Saturday 6 April 2024

Cassiobury Park to Copper Mill Lock. Grand Union Canal.

Leaving our mooring at Cassiobury Park turned into a bit of a pa-lava. First we had to wait for a pair of community boats full of very enthusiastic scouts to go past us before we could get going, because they didn’t want to be split up going down the locks. Then, at the second lock, they got split up anyway as there was already a boat in it when they got there. Said boat was going down backwards because they’d run out of water and needed to go back to the tap, and the windy ‘ole that they thought they’d be able to use was silted up. So we shared with the second scout boat, which was great, ‘cos they did all the work.

As we passed under the bridge by the car park, Ann-Marie executed a very nimble hop-off and hop-on to pick up our new air fryer. Yes, Dear Reader, we have succumbed. Just like smart phones, it was a case of “No, no. They’re just pointless gimmicks. We’re never going to……Wait,What? Fifteen quid?! Stick it in the trolley!”. It’s a little baby 1.5l thing from Asda and about the size of a large kettle.

Perfect for the two of us and perfect for our tiny life. So now we’re looking forward to a summer of solar powered sausages and fish fingers. We reckon it’ll pay for itself in unused gas in a matter of weeks.

The Scout boats stopped for lunch and some dib-dib-dobbing a bit further on. We carried on down the cut to use the services at Batchworth, then found a gap at Rickmanswoth Aquadrome with the car park just the other side of the hedge. It was a pretty perfect mooring with the car right there, the town centre just a few minutes walk away, and - despite bits of them being underwater most of the time - good tarmac paths all around the lakes.

We stayed there for a fortnight, did plenty of running, got part of the roof prepped for painting and fitted some reversing sensors to the car. (which then didn’t work, but trouble-shooting will have to wait.)

We had a couple of days away, starting with a trip down to Somerset for Ann-Marie's cousin Alan's funeral. We took Mum and Dad with us and - although it was a sad occasion - it was still good to see everyone and to re-connect with people that Ann-Marie hadn’t seen for years.

The next day Dave helped Dad get his Lomax kit car running again. It had been a long time since Dave had tinkered with a Citroen 2cv engine, but just like riding a bike it all came back to him in the end. Dad knew why it had stopped working; the little cam follower on the points had broken off, but when he’d replaced the points with a new set it wouldn’t start. Dave figured out that the condensor that had come with the new points was duff, but luckily Dad had kept the old one, so before long Dave was having fun zipping round the estate roads on a test drive.

That evening we went to Aldershot to see an amazingly good performance of 42nd Street by the Cody Musical Theatre Company.


That was followed by a late drive back to Legend and our lovely electric blanket.

On the following Monday Diane and Richard came for a visit. We had a lovely day with them, walked around the lakes...

...and into the Café in the Park, after which we introduced them to Five Crowns. We told them about our moving plans and, as they have a mobile home on a holiday park near Sherringham, there was a lot of chat about the ups and downs of caravan life. Really good day.

The next morning we were out running again, both of us pushing ourselves a bit further. Dave is up to 7K and aiming for 10. He wants to do something with a medal at the end of it in the summer. In the afternoon we walked into Ricky in the sunshine and had a wander round the delightful community garden.

After a night of rain the next morning dawned bright and sunny. We got the bikes out and cycled the Colne Valley Trail down to Denham Country Park. That took us along the other side of the valley and up and down a big hill; great views, but lots of bike pushing.

The HS2 line crosses the Colne valley on a huge viaduct between Widewater and Denham locks and when we were there the big bridge building machine was spanning the cut as it put the precast concrete sections together like giant Lego pieces.

The viaduct is quite impressive and not at all ugly, so we’re not opposed to it on that front. The justification of the HS2 project as a whole, however.…….

We’d planned to pop into Fran’s tea rooms at Denham lock for breakfast, but it was closed, so we had to make do with the country park visitor centre instead. On the way back we stuck to the towpath with the wind behind us; no hills, but muddier. When we got back Dave sluiced the mud off the bikes and put them away while Ann-Marie nipped into town to post our Easter cards. We got back inside just before the heavens opened again and spent the afternoon planning our moves into and out of London and down onto the Thames. We’ve booked a mooring at Little Venice, near Paddington Basin for a couple of nights at the end of April, and if the flooding is down and the tide is right we’ll be going up from Brentford to Teddington at the beginning of May. We feel a lot happier with a timetable.

On Chloe’s birthday we joined in with a video call with Jan & Paul, Sue & Crispin, Frankie & Harry and Jon & Jo. Really good, one of the better things that Covid gave to the world.

Easter at Ricky was good fun.

On Good Friday Ann-Marie made hot cross buns, but we weren’t sure that our two year old yeast would work, so Dave popped over to Tesco and got some just in case, and of course we ended up with loads. Ann-Marie’s were vastly superior...

 ...and without all the unpronounceable ingredients, but by bed time we’d eaten the lot.

On Easter Saturday we decided to go to a much smaller parkrun in the shape of South Oxhey and, along with 64 other runners, sploshed our way three times round the rather muddy course. It was a really friendly event, most people stayed to chat afterwards, and the core team provided tea, coffee and biscuits.

Despite the mud it was one of our favourites.

In the afternoon we walked into town where we got a free coffee and newspaper from Waitrose then sat and did the puzzles while watching the Metropolitan Line trains going by. Oh, we know how to live.

On the way back we went into Toolstation for some more undercoat for the roof, but found out that the stuff we wanted was cheaper in Screwfix, so almost came away empty handed. However we noticed a bunch of office chairs behind a skip in the car park so we asked if they we up for grabs. Not for the boat, obviously, but we’ll need one in Ireland, so we now have an office chair in the boot of our car. Not quite sure where that’s going to spend the rest of the year but, as always, something will turn up.

After Junior parkrun in Slough, where there were nearly more volunteers than kids, we spent Easter Sunday with Mum & Dad having a very nice Sunday roast in the Flower Pots - one of the pubs they go to with the kit car club - then over to Karen’s for a brew and a HXB. After that we were back round the M25 to Ricky for our last night.

In the morning we had a last dash round Tesco, emptied the loo, put a wash load on and set off in the sunshine to Copper Mill lock. Below the lock we snuck in on the water point next to a crew who were pressure washing a wide-beam and commandeered the tap for half an hour, then powered our way across the two river out-flows to moor up just beyond the Coy Carp pub. The River Colne joins the GU between Copper Mill and Black Jack’s lock, so after heavy rain it can get quite lively on that bit.


It rained again that afternoon so the washing wasn’t out for long, and we spent a lot of time looking out at the water whizzing by. It’s been a long time since we’ve been moored on moving water, but we’d better get used to it. This summer it will be all rivers.   

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