Category Archives: Leighton Buzzard

What Did We Do?! 14th September

Stoke Hammond Lock 23 to below Lock 37

Soulbury Three

Plenty of boats moored on our way to the Soulbury 3 Locks, one right by the lock landing that had come past us late last night, would they be awake and ready to share the locks? There was no sign of movement.

There was a boat just entering the middle lock of the three and the bottom lock was all but empty, so I lifted the paddles and waited for it level out. Well that was the idea, except the chap above lifted the paddles filling the pound in between so that it almost over topped , the bywash ran and water bubbled up through the ground paddles in our lock, it took an age for it to level out. What a waste of water! If it had been us coming down we’d have waited for the lock below to start filling before lifting our paddles so that our lock full could fill their lock and not just bypass it going round the bywash! It certainly didn’t make his descent any the quicker.

Leighton Buzzard Lock

When we’d pushed off this morning we could see our breath but by now the sun was starting to peek it’s head out between the clouds. At Leighton Buzzard Lock the sky was turning blue, no sign of anyone wanting to move. The Wyvern Hire base had three boats in, the rest of their massive fleet being kept busy, most of them north of here.

Shopping to the hatch

We pulled in at the shopping mooring alongside Tescos and Mick headed off to see if our click and collect order could be collected early. He returned with the crates on the trolley which were emptied straight in through the hatch. We allowed ourselves a morning cuppa sitting down inside but were soon on our way again, plenty more locks to work through today.

The new surface on the towpath seems to have caused consternation amongst local boaters but from what we could see there was still a good green edge to put your spikes into which plenty of boats had succeeded in doing. A Diamond Resort boat had just passed us, we hoped they’d be carrying on, a locking partner, but no they’d pulled in.


We passed Joules Fuels who were breasted up, a little awkward both boats being on the move for us to top up with diesel. A couple of bags of coal would have been good too. I’m sure they’d have obliged but we’d only just got started again.

Before we got it wrong

As we approached Grove Lock there was a boat descending. Mick held back. The chap opened the off side bottom gate and started to bow haul his boat out. He stopped and started gesturing to us. What was he trying to say/ask? Was he asking if we were using the lock? Surely that was fairly obvious as we’d come past the winding hole. He gestured some more, What? No idea. We tried signalling that we were waiting for him to leave the lock to be able to use it. More gestures. Mick moved Oleanna over towards the towpath as that is what it looked like he wanted us to do even though we were quite some distance away.

He stepped back on his boat and started to move it forward, thankfully leaving us an open gate. As he passed us we got a rather snotty look and then as he went on his way he was shaking his head. What did we do? Or what hadn’t we done? We had no idea. Maybe he wanted us to open the other gate, meaning extra work to close his. We are still baffled.


The flower baskets were as good as ever at the pub, the first Fullers sign, we’re in the south now! The locks from here on come at mile or half mile intervals, not long enough to put the kettle on. We had to be following someone as most locks were full.

Church, Slapton, Horton. The Whipsnade Lion.

We met two pairs of boats coming down in the same pound.

The two Invinghoe Locks.

The three Seabrook Locks. Followed by the swing bridge.


By now we were feeling a touch pooped. Should we tick the next two locks off the list for tomorrow? We waved at the Margees house as we always do, even though Alison and Laura sold it before we even met them.

The decision was made that if the next lock was full we’d moor up for the day. If empty we’d take advantage of it. Thankfully it was full, draining itself, but full. There were a couple of boats moored below the locks, a bit of a git gap going on between them, but enough space for us at the end. As we pulled up Mick made a comment to the chap behind, ‘Looks like you’ve a new neighbour’. The chap just grunted. When Mick asked if he had a dog, ‘No pets on this boat!’ We let Tilly out.

About ten minutes later the chap behind us pushed of, pulling in on the other side of the boat ahead of him. Had we done something wrong again? Had Tilly been for a walk through his boat? Another boat arrived, winded and then pulled up in front of Mr Grumpy, they’d had a rendez vous and it looked like we’d taken the space he’d been saving for his mate.

One very late lunch was had, even Tilly was hungry although we didn’t appreciate her bringing a friend in with her for lunch!

Today we got the official confirmation that the appointment we’ve been aiming for will be going ahead. About a month ago Heather Bleasdale got in touch, she was going to be taking part in the River Thames Reflections Flotilla. Around a 150 boats would be taking part, all illuminated with white lights, the first night time flotilla on the Thames and it was to be part of the Platinum Jubilee Celebrations. To take part you had to have registered an interest back in May, we’d obviously missed that date when we first heard about it all. But they were short of a few boats, Heather dropped us a line to see if we were interested. Our original plan would have us at Brentford on the day, a slight alteration of route and timings and we’d be able to join the flotilla.

We applied including a photo of Oleanna, it took a few days before we got our Congratulations email from Thames Alive, we’d been accepted. Now all we needed was loads and loads of white lights. First we aimed to borrow extra lights which Ken and Sue kindly helped us out with. Then we ordered more as some of their lights were faulty. Then three locks broke ahead of us. Then the Queen passed away, it was always a possibility. Would the flotilla go ahead?

