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Narrowboat 'wilvir'

by wilvir

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Whispers on water - a photo journal of our life on the 'cut' dedicated to keeping family and friends informed of our whereabouts.

Tweet us @wilvir514

Helping to keep our waterways litter-free:

Drought, pollution and illegal fishing all threaten our waterways. Spotted something that looks wrong? See it, say it, save it. Call the Environment Agency (EA) Incident Hotline: 0800 80 70

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Power from the Sun

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1. Solar panels fixed to a cut-down pallet and wired directly to the batteries.

I mounted a solar panel 'array' on the roof of the boat two weeks ago to help charge the domestic battery system. It has since proved to be so efficient that the 12v system, Fridge, water pump, radio and lights can now run 24/7 whilst being charged by the panels during the day. This has already reduced our generator running costs considerably as I preferred to charge the batteries with a stand-alone generator rather than run the engine when we've been moored. So our little experiment has proven to be a great success and all for £99.98 at Maplin's.
31st May 2011, 22:40   comments (1)

Rural Links

1. We desperately need some rain.
2. Daisies bathe in the warmth of a gentle south westerly breeze.
3. A view from Wilstone Reservoir's hide.
4. Restoring the Wendover canal bed.
5. The navigable link at Tring.

I headed south from where we're moored at Puttenham Top Lock walking across tangled-hedged fields to the Wendover Canal, passing along the west side of Wilstone Reservoir on the way out and its east side on the way home. Much of the once abandoned Wendover Canal is dry although great effort is underway to restore the long ago de-watered stretch between Tring and Wendover (apparently it leaked like a sieve such that at times the canal flowed in the opposite direction to what it should due to the amount of water being lost).

It was interesting to see and appreciate signs of work-in-progress to restore the canal bed and where, at Little Tring, it will eventually be reconnected to the navigable section joining it to the Grand Union Canal.
23rd May 2011, 19:42   comments (1)

Guests for Lunch!

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Photo: (l-r) Ginny, Martin and Brenda.

We had the pleasure of Martin and Brenda's company for Sunday lunch yesterday and then just whiled away the afternoon in idle conversation. A beautiful day too despite the blustery conditions and odd spot of rain.
23rd May 2011, 18:18   comments (0)

Just a Mention

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I took this photo, which I thought I'd accidentally deleted, of the Mitchell family crewing narrowboat 'Oregon' as they exited Puttenham Top Lock at the beginning of May, with the intention of posting it here to thank them for taking aboard an overflowing refuse bag of litter I was carrying and disposing of it at Marsworth Junction a further 1.5 miles away. So here it is and thank-you very much for your help.
23rd May 2011, 12:41   comments (0)

The Rise to Wilstone

1. Wild flowers dot the towpath.
2. A bridge glows in the evening sunlight.
3. Reed beds narrow the canal.
4. Ginny can just be seen behind the swaying reed stems.
5. Bearbrook.

We locked up to Puttenham yesterday having spent two nights moored just northeast of Broughton, which is Saxon for 'farm by a brook'; in this case Bearbrook.

It's beautiful roundabout here, with Red Kites soaring above and carp leaping from the water below as the warmth of the spring sun heralds the imminent arrival of summer.

Me thinks we'll stay a few days!
20th May 2011, 11:47   comments (0)

The Gudgeon Gang!

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1. The Aylesbury Arm comes to an end.
2. Aylesbury town centre visitor moorings.
3. Aylesbury flood plain.
4. Aylesbury's St Mary's Church.

I have had some wonderfully rewarding experiences throughout my life, most coming about as a result of a small deed done on my part, which has attracted an unexpected token of appreciation in return.

Recently I happened to clear a stretch of the Aylesbury Arm towpath and a small canal side pond of litter left behind over the weekend. This, I subsequently learnt, was despite the best efforts of the bailiffs on that beat who regularly 'litter-pick'. It was this small act on our part that led me to meet Dave Burton, Ben Ward and Neil Williams who bailiff on behalf of 'The Tring Anglers'. Neil, who is also the membership secretary, enthusiastically re-introduced me to the finesse of catching a Gudgeon and under his watchful eye I banked a 22.4g 'specimen' and was promptly enrolled into the 'Grand Union Gubio Gubio Society; or as Ginny dubbed them, the 'Gudgeon Gang'..

Neil also very. kindly, in appreciation for helping to keep their beat free of litter, enrolled me as a sponsored member of 'The Tring Anglers'. A gesture I will remember for both the opportunities given and generosity shown.

