Thursday, 25 July 2013

Bush Hats, Narrow Dogs and Leaking Trees

Another week of comings and goings on TCW and an especially busy, but productive weekend.
But firstly, in a homage to the TV series “The Fast Show”, I would like to say that “This week we will mainly be publishing photos” as we have a number of good ‘uns of guests and a couple that I have taken as we have passed by moored boats, which have tickled me. This for example.
Do you reckon it took the wrong turning?
We arrived in Hemel Hempstead on Friday lunchtime after the Ukulele thrash the night before, which, although I enjoyed it, left my finger tips quite sore. It was another sunny, hot day and we drifted through the town intent on mooring in Apsley, preferably above the locks, which was where we stopped last summer. We feared there would be no spaces: well I did anyway. With the annual national Waterways Festival taking place a few miles away on the canal in Watford, I feared that mooring spots would be sparce, and they were. We eventually moored under some trees below the bottom lock . The boat got covered in sticky sap that fell from the trees and the local pigeons did their best to cover the bits the sap didn’t reach. And worse, we couldn’t use our solar panels. It was the sort of mooring that actually appeals to a lot of boaters, who want a rest from the sun. I want free power, so want the sun beating down on our solar panels.  What’s that about Mad Dogs and Englishmen.. How dare you call me a Mad Dog!
We stayed on this mooring all weekend and entertained my old disco partner Alex, who visited Saturday afternoon and in the evening Claire and Phill who live in Apsley popped by. Claire was a colleague of mine. She mirrored my role at John Lewis Watford. We also had a yummy Sunday lunch with them.
Claire models the hat I bought at the Waterways Festival, alongside Phill and Pat's brolly bracket. The leaves look menacing, don't you think.
Then, at seven on Monday morning! (don’t ask) we welcomed two of our oldest pals, Penny and Bob, who joined us for a four-day cruise, down through Hunton Bridge, Cassiobury Park, Watford, Croxley Green, Rickmansworth and on to Uxbridge, where they left us.
Under the M25, near King's Langley, at a stunning 3mph
But I am getting ahead of myself. While moored under the trees in Apsley, we caught a bus into Watford on Saturday morning to the IWA Waterways Festival. I managed to find myself a replacement hat for the one at the bottom of Gloucester & Sharpness Canal – Pat got her “Brolly-Mate” and a washing line to hang in it, and I was able to get author Terry Darlington to sign his latest “Narrow Dog” canal book and meet the dogs in question 
Entrance to the show. Not another punter (or boater) in sight

Top: Terry and Monica Darlington, authors of the "Narrowdog" boating series.
Below: Jess and Jim, the narrowdogs in question who don't like boats!
In fact the Darlington’s moored in front of us at Hunton Bridge on Monday night  Monica told me they have now sold over 25,000 copies of the “Narrow Dog” series. These books tell the tale of how this elderly couple, along with their whippet, took their boat across the Channel and down to the South of France, and in their second book, how they travelled from Chesapeake Bay to Florida in their narrowboat Phyllis May.  They are a good read, whether or not you are a boater, and it was good to be able to pat whippets Jess and Jim, the narrowdogs  in question, at the show, and later on the towpath. Terry has suffered a stroke recently so it looks likely this will be his last travel book.
I must say we couldn’t get that excited with the Festival. We got round it in about an hour – there were no Chandlers and not that many visitors. The volunteers in their blue shirts seemed to outnumber the guests as far as we could see. There were lots of stalls selling batteries though.
Bob and Penny have cruised with us before, so they knew what to expect. Bob is a “Gadget Man”, which suits me just fine, and this week the boat has been full of Kindles, Tablets, Hard Drives, and power leads. He brought me a hard drive full of films and TV (I didn’t ask where he got them from) so when we have trouble getting a TV signal, we can dip into the comprehensive catalogue he has left us.

Penny & Bob. This week's crew

It was fun cruising with them. When Penny was not doing puzzles under the cratch cover, she helped Pat through the 22 locks we encountered. Bob and I shared helm duty and we had a real good scoff at the Harvester in Croxley Green last night.
First one I've seen
We are currently moored in Uxbridge, near the town centre, and we will be moving down to Cowley Lock tomorrow and probably turn on to the Paddington arm and then on to the Regents Canal over the weekend sometime. No guests now for a bit, but if you fancy a cruise, dodging coconuts on the Paddington arm of the Grand Union, give us a call.


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