Tuesday 17 July

Despite being awake early we didn’t rush to set off today, as we were intending to only do a few miles and not many locks, and enjoyed a leisurely breakfast.

Trying to keep the inside of the boat clean is a never ending battle, especially with Max who comes back covered in seeds, burrs and sweetheart, but also in this heat the windows and hatches are open to let air in so if someone cycles past on the dry towpath they create dust clouds which settle everywhere.

Eventually we untied and I steered while Storm worked the locks.  We can’t believe how quiet the waterways are at the moment.  Today we came across the first hire boat we’ve seen in two weeks.  It may be a mix of the hot weather, the football, and the fact that schools haven’t broken up yet but we’re seeing very few boats on the move.   (When we’d passed the Wyvern Shipping Company at Leighton Buzzard, on our way into London two weeks ago, we counted over twenty hire boats sitting idle on their moorings – a rare sight.)

Max is in his element helping with the locks.  He anticipates us stopping and is ready at the front of the boat to leap for the shore as soon as he judges it is safe to leap.  He then follows us across the lock, back and forth, making sure he’s on the same side as us, jumping on the lock gate to sit and wait for the water level to be right, and once we’ve finished at the lock, he knows to get back on the boat ready to travel to the next one.   Otherwise he looks to us for instruction in case there might be a chance of a walk between locks for him in which case he runs along with the walker,  sometimes dashing back between the boat and the walker to make sure where we both are.

We pulled in for lunch just below Lady Capel’s Lock and after a two hour stop we carried on to Kings Langley where after 5 miles and 11 locks we stopped for the evening.  This afternoon’s weather was quite cool and a nice change from the searing heat we’ve been having.

Before we ate, we went for a stroll around Kings Langley.  Here we came across our first experience of ‘Yarn Bombing’.  Every road side bollard and length of railing was festooned with knitwear/crochet and the bus shelter was decorated with bunting, a seat cover and hanging baskets.   Apparently the villagers renew these decorations every two months and, from what we can see, they’re busy and having lots of fun.

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