Monday 13th May
I am still having a problem with the water pressure, so having slept on it, I decided to release the pump connection to see how much water would run from the tank to the stern and there was certainly not much more than a dribble, so the pipe was partly blocked ay the tank outlet. I tried blowing through it but not enough to clear anything. If I pressurised it by reversing the pump then there was the possibility of forcing open a pipe connection, so being close to a water tap, I decided to fill the tank with the hose tucked well down the inlet pipe. There was good pressure at the tap, which made a change from the usual CRT water points. Certainly things improved somewhat after that with enough pressure to have a reasonable shower. As with electric cables on this boat, the water pipes disappear after the pump, never to be seen again and there is no obvious place to get to the water tank – more thought required.
I was immediately below Copper Mill Lock, so had to ascend the lock as soon as filling up was complete. From there I progressed to Springwell and Stokers Locks into the Rickmansworth pound and found a place to moor with rings, close to other boats waiting for the place markers to be put along the length. TV reception was non-existent, although I got a strong BT wi-fi signal with the aerial in place.
Tuesday 14th May
There was a branch of Holland and Barrett in the town, so I took a walk to stock up with Cider vinegar and honey, but it was a wasted trip, because they were out of stock, so I had a pint in Wetherspoons instead.
I returned by way of the Aquadrome, which is a series of shingle quarries used to build the original Wembley Stadium. They are now a local nature reserve used for water sports and leisure area, but on the way decided to have a browse around M&S Food Hall - big mistake, as I bought several desirable items that were not on my future shopping list.
Back on the moorings now, I could see two boats on my allocated mooring, so had a word with Terry on nb Moranwyl Phyllis and Bob on nb Chedoona about moving in between them as per my allocated number, which I did immediately as there were complications the next day when they were not going to be here.
Wednesday 15th May
Not a lot going on today, but I did do some serious shopping in the local Tesco and later in the afternoon, another walk into the town for a pint in ‘Spoons. Otherwise it was a lazy day standing around talking boats to boaters – what else do boaters do? Curiosity got the better of me though and I had to check water pressure from the tank now that it was filled up, but virtually nothing just as before. I must ask around about this – someone may well come up with a clue. I texted Phil on Hyperion to see if he was servicing the Festival, because I needed diesel by now. I seem to see him every year around the Apsley area and stop to fill up.
Thursday 16th May
I had been invited for a curry lunch at ‘Spoons by Brian and Margaret today, which I was quite looking forward to, but first a shower after I heated the water using the gas boiler for a change from the engine, which seems very inefficient at doing the job whilst stationary.
It was very enjoyable and good to eat in the company of someone else instead of alone. Once again I looked into Holland & Barrett for the Honeygar to no avail, but there was another health shop close by and I bought a bottle there, which will see me through for a while longer. I also passed a charity shop and looked for a decent wine glass, having broken the last one this morning – no joy there, but I did buy the three series of Downton Abbey on DVD, having heard of all the awards that went with the series. Two copies were still sealed in the original cellophane.
Lots of boating banter back on the mooring and by this time Terry had all his bunting and lights in place, which looked so good that I might be inspired to do mine tomorrow.
Phil came by on nb Hyperion and I purchased 74 litres of diesel at 81p/litre with no declaration as usual. He will be coming north again after his run south, when I may need another gas bottle. The present one has lasted over a year now.
Jack Reay came by later on his trip to Tesco, so stopped for more chat and he advised me about going to see the brilliant mandolin band in the Scout hut on Saturday.
Friday 17th May
A chilly night and much the same this morning, so I took a stroll up towards Black Jacks Lock and stopped by Cumberland for a chat with Jack, who was about to go breasted up with nb Tafelberg and Paul Clevett to his proper mooring by the iron bridge, which had been occupied by a broken down boat. Jack remarked how coincidental it was that so many boats “broke down” so close to Tesco on the other bank. He introduced me to Paul, who I saw playing with his folk group “Mandolin Monday” at Cavalcade.
Both engines were running in gear and it was a tight squeeze in some parts of the cut to get through the gaps, but successfully we approached Tesco moorings where Paul wished to get off and shop, leaving me steering his boat, which was OK except the speed wheel rotated in the opposite direction to Nuneaton and the gear change was not to be seen until Jack reached under the cabin top for it. We parted after mooring up and I attacked Tesco once again.
The boats either side of me now had a full complement of bunting and lights up, so I was under pressure to do much the same. They were so much more prepared than I was and how they managed to store all that extra gear on board, I cannot imagine. I try to carry as little as possible and make do on the day, so this time I lashed the cabin shaft to the swan neck and worked from there with the bunting first down to the cabin top and then strung one lot of lights from the bow up to the aerial mast and down again to the top of the boat. Laid along the cabin top either side were the tube lights with limited fixing. Despite the minimum attempt, it still took all afternoon.
Saturday 18th May
Apparently I should have a wrist band to stop being pestered by the bucket rattlers, so on the way along the towpath I bumped into James Scowen from Hotel Boat Tranquil Rose, which over winters every year at Farncombe on The Wey. We had a good old chat before parting and I seem to see the boat every year somewhere on my trip.
Another walk into town to get some choice pieces of M&S food and a wine glass or two from a charity shop.
There was a security man on the door of Wetherspoons and not until I got inside did I realise that it was cup final day and was full of Watford fans and of course Watford were playing Man City.
The fun fair was in full swing as I returned, but could not be heard from the boat fortunately. After lunch I decided to cook up the sweet and sour chicken dish and probably had enough for about four meals, but if I alternate with other dishes it will not seem like overkill.
I set off to catch Mandolin Monday with Paul Clevett and Mike Askin at the Scout Hut. The band were rather depleted to just two guitarists, instead of the four who were at Cavalcade and being an outside performance was not so intense as before, but it was enjoyable all the same, apart from someone who kept talking to me throughout the music, so I could hear neither properly. They played for two hours without a break and the beer on tap was £4/pint and good as well.