Monday, 20 November 2017

Inside and outside the M25

Over the last week we’ve spent a few days inside and outside the M25. The last few days we’ve been moored at Kings Langley, just down from my sister Louise’s house. It was lovely, she came for dinner straight from work last week and our niece Alice dropped in to show her nan, Linda, the boat on Saturday and then she took us back to their house for dinner. Louise noticed someone put a photo of our boat on the Kings Langley Facebook page on a frosty morning I guess just as we’d lit the fire as there was smoke coming out of the chimney.

Home Park bridge
Sun rise over the M25

Yesterday we caught the train from Kings Langley to Euston to attend the London City Orchestra’s autumn concert, Edmund plays double bass with them. It’s been 2 years since we last attended a concert he’s played in. Afterwards we had dinner at Pizza Express curtsey of Tesco rewards!! We got to London nice and early so we could have a stroll around Camden Lock Market and of course do some gongoozling too.

Hampstead Road lock

Camden Market hall

A couple of weeks ago we caught the National Express coach to Hitchin for the 4th ‘Festiwool’, a lovely one day event that’s run by one of my friends from Hitchin Stitchin. We helped at the first one but have been off cruising the last couple of years. We had a look around the show and I got some wool tops and John got some needle felting equipment. I had a lovely long chat with the editor of ‘British Fibre Art Magazine’, she recognised me from last year’s Burscough Wool Festival, where we’d helped her carry her stock from her car to her stall. I caught up with quite a few friends that I’ve not see since we moved aboard. In the afternoon we manned the door. To top off an excellent day just as the coach was leaving the M1 at junc 8 we saw a barn owl catching his tea on the verge.

Poppy display by Hitchin Stitchin

We had a visit from Brenda (& Geoff) who I’d trained with at Edgware General Hospital way back at the beginning of the 1980’s. It’s so lovely meeting up with so many people we’ve not seen for so long.

We are stocked up with coffee beans as we were moored a few days by the back door of Smith’s Coffee Roasters, gosh the daily smell from there is amazing. Plus, we got 10 HUGE hessian coffee sacks which we’ll turn into rag rugs. 

Our neighbour

An perfect source of fire wood

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Marsworth & Hitchin for knitting

We spent 5 days at Soulbury before heading further southwards. Last Friday I went to Hitchin Stitchin group, where I’d not been for 2 years. I hadn’t told anyone I was going just incase the 07.00 bus didn’t turn up (after our train episode last week). As I was at the bus stop I could see the stars in the sky, but a mist appeared over the canal and River Ouzel Valley. As a car headlights shone on my back I could see a my ghostly shadow in the mist as if I was hovering over the canal. I had such a lovely time knitting or should I say chatting and was forced to have lunch with Clare and she gave me a huge bag of her Bramley apples.
Saturday we had lunch at The Three Locks pub before the 7 of us plus Rossi, Dale’s parents Alsation all crammed into the boat for birthday cake and more drinks.
Sunday John put on his blue CRT volunteer clothes and headed up to lock keep with Dick as it was the last day of the volunteer season. As we’re going to be in the area until next spring he’s offered to do the locks when we’re there.

We moored in Marsworth for a couple of days. We walked into Tring around the reservoirs, whose levels are very low, I guess we need to wish for lots of rain so they fill up. Wednesday evening we spent in The Red Lion pub with the knitting group. All the other knitters there have permanent moorings at Marsworth and we’ve not seen the for 2 years too. It felt SO ODD leaving the pub & going to the boat instead to driving home. I think the weirdness of being near home/work’s going to take ages to get used to. Louise and Paul came for Sunday breakfast and to help us up Marsworth flight.

At the moment we're moored in Berkhamsted. We’ve had two stunningly beautiful winter mornings,Monday we waited for the mist clear before we set off as with the sun on it, we were blinded.

The water was so clear we could see the bottom.

Thursday, 26 October 2017

Soulbury Three Locks

I’m feeling REALLY odd these last few weeks being back on familiar waters and it’s like having to go home and back to work shortly. We’re moored below Soulbury Three Locks ready for John to spend the last day of the VLK season this Sunday with his lockie mate Dick. Yesterday was a glorious day, so warm and the washing dried in the sun, polished the brass and sat out until the past the sun going down, plus a Chinook did a fly past to welcome us. Today however, feels like autumn, damp, misty, cold and dull AND we caught a robin in the galley nibbling crumbs on the counter (shame the camera wasn’t handy)!!! Yesterday we had our first southern fuel boat delivery of the winter from Jules Fuels.

nb's Burnt Oak, Bideford & Towcester

Last Saturday we were moored right by Fenny Stratford station and were there bright and early to catch the 08.37 to Bedford so I could go to Bedfordshire Guild of Weavers Spinner & Dyers meeting. John had arranged to meet some of his old colleagues at The Albion in Ampthill. However, due to a broken down train ALL trains were cancelled until 13.04….WHAT? We’ve used public transport for almost 2 years and have NEVER experienced such delays. Ada & Dale came to our rescue & chauffeured us to Flitwick/Ampthill & back. It was so good to see our friends after such a long time.
There were lots of wind-fall crab apples at Fenny and we enjoyed watching the little mouse cram as much as it could into it’s mouth and then climb the hedge to see if he could work out how to raid the bird feeder.


