Indigo Dreaming

The journeys of the Narrowboat Indigo Dream

  • Blog Index as a pull down

  • Recent Posts

  • Meta

  • Recent Comments

  • wordpress counter

Archive for May 11th, 2013

Boat Blog: Mooching (back) along the Grand Union (11)

Posted by indigodream on 11 May, 2013

Sunday 5th May

Globe Inn (Bridge 111) to Berkhamstead (above Top Side lock)

Hire fleet at home :-(

Hire fleet at home 😦

It was another day of two halves – a solitary cruise to Marsworth before meeting up with greyhound friends Bess and Shari, together with their staff, Roger and Margaret, for an afternoon/evening cruise down to Top Side lock at the far end of Berkhamstead. This meant another early start – we set off from the Globe at 8.25am with a target of getting to Startops End by 1.30pm – we’d have to shift!

Of course, we’re back on the heavily “locked” section of the Grand Union now, but it was a fine day which just kept getting warmer – we’ve had every weather this weekend, and worn every type of clothing in response!

I didn’t take many notes from the day, I think I was enjoying myself too much – I love this section of canal; however I seem to say that so frequently it may be more relevant to mention the bits that I don’t love!

Once again, we had the canal largely to ourselves. It’s a strange fact that it’s relatively busy at Leighton Buzzard and at Marsworth, but the stretch in-between is blissfully quiet. So, where do the boats that cause the busyness come from? πŸ™‚ We met a couple of day boats at Ivinghoe bottom lock – they were out of Pitstone wharf. One characteristic of day boats is that they tend to have about ten more crew members than are actually needed to handle a craft of that size, so a certain amount of good natured chaos tends to happen at locks πŸ™‚

Shari, Bess, Ollie and Ty (looking quite relaxed!) - they were very happy to greet the pther three greyhounds that were being walked along the towpath..

Shari, Bess, Ollie and Ty (looking quite relaxed!) – they were very happy to greet the other three greyhounds that were being walked along the towpath..

We shared Ivinghoe top lock with nb Daisy – sadly they were mooring above the lock – they were fine locking partners and it was a shame to lose them so soon. I admired their paintwork, which had been done by Carnzu. Now, Carnzu used to be based at Pitstone Wharf, just up the canal, and we’ve admired their work before. According to Carnzu’s website, they’re now based at Farncombe boat house near Godalming on the River Wey.

.We were maybe 10 minutes off the pace for Marsworth so I hastened to make some bacon butties – we’d agreed to meet after lunch! I actually worked the two “isolated” Marsworth locks while Richard ate, then we swapped over. Pushing a few lock gates was a novelty….

After the peace of the last section, it was shocking to see a crowd of gongoozlers at what we think of as the proper Marsworth bottom lock. We were almost at towpath level when Roger, Margaret, Bess and Shari pushed through the crowds and came on board. We didn’t move very far – we had to get the jam delivery to their car so we moored up on the towpath just above the coffee shop. As we pulled in, we spotted three greyhounds being walked along the towpath – we called them over. It was a merry greeting and the hounds got on beautifully, as always. We managed to get one on board for a photo; the other two were too shy to step onto the boat. What a good start to our greyhound cruise!

Roger and Richard were enthusiastic lock crew and we seemed to fly up the Marswoth flight. The hounds stayed on board, where equally enthusiastic crew member Shari kept an eye on the towpath and barked loudly at every passing spaniel (they’re sooo annoying!). She and Beth had a great time; Ty and Ollie relaxed inside! I should explain that Margaret is very enthusiastic locking crew as well, but she has a bad back so we had to tie her to the deck to stop her from overdoing it πŸ™‚

You can never have too many greyhounds!

You can never have too many greyhounds!

We were soon in the Tring cutting, but with no locks to do, we got down to some serious chatting, and hound fussing of course!

At Cowroast, we started the long fall down to London. We were joined by a hire boat and shared locks with them right down to Berkhamstead. I wasn’t thrilled on the helm, they seemed a bit muddled and I was quite surprised that they came down without cilling their boat. Admittedly they were longer than us, but the helm refused to move more than a few inches past the cill marking and few times we felt obliged to say “uh, watch out for the cill” as they drifted backwards!

We lost our locking companions at Berkhamstead – we’d told the women of the crew that there was a Waitrose and they so excited about it that they had to stop πŸ™‚

We also lost Roger – he took the train back to Marsworth for their car – he then drove it home and walked back up to meet us. It’s quite a trek and both he and Shari were quite tired by the end of it. But the timing worked perfectly – we were just mooring up above Top Side lock when he turned up on the towpath.