Thames Alive hoped that with some small alterations to the event that Buckingham Palace would give the go ahead. Today permission was given. Instead of being for the Jubilee, ‘the flotilla will express the river communities’ sadness at the passing of Her Majesty the Queen’. So we have to keep up the hours to reach London for the 24th September.

13 locks, 11.38 miles, 1 swing bridge, 1 click and collect, 1 sitting down tea break, 15:45 lunch break, 3 waterside cats, 2 grumpy men, 1 mouse, Act 1 re-read, 1 Royal appointment to keep.

Sitting Out The Storm. 9th February


A wet and windy BUMingham

Mick did venture out today in full waterproofs. He was convinced that the level of the canal had risen so walked down with some rubbish to the bins and then onto the top of the Farmers Bridge flight to see if the water was flowing over the top of the gates.

The wind and rain for much of the day wasn’t as horrendous as we’d been expecting. The occasional squally shower and big gust of wind, but certainly nothing as rocky as we had last summer when we were moored in Marlow. That storm made me a touch seasick, but today was nothing of the sort. I think we had chosen our spot well.


Mick thought he’d chosen well for his little walk, a lull in the rain. But of course things can change very quickly and he was very glad he’d put all his waterproofs on when the heavens opened. The level was up but nowhere near going over the top gates.

Model bits

Tilly resigned herself to checking the insides of her eye lids for much of the day and I got on with some more model making. I made the main part of the set, I just need to think out how to change the seasons easily and how I want my sideways trees to look.

Snoozy day

Late afternoon the boat in front of us started up their engine, turned on some load music and proceeded to untie. The wind did seem to have calmed down somewhat, but still it was a strange time to be heading off just as it was getting dark. A few days ago they arrived just after a comment was made on a Facebook boating group about a boat coming up Farmers Bridge with the crew pissed and leaving gates open. Maybe it was a coincidence them arriving twenty minutes later, but maybe not.

Farmers Bridge top lock

They reversed out of their mooring in front if us. It was very obvious that they would hit us and it soon became very obvious that they would also hit the boat opposite us at the same time! We watched as they continued to reverse back to Old Turn Junction the wind helping them to wind even before they wanted to. A half hour later there was a comment on Facebook about a speeding boat going through Gas Street Basin. The boat across the way piped up, then someone else around the corner, then the boat even further ahead of us. Everyone was keeping an eye on social media. Hope the boat got to where they were hoping without causing too much upset, but what a day to be cruising!

Sunday tea, yum

We rounded off the day with roast chicken and watched the new episode of Endeavour. The scene of the murder was at Church Lock near Leighton Buzzard on the Grand Union Canal which is quite some distance away from Oxford where everything else was happening in the story. Also a boat was mentioned going through Braunston, then it arrived at a very rural Gas Street Basin just a day later! Some speedy boating there. Not sure they can use artistic licence as an excuse, but at least they were continuing on from Morse where the canals in Oxford were always broad ones.

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 blowy day, 1 wet day, 3 huge rain showers late in the evening, 1 soggy Mick, 1 bored Tilly, 12ft of garden fence, 3ft gate, 60 seats, 1 roast chicken, 2 speedy boats, 2 bumps.

Just Stretching My Legs. 20th June

Leighton Buzzard to Seabrook Lock 35

Whilst Mick had been faffing with his new coat, Tilly managed to take advantage of a door left ajar by me and headed for some unscheduled shore leave. I witnessed the event, but with hands full, it starting to rain and a distinct urge to avoid doing a rugby tackle head first into a large pile of dog pooh by the boat she managed to head off down the towpath! I followed not too hot on her heels but close enough to hopefully be able to lung for a grab. This however just means that she carries on down the towpath away from the boat!

A none too shy heron just behind our boat

A runner and cyclist helped in stopping her in her tracks, the need for safety back at the boat became more important until she met a woofer. She then took a detour into Jewsons to sit in a Buddleia bush. I tried being the most interesting mad cat woman to no avail. So I just gave up! Walked back to Oleanna only to be followed by our four legged friend, who insisted on getting back on board unaided. I’d just wanted to stretch my legs, that’s all! Don’t know what all the fuss was about.


With vouchers for £4 off a £20 shop at Waitrose we headed into town to see if we could spend £20 on things we needed before leaving Leighton Buzzard. At first it was hard but then we spotted a few bargains, like dishwasher tablets at almost half price and these ramped up our total. We not only had enough for a free newspaper, but also for the £4 discount. A bargain shop.

One of the best boat names we’ve seen in a long time

With everything stowed we pushed off and made our way towards Grove Lock. Here a group of chaps opened up the bottom gates for us so that we could join NB Yarak to go up (we’ve been playing leapfrog with them for a few days).

