Tuesday, 23 January 2007

Marsworth and Back

Friday 19 Jan

Colin has had to cry off for dinner on Saturday. So I suppose I will be off on Sunday, but I may just sample the 'Grove' for my self and meet Colin on Saturday next week after my soljourn to Aylesbury. Aylesbury as it happens is where I met W2. I was with the PURPLE HAZE DISCO at the Aylesbury Police social club. The disco was run a Graham Dawson an airforce buddy. W2 was on day release from a semi-secure l**n unit just a few hundred yards from the Rozer Shop. She looked good then, but it was down hill from there. Cest la vie!

Saturday 20 Jan

Didn't wait until Sunday instead I left this morning. I didn't realise that there were so many locks to Marsworth. High winds made the trip very difficult. I arrived at Marsworth on the tunnel light about 7 o'clock. I moored up on the lock mooring right outside the White Lion, something that I have always wanted to do since I used to visit in the 80's. the lock is padlocked due to works going on, on the flight, so no one will be wanting to use the mooring for the purpose of locking through.

Sunday 21 Jan

I took a walk up the canal this morning. I was rather pleased to see that the old lockkeepers house/ toll house has been refurbished and in now the Bluebell Café. The last time I saw this place there were rumours that it was to be demolished. Further up at the reservoir I was surprised to see the high water level. My memory tells me that the last time I saw it there was a beach at one end and an island in the middle, mind you that was 15 years ago.

I had a bacon butty at the Bluebell and returned to the boat where I fed the fish. There were thirty or forty huge carp just wallowing on the surface sucking up soggy bread.

Sue Livens came this afternoon to see the boat. She was most impressed. Sue did move on to nb Valerie and then moved off again. I was dying to ask the story, but decided she would tell me if she wanted me to know.

Monday 22 Jan

I had hoped to refuel at Pitstone on the way down, but they do not have a permit to sell to the public. The next place is Cow Roast the other side of the stoppage. So I set out back to Leighton Buzzard. Daughter Kirsty is bringing son Toby to the boat tomorrow. We will then go back to Marsworth where I will await the opening of the locks. I am down to my last bag of coal unless I can get some from the Tesco garage or homebase I am going to be cold for a few days. Cow Roast will seem a long way off.

Tuesday 23 January

Well I didn't get away from LB today Toby could not be found. Maybe he doesn't want to come, only he knows.

However last night as I was mooring outside Tesco's someone speaking into a radio or tape recorder asked if I was just stopping for shopping. Well given that I was tied up with three ropes and all fenders down I think it was obvious that I was stopping for the night. Some people are dumb. So I told him I was going to the shops and then off down to the 48 hour mooring after. There are no 48 hour moorings, but he was happy with this response. I later found out that he was the mooring warden. He didn't tell me that, which I found rather rude. I know he gets his mooring free (nb Narrow Escape) in return for being a mooring warden, but it's the middle of winter and I was probably the only boat on the 60 yard mooring all week. It's not as if I was preventing others from using the shopping stop

BW should brief their volunteer "Furhers" that being polite is part of the job. I don't mind being questioned by anyone, but manners are cheap and easy to apply. I don't feel disposed to answer any question from nameless strangers in the future, unless the question is "Wanna a beer".
Addendum I went to Tescos late this evening and in the place where I had been planning to spend the night, you know; the 2 hour shopping spot, there were two, not one, but two BW maintenance boats. One rule for us, one rule for them.

Friday, 19 January 2007

Harvest time

Just some of the stuff I 'harvest' from the trees along the way.

Twice in one week

Friday 12 Jan

Blooomin' 'ell it's a long walk into MK centre, especially when you forget to get the main reason for going there. Doh!

Still the area is being battered by high winds. The boat is a bit mobile, but not so much that it causes concern. It could be a lot worse.

Saturday 13 Jan

I went out today to fill up with water. Also remembered to get firelighters, which I forgot yesterday. I met a chap on the nb Prometheus, his first day of a 5 week stay.

