Thursday, 31 July 2008

Thursday 31st July

We had set the alarm for 7am this morning - we certainly don't want to do that too often - it was really hard.
The car hire firm came promptly, took us to the office to complete the paperwork and gave us a black KA for the day. We had decided that I would drive and Tom would navigate. It only took us 50 minutes to get home (bearing in mind it has taken us 6 weeks by boat) The post was in the garage as arranged and then we went to check on our mooring. It all looked fine but by now it had started to rain on and off so we didn't linger. Next stop was Peterborough to do some bits and pieces and also had lunch. Finally we went to Tesco to stock up on food etc.
We wanted to get the car back tonight so we had a free day tomorrow. We made it in good time and then they took us back to the boat. A brilliant service and one we will definitely use again.
It was very hot on the boat when we returned so we went to the pub and sat in the garden under a parasol for an hour or two. It started to pour with rain again but we kept dry. As I am writing this, it is still pouring.

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Wednesday 30th July

A slightly earlier start today and we were on our way by 10am. We needed to get back to Waterbeach as the car hire firm are picking us up there tomorrow at 0930hrs.
It started off quite breezy but by lunchtime it was getting much warmer. The traffic on the river is noticeably busier - probably a combination of the nice weather and the school holidays. It means you are never alone to go through a lock. It was no exception at Bottisham Lock where there was a build up of craft both sides. Although they are mainly electric, it is still helpful to have extra hands. We tend to be cautious (mainly because of me) and rope up fore and aft in the locks to prevent us drifting over and touching a cruiser. They are mainly made from fibreglass and we could easily damage them.
Once through the lock, we headed for our planned mooring and luckily there were spaces. We have been travelling over old ground and it has the advantage of knowing what is ahead etc
We walked into the village and then went back to the boat. By this time, it was very hot and we spent the rest of the day doing very little.

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Tuesday 29th July

We didn't wake up until 0920 this morning!!!! It was a much cooler day but still sunny. We decided to get on top of all the bits and pieces that needed to be done and stay put for the day.

It isn't the most beautiful location but it is fine for another day.

Tom busied himself with as many outside jobs as possible so that he was out of earshot in case I found him any jobs. I spent most of the morning on the phone to the American Navy trying to track down our tenant. Finally I found her and arranged to pick up our post - 6 weeks worth! I then had to hire a car to get us back to Oundle. They are going to pick us up at the boat on Thursday.

Not sure what we had to beware of
but luckilyit didn't materialise

The old pump engine house at Streatham

By mid afternoon we decided to go on a long walk across the fields - we are on the outskirts of village called Stretham but decided to follow the river rather than go into the village.

A Red Admiral in all it's stunning glory
We got as far as the Stretham Old Engine which was built in 1831 to lift water from the fenlands. It is now preserved as a museum but is only open weekends.
NB Lottie awaiting our return
We wandered back and settled down for the evening.

Monday, 28 July 2008

Monday 28th July

We set off today at midday - it was still very warm despite our storm last night but luckily there was a breeze on the river.

Today was our day of good deeds. First of all we needed to stop to fill up with water etc but a narrowboat was moored there and the young couple were eating their lunch. It transpired that their boat was only one month old and belonged to the girl's dad. He had let them have it for a week's holiday but they didn't know the basics. We let them use our hose to fill up with water, showed them where to empty the loo and rubbish and gave them some hints on where they might moor. They hadn't realised they couldn't stay at the water point - they were probably so grateful to get a space!! Sometimes boat owners aren't very considerate when mooring and space themselves out or don't seem to move on so it can become a problem.

Which brings me to our next good deed. Having got ourselves sorted we decided to go a short distance up the river and moor for the night in a remote spot. After a week in St Ives, we fancied some peace and quiet. We hadn't got very far before we came across a young man with a boy of about 12 stranded on their narrowboat in the middle of nowhere.

Musing the salvage value?

The boat was pretty old but he had bought it five weeks ago and had just had it serviced. It had suddenly lost it's oil pressure and was dripping oil in the engine. We offered to tow him to safety (I must admit I thought it would be about 10 minutes) To cut a long story short we managed to get him to a marina 3 hours later where he was met by a friend who was able to help him out.

Three hours later!!!!