The Grove, on the border to The South

The Grove looked as inviting as ever, but we managed to resist the lure of a pint of Fullers early afternoon. We pulled over to empty the yellow water, had some lunch then tried to push off. In our experience it’s usually quite windy here. NB Yarak had filled with diesel across the way and was now wanting a mooring. One second of looking elsewhere and the wind caught their bow just as Mick was trying to do a reverse Andy to get the bow out against the wind. Yaraks button just gently swept our cabin side, removing some of the dust we’d proudly been collecting.

Shame the no fishing sign is on the other side of the post

Our next obstacle was a fisherman on the lock landing at Church Lock. We were pulling in to drop me off, he clocked us, but did nothing about his rod that was in the cut. We then got blamed for not giving him the heads up that we’d be coming in. I left Mick to explain about Lock Landings and walked up to the lock. This was very full and a boat was just pulling up above, so I helped him down before we made our way up.

Church Lock

The lock cottages along this stretch are all individual, some face away from the canal, some to it and some look down the length. Each boasts when it was built. The one at Slapton Lock is for sale at the moment, no wonder the grass is looking very neat at the lock! Details here.

Moody skies

We’d been aiming to moor near Pitstone Lock for the day, but decided on a mooring below Seabrook Lock instead, just that bit further away from the railway. This of course confused a single hander who’d just arrived at the lock which was just about in our favour as we reversed away from it.

Pretty sky

Tilly was now allowed out to explore for the evening.

Caution Trip Hazard

7 locks, 1 shared, 5.67 miles, £4 off, 1 rod, 1 moody but sunny day, 1 escapee, 1 moody cat, £650,000, 1 slightly quieter mooring, 3 bricks, 2 pockets.

Baby Baby! 19th June

Leighton Buzzard

Ted, my god son, with his brand new first cousin once removed

With thundery rain forecast we decided to stay put in Leighton Buzzard today.
We woke to the news that my best friend, Emma in Australia had become a Great Aunt overnight. Photos of Nellie and Steve with their new baby girl were flying through the air from hemisphere to hemisphere, all are doing well, no mention of a name as yet.

A good shop front high up, might be useful for Panto

What to do on a wet day in Leighton Buzzard? Mick wanted to get some new waterproofs so we went into town to see what we could find. A branch of Millets came up trumps with a new bright blue (lined in red) coat and some considerably more sober black over trousers. I’ll make sure I warn you before I post a photograph as the coat is very bright! Sadly they didn’t have a new coat for me, I don’t do pink and pockets closed with buttons don’t make sense to me. A more practical coat is required.

Next we walked up to find Lake Street.

Yesterday Mick had decided to see if he could find out where his Grandfather had been born. His family are pretty good with family history and he knew that Phillip had been born in Leighton Buzzard, but where exactly? Last night he’d signed up to and got hold of a copy of the 1871 census which listed his Great Grandfather William Henry Chignell a year before Phillip was born.

1871 census

The family is listed as living on Lake Street. No house number is shown, just a schedule number. Half of Lake Street has been redeveloped over the years, so it may be that the actual building no longer stands, but it was worth a try. Lake Street is also where the library is, so we went in to see if they could help.

Knitted ladies
Blue Tit

The two ladies sat at the desk did their best to be helpful. House numbers should have been listed by that time, but no more information was found. Mick was signed up with a library card so that he could use the library’s Ancestry account for free. Here he searched through all sorts of records sadly to no avail. I on the other hand wandered around looking at a knitted display and reminiscing of my days when I worked as a book seller.

Phillip was born somewhere on this street

A couple of suggestions have been made to try looking at Family Search and to ask at the library to see if they have any Victorian trade/people directories that his father may be listed in. Thank you Kath and Kay. William and his family moved around quite a lot, in the census he is listed as being a professor of music, an organist, elsewhere he is listed as a travelling salesman. A birth certificate for Phillip might give us more, but as we’re just passing through more local detailed searching may have to wait until next time we’re in Leighton Buzzard.

The library

Dark clouds accompanied us back to the boat, maybe the really bad weather was about to hit. Tilly complained that she wasn’t allowed out. Jewsons has easy canal towpath access for cats and they constantly seem to be using forklifts, so Tilly had to wait until they closed for the day, but this still gave her a few hours of exploration.

Late afternoon we received our second lot of baby news for the day. Ruth, Mick’s niece has had a baby girl, Penelope, a couple of days ago. All are doing well and Anne, Micks sister is on hand for Granny duties. So the next generation are increasing in number, wonder how they will trace us all in the future, all on line I suspect.

As we waited for the deluge to arrive I packed up my socks ready to be dispatched tomorrow. They have turned out rather well I think, I’m glad as they have taken a lot of patience firstly in finding the yarn, then getting it and thirdly knitting it up. I’ve actually knitted three socks to get two. Out of interest the other day I looked to see if there was any tracking information about the two orders that didn’t arrive. The second parcel arrived in Rode Heath 10 days after I got a refund! Glad we didn’t wait for it to arrive unlike today’s almost none existent rain.

Mismatched pair

0 locks, 0 miles, 2 short showers, 0 deligue, 0 house number, 1 library card, 1 new set of waterproofs, 1 security tag, 1 square headed bit in a set for £31! 21 days for 24hr delivery, 2 new babies!