|Spectacular rainbow near Ivinghoe|
Let's work backwards - it's easier to try and fill in the mental gaps that way. We're are now in Milton Keynes and have been for virtually a week. Getting here was a slow dawdle up the Grand Union, with various breaks for family visits, after we finally left London where we had been pottering between Paddington Basin, Kensal Green and Greenford becoming steadily disenchanted with the squalor and mess along large parts of the Paddington Arm of the canal.
|Modelling my smart 'onesy'|
Hempstead - a sprawling old new-town looking very scruffy around parts by the canal - before reaching Berkhamsted, which is exactly the opposite: a compact and extremely affluent commuter belt town, full of boutique shops and up-market restaurants. All the same, the canal which was once a big part of the place's prosperity is still embraced with some decent pubs and tidy towpaths.
|Canalside Christmas lights in Berkhamsted|
We found wide locks on our own a trial in our little boat, Star, but in the 55ft Harry we were untroubled - a bit more boat length and a lot more experience in working paddles to keep the boat pinned to the side in the filling locks made the difference.
Slightly nervously we left the boat moored over Christmas and New Year at the end of the summit level, at the top of the Marsworth locks. Fortunately all was well on our return - except it was bloody cold inside and took a good day or two to warm up properly.
|Winter cruising on an empty Grand Union|
Last time we did this 17-locks each way trip it was to moor at the Aylesbury Canal Society's moorings at the terminus of the Arm. Since then their site has been sold for redevelopment and the Society now has a very smart new home on the edge of town - and still welcomes visitors. It's a state of the art place with a clubhouse and dry docks being built and impressive moorings. We liked the place (and the super-friendly members) so much we joined the Society.
|The giant Arla dairy plant by the Aylesbury Arm|
Finally, via overnights at Soulbury and Stoke Hammond we did the long drag into Milton Keynes where we are now, on the edge of Campbell Park and just beyond the start of the proposed Bedford-Milton Keynes Waterway.