Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Back On The Main Line

Pat & I enjoy the Hertfordshire sunshine

There is an old Monty Python sketch where an actor called Arthur Jackson (played by Ian Idle, I think) is being interviewed about a new film he is appearing in but all the interviewer wants to know is why he has two sheds in his garden, and starts addressing him as Arthur `Two Sheds` Jackson, which slowly infuriates Mr Jackson. When we got married we had two sheds in our garden and a number of my pals would refer to me as `Roger Two Sheds`.

I was reminded of this last week when I realised that not only have we got three TV aerials on the boat but now we have three hose reels. It’s not that we are obsessive, but I do agree it’s a bit over the top, especially as I am always moaning about the lack of space we have on board TCW. I didn’t consciously go out to acquire said hoses (they were donated), but I guess deep down I am a bit of a hoarder.

Well, I suppose the big story of the last week or so has to be the weather, and summer has certainly arrived with a bang last week. Pat does not like cruising in extreme heat or going out during the heat of the day, and I do sympathise, but it doesn’t bother me too much. However, living in a steel tube is very different to bricks and mortar, and once the boat is hot, it retains that heat. At 10pm on Wednesday night, our thermometer in the saloon was still showing 32 degrees. By then we had decamped onto the tow path and sat chatting to our neighbours until around 11-ish when it got a little more bearable.

Some of the Aylesbury Ukulele Club at chucking out time. One of the best clubs I have visited
We left Aylesbury last Saturday morning and decided to share lock duties. Pat is a very capable helmsperson, but she doesn’t like passing moving boats, which are as rare as hen’s teeth on the Aylesbury arm, so she had an easy cruise. I managed about seven locks, and then ricked my back and I am still getting over it, a week later. Before we left I went to Aylesbury’s very good ukulele club in The Hop Poles – a great pub and some really good players. The picture shows the hardcare members still there at closing time.
Then we pushed on to Leighton Buzzard and got on to the Tesco mooring and did some shopping around the town and a couple of sirloin steaks in the local Wetherspoons, which were remarkably good as well.

This chap was doing a bit of `gongoozling` from a bridge on the Aylesbury Arm
The rest of the week we have spent creeping through Milton Keynes and  spent the weekend  moored at Cosgrove, right on MK’s northern  border. It’s a village we know well and enjoy visiting. I must have cruised through Milton Keynes, from Fenny Stratford in the south, through to Cosgrove a dozen times at least, both on TCW and on hire boats from Leighton Buzzard, so I know the eight-mile stretch well, but I am never disappointed, when we cruise through. The whole stretch is one huge  linear park; the planting is neat, and sympathetic to the waterway; the houses that border the canal for part of its length are interesting and varied, and while you often hear the traffic hurtling by, above you, as you pick your way under the myriad of road bridges you encounter, the canal has a very peaceful feeling.

The Great Ouse Aquaduct close to Cosgrove
View of the Great Ouse from the viaduct

These chaps normally fly off as you get close but this one stood his ground
We hired a car again over the weekend and visited my old pal Roy and his good wife Geraldine Saturday afternoon in North Finchley. Roy is pretty poorly, but is out of hospital now, and seemed pretty chipper, though the drugs he is on meant he often drifted off. Then we went to  St Albans for a barbecue with John and Lorraine, who not only monitor our post, but are really part of our family. John is the brother I never had.
Not quite Jamie Oliver, but it tasted OK
The following day we went to visit my step-family in Potters Bar. Gary had been awarded a BEM in the Queen’s birthday honours and was celebrating that, his birthday, and his retirement from working at the Palace of Westminster for nearly 40 years. We had not seen that side of the family for several years, and it was good to catch up.
Gary wears number 4 at his `investiture` party
An evening stroll through the countryside. The canal is behind the trees on the left.
This morning we took the car back and turned the boat north. We are a couple of days behind on our schedule, but will catch up by Thursday when we get back to Braunston and turn on to the South Oxford Canal. We plan to cruise down to Cropredy and Banbury and then `wind` and start the journey back to the marina. The forecast is for unsettled breezy weather. Looks like summer is here at last!

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