Thursday 19th May.
A reasonably early start to get off the mooring and reverse down 200yds to the water point. I must say that I am improving the reversing procedure, which is difficult on most narrow boats.
Corona passed by with Trevor Maggs on the tiller and was breasted up with Raymond, presumably on their way to the Ricky Festival at the weekend. I asked Trevor if he was getting the standard rate per ton for towing Raymond, which was the last wooden butty built in the UK by Nurser’s yard at Braunston in 1958.
I progressed slowly up the Berko locks, telling the landlord of The Riser that I was attempting to escape from his pub. In the meantime Chris Hodson an old friend, told me that he was just leaving home by train to join me in the Cassiopark area, where I had been several days before. He did ask only a short while ago where I was and I said I was moored just below The Riser, but would meet him at Berko Waitrose later that day. He took a train to Watford before he got my message and had to return to Berkhamsted, so we eventually caught up in Waitrose. Confusion all round!
We travelled from there up to the summit at Cowroast, before he had to leave for home. I continued as far as Bulbourne workshops and found a good mooring there with rings every few yards and the Junction Inn close by, but too tired after a previous bad night to pay it any attention. How sad is that!
Friday 20th May.
I was hanging about at Bulbourne for another boat to accompany me down the flight of six locks and had to wait until midday for one to come shooting past, so it was a quick pulling out of mooring pins and away. They moored up by the reservoir, but another boat was waiting at the bottom lock. They had been down the Aylesbury Arm some years ago, but the lady described the way into town for the shops, whilst the man described the best pub to stop at on the way down at Wilstone, The Half Moon.
I stopped off for water and services at the bottom of Maffers (Marsworth) and eventually found them at the far end of the new houses – all very smart (the services), but only three mooring rings and only one in the right place of course. The new development was quite tastefully designed I thought, after all the controversy that raged about it a few years ago. Maybe that was just about potential loss of the services.
New development at Aylesbury Arm Junction.
Aylesbury Arm starts with a single two lock staircase and fortunately for me there was another boat waiting to come up from the bottom lock, so the lady crew member gave me some assistance through those two.
Bottom lock of the staircase.
It doesn't get much more attractive than this.
I had passed by this arm several times in the last few years and now I realised what I had been missing. It really is beautiful as it passes through fields of wheat and other crops. The locks are easy to work and I could close the well balanced bottom pair of gates with a cabin shaft from the boat. One awkward part of the design is that the top gate balance beams are on the offside, which means walking around the lock after opening that gate.
This overflow could sink the boat if it moved back!
I was on the lookout for the nearest mooring to The Half Moon and eventually pulled in by a footbridge below lock 8, where there is a footpath through the recreation ground to the village. Being a Friday night, the pub was full, but as it was the only pub for miles that was not a surprise. Pleasant enough, but the menu looked nothing special, so I had a pint and returned to the boat. Quiet mooring but the catkins and willow pollen was all over the cabin top in the morning, despite trying to avoid mooring beneath the trees.