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Friday, February 27, 2015

New marina at Slapton Lock

Here we go again yet another marina application has been submitted to Aylesbury council.
This one is for 180 berths all the details are HERE.
Plan of proposed marina at Slapton lock.

Showing the end of marina nearest the road bridge.

So immediately behind the 4 long term moorings by the lock will be a chandlery, pump out, cafe, two dry docks and a slipway plus the toilets and showers. So these boaters lose their rural mooring and the lock cottage loses the view across the lock and fields.

The marina will stretch down to the canal bend with the marina entrance just before the bend.

Already outline planning has been granted for a 100 berth marina at Ivinghoe. Details can be found HERE. The original drawing shows 170 berths but the outline plan extension mentions 100. Watch this space.
So I did say watch this space. Just found a plan bearing the ref no. showing 200 berths that was approved HERE.

Google eye view of the site. As you pass under bridge 123 it is on the left where the golf range used to be. It will have a new towpath bridge at the entrance and all the fibre optic cabling under the towpath will have to be re routed.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

All change at the junction.

First stop after leaving our reservoir mooring was the service point at what was Marsworth Canal and River Trust maintenance yard now referred to as Marsworth Wharf by the developers.
Marsworth wharf 1930. Picture from CRT archives. The buildings on the right are next to the Aylesbury arm top lock.

 Here is a picture I took  in 2009. The part nearest the canal is the CRT yard and the site to the rear many years ago manufactured concrete piles for canal bank strengthening. All that remains now is the carpenters workshop to the extreme left and the boaters service point on the right of the picture.

Back in 2009 planning application was made and now after six years 13 homes are due to be completed in April. Nb Valerie is 58feet and as you can see we are in front of the first two houses. If the whole frontage of the houses is open and another boat pulls in behind waiting their turn at the services can you not see complaints arising from residents.

We are moored beneath the living room balcony and ten feet from two of the ground floor bedroom windows. The complaints will be either smoky chimneys or engine noise or boaters walking up and down in front of their bedroom windows.

Behind the existing elsan point new buildings are being built. These are for the rubbish bins and a pump out facility. For us there is just one thing missing in the picture.

Aah! right on time our Tesco grocery order and our water tank is still filling. Excellent timing.

Close up of the new boaters facilities under construction. Not sure if the elsan will be moved back to my knowledge this one links to a holding tank. I guess the new homes will link to main sewers.

Can  you see the box on the post more or less centre of picture? It`s a Bat box.
Follow the pole down and you can just make out a car roof, yep it`s the Batmobile.

Jaq and I have decided that if, and I can assure you we won`t, we decided to buy one it would be the one arrowed. There are two houses there but the one nearest is 4 bedrooms and totals 2228 square feet. We have on Nb Valerie about 264 sq.ft. of internal space.

 Our choice unit 6 has a living room and garden that give good views across the canal junction and also the adjoining lock on the Aylesbury arm. It also has a bedroom balcony giving the same views.
Seven loses the view across the junction and is a smaller square footage.
Eight has a nice corner location next to the lock but as with 9-13 noise from the lane could be a problem when sitting in the garden.
Units 1-4 on the main line canal are as you have seen above near to the boat services.
Last is Carpenters House the only reserved property on the whole site. Perhaps because of it`s detachment from the rest of the houses it might appeal more to some people.
The main site for the development is HERE. I phoned the agent and at the moment only the 3 bedroom houses have been priced. £520,000 ($780,000) and no mooring.

As you look at the developers site you may notice the wharf crane. This is i am told being refurbished and will be reinstated near to the Carpenters House building.
Not sure of the crane`s age but I`m sure it can just be seen in the 1930 picture above.
Below is the crane in action loading the bells from Marsworth church onto a narrow boat in 1994. LINK
I wonder what boat it was?

    The reservoir capacity figures for February are out. The reservoirs at Marsworth are 94.2%. All the figures look healthy so fingers crossed for good cruising and no water shortages.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Playing Catch Up!