As we continued to meander our way down to Aylesbury we filled just one refuse sack with litter, although some local 'fisher people' on the outskirts of Aylesb ury let the side down repeatedly in the evenings by abandoning empty beer cans etc along the towpath. What is it with people who carry 'it' in but feel under no obligation to carry 'it' out? Walking with Gunner one evening, a plastic drinks bottle was thrown from a bridge into the canal, which elicited an 'Oy' from me to whoever the culprit was. A head then appeared, struggling to see over the bridge parapet, accompanied by 'f..k you' and promptly spat its chewing gum at me. That from a boy no more than 12 years old. Sad for Aylesbury really.

From Marsworth Junction to Aylesbury, the efforts of local anglers, residents, BW and the Aylesbury Canal Society is there for everyone to see as there is hardly any litter at all. The canal is a 'treat' for all those who value our early industrial heritage, which has left an easily accessible and well tended route into the countryside.

We moored in Aylesbury Canal Basin for a week under the very welcoming auspices of the Aylesbury Canal Society (ACS), Today we make our way back up the arm having very much enjoyed our stay in Aylesbury, which also gave Ginny the opportunity to use the bus services to visit her Mum for a few days; a two and half hour journey away.

The ACS allowed us to stay for a week without charge other than for the price of an electric meter hook-up, which for the week cost just 50p. There are also inexpensive laundry facilities available as well as wc, elsan and rubbish facilities. Calor LPG is also on sale. Wi-fi is available at all the moorings along with water and a television aerial connection. All-in-all a great stopover and one that we would heartily recommend. There are also BW linear visitor moorings available on the towpath.

We"ve now resumed our Journey again and made our way back up the arm and to the peace and quiet of the countryside.
16th May 2011, 22:57   comments (0)

Pondering My 56th Year

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After my 55th birthday last week and having received greetings and best wishes from family and friends I pondered awhile.

The last six and a bit years have truly been an awakening and a vindication of a decision made all those years ago when I decided to retire at 50 regardless of where I was in life, financially or otherwise; we'd simply cut our cloth accordingly. Today that cloth is comfortably tailored to say the least and we happily get by on a lot less than the single minimum wage income.

Our 'allotted' three score years and ten is still a long way off, which gives us a window to enjoy and live a simple and rewarding life on our terms, however long we're around. These past seven years aboard 'wilvir' have introduced us to a haven that is a world away from the 'hustle and bustle' of that often misused term 'modern living'. There is nothing modern about living, it's simply how we choose to live that defines us.

So I wish everyone with a dream success in their endeavours to make it a reality. A reality, that doesn't come about by chance, it takes a good heart, common sense, honest toil, money earned, patience, thought and above all time. As we've found, the reward is an uncluttered peace of mind, time for each other and others and valuing the occasional extravagance of sharing a small heartfelt gift between us.
8th May 2011, 12:57   comments (0)

Pitstone to Wilstone

1. (l-r) Ginny and Brenda.
2. a pretty common carp.
3. Hawthorn in all its glory.
4. This is a photo Martin took of 'The Boat', crewed by Stuart, Fran and Jeb, who they met before Martin and I met at Pitstone. (l-r) Stuart, Fran and Brenda.
5. Martin (third from the left) at a farewell do he attended last week (or is it red-nose day).

After a memorable Bank Holiday 'week', on Tuesday we made our way south from Pitstone to Marsworth then turned west onto the Aylesbury Arm of the Grand Union Canal and locked down to Wilstone. We are now moored in a peaceful spot just above 'Puttenham Top' lock.

The sun shone for the week we were at Pitstone with just the chill of an easterly wind dulling its warmth towards late afternoon.

With coincidence being somewhat the order of the day recently, I 'spookily' bumped into Martin Austin (again), an old friend from my RAF days and we arranged a few lazy afternoons, with roast lunch on the boat, mulling over past times. He also introduced us to Brenda who became a good friend during the time we were there, and another friend of his, Debby, who hankered after life on a narrowboat.

On the day we had lunch an angler happened to saunter down to the canal and fished across from us. Well there is definitely something in this 'six degrees of separation' as he (Fred Perry) had also been in the RAF and knew a mutual friend of ours, Dave Hind. It must be 'wilvir's' magnetic attraction.

Brenda, who only lived a shotgun blast from the canal, kindly made scones for an afternoon cream-tea (delicious -fortunately Mostin was at work) and visited us on two other occasions with flowers, eggs and a bottle of apple and raspberry juice; all from her own hens and garden produce. Thanks Brenda.

I walked Wilstone Reservoir after we arrived here on Tuesday, which is the feeder for topping up the Grand Union Canal via the Wendover arm and borders the Waddesdon Estate (owned by the Rothschilds). We visited Waddesdon Manor a number of years ago when we were members of the National Trust and it is well worth a visit. Go to for more information.
5th May 2011, 12:02   comments (0)