Tuesday 16th May
As mentioned earlier. I was up at 6am and moved off along the summit level an hour later. Arriving at Bulbourne, there was only one mooring available above the flight of locks, so I pulled in there to have breakfast, shower and write up this blog. There are now far more people living on boats than just a year ago, and they tend to moor on 14 day moorings, before moving off to the next one, so there are far less spaces for visitors. According to Doug, a great many of the boats are unlicensed too.
I cleaned all the brasses on the tiller and chimney, which took up about an hour – I do need to do the chimney more often, as once left for a few days, more especially with the fire alight, it gets extremely corroded. After a shower, I put some washing in to soak; finding that takes a lot of the dirt out, before actually washing.
About 6 pm I paid a visit to The Grand Junction Arms, which is much better than it used to be, but I would not rate it as a pub with any character and although it is in the CAMRA Guide, the beers were very limited in choice.
I had a positive reply to a meeting in The Grove Lock pub for a meal on Friday, with cousins of my late wife. It is some years since we last met up there, so it is long overdue. It means that I have got to move on tomorrow, but then I am getting bored here.
Wednesday 17th May
Rain is forecast all day today and although it wasn’t raining when I left the mooring, it started shortly afterwards as drizzle and gradually increased as I went down the Marsworth flight of seven locks. The first one leaked incredibly out of the bottom gates, so took ages to fill. I passed one boat coming up and then at the fourth lock a crew appeared with windlasses. They were from a Wyvern Shipping hire boat and there were a lot of them, so I hardly had anything to do from there on. I would have continued with them, but they were going down the Aylesbury Arm, which I did last year. So I wished them good luck with 16 single locks ahead of them in nearly 7 miles.
By now I was pretty wet, so decided to call it a day and moored up in front of wooden nb Towy just below the bridge. It continued to rain and seems set in for the day. Shortly after mooring I had a text from Margaret on nb Zavala to say that they had just moored up at Bulbourne, probably on the spot that I had recently left. Maybe they will do the next section to Grove Lock with me.
It would be rude not to visit The Angler’s Rest whilst I was here; again I wrote up another review in the NBT database, which I hope is being read by more members now.
The Anglers Rest is larger than it looks.
Thursday 18th May
All of a sudden nb Zavala appeared as I was about to cook breakfast. They had woken very early and decided to catch me up without telling me about it; the reason being that they let go at 6 am and thought that was too early to wake me – how considerate. The pulled alongside and we all had breakfast before moving on about 09.00 down more locks and across “the fields”. Brian was complaining about the state of the locks and wondering if the CRT will ever recover from all the work that needs to be done. I have to say that several need gates renewing and leakage is very bad on some of them. Maffers top lock is the worst, as the bottom gates leak like a drain and it takes ages to fill. We did ten locks in all and Margaret deserves a medal for all the work she put in winding paddles and opening gates.
A view across "the fields."
Zavala stopped for the night below Grove Lock, whilst I went on to Leighton Buzzard to shop, but intended to return on Friday. I was due to meet up for a meal with cousins of my late wife, whom I had not seen for quite a while, it turned out that when I looked it up, we last met in 2010!
Friday 19th May
After another wet night, I returned to Grove and winded the boat just before the lock, which saved having to go through the lock, winding and then come back in the rain. It was a good mooring, except I had not tied up quite tight enough and the boat got rocked by every other boat that passed. Correcting this, I then set about cooking Spaghetti Bolognese and doing some washing as I had plenty of time to spare. I had a word with Brian and Margaret, before they left for LB about midday and will catch up with them tomorrow.
The Grove Lock and pub.
Unfortunately, one of the people I was due to meet contacted me and was having health problems, had been to the doctor and was in pain; he was also on antibiotics, so no drinking for seven days and the meeting had to be cancelled. I went to the pub anyway and the Bolognese came in handy after all.
Saturday 20th May
Although I got up early this morning, it was so cold that I had to light the fire. The day was looking good, but I knew that rain would be back this afternoon. I let go about 08.30 heading for LB once again, having warmed up considerably. Brian accosted me just as I moored up and was ready to go. I needed to do a very small shop in Aldi, after which I was ready also. Through Leighton Lock, which was against us and took a long time to fill, then on to Stoke Hammond Three, where we conveniently changed places with a pair of boats at each lock. These locks were in very good condition and barely leaked at all. Stoke Hammond Lock was much the same
I was expecting rain at any minute now, as the sky had darkened considerably and sure enough the heavens opened and I got soaked in seconds, but had to carry on, although Zavala was out of sight by then. He had stopped for diesel at Willowbridge Marina.
As I approached Fenny Stratford Lock, with the swingbridge across the lock centre, a man was opening the bridge and I wondered why, because no boat was in sight. It transpired that the boat was still on the mooring and wasn’t ready yet. One bottom gate was closed and he walked around the lock to close the other one; at that point the boat came off the mooring so he walked back and opened the other gate again – why two gates for one narrow boat? With the boat in the centre of the lock, the steerer was barking orders to the girl in the centre of the boat to get off and work the lock. As she walked past me the man on the gates told her to take no notice of the steerer. She was a total novice and I think he was much the same. I said to the gate man “Sounds like he is having a bad day mate”, to which he agreed and mumbled some indiscernible reply. I asked how long it would take me to walk to Bletchley Park and he was very helpful with directions, replying “It will take about 30 mins.”
I found a very convenient 14 day mooring just below the lock, on the tail end of the boats there. Zavala carried on to moor further on, but I shall probably meet them again soon.