Sunday 30 May 2021

Water thief and are we nearly there yet?

I'm all behind like a dogs tail.  I should be packing to go back to WaL but here I am trying to write and being distracted by anything and everything.  Just this second a woodpecker in the garden.

So allow me to do a disjointed recap, a bit like the beginning of an episode of Line of Duty, scenes all out of kilter making you think you missed the last episode.

We were trying to hot foot it home in a relatively short amount of days that had reminded both crews of being in a hire boat (But not as bad),  something both of us had done years ago some days doing ten or eleven hours a day...  The weather was not great but I will include the time we sat out on the tow path, just the one time that is.

Here below is The Globe Pub, I had wanted to stop, on the way down it was chock-a-block with moored boats so not practical and on the way back a gloriously sunny day, what could be nicer but it had not opened yet.
HERE  I thought it was much much older than it actually is, its a bit wonky now, but they believe its about 1800, so just the 221 years old.  It is owned by Green King and has mixed reviews.

I've included this shot as it is at the top of the Aylesbury Arm, now we were here a few years ago and on this spot was an old BW (British Waterways) yard, they sold it off for these posh houses and actually KEPT the water point right outside these folks lounges.  As you can see with a long boat such as ours you have to tie up immediately outside their windows.
Louise and John went on to prep the next lock and we filled up.  

David sat on the back of WaL while we filled and some cheeky local liveaboard from the row of boats opposite came around from the other unseen direction and filled his huge plastic containers that he pulled on a trolley and put the water over to his side away from our hose.  He was screwing up his lids as I approached the tap to check we didn't have a kink in the hose after D looked at our dial and saw how slow it was filling. 
WaL was full in a short time afterwards but I have never experienced that before, stealing water , have you Reader?  

They hadn't tidied up before going to bed but nice furniture.

This was the sort of sky we got used to seeing.

Anyone recognise this?  I should think it would have been in a museum now.  

I would think this is an original, pity its not restored or looked after a little better.

I've cut his head off but I was sat on the step hiding from the worst of it.

Very pretty countryside and bridges along this stretch of the GU.

Bit of a jump here as below my computer has decided to load the photos newest to oldest if you get me,  this below is Blisworth, it was nice and early as we passed by the bedroom of these converted warehouse into apartments right onto the canal, Reader I averted my eyes as we passed by someone making their bed....  I'm not completely in love with the concept of the general public having the ability of gazing into my bedroom. 

Eyes left for expensive waterside apartments.....

The end of Blisworth Tunnel, it was wet again with water gushing all over and interesting to see the brickwork, probably as old as the Globe Pub and repairs that have been done.

We moored overnight here admiring this impressive property at Stoke Bruene with an impressive garden too.

Now a leap back to Milton Keynes I think but I liked this, it reminded me of a 'Domestic Engineer' running to catch a juggling ball to keep in the air.  Today they are just known as women.

Yep this was somewhere, possibly Milton Keynes but a great design

At first glance we were unsure of what was happening

Jules Fuels arriving for a delivery.

Crews nicely picked up by loving husbands.


Some fabulous views.

A brick with its own history on the Bucky Flight.

A man older than me who was crewing for a passing boat on the Bucky Flight saw me taking that shot and asked me what was there, I explained to him that I very much love the echo of the history and people who were on the canals, he said to me that he had never taken a single photo in his life and never even owned a camera. 
I think we thought each other mad.

Way way out of sequence, Louise and I closing the road bridge at Fenny Stratford.  Note I am wearing my wellies and winter warm hat.  Photo by kind permission of John. 

We enjoyed a very good supper in here the night before, The New Inn at Buckby Wharf. We'll be going back there again too.

By kind permission of Louise.

Norton Junction turn right here for the Leicester Arm of the GU.  

We had the best time with this great couple.  The weather was a bit of a pain but we got used to rain everyday and drip drying our coats, hats and trousers in the respective bathrooms.  A great trip, next time I'll clear my diary first.

It was very nearly nice, note the coats, we sat out until it rained.

This young couple have lived aboard a NB for five years, they upgraded to this wide beam in March and are on their way to take it to a new mooring in Kent, so that is taking out onto the ocean and up the River Medway, for those of you who don't know just google the river and their upcoming journey, I told the wife I'd catch the bus.

Thursday 27 May 2021

Yes put the central heating on please, its only mid May.

The next day was showery just for a change.  It was cold too.  In the afternoon David and I walked to the reservoirs and walked to get some air and exercise, it was perishing cold and we walked fast to get it over with quicker.  Louise sent me a photo of her and John enjoying an outside, socially distanced pint and I swear she was only wearing what looked like a cardigan.  They are hardy northerners though.

We played cards again in the evening and David and I tried to remember how to play Hearts, which is the game I love and we play with our youngest daughter and Mitch whenever we are together.  
Tom   HERE  , if you are reading this I do think it is your game called The Bitch!

Anyway, we departed the Wendover Arm the following day as time was pressing.  
The following are some assorted photos of part of the journey.  You may have gathered  that I am home now and trying to write this retrospectively which is never a good idea, but bare with me.  Its been a bit full on and I am looking forward to the boat next week and to the return of said daughter Verity and Mitch from NZ from where they have been for almost five months,  enjoyed an Indian summer, no lockdown and family, frankly Reader I am jealous and will be going with her next time whether she likes it or not.  David has been changing the garden, its not complete but at the moment looks a bit like a "Rewilding experiment", when we are home next time I hope it will be, well something and my mother cataract operation went well and lastly we had our grandchildren here which was heavenly but it seems I might be lacking some stamina from when my own babies were bowling around the place over 35 years ago.....

I can't believe it sat still long enough to get this shot, a Grey Wagtail. My favourite bird.

