|Library books in hand, Kings Langley towpath|
|Palouse photo and Big Love Tray|
Les and I spent a week moored at Home Park near King's Langley, walking the local footpath into town for lunch and making several visits to the library to look at old Ordinance survey maps and check out historical books about the area and began a slow spring cleaning, washing all the curtains, cleaning out cupboards and drawers, making space on our wall for a Big Love Tray by Emma Bridgewater potteries--a gift from friends Lael and Larry in Idaho and in so doing, finally freeing up the perfect spot for our wedding gift from friends Karen and Jim Barron in Pullman, Washington--a photo of the Palouse in flower. The tray matches our Big Love mug--another lovely gift from dear friends Sue and Ken Deveson of NB Cleddau; we have a decor theme going!
We puttered up to Apsley for water, caught up with NB Carrie Ann once more and spent a delightful evening aboard their lovely boat chatting, laughing, and drinking wine. The craic was grand!
We moved on to Bourne End for a week, moored up across from Pix's Farm--a delightful pocket of countryside surrounded by the growing babble of London's ex-urbs. We discovered at the Hemel Hempstead library, that Pix's Farm Lane is an old roman Road! Imagine Romans walking along that old lane 1900 years ago!
|Pix's Farm at 5 am, Bourne End, Grand Union Canal|
|Continuing the view around to Sharpes Lane Bridge, Bourne End|
We watched a Moor hen make its way along followed by 8 feathery babies all looking like miniature escapees from Fraggle Rock, and a mother duck with three new babies. She sunned herself on the bank directly across from our bow while we watched for nearly an hour as one by one, her babies each figured out how to escape the water and settle beside their mother. The smallest chick was last, making several mock running attempts toward the bank, grabbing at leaves with its beak as it finally hoiked itself out of the canal.
As the afternoon wore on were privy to a continual parade of Martins swooping and diving for sips of water, snatching insects on the wing. A walk up to the bridge allowed us to spy thousands of tiddlers (small fry) basking in a spot of sun warmed water. Later we spotted 15 Bream cruising slowly along the bank looking for spawning places. Bees hummed in the hedgerows, and life began to feel like the deep breath before bursting into glorious song.
We spent two hectic days in Berkhamsted catching up with our wonderful friend Angela, whose home we moored in back of, checking out her neighborhood and the local market, walking along the streets of Berko with A. who played tour guide and generous hostess. We chatted about anything and everything as we three enjoyed the BEST Maple Cured, free range, Gammon (Ham) Rib Eye steak of our lives at The Old Mill Inn (Aubrey Allen--the Queen's butcher supplies the Mill Inn with cuts of meat). If its good enough for The Queen--its good enough for the three of us!
While we were moored there another boating friend passed on her way to the Big Smoke. We were pleased as punch to see Kath on NB Bobcat coming our way. She pulled over and stopped for a cuppa and a slice of blueberry Lemon Drizzle cake while we caught up. It had been almost two years to the date since we saw Kath last in person up at Tixall Wide. Thanks for stopping. Enjoy the rest of your journey south and we look forward to seeing you again sooner than later!
We left on a sunny morning with a poesy of flowers resting on our bow--a sweet and thoughtful present from Ang as we headed out for Dudswell Lock where the donkeys are penned near the towpath in a huge, well manicured yard. Along the way I took the opportunity to manually haul the boat into a lock without using the lock ladders. I want to continue practising in and out, going up and down until I feel totally confident in my skills at single handing--at least in practice.
Moored up now in the quiet before the summit, I finally feel like I can breathe again. Five months of cruising south to London, waiting two weeks at Cassiobury in Watford, and making our way north again left my soul feeling pinched and strangled.
On our anniversary Les took me to the Tring library, where we checked out some books and wandered around the village.
We shared a delicious meal at Pizza Express in Berko, toasting to three amazing years of married life. We wanted to eat at Francesco's Italian Restaurant in Tring--a family affair with truly delicious food--but it didn't open until 6 pm and by the time we ate it would be difficult to catch of the final two buses of the evening back to Dudswell.
Never mind, not only did we enjoy our pizza in Berko, we met up with another lovely friend on his way to dinner as well--Mike Wall of NB Independence. He is one of my two knights in shining armor who provided rides to Watford Hospital and the grocery store while Les was in hospital last Autumn.
We walked up to Cow Roast Chandlery and picked up a Towpath Talk, stopping to sit on the lock gates and visit with Mike Griffin (our other shining knight). It is always a gift to see the face of a friend. As we walked back to the boat I took the opportunity to pick some Comfrey leaves from plants that had not yet set blossom, to tincture in olive oil for the making of salve later in the summer.
We took advantage of the sunshine and washed three loads of clothes and hung it all out to dry, airing our pillows and down comforter as well. Sitting in the sun, reading our library books and eating lunch, we indulged in a bit of bank side gongoozling as we watched the hire boats and weekender's from the marina too-ing and froe-ing up and down the pound.
Les has engaged in some handiwork, removing our Sky dish and repainting our satellite pole, cleaning up the tangle of wires on the bow and tidying things up. I whipped up wok of Kung Pao chicken with rice for dinner and we howled with laughter over Graham Norton's season finale show with comedians John Bishop, and Brendan O'Carroll (Mrs. Brown). We've stayed up reading until 1:30 am, slept in, and finally chilled out!