Sunday, June 29, 2008

London

We always planned to visit London by boat and the last time time we came here (by car) we admired all the boats at Little Venice and now we are here! This is the view from our boat near Little Venice in London. Some kind kiwis allowed us to moor alongside them as it's busy round here. We're moving the boats around this evening so it's easier to get the dog off . Despite being in London it's been quiet enough to get a good sleep here- in fact we didn't wake until nearly ten this morning. Ben likes grass so we found him a park which had a little area fenced in for exercising the dogs and someone had even left him a ball to play with.
Ben and the ball!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Fifteen Locks Later- Rickmansworth

NB Shush Under The M25

Eric Enters The Lock.

Over the last few days we've been crusing along working the lots together with NB Shush. The weather has been really good but bit too hot for working locks. We've certainly been busy and the photo shows Eric going in the lock- no crashes at all. Every morning it's been factor 30 slapped on to combat the dreaded sun burn and we haven't burnt yet! We passed under the M25 and I took a photo of NB Shush going under the massive bridge. The narrowboats are dwarfed by the sheer size of the bridge. We travelled further and saw our first underground trains (actually overground) crossing a bridge over the canal near Watford.
We've been pleasantly surprised at how green this section of the Grand Union Canal is and at Rickmansworth visitor mooring just the other side of the hedge is the Aquadrome where the residents water ski, sail, cycle and walk. Ben the dog and I enjoyed following the footpaths around the lakes but he had to stay on his long lead due to whizzing bikes! (Ben likes to chase bikes!) They seems to have little concern for dog walkers and families with young children walking along the paths.
Tesco has a big store canalside here with short term moorings on the offside of the canal for shoppers which was a good chance to stock up with the heavy stuff. After a very busy day we moored up for the night and had a good night's sleep as there were no busy roads or railways near the moorings. I'll have to buy some ear plugs for when we hit London with all the planes , trains and noisy vehicles.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Lots Of Locks

We left the long grass of the towpath of Leighton Buzzard and headed south working through about eight locks together with Alan and Eiddwen. At times we could have lost the dog as the grass was so long at the locks as well as the towpath- we could just see his tail! We moored for the night near Cheddington out in the countryside and all we could hear the trains passing by. It was isolated and few walkers came by but we did have a canine visitor- a lost dog sat outside the boat but he had a phone number on his tag so he was soon reunited with his owner.
In the morning Ben and I walked on before the others were ready up to the next lock. As soon as I saw them coming I prepared the lock and opened the gates. We slowly climbed through the ten locks to moor just after Bulbourne Junction (Wendover Arm). The Marsworth Flight of locks (seven) had a well maintained towpath and the grass was cut at the locks which made a nice change. We came across BW signs stating you can only stay 14 days in year from Tring to Cowroast so someone has to keep track of how many days we stayed. We sampled the beer at The Grand Junction Arms but it wasn't a particularly welcoming pub.
The weather that night was wild at Tring Summit and I didn't get much sleep with the wind and the rain hammering down. In the morning the wind had dropped and it was dry so off we went through the Tring Cutting to use the BW services at Cowroast. From now on the locks climb down to London. We stopped at Berkhamsted opposite the Canalfields Park and it was a lovely place to stop. Ben enjoyed a game with his ball once the park was quiet with all the children gone home. This place certainly makes the most of the canal with lots of new planting and well maintained towpaths. Waitrose was nearby too so we got a few bits to keep us going.
After a good night's sleep we left Berkhamstead and went through Hemel Hempstead and to moor at Apsley. Eric and I shared working the fourteen locks and steering the boat but it was a very busy day as many of the locks were against us with no boats coming along. We had to double up with NB Shush at Apsley as there was only room for one boat. Lots of new building in the area with apartments overlooking the canal which is a pleasant change from the way the canal often passes the back door of towns. Lots of people are walking their dogs along the towpath and Ben is looking out saying 'I want to go out too' but he's walked miles with me today and I need a rest before we have our evening stroll.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Alan's Picture Of Ben

I just had to show this photo of Ben (ball in mouth) watching the world go by taken by Alan with his new camera. If you go to his blog (NB Shush) and click on the picture to get a larger version then you can almost see the individual hairs.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Away For The Weekend

Gwenllian (9 weeks old)


I have been in Newport for the weekend leaving Eric with Ben the dog moored at Leighton Buzzard. He wasn't on his own as Alan & Eiddwen were staying too. Leighton Buzzard has two hour visitor moorings for shopping in Tesco which is conveniently situated next to the canal. As usual over stayers were there so we had to double up to get the shopping. After that we found a place amidst the long grass to stay for the weekend. I am really suffering with hay fever this year- there's so much long grass about and when I walk Ben it seems to fly into the air as he brushes past.

My journey to Newport was via Birmingham (it's cheaper) but nevertheless in three and a half hours I was having a haircut in my favourite hairdressers at Newport. Then I went to my dad's to stay for the weekend. Saturday came and Eric's sister Paula brought the mail down to me and we both went to visit my daughter Lisa and new granddaughter Gwenllian. What a change in the baby in five weeks and I enjoyed feeding her and having a cuddle. Mum did the smelly bits! She's telling me when she's old enough she can stay with us on the boat- babysitting for a week at a time! She'll have to learn to swim.

