Narrowboat Tacet

Silent Movement - Our gap year travelling the inland waterways

Saturday, 31 March 2012

Slowly to Slough

This morning we wandered our way along the Slough Arm, it could be the Slow Arm as it was very shallow and weedy in places and we almost came to a standstill at one point!
Along the way there were teams of volunteers clearing the rubbish on the banks and from the water where they could.  Well done to them.

At the basin, a BW boat was working with them using his grabber thingy and lifting things out.
 They were pleased but surprised to see a boat moving along the last bit of the canal, not many come past the last winding hole. And although we didn't stop, we enjoyed the abundant wildlife along the way.

So many Coots nest sitting now. Some sit tight as we pass and some scuttle off quickly, leaving us a gilmpse of what's under them.
7 or 8 in this one.
Mr Heron, watching as we pass by, keeping so still, then
off he goes to land a little further on.

No sun today, with a chilly wind, it feels very different to the last week of hot weather, so we lit the fire before we stopped and were glad of a hot shower before dinner.

Friday, 30 March 2012

One Year

We have been living on Tacet, travelling round the canals and rivers for one year now. The time has passed so quickly, and we have enjoyed every minute.
We are having a great time, love seeing our beautiful country from our home on the water, meeting people on the way and getting to know other boaters.
British Summer Time and the wonderful warm weather over the past few days has seen us cruising right into the evening, covering quite a distance and lots of locks.
Since my last blog we have moved from Berkhamstead to the start of the Slough Arm a distance of 23 miles and 38 locks.
We left Berkhamstead in the company of nb Benbow with David and Fiona,
We had some help from some BW guys here as a couple of pounds further down had been drained and they were letting some more water down. Once we were able to get in the lock, we had no trouble down through to Sewer lock.  Here the canal has the sewage works feeding in keeping levels good.  The rest of the GU down to London, has several different rivers feeding in too, so we should have no more problems with levels for a while.
At one time there were several paper mills alongside the canal, now no longer working. Here Apsley paper mill is now offices and pub restaurant.
Here Nash mills have gone and housing is filling the gap.
Home Park lock at Kings Langley, had to get a snap of this as Ian's Dad and Mum's boat Coal Boy was moored here for a long time.
The lock house is for sale, close to the canal, close to the station, close to the M25, anyone interested?

Getting closer to London, at Croxley Green a London Underground train was crossing the bridge as we came out of the lock.
Just below Denham deep lock is this floating dry dock. The planks at the end can be taken out of the  big barge, sinking it down to allow the narrowboat to float in, once the planks are replaced the water can be pumped out and you have a floating dry dock to work in.

Spotted today....
brilliant forsythia

ash flowers bursting open

a watchful heron

nesting swan with a stray egg.

Hope you all have been enjoying these lovely sunny days too.

23 miles, 38 locks

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Boating to Berko

As we moved from our mooring to the bottom of the Marsworth locks this morning, the view ahead was so still and peaceful with an already beautiful blue sky at 8.30.
Narrowboat Firefly was there also waiting for the locks to open at 10am, we had breakfast while we waited. Mick was washing his boat down and I got busy brushing the dust and tree blossom off Tacet.
So began a good day working through the locks to Berkhamstead with Mick and Trice.
Firefly leads the way
Just above lock 44 this boat on its way down was stuck on the bottom. Ian and Mick went up and there was another boat on its way down, so as they came through the top lock the water coming through lifted them off again.
The workshops at Bulbourne seem to be making iron garden ornaments now instead of lock gates!
The summit level was a bit low, but we got through ok.
Cowroast lock is the end of the summit level, and so we start to go down towards London. We still had a few pounds with low water levels but nothing too bad.  The locks along this stretch keep you busy, with either long walks between or short rides, hopping on and off.
Dudswell locks
At Northchurch lock the pump house is working to pump water from the a borehole in the chalk bed underground trying to keep these higher levels of the canal from drying out.
Also spotted on our journey today....
silver birch glistening in the sun

swans nest building

looking through the willow

And so we got to Berkhamstead at 3pm, mooring along the canal fields as we needed to do a bit of shopping and wanted to look around the town. We said farewell to Mick and Trice who needed to get on with their journey to a new mooring. Good to have had their help and company on the way.

