Tuesday, 4 August 2015

More history, and chips

So to see a few sights today here in Berkhampstead.  A brief walk through the high st the first evening showed a few nice dress shops.... David was fine with this as he had spotted 
WH Smiths and wanted to get a couple of maps,  (you know Reader how he loves a good map).  We decided to go first to the castle here.
  
Its a Motte and Bailey castle,   HERE   thought to have been built by William the Conquerer's half brother and at a gap in the Chiltern Hills.  Its had a colourful history, being put under siege and much later having been expanded by 
Thomas Becket, you know the one who aggravated Henry 2nd so much "Who will rid me of this turbulent priest...." a simple misunderstanding.  But the piece of history both Lesley David and I were interested in was Edmund of Langley    HERE  
He was the brother of John of Gaunt who in turn was the  lover of Katherine Swinford who you will doubtless remember we have followed in her footsteps all the way on this trip from Kettlethorpe in Lincolnshire, Lincoln castle and the house she lived in Lincoln itself to her final resting place in the cathedral.  
Some woman she was and some book that we have all now read   HERE.

The castle ruins are very large indeed, in fact we walked the ramparts and it took about half an hour





The thickness of the castle walls is impressive for being handmade.

The victorians popped this attractive cottage in the middle of it for some reason.  The Motte in the background which also is huge.

The attractive view of the Bailey from the Motte

No he wasn't studying the information boards rather studying the Ashes score.

Most interesting castle, I only wish there was a bit more of it. Still on we go and look at dress shops eh David?

Actually we didn't get that far as in Berkhampstead every Wednesday there is a pretty marvellous market.  I brought myself some most attractive beads, whilst David trotted on and did a recce, he found a lovely French lady selling Olives, sundried tomatoes, cheeses and his absolute favourite chargrilled artichokes ( I have tried these previously and had to spit it out, I haven't had to do that since childhood)  David is thrilled no one else likes them.

Well we are going home in a few days time and really shouldn't be buying any more food but guess what........?
Yep we loaded up, two loaves of artisan bread, hams a collection of cheeses and a tonne of olives. Madness, but Reader if you are on the southern GU its worth the journey on a Wednesday, Ooooo forgot to say pretty wonderful Italian shop selling Italian ice cream, they don't serve as big a portion as you get in Italy, but it was good.

Gerry yesterday of the Atlantic fame had told us that the fish and chips at the railway station are the best in the country, this was high praise for a real foodie, so we did.  I would certainly say they are too.  

We ate ours out of the paper in the park.




Sunday, 2 August 2015

The Fearless Duo

Today we entertained some boaty friends,  Geoffrey and Gerry.  They very generously brought real champagne!

There are yacht sailors who ten years ago sailed away over the big blue yonder not to be seen again sort of thing? Romantic eh?   I reckon quite a few folk dream of doing such but don't manage it.

They returned to the UK a couple of years ago to stop for a couple of years until they are ready to depart again.  
Reader the tales they told me of cross Atlantic sailing, whales surfacing next to you, coming down a huge wave to find their wee yacht among containers from a container ship floating within a few metres of you (These would sink you without trace mid Atlantic) trying to out run a storm gave me nightmares I can tell you!

They find themselves in this county dog sitting just at the right moment to visit WaL nearby, and amazingly although we didn't have a chance to motor anywhere they really liked the boat.  They thought that maybe the could retire to a narrow boat when they are in their late 70's or something.  We chewed the fat for several hours catching up and a few years worth of news.  Goodness knows when we will see them again, or in which country....

Lunch was spicy chicken wraps with that nice guacamole that Verity made plus salad and sweet potato wedges, followed by lemon syllabub and cheeses.

A brilliant day to catch up with old friends again.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Will he make it? One dent or two....?

Well what a fabulous day had dawned after yesterday had indeed been wall to wall rain.  It tapered off long after our bed time.



Last nights mooring

Yarwood had been here overnight, nice bird life to be seen here


There is a hide here of sorts that David and I had looked in, but it was built in a bit of a wind tunnel, had no identifying information pictures and was altogether a bit naff compared to the fabulous one we three had spent a happy half hour in spotting new birds on the Nene.

