Wednesday, 27 December 2017

Final Luton Christmas

We’ve been moored at Leighton Buzzard for almost 2 weeks as it was so convenient to get to the house. We hired a car to get to & from Luton as it’s only 10 miles. Ada wanted to host Christmas in her house as she was born there and plans to move away in the new year and we’ll sell it as we know after 2 years this is the life afloat for us. She’d originally invited 22 people but we ended up with a manageable 12 for dinner.


Magnus' dog made by Nikita
Lance's second Christmas

Facetime with Edmund who was at work
Jack, John & Paul

Louise, Alice Lance & Heather

Heather & Jason drove down the Saturday before Christmas arriving just in time to go to panto in Dunstable and “oh yes we did” have a good time.

Heather, Magnus, John, Nikita, Alf, Lynn, Ada

Dale, Samantha, Lance, Jason, Heather, Magnus

The Grove Theatre, Dunstable

Luckily we had very little snow this morning compared to some parts of England, as we needed to return the hire car. There were torrents of rain last night which has been reflected in the level of water in the canal, we needed to loosen our ropes as it’s so high. Just behind where we’re moored there’s a weir which has not had anything much going over it until today. We have in the past seen the weir opposite the Wyvern hire boat base, over flowing and indeed it is again today completely flooding the park below.

Hire car before we cleared it's snow
Weir in flood by Wyver Shipping Co

We’ve had some pretty cold weather over the last few weeks with the lowest temperature -6c. We had to abort our original journey to Leighton Buzzard due to getting stuck in really thick ice at Slapton (there was no ice at Marsworth where we’d been). The noise of the boat breaking the ice is incredibly loud. Luckily, we arrived in Leighton Buzzard on the day of Leighton Buzzard Brewery’s open day. John enjoyed seeing his friend Jon that owns it, even if he didn’t recognise him because he’d grown a beard. We stocked up on beer for Christmas, handy really. Although we’ve been to Leighton Buzzard many times mainly to walk along the canal or go on the steam railway we’ve never been into the town. It’s a beautiful traditional old town with a proper market, independent shops and lots of lovely pubs.

The ice we broke mooring at Slapton

John keeping warm at the brewery

Monday, 18 December 2017

Two years living on our boat

December 2016, Tarleton
It’s hard to believe we’ve lived on our narrow boat for 2 years, this is our 3rd winter and Christmas afloat. So time for a little recap of the year. During our first year I was obsessive about recording how many miles, locks & swing bridges we’d done, but with John’s Waterexplorer GPS it does it for me, 585 miles & 315 locks.

This time last year we were on the Rufford Branch of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, just over a mile from Heather & Jason’s house. We spent 4 months over winter on that four mile stretch due to essential repairs further up the canal.
January Solom
We were like locals in Rufford & Tarleton, people recognised us. The winter was very mild and I think we only had one episode of short lived ice on the canal.

We had hoped to be in Northamptonshire for the end of May but the Bridgewater Canal’s winter stoppage didn’t get completed until the end of May!! So we spent an amazing 2 weeks in Salthouse Dock,
Liverpool. The delay also meant we were able to see more of our northern family.

February, Tarleton lock
The summer was pretty cool and we only had a few days of nice sunny weather in mid June. We had to light the fire some evenings.

We spent the majority of the summer on the Macclesfield & Peak Forest Canals. We had warranty work booked in with Braidbar our boat builder for April, but we were stuck up north. It was lovely to attend our 3 rd Braidbar Owners Group’s (BOG!!!!), weekend, but the first time actually on our boat, which encompassed the boat yard’s open day for prospective owners and 5 days of eating & drinking too much. We were happy to show visitors around our boat on the open day, however, they had to negotiate the very muddy and wet tow path to get to the boats.