Job Done and a friendly wave

We had gone much further than we intended and now had to find somewhere to moor for the night. Further up the river we tried to moor bankside and ran aground, so Tom had to pole us off. I tried to give him some helpful advice of how it should be done, but by then we were speaking to each other through gritted teeth!!!!

Anyway we finally moored at 7.30pm just by the main Ely to Cambridge railway line and the express train seems to be whizzing past about every 10 minutes. That is the longest we have been on the move since we started this trip and we are both tired. It didn't help that the boat we towed passed us about an hour later, having been temporarily fixed.

Oh well, so much for this tranquil stress free life. Once we had eaten we could laugh about it - who knows what tomorrow will bring.

Sunday, 27 July 2008

Sunday 27th July

Quite a noisy night with the Saturday night revellers in St Ives but we had no trouble and they were just high spirited.
Robert and Laraine came to visit us today. It soon became obvious that it was going to be another scorching day and therefore we abandoned all plans of cooking a meal for them.

Robert and Laraine take the helm

Unwinding on a perfect summers day

They arrived about midday and we set off to retrace our steps of yesterday, but this time to have a meal at The Ferryboat Inn.

The lock was really busy again and we all crammed in but after that it was plain sailing with Robert and Laraine taking turns at the helm.

Enjoying another drink at The Old Ferry Boat Inn

(It's a hard life but someone has to do it)
The pub was also very busy as expected on a hot sunny day but we didn't have to wait too long for our lunch and we were all ready for it when it did arrive.

A busy beer garden at the Old Ferry Boat but the food was worth the wait

We had a leisurely trip back with Robert at the helm - Laraine decided she preferred to be a lady of leisure at the front of the boat with me.

Rob takes the helm for the homeward cruise
We managed to negotiate the lock quite easily this time as most of the cruisers were going in the opposite direction on their way back to their permanent moorings after the weekend.
Successfully through the lock and back to the mooring

Our mooring spot was waiting for us and two men in an adjoining boat helped by taking our ropes, as they could see what a hash Robert and I were making of it.
We had a quick bite to eat and cup of tea and all too soon it was time for them to go as they both have work tomorrow. As they were leaving it started to rain and it has been thundering intermittently since then but still feels very oppressive.

Tom and I have had a super weekend and it has been great to catch up with the boys and their partners again and hope to see them all again in the near future.

Saturday, 26 July 2008

Saturday 26th July

Yesterdays Pictures

Paddle Boat going past our mooring

Green Goddess up for hire for functions

Our Favourite House in Holywell Village


N.B. Lottie awaits her passengers arrival

(note her New Parasol holder in position on the tiller)
Thank you to Diana and Derek

The hottest day so far!! Matthew and Julie visited us, arriving about 1pm. After a quick ploughman's lunch, we decided to set off by boat. Matthew took the helm while Tom did a bit of fishing and Julie and I sat in the front like the figureheads. The river was busy and we negotiated the lock with 3 cruisers - there was a lock keeper in attendance this time.

After that we cruised for an hour or so until we came to Holywell.

We managed to moor up just beyond the pub, although my foot did slip into the water as I jumped off. Luckily as it was so hot, it dried off in no time.

Matthew, Julie and I had a walk around the village, while Tom got the drinks in and we spent a pleasant couple of hours there.

Drinks at The Old Ferry Boat Inn

We had already decided to eat on the boat, not realising how hot it would be but Tom managed to serve us up a delicious meal.

Julie takes the helm

All too soon it was time to think about the return journey, in order to get Matthew and Julie back to their car. Julie took the helm on the homeward journey and only had a little wobble when she came across a naked man swimming - unfortunately he was doing backstroke!!!!

Tom gives Matthew an introduction to fishing

( a good example of the blind leading the blind)

All aboard for the homeward trip
The journey back was great - no other boats and everywhere was very peaceful. It was just beginning to get dark when we arrived back - the latest we have been out on her. We managed to moor up in town and after a drink and chat, Matthew and Julie were on their way home at 10.30pm. A really lovely day - I bet we all sleep well tonight!!

