Saturday 9 December 2023


We arrived back in time for some August events: Sandra Kibble’s funeral on 4th August, Joyce’s 90th birthday on 12th August. She had asked us to sing, so we entertained the guests with a few golden oldies such as “Summer Holiday.”

Our church’s final service in the canal basin was on 6th August and we then had three weeks with no service. We used the time to have a barbecue in Wendover Woods, a picnic in Aston Clinton Park, and a churches together event in Aylesbury. For the first service in the new venue, Aylesbury Vale Primary Academy, we were asked to lead the worship. It was a good feeling, although we were on a bit of a learning curve with the PA systems, security etc.

This last year had been a bit of a struggle for Hazel, finding it difficult to jump down from the bows to the towpath, and having to stand for long periods when we negotiated long lock flights like Hatton, Wolverhampton and Atherstone. We called in James from Rugby Boats to give us a valuation on Gabriel. He came on 12th September, and gave us a valuation beyond what we were expecting. He also said that we didn’t need to wait until the spring, as boats were selling fast right now.

So, we decided to proceed with the sale. We spent a week emptying cupboards and filling our small apartment with things. It is surprising how much stuff you can hide on a boat.  We spent a week in the Aylesbury Canal Society wet dock so that we could tidy up a bit of paintwork, and do some cleaning. The facilities are excellent, and we didn’t have to worry about the weather.

Gabriel came out of the wet dock on 9th October, just in time for Jon, a boat mover, to take the boat from Aylesbury to Rugby Boats in Weedon Bec. We employed him, because the following day, Hazel had her second foot operation, and was out of action for several weeks.

The journey to Rugby Boats was 49 miles and 39 locks, and should have taken 24 hours, according to CanalPlan. John left after a late lunch on Monday 9th October, and was at the boatyard by Wednesday evening. That’s not bad for a solo boater. The boat was advertised on their website on the same Saturday 14th, and there was an offer on Monday 16th. After a survey, the sale was completed during the first week of November, and we went to meet the new owners and hand over the boat on Sunday November 5th.

Sadly, and particularly after the effort we had taken to get her looking lovely, the boatyard had had a bonfire and fireworks display on the Saturday night, and the boat was downwind. The roof and gunwales were covered in ash of various colours. The boatyard said they would clean the boat. So, Gabriel now belongs to Craig and Kristine. We hope they will be very happy with their purchase, and we wish them safe cruising.

Our church has also decided to sell Beacon, the trip boat we have used to offer soup in winter, and boat trips in Summer.

Some statistics to end with:  This year Gabriel used 383 locks, travelled 474 miles, and went through 29 lift or swing bridges.

In our 25 years of boating, with three different boats, we have negotiated 11,580 locks, and travelled 18,138 miles.

We have no plans to buy another boat, but we may hire sometimes, in places we haven’t yet been, such as Scotland or Ireland.

Thanks for reading.

Final photos below:

Into the wet dock

Immune from weather issues

Handing over to Jon the boat mover

Gabriel on her way up the Aylesbury Arm

Beacon on the same journey a few days later

New owners Craig and Kristina

Tuesday 1 August 2023

Stoke Bruerne to Aylesbury

Mon 24th July  Stoke Bruerne to  Yardley Gobion

We departed after the rain had stopped, and we shared locks with Duchess Lorikeet. There were two boats in front of us, and two more behind us, and we met some coming up the locks as well. There were some volunteers around and that helped. Gave a CM leaflet to a guy from BBC Radio Northants, who was on a boat going up.

We used the facilities at the bottom, and while we were at the water point, Sharon appeared, walking her dog. She and Ray used to be moored in Aylesbury on Vanguard. They now moor opposite at the foot of the Stoke Bruerne locks.

We had some distance to cover, so we moved on through Grafton Regis and Yardley Gobion, mooring finally near Isworth Farm.

Approaching the locks at Stoke Bruerne

Plenty of boats both ways

Sharing Stoke Bruerne Locks with a hire boat


Moored at Yardley Gobion

7 locks, 4 miles. Dep 1155, arr 1430 Bottom Lock services. Dep 1450, arr 1605.

Tue 25th July  Yardley Gobion to Fenny Stratford

Cosgrove Festival had just ended, and it explained the busy locks yesterday. Cosgrove Lock was on our own, followed by the slow cruise past moored boats and over the aqueduct over the Great Ouse. We stopped for sandwich on the bollards by the Black Horse, despite an annoying ledge preventing us getting in properly to the side. We paused to empty a cassette at Giffard Park, and continued our cruise to the Plough at Simpson near Bridge 91. We had never been in before, and were pleasantly surprised.  They had a decently good pie, and a concrete cow in the garden, to show we are in Milton Keynes. We had hoped to moor here, but there was so much noise from the A5 that we decided to move on. It wasn’t far to Fenny Stratford Lock, where we found a family of swans trapped in the lock. They were pleased to be released. We wondered how long they had been there. We took the first available mooring, as it was late. It wasn’t until the next morning that we discovered that we were immediately behind Chris and Sue on A Narrow Escape!

One boat is not enough to store everything

Full of stuff

Solomon's Bridge

Church and warehouse at Cosgrove

Cosgrove Lock

Great Ouse from the aqueduct

Old Milton Keynes bridges are now footpaths

Moored for the Plough

Concrete cow

Under the noisy A5

BCF boat Interlock - no sign of Dave

Fenny Stratford

Moored at Fenny Stratford behind friends

2 locks, 13 miles, 1 swing bridge. Dep 0905,arr 1150 Black Horse. Dep 1215, arr 1440 The Plough at Simpson. Dep 1915, arr 2010.

