Great reunion

January 26, 2011

Alan went off for a long awaited reunion yesterday when he returned to a former workplace for the retirement do for a colleague that he worked with for many years. He still isn’t driving so I took him up to Luton and came back for him two hours later (filling in my time at a nearby retail park). He’d had a great time meetings lots of friends (sounds like I was collecting him from a kid’s birthday party!) Anyway he is arranging for us to meet up with some of them as we travel back north.

It was a day for dropping Alan off at places because I then took him to an osteopath to look at his heel. It had been so painful for days though a couple of ibruprofen tablets had reduced some swelling overnight. He isn’t supposed to take them because of a former stomach ulcer but sometimes it’s the lesser of two evils. The osteopath stripped him to his underpants (which surprised him a bit!), manipulated his heel and gave him additional exercises and recommended hot and cold treatments daily. So the frozen peas and hot water bottle are back in action. He’s to go back once more.

My last taxi driving was to drop him at the Nascot Arms in central Watford to meet a friend for a drink and a Thai meal. Its always been a favourite pub of ours ever since we lived in West Watford 30 years ago and one where we often arrange to meet friends. The Thai food is a new addition and Alan said he had an excellent meal and it wasn’t expensive. They also had one of the big Premier League games on the TV screens so the place was packed when I dropped in to collect him and say hello.

Statistics so far:-

2144.42 Miles, 1213 Locks, 120 Swing Bridges, 82 Lift Bridges, 36 Tunnels


Emptying the bilges

January 24, 2011

We knew that there was water in the bilge under the prop shaft. Yesterday we took off the engine cover and found that there was a considerable depth of water around the engine as well. It had been dripping in over the Christmas period, which was surprising as we had left the boat for three months at the beginning of 2010 and there was no water in the bilge when we returned. The bilge pump only works when there is enough depth and won’t reach to the area around the engine so the mop and bucket had to come out and we took it in turns to wield it. This was one of the worst occurrences so it took quite a while along with lots of comments from passersby about whether we were sinking.

We were cheered up by a large group of canoeists who entered the canal next to Lazy Days. Alan has been yearning to take up canoeing or sculling with a club and this group was of all ages, some at least ten or more years older than us so he was inspired!

Statistics so far:-

2144.42 Miles, 1213 Locks, 120 Swing Bridges, 82 Lift Bridges, 36 Tunnels


Where’s the recession in Rickmansworth?

January 23, 2011

On Saturday evening we met up with friends Pete and Wendy in Rickmansworth. When I telephoned to make a table reservation earlier in the week I couldn’t get a table at Zaza until 9.30 and we settled on Maurizios at 8.30, and it seemed we were lucky to get that. On our way into town we passed the Feathers which has morphed into a very pricey dining pub over the past couple of years. In the past we would have met there, but it was now full of tables of diners. Instead we were to meet at the Coach and Horses for a drink beforehand but as we walked up Church Street we had a call from Pete to say that the C and H was jam packed so we diverted to the Fox and Hounds. I had eaten at the Coach and Horses on Thursday and it was full then as well.

When we arrived at Maurizios it was heaving with people and the noise level was immense. The staff was running round madly and we had to dodge our way to a table, not a particularly big table for four people it must be said. We felt under some pressure to make our choices from the menu and it certainly wasn’t a good venue for meeting old friends and having a chat. I felt my voice going through the meal and it was very hard for all four of us to have a joint conversation. However the food, despite the rush and number of customers, was very good. I don’t think we could fault it.

As we went back past the Feathers we saw that it was so packed there was hardly space to force anyone else in. This is all such a contrast to so many other places we have visited over the past year and considering that this is the time in January when people are wondering whether they will last till payday, all the more remarkable.

This morning we had a visit from Valerie and Iain with their grandchildren: it was the first time the children had been on a narrowboat so they had a good look round before going off to the playground.

Statistics so far:-

2144.42 Miles, 1213 Locks, 120 Swing Bridges, 82 Lift Bridges, 36 Tunnels


A walk around Stockers Lake

January 22, 2011

I had an invigorating long walk today with my friend Valerie who lives nearby. We like to walk and chat, and a favourite walk is along the canal as far as Springwell Lake, round the lake and back along Stockers Lake. These are former gravel excavation pits and now great wildfowl refuges. The paths are sometimes rather waterlogged so we both wore wellies today, and the rain neatly sandwiched itself at either end of the walk and gave us some watery sunshine in between. It was wonderful to have the good stretch of the legs that I have been missing while Alan has a poorly heel. He usually likes that walk as well.

