Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Scorching Again With Cooler Intervals (In Blisworth Tunnel)

A Giant Weighing Scales

Stoke Bruerne welcomed us with a sign 'No Return Within 28 Days'- just as well we passed this way on in June on the way to London. We moored away from the waterpoints near Bottom Lock for the night. Ben and I had pleasant walk up the 7 locks to see Stoke Bruerne at a quieter time. The night was cooler so we had a better nights sleep! I took Ben out in the night for a comfort break and the night sky was beautiful with so many stars visible.
In the morning we used the services and set off up the flight of seven locks. The bottom lock was ready for us so we just opened the gates. Another boat was coming down which pleased us until they shut the gates as they left the lock- are they daft? We also met some boaters who can only steer straight. They waited in the lock above us with the gates open willing us to get out of the way so they go straight in and they didn't like it when our two boats carried on one behind the other forcing them to vacate the chamber!
At Stoke Bruerne we stopped for lunch and sampled the local ale in 'The Boat Inn'. I bought a postcard to send to my dad to add to his collection. We had a look around and saw the boat weighing machine from the Glamorganshire Canal with a BCN station boat in the duplicate lock chamber. You can see the pan they put the weights on on the left hand side of the picture like a giant set of scales. It's one of the museums outside exhibits. It was pricey to go in the museum at over £4 each so we gave it a miss. The boat trips into the tunnel mouth were pricey too at over £7 each but we didn't need a trip boat as we go through ourselves.
Next we followed a boat heading for Blisworth Tunnel until it stopped suddenly at the tunnel mouth as a boat was coming the other way. I explained it was OK to proceed as there was room for two narrow boats to pass but they didn't want to go first so NB Bendigedig led the way with NB Shush following behind. It was a noisy journey with singing from NB Shush and ghostly noises from NB Bendigedig and rather wet in places. But we emerged into the sunshine with no crashes and we passed two boats in the tunnel. As we travelled through it's amazing to think it took seven years to build Blisworth Tunnel and it must have been extremely hard work.
We found a quiet place to stay near Blisworth and moored up the night. Ben the dog and Eric went to sleep for the rest of the afternoon, it was so hot we were melting!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

A Weekend At Milton Keynes

As I've said previously the canal around Milton Keynes is surrounded by lovely green spaces so we decided to spend the weekend here by Campbell Park. It's relatively peaceful although you can hear children screaming from the nearby funfair rides, but that stops in the evening. We walked into the shopping centre through the park as I needed to buy birthday cards and send them off. Danielle my niece will be 18 next week and Wendy (an old friend) will be 58 years young! Happy Birthday to you both on the world wide web. This weekend also my daughter Sally and her partner Bob had their engagement party- congratulations to them too. We didn't get to the party but we drank a toast on the boat!

We've enjoyed the walks around here although it's been so hot we would have loved a dip in the water just like Ben the dog. Eric and I walked to Willen Lake and were amazed at the facilities there. There's a water ski loop which was great to watch, where people could ski without the need for a boat. All the usual water sports were there too- canoes and boat hire and there's even an area for remote control model boats. There's also a wild life lake with peace and quiet the order of the day. This are has lots of footpaths/cycle paths which makes getting around easier as you can just follow the signs. Ben and I have enjoyed lots of walks this weekend. In some places we see footpaths marked by numbers only and this doesn't help visitors as we don't know where we'll end up. I've also managed to get bitten by two horseflies and stung by a wasp- I must be tasty!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Going Down

Loading a working boat at Tring Wharf

Ben free amidst the long grass!

The photo shows a working boat being loaded up at Tring Summit taking blocks down the canal to Lock 41. Then our descent through the Marsworth Flight of locks began. Ben and I walked enjoying the views of the reservoirs along the way. After working through 14 locks we stopped near Ivington Locks in a short pound. Eric had to let a lock full of water down before we went to bed as the level had dropped in the pound and we were at a funny angle although the ropes were slack.

The mileage signs showed we are getting closer to Braunston and the next day we reached Leighton Buzzard. We moored on the Linslade visitor moorings as we expected the moorings outside Tesco to be full and we were right. It was only a short walk to get the shopping done and the cupboards, fridge and freezer were soon restocked. We didn't leave Leighton Buzzard until after lunch and we travelled with the temperature in the region of 25 degrees C slowly past lots of moored boats.

