Wednesday, March 30, 2016

When a boater says "Good morning", it means she's not had lunch yet

Time on the canal is distorted, I'm sure. We found it was 4 o'clock yesterday afternoon, and we'd not had lunch. Knowing what day it is is worse. Our Day Clock is inside the boat. There's an LCD clock at the stern, though. We really ought to use it sometimes!

So this post goes right back to Friday. The first day of the Easter Bank Holiday weekend. After a very rainy night, we woke to much better weather.

Walkers and cyclists were out in good numbers. Boats were still thin on the water. We descended the locks into Berkhamsted in leisurely fashion, with gongoozlers a permanent fixture. We passed a man trying to enjoy a peaceful picnic lunch at a bench by the Northchurch lock, but being accosted by a pair of sandwich-loving swans. When the man stood and shuffled round to stand behind the bench, the crafty pair moved in on him, one each side. But no way was he going to share his food, so him stuffed it down quickly before making a dash for it. Swans can be a real nuisance.

Cowroast Lock bears notices telling users to leave the chamber empty with a bottom gate open. This is to prevent the lock filling (because the top gates are leaky), and water seeping under the coping stones at the top of the walls, and making its way into the adjacent cottage. In fact, these instructions appeared on most of the locks down into Berkhamsted, regardless of the presence of cottages.

Arriving in the town centre in bright, warm sunshine, we moored opposite the children's playground, crowded with children and parents. The long stretch of mooring was very wet. The towing path next to a rather narrow grass verge was muddy and puddled. The verge was just as bad. But pinning wasn't too much of a problem. The ground was full of small stones, and these had the effect of gripping the mooring pins.

The shops are just a few minutes' walk from this spot, and M & S was our choice for stocking up with food. 

Monday, March 28, 2016

It's been a week!

I'm just not getting the time to post to the blog at the moment. When we're on the cut, I spend much more of my time doing specifically boaty things. Time seems to run differently from when we're in the marina!

Last Monday was positively warm as we moved on down through Milton Keynes. It's really a very pleasant town from the canal.

Stoke Hammond Lock

On Tuesday morning, moved off just behind NB Frogmore, and shared locks with them Soulbury Three Locks and Leighton, after which they moored for lunch and we continued to Leighton Buzzard Tesco for shopping and lunch. Frogmore arrived there just as we took off again. But now we met up with NB Labyrinth, sharing Grove Lock and Church Lock with them before we both moored. Like a lot of the canal recently, it was rather shallow here, and an awful sound came from the bowthruster as Grace tried to move the bow off shallows. It had me thinking the propellor was trying to mince bricks, but fortunately no harm was done.

NB Labyrinth
The couple on Labyrinth were staying here to explore for a day or so, so we moved on alone. Slapton Locks, Horton and the two Ivinghoe Locks, nothing new for us, and all very pleasant and without incident. We moored at bottom of Seabrook Locks and I did a reccy for better moorings further down. There were, so we moved on to just below Marsworth Locks, where we found Frogmore already tied. We stayed for night, hoping to share the Marsworth Flight with them the next day.

Marsworth Bottom Lock

NB Frogmore
I was getting very annoyed by this time. I'd apparently left my cheap camera at the house the other week, so had nothing to use while I was locking. My other cameras - my phone and a decent Fuji camera - were too precious for me to risk whilst at work. But it was costing me some good photos, and that's annoying!

Frogmore had already left when we started up the nine Marsworth Locks. We stopped for services at the Marsworth Junction (with Aylesbury arm), and were amazed at the new housing which had sprung up since we were last there, replacing the grotty old BW buildings. The services are so much better, too.

I was quite glad to get to Marsworth Top Lock!

Wendover Arm
The Marsworth Flight had felt like a bit of a long haul, and i was glad to get to the top. Passing through the junction with the Wendover Arm, we decided to add this t our return journey. It sounds very pleasant.

It had started to rain on our way up. Now, it was rather heavier, so we stopped just before Bridge 136 for lunch, and until the morning. The concrete edge against which we moored had a ridge protruding foot or so below waterline mooring, and I had to resort to tying fenders onto the ends of the normal fenders to keep us from continually bumping against it.

It rained all night. 

Saturday, March 26, 2016

My first shot at video... (pardon the pun)

...well, in quite a while anyway. I've used the car's dashcam, fixed to the inside of the front window of the cratch. There are some reflections which I'll avoid next time. This one's really here as a test run. It's less than five minutes long, and is played at double time - so it's a maximum boat speed of 6 miles an hour!

This is simply the first ten minutes of our current cruise Click here.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

A short stop at Stoke Bruerne

It was good to spend Saturday at Stoke Bruerne. We didn't do much. Housework, computer stuff, looking at canal maps and being a little concerned that it might be difficult to find moorings in London. There are conflicting reports about this, some saying it's always problematic, others saying that it's not a problem this early in the year. We'll just have to wait and see. When Pru and Tim did that trip on the TV, they had to drive on into the night before they could moor at one point. It'd be nice to avoid that!

NB Kristie were moored in the wharf. Their starter motor had broken down, and they wouldn't be able to get it replaced/repaired until Monday. But if you have to break down, Stoke Bruerne's a good place to do it! We saw them that evening, enjoying a meal at The Navigation when we ate there. 

We had a peek inside "Topiary" a shop situated just off the wharf. It's a strange one. Sells gifts, expensive handbags, glassware, ceramics, luxury chocolate. Little or nothing would be of interest to boaters. Their only custom must be weekend visitors, of whom there are many in clement weather. Nonetheless, their goods are rather exclusive. 

The Stoke Bruerne Whippet Walking Society was out in strength. We'd seen them on previous visits. 36 whippets and fewer people strolling through the village and the wharf as far as the tunnel and back. A strange sight.

Sunday morning was overcast, but not so cold as we set off down the Stoke Bruerne Locks. An elderly gent in NB Moondust was going our way, so we shared the locks with him. He was having some problems with his boat, so I did the locks and he stayed at the helm. It was a bit of a slow descent, but we were in no hurry. He stopped at the bottom of the flight for a rest, and we carried on towards Cosgrove Lock, then the outskirts of Milton Keynes.

We moored by Bridge 75, a lovely spot we've used before, up to the north of the town.