Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Forwards to The River Nene

On Sunday morning we positioned ourselves opposite Gayton marina ready to tackle the Northampton Flight the following morning.  Gary and Joan came to spend the day with us and brought with them a big bag of dog food we had organised to be delivered  to their house!
We resigned ourselves for an early start in the morning and aimed to set off at 8am (early for us!).  Some insomniac boaters in front of us, however, set off at 6am!!  This, of course, meant that all the locks were against us.
The Northampton Arm Workout:-
Miles:  5
Locks: 17 - 12 in quick succession

We worked as a team and the adopted procedure was something like the following:-

- A  Walk to Lock 1.  Fill the lock and open the gates.  Jog (yes, JOG!) to Lock 2 to raise the paddles.  JOG back to Lock 1 to help J empty it.  Get J on his way.  Close the gates and on to open the next lock.

- Jog to Lock 3 to raise paddles and jog back to Lock 2 to repeat procedure.

- Jog to Lock 4 and Power-Walk back to Lock 3.

- Jog to Lock 5 and walk briskly back to Lock 4.

- Jog to Lock 6 and just walk back to Lock 5.

- Jog to Lock 7 and ramble back to Lock 6.

- Jog to Lock 8 and shuffle back to Lock 7.

- Jog to Lock 9 and hobble back to Lock 8.

- Jog to Lock 10 and stagger back to Lock 9

- Jog to Lock 11 and limp back to Lock 10.

- Walk to Lock 12 and don't come back at all - let him get on with it.

Can't really remember what happened after that except that the water was crystal clear, very weedy  and teeming with fish.  We kept going so that we arrived at Cogenhoe on the Nene at about 5.30pm to be greeted by our friends, Ken and Sandra.  The Nene is also crystal clear, VERY weedy and teeming with   fish and beautiful as I remember it.  Really good to meet up with Ken and Sandra and looking forward to spending some time cruising with them.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Flea in the Ear?

For the last couple of weeks I have been having a few problems hearing clearly!  What?  Pardon?  Eh?  Yeah, Yeah!

Anyway, I was SO fed up with it that I decided to go to the Walk-In Centre in Milton Keynes.  Those of you who know me well will realise that I have been really p***ed off as I do not go to see a doctor unless I think it is SERIOUS!

  • quite a walk
  • then - a wait and
  • more waiting and
  • more waiting and
  • more waiting
                      got the picture?  It was busy and every very young or very old patient who came in
                      got priority.

FINALLY :- I see a lovely young nurse.

      "Well", she says.  "The ear you say is causing you the most aggravation is NOT blocked - there IS fluid indicating a viral infection probably due to conjestion.  The other ear, however, IS blocked.  I would like you to see a Doctor for a second opinion".

Back to the waiting room to ................ wait and .............. wait and ...............

The Doctor.  He looks in my ear and says, " Yes!  You have an insect blocking the ear canal!"  

I turn white ................. then red with shame and embarrassment.

"It's OK", he says comfortingly, "it IS a dead insect!".


He tries to remove it with tweezers to no avail and sends me on my way saying that nobody has ever before died from having a dead insect in their ear!!!!

(I hope you are laughing, Ken!!!!)

Just on my way out I am accosted  by the nurse who wasn't happy about the Doctor (I think he was Eastern European!) leaving it like this.  She felt it was an infection waiting to happen and suggested I go to A & E!!

My naturally pale complexion became even paler!

"Hang on a minute", she says "let me ask another doctor - a lady!!

Said female Doctor tried to remove the alien body with tweezers and, like her colleague, failed.  Did she give up though?  No she did not!  Out came a sort of flush-it-out-machine and after a few seconds, there in a metal receptacle was the black remains of .................. a SPIDER!!!!!!!  OK it was a small spider but nevertheless, ..................... a SPIDER!!!!



Muttering my eternal gratitude on leaving, my parting shot was to tell them that at least |I had added variety to their work - it can't be every day someone needs to have a SPIDER (albeit dead!!) removed from the ear!!

That ear actually now feels more comfortable but the other one is still horrid!

Give me fleas anytime!

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Well worth the Effort

Sometimes I see somewhere on the map and I think it would be good to go there!  Trouble is - most of them are uphill!  Today I decided we should climb to the top of Ivinghoe Beacon!  This involved a three mile cycle ride, locking up the bikes and walking the rest of the way.  It was so worth it - the views from the top are just fantastic.
View from the top of the Ridge.

This is part of a national walk called The Ridegway which starts in Wiltshire and ends about here.  The chalk lion is apparently something to do with Whipsnade Zoo!  The highest point is 750 feet above sea level.
It's all about doing things when you can isn't it?  "Live for the moment without hesitation ....."

