Sunday, 25 April 2010

The Sun has got his hat on...again!!!

The sun was out again so another BBQ was hastily arranged between narrowboats, Caxton, Critical Point and Matilda Rose.  Here they are all slobbing in the sunshine after demolishing yet another feast!

Leaving them to recover from all that eating I took Fletcher and Floyd for a walk and a swim to cool them down.  The Aylesbury Arm of the Grand Union is well provided with public footpaths so you are able to explore off of the line and the countryside is a bit special.

Saturday morning we pulled pins and went up through the four remaining locks of the Aylesbury arm back onto the Grand Union where we serviced Caxton and awaited Nb Critical Point.  We were going to travel south with David and Linda to Bulbourne and the entrance of the Wendover Arm.

Above, the entrance to the Wendover Arm. Originally built as a feeder arm (water supply) to the Grand Junction canal it was then opened as a navigation following £13k worth of modifications. Originally it was over 6 miles long but problems with leakages saw the end to navigation over a 100 years ago. The Wendover Arm Trust has restored 1.5 miles of navigation and work is underway to complete the next stage of a further 1-2 miles.
Bulbourne dry dock at the junction.
The Toll house

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Out of Aylesbury

We stayed in the basin at Aylesbury Sunday and Monday night leaving Tuesday lunchtime having collected our post from the Post Office in Aylesbury. It was a pleasant stay with no disturbance from the towpath or the nearby roads and the town of Aylesbury was attractive and interesting.  I had not been here before so I saw things with fresh eyes and no preconceptions and I saw lots of municiple planting, new development, pedestrianised market square and high street and very few boarded up shops.  There was goodly mix of timber framed buildings, Georgian and Victorian, including the old Gaol and Judges Halls, and modern.  A new theatre was in construction alongside the basin, fortunately the building phase was over and the work was now all 'inside' so no jack-hammers going..  There is a Morrison's in the town and immediately outside, towpath side with moorings is a large Tesco both of which were visited of course.
Caxton followed Nb Matilda Rose and NB Critical Point out of the town on Tuesday, up through five locks and moored out in the countryside on a nice stretch of armco - above, all three boats moored together.  We stayed here yesterday, the chrome got a clean on Caxton then Linda (of CP) and I took the dogs for walk across the fields into Winstone to get a newspaper.  The afternoon was going to be spent water colour painting but a 'planning committee' meeting turned into a general jaw in the lovely sunshine with four dogs and a cat joining in so nothing was done but who cares...?
Above, the current progress in my seed tray.  It will not be long before I am planting out the seedlings of rocket, spinach and mixed salad into the two growing trays on Caxton's roof.  The plan is to keep ourselves well supplied with fresh salad leaves throughout the summer as we did last year.  I have seen some boats that go the whole hog and grow tomatoes and runner beans all over the boat but a mobile poly-tunnel doesn't appeal to me so my horticultural ambitions will stay limited...

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Black Jack to Aylesbury

We spent one night on the Grand Union at Marsworth before moving round on the Aylesbury Arm and mooring just below Black Jack lock smack between Marsworth and the village of Wilstone.  There are 14 day visitor moorings at Wilstone but they are shaded by trees and that would have put at risk the important TV signal needed for the weekend's F1Grand prix!!!

Wilstone village is well kept has a lovely and very popular pub, the Half Moon.  It is dog friendly and they were doing a roaring trade with lunchtime meals for locals and the many walking groups that use it as a refreshment stop.
Above - this is the village community shop.  Apparently the Post Office was lost over a year ago and with it the local store but they have managed to open a shop again by using volunteer workers.  It is open every morning until 13.00hrs and they were happy to save me a newspaper each day.
This Wilstone reservoir which serves the Grand Union.  We walked around it with the dogs one day and then discovered an excellent Farm Shop where we bought the ingredients of the Year's first BBQ which we enjoyed on Saturday.
We stayed at Wilstone for five days where we were joined by Linda and David on NB Critical Point who are going to be cruising with us for the next three months.

After the Grand Prix on Sunday we pulled pins and headed off towards Aylesbury some five miles and twelve locks away. Caxton lead the way with Nb Matilda Rose and NB Critical Point following us down to the Aylesbury basin.
This is a lovely stretch of canal and we were blessed with another glorious day to enhance the cruise/walk.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Non-Jobsworth Syndrome?

Here we are at Marsworth junction.  On arrival we moored up and went looking for the facilities at the BW service point. The British Waterways (BW) office is in the background, BW staff drive past or walk past this scene each day.
Biffa will only empty the bins so all these bottles etc. that have accumulated due to 'unforeseen circumstances' look to be here for the duration.... unless someone picks them up and puts them in the bins that is.  Having two dogs in tow I gave that a miss but when I took our rubbish down to the Biffa bin at the next bridge I found...

(Surely shot gun cartridges are not boaty rubbish?)   So I did this...
I cleaned it all up as best I could.  My only reservation was finding that I was sharing my task with a rodent, ratus, ratus YUK!! 
Clearly the bin emptying is not frequent enough or there are insufficient bins for the amount of boaters. This strikes me as an outbreak of non-jobsworth syndrome; It's not my job to keep this clean say, Biffa/BW/Boaters so we will leave it to the rats.  One wonders how often the BW manager for these parts inspects his/her domain; perhaps not frequently enough eh?