Roger and Margaret had kindly invited us to supper at their home nearby. Ty was delighted – he much prefers to be in a house! He and Ollie explored the garden with Bess and Shari, before all dogs settled down for a contented snooze. In the meantime, we chatted about hounds and canal – we could have

Ty (in the foregraound) has put his cutest face on - he's begging the towpath hounds to take him home :-)

Ty (in the foreground) has put his cutest face on – he’s begging the towpath hounds to take him home πŸ™‚

talked all night! We reluctantly dragged ourselves away at 10.30pm – long past our boating bedtime! Poor Ty had spent his entire evening shmoozing – Roger and Margaret would have adopted him in an instant! In fact, they did offer him a bed for the night – he would have loved it! But we were afraid that if he didn’t come with us then, he definitely wouldn’t want to leave in the morning. We dragged him out of the house!

It had been a long and splendid day, but there was one more surprise to come. We had a late text from friend Liam to say that he, Lena, son Seamus and little dog Cassie were coming cruising on the Monday – another busy day beckoned!

Today’s Trivia:

Today’s trivia concerns my search to identify the strange stub of a tower in a field adjacent to Marsworth bottom locks (the proper ones – lock 37/38). I never did find out what it was but I did come across some information about a vast cement works near Pitstone. I think it closed in 1991, but there’s no sign of the huge industrial site from the canal. While I was searching, I also found the Pitstone and Ivinghoe’s website – it looks like a really useful source of information if you want to explore the area. I also found the local council’s brochure about the Marsworth Conservation area – click here to get to the relevant part of the council’s website – it’s an interesting read. I never did find out what that stub of a tower is!

Photoblog:

Now that's what I cann a barbecue! It's possible that they've finished building this before the house!

Now that’s what I call a barbecue! It’s possible that they’ve finished building this before the house!

Uh, I guess this boat really DOES NOT want anyone bresting up!

Uh, I guess this boat really DOES NOT want anyone bresting up!

Every Englishman needs a lawn - on the front fender in this case :-)

Every Englishman needs a lawn – on the front fender in this case πŸ™‚

Competition fishermen have a serious amount of gear - you'd think that just the sight of it would scare the fish away...

Competition fishermen have a serious amount of gear – you’d think that just the sight of it would scare the fish away…

I've never been impressed by how the Grove pub has turned it's back from the canal - the well out-of-date signboard doesn't inspire confidence either...

I’ve never been impressed by how the Grove pub has turned it’s back from the canal – the well out-of-date signboard doesn’t inspire confidence either…

Ollie inspecting our locking technique at Church lock...

Ollie inspecting our locking technique at Church lock…

Ty worrying about our locking technique at Church lock...

Ty worrying about our locking technique at Church lock…

Lots of nothing with a boat in it - I do love the stretch between Leighton Buzzard and Marsworth

Lots of nothing with a boat in it – I do love the stretch between Leighton Buzzard and Marsworth

Plenty of room!

Plenty of room!

Be careful crossing the gate at Lock 32 (Ivinghoe bottom) - there's not much holding that handrail in place...

Be careful crossing the gate at Lock 32 (Ivinghoe bottom) – there’s not much holding that handrail in place…

That's a great seat but I wonder if they had to rebalance the boat with ballast at the front to compensate?

That’s a great seat but I wonder if they had to rebalance the boat with ballast at the front to compensate for the weight?

I wonder what this structure is? The sheep seem very attracted to it - possibly because of the thin strip of shade at its base...

I wonder what this structure is (see today’s trivia)? The sheep seem very attracted to it – possibly because of the thin strip of shade at its base…

Gongoozlers at Marsworth..

Gongoozlers at Marsworth..

Shari keeping watch...

Shari keeping watch…

Bess (foreground) wasn't impressed by the view and just relaxed on her sheepskins - the deck plates are nice and warm from the engine; she wasn't too impressed with Shari, who was using her as pillow!

Bess (foreground) wasn’t impressed by the view and just relaxed on her sheepskins – the deck is nice and warm from the engine; she wasn’t too impressed with Shari, who was using her as pillow!

Yet more gongoozlers at the Rising Sun in Berkhamstead - it's a popular spot

Yet more gongoozlers at the Rising Sun in Berkhamstead – it’s a popular spot

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »