Sunday, 3 August 2014

London-bound: Day 3

At breakfast this morning, I noticed out of the corner of my eye some slices of brad floating past the boat -- followed by a large fish coming up and taking huge bits out of them.

We set off at 8.30 in bright sunshine, with the prospect of a lovely day ahead.  Just before Leighton Lock we were overtaken by an odd little boat, which appears to be a caravan as well.  You could see the wheel arches.  We ended up going up the lock together.  We stopped at the Tesco moorings at Leighton Buzzard, firstly so Adrian could go and get some fresh salad stuff, but mostly because we had arranged for a family visit.  My second cousin, Catherine, husband, Nigel, and kids Grace and Matthew joined us.  Once they were on board we set off, and by the time a boat had come down Grove Lock another boat came along so we could share.

We did the next few locks with the same boat, a couple who moor in Aylesbury, and who'd been up to the Steve Hudson open day.

Matthew and Grace were wearing their new life jackets, bought because the family has just bought a share in a boat (and have their first week on board starting next weekend) -- which we were keen to hear all about.

At Slapton Lock, two boats came down, we went up, and two more were waiting at the top.  We stopped shortly afterwards for lunch, with chairs on the towpath.  Catherine had brought a fantastic toffee cake and sauce for dessert.  As we ate, we watched almost a dozen gliders in the distance, and a red kite circled overhead.

Setting off again we had a widebeam ahead of us, while we teamed up with a little day boat.  At the Ivinghoe locks, Adrian went up to the second lock to help the widebeam, so the lock would be ready quicker for us.  At the Seabrook locks, someone for one of the boats always went ahead to set the next lock.

We lost our lock partner at the top Seabrook lock, because we caught up with the Hudson and the little plastic caravan boat who'd been sharing locks -- and could also fit in the day boat.

The swing bridge at Pitstone was much easier than it has been in the past, in fact it swung really very easily.  At the bottom Marsworth lock a boat was just coming down, and then we crossed in the pound above with one of the wide trip boats.  The steerer thanked Adrian for knowing what he was doing -- apparently most helmsmen he encounters are pathetic!  The other trip boat was waiting above the upper lock, and most of its passengers seemed to be on the lock side: we seemed to have a huge audience.

I walked ahead to see if there was a mooring beyond the next bridge.  We like it here because there are mooring rings and it feels as though you're out in the country.  It's been so busy with boats today that i feared I might be pacing out gaps between boats to see if we could squeeze in; in fact there were only a couple of boats here, so we had the choice of hundreds of yards of mooring.

It was gone 5pm by the time we moored up, so the trip had taken quite a long time because of all the boats around.  We had a cup of tea, then our visitors went and retrieved the car they'd left in Marsworth earlier.

It's been a great day -- fantastic weather, one of my favourite stretches of the Grand Union, with the addition of good company.  What more could you want from a day?

10 miles, 12 locks.  (28 miles, 18 locks)

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