Before we left Milton Keynes last week we walked along the River Ouzal, which was beautiful. I couldn't resist the swing and the logs in the water to aid fish spawning were interesting to see. 

We’ve had lots of visitors already and no doubt many more as we hang about in Herts, Beds & Bucks over the winter. Jo and just two of her bulldogs popped by. Edmund with friend from Luton and Ada & Dale can pop by easily.

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Milton Keynes

Chain Reaction
Head, Campbell Park

Onwards and Upwards
This is our second day moored in Milton Keynes. It’s amazingly lovely cruising through Milton Keynes with all it’s parks, in the past we’ve just got frustrated with all the roundabouts. The canal skirts around the north and east of the city and the leafy corridors separate the houses from the canal. Yesterday’s Hurricane Ophelia didn’t effect us really and actually blew all the leaves off of the boat. However, all the dust accumulated in the sky from the Sahara Desert appears to have been deposited on the boat. Yesterday I made my first batch of mincemeat. We strolled though the lovely Campbell Park to the shops, but we didn’t have the camera with us to snap the strange orange sun and sky, at one point it was SO dark. This morning John nipped back through Campbell Park to take some photos and he decided the view was nice but not as beautiful as from the White Nancy in Bollington. 

Light Pyramid. Not quite the White Nancy.

Ada & Dale popped over for a few hours Saturday, such a change from a VERY long drive to get to us.

There are an acute shortage of shops in what seems to be very remote Northamptonshire, I think we were spoilt last year on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, all the villages had nice shops. So, we decided to do a Tesco home delivery, as it would cost us both return to MK on the bus over £15!!!! Ada gave me the code on a voucher delivered to the house so the delivery was free. We know other boaters do it, just put in a post code near by. But I was rather worried the driver wouldn’t follow my delivery instructions which stated “we don’t live at The Manor House, meet us at the bridge past the church”, so John want to loiter outside The Manor and I waited by the bridge. It was all fine and the driver gave John a lift from The Manor & we managed to lug it all back to the boat in one trip.

Spot the bullock

We spent the last week at Grafton Regis very close to our friends Pauline & Martin of P&M Woolcraft. We’d arranged to meet them last year at Yarndale in Skipton. Before we posted our last blog, I e-mailed them to let them know we were near by, as soon as I clicked ‘send’ the e-mail I heard John shouting at a cyclist, just as he was stopping anyway when he saw the boat, it was Martin. We had lunch at their house and did some shopping in their Aladdin's cave. Their cooking apples have gone into the mince meat. The Great & Blue Tits have eaten us out of nuts, they ate 2/3 of the basket in a day!!!


We’re looking forward to catching up with everyone in the south and we’re amazed we’ve been away for nearly 2 years.

Sunday, 8 October 2017

On familiar waters

Edmund met us at Braunston with his friend from work to stay for a few days. His friend was recruited from Australia by London Ambulance, she was very excited about staying as they don’t have canals there. Plus, she wanted some help finishing her four year long knitting project. Edmund took the opportunity to brush up on his knitting skills and they both went home with some of my handspun yarn that I’ve recently plied and washed, which Edmund wound into balls using my swift and ball winder, when he was a child he’d always volunteer to do the ball winding for me.

A felt bag as a hat!!

Braunston Turn

Over the 5-6 years before deciding to have a boat built we’ve spent many Sundays at Braunston viewing the second hand boats for sale, however, we’ve never cruised that far north when we hired. It was at Norton Junction we entered familiar waters. 

Museum 2017
Museum 2011

As usual Blisworth Tunnel was VERY leaky. We took the first mooring at Stoke Bruerne we came across so we could take our visitor to the museum, where Edmund always has great fun with the children's dressing up clothes and look at the blacksmith and stained glass studio. We needed to get our crew back to Milton Keynes for the 19.00 train to London and planned to moor at Grafton Regis where they could get a bus to MK. There were lots of gongoozlers at the locks at Stoke Bruerne and our two crew chatted and had the kids help open the gates. We used to always hire from Wyvern and we saw first Wyvern boat moored just before Blisworth Tunnel.

Our first Wyvern boat seen

We also went past our friends Cath & Alan’s historic ice breaker tug ‘Sickle’ moored at High House Wharf. We went on Sickle a few years back at the Rickmansworth Canal Festival. In addition we saw two other boats with names from the Northern Line, Balham and Edgeware (which appears to be spelt incorrectly) both looking rather sorry for themselves.

Ice breaker Sickle at it's mooring

Aboard Sickle, Rickmansworth 2015

Balham and Edgeware

Over the last couple of weeks we’ve covered lots of miles and had long cruising days to make sure we were below the planned stoppages by the end of the month, so now we plan to very slowly meander further southwards over the next few weeks. We’ll be staying at Grafton Regis for a while now, as the Northamptonshire country side is beautiful.

Last Sunday Heather had a stall with her origami flowers at a wedding fayre at Hunton Park, Kings Langley where our niece Alice works. It was a long drive for Heather from the north west and she asked if she could stop off at us for a break. So I hopped in the car with her and spent the weekend at my sister Louise’s house and helped at the wedding fayre too. So John wasn’t lonely my brother-in-law Paul went up to spend the evening with him at Long Itchington.

Heather's origami bouquets
Wedding fayre table

Oh my gosh, autumn has really kicked in with millions of leaves on the boat. So where possible we’ll try to moor in exposed spots so we don’t get covered again.