Slapton & Stoke Hammond

On Thursday after overnight rain, we woke to find that levels on the Tring Summit were even lower. NB Zenith, moored up behind us, wanted to travel down the flight with us. They arranged for us to meet them at Marsworth Top Lock after they tried going down the arm. However, they were warned by a BW man that it was too shallow so they waited in the lock. The BW man then told us to meet NB Zenith at the lock by 9:30. We were unaware that he had also been in touch with another boat coming over the summit that was due to get there at 9:15. It arrived late just before 9:30. As a result we cast off just as it arrived causing great confusion as to which boat was supposed to be in the lock with NB Zenith. It all got sorted out in the end but it took us some time to understand how the confusion occurred.

The former Ship Inn at Marsworth

A line-up of gulls

We then spent the rest of the day travelling down locks with NB Zenith. Pat and Patrick made great company and both boats moored up mid-afternoon just above Slapton Lock. Patrick came on board for a cup of tea and a natter.

On Friday morning, again after overnight rain, we woke to heavy mist. It was dramatic and provided plenty of photo opportunities. Again we travelled with NB Zenith, this time to Leighton Buzzard; both crews needed to visit Tesco.

Morning mists at Slapton

NB Zenith in the mist

NB Albert entering Slapton Lock in the mist (courtesy NB Zenith)

Cobwebs on Slapton lock gates

Leaving Slapton Lock (courtesy NB Zenith)

After shopping and lunch we left Leighton and said goodbye to Pat & Patrick. In glorious weather we travelled down the Three Locks at Soulbury. The water levels at the Three Locks were out of kilter and lots of water ended up flowing over the gates. We suspect a paddle had been left up by the crews that went up the flight just before we arrived.

We moored up just short of Stoke Hammond lock. The warm sunshine, and the views over the Ouzel valley, made our overnight mooring particularly delightful. Great autumn boating!

Marsworth & Bulborne

We left Linslade on Monday and stopped off at Tesco, Leighton Buzzard, for provisions. After taking on water we made our way to Grove Lock where we caught up with NB Pinmill who has just started mooring at Kingfisher Marina. Because another boat was waiting they went through the lock, and waited for us at Church Lock. From then on  we travelled southwards as a pair. We reckon that this is the first time we have travelled as a pair with a boat from our marina. The weather was bright and sunny and with two efficient crews we reached Marsworth late in the afternoon.

We spent a day away from the boat on Tuesday but in the evening we visited the Red Lion at Marsworth. This CAMRA pub does great real ale. I had a local brew from Tring and Maggie had some suitable cider. It was great to be in a good local with a warm fire and we enjoyed the freshly made food.

On Wednesday we started up the Marsworth flight in the morning and found that the other Lion in Marsworth - the White, was closed. We have eaten there on a few occasions.

Closed White Lion at Marsworth

We reached Marsworth Top Lock around midday. Our plan was to try going up the Wendover Arm to moor. We went up their in 2009 and enjoyed mooring overnight at the terminus. This time we thought it might be difficult and it was. NB Pinmill, who met at Marsworth Bottom Lock, and were on their way back to Kingfisher, had made it to the end, but they only draw 18" unlike our 30", and they said it was "touch and go". We only made it about 50 yards up the arm before we ran aground. With some difficulty we reversed back out of the arm, turned north, winded with even more difficulty, and then moored up just before the junction. A lot of tricky boating with so little progress.

Last picnic of the year (?) at Bulbourne

After a lunch, on the handily placed benches, and some frustrating maintenance on Albert (I lost a vital screw), we walked along the arm to the terminus.  A wide beam, but shallow draughted, boat was crawling back along the Wendover Arm after a trip to the end. They were making heavy weather of it with water levels so low on a stretch of water that is shallow at the best of times.

Wide beam crawling along the Wendover Arm

There were plenty of storm clouds around but luckily they didn't drop rain on us. They made a dramatic sight, particularly looking east.

Storm clouds over Heygates Mill, Wendover Arm

We also picked some sloes for out winter sloe gin. We have produced Aylesbury Arm Sloe Gin in the past. This batch will have to be named after the Wendover Arm.

Little Tring Bridge - restored by the Wendover Arm Trust

In the evening we visited the Grand Junction Arms at Bulbourne and had a great dinner. The food was delicious, very well presented, and the staff friendly. The last time visited the Grand Junction was about seven years ago with our friends the Kinnings. At that time the house specialty was curry, the decor shabby chic, and Timothy Spall was moored up outside and was enjoying meal. We related this to the landlord. He said that it would be great if Timothy dropped in again. Unfortunately we can't arrange this.

