Friday 29 March 2013

Thought we'd check out the moorings/landing areas

in Wisbech for NBs No Problem and Balmaha.

I woke to snow this morning (again) at silly o'clock (again) so started prepping the evening meal. The smell of cooking onions and spices soon persuaded G to stick his head out from under the duvet although there was only porridge for his breakfast.

In view of the fact that a couple of narrowboats are planning to go coastal from Boston and come into the River Nene at Wisbech, and the fact that neither of us had ever been there, we decided to go and check it out. With Lesley at her Mum's, I rang Joe to see if he fancied a jolly but he was diligently working his way through the job list that Lesley had left him (I think that's what he told me to say).

 A magnificent town architecturally, but now seems more like an empty stage set for the rich and bustling port it once was. Perhaps it was just the bleak weather and the fact that it was Good Friday but all the people seemed to be in their cars queuing for spaces in either Tesco, Aldi, Morrison's or Asda - that's a lot of supermarkets in a small area
 So Sue, Vic, Mo and V; this is your destination - I hope it warms up a lot or you'll all be gonners from hypothermia by the time you reach here!
 I shall probably go back in with Lesley next week and check out the heritage properly - but, for today, G and I were quite happy to have a little look round and a spot of lunch.

Wednesday 27 March 2013

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhh ....puppy home

G, Muttley and I all had appointments back in Ely at different times today, so we availed ourselves of Debbie and Kevin's widebeam Avalon in return for a bit of  Ted the Airedale sitting. Crashing out on their sofas with our books was a bit of a treat and we struggled to drag ourselves off of them for dog walking.

By the time we returned from our walk poor Ted's life had been changed forever -   meet Herbie

 The most super cool and laid back pup you could wish to meet. You'd think that a long car journey and a new home (not to mention Ted and then, later, Baxter and Muttley) would have left him shell shocked - not this guy!
( Sorry, blogger won't let me change the size of anymore photos)


Muttley was the only adult dog to get nipped - Ted kept himself out of the way and tried to ignore the elephant in the corner all over his boat. Baxter? Well he's been there, done that...
So, with Kevin off for a beer and us returning to MR at March, we left Debbie protecting her furniture and teaching Herbie the new prefix to his  name; 'NO'
We'll think of you charging about Debbie whilst we're sat with our feet up enjoying a glass of wine

Monday 25 March 2013

The Great Escape thwarted at March

The Yarwoods pulled pins around 8.30am and we followed suit about 9.00ish (yeah, I was up before 7 again this morning) but invested the time in dog walking and making ready - G is very confused (well, let's face it he is easily confused) by this new morning person.
We 'phoned ahead to Marmont Lock (as you're meant to) and left a message for Maureen the lockie to say we were heading in her direction.
My God it was cold - look at those tights coming down
No sign of the lockkeeper...
..... only the tips tin. Although I think I might have caught the merest glimpse of movement behind the sofa - I wouldn't go out in that by choice either!
Sorry Maureen, just joking
There is very little bleaker than the Fens in a strong Easterly
It was so cold out on the helm that it made you (well me) want to cry with the pain - never understood the attraction of Arctic expeditions
 We are the only two boats in March - quelle surprise - and Lesley's conversation with the River Inspector confirmed that we won't be hitting the River Nene for at least 10 days even without further precipitation. I do hope we're not going to get into a bun fight with the locals over the 36 hour mooring restrictions as we can neither go forward nor back now.

Which is, of course, why it's called the Middle Levels.

Sunday 24 March 2013

Nowt so queer as folk (me)

If there are a hundred jobs to be done, ninety nine are likely to be completed. If there are two jobs needed; the chances are neither will happen. All that time we spent bridge hopping during our 'confinement' there were an awful lot of things that I put off doing because there was always tomorrow. Not just chores - I never did jump a train into Norwich, nor get to see the film Quartet, for example.
Yesterday was quite a long and tiring day in the cold and 'excitement' and tomorrow will be quite a long day dragging our bottoms slowly into March in the cold. So you'd think today would be a day of rest wouldn't you..... nope
Out of bed at 7.15. Discussed the view from the galley window with a, very unimpressed, Daisy cat and then set about emptying, scrubbing and re-organising the fridge - pleasantly surprised by the distinct lack of unidentified furry objects (for once).
That job done, I showered and breakfasted and it wasn't even 9 o'clock. Lesley and I set off for a walk, with the dogs falling into their usual patterns and Floyd managing to pee all over Muttley who happened to be in the way. An excellent carvery (something I normally avoid) at The Five Bells and back to the boats where I set about the mammoth task of re-filling the spice racks - 48 in all - and then re-listing and storing all the remaining herbs and spices back into the scary cupboard (I'm sure most of you have a scary cupboard), before doing the same again with the bean, lentil and rice canisters. Then it was time to walk the dogs again. But why? Why didn't I sit and read, or snooze, whilst the others were glued to the Grand Prix?                 I do hope I'm not pregnant.

