A Straight Course. 17th September

Sainsburys, Aspley to Cassiobury Park

Thankfully those people who like to leave rubber on tarmac stopped their screeching around the car parks before we went to bed which left us with just the noise of water over flowing the lock. When we’ve moored here before Mick has walked back and emptied it for a quieter nights sleep, but at the moment we don’t have any difficulty dropping of to zzz land.

First lock of the day

We were on our way after Mick succeeded in buying a full Saturday newspaper and some firelighters. The nice lady in Sainsburys tracked him down once she’d found all the bits that come with a Saturday paper.

Grown up arch, kiddy arch

Brrr chilly! Might have to get the hand warmers out if it carries on like this. Fewer dog walkers this morning but more boats on the move. We dipped under the larger of the two arches at Bridge 154, passing where we’d watched a Kingfisher fishing years ago.

Nash Mills Lock 68 had a new blue sign as others had yesterday. Then Red Lion Lock had one two, but it wasn’t Red Lion anymore! Nash Mills Lock 69?! We wonder why locks along this stretch have had a change of name. Then we must have crossed a C&RT border of some sort as at Lock 69A there was no sign at the lock and Home Park Lock 70 still has a black and white swan and bridge logo.

Lacking teeth

We were following another boat, the off side paddle at 69A was dropped. When I came to close it I realised why. I’d only just walked past it on the beam and the catch jumped out of the teeth, the paddle rushing to the ground. A lot of the teeth have been lost, a tweet was sent to C&RT as the paddle is on a suicide mission.

Paddle boarders passed us at Home Park Lock. I waited until they’d got far enough ahead and steady on their feet for me to lift the paddles to empty the lock. The scaffolding on the M25 viaduct has now mostly been removed, some left at the far end for comfort. It all looks very smart under there now.

Inside the M25

A boat came towards us from the lock, they seemed to want to pass on our right, but then we twigged that they were picking up crew some distance away from the lock. They pulled in only to get grounded at the stern. With plenty of people on board they needed to move the weight to the bow to help rather than everyone come to the back to try to push them off. They managed it in the end.

We just beat a widebeam to the two Hunton Bridge Locks, the chap kindly walked ahead to set the lower one for us, so in return I lifted a paddle for them once we were through. Under Lady Capel’s Bridge a cyclist in red a bright contrast to the white and green. Past the posh golf course and a huge pile of rubbish left around the dog pooh bin, such skuzzy boaters!

This might have been here a while

Now the two Cassiobury Locks. This is where we caught up with the boat ahead. The crew chatted and informed me they were letting water down into the pound between the locks, it is quite often low due to leaky gates and having to leave the bottom lock empty.

Last lock of the day

Their boat was just a rusty hull, filled with all sorts of rubbish, no roof, just plenty of beer cans. The boat was bow hauled out of the bottom of the first lock and I half expected them to wait for us at the second lock as they pulled themselves between the locks. But no. We waited for them to close up after themselves, me closing a half lifted paddle and helping with gates. I got a very slurred thank you from them and comments about the gates not opening fully, they suggested that the next lock was totally blocked. We’d wait and see how many boats were moored waiting for it to open, hopefully we’d find room for ourselves to moor.

Dappled mooring

We were fortunate, a length of armco vacant before the line of boats before the lock. We’d reached our destination for the day and before lunchtime. I walked up towards the lock to check if there was anywhere nicer, but we’d actually got a really good spot. Five and a half hours in Tilly wonderland.

There was a cake to bake, pasta dough to finish off. I’d decided to make three times the quantities of pasta I normally do in case two was a little bit short, but couldn’t find a new bag of tapioca starch, a main ingredient in many gluten free things. Thankfully we’re close to Watford, with several Asian shops, so Mick was dispatched on a bike.

Avalon Two heading northwards

During the afternoon we were passed by several boats, one being NB Avalon Two, They stopped for a quick hello but as they were sharing locks with another boat they needed to be on their way. Lovely to see you Helen and Pete.

Later on, the boat we’d followed down Cassiobury Locks came past breasted up with another boat. Music, smoky engine, shouting, I hoped they’d keep going. Their course was a surprisingly straight one, they’d been drinking for at least 5 hours by now, but this actually meant they didn’t manage to negotiate the bend, getting stuck on the bank for a while. But thankfully they managed to correct their course and headed back up the locks and out of ear shot.

Steering with the aid of poles and beer

Three dough balls resting in the fridge, one cake iced, bathroom given a good going over, clean pooh box for Tilly and all windows washed inside. The props list for panto was updated then we could relax in front of the TV and stove with a glass of wine.

11 locks, 5.42 miles, 1 newspaper, 500grams tapioca starch, 5.5 hours shore leave, 1 clean bathroom, 1 location relayed, 1 cake, 2 much pasta, I hope it freezes!