Friday, 29 April 2016

Duck, we've been to Aylesbury

After leaving Bletchley behind we have made our way down the Aylesbury arm into the basin right in the town centre. Since getting used to the wide locks of the Grand Union, we found the narrow locks of this arm, well, somewhat narrow. Some of the bridges are quite a tight fit, even necesitating the removal of the chimneys at times.
It is well worth the detour, even though the arm is only six odd miles with 16 locks! The canal arrives in a basin with proper piers for visitors to moor to and a Waitrose supermarket alongside.
The town is a very traditional market town with some very fine old buildings as well as the inevitable  modern shopping precincts.
There is a fine statue of Ronnie Barker sitting outside Waitrose, commemorating the fact that his career started in the theatre here. Of course the Captain had to be photographed sitting beside him.
One old coaching inn we found dates bach to the 1400s and is owned by the National Trust. It is not clear how they came by the property but it is still open as a pub. We spent a great afternoon there with the crew of NB Muleless sampling some of the locally brewed ales, including a coffee porter which was delicious. Mmmmmn
The weather has stayed cold, although mostly dry, however on our way back from the 'Kings Head' the black clouds gathered and within minutes of getting back on board the boats were covered with an inch of snow/hail.
We loved Aylesbury, but being only allowed 48 hrs mooring we reluctantly made our way out of the basin this morning and found a mooring in the countryside outside the town.

Monday, 25 April 2016

Thumbs up for Milton Keynes.

Leaving Cosgrove in company with NB Muleless we are now heading for the summit  level at Tring.
First stop was Milton Keynes. In the past we have always gone straight through but, as it was the weekend we decided to stop. It took us several visits to the town before we got used to the layout, but, on reflection, we gave it the thumbs up. Our moorings at Campbel Park were busy with walkers and joggers on Sunday and the walk round the lakes to visit the peace pagoda showed us what a unique environment the residents have. The number of families out enjoying the sunshine showed how much they appreciate it.
On monday we made the short hop to Bletchley in order to visit Bletchley Park, the home of the WW2 code breakers. It is a fascinating place to visit, a real challenge to get ones head round the details of the coding, (and codebreaking) process. You almost need a second visit. Good job the entry ticket lasts a year. We had got talking to a couple who moor their boat at the end of the garden opposite. When I said we were visiting the Park we were kindly offered a lift the mile and a half, which saved us the walk there. It was a generous gesture and shows that the kindness of strangers has not yet completely disappeared.
Thursday saw us moving another short hop as far as 'The Globe' near Leighton Buzzard, which includes the three locks at Soulbury. They need to be operated with care to avoid flooding the pub alongside, however there was a helpfull lock keeper in charge to make sure. The Globe is a very old pub beside the canal and quite close to the scene of 'the great train robbery'.
We were not destined to go in however since the decision was made to walk into town for a curry at the local Wetherspoons.

Monday, 18 April 2016

Dry Dock, and London bound.

It's been a busy time since my last blog. After our return from Cornwall Oakapple has been dry docked at Braunston. It was long overdue for the bottom to be blacked and there were some other jobs to be done, the tunnel bands and gunwales repainted and a broken hinge to be mended on the bow locker. The marina at Braunston did a very efficient job, into the dock on time and the quality of the work was excellent.
It is the first time we have seen Oakapple out of the water and it is a revelation to see quite how deep she actually is.
We slipped out of Braunston on Saturday morning heading down the 'Grand Union' for our summers cruising. The plan is for London and the Thames, in company with NB Muleless as far as Watford,ish
They were already at Weedon and by midweek we caught up. The weather has been a bit patchy but we had a good run down the locks at Stoke Bruerne and moored at Cosgrove for a couple of days. There is some great walking around the Village, with paths along the river Great Ouse, which the canal crosses on an iron trunk aqueduct via a great embankment. The sun shone and it was quite hot at times. As often happens, there was an impressive thunder storm all around which certainly rattled the portholes.