So this flight today taking us up to the Tring Summit was seven locks, this was the second one where we met this gentleman from CART, he was saying that the water was low, even though it was 7:45am which was a wee bit of a surprise to me.  He had come into work early to check it all and start the pumps I think it was.  We waited and had a tea break till he gave us the all clear .


Lesley and I had our bikes out to make it all a bit quicker


Pretty special to see this Red Kite right low over our heads this morning.

Top Lock and what a FAB house I should think the manager must have had.  I liked the pointed bay window on one side, it had water surrounding it on three sides so I would have been nervous had I raised children here....




This is the pretty sharp turn onto the Wendover Arm, it might not look like it but the wind was gusting,  Lesley suggested I got the camera ready to record for posterity the undoubted wallop....
I told David to make Joe go first and learn by his mistakes.....




Not a scratch not a tinkle and no cissy button was used in this operation

No scratches or tinkles here either but being longer than Yarwood constant use of cissy button might possibly have occurred .

Beautifully quite and narrow I walked with Lesley in the sunshine.

Past this lovely old warehouse.

Beautiful or what>

English or American?

The best that could be had here.



After a spot of brunch off we three went cycling into town, the canal was just down there somewhere, as we stood watching (And regaining the power of speech after the climb up this hill David never told us about) we watched several gliders being catapulted into the air by some elastic band thingy, one came over our heads and went down to land taking us by surprise and clearly as usual the camera wasn't ready. Doh.


Pretty pretty Wendover

Love these ridge tile designs



We went to a Food Fair here and brought goodies of air dried ham, cheeses and special oils.  There was gin in an amazing bottle for sale for £35.  Prices for soppy Londoners if you ask me. 
On the way home we found and followed the old canal that is in part under restoration.  A branch of the Rothchild Family feature heavily in this area, and this bridge was built by them, it has their crest on it still, although bumpy in parts it was a pretty ride back, the water runs clear as its fed by springs from the chalk hills surrounding, indeed water leaks were the main reason for it closure in about 1906.

                                    

New section under restoration, having a concrete bottom

Seven plus miles home and it felt like it too.  Although the sky threatened at one point, we Barbie-Queued again and had a great evening


Dramatic skies but no rain.

A good time was had by all.
I shall make a donation to the Wendover Arm Trust  HERE  its such a pretty place to hide for 48 hours.

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Obsessing and the Spanish

The forecast was a shocker today, rain, rain and more rain, however it was better than where we live at home where gales were added to the mix.

David got up pretty early (For me that is) and cycled off with his Ordinance Survey map in a plastic bag and full wet weather kit to meet NB Yarwood at about where that Lock destroying Milk packaging plant was located.  He was going to help them along to get them back to the GU before the rain set in proper.  
I woke up unaided and dressed.  I was on a mini mission to empty the rubbish two bridges back before it started raining.  Frequent Flyers to this blog will remember certain ongoing themes, one is gin and another is rubbish disposal.  David insists that I am totally obsessed by its removal from the boat and its environs but I on the other hand see it as a necessary part of maintaining a non odorous atmosphere.... So I do so every other day if possible, I have been known to do up a bag for him to distribute to a bin on his early morning ride out, there is usually a bit of muttering that goes on when I have done this as a surprise for him.

Actually I do think as a couple we generate far more rubbish on the boat than we do at home where I have five recycling boxes in the garage (This is another area where David and I disagree, he is adamant that it all ends up in Landfill and further hates it when I take the recycling to my local park and empty the boxes myself after him paying for the service).




On the way to the bins I met this chap on the roof of the next boat.


The rain has arrived and so has Lesley and the Boys.






Joe entered the pair of Staircase locks here adjoining the main Grand Union canal.  I shouldn't say but this Rookie crew on the left had the wrong paddles up again and had to be corrected by the "Rubbish lady" as he calls me


This paddle should have been down at this point.


TV coverage was required by Yarwood for what was going to be a long wet day, so they passed by where we were and went through one more lock to be in the Tring Reservoir area, David thought we might as well go up the double lock with them as he was wet and in his kit, but I said no as I hadn't even got a coat on.


Another of those double bridges.

Joe popped into the double lock with another boat who surprisingly had just set off.  He was going to to the flight of six locks I think to be at Tring proper.
Back to the boat to write a blog post, tidy boat, play on Facebook and get out my Kindle.  I really like these cosy rainy days, but only now and again mind.

Supper was Spanish omelette, with fried up potatoes peppers, mushrooms and lardons.  Then the eggs were bad so it simply became a Spanish I guess!

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Life extinct and skittles

Up today and first thing to do was juggling the wet washing.  This is a tiresome game to be played especially when guests are sleeping in the drying room,  as yesterday I had been so pleased to see the Basin washing line, then after our hasty departure we took it all into the boat to dry.  Wet knickers and tee shirts had been hanging on all doors, radiators and the heating stove all evening made a tiny eyesore, but most of it this was almost dry this morn.

We set off back up the Aylesbury Arm.  The Love Birds were leaving today, just as well really as the weather forecast tomorrow is abysmal, rain, rain and more rain.


This is one of those "Don't try this at home", 

The above photo actually looks milder than what it was.  But Mitch has these really long bendy jumpy legs.  

Back in Feb when Tout le FamillĂ© were in NZ for their wedding, part of their Honeymoon was three days on Waiheke Island, nine of us accompanied them!! (Honeymoons are great fun), on this trip Mitch didn't even take shoes!  Thats right Reader shocking as it is to us Anglo Saxons no shoes were taken.  His lovely cousin arrived for a day trip with her enchanting children and only one out of three of them had shoes on. No one died or anything though. 

Later that day he fell off a log while playing with the enchanting children and turned his ankle badly.  Sort of lucky for him two out of the eleven Honeymooners were Intensive Care nurses, so although it swelled up like a balloon he had good care.  There was a flare up later in this country when he did go to A&E and at the English Wedding in May he was on crutches, I merely bore you with this as his physio says he must "Strengthen" it.  So this is him so doing.  I had to shut my eyes as he leapt over gates too.  I forbade his wife from doing so, but she wasn't keen to try.



Recently repaired lock after a wall collapsed 




This is milk packaging plant, thought to be the biggest in the country, which all boaters know was responsible in its construction for the collapse of the lock.  Everyone right?



Except no......   When I arrived here ahead of the boat I met theses two gentlemen surveyors who are working for CART and looking at the work to be done on the Arm during this coming winter and its three week closure.  The nice gentlemen explained to me that the clay surrounding the lock was of a particular kind, Gold Clay I think he said, it contracts and swells more than your bog standard clay and this appears to be the chief reason plus being 200 years of age, 
"Life extinct" was the phrase he used.  I asked if the Plant had contributed to the repair work of the lock, no was the answer BUT they are going to pay for the cost of providing a new stretch of tarmac tow path.  Here I exclaimed loudly that no boater wants a tarmac tow path as this only encourages cyclists going hell for leather playing skittles with civilians, I pleaded that the money be spent on anything else, 
(Even a new car for Richard Parry I think would be better.....)





These scrumptious people are from a company who are based in Aylesbury town basin, the company has "Donated" or "Allowed" their employees to come out of the office for four days and paint the lock gates at four locks.  How wonderful is that eh?  They were enjoying themselves and I thanked them all profusely on behalf of all boaters and told them their work was valued.  
(Mitch scoffed at their high vis jackets on this bright and sunny day)



Crayfish donated as a kind of figurehead Mitch felt was lacking.




More Cherryplums picked at the top of the Arm and here's a thing, I asked how much these new places are going to be sold for...  The top photo is of a pair of semi detached houses and are £680K the "Cottage" has been redeveloped and is the cheapest at £560K I think he said, the most expensive detached at £780K.  This was the closest Mitch got to falling in when he heard the prices.....  But Reader, that is a lot of money to be living in what looks just like a large Public Convenience don't you think?  I hope the fence is high saving the defenceless British Public from from seeing it.

