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Friday, February 19, 2010


Passing through Berkhamsted has in the past needed a BW key to un-lock the gate paddles owing to the local low life thinking that opening all the paddles and draining pounds - which in turn flooded towpaths lower down- was a great way to pass the time.
At one time, at least 2yrs ago, the lock gates were padlocked by BW each night around 8pm but

l guess to save paying overtime the boater operated locking devices were installed. A very useful system for boaters arriving at or travelling through Berko out of hours. The one pictured above is unique in that it is the only survivor as the use of flimsy chain and poor welding has meant the others have been ripped off only possible i might add when boaters have not locked them after use but merely left the padlock hanging loose. Hopefully BW will have listened to my phone call and replaced them as we don`t want to go back to the old 8pm time restrictions of chaining and padlocking the gates.

The locking device on the top gate ground paddles has at least been a success with no sign of damage to any of them.

A subject came up on Canal Forum about some abandoned work boats on the Marsworth flight and as i have passed through this flight many times i was intrigued as i had not seen them. The little fellow below appeared as i was looking and went off to have a look for me and seeing as he

returned to say he`d found them i thought it only fair he was pictured and given credit for his efforts.
After some difficulty finding an access point from the towpath i was rewarded with the pictures below. It seems they were pulled out on the Wendover Arm that runs close to the top half of Marsworth flight and slid down the embankment possibly in the 1970`s.

Anyone interested to have a look they are just before the cottage towpath side halfway down the flight although access here is not possible owing to water between them and the towpath so go back above the lock and fight your way through the bushes on higher ground.

Startops reservoir at Marsworth pictured below in Sept `09 was so low that i was able to walk

with 2 of the grandchildren all the way round along the beach as they called it. Below in Feb 2010 it was nice to see the water level much higher as this and the other reservoirs feed the canal especially the summit level. A note for fellow boaters a lot of tree cutting is taking place on the path between the reservoirs, chippings can be seen in the lower pic, so like me go gather.

So a nice mooring for a few days but my next move will be to a remote section of canal to cut all the logs i have.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Nb VALERIE is 4yrs OLD

I don`t think there has been an anniversary blog up to now and this 4yr one would have slipped by if i hadn`t been backing up some images to disc and come across the build pictures.

I suppose a few facts and figures would be appropriate such as miles travelled, locks etc. well sorry but i don`t record this sort of thing but it must be a lot or perhaps even more than that so shall we say loads. All i can say is every lock mile has been a pleasure even going over old ground seems to bring up something new even if only stopping at B on a previous A-C cruise.

Regrets, well being a solo boater does have it`s moments of solitude but the fabulous lady whose name adorns my home is sadly no longer here to share my retirement so my decision to sell up and cruise the canals was i honestly believe the right one based on a loved ones wish that life must go on.
So just the one regret as i certainly don`t miss owning a house and the memories of 20+ years i carry in my head. An honest and straight forward bloke is me so i`m not ashamed to say i`m sitting here with tears running down my face..........

Phew! anyway below is a short bit of video made of a few photos from the many taken over the last 4yrs, it lasts about 4mins but how can you put 4yrs of cruising through wonderful scenery, meeting new friends and visiting places some of which i`d never heard of. All i can suggest is look at the pictures and multiply them in your mind over and over again and your get some idea of life afloat.

Started moving slowly north but as i`ve mentioned the stoppages are restricting movement.

I`ll leave you with the video.

Saturday, February 06, 2010


Well pepes i thought i`d better dig around for something to blog as lack of cruising has depleted the blog material store. After all you really don`t want to know when i went shopping or how long i read a book or when i cleaned the windows, it`s just not my style.

Have been in my present location now for 8 days which even in winter time is un-usual for me. The fact is that since the freeze just before Christmas that threw all my plans overboard there has been no sense of urgency to move at a fast pace owing to stoppages ahead.

Initially i planned to get through all the stoppages but the thought of smashing through ice and stripping all the blacking that i applied late last year somehow didn`t appeal. So now i am taking my time as i won`t have a clear run till March 5th when Braunston maintenance is finished.

The big freeze thawed and enabled me to move a little but in the picture above taken about a week ago the ice was back if only for a couple of days.

So plenty of time on my hands to surf the net and in doing so i found a link from one of the canal forums to a satellite direction tool. It`s called Dishpointer and below is a page showing the satellite direction from a mooring i was on just below lock 66 at Hemel Hempstead.
As the site seems to have an American slant it might be an idea to add UK to the location in your search. Once you find your bit of canal you can click the exact mooring and the satellite line will re-position.

My 2yr contract with T Mobile for Internet access was coming to an end and as i was happy with the coverage on my cruise of the system i decided to re-new. The dongle - yes it has a techi name but dongle is what we all understand- has stood still in the technology advance of the last
2yrs so rather than just re-new the contract i up graded to a new "mobile broadband USB stick modem" there i`ve said it, once more donnnnnngle.
Above in the left corner weighing in at 3.6mbps the present title holder and contesting the right to interject with my Dell laptop and weighing in at a mighty 7.2 mbps is black stick.
After 5 mins of fast surfing i declared black stick the winner by a long way with points scored at every click of the mouse.
The original contract for 2yrs was at £20 per month with 2 £60 cheque refunds equating to £15 per month over the contracted period. Next week would have ended my commitment and if i had done nothing the £20 debit at my bank would have continued, sorry T Mobile but i`m keeping tabs on you. So a new contract of 18mths with a new dingle dongle of twice the speed and back to £15 p mth was not a hard decision to make.

Being stuck this far south has it`s bonuses in as far as the family are close by and a few visits to the grandchildren have been easy. One such trip was made this very morning when i went to
g`daughter Jordan play for Garston Ladies under 10 team. On a cold wintry day sipping cups of hot tea a small crowd watched them lose 6-0 to a team from Hitchin. Jordan even if you had won 6-0 i wouldn`t have been any prouder, well done all the girls.

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs