|Jules and Richard leaving after refuelling us on Wednesday morning|
Tuesday was a sort of jobs day. We had to pop into Aylesbury in the morning; Karen dropped me and Buddy at the vets outside of town while she went in to get a few things.
As I mentioned the other day, Buddy has passed his second titre test, so I needed to get his passport stamped accordingly; we then walked into town to meet up with Karen. On the way I saw my first small tortoiseshell of the year, but it never settled long enough to get a good view or picture. Looking at my butterfly pictures whilst writing this blog entry I realise we have no decent pictures of a small tortoiseshell.
I know I have some good physical prints from the days when I used to go butterflying with an SLR camera and macro lens. In those days you never knew what the pictures were like until the film had been processed. Many was the roll of film that was returned with no decent prints produced!
When we got home the weather was still so good, we sat outside for lunch again and whiled away an hour or two before getting back down to chores. I booked our tunnel crossing for four weeks’ time and arranged a place to stay in Auxerre while we await the arrival of the boat at the boatyard. Karen carried on arranging our new shelves – she has now filled one with food jars that used to be hard to get to at the back of a cupboard.
|Shelves stocked but the wine rack getting low – fortunately that’s not the only wine store on the boat|
A couple of people asked how Karen used a boathook to loop a line over a bollard – we were practising when we went to get water on Monday. The answer, thanks to Mike & Aileen’s suggestion, was to by an attachment called a dock-a-reni. This neatly fits to the boathook so that the rope is held in two places and then easily detaches itself as the boathook is pulled away and the loop is pulled tight.
|The black hook about 18” from the end is the dock-a-reni|
Talking about Mike & Aileen, we had one of our regular chats with them and they were pleased to announce that the river levels are nice and low where we are heading for in France. They have thoughtfully been keeping an eye on them for us as this time last year many were in flood and it would have been mad to put a narrowboat in the water in those conditions. The guys at the boatyard we are starting from told us that the yard itself was flooded to the extent that a low loader wouldn’t be able to get in anyway – the highest they had ever known it there.
Miranda came to visit us for the morning on Wednesday and Jules & Richard turned up on their fuel boats while she was here and topped up our diesel and coal. We had a bit of a chat and it transpired that over the years Jules has spent quite a bit of time helping steer her cousin’s hotel boats in France and Belgium. She was obviously well clued up with the difference in cruising between the UK and the mainland.
We dropped Miranda off at her mother’s house in Wendover and then called in to see Ann before returning to Marsworth. We hadn’t seen Dorothy for nearly a year, and it was good to see her looking well and she was particularly pleased to be able to wish us bon voyage. She and Miranda’s father spent many months touring Europe in their caravan with Miranda and her younger sister Gilly, so she understood the excitement of foreign travel.
Over yet another alfresco lunch we decided to have a cruise in the afternoon as the weather was still so warm. As we set off, we saw our first peacock of the year; another one of the five British butterflies that overwinter as adults. Now we have seen brimstones (an amazing number), commas, a small tortoiseshell and this peacock we only have the red admiral to see. Other butterflies are known to overwinter as adults, but they are not yet classified as British residents as they normally migrate from Europe and Africa such as the clouded yellows and painted ladies. Whether you believe in global warming or not it does seem our climate has changed enough recently so that some specimens are able to survive our winters.
|A peacock taken by Karen in 2015|
We headed down the remaining locks at Marsworth towards Cheddington.
|Tee-shirt weather all afternoon|
The wider beam boat in the picture above was built at the same boatyard as our boat and its registration number is only six greater than ours so it must be a similar age.
|Buddy getting a cuddle|
This week has certainly brought out the blossom on the trees and also the remaining daffs on the boat!
|Showing off our daffs going down the last lock of the day, Seabrook 34|
|Our mooring at Ivinghoe on Wednesday night|
Just after we moored up, we had a call from Simon at the boatyard in Migennes to confirm the details for when the boat arrives. One thing he pointed out was that the locks on the Yonne (the river where the yard is) are not opening until the Friday after we arrive. We had obviously misunderstood the wording on the French waterways (VNF) site that gives details of when each river and canal reopens after any winter shutdown. He did confirm that the canal de Bourgogne, which heads off from the river a couple of hundred metres upstream of the yard, opens on the Monday before we arrive. There is a basin at the start of the canal that he suggested we stay in until the Friday, but it did mean going through a lock to get off the river. That lock is part of the Yonne system so he suggested he contacted the lock keepers to make sure they would be around to let us in early.
We haven’t yet decided whether we would head south down the Yonne or south down the canal so staying in the basin for a couple of days would help us decide. As Karen pointed out we will need a couple of days to sort the boat out after the move, restock the fridge and freezer and get food for a week or so.
Our little cruise on Wednesday saw us cover nearly three miles down five locks.