Sunday 12th July

Up and off at roughly 7.30 am. The radiator needed about 3/4 of a large saucepan of water. This was rather more than yesterday morning, but then we were only topping up water lost since our late resumption on Friday afternoon.

Past Slough Arm and on to Uxbridge, where I left the boat to go to Mass (having consulted the Catholic Directory. I borrowed Alan's mobile phone, so as to be able to find out where the boat had got to by the time Mass was over. The rain having set in again, I opted for waxed jacket and wellies. Quite a short walk, with the church fairly obvious on the main road. I felt quite conspicuous as I strode down the aisle, having arrived slightly late, looking for a vacant place and dripping water in all directions. I expect the regulars were wondering who this yokel was. It turned out to be a 'Family Mass', with one of the Children's Eucharistic Prayers, including the sung responses. This was the first time I'd heard the responses used at all, let alone sung! The priest had an accent which reminded me of the youth worker in my old parish, who was from somewhere over Doncaster way. Perhaps he was one of the many Westminster priests who were attracted to the diocese initially by the lure of the Big City.

After Mass (still raining!) I found a sheltered spot to phone the boat and arranged the rendezvous, and also take requests for purchases in the nearby Tescos while I happened to be in town. Was instructed to go to the Fisheries Inn, in the vicinity of Harefield. Bus services seemed to be reasonably frequent, even on Sunday, and I had the assistance of a helpful local chap who I got chatting to at the bus stop. He told me exactly where to get off! Just as well, in fact, as the bus did take rather a tortuous route through all sorts of little villages, and I rapidly lost whatever bearings I started out with. Once at Harefield, I walked the mile or so down the hill to the canal, to arrive at the pub about 10 minutes before the others, who turned up at 12.45.

The pub was a Harvester, but quite good nevertheless. Decent beer and food pretty reasonable. There was a charity 'raft race' just about to take place -- though we didn't witness the event. We were too intent on relaxing and getting down to some serious eating. We did, however, buy a few raffle tickets -- I think it was in aid of some hospital. Talking later on to a couple of people who had seen the race, it appeared to have been a rather desultory affair, with a lot of mucking about and splashing, but without much in the nature of any forward progress involved. One thing Penny discovered here, which we noted for future reference, was the fact that the hot air driers you find in toilets are very handy for drying wet jumpers. Could also be used (in principle) for socks, boots and trousers, I suppose, though the practical application might be rather more problematic!

Off again about 1.50. Very windy -- quite difficult to steer. Plenty of locks during the afternoon, but quite well spaced (until we got to Watford). Several reed beds, lakes and so on. Apparently the area is noted for the variety of wild birds attracted by this habitat.

Alan telephoned Robert during the day, and it ended with him, Vicky and Sasha driving down to meet us where we were to moor at King's Langley. They live somewhere near Milton Keynes, apparently, so we'll have another chance to see them tomorrow, as we're heading in that direction. We moored about 7.30 and met as planned. They couldn't stay long this time, but long enough for Sasha to have a guided tour of the boat.

We then walked into the village and had a pint while we (some of us) watched most of the first half of the Brazil-France final of the World Cup. Then, since the pub did no food, we strolled along to a pizzeria called Oscar's a little way back up the High Street. A good menu and quite authentic. When not cooking, the chef came out to watch the football on TV. We could hear the game, but couldn't see it from where we were. At the end of the meal, Alan and June had coffee. I had a grappa, but there was only half a glass left in the bottle, so they didn't charge for it. Alan: 'Oh, right. I'll have one of those as well, then, please!'