You can do without a lot of things on this boating lark but one thing you definitely can’t do without is a drop of water, so as soon as we looked out of the window on Monday morning we knew we had a problem. It was reinforced by all the drawers in the kitchen gaping open and a definite list to starboard. Walking from the stern of the boat to the bow was very “Titanic-ish”.
Overnight the stretch of canal we were on had dropped about a metre. We were not too bad, being in a deeper part of the cut, but the rest of the boats in front of us in this part of Berkhamstead, were cheekily showing the world their rudders and one its propeller.
|That leaning feeling|
|Looks like the tide has gone out|
We thought it all quite exciting, especially as we had not planned to go anywhere on Monday, but we should have guessed that mooring close to the summit of the Grand Union could present issues. The boys from C&RT (Canal and River Trust), scratched their heads and walked from lock to lock, saying their boss was on it, and sure enough, within an hour or two, we were floating again. It must be some borehole, that they tap to balance either side.
This was in Berkhamstead, a delightful town on a very attractive stretch of the Grand Union, with three good pubs on the towpath and some good mooring (water permitting) outside Waitrose.
|Cheeky swans in Rickmansworth|
The last week has been very hectic aboard The Cat’s Whiskers with a number of comings and goings. First up was our pal Vic who joined us in Rickmansworth and stayed overnight as we chugged through Watford, mooring in Casiobury Park overnight. He left the following lunchtime and we continued to Apsley, close to Hemel Hempstead. Here, my pal Claire, who I worked with at John Lewis, joined us, with her Partner Phil. Neither of them had ever been on a narrowboat before and it was very much a baptism of fire, with 14 locks negotiated over a four-mile stretch into Berkhamstead.
|Phil & Claire - First time boaters|
They left and our pals Penny & Bob arrived the following day and left this morning. As attractive as this part of the Grand Union is, there are a flipping large number of locks to ascend and then descend and in the last two days we have done 24 of them, many with very “Sticky” paddles and heavy gates. That will ease over the next few days as we skirt Milton Keynes, heading for Stoke Bruerne and the Blisworth Tunnel, as this area is “lightly locked”, if such an expression exists. Finally, this afternoon, my sister Carol and her hubby Rob, popped up to see us at our mooring outside Tesco in Leighton Buzzard.
|Sister Carol, Rob, Pat and bag of rubbish...oops|
We have more guests this weekend and then it is just Pat and I. We have to average about five miles a day to get back to Long Eaton and Trent Lock by the last week in October. Weather and more importantly, river levels permitting, that shouldn’t be a major problem. Hopefully our next blog will come from somewhere in deepest Northants.