Paradise Cottage (too dark for a mooring picture)

On Saturday morning we were frozen in for the first time this winter and the forecast is for quite a spell of cold weather.  As continuous cruisers we need to make sure we have the right tanks full and the right ones empty when there is danger of being iced in for a while.  If the forecast was correct, we knew the cut would be clear by Monday, so we planned on moving and doing all the tank jobs on Tuesday.

Sunrise over the ice on Saturday morning

Blue skies a couple of hours later 
Knowing we would be staying at the end of the Wendover arm for another few days we spent the weekend going on walks and generally doing stuff indoors.

When the boat is frozen in, there is quite a grating noise against the hull as the boat moves when we walk around.  This is especially apparent first thing in the morning as the boat hasn’t moved for a few hours and the ice has had time to re-form up to the hull.  I mention this as the noise is one of those that seems to freak Buddy – we wish we knew how we could calm him down enough not to worry about these sorts of harmless (to us) noises.  Jennie (nb Tentatrice) commented the other day that their dog is scared of poles such as fishing rods and brooms, but they have no idea what caused the, apparent, irrational fear.

Ann came around for lunch on Tuesday and, after she left, we set off for Marsworth.  This entailed going back down the Wendover arm to Bulbourne junction and turning left down the seven lock Marsworth flight.

Heading back down the Wendover arm
Karen and Buddy walked to the junction in the lovely sunshine
All the ice had definitely disappeared and, with the highest water levels we have seen on the arm, we made it down to the junction without running aground.  I misjudged the turn and had to reverse back and start again to avoid potentially touching a restored wooden working boat.  The second attempt was fine – as should the first have been – but it was a reminder that it’s never worth being complacent.

Turning back onto the Grand Union
It didn’t take long to get down the seven broad locks and, with no wind on the flight at all for once, the cruise was really rather pleasant, if cold.  At the bottom pound there are a lot of residential boats and we followed a kingfisher for a while flying from perch to perch.  It stayed on the tiller arm of one boat for quite a while and Karen got a great picture of it.

Karen’s kingfisher – she hadn’t realised it had flown on
By the time we pulled up at the services it had started sleeting and Karen went inside to start preparing dinner whilst I got on with the man stuff (well, it is in our relationship).

Once finished, I decided to go down a few locks of the Aylesbury arm rather than moor up in Marsworth.  Karen stayed in and I reversed back to Marsworth junction and set off down the first lock which is a staircase of two.  By this time is was getting quite dark and the sleet was turning to snow.

Going down the first lock in the staircase
It looks light in the picture above, but it really was quite dark and, by the time I moored up after three locks it was pitch black.

I moored in the pound by Paradise Cottage which is the first lock cottage, still standing, down the Aylesbury arm.  With the build up of slippery, wet snow on the roof I decided it was too dangerous to keep locking down on my own.  Locking on your own means you invariably end up climbing up and down lock ladders and along the roof of the boat.

I know I normally include a picture of where we moor for the night, but it was too dark.  Our little afternoon cruise had taken us down ten locks and we had covered about two and a half miles, although, as the crow flies, we ended up only about a mile from where we set off.

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