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The Odyssey – Summer 2008 Day 3

Posted by indigodream on 6 June, 2008

Batchworth to Kings Langley (Lock 69A)

Another lazy day’s cruising – well, it was for me! This section has quite a few locks so Richard has actually had a very vigorous day especially when ‘lock wheeling’ (the boater’s term for cycling back and forth between locks). We did a lot better today as we started before midday (well, 11.40am) – the boater that’s moored in front of us this evening made the totally bonkers suggestion that you could get up at 4am now with the light and have a magical sunrise cruise – I don’t think so!!!!!!!

As always, we have a few things to report. We passed through Rickmansworth today – that will be familiar to devotees of “The Hitch-hikers guide to the galaxy’ as the place where Fenny had her revalation about the meaning of life a split second before the first earth was demolished. If you haven’t got a clue what I’m talking about then read the books – you don’t know what you’re missing!

The next bit of interest was Croxley Green – we had another one of those strange ‘displacements’ here as the canal is really very rural but above us was a high bridge carrying the tube – Croxley Green is at the end of the Metropolitan Line!

We also met several ‘floating classrooms’ today – one boat actually looked as if there was serious learning going on with a group of kids at the front of the boat with the teacher pointing things out along the waterside. The other three boats just looked like a jolly with kids (9 or 10 years old) draped on the boat roofs, dangling feet and hands into the water and generally being a health and safety nightmare! They did look like they were having fun though! Richard reckoned that he would have loved that when he was a kid; however I wondered how the teachers had got such poor karma as to end up supervising 30 kids on the boats!

You’ll be glad to know that the dog’s wounds are looking better though I’m still a bit concerned about Blue so he is still wearing his fetching blue bandage. They’ve had another energetic day as the canal has been amazingly rural and we passed through a stunning bit of landscape called Cassiobury Park (photo above). I don’t know the history of the park but it is basically a large stretch of old woodland with the canal at the bottom of a steep embankment. It’s like being in some celtic fairyland (or Tolkien’s Lothlorien!) – you can barely see the sky for the trees and the dappled sunshine gives a surreal air to the place. The trees are widely spaced and the dogs had a wonderfully unrestricted rummage round the woods. We stopped for lunch here – it was just too lovely a spot to rush past.

On a more mundane note, our search for doggie boots was in vain – none of the local vets had any so Blue will have to stick with the bandage! Blue is currently so far in my bad books it’s hard to see what he can do to redeem himself! In a 7 mile stretch of canal the found the only gap in the hedge which would take him onto the busy A41. One minute he was by the boat (we were waiting for the lock) and the next minute he’d vanished. Luckily some young fishermen had seen where he’d gone and one of them immediately ran after him and got him back – but not until Blue had reached the road and managed to cross over. Blue thoroughly enjoyed his adventure but I was beside myself – I’ll have nightmares forever. Richard, being a typical bloke, is siding with Blue – no harm was done so what great fun that was. For that they’ve both had all off-lead privileges revoked until I’ve got rid of my stress with a glass of wine!!

Earl of Essex\'s grand canal bridge!After the ‘wilderness’ of Cassiobury Park we then passed through a stretch of canal that looks like a country estate – manicured fields, restored mill houses, grand bridges and seriously nice houses, oh, and a golf course. The canal is very winding here (ok, I’ll admit I did miss one turn and had to reverse back to get the right line). Apparently the reason for this landscape is that it was once all owned by the Earl of Essex (around the time that the canal was built). Winding routes are often a feature of canals built through private land as (in the old days!) aristocrats were notoriously difficult about what got built through their estates.

We finally passed under the M25 today (photo below) so it felt as if we were out of London at last – ironically since we passed that point it’s become more urban!

Under the M25 (Junct 20-ish)

We saw some familiar faces today on nb Spirit, who we met last year on the Kennet and Avon canal at Bradford-on-Avon. Spirit is owned by a couple of guys who sold up their house, bought a second-hand narrowboat and are living on the water for a year. They’re really nice people but the main thing that bought Spirit to our attention is that it is a lovely sky blue boat with the most immaculate paintwork ever – even after almost a year’s cruising.

Two interesting bits of wildlife today were a pair of terns fishing in the canal – if you haven’t seen one before, they look like small white seagulls but they have forked tails like a swallow and are immensely graceful in the air. My ‘bird’ book says they’re common in inland waterways but I’m still blown away when I see them. The other bird hardly counts as wildlife because it was, in fact, a trained falcon sitting on the wrist of a fisherman on the towpath. Although we didn’t stop to chat, I’ve never seen a falcon up close before and it was utterly beautiful.

Oh, while I remember, the lakes that we mentioned on day 1 in the lower Colne Valley are a by-product of the old brick industry when clay was extracted to make bricks.

On a practical point – the canal books say that Kings Langley has an award winning Italian restaurant – unfortunately it’s now been converted into an award winning Indian restaurant (Richard doesn’t do Indian food – long story, you don’t want to know, really!). We ate at the definitely non-award winning Oscar’s pizzeria instead – was very disappointing.

My last tale of the day is that Indigo Dream was serenely moored up when a boat passed really near to our bow (giving us a good rocking in the process) – either deliberately or by coincidence, the passing boat’s name was ‘Close Shave’!

2 Responses to “The Odyssey – Summer 2008 Day 3”

  1. Denise Jones said

    Sounds like you are having an idyllic cruise, despite the dogs being, well, dogs! There may have been a very tasty rabbit at the other side of the A41, and you just have to cross it in order to find out. I understand your anger though.

  2. Martin said

    Ah dear sweet Fenchurch. I fell in love with a voice on the radio………

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