Autumn Cruise South

We left Yardley Gobion on Saturday travelling south along the Grand Union. Our aim is to get to the Wendover Arm. The weather was warm (for October) and windy. We filled up at Baxter's with diesel and gas and had a pump out. As with buses the wharf was quiet until we arrived and then there were three of us.

This trip allowed us to test our revised gas central heating system - we have an extra radiator in the saloon area to provide better heat distribution.

New saloon radiator

There appears to be a good number of Wyvern Shipping boats out for half-term or a long weekend. Unfortunately, the first we met us at Cosgrove Lock, who was travelling alone, managed to ignore us as we approached the lock, close the gates, and then empty the lock in front of us - all why we were in full view less than 50 yards away. So much for water shortages! I should point out that all the other Wyvern boats we have met so far this trip have not behaved like this.

We moored up overnight at Great Linford close to Stantonbury Abbey. Had a good chat with an angler who was pitched close by.

Great Linford

Today we had a good trip through Milton Keynes and moored up at Old Linslade another favourite local mooring when water levels are resonable. We went up Stoke Hammond and Soulbury (three) Locks with a friendly Wyvern crew flying the French flag. The wind made navigation interesting at times. We visited the church of St Mary just as the sun set.

St Mary's Church, Old Linslade

Good trip so far. Great to be on the move.

Thames Tug Teddington

We took our grandaughter down to Teddington Lock yesterday to feed the ducks. This rather delightful Thames tug appropiately called Teddington was moored up by the wharf.

Tug Teddington

It appears she was built by Brooke Marine in Lowestoft in 1949 and used to belong to Tough & Henderson who were based in Teddington.

Tralee Canal, Co. Kerry

Last week I went to Tralee in Ireland on business but one evening I had a short time to explore the environment around the town. I couldn't resist taking a walk from the centre of town to Blennerville along the restored Tralee Canal. Although the weather remained dry throughout my two hour walk, all around the clouds were full of rain. On occasions the sun did dramatically break through making photography interesting.

An empty Prince's Quay, Tralee Canal

Charming commemerative plaque

The canal was built in the 1830s as a ship canal with capacity to take vessels up to 300 tons. It is somewhat remiscant of the Gloucester & Sharpness Canal but much shorter being only around 2 km long. The canal runs alongside the River Lee and has just one (sea) lock.

At Blennerville, where there is a famous windmill, there is a swing bridge and a road bridge across the river. The canal was built for trade to bring goods directly into the town of Tralee rather than Fenit  which is further along the coast.

River Lee, Blennerville windmill, and bridge

The port of Tralee was one of the places where numbers of emigrants left for North America. Around the time that the Tralee Canal was being restored in the 1990s, with an eye to tourism, a replica of the famous Jeanie Johnston that sailed to Canada and the US from Tralee was built alongside the canal at Blennerville. The replica now mostly resides in Dublin. When I visited there was only one boat, a residential barge, moored up. A single sculler was about to make use of the canal for some evening training.

Barge moored at Blennerville

There was also a famous railway (Tralee and Dingle Light Railway) that ran alongside the river and canal and onwards to the Dingle Peninsula. A short section to Blennerville was restored but its future appears to be uncertain.

CART it is

So the new name for British Waterways when it becomes a charitable trust is to be Canal and River Trust - will it be known as CART?

A new logo was released yesterday with the name. I always throught the old logo said it all and was a great design. The new one, also designed by the agency Pentagram, looks less clear. I think it takes some time to realise it is a bridge in the background.

BW logoCanal & River Trust logo

Stoke Bruerne Village at War 2011

We again visited the excellent Village at War event organised by the Friends of the Canal Museum at Stoke Bruerne. The weather this year was, of course, just glorious and the crowds appear to have come out in force. Their coffers should be swelling after this weekend!

Here are a few images. As I said last year, with the reenactors dressed up for their parts this event is a photographer's delight. Those in khaki drill must have been quite hot!

Field Marshal Montgomery and his staff

The ARP Warden

Law and order in the 1940s

Mr. George Formby playing "When I'm cleaning Windows"

Mr. Winston Churchill and ladies in their summer frocks applauding Mr. Formby

Enjoying the Indian Summer

Newly painted NB Purton

Icebreaker Laplander always adds interest to a canal event

We met up with Keith & Jo on NB Hader, as we hoped, and had a chat about their winter plans. We also spent some time with Ann & Jim from Adelaide, Australia who are relatives of our next door neighbours. They a keen enthusiasts of British Canals having been to the Anderton Lift, the Falkirk Wheel, Foxton Locks, Hatton Flight, Tardibigge and the Caen Flight! A chat over lunch outside The Boat Inn with the Wilsons from from Deanshanger revealed that their family was a boating family who moved onto the bank in the late 1940s.

A fun day. It's now definitely part our calender.