On the top of Beacon Hill

We have moved to a mooring just below Church Lock.  This stretch of the Grand Union from Marston Junction to Leighton Buzzard is really lovely.  There are horses in fields both sides of us and the little River Ouzel just a short walk away over a field.

Moored up just below Church Lock.

Monday, 21 June 2010


Tonight we are moored up by Horton Lock, over-looking  Beacon Hill, Ivinghoe.   Don't ever imagine that the sights from the Grand Union are not impressive!

It has been a really hot day for travelling and not many boats have been on the move.  We are now about three hours cruising away from Leighton Buzzard.

Over the weekend I was busy making new curtains - two sets down and two to go.

The cruising supervisors have been most vigilant today -

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Not a Cloud in the Sky

As you can see ...............
In the past, for holidays, we paid about £1,000 a week to hire a boat hoping for weather like this in a rural situation like this.  Today I've needed to pinch myself because this is not a holiday - this is now our daily life!
In the winter when it gets dark at 4p.m., the weather is freezing cold and the windows of the boat are streaming with condensation ............... I will remind myself of this moment and why we are doing what we are!

This morning we watched HUGE carp splashing about right beside  the boat.  It makes more sense of the pictorial sign I saw further along the tow path.  Not only are our Eastern European friends partial to carp but they are very good at catching them.

This fisherman also proved himself to be extremely skillful.  
He did appear to have have his eye on those carp!

We are now just on the outskirts of Aylesbury and the Aylesbury Arm is as peaceful and pretty as we have been told by other boaters.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Oot & Aboot

In the distance you can see ................ Wendover Woods.  Only six miles from where we were moored at Bulbourne!  So, who's 'bright' idea was it to cycle there?  Up hill all the way!  Well it would be wouldn't it because it's in the Chiltern Hills!!  Never have I earned lunch more!

This was Maisie's second cycling experience .......... resigned but not exactly happy!

After lunch we went for a three mile walk in the woods and it was the best woodland walk I think we have ever done.  (Just as well after all the effort!)  We didn't follow The Yellow Brick Road ... we followed the Purple Footprint!   A  Forestry Commission site and very well organised.

We have now turned onto the Aylesbury Arm and it is truly rural (apart from the last mile into the centre of Aylesbury).  We are surrounded by fields again - no major roads, no railway and definitely not under a flight path.  This is new territory for us.  We wanted to find a good bit of bank so that John can continue with his programme of renovating the window cills which have been badly damaged by condensation in the winter.  Two down and ....... six to go!!

Near our mooring is the lovely little village of Wilstone - just on the outskirts of Aylesbury.  A little taster ...........................

Thatched cottage:-
Number 8 or 9 ..... either would
be lovely.

               Rather more substantial!
Lovely old pub - sadly it wasn't open when we arrived.

I like to have flowers on our boat ........ you might not have noticed!!  I AM NOT ALONE!!
I saw this -

The answer was an emphatic "NO" !!
Miserable or what!!

Sunday, 13 June 2010

A Nodder or a Waver?

We boaters (well, 99% of us!) are an amazingly friendly lot!

So, "Are you a nodder or a waver?" I was asked by a hire-boater who had obviously noticed this sociable characteristic and found it very amusing.
It took one second of careful thought to tell him, "Me?  Most definitely a waver."

Yes, I wave to everyone!  Other boaters - skippers and crew, walkers-with-dogs, walkers-without-dogs, cyclists, hikers, fishermen and ............ BIG waves for children!!

Having said that ................. if it's cold and my hands are in my pockets ................ I nod!!  And sometimes, I've even been witnessed doing BOTH AT THE SAME TIME!!!

Am I a nodder or a waver?  I just  try to be .................... nice!

We are at a place called Cowroast (just outside of Tring) and have been walking on the Ashridge Estate run by the National Trust.  We have seen fallow deer which favour the woodlands, lovely views of the Chilterns and red kites have been  flying over the boat.

Remembering Our Lesley

Taken from us six years ago today.
Her favourite flowers were poppies.  
We look at them and think of her.
And today, on the anniversary of her death,  ................... this solitary, beautiful poppy amidst a truly enormous field of corn ..................

Lost, but not forgotten.

Friday, 11 June 2010

A Moment Back in Time

The following picture was forwarded to us by Denise (aged 80!!) who was on board n/b 'Galatea' when we went out on the Tidal Thames.  I think it proves that there were indeed some 'buttock-clenching moments' because photographs, as a rule, do not lie.  I'm so glad I stayed at the back with the Skipper!

Today we have stayed at Berkhamstead.  Rodney has gone up to his own boat for a few days and came via Berkhamstead just so he could deliver my sewing machine to me!  No excuses now - I can make a start on making new curtains just as long as I can negotiate the use of extra amps!!!!!

