No blog yesterday for a couple of reasons.
1. we didn't do much
2. I forgot to turn the inverter on so the computer was flat after me blogging, doing some Ancestry research, and writing another chapter of the new book the night before!
So, yesterday we set off, knowing that it wasn't going to be brilliant but we hoped we'd get some miles done before the rain set in.
This was where we had moored, there is a set of three reservoirs over the bank that feed the canal. You can see the puddles from the torrential rain we'd had during the night. Anyway we set off and got through the lock just ahead, pulled in to get some water, do cassette and dump rubbish then headed off towards the next lock. Two boats had gone past us to go down, and so by the time we got to the lock it was more or less empty. The locks here are useless, they leak so much that it doesn't seem to matter if they get left full or empty, within five minutes they are all half full (or is that half empty?)
As we approached the lock the weather looked pretty nasty and while I was going in, the rain started. By the time we came out we'd had enough and moored very quickly afterwards. About 20 minutes later two boats came down the lock, one, a hire boat so presumably on a mission, went past. The other moored up behind us and the guy told John it was set for the day, due to get worse.
So we made the best of it and watched the first two Harry Potter films again! One in the afternoon and one in the evening. I popped Paddy out for very quick walks to do the necessary and that was that..
This morning we got away early and knew that we had to get to Leighton Buzzard as I'd arranged to meet Robert and his family on Friday just beyond the town, and I needed to restock the fruit and veg, supplies at the Tesco there.
It's been a really changeable day, one minute the sky would look like this and I'd be getting my anorak on.
Then five minutes later it would look like this and I'd be taking the anorak off again. Once or twice we had a raindrop or two but not enough to get us wet or even damp. The one constant of the day has been the wind. We haven't had it this bad since the middle levels when we first had the boat and were travelling up from the wedding in Cambridge. That was over 6 years ago!
I really struggled getting into some of the locks, and EVERY lock, without exception, once I was in there the other back gate would open, so I was getting adept at getting the boat over, grabbing the rope and shutting the gate for John to be able to open the bottom paddles. Nearly every lock also saw the wind push me over to the side I wanted to be to get out as well, which was the only saving grace. I swear I'm looking forward to getting back to the gym for some gentle exercise after a day like today.
We came around one corner to be met with this view. The mooring pin had come out of the stern and the wind had swung the boat around. There was obviously no-one aboard so I jumped off ours and climbed across the bow, got up to the stern and got hold of the rope. John bought our boat up close enough for me to get the rope around our bow thingy where the rope is attached and then John pulled it around. It wasn't as easy as that makes it sound, but eventually it got to a point where John was able to get off ours and catch the middle rope to pull it back in. I retrieved the pin and we got it around the pilings and re-attached the rope and job done. That was about half an hours work!
An unusual but now discarded feature of this group of locks is that at one point they dug out a narrow lock alongside the double one, so that single boats could use less water. A very good idea to my mind, and one that I wish they still had. I'm really looking forward to single locks again, and I'm sure that John must be. Some of these gates are incredibly heavy and with the wind factor added in, they aren't easy. I actually had to get off and help John close one today and that's the first time that has happened.
There are a lot of people who seem to take pleasure in moaning about CRT (Canal and River Trust) but we think that they are doing a good job overall. We were delighted to come across them doing some dredging today and reclaiming some farm land.
This has the added advantage of making the canal slightly narrower again (still plenty wide enough) which means there will be more water to keep the levels maintained. There's no doubt that there are stretches that are really shallow. Dredging not only makes it easier to navigate but the stuff dredged up can fill in the gaps along the edges.
We complemented the staff for the grand job they were doing and finally left them to it, whilst cruising under the arm of the dredger, having been waved through. We both felt really delighted to see CRT doing something of such benefit and also something that we've often thought would be a good idea in many areas of the system.
We got to Leighton Buzzard as planned and have walked to Tesco. Tomorrow we haven't far to go to get to the Three Locks where we're meeting them for lunch. Photos of our Vikings tomorrow!
PS John was determined to find out what the bow thingy was actually called and the best he can come up with is a 'dolly' which seems reasonable to me. So that's my bit of learning for the day!