Thursday, 4 September 2008

Day Thirty Four- Jammed ‘Ole

Pitstone- Soulbury Three Locks

Grand Union Canal

11 miles, 13 locks

We set off today at a reasonable hour. The first obstacle to be negotiated was a swing bridge, and then the locks came thick and fast. No flights as such, but spaced out in reasonably long pounds.

We were travelling breasted up, as is now normal, and my steering was again challenged by a number of narrow bridgeholes. One particularly narrow gap, however, proved too narrow by far. We headed in and I thought it was going to be alright- it looked wide enough.

Well, it was above the water. Under the water, however, was a projecting brick shelf which caught the deep-drafted Warrior and we became wedged firmly in the gap.

We resolved to get ourselves out if possible; a number of methods were tried, involving untying the boats and reversing, going forwards, and generally trying to become unjammed. We rigged up a block and tackle, using ropes and shackles and tried to haul each boat out in turn; all to no avail- and all in a thunderstorm with pouring rain!

I rang BW to get help, and a team was dispatched to get us out. However, we managed to free ourselves with the assistance of another boat- the combination of Jim and Paul, a hefty chap from the following boat, the following boat’s engine and that of Lucky Duck in full reverse managed to get us freed and we continued into Leighton Buzzard independently.

Once there, we moored up by a large Tesco on stop-and-shop moorings- next to nb Granny Buttons! This was a great surprise; Andrew Denny, one of the first canal bloggers, is something of a big celebrity in the canal world. Unfortunately he wasn’t there, and so we contented ourselves with leaving notes.

After a large shop, we moved off again at 5pm, replete with cookies, doughnuts, and other fine foods. We headed off again and pressed onwards. We decided to stop after the Three Locks, so we wouldn’t have to face them first thing in the morning, and finally moored up in darkness after a long, wet day.

Day Thirty Three- Mother’s Ruin

Tring- Pitstone

Grand Union Canal

6 miles, 10 locks

Today we received a special visitor- Amy’s mum, Harriet. She’s down for a break away from work and family back in Exeter, having never been on the canals before. We didn’t know what she’d make of them at all- but we did know it would be a welcome break.

We spent the morning cleaning and tidying up- it was very much needed, so a matriarchal visit did us good! The boat hasn’t ever looked so tidy- at least, not since we moved in.

Harriet arrived at about 2:30 or so, and after a refreshing cup of tea we moved on. Harriet found the canal initially idyllic, which it was- and then we met the Marsworth flight which I think let her know that canals aren’t all gentle, flat cruising! Getting past Bulbourne workshops was fantastic fun; I was steering Warrior again, and we were breasted up; with a number of moored craft on each side of the canal we squeezed through with bare inches on either side, which I’m extremely pleased with.

Once on the flight, Harriet got an introduction to lockworking from Amy and Jim, and soon we were making fine progress despite the strong winds and rain. Once through, we carried on at a steady pace, dealing with the locks as they came, and finally came to Pitstone (not Pitford as we incorrectly twittered! That’s north of Peterborough…) and moored up in the shadow of the West Coast main line. We escaped to a local pub, the Duke of Wellington, and had a very convivial evening with pub food and lots of Gin and London Pride- for once, we felt like real narrowboaters- as alcohol and pub going seem to be intrinsic parts of Nicolson’s canal guides, those in the magazines, and in several other blogs…

Day Thirty Two- Summit meeting

Hemel Hempstead- Tring

Grand Union Canal

8 miles, 20 locks

Today was a reasonably hectic day; we set off early- indeed, Amy and I got up before Jim for the first time in memory! We’d been to the Sainsbury’s across the canal and bought some supplies, and a Guardian for Jim and us to read later.

We set off at 9 or so, and kept going at a fair old pace through a number of locks. We rigged up an extension lead from Warrior to our shoreline connection so we could charge our leisure batteries as we went along.

We’d also run out of gas, and so resolved to get some more. We stopped at a boatyard, and whilst we didn’t buy their diesel (at 95p per litre!) we needed their gas. However, it turns out that our gas bottles are from a Birmingham-only based company. I knew that they weren’t Calor, but thought that the company who supplied them might have branches elsewhere. This wasn’t the case! In the end, we took out a contract with Calor and paid the deposit for a bottle (we couldn’t afford the deposit for two!) At least we’ll now be able to get refills. In the meantime, we’ve got two empty gas bottles that we can’t do anything with. The company won’t come and collect them from us, but strangely if we give them to a Council site, they will collect them from there. It’s a very confusing situation! Any interesting suggestions (make them into plant pots, perhaps? Or make a raft?) of what to do with them are welcomed!

We finally stopped in Tring cutting, just before the heavens opened- perfect timing!

No comments:

Post a Comment