Wednesday, 16 July 2014

2014 UK adventure May and June

 Arrived back in the Uk on Tuesday 20 May and stayed with the family in London until Friday when we caught the train to Rugby and picked up a hire car for a few days whole we stocked up the boat ready for this year's big trip.
Crick Boat Show the following weekend was a washout - massive 10 minute hailstorm/tornado type storm went through on Sat afternoon when we were in a marquee.  We thought the whole tent was coming down.  Hailstones piled up everywhere when we came out.  The car park was a boggy mess - lucky theyhad a tractor handy.  Sunday at the Show wasn't too bad - we did see the sun a bit but Monday had heavy drizzle all day.  Hope the farmer who owned the car parking paddocks was well compensated!!
The boat looks great - the boys have done a terrific job on the alterations.

New TV unit, crystal cabinet and RED bedroom carpet.

Small bunkbeds changed into a sofa bed which pulls out to a double bed with new overhead cupboards.
Sooz, Ten & the girls (with Rita - Ten's mum) came up on Friday and stayed at a nearby B&B at a manor house where we went for dinner on Saturday night. (Wow - so nice - a massive old place in a beautiful little village).
We took them on a trip on the boat on Saturday - up 7 locks and then down 7 on the way back.  Also went through Crick Tunnel which is nearly a mile long so that was pretty exciting for the little ones.   Best part was that the sun came out all day on Sunday.  First we had seen since arriving.  

Sooz, Olive, Iris and Rita about to enter Watford Locks.
Looking down Watford Locks.
Olive & Iris with my birthday present - a new windlass (to make winding up the locks easier)
Spent a few days at the marina cleaning and painting some bare spots on the hull (when it wasn't raining).    We also had new red carpet fitted in the bedrooms to match the lounge area and it looks great.
Finally set off south towards London on the Grand Union Canal on Friday 5th June.  Went through the Blisworth Tunnel (3076 yards long) which had water pouring through the roof and walls in some parts from the recent rain.  We'd been caught before in leaky tunnels so had our raincoats ready this time.

 Entrance to Blisworth Tunnel.
There is light at the end of the tunnel!!
Spent a couple of nights at Weedon Bec, a little village near Northampton which we visited by bus rather than going through 17 locks up and back if we had gone by canal - must be getting weaker or wiser!  Quite a large city with a market in the town square.
Going on the aqueduct over the Ouse River 35 feet below.

Leaving the aqueduct.
The Grand Union Canal is quite a wide waterway with double locks all the way (they can take two boats side by side) so we've tried to team up with another boat each day to go through which makes the locks only half the work.   Trouble has been that it is so quiet with hardly any boats moving along that we have been on our lonesome most days.
A traditional working narrowboat with a butty (a boat that is pulled along behind like a trailer).  These were both carrying 18 tons of coal.  Went through Milton Keynes - a huge sprawling urban area where we were hopelessly lost when we drove through it a few years ago.   (Heard a funny story then that some lost tourists drive around until their cars run out of petrol and their skeletons are found  years later!!). The canal route is much more scenic.  Poplar trees line the way and there is so much open parkland and gardens - hardly saw any houses - they are so well hidden behind greenery.
Stayed a night at Leighton Buzzard (yes - that really is the name of the little town!)  which had some lovely old buildings then the next night at Marsworth.  Here we again avoided a pile of locks by catching a bus into the nearby market town of Aylesbury.

Moored up in the village of Marsworth.

Swan with a real attitude problem!   It spent hours attacking our fender when we were moored up at Berkhamstead.  It was making such a noise that Terry threatened to ring the Queen - she apparently owns all the swans in England -  asking her to come and collect this one!!
Weather has been a mixture of some very hot days, some overcast drizzly days and a couple of thunderstorms thrown in just to add to the mixture - but we've not been delayed too much.
We're now moored up near Hemel Hempstead which is only about 30 milesnorth of London so there are lots of old pubs along the canals - especially when there are locks to provide entertainment for their customers!