Masses of moored boats on the Marsworth Flight, those two widebeams were for sale, the same vendor using the flight as a showroom.

Anyone know this duck above?  I took it to be a pair of Scaup Ducks  HERE please correct me if you know.

He sat in the icy cold, caught a big fish, handled it with kid gloves and put it back in within seconds..... Frankly I just don't get it.

Now these next few pictures are of the Wendover Arm restoration, now back in 2015 we were here with the Lovely Joe and Lesley   HERE  we'd had a big trip together that summer going across The Wash, The River Nene, the Grand Union and later the Thames, The River Wey and up the South Oxford, BUT if you peep at that link you will see that from the photos that not a lot has changed from the wee basin , but there are piles of materials ready to be utilised.  In fact one of the volunteer Lockkies said it was almost ready to put the water in, this I would doubt but I will be sending the restoration society a donation. 

Piles of materials ready, I only walked around one bend from the point near to the basin that is accessible to walk along.

Fresh wheel marks in what looks like a canal bed

This and the picture below are the view from the wee basin, no access by foot here but you can get to it by a different path.

Trouble with mooring on slight bends.....

Leaving the next morning, note David in his full wet weather gear, I was too.

Heygates Grain Mill

I love the new and the old 

Sharp bend here

Thw four of us were optimistic of help again on the Marsworth Flight, then we thought we were a bit early, but it seems that volunteers don't work on the weekends here especially if its raining....
Pity but it is the most attractive flight looking over the reservoirs.

These few are published by kind permission of Louise, I don't think I had my camera out again because of the rain.

WaL making the turn back onto the Grand Union Canal from the Wendover Arm (Grand Union canal), its a bit tight especially when the junction crept up on you and you weren't ready...

John's faultless turn.

Well that's it for just now.  I will endeavour to post again before we start our next trip....


Thursday 20 May 2021

Rain and the part it played on The Grand Union.

So I know its been a while but the evenings, when I usually blog have been filled with partying, snacks and card games.

Did I say that Louise and John are card players, ( pretty sharp ones too) I can't quite remember how the subject came up but within a night or two suppers were early and cleared away double quick and Louise was at the table shuffling like an employee at Casino Royale.  
If ever there is something which makes a not very good card player (me) nervous it's a shuffler like Louise.

So blogging has taken a back seat.  Rain and wind took the front seat  on this little Sojourn.  I can't say that it rained everyday, it just felt like it.

If Pauline from NB Waterlily is reading this, Pauline I took your advice and brought the slip-on waterproof trainers, the ones that look like they are made of fabric and guess what?  
My feet stayed dry!  The next day and for the next downpour I put on my waterproof walking boots, these were only £25 on Amazon back in 2012 and guess what? They are no longer waterproof at all.   
The next day I put on my wellies for that day's downpour and my feet were sweaty but not from the rain.
Moral of the story is don't go boating in the rain.

When I say that actually it was us who were under time pressure this trip.  Mostly I hate deadlines and rile against them but on this occasion we are going home to look after beloved grandson Luca and to take my mum to have a cataract done.  I digress.

The next morning the day was sunny and fair.  Such a bonus to be in sunshine when its getting on for June and I'm still in three layers of thermals, fleeces and long woolly socks and that's to go to bed in.

So this was the day David applied the factor 50 sun cream, a gorgeous day and very pretty scenery.  I'll ask John what county we were in.

Still sunny...

Stay away from these suckers.

Open views with pretty trees away away.

I've included this shot of David as he closed this gate, can you see that he has his protective sun hat, shorts and his thickest winter fleece.

Jolly chaps, note the gloves!

1868, makes that carved stone 153 years old.

The trip continued with fairly longish days, longish days for us that is interspersed with showers, some avoided and some not, but to get to the Wendover Arm in time to get back in time we did have to do the hours.  This was helped by the first week meeting hardly any boats at all, a few hire boats out from Braunston and Leighton Buzzard but really hardly any.

We didn't see a soul here at Soulbury Locks

Fabulous views where the hedges gave way.

The first of several sunken and burnt out boats, each one possibly a home to someone, but I can't help thinking about the pollution into the waterways, the waterways we all love.

NB Ploddin' Along about to enter the aqueduct south of Cosgrove 

Fenny Stratford.  When we arrived here there was a boat already in the lock, so I didn't notice immediately that that white structure behind the boats here was actually a bridge that goes over the canal here.  The white cottages opposite the pub have no other road access!

There's a few of these about, a mystifying occurrence for novices, a bridge over the canal that you have to open first otherwise the boats can't get in the lock..  The foot bridge allows the people from the white cottages to get to the road.  It took a bit of heaving to close it again.

Nice mooring for this widebeam I felt... 

This little wee church was just over the wall at Church Lock.  I had to stand on the lock gate to get this shot of it, then I saw it was now a private home, with a conservatory built on the other side so I'd like to apologise for the intrusion, but it is so pretty.

I have done a bit of a precis here as you might have guessed     with photos illustrating the things we saw.  Some boaters may well see that some of the photos are out of order, but that's pandemics for you.  I blame everything on that.

The next day to this we approached The Marsworth Flight.  As we arrived there were three volunteer Lockkies on here.  Two worked the gates and two more walked on up the locks to prepare the next ones.
One lovely chap actually went to the same school as David, he hated that school as much as David did!
It was drizzling when we arrived and continued to ending all chance of photographs.
The day ended up in a complete cloud burst as we turned onto the Wendover Arm.  I had been warm up till then but during that 1.5 miles of the Arm I froze, pretty sure the others did too.  We four were wet through, cold tired and emotional. Hot showers all round.  The boat was full of dripping wet clothing, I mean, what could be nicer?

I can't remember what we had for supper but it was hot.