"The road to recovery will not always be easy, but I will take it one day at a time, focusing on the moments I've dreamed about for so long." ~Amanda Lindhout, Canadian humanitarian and journalist

   At long last Les and I are really cruising again! We've been immensely fortunate to have a slow, graceful transition from Les' recovery in the marina to life back out on the towpath, catching up with friends, other boaters and blog readers. 
   We've had some wonderful moments with Mike Griffin, touring some of the interesting places around Cow Roast marina, where Hertfordshire meets Buckinghamshire.
  Mike took us along a typical country road--winding up and down hills and around tight curves with what seemed to me to be one single lane hugged closely on both sides of the track by trees and shrubs. Every time a car approached in the opposite direction I just had to shut my eyes tight and say to myself "don't look Ethel!" While the road appeared ordinary, it was a place of recent historical distinction. As we climbed Aston Hill in the early morning cold, Mike told us this very piece of highway was once part of a local hillclimb--a short sprint car race tearing around the tight curves and up the short, steep hills, in which a young man named Lionel Martin raced his prototype car in 1914.
     "Aston Hill, part of Lord Rothschild's Estate at Aston Clinton was a renowned motoring venue. Lionel Martin and Robert Bamford were early racers at Aston Clinton, and had set up a small business selling and servicing cars in West London in 1913 specialising in Singers. Lionel Martin made his first ascent of the hill in a tuned Singer on 4th, April, 1914. Bamford’s early departure from the partnership left Martin with the need for a new name for his first car, created by fitting a four-cylinder Coventry-Simplex engine to the chassis of a 1908 Isotta-Fraschini. His success, achieved at the Aston-Clinton Hill Climb course in the prototype car provided the ideal name, and thus the marque of Aston-Martin was born." (Rothschild Archives.; accessed on 02/22/15) Yes indeedy, 007's favorite car was developed from the protype race car Lionel Martin raced on the Aston Hillclimb, taking its iconic name from its creator. One can pull into the car park at Wendover Woods to stop and read the plaque mounted there.
   Prior 1923, this event became a classic in its twenty years of existence. According to the Aston Hillclimb web page the original start-line was 20 yards from the junction of the now A4011; the finish-line level with the house at the top of the hill and the original Course length was 3/4 mile in length which was later reduced to 1000 yards. (; accessed on 02/22/15.)
A picture of Hillclimb enthusiasts watching an Aston Martin make its way up Aston Hill.
The Starting Line
The exit of corner 2
Approaching the finish line.

