into your batteries... Gary ..nb Inca

Marilyn McDonald said...

Maybe it was a bit early in the morning. Not to worry - now I know that you have found him to be a good joker, Gary, I feel a bit better about it. Right now I don't know why I didn't just pull right back when I saw him move off - maybe it was too early for me too! Cheers, Marilyn