Colin and Joy came tonight and we went out to dinner at the SWAN in Salford (Buckinghamshire). I, like a prune, forgot my wallet. I asked to go back but they would have none of it. I didn't even the money for a round. I felt uncomfortable; I never like to go out without 'software' in the pocket. Not to worry my turn when I get to Marsworth.

Sunday 14 Jan

This morning a couple waved to me from the foot path. First off I thought it was my brother and his wife (these eyes are good but have a bit of trouble focusing at some distances). It turned out to be Allan Jones (nb Keeping Up) and Jan aka Cheshire Rose from CWF. So it was all aboard for coffee. Jan liked the boat. She is still hankering after a boat of her own.

Tuesday 16 Jan

Brother Robert and Gilly came over today. Gilly had made up some net curtains for my front doors. They have both been ill during my stay in MK but are better now.

Wednesday 17 Jan

I set off down the canal on my way to Marsworth and made it to Leighton Buzzard. I am supposed to be meeting Colin and Joy just south of the town for dinner at the weekend. While I am waiting for the Marsworth locks to re-open on the 26th of Jan I will spend a few days in Aylesbury.

I stopped at the Globe tonight for dinner. What a lovely meal that was.

I know of no one who has watched the current series of Celebrity Big Brother. Having watched some myself I am not surprised. Vacant, pointless and mind numbing are some of the words you could use to describe it. Are we so hard up for has-beens we have to install an illiterate moron, her boyfriend (Jack Nondescript) and her mother (Ms Downright Ignorant)?

Are we so hard up for programme makers that we are prepared to produce damaging carbon dioxide on lighting this crap?

Jade Goodie said that some celeb mag recognises her as the 25th most influential person in the world, GOD HELP US ALL. Jade couldn't even say 'Influential'. She kinda reminded me of an old air force one liner, 'Six munce ago I kudn't evan spell teknishun, now I are one'.
I know you don't want to hear this, but I am nearly finished. The three younger girls, Jade Daniella and Jo, and Jack (he of no celebrity at all) are the very reason why we know our schools are failing.

I got an inkling tonight that Daniella is going to get shafted over her comment 'I think she should f*** of home' when talking about Shilpa. She will be the fall guy for Jade probably even go to court.

Finished now. Just a bit of cabin fever creeping in there.

Thursday 18 Jan

The wind was particularly strong last night. I woke up at about 6 this morning when the boat lurched. I got up, went to tighten the ropes.

Not being happy with the height of the trees at the Globe I moved this morning into the town centre, right next to a 24/7 Tesco. With the wind still blowing a gale I went shopping. I was disappointed to find that Graham Webb Music had closed down. I used this shop a lot to buy my music gear when I was playing in the church and the band many years ago. I was looking forward to seeing Graham again. However, he did have a shop in Berkhampstead so I may see him there if that is still open.

Good news is that the library has WI-FI. Woo hoo!

Returning from the shops I had a cream cake and went to sleep for a couple of hours. When I awoke the wind had stopped.

The TV reception is better here. CBB is really hitting the headlines. 'H' said of Jade, 'She can't be racist because Jade is of mixed race. My question is, since when has one's race, mixed or otherwise, determined whether or not one can be racist. His world is not the same world I live in.

On the racist front I would say it is racist to assume that Black and Asian people can't be racist. My experience is that the blacker you are the further down the social scale. Let me explain that. Saudis look down on every one, Indians by my experience don’t like Pakistanis. Jews and Arabs hate each other because they are Jews and Arabs. Even in Africa black is black and less black is considered better. In South Africa now the tables have turned. White is now the underclass. Jobs are indirectly advertised as 'Whites need not apply'. In Zimbabwe Robert Mugabe has ousted the whites in favour of blacks. This policy has seriously affected the 'bread basket' of Africa. In Darfur government forces are culling their own people. Saddam Hussein thought that the Kurds were fair game for his 'experiments', because he viewed them as racially inferior even though Kurds are Muslims..

