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  • clivenmel

June 4th

Normal 0 false false false st1\:*{behavior:url(#ieooui) } /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0cm; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} Wednesday June 3rd � we set off around 10.00am with the intention of getting as far as possible whilst the sun was shining.  There were a lot of locks ahead of us but, as previously mentioned, most of them are well spaced and therefore there is chance for a rest between them.  It was surprisingly warm and sunny again!  According to the on-line weather forecast on the BBC website it was supposed to be cloudy and a lot cooler � wrong!  However we weren�t complaining.   We soon arrived in Berkhamsted and what a lovely place it is.  It actually says in our canal book �a civilized town which clearly takes a pride in the appearance of its canal� � this is absolutely true.  All alongside the canal the houses and gardens are neatly kept, there is a park on the right bank, which again is beautifully kept and all in all it was a joy to cruise through.  Quite a contrast to some of the other urban areas we have passed through, where the canal is full of rubbish, unkempt gardens and residential moorings with old tatty boats with all sorts of debris on their roofs!   A strange site greeted us as we were passing through Berkhamsted though � its not often you see a totem pole on the side of a canal in England!  This one is genuine and was imported from Canada by the owner of a timber yard which stood on this site before it was redeveloped for housing!   Berkhamsted has an interesting history.  For example, in 1852 a man from Clun in Shropshire set up a works here to manufacture the world�s first commercially produced sheep-dip from arsenic and sulphur!  (not a lot of people know that!).  Also the canal passes close to the motte and bailey remains of Berkhamsted Castle (unfortunately we didn�t spot it!) where Geoffrey Chaucer was Clerk of Works and Thomas a�Beckett was the castle�s Constable at one time.  Another famous connection was Graham Greene who was born in Berkhamsted.  His father was housemaster and subsequently headmaster of Berkhamsted School.   We arrived at the next lock and I jumped off the boat with the rope to pull her into the bank.  The easiest way to do this is to quickly wrap the rope around a bollard and the forward movement of the boat and the tension on the rope gently ease the boat into the bank.  I did this but noticed the rope turning white as it slid around the bollard � wet paint!  Hmmmm?  Clive took the rope from me and I went up to the lock to set it only to find two men painting the lock gates!  Fortunately they had also been supplied with a windlass so I opened the paddle on my side and the guy over the other side of the lock opened the paddle on his side.  Both men opened the gates for me and shut them behind the boat.  This particular lock also had anti-vandal locks on the front paddles but they didn�t have a key � I did!  Finally we got through the other side, luckily paint free!   We continued on our journey and were soon joined by another boat.  The lady from this boat arrived just as I was raising the paddles on one of the locks, on her bicycle!  She cycled from lock to lock setting them ready for the boats then I would jump off and join her when our boat arrived.  Great teamwork which halved the work and the time taken to negotiate each lock.  It is at times like this when I really wish we had brought our bikes with us � they are still being stored up in Huddersfield at my brother�s!  If we could just figure out a way of securing them on the boat roof when we aren�t needing them we would get them back but we just don�t have room anywhere else on the boat to stow them.   We did several locks with the other boat then we reached Cowroast Marina and this is where we said goodbye as we were pulling in to fill up with diesel.  That in itself was quite a feat as the entrance to the marina was very tight indeed and also at a funny angle.  However Clive is now quite adept in making Lady Arwen go where he wants her to go, providing there isn�t a strong wind blowing.  He did a really good job and managed to pivot the bows on the right bank until she was facing into the entrance and then gently took her through � my hero!  Once moored up inside the marina I went into the shop and procured the key to the pump and Clive filled her up.  We had got quite low on fuel actually and the tank took 180 litres!   We stayed moored up in the marina for a little while longer to give us chance to have a spot of lunch and a cuppa before reversing back and turning again to negotiate the narrow channel back out onto the canal and off on our way.   A short while later we reached the Tring Summit so it was all downhill from there!  Thenn we entered the Tring Cutting which is about a mile long section of canal flanked on both sides by woodland.  This completely cut out the sunshine and it was quite chilly, we both had to put a jacket on!  At the end of the cutting we were straight into another flight of locks, which of course were now going downwards.  After two or three of these locks we caught up with a small Day Boat with about 8 people on board so I had help with the locks again.    When we reached Marsworth we pulled in to fill up with water and let the Day Boat go on its way.  Once the tank was full we set off again but by now it was getting on a bit so we started scouting for a decent mooring.  We past a stretch of visitor moorings but they were full.  I had to chuckle at this widebeam moored at the end of the row of boats � it�s like a floating garden centre!   Soon after there was a swing bridge, which was already open so saved me the trouble of having to jump off, open it, shut it behind the boat and jump back on again!  However as we passed through it the canal opened up and there ahead was a beautiful spot to moor up.  There were a couple of boats already moored but there was plenty of room for us.   It was about 5.30 by the time we stopped so we had had quite a long day, seven and a half hours of cruising and twenty locks!   Thursday June 4th - The weather forecast on the BBC website had informed us that Thursday would be a day of heavy rain and Friday light rain.  Hence we had got as far as possible yesterday to give us the opportunity to hole up for a day while it rained.  I had also decided to get things out of the freezer and have another cookathon whilst it was raining � it didn�t!  How on Earth can they get it sooooooooooooooooooooo wrong!!!  It was absolutely glorious all day, not a single drop of rain fell!  However, we had made the decision to stay put and that is what we did.  I made a casserole and pot of Bolognese and we relaxed in between.  It really was a lovely place to be, full of birdsong and there were swallows dipping and diving over the canal catching flies.  I had been aware of some very loud twittering just above the boat on the bankside, in fact it sounded as if there was a flock of budgies nearby.                                                                 When I looked out of the window there were some baby swallows sitting on a branch all twittering away to themselves and every now and again they would double the volume, this was when the parent birds arrived with food for them.  They were quite adorable, not quite a sleek as their streamlined parents, a bit on the fluffy side.  Bless!   At one point Clive was looking out of the window and I heard him gasp � he had just seen a little animal scuttling along the towpath but before he could grab the camera or call me to look, it had disappeared into the hedge � he is pretty certain it was a stoat!   Well I wonder what tomorrow will bring?    

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