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Take it All Back

Shortly after posting the last entry we met the lovely Dave and Jenny Roberts and their little dog, Daisy.  They were moored up just behind us in Cassiobury Park.  We got chatting, decided to work through some locks together and ........... after several evenings, the 'odd' bottle of wine and lots of laughing ............. we are still together!  They have lived on board their lovely boat 'Sweet Dream' for eight years now but they have a permanent mooring just outside of Hertford.  It sounds idyllic. We would have passed it without knowing.  The signwriting on the boat  is very creative albeit a little risky for some!  Look carefully!

They have Daisy whom they sort of rescued/adopted when they were at Little Venice.  They think she is a mixture of all sorts - a true Heinz 57!  DO NOT BE DECEIVED!  She may be little but she has the courage of a lion and the tenacity of a bear!  She will 'take on' any other dog no matter how big!!  I have nick-named her 'Daisy Danger Mouse'.
She is absolutely lovely and very lucky that Dave and Jenny came along when they did.  She and Maisie are getting on well together - lots of crazy chasing about.


I have had my first encounter with a retail outlet called 'Dunelm Mill'.  BIG shop selling loads of things at really good prices.  (At the end of Apsley High Street, not far from Sainsburys   - sorry chaps but we girls need to know these things!)  They also had a sale on!  I have never before seen so many ready-made curtains, fabrics, bedding, throws, blinds etc etc under one roof!  They also sell, kitchenware, some items of furniture, crockery, rugs, china, dried flowers, ornaments - it would be easier to say what they don't sell!
Well, you have to make the most of opportunities when they arise now don't you?  !!!!!  
Suffice it to say that we came out of that shop quite a bit poorer than when we went in!!  BUT they are all things we needed and intended to replace at some point soon.  I had made up my mind to replace the saloon curtains this winter - I now have the fabric on board, just not the sewing machine!!

Over the last few days we have been having some rain which is a good thing really - not sure the dogs would agree needing to be dried off all the time but they enjoy paddling and playing 'the stick game'.  Even Maisie has now bought in to this - she used to think it was stupid and a complete waste of time!

Rain or not we will be moving on to Berkhamstead tomorrow.

Friday, 4 June 2010

Back on The Grand Union

Travelling from Brentford to Rickmansworth with Anne and John on board as extra crew was so much easier!
The stretch from Brentford to the bottom of the Hanbury Flight had been significantly cleared of rubbish and debris since we were here last.  Well done BW - it was quite a task!

We saw a really alien-like thing whilst moored by the footbridge by Glaxo Smith-Kline.  A tree, now very dead, was completely covered in webs and had been annihilated by the caterpillars of the Lackey Moth.  I found out what this was because we e-mailed Hounslow Borough Council to let them know and they told us.                                   Really creepy and horrid.  It's now over to them.   

On Monday we had yet another pair of hands to help - Rebecca (Anne and John's eldest daughter) brought Nicole (Anne and John's youngest daughter) to spend the day with us.  Rodney and Gill, who had kindly offered to come and pick Anne and John up to take them home, drove to Rickmansworth in the afternoon and we all (7 of us!) had Salmon Wellington (!!) on board.  It pays to have a chef as one of your best friends!

It's easy to see why the area around Batchworth is a popular mooring spot for boaters and, therefore, difficult to get in.  There's always lots going on around the lock itself and then there's the Aquadrome with it's variety of water sports close by.  Stoker's Lake is a well-established nature reserve and a lovely walk with the River Colne running through it - dogs allowed!  This time we also discovered another nice walk called The Ebury Way which utilises a dis-used railway track and goes from Rickmansworth to Cassiobury Park near Watford.  We didn't go to see what the town of Rickmansworth has to offer because it was too hot but apparently the High Street is old-fashioned, traditional and full of character.  Tesco's has made getting provisions easy for boaters as there is a store right on the canal side with moorings provided.

We are now moored within Cassiobury Park and it has been hot, hot, hot!  In the evening, when it had cooled down, we took the dogs for a walk into a large wood which is called Whippendell Wood and is right by the side of the canal.  Cassiobury Park itself is a really nice municiple park.  The lovely little river Gade runs through it - kiddies paddling in the shallows and attempting to catch tiddlers, dogs paddling too - lots of dogs!
There are pathways through a nature reserve area and the more manicured areas provide picnic spots, paddling pools, a bouncy castle, play equipment and .................... the ice-cream van!

In the past when we have cruised the Grand Union we have missed all this because we have been on a tight time schedule.  This time we want to take our time and discover more about the areas we go through.  This canal is also heavily locked and when you have to work them single handedly, it can be very physically demanding.  I was hoping to be able to lock through with another boat but it never seems to work out that way!  Another good reason for taking it slowly.  We (that's the royal 'we'!!) also have some serious maintenance to begin - can't be 'put off' any longer!