7 miles, 14 locks

Monday, 26 March 2012

Blisworth to Marsworth

Blisworth Tunnel, north portal

Our journey last week brought us from Blisworth to Marsworth.  The tunnel at Blisworth is one of the longest on the waterways and in the 1980's the middle third was relined with large concrete rings like a jigsaw.  This system was also used for the channel tunnel.  We visited during the process and saw the magnificent tunnelling machine in action. The tunnel had been closed for some time because the brickwork was crumbling.
 The Grand Union canal down into London was built as a wide canal with wide locks and space for the locks to be paired with a single lock alongside. In most cases this never happened. 

Through Cosgrove,  with the tall poplars lining the way.

Fenny Stratford, has a lock with only a about a foot drop in height and a swingbridge across.

There are many double arched bridges, in readyness for the extra lock to be put in.

The Soulbury 3 locks, with the popular pub alongside,
and new bottom lock gates.
We followed these 3 BW working boats for a while, making slow progress until they pulled over and tied up.

At this lock you can see where a narrow lock was alongside the double.

More disused side ponds.

We hope to make our way up the locks at Marsworth and over the Tring summit in a few days. Hoping the water levels are keeping up alright.

Blisworth - Marsworth
33 miles, 25 locks, 1 tunnel, 2 bridges

Friday, 23 March 2012

Just before coffee

Thursday morning was another bright and sunny one, we had 5 locks ahead of us to Marsworth and then we could go no further as the locks and Tring summit has been closed for a while because of the low water situation. That's ok, they are scheduled to open again next week.
Any way we moored up at 10.30 and Himself wanted to walk along, just to check we weren't missing a mooring further along, before having our coffee.  So off we trotted in the lovely warm sun.
No spaces before the Aylesbury Arm junction, that's ok then, we'll stay put.
"Let's just walk up the locks" he says, "and see what's going on up there."

Not much water here,

Even less here,

Up at the top there is the Wendover Arm, only navigable a short way normally, and with water levels low we shall probably not take Tacet along there. So, "We'd better walk along instead", he says. Ok, it is so lovely here, the birds are really singing their hearts out today. Jumble went for a swim and we walked along to Little Tring Bridge.
A boat!
"From here we can take this footpath back towards the reservoirs". So we carried on.
The water level here is not too bad,
but oh dear this doesn't look good.
And so back to Tacet and now I can put that kettle on for coffee. It's now 12 o'clock, that only took an hour and a half!  Phew!  Not just coffee for me..... bacon, eggs, tomatoes and fried bread also.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

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It's an enigma.

We've been to Bletchley Park,  home of British codebreaking work during WWII and birthplace of the modern computer. Here a very clever team of mathematicians, radio operators and engineers worked at breaking the enigma codes used by the Germans enabling the British army to plan their campaigns to much greater effect and shortening the war by at least 2 years.
the orignal mansion house and lake

One of the leading brains working on decyphering the enigma codes was Alan Turing. He built this machine called the Bombe which could work out what combination of code wheels was needed to read the coded messages.

Following on from the work on the Bombe, Tommy Flowers joined the team and they began work on creating this machine, the first programmable computer known as Colossus.
At the end of the war, Churchill instructed that everything at Bletchley Park should be dismantled and diposed of; machines, paperwork, everything. However various bits and pieces survived and volunteers have been able to rebuild both the Bombe and Colossus and they are in working condition.
There was so much to see and a lot to take in, it was well worth the visit.

Moving on from Fenny Stratford we also made a quick stop at Stoke Hammond

Where the village sign says it is a Thankful Village
Because none of its young men serving in the armed forces were lost in WWI.
According to wikipedia there are only 52 such villages in the UK.  I thought this was a lovely phrase and sentiment.