Wednesday, 9 January 2019

Marsworth (a room with a phew)

Karen & Buddy ran back down the Aylesbury arm to Aylesbury on Monday morning to pick up the car and move it to Wilstone.  On their return we set off up the remaining nine locks back up to the Grand Union main line at Marsworth junction.  The weather was still unseasonably mild, and it was good to be cruising without needing gloves and other cold weather accoutrements. 

At the fourth lock from the top there is a lock cottage that we have always had an eye on.  On our first trip down the arm a few years ago we got chatting with the owners (then in their 80s) and one of the things they told us was that when they moved there it had no vehicular access.  Once they retired and knew they were going to stay there, they bought land from the farmer and had a driveway installed. 

During our conversation with them it also transpired that the downstairs rooms flood usually at least once a year.  The conversation had gone in that direction because of the atrociously wet weather we were having at the time and the canal was (unusually for a canal) flooding in places.  When we asked them how they coped with the problem, their reply was, “It’s our own little piece of paradise – we would never move”.  Karen & I agreed that if we ever lived in the cottage, we would rename it Paradise Cottage.

At Black Jack’s lock by Paradise Cottage
With so much loose vegetation in the arm, great piles had built up at each lock.  This is where boaters and CRT workers have pulled the vegetation out of the water to stop it blocking the gate and ground paddles.  Whilst Buddy was waiting for us at each lock, he took to sitting on the piles; I assume they either felt warm or cosy or both.

Buddy’s new lock pose
The final two locks are a staircase and after coming out we turned left to start heading north up the Grand Union.  A new development of canal side houses had been built right next to the boaters’ services where we pulled in for a pump out.

Without going into too much detail you can probably guess that having a pump out is not a pleasant affair.  Karen always seems to have made sure she has work to do inside the boat when the operation is carried out!  Interestingly though, we know of at least two boating couples where the roles are reversed on pump out days.

I bet when the houses were sold, the purchasers weren’t aware of the consequences of living next to the boaters’ facilities.

Mooring up for services
As you can see the service shed looks very smart as it was rebuilt when the houses were built.  In fact, compared with most other boaters’ facilities they look really smart, probably a good reason for the owners not realising what they were going to be living next to.

We carried on to the Red Lion end of Marsworth intending to moor for a few days back out in the country where we would get refuelled by Jules on her fuel boat on Tuesday.  When we got to the Red Lion bridge, we saw two working boats breasted up and moored the other side of the bridge.  As we drew closer, we realised it was Jules so edged up alongside the boats to see if anyone was on board.  All was quiet, so we reversed back through the bridge and moored up between two other boats.

Moored in the middle of Marsworth for Monday night
I sent Jules a message to let her know where we were, and she responded saying they would stop off in the morning. 

Our cruise on Monday saw us only travelling two miles but up nine locks.

Tuesday morning dawned bright and sunny and the sun was soon working wonders on the solar panels – the first time for weeks.

A beautiful Tuesday morning
Jules arrived at 8.30am and we took six bags of Excel, filled up with diesel and replaced an empty gas bottle.  Excel is very popular and has to be ordered in advance.  When we last bought coal from her, when we were coming through Milton Keynes a month or so ago, we bought Firegold as we hadn’t ordered any Excel.  It was the first time we had tried Firegold and we have been very unimpressed with it, although it obviously suits some stoves judging by the number of bags we see on peoples’ roofs.  We find it doesn’t burn very hot and it also creates a lot of ash. 

Jules leaving after our early morning delivery
We decided to stay put for the day and went for a couple of walks either side of lunch.  On one of our walks we passed an old ice breaking boat built in 1860 and lovingly restored as a leisure boat.

The ice breaker, Boseley
Apparently seven of these boats were built but were not much good as ice breakers as they were too short to form wide enough channels on bends for the longer freight boats to follow.  At least three more of the original seven survive and are in museums.  It is thought that one reason they survived even though they weren't fit for purpose was that they were used for maintenance work such as tunnel inspections.







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