Monday, 29 August 2016
Wednesday, 24 August 2016
Friday, 19 August 2016
Thursday, 18 August 2016
It was a foggy day to start with an eerie feeling, the trees poking through the fog and great reflections on the canal. We were almost ready to leave when a boat goes past going our way so I ask them if they would wait 5 minutes for us. They agree. We had been through a lock with them earlier. The couple and their two younger teenagers had spent a month in NZ a couple of years ago. With their help we raced up 5 locks where we were to moor up so we could walk up the last two locks to the village. No chance of a mooring up there. On the way up the locks I discussed what we were doing and they chose to do the same except they would stay the night. When we got up to the village we did the tourist side of the canal then stopped for a coffee, after which we crossed to the other side where there were just as many photo opportunities. The other boat is owned by her parents who live on it fulltime. When it is holiday time the couple and their two kids drive to where the boat is and her parents drive the car back to where it had come from. After two weeks holiday the parents drive to wherever the boat is and they swap over again. Seems like a great arrangement to me. We saw the family a couple of times in the village. So why so much about them? They were a delightful family with well balanced and mannered kids. The people that give you faith in the future of our world. I do hope they get to NZ again and meet up with them. About 1300 we set off up the last 2 locks with help from the public as this is a place where many come to see canal boats. As we approach the Blisworth tunnel I am reprimanded by the Smithy at the entrance for going too fast. Into the hole we go. It is double so the concentration is not as intense as a narrow tunnel. I have time to look around. What do you see? Brick linings, water dripping and in some cases pouring in. This has been happening for years and many interesting stalactites have developed. Not long after leaving the tunnel we pass the junction to Northampton, 17 locks down and 17 back up does not make it an attractive option to visit. We continue slowly through mainly open country with few buildings to see until mooring up for the night at Weedon next to the west coast main line with trains passing every few minutes.
The reference to Merlin's. Yesterday as I was walking down the locks I heard an aircraft with an obvious powerful engine and thought to myself, nothing special. As the Spitfire went past I looked up to see him complete a couple of barrel rolls. Today as we passed the Northampton Junction I was concentrating on taking a photo. When I put the camera down I look up to see a Lancaster disappearing in the distance.
Wednesday, 17 August 2016
Wednesday 17 August. 10 miles, 1 lock.
Looking to put in a big day. Away before 0900 traveling around the edge of Milton Keynes. Mostly amongst trees and parkland with a few clumps of houses. Many moored up boats to trickle past until we get to Wolverton where we spend 1 1/2 hours supermarket shopping. I decide not to stop for lunch to make up some time. 2 miles later we are into the first of the locks up to Bilsworth tunnel. For 5 miles there are no towns on the canal but the view and atmosphere make for a nice days boating. We reach the bottom of a flight of 7 locks but because of the heat moor up for a while. At the top of the locks is Stoke Bruerne, a well known canal centre where CRT have a museum. I walk up the locks to check it out while Diana puts her feet up. Too much walking to villages recently and her hip is playing up. I don't know what the Temperature is today but working locks with no shade doesn't seem like a good idea. I spend some time in the museum and make plan for tommorow. I wont tell you the plan I will blog what happend later.
Tuesday 16 August. 8 1/2 miles, 1 lock.
About an hour into the morning travel we go down Fenny Stratford lock. The drop is a masive 1ft 1inch and takes us to the bottom of the hill with 11 miles before we start up the other side. The Canal Guide suggests we vist Willen and Great Linford so stop for lunch at the bridge giving us access to Willen then off to find the Church of interest. 20 minues later we arrive to find the church locked and the main point of interest is inside. Wander around for a while ad then see a note with a phone number to ring for access. Shortly after we are in. The ceiling is very tall for the relitvel small church and inerior is painted pink, picked out in white and gold. Quite different. Back to the boat with less than a mile to moor up for Great Linford. We take what looks like the quickest route and end up at the top end of the interesting part with thatched, brick and stone buildings. Then down past the pub to the old Manor House and associated church and buildings. We walk back to the boat along the tow path and this isn't the quikest route. Back on the boat and move to moor up opposite where we have just been. Not a long day travelling but a lot of walking so we are left with a few miles to catch up tomorrow.
Tuesday, 16 August 2016
Monday 15 August. 5 miles, 5 locks.
