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Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Bulbourne to Winkwell.

Tuesday 31st March.

Bulbourne to Berkhampsted, 5.3 miles and 7 locks.
We were awake early, having been woken up by Marmite. Firstly she stood on Keith and began kneading his chest with her paws, when that failed she dug her claws in, which had the desired affect, Keith was now awake. Marmite then turned her attention to me. She wound herself around the top of my head, purring very loudly. So now we were both awake, there was nothing for it but to get up. Once I was dressed, Paddy and I stepped off the boat for his morning walk down the locks, where we met Norman who was letting some water down to top-up low pounds; Norman has worked for British Waterways since 1968. We had a lovely conversation about how he still enjoys his job. He told me he began working for BW in 1968 at the Marsworth Yard, where he started off making concrete piling and got to know all the old boatmen and woman over the years. It was really nice to meet such an interesting gentleman. Norman had work to do and Paddy was getting a little impatient for the rest of his walk, so we said our goodbyes and we were both on our way.
Back onboard Keith was readying Hadar for the day’s cruise, which would be very enjoyable. We left the mooring and cruised past the old BW Bulbourne Workshops, which are really beautiful.No sooner had we set off we were enveloped by trees on both sides of the cut on the Tring Summit Level, giving a feeling of seclusion.Cowroast Lock announces the end of the summit, it is then down hill from there on. One of the pretty lock cottages is up for sale, like so many of the systems lock cottages they are sold to private owners, as lock keepers are no longer needed in many areas. We took on water above Cowroast Lock before we began the drop down to Berkhampsted where the scenery changes, with the area becoming much more built up, with parkland thrown in for good measure. As we got closer to Berkhampsted, the paddle gear is locked with padlocks, so you have to carry a BW key to open them. It is to stop the little darlings opening the paddles and emptying the pounds. We decided to moor below the pair of Gas Locks, which is close to Waitrose and the town centre. After mushrooms on toast for lunch, we strolled into Berkhampstead, which has buildings from all periods; it is a pretty little place, which was being bombarded by the sound of police sirens. Two then four police cars came past us at speed, with the blue lights flashing and their sirens blaring. Two minutes later they came back past us, but this time they were in hot pursuit of a red saloon car. Despite they had their sirens and lights on; other drivers were in no hurry to get out of their way. We did wonder later if they got their man. On the high street the Church of St. Peter stands very tall and proud. Berkhampsted has the remains of a Norman castle, where William the first received the offer of the English crown in 1066. It has been another lovely day, but then for us everyday is a lovely day.

Wednesday 1st April.

Berkhampsted to Winkwell, 2.6 miles 8 locks.

After a quiet evening onboard and a lovely nights sleep, we were awake early listening to the bird song and the trains. Sunshine was pouring through the pigeon box portholes, announcing the perfect start to April. Maybe this is showing us what is to come for the rest of the year ha ha ha (A girl can dream). Having got up, I opened the back cabin doors to the world, and was greeted by warm sunshine. This was going to be a great day. For cruising, so we headed off at 8.20am.Having descended down through Berkhampsted Lock, we passed Berkhampsted Railway Station, where people were setting off to work.At Castle Wharf, which was the home of Bridgewater Boats, Keith took this great photo of a large ape in a Conservatory.After Ravens Lane Lock, we were descending down through the Rising Sun Lock, with its very pretty pub named funny enough The Rising Sun, which Keith remembers from his days working on Pisces.We were heading towards Top Side Lock, when we came across this boat heading straight for us. Spot the steerer.There was absolutely no way the man onboard could see where he was going, over the mountain of stuff on his roof, not only that he had no licence. He did hit us but it was never going to affect Hadar much, she just pushed him aside. On arriving at Top Side Lock, a British Waterways Patrol Officer greeted me with a good morning. I asked if he was out checking boat licences, he told me that he was looking for two Section 8 boats which he had notices for, but it seemed they had done a runner. But he said he was in no doubt that he would find them. I spoke to him about the boat with its crowded roof and he said that they were aware of the boat and had, had words about that and the fact that he had no licence. So I left it in his hands. We were now cruising back out into the countryside and it seemed to be a day for meeting British Waterways staff, because on our approach to Sewer Lock, we saw the British Waterways boat Cassio in the lock, ready to exit the lock so we moved into the lock alongside her. The two gentlemen were busy at work with a grinder, cutting off an unwanted bolt. We spent a few minutes chatting to them, and then NB Blewit arrived below the lock waiting to come up, so we said our goodbyes to the BW men. I passed the time of day with NB Blewits owner, talking mostly about the beautiful weather we were now enjoying and hoping that it would continue. They were in no hurry to be anywhere as they have been pottering up and down this part of the canal for some 20 years. We on the other hand were heading for Winkwell, two locks further down. At 11.10am we moored up below Winkwell Locks near The Three Horseshoes Inn. Keith and I were both of the opinion that we would have lunch at the pub for a change. The last time we were down this way, we did not get the chance to go into the pub. The Three Horseshoes dates from 1535; it has an exquisite stone set and tile floor as you walk into the bar. It is said that the pub has two ghosts, a highwayman and an old lady; they are to be found in the Tackbar. At just after 12 noon we walked down to the pub, and ordered a couple of pints, along with a King Prawn Thai Curry each. Both the food and the drinks were excellent as was the service. We would both recommend it as a place to stop at for a meal. After eating our lunch we then sat outside by the canal and finished our drinks. Back onboard, it was time once again to clean the boats brass. At this time of year, when it is dry we like to clean it every couple of days, to keep it gleaming. I then gave the boat mats a good old brushing, and the floors a brush to get rid of Paddy’s hair. He seems to moult all year round, so I am constantly sweeping up after him. Both Marmite and Paddy spent the afternoon on the stern of the boat watching the world and the general public go by. Not sure where we are off to tomorrow. But we are both looking forward to another days cruising in this lovely weather and it means we are getting closer to our first set destination for this year, Uxbridge.

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