It would be interesting to see how many racist complaints to the CRE are followed up, both white/black and black/white. Given that I have always believed that the CRE is inherently racist I assume that there are very few if any, 'recorded' white complaints against blacks.

The overriding thing I noticed from my many travels abroad is that the vast majority of Asian sub-continentals are very respectful to the descendants of their one time masters. This I don't understand at all.

Through the side hatch

This goose need to be cooked. He is a belligerent little bleeder that attacks old ladies on the towpath. Did you know that they have serrated edges to their beaks? Did you know that their eyes are blue?

Friday, 12 January 2007

At long last

Christmas Eve

Well here I am in B'ham. What a place? Why ever they built Brindley Place up to be an entertainment and eating centre I don't know, but good choice. It's a fabulous place and has to be seen.

The shopping centre is better than London. If I had to choose I would say it is as good as Dubai, if a little colder.

Christmas Day

Kim and Jim came to stay for Christmas. Kim cooked dinner and we, between us downed a few bottles of wine. We had a walk around Brindley Place and K&J agreed with me, it's wicked.

Boxing Day

We set off down the Worcester and Birmingham to give K&J a trip out on the water. We went just a few miles and returned after lunch. K&J left a bit late for her mothers.

The day after Boxing Day

Well bugger this as much as I would like to stay I must move on. I set out about 10 o'clock. By the time I finally stopped I had traversed (is that a good word in this case?) 25 locks. The top of Camphill Locks is to say the least very over stated. The BW station is undoubtedly very nice, but it is a really shit bit of canal. I stopped for the night. Would you believe there is only one mooring ring at the water point and that is not central. Who designed this place.

Ashton Tunnel is one to be wary of. Not only did I crush my coolie hat, but took some paint off the forward right hand corner of the cabin. To travel this tunnel take off the smoke stack and stay as close as possible to the towpath, 'tis better to lose some blacking than lose the topside paint, (or is it?)

Thursday 28 Dec

This morning I pottered along to Smallheath. I wanted to see if my grandmothers old house still stood and it did. I always thought it was No 52 but instantly recognised No 50. The swimming baths was also there at the top of Green Lane unlike my Aunts house in the next road at 10 Millward Street which was now a nice grassy hump. Some of the houses were still standing opposite, but not many. All had, had the fronts extended much like my old house in Calne. Still recognisable, but some how smaller than I remember. Having said that the last time I saw them I was probably only 4 foot tall.

The Swimming Baths (note not pool) is an incredible red brick Victorian building. It must be one of the best examples of this type of building in existence. In time honoured tradition the building is no longer a bath house, but the carved brick decoration still shows the 'Men' and 'Women' entrances. The building has a triangular foot print. The main front entrance comes to a point at the corner of Green Lane and Little Green Lane. A clock tower rises from this end of the site. Though no longer showing hands most of the 4 faces are intact. It is a very ornate tower and it will be a shame to lose it, but lose it we will. The community has no real life memory of the baths when it was a going concern. Most of it's neighbours don't view architecture in the same way we do.

I did not have a working camera with me on my visit so if any one in the vicinity would like to take me some digital pics I would really appreciate it. No Kim I am not having a dig. It was as much for me to remind you about my memory card as you to remember. I have another one somewhere, but can I find it. NO! I really need to find a camera shop.

I am in Solihull tonight.

Friday 29 Dec

Very windy today. Knowle Locks were to say the least difficult. Only manage to navigate error free two locks out of five. An' ain't they big?

Moored tonight at Hatton, by the station. What a place, it has nothing in its favour. No shop, no pub, nowt.

Tonight I watched 'Mrs Henderson presents', very good production. Superb performances from Bob H and Dame whats her face. Will Young, promising, but not out standing. Not bad for a first try though.

