Saturday, December 11, 2004

Leighton Buzzard

Just north of this town we found a very good pub right by the canal. British Waterways rated it highly in 1996 so we just had to check it out! Stuffed ourselves with a grand meal one evening at the Globe Inn. Moved on to the town and passed the TESCO (yes that shop again) with its own 2 hour moorings. Round the corner under the bridge to use the facilities while Sue & Ann went to the first class Launderette in Linslade. Our post has not arrived yet so we decide to move on down to Grove Lock where we were told of a new turning point. Returned the next day to find the Tesco moorings almost full of boats. Sue n Vic found a space after removing a shopping trolley from the canal. We backed up under the bridge and stuck our pins in round the corner. Had to wait for yet another day for our post. Busy now that it is close to Christmas. After all we did post 40 cards ourselves.


Milton Keynes

We were all very impressed with the canal going round this town. Clean and tidy with good tow paths and cycle ways. All lined with an avenue of trees. We stopped near Willen Lakes and walked round them. They were created to prevent flooding. When MK was built the planners realised that covering vast areas of land with concrete would cause flooding of the river. So the flood water goes into the lakes first then is slowly released into the river. On our walk on a mild day early this month we found a bird hide. There are two lakes. This one is for the wild life and we saw many varieties of birds from ducks to waders. The other lake is used for water sports.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Henley 1997

The first Inland Waterways Association boat gathering on the Thames.

It was a treat to travel through Henley on the river in our Nomad of Erehwon. All those posh boats being out numbered by narrow boats of all types with colourful paint work and decorations. The riverside between Henley Bridge and the next lock down stream was occupied by narrow boats 3 or 4 abreast over a distance of two miles. Found our spot. We are the third boat out from shore. Just happen to be alongside boats we knew from Little Bedwyn on the Kennet & Avon canal. We are about 10 minutes walk from the show ground and we go there to get our wrist strap identity tags. This gives us free access to the show. We had paid £25 for the mooring which included access and lots of local information.

Friday is boaters day so off we go to look round. Lots of stalls with things to buy and trade tents with information about things to go in boats. We are looking at detail for our new boat. What engine? What fridge? What shell. We get a look through some of the boats on show.

Then after a bite to eat we watched pleasure craft all lit up travelling up and down the Thames that evening. They had come to see the most unusual sight of narrow boats on the royal river. The big advantage of being moored on the outside is that we get a grand view of the river and the passing boats.

The next morning we set about putting our flags up. Most boats had already decked themselves over with flags and balloons. Walking along the tow path we saw the pretty sight, all the decorated boats so colourful. Many boats going by to look and lots of public walking on the tow path.

The Lavender boat comes by each day ringing a bell and calling 'Bring out your dead'. Porta - Poti emptying time. All done by volunteers and we gave them a big thank you for their services.

We listened to 'Keepers Lock', a group singing traditional songs and stories about the canals. In the evening many boats travelled up and down decorated with lights. It was a wonderful show that night on the Thames. A bag piper was playing music all evening on one of the boats not far away. What an effort every body puts in to make a memorable night.

It rained next morning so we listened to the local radio broadcasting live from the show ground. They report that 4000 people are living in this temporary village of boats.

IWA Henley 1997

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Christmas Pudding


A TESCO delivery was made at the arranged time and place, having placed the order with them on the net the previous day. Stock for the next few weeks.  Including, this time, ingredients for a Christmas pudding.  The exotic stuff includes mixed spice, cinnamon, nutmeg, apple, carrot, luxury mixed fruit, nuts, orange & lemon rind and some strong beer!  All mixed together with a wish and left over night.  Then put into two basins to be 'steamed' on our diesel fire all day.  For many years Ann's Christmas puddings have been a tradition in our family.  On the day it would have a twig of holly stuck in the top and hot burning brandy poured over it.  Then served with brandy butter.  Many years ago a silver sixpence may be found in your serving!


Wednesday, December 01, 2004

The Caen Hill Flight, 1996

We had to book passage several weeks earlier as there is not enough water to keep the flight permanently open. The Caen Hill flight starts at lock 44 and ends at lock 29. That is 16 locks, but the controlled decent and ascent is between Lock 50 at the top to lock 22 at the bottom. Which is a total of 29 locks which we have to do without stopping.

We got up and had breakfast early. It is cloudy but not raining on the day we go down the flight for the first time. Pairing up with Rakes Progress at the top gate of Lock 50. The BW man arrived at 9 and checked our boats for size and let the first two in. Then it was our turn. The crew do the hard work opening the paddles and gates of the locks. At least 10 boats are going down today.

Breasting up with the much larger Rakes Progress was not a good idea. Nomad simply had no control relying on skillful aiming by Shirley. Most of the time it was perfect with only an inch of clearance both sides!

There are some more locks to go

By 11 o'clock we were half way down and met the first pair of boats coming up. Here we separated and the boats coming up went between us. Managed to make coffee on the way. You may think that it would take all day, especially if you could see all those locks at the same time. But with all the willing help we get to the bottom by 1:30 p.m. Once at the bottom we had time to rest and watched the other boats arriving behind us. The new pumping station is built but still waiting for the electric pumps. The pumps will push the water back up to the top. Then more boats will be able to go up and down without having to book the passage next year.

Picture of us all

Taken by Sue