“Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing – absolutely nothing – half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.” (The Wind in the Willows).
We’ve dawdled. It’s been a very relaxing trip. Some days we did not travel at all. Louise made some roses. Andy did some composing. There was quite a lot of sitting about.
The outward journey was consequently not a great distance: a matter of 18 miles or so to Gayton Junction. The return journey took us slightly less time because we decided to come back a day sooner than predicted. The weather is closing in and a cold snap is forecast. But for most of our trip, the weather has been very good, with some days of brilliant sunshine, even if it was a bit chilly.
Gayton Junction, our half-way turning point, is a busy place, with boats coming from three directions.
We stopped at the neat and well maintained service station to fill up with water and empty the toilet cassettes. It took quite a long time, and we enjoyed chatting with a gentleman who was doing the same thing.
The other junction on our trip was Norton, where the Grand Union canal turns south towards Brentford and London (our direction) or west towards Braunston.
This is a very pretty junction, with a lovely house on the corner and good services round the bend.
We had a nice meal and a pint or two at the nearby New Inn. But the best meal out was on our 18th wedding anniversary, last Sunday, when we dined at the Narrow boat Inn, Weedon Bec. The food there is very good.
Most days, though, Louise cooked meals on board. This was a particularly delicious one: Italian Veggie Cottage Pie
For a few miles north of Norton Junction, the M1 motorway and the main railway line to London flank the canal on either side. Three historical transport routes in close proximity. The railway finished off the canals, and the roads rendered large parts of the railway network obsolete. I know which I prefer! I shot this video to capture that experience.
And here are a couple of stills of trains (these are the ones I take to Euston station when I go to work).
Rosie has really enjoyed the whole trip, and is getting very grown up. She behaves well at locks and really does not need to be put on a lead any more, but watches everything with keen interest. She also does not bother passers-by (unless they are on bikes, unfortunately) if they do not pay her any attention. More often than not, though, they cannot resist giving her a cuddle.
We have seen lots of widlife, including this pied wagtail (a relatively rare sight these days, sadly) and a rather handsome mandarin duck, who seems to be mixing with the mallards with no problem.
But mostly, it has been slow cruising through beatiful countryside and occasional villages. Here are a few pictures to give the flavour:
Hanging out washing on the back deck was a happy experience, after the long winter.
We also see some peculiar boats, like this one made from a shipping container:
On the return journey, Louise was pleased to stop at Anchor Cottage canal shop, near the top of the Long Buckby locks. It’s full of wonderful stuff, but the lady was camera shy so we took these pictures from the boat. We bought a couple of lovely planters for the roof. More pictures will follow when they have been planted up.
The last big adventure on the way home was acending the Watford Flight. I shot a video record of that, which will be a separate blog post.
After the flight, we cruised the last few miles back to the marina. The entrance is now a familiar sight, but getting throgh the narrow opening is always a bit of a challenge in a 67 foot boat!