Today we were accompanied for another leg of our homeward run south by neighbours Bob and Diane. Bob has been crew on Jannock before (Tardebigge 2010) but it was Diane’s first trip. We set off from Stoke Hammond at 10:00 in another bonus day of summer. Mid October, us in T shirts (Graham still in shorts) and quite literally not a cloud in the sky all day.
We met nb Earnest (yes, that one) moored for lunch above Church lock and Linda reported that they had woken to a heavy frost and ice on their roof despite the cabin heating being on. I’m sure we won’t cheat autumn for much longer.
It seemed we were unusual in that we were travelling south, but that meant that most of the locks were set in our favour, top gate leaks not withstanding, although we passed through them all solo. The pound between the two Ivinghoe locks was about 18” lower than it should be with the bottom of the cut being exposed at both sides. This meant Jannock’s steering and progress were difficult although the northbound Dutch tjalk that waited for us to ascend through the top lock must had had even more problems in that pound as he drew 3 foot compared to our ‘less than’ 2 foot. All of the other pounds during our journey were close to normal levels and some of the lock bypasses were running.
Once we had moored up, Graham went to fetch the car from Stoke Hammond whilst Bob, Di and I walked to Marsworth reservoir. Here it was very clear that we have paid for our sunny days with water; and that’s over a couple of years now. The normal reservoir water level was clear to see some 10 foot above the fishermen who were a little way down the ‘beach’ which has been sufficiently exposed to allow green plants to establish themselves on it.
It was a surprise to see that the White Lion pub, by Marsworth bottom lock, has closed – but once it had been bistrofied I guess their business plan didn’t meet their customer base and so it was likely to be all downhill. The Red Lion and Angler’s Retreat have both been enjoyed by Jannock crews so it’s not a beer desert in Marsworth yet.
On our journey home we were guiltily amused to see the fire engines, all lights blazing, attending Marsworth’s mobile fish and chip van. They weren’t picking up savaloy and chips for sure. It reminded me of comedy sketches . . . . didn’t Last of the Summer Wine use a mobile chippy to remove a dead body from a lady’s boudoir? Do I remember Arkwright providing Granville with an equally flammable catering outlet in Open All hours? Ah British culture at it’s best and men in uniform. What an end to a lovely day. Thanks to Bob and Di for their company and help along the way.