This is the caption on the plaque presented by Lionel Martin's wife. Spot the typo?
   On into the village of Wendover we drove as the sun came out to soften the crisp edges of the winter cold. It turns out Anne Boleyn's father was once the Mayor of Aylesbury and several pieces of property came down to Anne from her Paternal grandmother's side of the family, including a piece of property on which a series of small thatched cottages in Wendover were built and are still known as the Anne Boleyn Cottages. (Aylesbury, Walton and Wendover Road Conservation Area document accessed 02/22/1; This seems to fly in the face of popular history which suggests the cottages were given to Anne as a gift from Henry VIII however the first mention of them in any official records is around 1630.
   Here is a reminiscence by Peter Osbourne, whose sister Daphne once lived in one of these cottages:
   My late Sister Daphne Hemmings owned No 3 Coldharbour Cottage. She 
   passed it on to her son Jimmy Hemmings. I have fond memories of visiting
   her and staying awhile in these fascinating dwellings. You wouldn't want to be
   six-foot plus with the low doorways plus the low beams, you would crack your
   head on the oak beams. If anyone passed away upstairs you would have to be
   lowered through a trapdoor located in the front bedroom in line with the front 
   door. (From a Memory of Wendover, December 19th, 2011, Francis Frith
   We said a sweet goodbye to Cow Roast and the wonderful community of boaters there, and cruised about three miles through the Tring cutting to moor up just before the Bulbourne water point where we stayed for about eight days while waiting for some repairs to take place to the broken lock gate at the top of the Marsworth flight. This provided us with an opportunity to catch several buses and visit our daughter-in-law and grandsons in Thame, enjoy an excellent meal at the Grand Junction Arms Pub as our Valentine's celebration/monthly date night, and enjoy spending time with Carol and George on WB Still Rockin and their amazing four footed family member Molly. We walked down the lock flight to see the repairs being made to the lock gate, and continued on down the flight to the junction of the Grand Union and the Aylebsury Arm where we found Tom and Jan on NB Waiouru
Just up from where NB Val was moored we spotted this bloke fishing in the winding hole right on top of the water point. Sometimes words fail me... which is good for him although as cold as it was his ears could probably have used the warmth.
The water point is the silver post on the right. The angler is sitting right smack in the middle of the winding hole and NB Valerie is moored up beyond him.
This plastic cruiser is moored just adjacent to a disabled boater's landing. Good luck getting in there.
The plastic cruiser--which could easily have fit on the visitor mooring just past the disabled landing and just before the bridge hole, has a Canal & River Trust (CaRT) patrol notice on its window for overstaying. Notice the boat name? It seems not!!
The bottom lock of the Marsworth flight was padlocked shut to keep boaters from attempting to move through the flight until CaRT said it was okay to do so.
Several trees had come down right near the permanent moorings at Marsworth. Signs were posted asking boaters to move over to the other side while tree trimming commenced on February 16th.
This memorial sat near a fallen tree on the permanent mooring for NB Bateau which was moored across the way.
A swan skates along the top of the ice.
Tom cleans the muck off his boots outside NB Waiouru.
   At last we met the "other" famous Kiwis (the first being Marilyn and Dave on NB Waka Huia). It was terrific to catch up, check out their boat (I love seeing other people's boats. I always come away with inspirational ideas for ours!) Tom's legendary quick wit was well on display and I welcomed getting a chance to know Jan, whose straight forward, no-nonsense attitude and sharp wit echoes my own. Les and I owe a huge thanks to you both for your ongoing support of us throughout the last year.
   Carol and I ditched our hubbies for a women's day out in Tring. We enjoyed a leisurely lunch at Francesco's Italian diner, and visited several lovely shops: Fancy That (and I did--I did!) an incredible gift shop where I wisely left behind most of the shop (where would I put it all on a narrow boat?), for a foray into Marks & Spencer for a few bits and bobs for dinner and on to Metcalfe & Sons cookware shop where Carol and I each purchased much wanted kitchen items. While I love Les and enjoy sharing our life together, I sorely miss the companionship of my women friends. Time spent indulging in a wee bit of retail therapy with Carol was lovely indeed. Thank you girlfriend!!
   We spent a few more days visiting with George and Carol, and I made a friend in their Patterdale Terrier Molly.  There is defo an enlightened soul in that dog. She's whip smart, with a non-nonsense attitude toward people and a great sense of humor. Top all that off with that adorable tail and well...I felt honored when Moll accepted me as a person of trust.
    As Les and I cruised down the Marsworth Flight we passed nb Etive (Sewing seams naturally) and I got a shout out from Mary Anne who walked down the flight to visit and had a cuppa with Les, George, Carol and myself. Another lovely woman on a boat!! It was great to catch up with you Mary Anne. 
   We spent another week moored up at Startops End reservoir where blog follower and walking enthusiast Daryl from Watford caught up with us. Sadly, Les had gone into Tring for a prescription and missed Daryl's visit and I was stuck in the middle of some serious boat cleaning (I can only do serious boat cleaning when Les is not under my feet). Next time Daryl, we will invite you in for a cuppa.
  Shortly after Daryl said goodbye, Les returned and fellow boating enthusiast and blog reader Dave Winter dropped by. Check out his blog Brassiclint. Dave loves boats and photography and his pictures are terrific.  Later that same afternoon our friend Robert on WB Wind in the Willows came by with his sister Maria and time got away from us as we sat and conversed about the universe.
Here is an excellent example of Dave's photography. WB Still Rockin is moored in front of NB Valerie. Daryl is standing and talking to me through the window. Startops End reservoir is in view to the left of the canal. (© Dave Winter, 2015)
Fisherman with the typical 1500 pounds of gear, in the last light of day at Startops End Reservoir.
   Soon enough it was time for us to cruise!! We had such a wonderful time getting to know George and Carol. Thank you for your hospitality and friendship; for afternoon cups of tea and evening glasses of vino; for great conversation and good craic.
   With George's help,  Les and I cruised off down the bottom lock of the Marsworth flight to the water point where we filled up with water and picked up our substantial Tesco grocery delivery while gongoozlers watched in amusement from the bridge above us. Off we went into the early afternoon sunshine and cold, raw weather. As we went I realized that the stress of the last six months has caught up with me. We were not expecting the abrupt diagnosis last August. All I could do was suck in a deep breath and hit the ground running in crisis mode. I am finally able to let that breath out now, but my body is tired and I feel wretchedly unwell. All I want to do is sleep and cruise.
   Two more locks and we called it quits for the day. The temperature was dropping rapidly. We spotted two mountjack deer in the adjacent field with a swan sitting in the grass not too far away making this a good spot to settle in for the rough weather of the next few days. Jules Fuels will be along in a day or so to top up our diesel tank and load bags of coal on our roof.
   In the evening we were graced with a beautiful view of the pale sliver of moon smiling in the nighttime sky which was dimpled with the shining planets Venus and Uranus in conjunction. It is for days and nights like this that we live this life.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Who`s a knocking

Always nice when a blog reader stops by. The latest knocking on the side of Nb Valerie was from blog follower Dave Winter.
I have snatched his picture from his website because as so often happens I forgot to take a picture even after Dave asked to snap Jaq and I.

