14. May, 2018

RAIN RAIN GO AWAY

But we can’t really complain after the wonderful Bank Holiday we have had, excellent cruising weather and we made the most of it.

However I have to back track slightly, Tues was a lovely day and we spotted for the first time, a yellowhammer and black cap, amongst the usual run of robins, blackbirds and the ever present wood pigeons.

The day could have ended in disaster for Sam. As I went to sit down and have a well earned rest, (and because I had food), she decided to jump on the sofa at the back of me, my bum had just about made contact with her when I realised she was there, Bloody Cat. No harm done luckily.

Although we had a little rain it was warm doing Stoke Bruene locks, I had a little help from a couple who informed me they had a boat in Bristol, it’s nice to meet other boaters from all over the country. Blisworth tunnel was extremely wet, which set us up nicely for the next day and more rain. We stopped in the middle of nowhere, and Bubbles was able to go off and hunt to his little heart’s content.

Whilst  browsing good ole Facebook a boat was reported stolen from the Wembley area on the Paddington arm of the GU. Being helpful boaters we shared it on various boating pages and contacted the owner when some relevant information was posted. I am very pleased to say that the boat was found, and the owner Lawrence was able to retake his home. On not such a happy note, the police did not seem at all interested in arresting the thief, who when challenged, made up a story about being asked to paint the boat by a strange man who had found him sleeping rough. That the thief was wearing Lawrence’s clothes and boots, and was seen to drop an axe over the side as the police arrived, did nothing to prove his guilt in their eyes. Damage was done to the inside of the boat, the paint work and the engine.  Lawrence is pursuing this further and we wish him luck. Ok his insurance should cover the damage, but what sort of a message does this send to other would be thieves?

Milton Keynes and shopping, followed by tea at the Gifford Park with the Captains sister Ann and her  hubby Chris.

Last time we passed Gifford Park it was closed for refurbishment and the boater’s bins were not available, unfortunately it does not look like they will be returning. More boater’s facilities being removed, not good.

On a happier note, an old work boat passed us and its put-put engine sounded wonderful, so I complimented its owner on this.

So onto Fenny Stratford and a happy meeting with our old friends Steve and Leslie Jay. They have a widebeam boat, and we usually pass them somewhere on our way into London. We had intended to investigate the area (and the pubs) as we have never stopped at Fenny before, but an unexpected invitation from Steve and Leslie to an impromptu BBQ changed our plans. We had a very pleasant evening with them.

Sam continued her erratic behaviour by getting off the wrong side of the boat, and had to walk down the gunnels and over the fenders. Bubble’s was being his usual tartish self on the towpath.

Saturday, and we said goodbye to Steve and Leslie and headed off with plans to get nearly to Marsworth. It was a beautiful and very hot day, and when we reached 3 locks we were very happy to find a beer, food and musical festival in full swing. I convinced the Captain that we should moor up at the top of the locks and go down and investigate what was on offer. As you can imagine he didn’t take too much persuading, and was very happy with the dark beers on tap.

I had had a number of very nice comments on my previous blog (thank you all), and one was posted by Maggie Holmes on NB Beaujolais Newbury, and I am pleased to say that our bows crossed and it was lovely to put a face to a name. We didn’t stop and chat as they were heading back to their moorings in readiness for a holiday.

At the lock just before Leighton Buzzard I jumped off and went to offer my help to the boat and its crew already in the lock, I will call its crew the happy hippy girl, and she was very pleasant to talk to and we had help from a young gentleman of 12yrs.

 Unfortunately as with all areas of life you have to take the nice with the not so nice, and this was the boat which turned up to share the lock with us. It was crewed by 2 men, I will not grace them with the title of gentlemen, as they were far from it. They moored up and the Captain enquired if they were going up the lock, they were. It is usual to help with the lock, but they both just stood and watched me, the Captain asked if they were going to let me do all the work, and apparently this was their intention.  One did walk up with a windlass as I opened the gate, usually we only use one gate and the Captain will steer the boat to the other side to let the second boat enter, but not this time, and the man with the windlass had to go round and open the second gate for his boat. There was no pleasant chatting, in fact they hardly acknowledge me or the Captain. We came out of the lock first and were pleased to put some distance between us and them. It takes allsorts I suppose.

We spent the night in the middle of nowhere before moving in the very nice but hot weather, and when we moored we had a well earned pint at the Red Lion at Marsworth (bridge 129). Not a pub we have visited before and we really liked it, a proper locals place, with plenty of ‘people watching’ opportunities.

Marsworth flight next day and help from 3 volunteer lockies, which I deeply appreciated as I have a bad wrist (think its carpel tunnel and is very painful). I then took over steering the boat to see if this would help. I didn’t do too bad getting into the locks, until, of course I had an audience and I made a real pigs ear of it, but the Captain very kindly said I did very well. We moored at Berkhamsted and stayed for a couple of days to rest my wrist. I think that the vibration from the tiller is actually worse for my wrist so have returned to doing the locks.

Of course we had to visit the Red Squirrel brewery Beer Shop in Berko, They had a white chocolate stout on, pale in colour, a bit hazy like a wheat beer, but with an amazing taste of chocolate. The Captain was amazed, and even better, they had an hazelnut stout on to. The Captains idea of heaven.

Well I have just about caught up, just 2 last pubs to mention. First the Three Horse Shoes on the swing bridge at Winkwell, right by the canal, a nice looking pub but very very very expensive. 2 pints £9.25. The only saving grace they had London Porter on. The moorings are blighted by a very noisy train line too, won’t be stopping there again.

Secondly The Paper Mill at Hemel Hempstead, not as expensive as the Three Horse Shoes but it had no atmosphere. We did however find a little memorial park to the people who worked for Basildon Bond in various paper mills in the area, and who lost their lives in the 2 world wars. An interesting and unexpected find.

Well it’s still raining so I think we are here for the night, more later folks