So finally we have repaid our post-war debt to America.
My father was stationed at a weapons depot during WW2. His job, testing weapons we bought from the Americans. The way he tells it they were not the best weapons we received. On that subject never forget that 'Lease Lend', one of the means used to give us arms, only constituted about 3% of the total. The Americans demanded that we, the UK, should cash in all our investments in the States. How do you lend someone a bomb? Would you be prepared to accept a bag of shrapnel as a return?. Thanks for your help America.

Saturday 30 Dec. 06

The Hatton Locks are hard work, even harder in the rain. I only managed 10 locks today even though I had help for 2-3-4. After a visit to the café at the top a young couple asked if they could help with the locks. Not being one to look a gift horse in the dentures, I accepted. She was hot, hot, hot. Long blonde hair, long blonde legs, hubba hubba! Of course I don't remember him, but thanks anyway.

This must be one of the worst towpaths on the system. Inches deep in water, and very soggy mud. What is the problem? There are many places above the locks where BW are cutting back encroaching woodland and shredding the cuttings. Would it be so hard to shovel the shreddings on to the towpaths? Anyway I am now drying out everything from my hat to my boots.

So Saddam Hussein is dead. This doesn't surprise me. What does surprise me is that reporters and politicians expected the death to some how cure the problems. The problems of this region will not be cured by a simple hanging, certainly not of such a despicable man. Those that have the responsibility for informing us have no understanding of the Middle East.

There were many other charges to be heard against this man so why not hear all the charges instead of hanging him after the first. Fishy don't you think? Do the powers that be in Iraq have something to hide? Possibly, only time will tell. If they were so keen to 'off' him why not just drop a grenade down the rat hole?

Sunday 31 Dec. 06

The final leg of the Hatton Flight was bloody hard in the wind. I was glad to get to the Cape of Good Hope for a rest. The C of GH is a canal pub. Built in 1802, specifically for the canal traffic. Strange then that this pub displays a notice on their front door 'NO MUDDY BOOTS TO BE WORN IN THE BAR'. This is somewhat difficult in view of the fact that the towpaths here are unbelievably muddy and to get to the pub you have to use the towpath. Even some non boaters access the pub using the lock gates which involves the towpath

Well here we are at the end of yet another year. A year when I finally got out of that hell that is Saudi and took up my new life on board the Milly M. From the frying pan in to the freezer, so to speak. I did think that the temperature would be problem, but not so. Yes it gets chilly but then it would do that if I hadn't been in Saudi.

Monday 01 Jan

The weather was very sunny this morning. Not bad for the first day of the New Year. Colin and Joy (from Sleepy Otter) came to visit on their way back from Birmingham. Not really dressed for a trek down a muddy towpath. It's always very nice to see them both.

Tuesday 02 Jan

This morning I set off on my journey. In the first lock, outside the C of GH, I met who asked if we could go down together, well who am I to say no. He turned out to be Brian D Jarret of Russell Newbery, you know the diesel engine people. Brian is old school his boat KYLE has a RN diesel that just thumps it's way along with an ease that makes my BARRAS Shire sound like it's in a great hurry.

We did 10 locks today and moored up next to the TWO BOATS pub. There is a great crowed in there including an elderly man named Chris a double amputee. Chris is a really nice guy. He has a very good attitude to his disability and knows a whole lot of jokes.

Brian corrected me about the C of GH. He tells me the notice about muddy boots is not aimed at boaters, but hikers/walkers who think it OK to use the toilet facilities of the pub and cover the floor in mud from their boots, not even buying beer. Selfish sods. Boaters on the other hand are welcomed with open arms, muddy boots or not.