Tomorrow, of course, I will have the satisfaction of whingeing about how tired I am

Saturday 23 March 2013

It didn't look good BUT Yahoooo we're out

Last night we watched the lights of the Jenyns Arms from our windows. Even we didn't want a pint badly enough to answer that siren call!
 That's Yarwood in the sandwich over there - at 9.00am we were told our only hope was the pm tide. At 9.30 am they phoned and said they'd call us through in 30 mins and we could sit in Salters Lock and wait for a level tide - if we didn't get one they'd close the sluices at Earith for 30 mins to stop the flood water coming down and give us a level water.
All hell broke loose with dogs needing emptying, anchors attaching and life jackets donning. I gave us a 0% chance of getting out in the morning and 30% in the afternoon so we were really rather caught out.
 Up comes the gate at Denver and off we go with Yarwood pulling across from behind us
 Nice to have a change of scenery
 A nice straight path thanks to Bill and the rest of the dredger crew - very different from the convoluted route we took coming in
 We could still feel the sand lifting us underneath though
 Looking back, Yarwood gives us a head start to give themselves space for the sharp manoeuvre into Salters Lock
 (Sorry - blogger won't let me delete or enlarge any pics at the moment!)
 Turned into Salters just gently kissing the side - 9/10 for the skipper (1 point deducted for knocking over a bottle of ginger beer). However, as we turned in the lock wasn't open so we had to brake sharply and Joe, behind us, had nowhere to go.
 A glimpse of freedom through the gate - but still no guarantees it would be opened
 Looking back at Yarwood in Salters - our bum hanging out and they are outside tied on to us
 G off to see what's what or not
 Lesley just chillin'
 ...and then the gates open. Out we go onto the middle levels at last. Snow? What snow. Cold? What cold. Adrenalin carried us through.
 Salters Lode Lock receding into the background and .. oh bum ...forgot about this low bridge and we still have the bike and stuff on the roof. I hover the boat whilst G gives the bike a firemans lift down the gunwhales - how they didn't both go in I'll never know!! Wish I'd had a hand free to take a photo

Safely under and moored up at Outwell/Upwell in good time to walk the dogs before lunch and a pint at the pub.
All quite ordinary really.
Thanks again for all the good wishes - that's what made the difference!

Friday 22 March 2013

We're on the starting blocks

Left Ely after lunch yesterday and moored on the EA moorings by The Ship overnight. Woke this morning to delightful waves in a 20 knot wind; at which point G had a lovely vision of hanging a sharp left into Salters in a howling gale with the flood water pushing us down on the ebb tide.

 At this point we decided we weren't going to play.

After a stiff whiskey  coffee and breakfast we modified the plan to cut out the trip down the Little Ouse (Brandon Creek) for fuel and just run dead straight down wind onto the lock moorings at Denver and see what we could sea (OK, just the salty bit).

 So there they were still hard at it

And here we are moored up to the high lock landing out of the worst of the wind on the non-salty side.
 Muttley has been on a course of steroids and anti-bios for 2 weeks and is currently drinking and, subsequently, peeing for England. G is going to get very fit over the next 24 hours with all of the lifting him up and down - never mind; good practise for Holland (did I mention that?)

 They'll let us through this one (the 'pusher' tug thingy went through earlier) but Salters still looks unlikely - but hey ho; we can't get through if we're not here.
I wonder if G's reversing skills cover reversing back up river again into Denver Lock!
Just a thought, if it hadn't been for the drought and stuff we could have been sitting here with Seyella, Windsong, Rock'n'Roll  and, I think, More 2 Life - funny old world!


Wednesday 20 March 2013

just a quick one regarding the great escape (or not)

After oil and filter changes plus a shop for perishables tomorrow, we shall be heading off towards the   Little Ouse for fuel prior to travelling down to Denver Lock moorings.
Our  'window of opportunity' to escape these waters has been reduced to 10ish Sat morning or 2.30ish Sat afternoon. Sunday they are, apparently, doing lock repairs and by Monday the tides will be too high. If we don't get out Saturday it will be at least another 2/3 weeks.
Due to a recent abundance of rain/snow there is currently a surfeit of 'fresh' coming down river which will probably stop us getting 'level waters' and, thus, prevent our escape.
Oh, the good news is that the dredging is ahead of schedule and almost complete so, if you're 62ft or under you will be able to come and go as you please ....well ..on Saturday you can!!! I have no idea what this stoppage is about, but couldn't it have been done between last September and next Friday when no one could use it?

To all those folks who have phoned, stopped me, face booked G and/or e-mailed us, thank you for both your concern and interest and I will sort the blog out when we start moving again. Promise