Friday, May 27, 2016

Shakespeare and the Tring Reservoir (cruise retrospective)

In an attempt to edit this post, something went very wrong, and I was forced to delete it. There were two interesting, useful comments on it which I didn't want to lose, so I've copied them into this re-post at an appropriate place, along with my reply.

Sadly, I had to return the inverter to its very generous donor on NB Muttley this morning. When I saw that its output was "modified", not "pure" sinewave, I contacted the manufacturers of our laptop computers, to see if this was all right for them.

"You'd be dicing with death, mate!" was enough to put me off. I'm guessing it'd be bad for the computers, too.

It's Shakespeare's birthday today, and the 400th anniversary of his death. And The Company of Players, having spent a week together in Belper, Derbyshire, writing songs inspired by the Bard, are at the RSC Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon today, singing some of those songs. At least, most of the ten are, including Said the Maiden. What a gig! Jess is going to be very star-struck!

Our day wasn't nearly so exciting, but it was lovely nonetheless. The weather was bright and breezy, very chilly, with dark clouds always lingering in the near distance. And the countryside was beautiful. Birds were out in force. Swans and coots were sitting on eggs. A band of crows angrily chased a red kite off their patch. A veritable Territorial Army.

At Gas 1 Lock, our progress was halted by a 70 foot narrowboat lying stationary across the entire width of the canal. I got off Kantara to see what I could do to retrieve it. Its stern mooring was still secure, so I walked along the gunnel to find a centre rope dangling in the water, and the bow rope doing the same. Fortunately, both still had their mooring pins attached to the ends. Pulling these aboard, I saw that neither rope was long enough to extend to the bank. Both were old, tangled lengths of thick, blue nylon.

Grace had stayed on Kantara with the intention of using her to push the boat, NB Naiad, across to the bank, but a strong side-wind took her into the shallows on the opposite side, ruining her chances of approaching Naiad from the right angle. Grace drove the boat to the towing-path side, and we tied her up. Rethink.

We both came up with the idea of taking our centre ropes and tying those to Naiad's ropes. The combined lengths then allowed me to walk the centre rope down the gunnels to the stern, step off, and pull her back to the bank. Grace climbed onto the bow, took that rope, and between us we pulled her in tight, and re-pinned her. This time more securely, we hoped. Job done. Bow to the gongoozlers.

At Northchurch Lock, I met a very shifty-looking young bloke who was standing at the foot of the lock steps, furtively inflating a balloon with a pump. When he saw me, he quickly pushed them into a bag, and hurried away. He left an uninflated yellow balloon on the ground behind him. He denied ownership when I called out to him. What on earth could he have been doing?

I started to open a bottom gate, and he reappeared.

"Jonnand?" he asked me.


"Jonnand?" He emphasised the "and".

"Sorry?" said I.


Then it dawned on me. It's the local dialect form of "Do you want a hand?". A former colleague of mine belonged to the same tribe, and his extremely frequent rendition of "Do you know what I mean?" was "Jummeen?"

I declined his offer of help. I don't usually do that, but I made an exception of this youth. Something deep inside me warned me off him.

I usually happily accept such offers of help at locks. Sometimes, they're very welcome. Gates can be very heavy at times. But even when they're not, it seems like the friendly thing to do, and it makes the helper happy to have been helpful. When we got to the Marsworth flight, we were very ably assisted down the first six locks by a vollie, along with a group of four kids who thoroughly enjoyed opening and closing gates under the careful watch of the vollie and me, and with the full appreciation of their parents. We descended those locks in record time!

We had considered cruising the "1½ lockless miles" of the Wendover Arm, but decided that the short distance didn't merit the hassle of winding at the end. We'll come back one day, and walk it.

Have you ever seen a Boat Boot Sale? Or, probably more properly, a Boat Locker Sale? We passed one today. Six or seven tables under awnings along the side of the canal, piled high with second-hand boat paraphernalia. One or two liveaboards doing a bit of sorting out, we thought, but subsequently I got a couple of comments on this post from people involved in the event. And they corrected me.
MikeW 27 May 2016 at 13:14
Hi there,I enjoyed your blog which I came across whilst browsing. I was very pleased to see reference to your passage through Cowroast complete with picture of my boat (Independence) and the marquees. We were celebrating St George's Day, as we do every year, including annual auction of boaters' bits. We raised over £700 for the local hospice and MIND. You should have joined us. More on my blog-, Mike Wall
 Mike Griffin 27 May 2016 at 15:44
Hi, re your comment -'Boat Boot Sale' - sorry, wrong - we are a group of moorers who have been friends for years, we buy and sell 'things' at a couple of auctions a year, raising funds for local and national charities. Total raised so far this year is £1000. a record for six months, care to contribute?
 I replied...

Roger Distill 27 May 2016 at 17:47
Mikes, both of you!, thank you both for correcting me! I'll change my blog entry, and include the details you've given. Congratulations on the amount raised. We were going to stop and investigate, but ummed and ahhed too much, and gave in to the umms! I'll have a look at your blog, Mike Wall. It's always good to see what other boaters get up to.
Regards to you both.

We moored soon after that, tying up at a spot with several other boats, alongside a public park adjacent to the huge Tring Reservoir.

The local pub, The White Lion, recommended in our Nicholson Guide, stood derelict.

The nearby Anglers' Retreat looked most uninviting. We ate at home.

At around sunset, we took our cameras out to capture the beauty of the reservoir.