August 19th - Great Barford
First of all, I have only put one photograph in the blog tonight, the signal here is pretty poor and it took about 15 minutes to upload one photograph! I will therefore put all the relevant photographs in the gallery tomorrow - signal permitting!
We didn’t rush this morning. I had a bit of a lie in and was quite surprised when I woke up to find that Clive had actually towed Lady Arwen backwards up the mooring so that the waterpoint was close enough for the hose to reach – I never noticed a thing! He filled the tank whilst I was getting dressed! After breakfast Clive did a bit of engine maintenance and filled his stern gland with grease again. I popped up into town to find the post office as we had a letter to post – no not another speeding fine! Once I was back on board we finally set off.
As the weathermen had predicted it was an absolutely glorious day and already very warm. Once again the suntan lotion was put to good use! We had a bit of a challenge once we got the boat turned around as the river was full of rowers! They couldn’t seem to decide which way to go but finally one of the girls on the bank shouted across to us to ask where we were going – “into the lock” shouted Clive – she rushed further up the bank and yelled across to the rowers telling them where to go and finally we had a clear run to the lock. The guillotine gate was still up so we cruised straight in.
Thankfully the guillotine only needed closing this time and Clive shared the work with me so it wasn’t too bad. Once again there were loads of Gongoozlers standing on the bridge avidly watching the process of working a lock and asking the usual questions. There were also several children watching what was going on and it is always good to be able to answer their questions and explain how the locks work, even their parents don’t always know exactly how the process works so they are usually quite interested too and go away having learned something new.
We were soon through the lock and out onto the main channel and then we had to duck under the low bridge again. Fortunately Clive had removed the chimney in advance this time – it really is low!
Well, if the trip down to Bedford was pleasant, the trip back was absolutely gorgeous – mainly of course due to the wonderful weather. It was just beautiful.
We soon arrived at the second lock of the day, Cardington Lock. There was a boat in the lock, coming upstream, so we pulled into the jetty and tied up. I went over to the lock to wait and ended up having a chat with a couple of Gongoozlers on the bridge (as you do!). It turned out that one of the guys had entered the Devizes to Westminster Canoe Race in 1973 and actually came fourth! Those of you who follow our blog regularly will remember that we were on the Kennet and Avon Canal earlier this year and ended up right in the middle of the above canoe race. This guy (who looked about 70ish) had actually come fourth in one of the most gruelling, endurance races there is– I was very impressed!
Next we arrived at Castle Mill Lock and here I need to say something! I stand corrected, I have erred – our good friend Mr Barry Collings of Cranfield, knower of all things, left a message in our guestbook last night informing us that the two large hangars built by Short Brothers are actually still standing! In fact he also informed us that airships are once again being built there! (not a lot of people know that!). Barry said he was very surprised we couldn’t see them from the river. So, I went up to have a look and there they were! I can’t believe I didn’t notice them yesterday, they are absolutely huge! Doh! I even looked back at the photos I had taken and I really had managed to miss the hangars on all of them – unbelievable.
Castle Mill Lock is absolutely huge! It is a very long, very deep lock and takes absolutely ages to fill and empty. When we arrived there was a cruiser just about to enter the lock coming upstream so we had quite a long wait, so long in fact I had time to make us both a sandwich and a cuppa and we had time to eat and drink them! This lock has a different type of mechanism too. The instructions refer to the paddles as “penstocks” and there is one to fill the lock and one to empty it. Also, they are not on the gates but placed in the centre of the lock on the left bank. Finally the cruiser emerged from the lock and when they were safely past Clive brought Lady Arwen into the deep, dark cavernous lock!
I was standing on the jetty waiting for Clive to emerge from the lock when I realised he was trying to handle the boat one-handed – he was on the phone! It turned out to be our daughter Vicki. I jumped on board as he bumped up against the jetty and then took over the tiller so that he could concentrate on his phonecall. When he had hung up I didn’t want to give it back, I was enjoying myself and I need the practice! So I continued at the helm right up to the next lock at Willington. Clive tried to take the tiller back but I said no, I really need to try and put her into a lock. Needless to say the Gongoozlers were out in force – there must have been about 20 people all watching me!!!! Well, with a lot of advice from Clive and a bit of physical assistance from time to time too, I managed to put Lady Arwen into the lock without bumping into anything – I was well chuffed! The only problem was that I was smack bang in the middle of the lock, nowhere near either wall! Never mind, Clive worked a bit of magic with the throttle and tiller and then managed to hare up the ladder with the central rope and pull us into the side. OK it wasn’t perfect but it was my first attempt – practice makes perfect!
Well that was the last lock of the day and before long we were approaching Great Barford. The first thing that you notice as you approach Great Barford is its bridge. Part of the bridge was built in the 15th century and it has 17 irregular arches, it’s quite a sight.
We passed through the bridge and were very pleased to see that the visitor moorings were empty, apart from a small cruiser, which was there when we moored here on Monday. Clive deftly turned Lady Arwen so that she was facing upstream and pulled into the moorings and we were soon tied up and secure.
A short while later we were delighted to see my friend Richard Moon and his wife Teresa crossing the grass from the road and welcomed them on board. They only live a short distance away and know The Anchor very well. We always enjoy having visitors on board and of course there was the compulsory guided tour, then we adjourned to the stern for tea and biscuits. We are very civilised on board Lady Arwen you know!
We had a great time chatting with them both, then all too soon it was time for them to go. You see people who lead “normal” lives always have things to do and places to be, unlike us! (Not that I’m gloating or anything!).
We were very pleased to discover that although we have a terrible mobile signal here, even though the dongle has managed to scrape up a 2G signal, the TV has brilliant reception, which means we can watch Who Do You Think You Are on the BBC tonight, excellent!
Hopefully we will have a better dongle signal tomorrow and I can upload some of the photographs relating to today's blog. Don't forget to check!