Wednesday, 14 April 2010


Whilst moored at Slapton we took a trek around using the many public footpaths.  
Above are the Slapton churchyard 'lawnmowers' and a fine job they have been doing in keeping the grass well manecured.  They also seem to have adopted the role of  'guardsheep' - no barking or growling but a persistent stalking of anyone in their domain.  Now this doesn't present a problem for me but a certain labrador who goes by the name of Fletcher was not enamoured by finding this bunch trailing him..
Here is Slapton Church.  The stone tower has been given a distinctive coat of what I think might be limewash leaving it a light creamy colour.  The body of the church has been rendered in cement, again to protect it at some stage and the red brick addition is probably Victorian?  

Monday, 12 April 2010

Going 'Global' and meeting friends.

Here is Caxton on a super mooring at Stoke Hammond by bridge 106.  We had been looking for a suitable rendezvous for a bunch of  beer-swilling, wine drinking, boaty friends and in our ignorance we thought that the Dolphin Inn at Stoke Hammond might hit the spot.  On checking it out  Friday lunch time it was obviously not going to be suitable and the next inn, three quarters of a mile further south at Soulbury, was charging £8.50 - £11.50 for a burger - perhaps a mite expensive for bashed beef and a dry roll so we needed to move on.
We had been told by fellow boaters that The Globe was potentially a better eatery so we headed off towards Linslade, mooring half way between bridge 110 and 111 (above) and walked around to check out the menu which was quite extensive and reasonably priced; this would do then. 

The advance party of Graham and Jill (Nb Matilda Rose) and the Caxton crew checked the menu (above) before I rang Richard and Sue of Indigo Dream who were enroute to join us.
"We are at The Globe and it looks fine and there are moorings outside" I says 
"Ok", came the reply, "we will be with you in two and a hour hours. 
"We will see you in the morning then or you will find us under the table in two and a half hours" 
Saturday morning arrived and we walked back to the pub to meet Sue and Richard and Greygal and A, lunched there and then boarded the Chucklebus (Indigo Dream) and set off for a cruise with eight humans and six dogs on board.  What a day! It was tee-shirt weather, sunshine and blue skies and a lovely stretch of canal to enjoy.  Sue and Greygal took turns at the helm, Richard did a grand job as chief steward and he rest of the crew shared the locks and dog walking duties.  
We had a really super day together and given we only knew each other because of our respective blogs it just goes to show what a powerful and useful tool/medium a blog can be.  
We moved off on our southerly journey Sunday morning leaving Sue and Richard and dogs to their leisurely start.  We made bridge 118, (above) just north of Slapton and gave up for the day; there were too many boaters about and we were beginning to queue for locks. Enough we said... and so the bed.

Friday, 9 April 2010

Wow, what a day!

We left Great Linford yesterday morning at 9am and headed for the service point at bri 78.  Here we started watering while we awaited NB Matilda Rose who were following us down to water at 9.30. Glorious sunshine all day just about the best weather for cruising/walking.  I walked nine miles yesterday along with the two dogs (they probably did four or five times that distance) stopping at Fenny Stratford for a pint while we waited for the MR crew to catch up and go through the lock with us. We are now moored at Bri 106, Stoke Hammond.

The view from our side hatch last night!

Thursday, 8 April 2010

A date with a birthday lunch no less

We left Cosgrove and the Iron Trunk Aqueduct (above) over the River Gt. Ouse yesterday morning and headed into Wolverton a mile or so further along.   there are good moorings (below) by Wolverton Station and  easy access to a large Tesco store.

The bridge in the back ground with the silver stairs gives access to a the main road and Tesco is but a 5 minute walk away.  I toddled off with a rucksack and staggered back 40 mins later with provisions for the week.
Arriving at Linford Wharf we found Nb Matilda Rose moored up so we joined them and as it was Graham's birthday we all made haste to the Nags Head and lunch!

And here we have Graham presiding at the head of the table, daughter Karen and assorted grandchildren and Jill and Joe. 

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

A walk along the Gt Ouse Valley

Yesterday as a break from mundane boaty chores I took the two dogs for a walk through the Gt. Ouse Valley Park past Wolverton Mill (a five storey water driven flour mill now converted into flats) and on towards Stony Stratford.
The two dogs took full advantage of the easy access to clean water (mind you, dirty, stagnant varieties of water are equally appreciated by Fletcher and Floyd) and spent quite a bit of their time swimming and retrieving sticks.

There was plenty of newly coppiced willow (above) as well as this year's growth (below).

And here (above) is one of the mundane chores that I escaped from, getting a coat of paint on our new longer boat plank.  We got this plank in preparation for our summer on the fens where we expect mooring to be more rough and ready than the canals.
Rain stopped play but at least I got two coats of undercoat on the new plank and the sand we will use to create the non-slip surface is drying in a tin on top of the fire.. That will be a job for another dry day however.