Friday, 29 May 2015

Wind, Rain, Sunshine & Excitement

Saturday 16th May

We managed to get our favourite mooring opposite the 4th Green at The Grove with Aria & Teezy.  Karen & I spent the afternoon sitting on the roof of Aria, with Pimms & Pringles, in the sunshine while the rest of them watched the golf.

Aria, Aylmer & Teezy at The Grove

The following afternoon all six of us took a walk up to The Grove and after a walk round the extensive landscaped grounds, retired to the golf club terrace for drinks in the sunshine.
Teresa, Jan & Karen on the terrace
The following day Monday started off very wet so we had a late start travelling to Boxmoor where we ended up mooring on our own as too shallow & windy for us to get in with the others. We dined alone at the Seattle Steak House where we could see Aylmer  across the cricket ground through the window. If you look carefully you can just see her to the right of the flash light. It was a lot clearer with the naked eye.  Fabulous steaks!

from the Seattle Steak House
We then had a couple of windy & rainy days travelling along the Grand Union and climbing to the Chilterns.  We moored on our own, in a very isolated spot, between the Ivinghoe Locks, overlooking the beautiful Dunstable Downs, where we could clearly see the Chalk Lion, carved out of the escarpment in 1933 to advertise Whipsnade Zoo. 

The white splodge just right of centre is the Whipsnade  Lion
We left the others behind as Tony was on a mission to get to Soulbury Three Locks, near Leighton Buzzard, where he had been promised a game of golf if he could get there for Thursday.  On the way we shared locks with a party of nine Bell Ringers (ringing their way at many churches along the Grand Union) and Margaret & Paul on Pussers Rum out of our home marina at Hallingbury.

Sharing Grove lock with the Bell Ringers
Pussers Rum pulling out of the lock ahead of us.
We made Soulbury Three locks in time for Tony to have an afternoon game of golf with Mark and the game was halved (a draw for the non golfers amongst you). Later we joined Mark & Malou for an enjoyable evening at the Three Locks pub. What a wonderful end to a lovely day.

Jan, Malou & Mark at Three Locks  pub.
We managed to stop the Fuel Barge before we left Soulbury & filled up with diesel at 72p a litre.  They often travel like this, two barges roped together facing opposite ways.  One is the fuel carrier the other the living quarters.

Fuel Barge.
The next highlight, for me anyway, was Fenny Stratford.  We had decided to stop here to wait for the other two boats to catch us up.  We wandered up into the village & found a nice little pub, the Bull & Butcher, which did a great fish & chips for two for £9.95.  Great value.  Taking a different route back to the boat I spotted a Patchwork & Craft shop.  Needless to say Tony opted to return to the boat leaving me to browse the treasures inside on my own.  To my delight I found they were running a workshop the next morning on Free Motion stitching, something I have only recently started to learn, so I signed up.

It was a brilliant workshop, taught by owner Sally, who has a very relaxed and informal style which suited my holiday mood perfectly.  Sally started by telling us not to expect anything pretty at the end of it as we would only be doodling, but I'm quite proud of my doodles which I'm sure my crafting friends will be interested in.  The best bit about this experience is that I discovered the new marina we will be mooring the boat at after our summer trip, is only 40 minutes from the shop ( ), so I will be able to go back to this Aladdin's cave in the future :). So excited!

Free Motion Quilting doodles by Jan Adams
 Saturday 23rd May

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

2015 Summer Journey on the Waterways

Saturday 9th May

It was with mixed feelings that we left Hallingbury Marina on Saturday.  Excitement at setting off on this years summer jaunt and sadness at leaving the marina which has been home to Aylmer since we bought her back in 2011.  After our summer journey we will be mooring her in the Midlands, giving us new cruising opportunities.

We joined friends Tony & Teresa on nb Teezy and Martin & Karen on nb Aria who are to be our travelling companions for the summer.

Tony A, Teresa, Karen, Martin & Tony G
On Monday we took a short walk along the towpath, from our mooring at Waltham Common Lock, to the Lee Valley White Water Centre. We spent a pleasant hour or so sitting on the terrace with coffee & watching the German canoe team practising the slalom course.

Teresa,Karen, Jan.

We couldn't resist the podium!

Sav, Martin, Tony G, Tony A, Jan, Teresa, Karen & Briony

Tuesday afternoon we arrived in Limehouse and that evening went to The Grapes, a lovely old pub right on the river (literally, the waves lap against the cellar when the tide is up!). Sadly it's illustrious owner was not about. Briony, Martin & Karen's daughter, & her partner Sav joined us for a very enjoyable evening.

The following morning Mitch & Sarah joined us for a very sunny day through London on the Grand Union & Regents canals.

We made them work!

London can always be relied on for the weird, wonderful & simply BIZARRE!

After leaving Mitch & Sarah at Paddington Basin we set off to meet Aria & Teezy again on the Paddington Arm of the Grand Union.

 These poor cormorants were waiting to be rescued by CRT (Canal & River Trust) after their feathers got clogged with oil. Apparently some moron had emptied gallons of used cooking oil down a road surface drain that fed into the canal. CRT had already spent two days syphoning off the oil & rescuing birds.

Aylmer & Aria at Bulls Bridge
 Thursday was a very wet & windy day but because of the oil spill we decided to make a move to the junction where the Paddington Arm meets the Grand Union proper at Bulls Bridge. There is a very convenient Tesco here with 24 hour mooring where we were able to stock up with supplies.

The 'Ricky' (Rickmansworth) Festival
On Friday we set off in mixed weather. Lovely when the sun was out but quite nippy when it clouded over. We had a long slow journey through the 'Ricky' Festival site. About 150 boats were already moored, some 3 & 4 abreast, ready for the festival which started on Saturday.
We managed to find a reasonable mooring just above Common Moor Lock where we were pleased to stop after a very long day.

We passed this boat last year. At that time the car was just sitting on the back, how strange we thought!   It has now been welded on. Not sure it looks any better or what the point of it is. Does the car steering wheel steer the boat? Love to know WHY!

Friday 15th May

Thursday, 7 May 2015

The homeward journey

Tuesday 9th September

We soon turned onto the Paddington Arm & had an uneventful journey down to Little Venice where we turned into Paddington Basin & were lucky enough to find a good mooring.

Mooring in Paddington Basin

We stayed a couple of days in Paddington & had a great time doing the touristy things and meeting up with Mitch & Sarah for a pub crawl around Soho.  The last night we were rudely awakened at 3am to find the boat had been set adrift by some inconsiderate reveller & we had to haul it back to our mooring in our PJ,s!

We left Paddington and set off down the Regents Canal to Lime House.  A quite depressing journey with miles & miles of double & triple moored, scruffy 'liveabourds',  We spent a night in Limehouse and had a pleasant meal at the clubhouse setting off to Waltham Abbey. Martin & Karen, from nb Aria (our companions from the beginning of our journey) cycled out to meet us at Enfield Lock and helped lock us through to Waltham Abbey. We moored overnight and had a great evening with Martin & Karen at Spice.

Next day Tony & Teresa, other friends from our marina, walked along the towpath to meet us at Fields Weir just before we turned onto the River Stort & travelled with us to Hunsden Mead where they had moored their boat. We all walked into Royden for a meal at The Crusader.

The following morning was bright and sunny, if a bit breez,y for our last day on this jouney & we travelled in company with Tony & Teresa back to Little Hallingbury Mill.  Nice to be home but what an incredible journey - 753 miles and 513 engine hours.  Can't wait until next summer.

Sunday 14th September 2014