Saturday, 20 April 2019

Easter Cruise: Day 3

Another warm sunny day; we really have hit the jackpot this weekend.  We had a pretty lazy start to the day, and didn’t set off until 9am.  We went down Slapton Lock, and then started passing lots of canoeists.  There were even more at Church Lock, which is alongside what used to be the smallest chapel in Buckinghamshire, but it now a private house.


At Grove Lock, we were the fourth boat waiting to go down.  The first two said it was taking ages to fill the lock, which perhaps wasn’t surprising as they hadn’t opened the ground paddles.  One of the boat’s was turning below and coming back up.  When we were eventually down we continued through Leighton Buzzard, down Leighton Lock, and past the floating market by the Globe pub.  Past Old Linslade is another very attractive section of canal.


When we got to the top of the Soulbury Locks we moored up.  It was almost 1pm so we had lunch, then sat in the cratch reading in the sunshine.

At about 3 our visitors arrived.  My second cousin Catherine, husband Nigel, and kids Grace and Matthew, who live reasonably nearby.  Catherine had brought one of her legendary cakes, decorated for Easter by Grace, so we had tea and cake sitting on the towpath.


When a boat came up the locks we got ready to go down.  A widebeam which was coming up the middle lock decided to come out and wait in the short pound in between, and the current caused by the lock emptying send him into quite a spin.  A boat was also coming up the bottom lock, so we could do a swap with him.  All in all it meant we sped down the three locks.


We moored up at the bottom of the locks, and continued chatting and catching up.  We were booked for an early dinner at the Three Locks.  The bar was heaving thanks to the number of people sitting outside in the sunshine so we were glad we were in the restaurant part.  The food was ok without being spectacular.  We retired back to Briar Rose for drinks and more cake in lieu of dessert.

8 miles, 7 locks.  (32 miles, 17 locks)

Friday, 19 April 2019

Easter Cruise: Day 2

A really lovely warm and sunny day today.  We set off around 8.30 heading for the Soulbury Three Locks.  A widebeam was in the flight ahead, so we had to turn the bottom lock. At that time of day the pub alongside was deserted.


As we went into the middle lock, a boat moored at the bottom set off, so we waited for them.  I went and set the top lock while we waited.


Beyond Old Linslade, a very wide widebeam was coming towards us, just where another was moored.  He flashed his lights twice, but I had no idea what that meant.  Anyway, he waited as there was more room his side for us to pass each other.  There’s a floating market this weekend along fromThe Globe pub, which looked well attended.  We went up Leighton Lock with the same boat as before, then we both stopped on the Tesco mooring; we needed a trip to the supermarket to get things we hadn’t realised we needed yesterday, and because we have visitors this afternoon.

Setting off again, we reached Grove Lock to find a boat going up and a widebeam waiting.  I went to help with the lock to save the lady from the widebeam having to walk all the way round.  Before long it was our turn to come up.  I can’t remember operating a lock where so many people wanted to walk across the gates, with plenty of pub patrons opting for a walk along the canal.  The Grove pub has very attractive hanging baskets with narrowboat brackets.


There was a similar situation at Church lock but by the time we were in the lock we could see our companions from earlier heading our way, so we waited for them.  The widebeam moored up and our locking partners stopped for lunch before Slapton Lock meaning we were on our own again, but at least the lock was empty.  At the top, we turned in the winding hole beyond the bridge and I reversed along to moor up opposite the farm which has wooden holiday cabins, all of whose guests turned up during the afternoon.  We had a late lunch, then Adrian started making dinner while I washed the side of the boat.  At around 3.15 our visitors arrived: Adrian’s cousin, Fiona, husband, Mark, and children Caitlin and Findlay.  We spent the afternoon chatting, walking to Slapton Lock and Horton Lock and helping boats through at both, and generally trying to wear our the kids.  We had Adrian’s Good Friday macaroni cheese for dinner, before our guests left to continue their journey to Leicester, where they’ve visiting the National Space Centre tomorrow.


9 miles, 7 locks.  (24 miles, 10 locks)

Thursday, 18 April 2019

Easter Cruise: Days 0 and 1

Yesterday, Adrian spent the day working from the boat.  I’ve been on night shifts, so drove up after work this morning, arriving before 8.30.  We unpacked the stuff I’d brought up in the car, and within fifteen minutes or so we were pulling out of the marina and heading south, as it’s a while since we’ve been this way.  At Cosgrove Lock, an electro-fishing boat had just been launched and was taking up quite a bit of the lock landing.  There’s a Canada goose which has made its nest on the offside of the lock; some netting has been put up, either to protect it or lock users, I’m not sure.  As I went into the lock, the goose stood up to hiss at me, revealing a clutch of six eggs.


