Thursday, 24 January 2019

Aylesbury (can’t seem to keep away)

Wooden boat restorer's boatyard on the Aylesbury arm
If you’re squeamish you may want to skip the first few paragraphs today.

When we move to France, we will no longer be able use pump out machines as black waste is still dumped straight into the canals and rivers over there consequently there are only a handful of machines in the whole country.  This means we need a way of being able to pump directly out of the boat without going via a holding tank.  When we had some of the boat conversions carried out in the summer up in Yorkshire one of the jobs was to install a valve that would meet our needs.

So, on Wednesday morning I decided to check the valve had been installed correctly.  I know we should have checked this before we left Yorkshire but it’s such a hassle as it means moving our mattress and getting under our bed.  Those of you familiar with narrowboats will know that’s it’s a not a simple matter to take a double mattress off a bed as, unlike in a house, there is nowhere easy to put it.

Anyway, I did this and could immediately see that although the valve had two positions, they were obviously the wrong two.  The position it was set to was fine as it connected the toilet to the holding tank, the other position should be to connect the toilet with the sea valve.  What I could see was that the second setting connected the holding tank with the sea valve which would be pointless. I rang the boatyard but the owner was away until Friday so I took a couple of pictures and sent them in a covering email to await his response.

As I said yesterday, it was too dark to take a picture of our mooring once we had finished for the day on Tuesday so here is the mooring as it was on Wednesday after nearly all the snow had gone.

Our Tuesday night mooring on Wednesday morning
The plan had been to walk into Wendover and meet up with our friend Miranda but with our change of plans regarding moving the boat we had to put that off until next week.  Instead, we walked back to Tring to get the car, popped in to see Ann briefly, moved the car to Wilstone and then walked back up the towpath to the boat.

Walking past one of the Tring reservoirs with the Chilterns covered in snow in the background
Just before we got back to the car, we passed the entrance to the Tringford pumping station.  This is on the Wendover arm and used to house two steam engines that pumped water from the reservoirs up to the summit pound of the Grand Union.  The engines have been replaced by electric pumps but at least the building has been retained.

Tringford pumping station
The walk back took us up five locks that were very close together and, as they were all set and overflowing, we opened the top gates to make our descent easier when we came down in the boat in a little while.  As soon as we were back at the boat, we set off down the five locks and moored at the sixth (Puttenham top lock) for lunch.  As all the locks were set with the top gates open, we had a very quick trip.  Before anyone says anything, we weren’t being selfish by opening the gates as we knew there were no boats coming up and if any were coming down they would be able to take advantage of the open gates.

After lunch we set off down the final eight locks into Aylesbury.  It was a gorgeous sunny day but beginning to get quite cold.  Jem Bate’s boatyard is below Puttenham bottom lock and some of the wooden boats he restores can be seen in the picture at the top.  We know Jem through two routes; we had our last boat blacked in his drydock at Bulbourne and he is married to the daughter of a good friend of Ann’s (Karen’s mum).

Good to be cruising down narrow locks after the broad locks of the Grand Union

Buddy as watchful as ever when the boat is in a lock
Ice was forming in a lot of the pounds, but it wasn’t very thick and therefore would do no damage to the blacking.  If the weather forecast is correct it will be quite thick after another couple of days and we wouldn’t want to travel then; hence our rush to get into Aylesbury before the weekend.

Thin layer of ice in one of the pounds
I heard from the Skipton boatyard during the afternoon as my email had been passed onto the owner.  He apologised and agreed a mistake had been made and said that if I got someone local to fix it then he would settle the bill.  I probably won’t bother with the hassle and fix it myself whilst we are moored in Aylesbury basin over the next week or so.  Clearly the job wasn't physically tested or they would have uncovered the problem.

Taking a call from the boatyard when in Red House lock

Cruising back through the paddy fields for the third time since the beginning of December

Footprints from a large bird on a lock gate
It was almost dark when we moored up in Aylesbury basin, but it was sort of nice to be back outside Waitrose even though we prefer being moored out in the country.


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