Other visitors have been Daryl from Watford a reader and regular towpath walker stopped to chat with Jaq while I was out and inquired about my health. Thanks Daryl.

Robert of wide beam Wind in the Willows brought his sister to meet us and a nice couple of hours was spent over tea and cake.

It`s been nice moored near the reservoirs at Marsworth and being in the company of George and Carol on Still Rockin but now we have decided it`s time to move on. In the next two days we will take on a Tesco delivery, refill the water tank, dispose of the rubbish and sail on possibly to the Slapton area.
This will give us a choice of using the rail station at Cheddington or cruising on to Leighton Buzzard station for my journey to London to get my 3 month CT scan.
I have obtained 3 months of my medication for the stoma output and with the scan completed we will have no more commitments for quite a while.
Still Rockin with Nb Valerie behind. Reservoirs are to the rear and right of the boats, people can be seen walking on the bank of the reservoirs.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Keep your plans flexible, just in case.

On a bright chilly day we set off from Cow Roast along with George and Carol ong Wb Still Rocking with the intention of mooring at Bulbourne for a few days.
Along Tring cutting it is just a 2.5 mile trip pretty much as pictured all the way.

 We moored up just short of Bulbourne bridge as this would give us both access to the bus
crossing the bridge towards Tring. Jaq and I also used the bus to visit family in Thame.  The Grand Junction arms pub built in 1852 can just be seen through the trees to the left of the bridge. Good food is why Jaq and I have visited many times.
 After a few days it came to our attention that an emergency had closed the Marsworth lock flight just a half mile ahead. This gave us little concern as the planned stoppage at Milton Keynes does not finish until mid March so there is no rush.

This is a typical canal junction scene. The bridge I am standing on spans the Wendover arm canal that branches off to the left. On the right is the main line of the Grand Union canal that 37 miles and 56 locks to the south connects to the River Thames. At 6 hours per day it will take about 4 days. This is the lock that is defective.

The building to the left of the bridge was built as a toll house for the canal company in the early mid 1800`s. Over to the right is a wet dock built over an old single lock that was  widened when the building was erected. Most of  the locks from here all the way to
Stoke Breurne had a single  lock built
alongside the original double one to save water and speed traffic along.

All the way down to the bottom lock, pictured right, you will notice the extra space on the off side where the now in filled single locks were. The exception is the second lock down (44) that has a cottage very close to the double lock.

The explanation for this is the extra locks were built between 1835-39 and not used for long. In the picture on the right dated 1900 the single lock gates have been removed The cottage bears the date 1909 and looking at it I would guess the single lock is underneath the front garden.

Now a look at the problem with the lock.
 This is the problem that has caused the stoppage. The support for the gate is concreted into what is called the Quoin pier. As you can see the Quoin has failed and broken away from the main section.

 Two anchor bars were set in concrete each side of the lock beam. Straps were attached around the heel post, sometimes called the quoin post, of the lock gate and hooked to the concrete ground anchors.
 The metal gate collar wraps around the heel post that the Blue strap is supporting. The strap is held in place by two adjustable locking nuts. You can see now just how big the metal Quoin frame is, compared to the first picture, as it stretches off to the right of the picture.

The anchor plate is set in concrete holding the gate collar firmly in place. These are adjustable to aid a watertight seal down the post.
On the right an old gate collar from the Ohio and Erie canal.

The lock is now open but wide beams need the assistance because of the strapped gate. To be quite honest the lock should have been closed to all traffic to allow the  concrete to set. There`s a lot of pressure on those gates when the lock fills and I just hope the neat job done by contractors is not weakened, time will tell.

So time to walk down the Marsworth flight and find Tom and Jan on Nb Waiouru. They had intended to go down the Aylesbury arm but ice at the time delayed that and as time was short for their intended plans, Aylesbury remains on the `to do` list.

They did get through the stoppage and we had an evening together with George and Carol on Still Rocking.

We have now gone down through the Marsworth locks with the help of Carol and George and will spend a few days by the reservoirs before getting a Tesco delivery and heading out into the countryside. 

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs