Sunday, April 26, 2009

Scrapes and adventures plus an amazing lady.

We're currently heading northwards out of Milton Keynes so we have masses to update you on. Internet connectivity has been bad so this is the first proper chance to do it.
Friday morning and we arrived by car at Cowroast to see Herbie waiting with it's newly blacked hull. How long would it be before the first scratch? Would we exit the marina unscathed? Well Herbie did, but our guest crew member Pete didn't. He was holding Herbies bow rope on the bank while we turned her against the wind. leaning back hard against the tension, an un noticed knot in the rope untangled itself and gave him four feet on instant slack! Over he went in spectacular fashion picking up a nasty elbow graze as he did so.

On we went in search of our first hull scratch which we managed to achieve under a difficult bridge in the wind up the Wendover Arm. Now we could relax. We moored in warm sunshine near the end of the arm and walked the mile into Tring to acquire essential supplies from the Tring brewery. They do a new beer every month in adition to standard lines. This month it was Dumpy Dormouse and delicious.

Then off down the serpentine Marsworth flight where the next lock is always just out of sight although only 150 yards away - one of my favourite flights of locks. Mooring up for the night at the bottom, Kath set about rubbing down bits on the gunwales which now are shown up by the glossy black hull beneath. Pete and I were released to go and look at the staircase lock at the start of the Aylesbury arm. To do this we had to brave a pair of very territorial looking swans who had chosen to build their nest on the towpath. I can see trouble ahead when the eggs hatch.

Pete had never encountered a staircase lock before and luckily a lady was bringing a boat up so we could demonstrate. A good job we were there actually because she didn't have much idea and tried to fill the bottom lock from an empty top lock.

Dinner that night at the Anglers Retreat - nice home style cooking.

Saturday looked as though it would be wet, but we deployed the old trick of donning waterprooofs and keeping them on even when it didn't rain and the weather gave up trying to trick us and eventually turned fine. We had a good run across the farmland near Ivinghoe. Its a lovely area and very unspoiled. Our stop for the night was the Globe at Old Linslade where Pete complained because although we were moored ten paces from the pub door we were six inches out of line with it. I explained that this was to allow for a slight stagger when we came out.

The Globe as seen from Herbie

We had a very good meal there (must eat on board one of these days or we'll be skint.)

Sunday was fine again and we expectd an easy day with only a few locks to do then a long cruise around Milton Keynes. However coming out of the little Fenny Stratford lock, which has a drop of only 18 inches, we spied a lady pushing a sixty foot boat along with a pole and stopped to ask if she could help. Now you might not believe this next bit but it's true.

"What's the problem?" we asked. "Got no engine" she replied. "Where are you heading for?" said we. " Kinver (Worcestershire)"!!!!
She had just bought the boat as a shell and with only her eight (?) year old daughter Rosie, Liz was pushing and pulling the boat miles each day. We lashed her boat up alongside Herbie and said we would take her with us for the day. Pete fell over on her roof and grazed his other elbow and we lots of scrapes under the many bridges in MK where the two boats side by side had only half an inch to spare as we went through.

Progress was very slow but the sun shone and we delivered a grateful Liz safely to Great Linford. I hope someone else takes pity on her tomorrow.
We moored up in our favourite spot at the head of Great Linford park - a beautiful place with fine old buldings scattered among the lawns and trees and the Nags Head at the other side. They had a quiz on that night so of course we had a go. A good quiz too. No recognising pictures of celebrities , no questions on TV soaps or 21st century dance records. Just good old general knowledge. I think we came fourth out of six teams but there were only three of us and the others all had six plus, so we held our heads up.

Now its raining as we move along on through Wolverton on Monday morning. Today we have the mighty Blisworth tunnel to do so we'll be outof the rain for an hour. Stay tuned.


Adam said...

I don't think the Blisworth tunnel is going to keep you very dry. My prediction is that you'll get wetter in there than out in the rain!

Simon said...

semi-seriously, I wonder if someone with a working horse would be interested in the trip?

although to be honest in the same situation I'd hire/buy an outboard motor for the trip - I've seen at least one temporary lash up to shift a boat.

have fun! I'll be looking for full stats on the trip, including overall miles/locks per pint of beer... ;-)

Anonymous said...

After the first extravagant fortnight of the odyssey, we've now resolved to eat in a pub one night then eat on the boat the next or we won't be able to afford next year's licence either. We've not had much success so far - so many pubs, so little time.....

VallyP said...

Greast account Neil. Hats off to Liz. She sounds a real trooper. Hope the will and determination succeed in saving you some pennies on the nosh front!