Friday, 31 May 2013

Cowroast bridge 136 to Cowroast (below lock)

Cowroast Bridge 136 to Cowroast (below lock) : 1 mile, 1 lock
To date : 339 miles, 191 locks

Finally, today we had a quiet day.  Just what we needed.  Barry and Carol had visitors coming for a couple of days so they moved up to the lock at Cowroast.... after a bit of too-ing and fro-ing about where the visitors should park.  We decided to move ahead a bit too as the towpath was in a right state where we were.  I went for a walk and discovered that below the lock the towpath was paved and dry.  A vast improvement on the large muddy puddles up the other end.  All our shoes were filthy.  Off we went through the lock.

We tied up using pins and Angie's pin covers and walked to the pub for lunch.   We've been to the Cowroast Pub once before.  In 2010 we met Barry and Sandra on nb Northern Pride and had lunch with them there.  They serve Thai food which feels a bit strange in a quaint English pub.  Nice enough lunch though.

After lunch I caught up on some work and finished the jigsaw puzzle I had on the dinette table.  We've found a great use for our previous version of double glazing.  I use one to cover the jigsaw puzzle when I'm not working on it.  Mick sat and helped too.  After a while we noticed that the boat seemed to be tipping on an angle.  It seems the water was slowly draining from the pound we were moored in and we were sitting on the bottom of the canal.  Mick went up to let some water down which helped a little but we decided we'd test the depth a little further along.  It was probably a foot deeper so we moved along.

We've chatted with some lovely folk walking past this afternoon.  A lady with a gorgeous friendly black labrador stopped for a chat and a pat.  The dog seemed quite keen to clamber into the boat through our side hatch!  Then came a lady with a pair of Border Terriers.  We talked to her for nearly half an hour.  It turned out she has a farm bordering the canal a little further down.  She even offered to drive us to the supermarket if we needed anything but we'll be passing one tomorrow anyway.  Nice of her to offer....  what a lovely lady.

Photos this morning of our shared mooring greenery on one side and nb Winton's Folly on the other :

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Marsworth Junction to Cowroast Bridge 136

Marsworth Junction to Cowroast Bridge 136 : 3 miles, 7 locks
To date : 338 miles, 190 locks

Despite clear skies when we first got up, we headed off in the rain again this morning.  The cloud blew in and the day turned dark and dreary.  We’re used to this now and we were better prepared.  I dug out the winter boots and waterproofs.

Our first stop was just beyond the junction to fill our water tanks.  We messed about there for some time with Barry and Carol walking to look at a garden centre.   There are some lovely old buildings at the wharf and one of them had garden sculptures for sale.

We’ve been keeping the rear hatch only half open to minimize the rain getting onto the timberwork inside.  I managed to give myself a good whack on the head when I went outside in a hurry. 

We had seven locks to do.  It didn't seem so bad in the rain this time.  At last I have some confidence getting the boat into the locks.  I'm not super fast at it but I can get the boat into the lock without touching the sides, even if nb Winton's Folly is already in there.  Finally!

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Slapton Lock to Marsworth Junction

Slapton Lock to Marsworth Junction : 5 miles, 8 locks, 1 swing bridge
To date : 335 miles, 183 locks

The weather forecast predicted rain for today and rain we got.  When we woke up the ground outside was boggy and the rain was pelting on the roof of the boat.  The "hour by hour" forecast on my phone said there'd be a brief break in the rain after midday and a clear few hours at the end of the day. 

Perhaps it was a silly idea but when the rain stopped about 1.30pm we headed through the lock.... a pair of boats had just come down so it was in our favour.... and filled water tanks at the water point above.  In the middle of this process the heavens re-opened and down it came again.  By the time we moved off the water point we were all soaked so decided we might as well continue on.  We ended up cruising in the rain through 8 locks, all the way to Marsworth Junction.  There was a bit of mumbling and grumbling along the way but we survived.  Not long after we moored up at 6.15pm the rain stopped.  It's due to start up again this evening and tomorrow is looking like a repeat of today.  We have about the same number of locks to do tomorrow.  Carol's sister is coming to meet them at Tring railway station Thursday morning so there's a bit of a deadline.

It's so annoying at locks when people come along from boats waiting for the lock and then just stand there.  A couple of young men did just that.  Eventually one helped Carol with her gate but the other just stood at the other end of the lock twiddling his thumbs.  Further along we had 4 crew members from a pair of boats come up to the lock and the lot of them just chatted while we wound paddles and struggled with the gates.  Not one of them volunteered to come around to the other side of the lock to open the gate to let our boats out so they then watched while I opened the gate, waited for the boats to go out, closed it again and then clambered across the closed gates to the towpath to walk on to the next lock.  "We could have done that" one of them said, but none of them had made a move!

There are quite a few boats on the move despite the awful weather.  It's school holidays this week so I guess the hire boats have to make the most of their time onboard.  The moorings are fairly busy too.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Aylesbury and Claydon

Yet again... waking to sunshine.  I had a good tidy up, Mick sorted out the new fenders.  He's made some little timber thingies for the ropes to go through so we can adjust the length.  I've no idea what you'd call them.  I'll have to take a photo.  Barry bought a gadget at the boat show for washing his boat.  All was quiet outside for quite some time so I looked out to investigate.  There the three of them were, heads together, trying to work the thing out.  Mick spent a bit of time up at the lock helping people through.  He enjoys being an unofficial volunteer lock-keeper.

Today we went to Claydon House after dropping Barry and Carol off at Aylesbury.  Again, it was a lovely drive through many pretty villages.  We especially liked Quainton... the name says it all.  Thatched cottages everywhere.  We also passed quite a cluster of old buildings in ruins that were fenced off.  Looks like a development about to start.  We'd have loved to be able to wander around and look at them.

Claydon House was in lovely grounds.  Not quite as amazing as Woburn Abbey but still very nice.  We had a look in the little stores and the church was also well worth a visit.  It had amazing ceilings.  Plenty of folk were making the most of the sunshine and having picnics sitting on the lawns.

We returned to Aylesbury for a visit to B&Q and to collect Barry and Carol.  Also a stop at Sainsbury's for a grocery topup.  It's our last day with the hire car so we have to make the most of it.

There were far more boats moored around Slapton Lock when we returned.  The lock was working overtime with boats in both directions.  Plus, the fishermen were out in force.  Honestly, some of them are just grumpy old men.  We always say good morning or hello when we pass in the boat of on foot.  These three could barely reply.  Oh well.  Shame to be so grumpy on a lovely sunny day. 

Actually, it was a bit too windy today, especially out at Claydon, but at least the sun's been out all day again.  The forecast for tomorrow isn't too good with plenty of rain expected.  We've got about 5 hours cruising with 16 locks to do by Wednesday evening or Thursday morning.  Hope we get a dry spell to work those locks.... they're definitely no fun in the rain.

I mentioned the other day that we bought a new horn as ours had stopped working.  Yesterday Yvonne from nb Fizzical Attraction left a comment saying a common cause of them not working is spiders nesting in them.  Eeek!  I told Mick and he got a funny look on his face.  It seems that was likely the reason ours had stopped.  He knows I hate spiders so hadn't told me that it had been full of spiders nest.  Just lovely!  Oh well... we have a new horn and Mick has a new job on his list... cleaning spiders nests from the horn.

From today :
1. & 2. Volunteer lock-keeper 
3. - 5. It takes three 
6.- 17. Claydon House and church 
18. - 21. Grand designs in the making
22. - 25. Quainton