While Alan was working for a few days Emily joined me for cruising for two days before her birthday. Emily and I had a big day ahead of us and met both wonderful and grumpy people along the way. This was likely my most sociable day as we had people to share the locks all along the way.
On our second lock of the day we met up with a couple over from Canada. He is Canadian but his wife was from the UK. They had bought a share in a narrowboat and were cruising for three months…only this was there first day and first lock. We would spend the day together sharing all but one lock and meeting back up after that. Often I feel rather isolated on the boat as I can’t hear much over the engine and in the locks I am literally alone inside the lock. This day I had someone to talk to while in each lock. Sometimes that makes all the difference.
Our last locks of the day were the ones I was worried about doing. Cassiobury Park Locks (Watford?) are two locks very close together. This is lucky as the pound is also VERY leaky. I did know this was an issue from watching Youtube videos and knew in theory what to do but no experience of doing it. The pound was too low to move through without grounding. I sent Emily to tell the manabout to enter the upper lock to let water down and wait in the lock until the levels were good and we would come up while the water is letting down than we could do a bit of shuffling so everyone got through without grounding. He was a grumpy bastard that knew better than any women though so he came out of the lock early and grounded while we sailed on through to the next lock about 5 minutes later. We did get the assistance of an experienced boater in the area whom we listened to and followed his instructions. Grumpy guy couldn’t listen to the helper though as the helper agreed with the women.
The next day we were happy to have had the experience and learned what to do. We had moored for the night above the horrid locks and by morning were grounded there as well. Should have gone down farther before mooring up I guess but it wasn’t bad and we got pushed off within minutes. We criused along and got to Hunton Bridge Locks. Their pound was similiar in size to the ones at Cassiobury Park….too similiar. Whether a boater left the gates open or the gate opened itself was irrelvent to us at the time. The pound was empty….ok not empty but worse that the previous problem area so Emily came to the rescue remembering everything the experienced boater of the day before taught her and got the pound refilled. She did such a pro job that once we were started on those locks it went as smooth as it could be.
We only had the two days to travel before Emily had her 22nd birthday so we needed to moor up. We got to the Apsley area which was more than our goal before lunchtime. We stopped off and got fish and chips before heading out in the afternoon. What we didn’t know was how much we would like this area. The Apsley area of Hemel Hempstead is very nice. Resturants and bars all around. If we had been prepared for how much we liked it we would have moored up before our second lock of the afternoon. By the time we managed to discuss it we had already passed the best area but we did find a park with overhanging trees that suited our needs perfectly. We would be out all the next day so Peanut had a lovely and very shaded area while stuck in the boat.
While Emily and I were being history tourists at Hampton Court Palace, Alan and Joey took the boat for the next leg. I asked what I thought might be impossible but they did it. The distance was only about 6 miles but there were 17 locks to get through. If Emily and I hadn’t pushed through 5 extra locks on the Friday and a couple miles this probably wouldn’t have been possible. I am very impressed by how hard they worked. I had asked for this because it wiped out the last of the up locks for me and meant I would have only down locks all the way home. Down locks are easier to me. When I arrived backin the evening I found the boat in just the right spot above Cowroast Lock. Could not have been happier.