Walked into Leighton Buzzard for a look around. It is a Market Town with a good selection of shops in the main street. There are a few chain stores but they are generally in adjacent streets so don't detract from the Market Town Feel. Diana had a fix of Charity shops, before lunch & internet at Costa. Bought a small amount of food before going back to the boat and headed off around 2. We went past a large hire boat company before the first lock and were imediately followed by hire boats. Very pleased we didn't leave any latter as we were 2nd in the que already. We meandered through the country side for 3 miles before reaching a flight of 3 locks. Volunteers were on hand to help and organise who should do what. Interesting results some times with pairs of boats going up and down which requires a crossover in small pounds between the locks. Carried on to do one more lock and as we approached I could see it was going to be difficult to moor up with a boat on the lock mooring. When we got there the couple of the boat were pocking around in the hedge so assumed they were picking blackberries. No the were trying to catch a baby Moorhen. It was covered in green paint. There was paint stuck to tree roots and the side of the canal. Looks like a pot of paint had been dropped while painting a boat, We have past a number of boats moored up with crew out with paint brushes today. Back to the moorhen, The one in the hedge was eventually caught with a net when it came out into the open. When we left they were trying to entice another one with bread and the net at the ready. They were planing on taking them to a vet to get cleaned up. Soon after we moored up. Interestingly the bloke on the Green boat behind us was removing masking tape from his boat. I finished the day preforming an oil change.
Sunday, 14 August 2016
Sunday 14 August. 5 1/2 miles, 9 locks.
Away a bit later this morning but still at a good time. A couple of old boats had gone down the lock so I went to fill it up before we got underway, and what did I find? A windlass. Even the long time boaters can have a memory lapse. As we are following the old boats we have to fill each lock before we go down so progress is not fast. At the second lock we are pleased to see a boat catching up but alas they are travelling with another so we are still left to go down by ourselves. The locks are spaced out a bit more now so there is a sence of a rest between each one. We are in open country and in many places there are no hedge rows so we can enjoy the panaramic views. Around lunch time we see an advert for a nearby pub so phone to make a booking. Not interested in walking the 880yrds to find out they are booked up. It was a 16th century Thatched, village pub with a carvery. In the past most places with a carvery are big and very commercial, this retained its village character and provided a good range of meats and veg with a complimentary ice cream to finish. Diana had a Stem Ginger sticky pudding. No room for tea tonight! Took a few photos around the village of Slapton before walking back to the boat and continuing on through 2 more locks before mooring up just short of Leighton Buzzard. In the distance we hear a brass band playing and contemplate walking into town but, enough is enough, we have been on our feet all day.
Saturday 13 August. 7 miles, 16 locks.
Away at a reasonable hour and slowly worked our way through the first 4 locks by ourselves. Although we were still in Berkhamsted it felt like a country canal. At lock 5 Diana gives a gasp "Where's my windlass?" Yep it is at the last lock. There was a Heron there and the camera was in full flight and the usual sequence of events when we leave a lock was broken. Most of the climb so far the locks are reasonably close, this one was a good 3/4 mile behind us. Off she went at a good pace hoping that no one would have taken her most precious windlass in the collection. This gave me the chance to prove to myself that I could, if need be, take the boat through a lock solo. Well I can. Takes time and one doesn't want to rush and get something wrong. Once I was through it was about the time I expected Diana back so moored up and wandered back down the canal and found her at the first corner with a happy face. 2 locks later we are at the top of the hill. 420ft above the river. We trundeled along for about 3 miles and stopped for lunch before it is time to change the mindset and start down the otherside. There is a flight of 6 locks and while trying to get enough water into a leaky lock to open the gate another boat appears. They were a great help as their boat lives nearby and they are very familiar with the locks and they have a crew of 3. We were going so well until a boat comming up got caught by the wind and turned him right around so that he had to go into the lock backwards. This all takes time. Last lock has an ice ream shop so we managed to lick away at one of those. The other boat left us at the bottom of the flight and we continued managing to join another boat through the next 2 before they stopped for the night around a couple of corners to a swing bridge which was opened by a nearby fisherman and we stop before the next lock. Generator out and 3 woads of washing done before diner and an early night.
Friday, 12 August 2016
Thursday, 11 August 2016
Wednesday, 10 August 2016
Wednesday 10 August. 6 miles, 12 locks.
Left our smelly mooring and went up the first two locks before we pass aTesco supermarket with moorings provide, would be sill not to stop. At the next lock we are joined by another boat. First time we have shared a lock so far. At this lock there is a Canal Centre so we plan on stopping and loosing our companion. As it turns out there are no moorings so we see them again at the next lock. After that we let them go when we stop for lunch. With lunch over we are preparing to move when a boat goes passed so we race off behind them and go through the next 8 locks with them. We had seen them several times before on the Oxford, Thames & Grand union. After the last lock they have a spot ahead where they plan to spend the night and we take the first available mooring which is behind the first boat we shared a lock with. Finised the day with a walk around the old part of Hunton Bridge.
Tuesday, 9 August 2016
Monday, 8 August 2016
Interesting point: When we left the Thames were were just 4 miles upstream from the Hammersmith bridge where I had walked along the river when visiting Richard back in 2003 also we were about 3 miles direct to where he and Mel lived. Guess I can say I have been to London in my boat and that there is very little of the Thames I havent seen when you also consider I had done the tourist boat trip to the Thames Flood Barrier back in 1990.