As we came back up the final stretch of the path through the Aquadrome a red jacketed scooter rider came hurtling towards me with a big smile: it was Ralph enjoying the wide open path with his Daddy while his Mum and Maggie were at the supermarket. So we had a demonstration of his latest skills. He is a bit miffed that now he has mastered the scooter he’s not allowed to go into the skate park round the corner with the big boys.

Pictures from yesterday.

Thames towards St Pauls

The Comedy Club

Trafalgar Square

Trafalgar Square

The fourth plinth

Fountain

Northumberland Avenue

Nelson

Fountain

Statistics so far:-

2144.42 Miles, 1213 Locks, 120 Swing Bridges, 82 Lift Bridges, 36 Tunnels


A day of culture

January 21, 2011

We had such an enjoyable day in London on Tuesday that we had decided to go back down today, especially as there was a free lunch time concert at St Martin-in-the-Fields. We caught the 10.08 to Marylebone, along with a very smart collection of fellow passengers. You could tell that they came from expensive parts of the Chilterns; the women were very expensively dressed and all very thin!

We started off by catching the tube to Embankment and then walked the two sides of the Hungerford passenger bridges so we had a full range of views. We always marvel that we had travelled under the bridge on the boat when we did Limehouse to Teddington; the currents always look so strong and the river so wide, but busy and in that stretch very congested with boats moored mid channel.

By the time we had wandered slowly up to Trafalgar Square and Alan had taken lots of pictures it was 12.00 and we decided to eat before the concert. I had spotted another branch of Tossed (not Tossers as I called it the other day, thanks Adam!) almost opposite the Colosseum so we went there and had another couple of really good meals (mine with cous cous base and Alan with a noodle base) followed by carrot cake with a lemon cream filling which was wholefood enough to let us pretend it was really good for us. It was certainly delicious.

Then it was off to St Martins and a piano soloist from Azerbaijan studying at the Guildhall. She played Haydn and Schumann quite magnificently.

We finished with another segment of the National Gallery through the rooms devoted to the Impressionists, Van Gogh, Picasso and Cezanne. It was the first time I had seen one of the Sunflowers in actuality and it was interesting to see the textures of the paint layers. However when I said to Alan that many of the paintings worth, I am sure, vast sums of money, would have been completely overlooked by me at a local art exhibition as not being very good, he said he had just heard someone else saying exactly the same thing. We went on to the Turners and the Constables, and it was a great pleasure to see to Turners in real life: the Constables are rather heavy and dark for my taste though Alan really likes them.

A little walking through art galleries goes a long way so we headed back to Rickmansworth and went for an early Friday evening drink at the White Bear.

Alan is cooking tonight so will put some pictures up tomorrow.

Statistics so far:-

2144.42 Miles, 1213 Locks, 120 Swing Bridges, 82 Lift Bridges, 36 Tunnels


Planning our 2011 journey

January 20, 2011

Now that we have had our Christmas sojourn down near our family we must plan our 2011 canal trip. Last year we missed out on the Lancaster and a trip over the Leeds and Liverpool so this year we plan to do both. We are waiting for the Ribble dates and are hopefully down for an early crossing. We need to get passed the locks at Nash Mills before February 14th and then we will need to wait for the Buckby locks to open before heading up the Leicester canal and the River Trent to do the Leeds and Liverpool from East to West and then we will head over to the Lancaster.

We haven’t decided what to do after that but we have yet to do Birmingham and a revisit to the Shroppie also looks enticing.

Statistics so far:-

2144.42 Miles, 1213 Locks, 120 Swing Bridges, 82 Lift Bridges, 36 Tunnels


A visit to Cockfosters

January 19, 2011

Today I went well away from the water, over to Cockfosters to meet my friend Lynne for a lunch and chat day. Cockfosters was chosen as a good mid point to meet and it proved a great choice. We stated in a very bustling café and then after a walk had delicious lamb souvlaki in a Greek restaurant. Both places seemed content to allow us to sit and chat for hours and that’s exactly what we did. On the road from the M25 to Cockfosters I passed some of the biggest and most slightly vulgar mansions I had ever seen.

