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Archive for April 13th, 2013

Boat Blog: Mooching along the Grand Union (3)

Posted by indigodream on 13 April, 2013

Sunday 7th April

Widewater Lock to Croxley (Cassiobury Park lock)

Ollie - the "stealer of beds"

Ollie – the “stealer of beds”

As you might have gathered, we didn’t have the best night’s sleep – not only because of the cold, but also because of Ollie. He’s taken to sleeping with us (when he can get away with it!). This is a nice thing in principle, but Ollie is not humbly grateful for this new privilege and he does not meekly sleep at the bottom of the bed. Oh no, Ollie has turned into a bed monster! He took outrageous advantage and spent all night trying to push us out of bed. He managed to get between Richard and the boat wall; he then had a subtle campaign to gently treadle Richard’s back until he was well across the half-way line; then I started to complain because, with the two boys pushing, the only place left for me to go was the floor!

Anyway, once it came to 8am we got the engine running and put the heating back on – then we went back to bed and stayed there until gone 10am – we have become champions of the slow start! Once we were up, I refused to move the boat until I had a coffee in hand – so it was gone 11am before we got going.We met a lot of boats coming ‘down’ the canal, but we didn’t gain any locking partners today.

I didn’t take any notes today, but I did enjoy a bimble along this most familiar waterway.

Black Jack’s lock is one of my favourite places – the cottage just before the lock has a tremendous garden with wonderful old apple trees – I could just imagine living there. On the other hand, the building on the lock, which used to be a B & B and restaurant, also appeals. I spent some time musing on whether I could run a simple canalside eaterie there – “Sue’s Stews” just serving one meat and one veggie (preferably vegan) stew every day – hearty food for walkers and boaters, with fresh home-made bread, of course! Ah, it’s nice to dream ๐Ÿ™‚

But there’s no time to dream at the next lock – there’s a ferocious cross-flow from the right at Coppermill lock – it was surprisingly strong today given that we haven’t had any rain for a week or so. Richard happened to be on the helm for the approach – Indigo Dream slewed across the flow but at least there weren’t any canoes to distract us and we reached the lock without banging into the towpath!

Les and Jaq of nb Valerie - wonderful people - thanks for the tea :-)

Les and Jaq of nb Valerie – wonderful people – thanks for the tea ๐Ÿ™‚

With that hazard safely negotiated (not that it’s a big drama in a tough steel boat) we mooched along and soon arrived in Batchworth. I was heading for the lock when I suddenly spotted nb Valerie with Jaq at the window – we exchanged greetings and I pulled Indigo Dream to an inelegant stop, followed by an amazingly inept manoeuvre to brest up to fellowย nb Valerie, not helped by a partially fouled prop. I was very excited – I’ve been wanting to meet Jaq for ages – the story of her and Les’ trans-atlantic romance is surely THE love story of the waterways. Les was kindness itself as he helped me to bring Indigo Dream alongside and they courteously invited us over for a cup of tea (Jaq makes a very good cup of tea!). Now, at this point I owe the crew of the good ship Valerie some thanks and then a big apology! Firstly, thanks for your hospitality – it was a delight to meet you and I hope that our paths cross when you’re around London – we will be happy to escort you up the tideway if the timing’s right. Secondly, I am very sorry for not introducing myself properly – I felt that I knew you so well from your blog that I forgot to consider whether you’d know me! Anyway, we know each other now ๐Ÿ™‚ and I hope you’ll forgive me for being a bit manic ๐Ÿ™‚

There was a programme on Radio 4 this week that explored the concept of loneliness and how pleasant encounters with people (in person rather than online) releases feel-good chemicals in our brains. Now I like my own company, but I felt elated after spending time with Carrie and Simon yesterday and with Les and Jaq today – all very special people…

Our extended stop in Batchworth put us about an hour behind what we laughingly called our “schedule”, but we still pressed ahead to Croxley and moored a little way below Cassio Bridge lock. This has good access to the road for the car shuffle but here’s a top tip – DO NOT moor with any part of the boat under the railway/tube bridge – pigeons roost there! I could hear their soft chorus as we moored up but I thought they’d just miss us – I was wrong!

Richard cycled back for the car while I packed the boat up and psyched myself for the big one – cleaning several wet weekend’s worth of dust (used to be mud!) and fluff from the boat floor…..I’d just finished when Richard came back!

We had a good run home, which was just as well, we needed some time to finish our new battery research – the domestic bank really needs to be sorted; having said that, this afternoon I ran the heating, with the engine off, for a few hours and the battery charge never wavered from 95% – yet overnight, running the heating for 2 hours or so took them from 74% to flat – the overnight chill may have been a factor….

Photoblog:

The railways and canals have always been uneasy bedfellows! There's a link to the HS2 map here http://www.hs2.org.uk/interactive-map

The railways and canals have always been uneasy bedfellows! There’s a link to the HS2 map here http://www.hs2.org.uk/interactive-map

I feel that there should be a great story behind this name, but I can't find it....

I feel that there should be a great story behind this name, but I can’t find it….

The rural face of the Grand Union - within the M25!

The rural face of the Grand Union – within the M25!

The wonderful cottage below Black Jack's lock...

The wonderful cottage below Black Jack’s lock…

The cross-flow below Coppermill Lock - it was pretty fierce today, even though we haven't had any rain for a week or so...

The cross-flow below Coppermill Lock – it was pretty fierce today, even though we haven’t had any rain for a week or so…

This used to be nb Caie-two - we came up the Hanwell flight with her many years ago - here's another new name that needs a story!

This used to be nb Caie-two – we came up the Hanwell flight with Barry many years ago – here’s another new name that needs a story!

Canalside scene - lovely....

Canalside scene – lovely….

Familiar sight - that ape has been hanging there for a good 7 years - that's amazing! I wish I knew the story behind it - who put it there, and why? It's a canal mystery - maybe CRT should run a short story competition for him (or her)....

Familiar sight – that ape has been hanging there for a good 7 years – that’s amazing! I wish I knew the story behind it – who put it there, and why? It’s a canal mystery – maybe CRT should run a short story competition for him (or her)….

I loved this bit of canal art - displayed on Tesco's wall in Batchworth - I wonder when it was put there?

I loved this bit of canal art – displayed on Tesco’s wall in Batchworth – I wonder when it was put there?

Canalside shrine?

Canalside shrine?

Ah, well, maybe not the best guide on "hoe to moor"...

Ah, well, maybe not the best guide on “how to moor”…

Ollie's had enough - this cruising lark is hard work :-)

Ollie’s had enough – this cruising lark is hard work ๐Ÿ™‚

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