Verity made Guacamole  and spicy chicken wraps for lunch, then in the flash of a taxi they were gone.  




Friday, 24 July 2015

A tink and a smash

Due to this Arm being a long Cul-de-sac and all single locks, it means that the two boats simply make their own way down.  Yarwood left at their preferred business hours of really early and we didn't.  The newly weds being Night Owls were last to wake, much later than me but the insomniac was off on his bike, probably sight seeing in Inverness and Canterbury.

So we did set off later rather than sooner.  


Him here can only mean one thing....



Yes, I am driving.
I was sort of bounced into it, I mainly hate driving because David is like a disapproving aunt,  but a back mini problem surfaced and I was not allowed to do the locks.  First lock no problem at all and I went in straight without a rub or anything.
Marvellous he said kindly.   Looking good.


Verity making a video for her In-Laws to see in NZ.

This morning Mitch is actually wearing Jandells (Flip flops)

All was going swimmingly..... until, one of these dear little pounds which was low and the lock beyond it was pretty slow filling, I got sucked into the bushes and had a bit of trouble getting out again, now being only a very periodic driver I have no idea which way to press the Cissy Button (Bow thrusters) so clearly I pushed myself further in whilst attempting to escape...  

David was most helpful, he signalled nothing, looked blankly at me and said less.  

Out at last I reversed and tried to straighten so that when this bloody lock gate was finally opened I could go in, one teeny weeny tink as I went in and there was a smashing sound, Verity's face broke into a bit of a smile and said "Maybe a dustpan and brush mum!"  I was horrified as I really thought one of the kitchen folding windows behind the hatch had gone, but really Reader it was only a tinkle.  

David raised an eyebrow in that brutal manner of his, I ran off shouting as I left that I had finished now... 
The smashing glass sound was merely a wine glass placed unknowingly by my lovely SIL (Son in law) on the draining board when the folding window had flipped out of position and knocked it off.  Its slightly unfortunate that Amanda and Lesley had only five days since been to IKEA to replace it for me. When are you going again girls?

All cleared up and I put the kettle on for coffee.  Whilst doing so David hit was seemed to be one of the sandbanks we had encountered on the Wash, we really tilted and I was faced with a sliding 4pt milk container with no lid, boiling kettle, two cups and saucers the coffee container without lid and the milk pan with hot milk all coming towards me.....  I threw the washing up bowl grabbed the kettle and flung it into the sink, one hand got the milk container and the other hand and arm held the cups in place.  I went on deck to complain officially about the standard of driving, "I was looking at the map" says the eyebrow raiser sheepishly.  
I ask you Reader, I didn't do anything nearly so bad, did I?


We even took off the chimney as the bridges were pretty low along here.


New crew doing alright. 

Lesley ahead of us had called to offer her assistance in entering the basin which is owned I think by the Aylesbury Arm Boat Club, this one is on the outskirts of town and thank goodness she did, a sharp right hand turn in with an immediate drawbridge, Joe was standing helpfully on the pontoon, the only one that we would fit on.  Water at the end here, Leckkie for £1 a night and a donation to their funds.  Lovely.




Good balance this boy, he is tall so hard to get a shot of him, shoes off and stayed off.

Lesley opened the front door for us, very narrow entrance here.

Have we enough room to turn to the left.....? Yes but only 12 inches

Dearest Darling Joe marks the spot for us.



Verity and I walked together into town, we had a short list and got it all prior to arriving at the real centre of the town, the bit we were in we didn't much care for, and walked back to the basin.  The washing was pegged out and kindles fetched, then just as we were all getting comfy, two chaps arrived to work on the hull of an older cruiser right next door "Er mate we're just going to do 90 mins electric sanding, there could be dust, do you want to shut yer windows?" 


I was filled with disbelief, that these people could be permitted to carry out work in a residential basin when there is a workshop on site.... Reader what would you say?

David said "We're leaving".

Wet washing off the line, watered up, ropes off and away we went.  Back up one lock and out into the very pretty countryside.

We had cheese burgers in baps and salad for supper.