Then it was back to pick up Alan and off we went home for tea. It was a real fishy meal, starting with mussels, which 2 year old Ralph devoured with glee, managing to use an empty shell with great professionalism, followed by smoked cod with mashed potato and hollandaise sauce. And to finish off there was a strawberry trifle, it certainly finished me off after a day of eating. A long walk is called for tomorrow I think.

Statistics so far:-

2144.42 Miles, 1213 Locks, 120 Swing Bridges, 82 Lift Bridges, 36 Tunnels


The Bridge at Riley

January 18, 2011

We had to make a trip down to London today. Normally we would have walked to the tube station but that was too far for Alan so we drove and then found that there were no vacant parking spaces at the station car parks and we were getting late. I chucked Alan out at the station and found a cark park on the edge of town and hurtled back. The second shock was the price of the tickets, £11 for a day pass which is vastly more than it was before. Alan realized too late that he could have paid less with his railcard.

After our meeting we thought that we should make the most of being in town given the price of the tickets. We went into a branch of Tossers (I think it was) and had very good tossed salads for lunch, reasonably priced. Haven’t seen them before. Then we caught a bus down to Trafalgar Square and admired the fourth plinth and the view over London from the entrance to the National Gallery. It’s a dreadful thing to admit that we have never been into the Gallery (though I have spent a morning in the Portrait Gallery), at least we can’t remember it. So we are going to visit in bite sized chunks and started with two or three galleries today. Its very tiring walking and standing even for those without heel impairments and I have a tolerance of an hour max for the stuffy air in galleries and museums, then I start flagging. As we are lucky enough to have free entrance (for how long I wonder) it means that lots of short visits are possible.

We did visit the Bridget Riley exhibition and Alan was recalling that when he was playing with a recorder group at Morley College years ago, one of the lecturers told him that when she had told her husband that the college had a Bridget Riley he had, a day or two later, told her that he hadn’t managed to find the Bridge at Riley.

After the Gallery we went to the café in the crypt at St Martin in the Field but decided that we couldn’t justify pieces of cake at £3.40 each, though noted that there are several lunch time concerts each week. We pottered on to Leicester Square tube station and back to Rickmansworth. The foot seems to be holding out!

Statistics so far:-

2144.42 Miles, 1213 Locks, 120 Swing Bridges, 82 Lift Bridges, 36 Tunnels


Crutches

January 17, 2011

Alan spent today with his feet up while I was having a very pleasant lunch with a friend. He says that he is back to where he was before he fell on Saturday. I went to a mobility shop and bought a pair of crutches. I had rung on Saturday to ask the cost and was told £21. Today the chap who was running round like a headless chicken though I was the only person in the shop said that he had a pair of crutches used just once and then returned, hence the slight marks, normally £54 but I could have them for £30. Oh, I said, I was quoted £21 when I called on Saturday. Can’t think why you were told that, he said, but in that case you can have them for £20. Alan hasn’t really tried them as yet but we have a fair distance along Baker Street to walk from the station tomorrow so they will be tried out.

There was a lot of rain overnight and the path and car park are a sea of muddy water so I dug out my wellies from the garage at home and have had a lovely time stomping around in puddles.

Statistics so far:-

2144.42 Miles, 1213 Locks, 120 Swing Bridges, 82 Lift Bridges, 36 Tunnels


The shortest of journeys

January 16, 2011

We had found that we couldn’t get TV reception where we were moored opposite Tesco, and also thought that it would be good to be moored near the path from the aquadrome carpark. (We have been gripped by Zen on Sunday evenings and wanted to watch the final in the series tonight.)

There were a couple of spaces right by the pathway so we moved along: Alan ruled out the first because it would have put the aerial into the trees. We couldn’t move into the space next to it because there were indicators that another boat had left for a short time and I did remember that it was only a one boat length when I did a recce the previous day. Alan checked by asking one of the other boaters from further along. Oh yes, he said, it’s a 70 footer, he’s been there for about three years. Now that’s very interesting, there may be some exaggeration but I doubt that two weeks would be stretched to three years and we are moored on the visitor moorings, most definitely not long term permit moorings.

Anyway, we moved on a couple of places, on a bit of a bend but there’s enough depth and we have a field opposite. We don’t like being opposite houses because we feel guilty about running our engine. The TV reception still isn’t brilliant but we will be able to watch Zen!

Today we did 0.35 Miles

Statistics so far:-

2144.42 Miles, 1213 Locks, 120 Swing Bridges, 82 Lift Bridges, 36 Tunnels