The convoy of three has continued on its merry way. We haven’t had the best of luck so far this week. Martyn sacrificed a screwdriver to the canal gods, and I knocked my water bottle into the water halfway up the Marsworth Flight. It was a hot day and the bottle was full of blackcurrant and blueberry squash; what a waste. Martyn was not happy when the water hose exploded and flooded our well deck either. At least the water was cold.
I’m loving all the uniformly-painted black and white former lockkeepers’ cottages on this section of the Grand Union Canal. It makes you realise what a superhighway this canal was in its day. It joins London to Birmingham and, by and large, it takes the straightest, fastest route. There’s no meandering around hills and valleys, just lock brutally and inexorably following lock. Back in the day this canal certainly had the manpower to cope with it, and the cottages are a testament to this fact.
We passed a film set on the banks of the canal. At first we thought the weird scaffolding was part of the work for HS2. The emerald green colour should have given it away, that and the munchkin village, complete with wicker witch. It was the set of Wicked, and it’s massive.
On reaching the top of the locks we stopped close to the Grand Junction Arms and had a delicious lunch. While we were there the heavens opened, and the ensuing thunderstorm was biblical in its ferocity. It was such a trial that we were stranded in the pub garden for an hour, mercifully under a huge canopy, watching the parasols being bent over by the force of the storm and avoiding the streams and rivulets at our feet. In our haste to get to the pub we hadn’t stopped to put up the pram hood up on the stern of the boat. It took the rest of the afternoon to get everything dried out.
The next day we were warned about a tree across the canal in the Tring Cutting. Of course, it had to be our boat that brought it down, right on top of the cratch cover. Penny and Andrew had already got through unscathed, Karen and Drew were behind us. I managed to stop the boat before the tree limb did any real damage, but it still took Martyn and Drew about an hour to saw it up and get us free. Amazingly there was hardly any damage. The canvas needs a good clean, and one rivet needs replacing, that’s all. And there’s nothing for the Canal and River Trust to do now. Us boaters are resourceful.
Since then we’ve taken root in Berkhamsted. It’s a lovely town, full of interesting shops, with a beautiful old church, a Waitrose and a M&S Food Hall. It’s the first place we’ve stayed I honestly don’t think I could afford to live in, certainly not buy a house, but we’re getting closer and closer to London.
It’s been hot and sunny every day and we are moored under a tree. Somehow I’ve managed to enjoy coffee and walnut cake every day for the past three; in a cafe, courtesy of Karen, and a delicious one that Penny cooked today. We’ve done some light boat maintenance. We went out to eat in the Thai Cottage last night and had the most excellent dinner; it’s a restaurant I heartily recommend. Tomorrow we’re moving on.