The Wendover Arm has been being gradually extended over the last few years. It is still not very long but attractive and they have put in features that reflect it’s previous life, including an award winning bridge in the style of those built in the 19th century with iron reinforcements where the ropes of the horses used to rub on the bridge. It looked spanking new though and the water was clear. I could see little fish swimming. Flocks of chaffinches were enjoying the autumn berries. So far so good. I hoped we would not get stuck, as it was shallow and narrow in places.

The sign at the junction shows the way but is not up to date. It is only one and a half miles long currently but there are still hopes to extend it. The newest bit was wider It has quite a way to go if it is going to reach Wendover.

Sign at the junction pointing to the Wendover Arm indicating 6 and a half miles to Wendover

We turned the boat around and got a silver propeller photo. A few other boats were around but we got moored just across from the amusingly named boat. This is what our retirement is like.

Narrow boat moored nearby, Stilroamin

Shane went to look at the work in progress. There was a Siamese cat there but its owner came and called it for breakfast/lunch and it came trotting home to its own boat. The woman said it would probably be catching rats. I reckoned if that slim cat had got a rat it would be too stuffed for brunch. We didn’t see any rats though. Perhaps when the cat’s around, the rats run to ground.

We knew of a museum in Tring that Paul had recommended, so we walked there and had lunch in a bakery on the way. I chose a sausage brioche and as soon as I had ordered it realised none of the other options had meat in them so it was probably vegetarian sausage. I had chosen something smaller than Shane on purpose. I was pleasantly surprised by it with brown sauce provided separately. Shane had a large luscious looking focaccia with pesto, mozzarella and tomato. We were too full for a sweet treat just then but checked the closing time and decided we might revisit.

The museum was excellent . It was mainly the collection of a rich banker, one of the Rothschilds, who did not want to follow the family business but loved science and collected a vast amount of animals and studied them. One room was dedicated to him. He had started as a boy with a butterfly net.

Colourful birds are very attractive and regular readers will know how we love to see a kingfisher, (I saw a flash of one this morning just as Shane went inside, so he missed it) but here there was a large case dedicated to hummingbirds, a huge variety of iridescence, plus some nests.

I was amazed at the huge variety in the collection. There were anteaters, several crocodiles, fish, narwhals, cases full of insects, elephants, eels, giraffes, antelopes, kangaroos, goats spiders, skeletons, seals, walruses, swans, eagles moles, ducks, crabs, gorillas, dogs, tigers, hippos, zebras, an array of different antlered and horned beasts and many many others plus cassowaries of course. There was even an explanation of taxidermy. There were several animals I had never heard of at all and a lot of information about evolution and animal classification and adaptation. It was absolutely crammed with specimens, very clearly displayed.

I couldn’t believe how many were packed in there. We took a break to go to the bakery for coffees and stuff ourselves too with a cinnamon knot and a morning bun (very good indeed). Then we returned to take in many more. I was very surprised that the museum is free and that so many weird and wonderful creatures were rammed in to a relatively small building.

The next day we left the Wendover Arm. Boats double moored opposite the exit made for a tight turn but Shane did an excellent job and some observers praised his skill. I got out to do the lock in my slippers, thinking there was only one.

Shane lining up for the lock beside the exit from the Wendover Arm

Actually there were six double locks and they were quite a workout, being mainly set against us. A few had new gates and warnings about non-standard shaped temporary refurbished lock arms. Our equipment was fit for the task though.

No ordinary windlass

We met a couple of wide boats with lone boaters who were grateful for assistance. The second one we met as we were leaving the last one and he appreciated that I went round the lock to open a second gate for him when we only had needed one open to get out. As he was thanking me, I called out he was on his own now and he suggested I could hop in and come up the flight with him. I was ready for a rest so he was not in luck. We went to find a space near Alfie in stead.

We were able to get moored and I was ready for lunch. I rallied for a walk round the reservoir later on and a few more water birds, just not quite as many as were packed into the natural history museum.

Reservoir next to the Marsworth locks
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