Not really knowing what to expect from this kind of “waterside development” marina, Apsley proved a surprisingly amenable spot. About 60 boats, a large convenience store/small supermarket on site, several restaurants, everyone very friendly, and the part-time warden (who lives on-site on a boat) affable and helpful. Who could ask for more?
A main line railway station just across the bridge, a big supermarket and DIY shed 5 minutes walk away, and the centre of Hemel Hempstead within easy reach… all in all we were surprised to find they’d got any space at all for itinerants, particularly as the visitor mooring fee was pretty reasonable. The only downside was the area’s frankly bizarre parking scheme run by an independent company. The deliberately confusing notices and the daily visits from the Schutzstaffel trained parking warden meant the whole scheme was clearly designed to maximise cash flow for the operators rather than provide useable parking at all times of day.
Next but one to us were a couple of chaps with a Chihuahua, and next to them a lady with a border collie and an adopted stray cat, so Biggles spent some time initially sorting out the local pecking / hissing / barking order, seemingly without any apparent damage or falling in the water.
Just outside were a rather fine tug, and a shiny wide-beam. You often see “Boat for Sale” signs stuck in the windows of boats, but this is the first time we’ve seen one with their own fancy advertising board on the towpath. Must be overpriced…
Meanwhile, Fran decided to be unfaithful to the Captain, and made a big fuss of Wizz (whose staff were unknown). The boat behind with the pram hood is Shackleton and won the “best boat” award at the big annual bun fight at Crick last year. All sorts of stunning internal hand crafted wizardry and equipment, and an eye-watering price tag to boot. You could probably buy a nice Piper Dutch Barge for less. Surprisingly, the boat was built “on-spec” and sold at the show, rather than being built to the owners’ requirements.
Anyway, with the hot sunny weather, masses of washing was done and dried, and we retired once again to Woodys Vegetarian Café. They have a drinks licence, but we had to bring our own apostrophe…
Fran had jarred her knee somewhere along the line and was rather hors de combat, so we decided to stay another night, and Gill and Tony came over for lunch (Woodys again), then Vicki & Moore brought cakes for tea over later.
All this vegetarian dining and cake eating was beginning to get to us, so on Monday morning, after a few more chores and a protracted chat with Dave the Warden (who was also a musician, and singer with a long-standing 50s cover band) we finally set off to climb up some more locks.
All in all, a pleasant few days, and a pretty good place to moor for longer, we reckon.