Wednesday 03 Jan

Up early this AM and we set off at nine. At the top of Stockton locks we met the crew of Nackered Navvy who I know from CWF. Brian was only going as far as Braunston but we shared the work and arrived at the top of Chalcott locks about 12:30. Here Brian and I shook hands and said our farewells, Brian is faster than me on the straight (no more locks to Braunston) and I turned towards Napton to find a ciggie shop. Not far to go, but again the towpath is in one hell of a soggy state. After getting my nicotine input I passed Brian once again at his mooring at the bottom of B'ston locks. In lock 3 I decided to wait for the boat I could see coming up lock 2 which eased my work load up the next 4 locks. My thanks to the crew of PALLADIN who were on the way to Crick to sell the boat. At the top lock I continued on, even though it was dark through Braunston Tunnel (2042 yards long) I love tunnels. Exiting the tunnel I could have moored up but it is in the middle of nowhere so I headed to Norton junction, in the rain, and moored on the water point above the lock.

I watched JUST THE TWO OF US tonight. Only one comment. Yeah just the one. Marti Pellow should realise that a half shaved beard looks scruffy on him and he would do better to remember that we invite him in to our homes. He should make an effort. He looked like an old dosser.

Thursday 04 Jan

I did only one lock before I saw another boat behind so I waited for them to catch up. The German family on board did all the hard work for me. At the last lock the owner gave me a rather nice hip flask. It should have been me giving them a gift, but he was insistent.

I moored up in Weedon expecting to meet up with Nigel Carton, in that I failed.

Friday 05 Jan

Setting off early I headed towards Blisworth. Just before Gayton Junction a chap on the tow path asked me what was the point of having a mobile if you never answer it. Having met a few weired ones in my time I was confused as to why he was asking me. It was Nigel. I stopped for a coffee and had a look at his new project Chanson D'amour.

Saturday 06 Jan

This morning Colin arrived with a tray of eggs, fresh out of the chicken yesterday. We set off about 9:30 on the way to Milton Keynes. I managed to avoid bouncing off the walls of Blisworth tunnel, but only just. Colin said I should put the internal lights on to illuminate the walls. This caused me some problems in that my eyes will not focus in the distance when there is a brighter light close by so I switched the lights off. I have only ever done tunnels with the lights off and the tunnel light on. At 3057 yards it is a long tunnel. It amazes me that this was achieved by hand in 1805. A previous attempt only 5 years earlier failed to finish the old tunnel. At various points along the new tunnel there are connections through to the other workings. Colin thought he saw a motorcycle tank in one of the horizontal shafts.

It pissed down nearly all day. Oh the joys of boating. We stopped off the marina, at Yardley wharf where Colin has his boat moored, so he could pick up some more waterproofs. From here on I had in the past (2005) taken Colin's boat out on my very first trip. Most of this stretch I did not recognise bar for a few places and a rather large mural at the old rail works.

We arrived in MK about 5 pm with the help of the tunnel light and moored up outside the Black Horse aka The Proud Perch previously the Black Horse, go figure. My brother Robert called to find out where we were. He turned up with the rest of my curtains which were sent to his house, the Prop Protector was also in the parcel. What I need now is to find somewhere to get the boat out of the water to fit it. Should I be doing this? No! Ho hum!

Sunday 07 Jan

I moved the boat today to find a place that was suitable for an elderly person to get on the boat. Daughter Kirsty is coming over with my mother, 83. Mooring was a problem it took 5 attempts to get on the wharf at Campbell Park. The wind was blowing off the towpath and I could not get the damned boat anywhere close.

Tomorrow I need to find a connection and get a few bits and pieces from the stores,

Wind is blowing a gale tonight.

Monday 08 Jan

Milton Keynes has changed since I was last here. The main mall has been extended and a new loop added to the south side. MK has it's own 'eye', the MK.I.

I have moored further up the canal. The wind is blowing me against the bank so now the boat is not moving so much. Last night I had to get up three times in the night to tighten the ropes.

Tuesday 09 Jan

Wednesday 10 Jan

I am beginning to like this boating lark. When I first arrived on the boat twelve weeks ago I weighed in at over 15 stone. In that time I have lost quite bit and now am getting comfortable at around 12st 12lbs, how cool is that? Of course this has its drawbacks. Not so much bulk to ease open the gates.

Thursday, 11 January 2007


Sorry peeps hope to post proper update soon.

At least all the curtains are finally up.