Friday 29 April 2016

Grand Union Canal Foxton to Cowroast

Since the beginning of the year we’ve been gradually making our way down the Grand Union from Foxton, via Gayton Junction, Stoke Bruerne, Cosgrove, Milton Keynes and Leighton Buzzard to Cowroast where we originally bought Legend 5 years ago. We’ve also fitted in a bird-watching filled mini break in Pembrokeshire with Bob and Mandy and a visit to Ireland where, with Chloe and Shandy, we went for a fabulous weekend in Galway.

Here are some photos our journey
Ice Breaking towards Cosgrove.
 Cosgrove Bridge
 Sunset at Cosgrove
Not really what the bird table is for!
Milton Keynes.

 Backing up to recover Pete's hat.
 Double bridges for locks that were never built.
 Stoke Bruerne Top Lock
 Stoke Bruerne in Water....
...and two days later without water.
Stoke Bruerne Open Day.

Pembrokeshire with Bob & Mandy
Bob & Ann-Marie looking out for.....
 ...a shoveler duck....
 ....a flock of gold finches...
 ...and best of all - a Peregrine Falcon!
On the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path.

Away in Ireland with Chloe and Shandy.
Port Stewart Strand.

 Carrick-a-Rede Bridge

 Fish for tea.

 The Cliffs of Moher

 A roaring fire and a drop of the black stuff - Ah, Bliss!

As we went south down the GU, we realised that we would be cruising across the Tring Summit pretty much on the exact anniversary of passing through there on our first day as livaboard boaters. We thought this justified a party, so we booked the Iron Room at Tring Station, sent out invites to all our friends and relations and made our preparations.

We joined Bob and Mandy on Matilda Blue to ascend the Marsworth locks..
...then they moored with us at Tring, about 200 yards from the hall. There followed two rather hectic days of food prep, pass the parcel wrapping, quiz compilation and general excitedness aboard a very happy boat.
In the middle of it all Dave drove off to Luton Airport (which, it turns out, is impossible to say without an estuary accent) to collect Chloe, who came to stay for a couple of nights to share in our celebrationary reveling.

We are happy to report that the party was a resounding success. A happy smiley bunch of our wonderful friends, from all our various walks of life, came along to help toast our five year  anniversary as river gypsies. Very few of them had met any of the others, but before long they were all getting along, as we knew they would, like a house on fire.

On board the boat, the front doors and the side hatch have both had a refurbish which, as well as looking a lot better,  has also added an extra layer of insulation and improved the draught proofing.

We’ve also added secondary glazing - in the form of removable Perspex panels - to the bedroom windows. The result of that has been quite dramatic. They no longer accumulate condensation overnight and the bedroom is noticeably warmer.

Dave has also affected a very low tech solution to the a problem that has been niggling us for years. Condensation runs off the inside of the windows and collects, as it should, in the drip channels. So far so good. There, however, although most of it exits said channels to the great outdoors through the little drain holes, capillary action prevents the last spoonful or so escaping. So there it sits, collecting dust and festering, the result of which is a black soggy residue permanently lining the bottom of the channels. The low tech solution is to place little pieces of chamois leather in the drain holes which wick away the last few drops and leave the channel completely dry. Result!

We’ve also done a bit of outside painting; the cream stripes round the sides were showing their age, especially next to the gunnels where they get kicked, and the red stripes between them and the black panels were looking a bit faded. It took an inordinate amount of masking tape, and Dave reckons after it’s hardened off over the next month or so he’s going to give it a second coat, which will mean another eight rolls, but it looks an awful lot neater.
Boat painting is gradually evolving into an annual rotation of the various bits; roof, sides, tumblehomes, bottom blacking etc. During the first 18 months we did pretty much the whole boat, so now it’s a lot easier just keeping on top of it.

During the fortnight after the party our occasional employer offered us week counting cars in Leicestershire. By then we’d moved the boat to Cowroast which, normally, would have meant turning it down due to the distances involved. However, a quick email strafe of our boating chums resulted in us sofa surfing around the Leicester line for a week. We stayed aboard Happy Daze with Lindsay and Paul, and on Large Marge with Laura and Alison. We also stayed for a night with Kim and Luke, which happened to be just before George’s second birthday, so Wiltz and Annie, who we hadn’t seen for yonks, were there as well. Fabulous!

So, thanks to our lovely friends, what began as us thinking we were going to have to turn down an easy £600, became a mini holiday with our mates. There was a bit of street-walking in Hinkley and Market Harborough to put up with, and we won't even mention the complete cock-up that was Loughborough, but all in all it was a very enjoyable week.  

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