Saturday 25 September 2010

Was it Bill or was it Ben?

We had the honour, on two occasions, of having visiting dignitaries aboard 'MR'. Dot and Derek of the well known Gypsy Rover. They were both getting stir crazy and needed a Narrowboat fix. Just look at the smiles.
Here's Dot taking 'MR' into Whittlesey lock, it wasn't until after she creamed it into the lock that she told me how worried she was, she did have to contend with strong winds and a strong side stream. Bravo Dot.
I can't remember, but I think Little Weed lost this pair somewhere in Whittlesey.

Still huge smiles, but it was a very strange feeling watching 'MR' depart the Lock upstream without either Jill or myself aboard!
Jill and George
and Tina (the Lockie at Standgound) with HER cat George.
Thank you Dot and Derek, it was nice to sit back and be driven (not mad!) for a couple of days.

Sunday 19 September 2010

Denver to Salters Lode Collywobbles

I have never been a great fan, as many people know, of taking Narrowboats onto tidal waters. I had been stressing for a couple of days about our trip from Denver sluice to Salters Lode, a trip of all of 500 yards. Paul, the Lockie at Salters, had asked that we be in his lock by 10am at the latest, as the incoming tide was due at 3 minutes past.
Departing Denver sluice

On the way to the Great Ouse in June, we had had to wait for level water and, as such, I thought we would have to do the same the other way. So we positioned ourselves at Denver at 0820am, the Lockie there told us that Paul was ready to receive us, Jill hadn't walked the dogs and didn't want to be stuck in the lock at Salters with the dogs unable to get out. Sorry dogs, the gates were opened and in we went.
Salters Lode

Out we went and a totally uneventful 10 minutes was had on the tidal Great Ouse. We entered Salters lode lock and Paul shut the gates behind us. Big thinks bubble here? We're too long for this lock, hence having to wait for level water. No problems this way, says Paul and he fills the lock and then out we go. Huh.? I still had a couple of wind down pints at the 5 Bells in Upwell.
Arriving at Salters Lode
I had stressed, unnecessarily, for 2 days. If only I had known. Now do any of you clever clogs out there know how we can be too long to fit in on the way out, but short enough to fit in on the way back????? 'cause we don't.
Looking out into Well Creek

Tuesday 7 September 2010

Pot of Earl Grey, cucumber sandwiches and a plate of fancies please..

By the time we reached Godmanchester lock the wind was horrendous. Several cruisers were sensibly bow hauling (if you can bow haul a cruiser) each other one by one into the lock. We wanted to moor parallel to the lock alongside. 2 of the guys came across to take our ropes, but twice we were blown off again before we were anywhere near them. G then tried to reverse on and they were just able to get our stern rope, wrap it round a bollard and hang on for grim death before our throttle jammed open and G had to cut the engine. We were now nicely lined up for the afore mentioned afternoon tea on the lawn of the posh Georgian house opposite us, please let us come to a halt before we hit their French windows!!!

Monday 6 September 2010

St Neots - port in a storm

We arrived at Eaton Socon lock when the heavens opened - caught out in shorts and T-shirts in torrential rain, we couldn't get on to the rise and fall pontoon in the town centre, so we pulled across onto the park where the fair was setting up and the water levels were rising. No sooner had we secured MR than the rain stopped and the sun came out. We changed our clothes and I walked around the park, across the bridge and down onto the town moorings where everyone shoved up a bit so we could get the first 10ft of MR safely onto the pontoon. After a good natter with our delightful new neighbours on NB Blue on Blue, we retired to the excellent real ale and cider pub the 'Pig N Falcon', situated directly behind Waitrose. Never less than 10 real ales hand pulled, some of them only £2.00 a pint !!!!!!!

After sheltering there for 2 nights we did a dirty dash through Buckden for water and onto the GOBA moorings half way up to Brampton where he was able to fish and I ignored the disgusting weather and dragged the dogs out for a much needed (by me) 7 or 8 mile walk. The dogs were not impressed - they don't do wind and rain by choice.

 The town is very spread out, but has lovely buildings. The butcher does fabulous home made pies, lasagnes etc and is guaranteed to give you some fun grief if you like a bit of banter. I purchased a chicken and ham pie plus kidneys, black pudding, sausage and bacon for a dirty great fry up which we haven't had for months.
 I walked up to the old mill which is now a pub and restaurant; nicely done for a 'gastro' type place and the prices weren't too outrageous -  I stopped for a pint but, like all Casque Mark establishments, the beer is too cold for my tastes.
 Both the sluices had been opened and the water was looking worryingly lively, but the levels were starting to come down a bit - the EA do seem to manage the water levels extremely well.
 So, looking at the weather forecast and seeing that the winds were forecast to drop (horror stories of NBs sideways on across currents and bridges for the past 2 days) we thought we'd leave early, stopping at Godmanchester for maggots, have a quick look round Huntingdon and some lunch, before mooring at Houghton Island for the night.
 We left early according to plan.
By the time we cleared the lock and the Mill and entered the open area of Port Holme meadow the winds were made plans of mice and men and boaters.........

Sunday 5 September 2010

Beetling upstream to Bedford

We stopped off in St Ives for some shopping and a bite to eat - leaving MR outside the pub on the quay - no prizes for guessing who came into the pub. It's now in the hands of the police.

Travelling much further and faster than we would normally as we were trying to get to Bedford with Dainion before he was collected on Saturday. The Gods were not however in our favour; just as we steamed through St Neots, Dainion said that Muttley was licking his paw a lot. Closer inspection revealed an abscess due to the usual  culprit at this time of the year,  the dreaded grass seed, so it was an about turn and back to St Neots to find a vet. They were wonderful and attended to him very quickly without any nonsense.

By the time we reached Gt Barford lock the wind defeated us and we "arrived" on the mooring and gave it up.

When the weather improved, we moved on a little way on the Sunday morning and moored on this most idyllic island. This has to be perfection.

However, then the rainy season hit us and the river rose and it rained ...and it rained... and the EA man said we wouldn't get under the bridge at Bedford so we decided discretion was the better part of valour and that we'd leave that cruise for another time and retreated back to St Neots in search of a "rise & fall" pontoon.

Saturday 4 September 2010

Ely to the Crazy Otter and the Pike and Eel

We left Ely for the Crazy Otter when G returned on Sunday afternoon as the family were coming for lunch on Monday and leaving Dainion for the week prior to heading off for 11 days to Egypt so, after lunch, we headed off to the lovely GOBA moorings at the Pike & Eel so that the fellers could do some fishing
It also gave the animals a chance to run free after a weekend in the city. Daisy sorted out an intrusive dog from a neighbouring boat!
and was very pleased with her results
Muttley was just so happy to have his mate Dainion back
Sadly, our stay was blighted by the cruiser, Scotch Mist, pulling in behind us and starting to have another go before taking off again with his sidekick (who had been perfectly friendly prior to the arrival of his bad mouthing mate); they then both moored a little further along and had another go at us as we passed them when we left. Anyway, enough airtime for the bloke with a pathological hatred of narrow boaters and G has also given some of this info at the time it happened. Enough is enough and my real concern is that G will deck him and we'll be the ones in trouble - lesser men would have already done so; I am very proud of him for keeping his temper.