Monday, 30 September 2013

Beers, Boris and Brompton Bikes

Hello again and greetings from Roger, Pat and especially Boris, our new permanent ship mate. Boris moved on board  last week and has taken up residence behind the fire in the corner.
Yes, he or she is a spider, and quite a big bugger, if you’ll pardon my French! Every time Pat shows him the door he returns and no matter how many times I have destroyed his web by walking through it, he comes back for more. Other spiders seem to come and go on the boat, but Boris hovers in the middle of the galley, oblivious to our comings and goings.

Our new first mate. Boris the Spider

We are moored at Apsley, which is just south of Hemel Hempstead. It’s a rejuvenated area, being for many years the home of John Dickinson Paper Mill where they made “Basildon Bond” paper. It is now the usual mix of supermarkets, pubs, and very picturesque marina set around a flight of three locks.
We are here for two reasons. The first is it only a short bus ride from Hemel Hempstead to St Albans, where it was beer festival week. The St Albans Beer Festival is the biggest of its kind in the south, outside the annual London bash at Earls Court, featuring over 400 different beers and ciders. All my pals were there, and I volunteered to work on the door Wednesday and Thursday and most of Saturday. Before I found my sea legs I used to be the Festival’s Site Manager.  It was very, very busy and the festival sold out of beer just before closing on the Saturday night. Naturally I helped and consumed a liberal amount of alcohol and a number of brews that were new to me.

At the St Albans Beer Fest with my best chum John

One of the 10,000 guests that came through the door was wearing a Brompton shirt, which is the make of my trusty fold-up bike. I fell into conversation with the gentleman, who just happened to be the factory manager at Brompton’s factory  in London, and he has offered me a conducted tour of the factory when we are down next in November and some assorted goodies.
The second reason we were in Apsley was to accommodate my Leisure pals from John Lewis, who arrived from Brent Cross, John Lewis Watford, Cambridge and Waitrose on Sunday.

Phil, Claire (in my hat), Capt.Tracy, Jim and Sally
I never much think of work these days but for several years we were a very close team working together on a number of projects big and small, so it was good to see them all and find out what they had been up to in my absence. Most of them had never been on a narrowboat before, so it was quite funny, seeing how they responded to life on the canal. We were very lucky with the weather – we did a circular trip - and they all had a great day. We even saw a dinosaur on our travels.
A bit of wildlife I wasn't expecting to see around Kings Langley

My loverly Leisure Ladies from John Lewis

My day off from the beer festival saw another two guests arrive for the day on Friday and Sue and Brenda also enjoyed good weather and really got into it. Brenda was walking across lock gates very comfortably within a very short time, and they both got to grips with working the locks, of which there are no shortage on this section of the Grand Union.

Sue and Brenda get stuck in on lock duty

Tomorrow (Monday) we will overnight in Berkhamstead and I would imagine we will be In Leighton Buzzard a couple of days later.

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