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2007 Trip Reports

Stratford and Birmingham
8th May 2007 Little Venice to Ponders End
H.C.8348 - 8357 Distance 18 miles 16 Locks

Crew - Graham and Brenda

It was windy, windy, windy.
Today we have mostly been doing London. We'd hoped to add some birds to our I-Spy books as we went past the Snowdon Aviary at Regent's Park zoo, I think they all had the day off. We saw no animals on the terraces either. At Campden Lock a German tour guide assured us she had booked her large party for a tour on Jannock and Prairie Crocus and demanded we tie up and show her how best they should board!!! It was quite a task convincing her that no such thing was going to happen and that she needed to find the tour boats' pier. We spent a good half hour IN Old Ford Lock taking on water, that being our only access to the tap. It felt awfully naughty. The lock landing arrea was too full of permanent moorers for us to get to the tap. We went into the lock and 2 chaps came out of the lock building. They explained that it was OK to fill from the lock as long as no-one needed through passage. They brought us adaptors for the non-standard tap fittings, they helped us reel hoses, one even took all our rubbish to the skip. 'How lovely' I thought, 'a good old fashioned lockie and his assistant.' But no! It seems BW rents the premises to the local fishing club and these chaps go there to 'hide from our wives'. They have made themselves comfortable with sofas, a microwave, tables and chairs, all the minor domestics taken care off. And they really help boaters; BW please note!

Along the Regents, up the Hertford Union and onto the Lee navigation for our first time ever, in the company of Ken and Claudia on Prairie Crocus. We moored for the night above Ponders End next to King Georges reservoir.

9th May 2007 Ponders End to Hertford
H.C. 8357 - 8364 Distance 13.5 miles 13 Locks.

Crew - Graham and Brenda

Prairie Crocus was raring to go when I clambered put onto the back deck just before 9 this morning. I was not too enthusiastic because the weather forecast had been for a dull damp day and it had rained during the night. As it turned out, it stayed dry until we had winded and moored up opposite the Old Barge in Hertford. We had a three course Thai supper aboard Jannock with Ken and Claudia as guests, then onto The Old barge - a Jannock recommended pub, to meet up with Adrian S. for an evening of good beer and debate.

The Official Jannock views on boating the Lee and Stort way :-
A broad deep waterway with a variety of scenery.
Leaving the gates open as you leave a lock.
Having to slow down to 4 MPH to pass moored boats (official sign at Hertford lock)

Following someone else who is also enjoying leaving the gates open.
Very heavy lock gates with loose, cranked balance beams.

Cookery corner :-
I warmed a litre of UHT semi-skimmed milk until it was just-hot-to-the finger. I stirred in a tablespoon of live yogurt. It went into a tuppersealey container and into the engine bay, engine running, for about 8 hours. Result? Lovely, smooth, fresh, plain yogurt. 1 litre for about 50p, bargain.

10th May 2007 Hertford to Bishops Stortford
H.C. 8364 - 8375 Distance 19 miles 19 Locks

Crew - Graham and Brenda

Knowing we had a long day as we had set our sights on Bishops Stortford, we set off from Hertford just before 8:30. Adrian hailed us from Onx as we passed heading south down the Lee (or Lea) navigation.
As we cleared Stanstead lock Ken and Claudia agreed to back-empty the Stort locks to aid our passage behind them but that plan was temporarily thwarted by nb Cressie who pulled out between us and also turned left at the junction. Before we left the Lee (or Lea) we saw a giant terrapin basking on a large root at the side of the channel. Brick lock was suffering from metal fatigue as the cranked balance beam had a 50mm split in the steel beam accompanied by a broken weld. I reported it to a BW foreman as I believe it will break off before too many more lock operations.
Nb Cressie pulled over to let is past at Roydon lock and so we soon got a good system going with PC ahead. We passed nb Wren (with Cutweb sticker in window) from Bourne End at Harlow Lock. They were obviously in the pub! (hindsight indicates we were wrong, the boat has been sold to new owners and THEY had left it moored on a lock landing for ages!)
We also met a wide beam charity boat on a sharp bend just above Sawbridgeworth being steered by a list member who has been tracking our progress on the list, sorry but I missed your name.
The afternoon got wetter and colder but I got the blame from Claudia as I hadn't put on my motorcycle oversuit today. Instead I remained in shorts and created minimal wet clothes to try and dry later.
We finally arrived in Bishops Stortford at 6PM and celebrated with a pumpout and water fill before winding and mooring for the night. P.S. Someone has moved Sainsburys!