Friday 25th July

Another hot day - because we are moored in the countryside, we had to spend some time removing insects, spiders etc inside and out!!!
We decided to go a bit further afield by bike today. We hadn't used them for a few days so we were "comfortable" again. We wanted to visit a small village called Holywell - we had seen it from the river but hadn't been able to moor anywhere near at that time. It is only one and a half miles from St Ives but the road was very busy with no cycle lane so we decided to go cross country.
It was a bit of a bumpy ride but definitely the better option. The focal point of the village is the pub The Ferryboat Inn. It had lovely gardens and is obviously a popular place as it was really busy - considering the village hasn't even got a shop. It is a real picture postcard village with lots of thatched properties. We sat in the gardens and had a drink before tackling the journey home.
Bythis time it had really warmed up and after a bit of shopping it was time to sit out again and recover! Have taken some photos but will add them to tomorrow's blog.

Thursday, 24 July 2008

Thursday 24th July

Another hot day! We had found a launderette and took the sheets, towels etc in to be done while we went to Waitrose. On our return they had all been washed and dried - worth every penny!!!

This afternoon we went to the St Ives Museum, which has a lot of local history, followed by a visit to the Chapel on the bridge.

This is now purely a tourist attraction but in the past has been a toll booth, a pub and a private residence. The top two floors have been removed from when it was originally built, as it was felt it was too heavy for the bridge. Evidently there have only ever been five built on bridges throughout the country

The Bridge Chapel/Pub/House

A model showing how the bridge used to look
(Note the extra floors on the chapel)

Inside the Bridge Chapel

On the balcony of The Bridge Chapel

We bumped into Linda and Ebony the dog in the town - they are moored in the centre of town but are moving on tomorrow.

The rest of the day was spent relaxing alongside the boat - it was just too hot to do anything else

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Wednesday 23rd July

Today was the hottest day we have had so far. We stayed on the boat during the morning and finally went out mid afternoon when it wasn't quite so warm. We had a walk around town and did a bit of shopping before settling into a riverside pub to watch the world go by

Lottie at the GOBA bankside mooring in SAt Ives

This morning we saw a hotel boat go by - the first time we had seen one although we had read about them. Two identical narrowboats are roped up alongside each other and we saw 4 passengers reading the paper while one member of crew was steering the boats. There must be times, such as narrow bridges etc, when they have to separate but it looked very pleasant and relaxed.

The Hotel Narrowboats

Like the old cargo boats one is the tug with an engine the other is the Butty with the large tiller
This evening there were all sorts of things going on in the river. Apart from the usual river craft, there were kayaks, scullers and some people were swimming.

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Tuesday 22nd July

We awoke at 8am as all the boats surrounding us set off on their way. It was a lovely sunny morning and we finally got away at 10am. Our first lock was at Earith and had a lock keeper in attendance. This connected us once again with the River Gt Ouse. We had already decided to make our way to St Ives so will explore this town on our return journey.

We were now on a tidal stretch of the river until our next lock. It was a very wide stretch of river and the journey was uneventful.

After this lock, I took to the tiller and Tom did some fishing and managed to catch 2 perch.

Tom with (believe it or not) the Larger of the 2 Perch he caught
We had one more lock to go through before arriving at St Ives about 4pm. The journey had taken longer than we thought but the weather had remained sunny and the scenery was really pretty. We saw some punts collecting reeds for basket making - evidently one family has had the harvesting rights for years. It looked hard work!

A very pretty stretch of the river

Reed Harvesting on the Great Ouse

The river narrowed and was much more shallow as we neared St Ives and the town looks really appealing as you approach by river.

Coming into St Ives

After mooring, we had a walk around the town. We met some fellow members of Peterborough Yacht Club and spent some time with them before returning to the boat for the rest of the evening. We intend to stay here and do the town in depth tomorrow.

A quick look around the town

Monday, 21 July 2008

Monday 21st July

It was bright and sunny this morning but still very blustery. We said goodbye to Linda and Ebony, with whom we had spent the last 4 days and set off on our way. This was the first time we had set off without a definite plan of where we were going to moor for the night.

Ebony says Goodbye or is it Au revoir?
(as we still have some doggy biscuits left)
We left the River Cam after about an hour and turned onto The Old West River. This was quite narrow in parts initially and was also quite busy with other boats. Sometimes it was so windy, it took all our strength to keep the boat going in a straight line.

The view from our mooring

The river widened but was then quite shallow in parts so altogether an interesting journey. We kept going until about 2pm until we found a nice mooring just outside Aldreth, two miles outside Earith.