We stopped at Wolverton, just getting on the end of the moorings, and visited Tesco for food for the next few days.  Then we set off on the long slow plod through Milton Keynes. There are so many moored boats these days that it feels as though you’re hardly ever out of tickover.  Almost as if to demonstrate how long it is since we came this way, there’s a new marina which looks almost complete, and lots of new flats going up on the opposite side of the canal.  There’s also a new Y-shaped bridge across the canal, with the arms of the Y forming the towpath bridge over the marina entrance.



We had lunch on the move, and the sun had burnt off the early mist.  The temperature also started to rise.  At Fenny Lock we had help from a little boy and his grandmother; apparently he’d been waiting for a boat to come along.  We went up Stoke Hammond Lock, which now has a display of rubber ducks on the offside.


We moored a bit further along in a favourite spot.  One September we saw lapwings in the field opposite; no sign today, but maybe it’s an autumn thing.  As we’ve come along, Adrian has made a chilli for dinner tonight.

15 miles, 3 locks.


Tuesday, 16 April 2019

Adrian on board

Adrian came up to the boat this afternoon from work, catching a train to Wolverton, visiting Tesco for a couple of days food, and then getting a taxi to the marina.  This is really just a post to log the night on board.

Tuesday, 2 April 2019

Back home

It was raining when I woke up this morning, so I was in no hurry to get up.  It rained on and off while I had breakfast, and consulting the met office rainfall radar showed there was worse to come.  It was about 10 when I finally set off, and happened to have found a gap in the rain.  It was very chilly though (just 4.5 Celsius according to my car a bit later).  Back at the marina, I did one of my best ever spin turns to reverse into our berth, even if I do say so myself.  In short order I was packed up and heading home in the car.

1 mile, 0 locks.  (2 miles, 0 locks)

Monday, 1 April 2019

Long day

The alarm went off at 5.15 and by 6 I was walking through the horse tunnel to where I’d left my car.  I have to scrape the frost off it.  I met Andy the photographer at Towcester, and we travelled together up to Higher Poynton for a boat test.  The route took us through the Peak District, with glimpses of the Peak Forest Canal.  We arrived at 9 and were done by lunchtime, so we headed through the Peak District again heading for Sheffield.  The route included some spectacular scenery, including one very steep twisting road.


We’ve never arrived in Sheffield from this direction before, and we passed many University buildings, and then a tram line in the middle of the road.


We got away about 4.30, and the journey back was pretty quick.  I parked in the marina and walked down to the boat in Cosgrove.

Sunday, 31 March 2019

Birthday Locks

I drove up to the boat after a night shift, dropped off my things, opened my birthday cards, got changed, and headed out again to Braunston.  My route took me along the new Flore Weedon bypass, which crosses the canal on a big new bridge that we’ve watched go up over the past couple of years.  I parked in the village and walked down to the locks.  I was meeting James and Amy from Willow who are heading to London with new Baby A.  We were pretty mob handed, as also helping out were Maffi from Milly M and Ann and Simon from Melaleuca.  We started off up the locks with one boat, but they soon decided to moor and were replaced by Water Jester who’d just set off.  We flew up the locks, and at the top we all went on board for tea (and to admire Baby A, who was very contented and cute).


We all agreed to go and help at Buckby too, so while Amy and James set off through the tunnel, the others drove to the top of Buckby Locks while I drove to the bottom.  I was starving so popped onto the marina cafe for a baguette to eat while walking up the locks.  As I got to the top lock Willow was just coming down.  With plenty of crew, we made rapid progress down the locks; the sun had also come out and it had warmed up considerably.


At the bottom, James and Amy set off to make some progress towards London.  Ann, Simon, and Maffi turned down the offer of a lift back to their car, so I headed off back to Briar Rose, via Tesco and Towcester for some food.  It was too nice an afternoon not to move, so I quickly prepared the boat and headed down to Cosgrove.  I turned around above the lock and moored in a nice open spot just by the horse tunnel under the canal.

I’ve lit the fire and will be having an early dinner and an early night — partly because I’ll soon have been up for 24 hours, and partly because of an early start tomorrow when we hope to get two boat tests done.

1 mile, 0 locks.