Brenda's desireable boat collection!

11th May 2007 Bishops Stortford to Ramney Marsh

H.C. 8375 - 8385 Distance 19.5 miles 23 Locks

Crew - Graham and Brenda

After a night of heavy rain, burglar alarms and too many other noises in Bishops Stortford town centre, we set off down the Stort on a journey of discovery.
First we discovered an old Harboro style craft being firmly tied to the lock landing bollards at Tednambury lock. The couple aboard the boat explained that their rented craft had started leaking through the base plate near the rudder tube and the owner of the adjacent marina, in which the craft is usually moored, told them the lock landing was the best place to tie the boat to whilst they went out for the day ????
Next we discovered that nb Wren, resplendent with Cutweb stickers and purporting to be from Bourne End, was still moored on the lock landing/water point at Harlow lock. This means that my assumption that they were in the pub yesterday was obviously incorrect! Luckily Brenda avoided giving them a hefty clout as the wind took Jannock as she was trying to enter the lock. I wonder how the wide beam charity boats cope with her there?

I also discovered the name of the Canals List reading charity boat skipper who hailed us yesterday. Nice to meet you and have a chat across the lock.
By the time we had rejoined the Lea the weather had deteriorated to heavy showers intersperced with ever shortening periods of sunshine. We finally moored for the night at Rammey Marsh having traversed the last two locks in continuous heavy rain.
Our final discovery of the day was that the Rosemary picked from the lockside at Spellbrook lock made our roast lamb dinner taste superb

12th May 2007 Ramney Marsh to Paddington Basin
H.C. 8385 - 8393 Distance 20 miles 16 Locks

Crew - Graham and Brenda

By eck it were rough!
We set off south from our overnight mooring, below Rammey Marsh lock, in haste as someone was coming down through the lock above us. Enfield lock was followed by a good chat with the old lockie at Pickets lock. At Stonebridge lock there was absolutely no sign of life in the electrickery dept. so we had to hand crank through on the other side. Boy! I now really appreciate those Thames wheels after turning that very low geared hydraulic equipment for what seemed an age. Luckily someone was waiting to come up so we didn't have to close the gates, as we left, for the boat behind us. Travelling through Hackney Marsh was like a weird arcade game, there were so many skulls and canoes afloat who didn't care where they were going or what they turned across in front of.

Onto the Hertford union and the sky was clouding over. By the time we had cleared Acton's lock on the Regents canal, the rain was coming down hard and we were following a day boat from the local yard. When they reached Sturts lock, hoards of small kids in lifejackets swarmed off the boat and so PC held back so that they could work the next lock sharing with us. Chris, the master of the day boat explained that they would be turning before City Road lock and so we would be on our own again. Camden locks (Kentish town, Hawley and Hampstead before I get pedanted) were heaving with obnoxious articles that can be vaguely described as modern youth, I find the Goth fashions are not appealing and when associated with drink/drug abuse, quite offensive. We finally made it into Paddington, winded in the wind tunnel that is described as a basin with the aid of the brick wall, and then moored for the night opposite Minnihaha and Stewkey Blue. We had dinner on PC followed by a mini-GiG with Bill and Anne when they were shown the DVD of the Xmas Rally.

13th May 2007 Paddington to Cowley Peachey (via Camden)
H.C. 8393 - 8399 Distance 23 miles NO Locks

Crew - Graham and Brenda

We were up and left Paddington Basin at 8:45 Sunday morning, back down to the Camden visitor moorings as Brenda wanted to DO the market. In there at 9:30 just as it was opening so most of Goth-life was still in bed :^)

Shopping finished we winded and returned through Maida tunnel and then set off towards the Grand Union. The rain persisted down all day! The only thing that varied was the rate that it fell. By 1:30 we were passing through a thunder storm which was very close judging by the lack of time between flash and bang. Brenda chose this time to appear and inform me it was my turn to eat and so she got really drenched during her short spell at the tiller. I think it was Neil A. who stated that the Paddington Arm was his least favourite bit of canal, I must admit it became more tedious the longer it took and the wetter I got. Onto the Grand Union and we were soon at our destination. Once Jannock was moored up, the rain stopped meaning that my trip to Bourne End on the Di Blasi was performed rain-less. It was the floods and puddles that made the trip interesting. Back to Jannock by a quarter past six and home in Thame by eight o'clock.

All in all, a very busy week described by Brenda as "always travelling but never going anywhere". Maybe the whole Lee and Stort in three days is a bit ambitious, especially if you like sightseeing on foot as she does.

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