The Soulbury Flight of 3 locks delayed us as two boats got stuck at the bottom when they tried to enter side by side and the one lock gate wouldn't go right back. They had to let some water down to get them unstuck. It proved to be an entertaining time for the folk in 'The Three Locks' pub. We waited until they came up rather than waste water. We chatted to the people in the pub garden by the bottom lock and they asked us about our travels when they saw the two welsh flags on NB Bendigedig and NB Shush.

We worked one moor lock and decided to stop as we were melting! Forty two miles to Braunston.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

We've Reached Tring Summit

After loads of locks we've reached the visitor moorings here at Tring summit. The notice board says we can stay between here and Cowroast for 14 days in a year! How do they keep check! We've seen lots of boats going nowhere, still in the same places as when we passed on our way down to London. The visitor moorings in some places have become places where boats are left with for sale signs!
On the way here we spent a noisy night at Apsley as the boat periodically banged against the hard bank- just the way the mooring rings were spaced. In the middle of the night we put an extra rope which reduced the bangs. Eric ended up having a chat to some boaters having a midnight chat by the boat next to us.
We also stayed at Berkhamsted opposite the park for a night which was pleasant enough as the teenagers soon disappeared from the skateboard area when it got dark. The only drawback was no satellite or freeview TV and no analogue either. We can usually get TV some way but we couldn't be bothered to move after working through fourteen locks.
Here at Tring we can get satellite TV and there's a local for a drink or two but the towpath acts as a road for a few houses near here so it's not that quiet in the day. Ben and I enjoyed a lovely long walk around the reservoirs near the next flight of locks. The sun was shining, the wind was blowing but it was lovely to be out in the countryside.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Heavily Locked

We're busy this week working through the heavily locked Grand Union up towards Braunston. The locks have proved heavy too and on a few occasions a jogger helped me open the lock gate so that Eric didn't have to climb the ladder out of the depths of the lock. On the way back we can stop at some of the lovely places we moored at on the way down and avoid the noisy spots near the big roads.

We enjoyed our stay at Rickmansworth once again and had some lovely walks around the lakes with Ben the dog. When we passed one visiting boat Ben being his noisy self put his nose in their open side hatch and we were told to f... off by a very unfriendly boater! We have also met many friendly chatty people who notice the welsh flag and ask us have we come all the way from Wales by narrowboat- yes we have. Yesterday we passed underneath the bridge carrying the underground railway (overground) into Watford showing us we were finally leaving all traces of Greater London behind.

We moored in the Cassiobury Park area where Grove Bridge is graffiti free and all lit up at night and had a peaceful night. Motor bikes have occasionally come past on the towpaths but they haven't caused us any problems. There are still lots of cyclists about, some considerate others in so much of a rush they can't afford the breath to thank you for getting out of their way. Today it's locks and more locks and only 75 miles or so to Braunston!

Friday, July 11, 2008

On The Move Again

Thursday was spent travelling to Newport for my dental appointment and then back to London. I spent the journeys reading a book and the time flew by. I also had time for a haircut too. No time for visiting as to get cheaper tickets I had to be on the four o'clock train back to Paddington as we had to move on the following day. We had a pleasant stay in Little Venice but 14 days is the maximum staying time- after that the fine is £25 a day! It's a very busy place with lots of cyclists whizzing along the towpath as well as lots on visitors on foot. Ben enjoyed the nearby little park and the dogs he met there.
We travelled slowly back along the Paddington Arm towards Bulls Bridge with Alan and Eiddwen aboard NB Shush leading the way. We had already lost our map book when it blew off into the canal and sunk, so it's just as well we weren't venturing into new territory. We needed to stop at the Tesco store to stock up with food before we headed off out into the peace and quiet of the countryside. The city life is not for me. Not a good day as my cap blew off and sunk too! We moored up and listened to the rain hammering down on the roof, let's hope it's dry tomorrow.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

In Little Venice- London

Unusual Freight!
We've been moored in Little Venice and have been watching the world go by. Today we saw a some unusual freight. The boat owner said this was the first time he'd delivered a castle! I've just returned to London after a few days in Newport visiting. I also had a dental checkup and I need a filling replaced so it's a day trip to Newport next week.

Today I had a visit from Anne, an old friend since my college days. It was lovely to see her and reminisce on our time together 1968-1971 at Shenstone College in Bromsgrove. We've kept in touch over the last forty years although we haven't actually met up for eight years. We went to Hyde Park with Ben the dog and it actually turned into a lovely sunny day although rain was promised. Needless to say we had lots to talk about.