Mothers day, Ingleston Waterfakks

June, Anderton, sorting elderflowers

April, Fairy Glen Parbold
It’s been exciting venturing into unknown territories. At the end of May we travelled the southern section of the Bridgewater Canal
(when it FINALLY re-opened) before rejoining canals that we’d been on before. Then at the end of September once we entered Harecastle Tunnel our long journey south on new waters started. Our nephew Jack helped us through Birmingham and we paired up with another Braidbar boat ‘Briar Rose’ to descend Hatton Flight of 21 locks. Once we reached Norton Junction on the Grand Union Canal we were once again on familiar water as this is the stretch we always went when we hired boats. It does feel really odd being so near what used to be home and we’ve had lots of visitors too.

Our Christmas deccies are up and just 5 sleeps until Heather, Jason & the kids arrive in the south.

May, top of Stanley Locks Liverpool

July, Bugsworth Basin, fun day
November, M25 Kings Langley
September, Coventry Canal
October, Milton Keynes
September, Pee stones, Marple

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Winter wonderland

Duck trails in the slush
Vicarage Road, Marsworth

So the snow actually arrived over night, the forecast has been saying snow for a while and then it never materialised. John cleared the snow off the solar panels and they actually soaked up some dullness to top up the batteries. This afternoon we took a stroll up the first few Marsworth locks to the reservoirs, which was lovely. Our stretch of canal isn’t frozen (yet), just a bit slushy, but my sister reports it is in Kings Langley though.

Lock 43
Lock 42

We’ve both had a touch of flu for over a week now, just when you think you’re better then it all comes back worse than before, typical of the flu virus.

Last week we spent a few days with Heather & Jason up north (on the train). The kids were thrilled when we surprised them and picked them up from after school club/nursery. We all had a lovely meal in the amazingly refurbished Cock & Bottle pub in Tarleton. The main reason for our trip was to attend Magnus’ first nativity at school, however, along with us he was unwell & spent a duvet day with us and had to miss the first performance. His teacher messaged Heather & suggested he go in to school for the morning performance the next day, which he did. We had lunch with Colin & Carole from the Wool Boat who we spent most of last year cruising with. This was our second trip to the 
Cock & Bottle.

Aylesbury Arm
Bridge 130
Startops End Reservoir & canal

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Socialising and getting in a pickle!

I’m a bit late doing my pickles for Christmas, but they’re all done now. I’ve never had such big pickling onions before.


At the moment we’re at Marsworth again. We got here last Wednesday in time for the knit, natter & drink at The Red Lion. Prior to this we were at Apsley as it was easy for us to catch the National Express coach. John was so pleased to be able to attend the ‘Gentlemen’s Curry Club’ in Luton after being away for a couple of years, this involves meeting at a pub then toddling off to an Indian restaurant for a buffet lunch then back to the pub. I caught the coach after him & went to Hitchin for afternoon tea with Hitchin Stitchin and we managed to meet on the same coach to get back to Hemel Hempstead.

Rising Sun Lock

There is a navigation restriction on the Marsworth flight of locks due to a faulty pump and very low water levels in the Tring reservoirs. We had a little wait one day as the paddle on the bottom lock gate at The Rising Sun had broken completely, it gave us the opportunity to have a chat with one of the CRT lads that John knew from lock keeping at Soulbury. The lads had immobilised the paddle and we were able to continue up the lock. These gates are due to be replaced in the new year.

KGT dinner

Last Sunday our friend Richard from our motor cycle club the KGT picked us up and took us to the annual Christmas dinner, which was in Huntingdon.  We last attended 3 years ago…..time just flies.

We aren’t too impressed as once again the public transport here in the south let us down. Friday we planned to catch the last bus, at 18.08 to go to Ada’s future mother-in-law Lynn’s surprise birthday party. We waited 30 minutes past it’s due time & then decided to enquire at The Grand Junction pub about a taxi, our first taxi since we’ve lived on the boat, a HUGE shock to the purse. We had a lovely evening.

Birthday party

Dale and the birthday girl

Freya Jones with her hand woven tea towel

Saturday my friends Yvonne & Mike picked me up to go to a knitting & spinning day at an amazing shop ‘Freya Jones’ in Stoke Mandeville. I only brought 300g of fibre though. 

Fibre heaven at Freya Jones
Freya Jones shop


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