Wed 26th July  Fenny Stratford to Slapton

As we cast off and left, we discovered that we had moored behind Chris and Sue on Narrow Escape, and Widgeon was in front of them (Leslie and Alan). James saw an egret in a tree just after this.

The first lock of the day was Stoke Hammond Lock, which we did on our own. By the time we were ready to leave, another boat had arrived behind us, so we said we would wait for them at Three Locks. The next section had a fishing competition, so we took it slowly. At Three Locks there were volunteers, and we could have gone straight in, but we waited for the other boat, which was Hawkweed, hired by two Germans for 5 weeks. They also shared Leighton Lock, and told them they could moor alongside us by Tesco if there was no other space. It was busy, so this is what they did.

While Hazel went to Tesco, James did a sprint to Morrisons to see if they had our hedgehog mugs. They didn’t.

We left the shopping moorings, and there followed a remarkable bit of boat spotting. A Narrow Escape – Chris and Sue from ACS

Widgeon - Leslie and Alan from ACS

Stargazer - Steve who we met in April in Aylesbury town basin.

Out ‘n About – No sign of Tudor or Flo.

Ayup – No sign of Ken, whom we first met in Middlewich

Trinity – owned by our CM friends Henry and Lin. Now on semi-permanent loan.

A modified cruiser, combining two boats in one.

Moorings near the lake had been reserved for a festival. Other moorings were full until we came to Slapton, just before Bridge 118. Meanwhile, we had negotiated two more locks by ourselves. Rain started soon after we had moored.

Does this sign achieve anything?

Sharing Three Locks with Hawkweed

Middle Lock at Soulbury was Gabriel's 5000th lock

The Globe Inn

Widgeon from ACS

A Narrow Escape - ACS

Trinity - ex Canal Ministries

Two boats in one

A beautifully maintained pair

Out 'n About


Grove Lock by ourselves

7 locks, 10 miles. Dep 0925, arr 1305 Leighton Buzzard. 1510, arr 1635.

Thu 27th July  Slapton to Marsworth

We shared locks with Katrina from Calcutt. The lady was struggling to open the paddles, so James lent her a longer windlass.

We often see cormorants, but near Seabrook Locks we spotted one on a telegraph wire, drying its wings.

We stopped in Marsworth, and a guy called Jim Bill Bailey was asking where the cafe was. We told him he had passed it further back, so we invited him on board for a cuppa. He was doing a sponsored walk from Brentford to Birmingham.

We had a pleasant evening in sunshine, with lovely views. We heard deer in the night.

Leaving our mooring by Bridge 118

Sharing locks with Katrina

Munchkin land film set

Seabrook Locks

Lock gates made in Stanley Ferry near Wakefield

Boat adrift across the canal

Bill Bailey pausing for a cuppa on his long walk

Sunshine and views from our mooring in Marsworth

9 locks, 4 miles, 1 swing bridge. Dep 0910, arr 1305.

Fri 28th July  Marsworth to Aylesbury

We allowed half an hour to get to top of the locks via the sanitary station, where we emptied two cassettes. The rubbish area was so full that we didn’t add to it.

Our helpers for the day, Will and Ann, arrived promptly at 9am, and we started our journey down to Aylesbury. Just as we had set the top lock, a CRT person came up from below the locks and asked us to wait for ten minutes while he ran some water down, as there was a low pound between locks 3 and 4. We were soon on our way again.

As we approached Lock 5, we noticed a boat going down in front of us entering  Lock 6. It turned out to be Dermot, and he was on his own, so we lent him Will for a while. Then James helped him through a lock where we were having trouble with a swan family who wanted to go down in front of the boat in the lock. At one point they changed their minds and rushed back to the stern, so we had to hold the boat against the wall to avoid crushing them. It was only when the bottom gate was opened that they came again from the far end of the lock and escaped in front of us.

Dermot was having trouble with his engine dying, and eventually he said we should go ahead. We left him with a few locks still to do, and Hazel promised to buy him a drink if he made it to the bar that evening.

We continued with Gabriel without further incident, snipping protruding brambles as we went. The reedy section after Red House Lock was noticeably more dense than when we had left in May.

Our mooring was ready for us as we entered the canal basin, and we saw Bryan, Nick, Andrew, and a few others. We had lunch on board, and our car started at the first attempt. James drove Will and Ann back to Marsworth to collect their car.

Later, from our apartment, we saw Dermot going past, and we went to the bar in the evening and bought him a drink as promised. He had suffered from a dirty fuel filter. The Provis Wharf contingent were there – Tony and Maria, John and Ruzenka, and Eric.

Marsworth Junction

Going down the staircase

Hazel with a windlass

Following Dermot

Rubbish on the prop

Silly bird-brained swans

Ann and Will at Redhouse Lock

Through the reedy section

Offside vegetation needs attention

The last lock

Into Circus Field Basin

14 locks, 6 miles, 1 lift bridge.

This is the last blog for a while. We have Sandra Kibble’s funeral in Tamworth next week, and a BCF social in September. Our church is moving to new premises soon, and we also want to visit Oliver in his new home, as well as Greg and Jessy, Amanda, Maggie and Clive . Lots to do, plumbing and electrics to attend to on the boat, appointments to be made.