Christine sitting out comfortably

The wind dropped sufficiently for us to sit out comfortably for an hour and then we went for a walk to find the village. It was about a mile away and was quite small with no shop or pub. A lot of the villages that we have visited have a lot of new houses being built and this was no exception. Unfortunately sometimes it detracts from the appeal of the village as a whole.

Butterflies seen on our walk to Aldreth

Sunday, 20 July 2008

Sunday 20th July

As planned we stayed on our mooring today and caught up with our chores. It was a bright blustery day and there was plenty of movement on the river and on the towpath. Everybody seemed to want to stop and have a chat which kept Tom occupied while he washed and polished one side of the boat. He has said he will do the other side when we are on a different mooring on the other side of the river.

We decided to have our Sunday lunch at the Bridge Hotel, a riverside pub adjacent to our mooring. It was nothing special but neither of us felt like cooking.

The Bridge Hotel where we had Sunday lunch

However what was a real and unexpected treat was the narrowboats President and Kildare, which had moored opposite the pub. President is the oldest surviving cargo carrying narrowboat and is steam powered. Kildare is the butty which is towed behind, giving double the capacity for cargo.

Narrowboat and Butty President and Kildare, a rare sighting

These are exhibition boats that are based in Birmingham, crewed by volunteers who take them round the country to various shows and events and next year will be their centenary year.

Another "Lottie" on the river this one a cruiser

Saturday, 19 July 2008

Saturday 19th July

We had a bit of a lazy day today. We went across the river this morning to the Elsan station where we also filled up with fresh water. While I was doing this Christine went into town to get the paper. Having completed the replenishment we signalled to Linda that we were leaving and so we both got underway. We only went as far as Waterbeach having negotiated the lock at Baits Bite in tandem. The wind that was forecast hadn't really got up to any strength at this time so the anticipated problems never arose and both boats got through unscathed. The trip up to the lock was a case of dodging the rowing eights that all seemed to be out training but we managed to get through them without causing any catastrophies.

We had a walk around the village of Waterbeach which apart from a couple of pubs and a few picture postcard cottages, is of no real consequence. We have decided to spend Sunday on this mooring to get upto date with the cleaning etc. (yes it's not all beer and skittles ) and as Christine keeps reminding me "You are not on holiday you know!!!".

Only a couple of pictures I'm afraid one of the very imposing house that the warden/baliff of the Cam Coscervancey (the body that is responsible for the river from Waterbeach to Cambridge) lives in, nice work if you can get it.

and the other showing the weekend build up of boats on the mooring, luckily we got here early enough to get the best positions away from the bridge we are the last boat but one Linda's being the last. We will probably go to The Bridge Hotel tomorrow for Sunday Lunch after all our hard exertions

Friday, 18 July 2008

Friday 18th July

Lottie moored just below Jesus Lock (in foreground) Linda's boat moored in front of us

It was fine this morning and we decided that we would do the city bus tour to acquaint ourselves with Cambridge. Our neighbour, Linda came with Ebony the dog and we all clambered to the top deck of the open top bus and hoped it would not rain.

Immaculate manicured graves

We decided to get off at the American Cemetery and WW2 memorial and have a walk round. It was very emotional and well worth the visit.

Inside the Chapel at the American War Cemetery

The weather was still good so we decided to press on and went on a chauffeured punt trip along the part of the river that is called The Backs. (Linda and Ebony declined!) It was a really good trip - Luke our guide actually goes to Leeds University but nevertheless was very knowledgeable about the local history.

In the Punt along the backs

Having now got to grips with the city both by road and by boat, we decided to walk under our own steam to retrace our steps to some of the places of interest. Cambridge is absolutely heaving with people at the moment, both with tourists and students but it all adds to the atmosphere. There are also plenty of parks and open spaces so it does not feel cramped.

Quite a few bikes in Cambridge!!!

We returned to the boat at about 5pm as it was just starting to rain. The forecast for tomorrow is strong winds, so we have arranged to leave with Linda to go through the lock together. She is then meeting friends and we aren't sure where we are going next.

Should there be a Congestion charge in Cambridge?

We have really enjoyed Cambridge but the 48 hours has been long enough as we have been here many times before.