I also caught up with my daughter Clare in town and she came to my dad's for tea so we had time for a good chat. On Sunday I went to church with my dad and he cooked me a very nice lunch. His dish washer took care of the dishes while he watched some old cowboy films. I decided to go for a walk and ended up in Pet City where I got Ben some sponge balls which are quieter when we play ball along the boat. Later in the evening my daughter Sally and her partner came to visit and we had another good chat.

Monday came and here I am back in Leighton Buzzard after four hours with British Rail. Eric and Ben the dog were delighted to see me.Tomorrow we are on the move again towards London.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Canal Water Is The Best Drink!

Canal water to drink!
Alan off NB Shush watered his plants with canal water and Ben enjoyed a drink from the watering can. He prefers canal water to his bowl of fresh, clean water.
We've been pleasantly surprised at all the green spaces as we travel along the Grand Union at Milton Keynes. We moored at Campbell Park and it was a mile's walk through the park to the town centre. So we had a bit of retail therapy! I needed some lightweight trousers to replace some that used to fit me before we started this new life afloat. Who needs a gym with all the locks to work through and a dog that walk miles. Ben enjoyed all the space in the park and we played ball with the ball thrower which was a nice change from playing ball along the boat.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Overflowing Stoke Bruerne Bottom Lock

Overflowing lock

Overflowng down the steps


Overflowing down the towpath

On Sunday the sun was shining so we decided to head for Blisworth Tunnel and go through Stoke Bruerne to see all the boats at the festival. The tunnel was dark and very drippy especially underneath the air shafts. NB Bendigedig led the way with NB Shush following behind. On the tunnel roof were little green luminous arrows showing the shortest way out. The drips turned to steam as the roof was hot from the sun which was quite a peculiar sight.

Stoke Bruerne itself was extremely busy and we worked through the seven locks watched closely by the visitors. Some polish people (from Northampton) asked lots of questions about our life on the boat and we were happy to answer them. The pictures show what happened as we used the services at the bottom lock of the flight. The water was pouring over the lock gates and then it came down the steps and turned the towpath into a stream. It poured down the drive of a nearby house and the owner came out to see what was going on. There was obviously too much water coming the flight!

Friday, June 06, 2008

A Very Long Walk

Working boats at Buckby Locks

A view of Stoke Bruerne

We were going to move from Buckby Wharf on Monday but the torrential rain was still with us and the thought of doing seven locks in the rain put us all off. Tuesday was a much better day for travelling altogether,the sun was shining and Ben enjoyed his walk down the locks and beyond. I stopped at Anchor Cottage Crafts and bought a lovely painted stool for the breakfast bar. Eiddwen and I found some of the lock gates really heavy to open and at the bottom lock near Whilton Marina we thought the boats would be in the lock forever as the water was pouring over the top lock gates as fast as it was emptying through the bottom gate paddles. A friendly couple on a boat waiting to come down helped us give a good shove to finally open the gates. It was a noisy stretch of canal with the M1 running parallel as well as the busy rail line- all we needed was a plane to fly over. Diesel was the dearest we've seen at 95p a litre at Whilton Marina (we didn't stop) and they were changing £2.50 to empty one toilet cassette!

We moored for the night near Weedon Bec, the railway line was still close by but we had a comparatively quiet night. In the morning we set off again, intending to stop at Bugbrooke for a few essentials. The shop provided bread and milk but the fruit and vegetables were definitely not fresh. There was a barber's shop too so Eric had a haircut! We continued on to Gayton Junction to use the services and then it was time to find somewhere to stop before Blisworth Tunnel. At the shop in Blisworth they had some fruit and vegetables but they were expensive to say the least e.g 3 small tomatoes for 61p!

We decided to go for a walk to Stoke Bruerne but we followed some bridleways and ended up walking miles out of our way. Hours later we ended up in a little village pub having a pint and asking directions. We were still a mile away from Stoke Bruerne and then we had to walk back. We enjoyed seeing all the working boats moored up along the towpath for the festival over the weekend. We walked back to Blisworth on the road running over the tunnel and we could see the airshaft towers but we were taking our lives in our hands with a few drivers whizzing by as we clambered onto the overgrown grass verges. Needless to say Ben still wanted to play ball when we got back.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Onto The Grand Union-Braunston Locks And Tunnel

The two boats in the locks
We enjoyed our weekend at Braunston Junction but Monday soon came and we used the services and headed south onto the Grand Union Canal for the Braunston Wide Locks- all six of them. The gates were heavy to open and shut but we worked the two boats together and the lads helped us with some of the gates. We stopped at the top of the locks for a tea break before we did the tunnel. Braunston Tunnel is 2042 yards long and wide enough for two narrow boats to pass but we still would prefer not to meet another boat in the tunnel.

Walking the dog near Braunston Junction

NB Shush emerges from the tunnel

We went through at a good pace and could see NB Shush's lights way behind. After the kink in the tunnel we couldn't see them at all and we waited at the mouth of the tunnel until they appeared- glad to be out in the sunshine.
I got off the boat and walked Ben the dog along a narrow, muddy and overgrown towpath. At Buckby Wharf we were in luck as there was enough room for our two boats as we didn't fancy working through the Buckby Locks until the morning. We spent an entertaining evening over a few (expensive) drinks at the pub next to the locks with our pals Alan and Eiddwen. It rained heavily all night and in the morning we decided to stay put as it was still raining!