Tuesday, 31 August 2010

What a Difference a Day Makes

Well, for 24 hours+ now we have had no more rain!  The water level has dropped and the flow has definitely calmed down a lot.  Autumn is definitely approaching as we awoke this morning to a heavy dew and a little condensation on the windows.  Condensation is something that I don't like about living on a boat.

August has been a disappointing month weather-wise but, being the last day for this year, it has decided to try to leave with some dignity at least and so the skies have been blue and the sun has been shining.  We have seen more cruisers on the move today than at any other time on this river and at Godmanchester Lock we met n/b "Matilda Rose" who have also been spending the Summer over here.   The locks on the Great Ouse are hard work when you have to work them on your own.  The slackers (we call them paddles on the canals) take SUCH a lot of winding.  The worst ones take 62 winds up EACH and, of course, 62 winds EACH down again!  I know it's sad to count but ............... what else is there to do when faced with so much winding?

Waiting to enter Godmanchester Lock

We have begun our long journey back to the canal system and have moved downstream on to a GOBA mooring just outside of St Ives opposite Hemingford Meadow.  We have secured pole position - the one and only pontoon mooring.  Having discovered that we have two leaky windows, John is making the most of the sunshine and is getting busy!  We also want to sweep the chimney and sort out the fire in readiness for colder weather.

Rumour had it that August was going to be a 'scorcher'!  Maybe the sun has been saving itself for September?

We can but live in hope as we approach the Nene!

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Busy Going Nowhere

We are still at Barford Bridge!  The river is up by at least a foot from when we joined it and the flow of the water is quite strong.  The river, however, is not closed to navigation indicating that it can get a lot worse!
The Skipper does not want to move until the level has dropped a little and the flow decreased.  Needless to say he and his visiting mate have made a noticeable path across the grass from "Ellen's" bow to the front door of the pub.  Just as well that, unlike in London, the pub is not open all hours!!

Going ...........

Going ................


Fortunately, Rodney's car is also still here so today we are going to go on a road tour as opposed to the river tour I had originally intended.  We are going to go to the Hemingfords, Houghton and possibly St Ives.
Knowing the company, I'm sure it will end up being a pub crawl!

The weather man has stated that the weekend is going to remain dry (of rain, that is!) so, hopefully John and I will be able to get going on Monday.  Even the girls are fed up of being in the same place!


Thursday, 26 August 2010

Oh Dear, Oh Dear! Rain Rules OK?

Everything went to plan back in Staines - mum enjoyed having me there looking after her (and seeing to the housework!!) and my brother had a really nice time up in Hull at Helen and John's wedding celebration so all worked out well.

Rodney very kindly bought me back to Priory Marina in Bedford and he is staying with us for the rest of the week.  The original plan was to cruise to St Ives by Saturday.  Yesterday we easily reached Great Barford and The Anchor Inn.  We couldn't have got him any closer so he ought to be looking happier!  It wasn't raining then either!

Over here in the East it has rained quite a lot during August - it's been more like traditional April weather.  The land is no longer dry and parched.
Yesterday afternoon the heavens opened and we have had 24 hours of non-stop, heavy rain.  As a result the water level has risen by about 4 inches (10 cms!!) overnight and the river is flowing quite rapidly.
Strong Stream Advice is likely to being issued and locks closed to navigation if the rain continues.  No boats are on the move.  If we have to stay put for a couple of days this is a good place to be:-

  • good pub serving good food and good ale within tottering distance
  • an available water tap (quite a rare commodity on this navigation)
  • somewhere to get rid of rubbish (another rare commodity)
  • field to walk the dogs
  • concrete bank mooring for getting on and off

For consideration - John and I to cycle back to Priory Marina (4 miles along designated cycle paths. We have done this before in the rain!) and bring Rodney's car to the pub car park.  We could then at least go to St Neots where I would like to do some shopping and have a mooch around the market.  I rather suspect, however, that the two males on board would rather just go straight into the pub!!!!
How well I know them!!  I have just been told that they need to go up there right now just to make sure that the publican agrees to a car being put in his car park!!  I haven't been invited!  Never mind - peace and quiet to have a tidy up and look out for the resident kingfisher.

Message from Mr Rogers to Mr Nicoll:_
"No better place to be when it's raining and river is in flood!
You ought to be here because .............. it's your round!!  I'll have a pint of "Guzzler" please."

KEN!!  We've also got a leaky window!

Friday, 20 August 2010

We Don't get Spiders on this Boat!

Well very few anyway - but not this week and that must be because Gill has been here and she HATES spiders!

Last weekend the forecast for the week was dreadful!  We've actually had nice days - yes, a downpour every day but it tends to have been late afternoon after we have moored up.  The sunshine moments have been lovely and the rainbows have been fabulous.  The best one was where the reflection made a complete oval.
Unfortunately my little camera couldn't fit it all in.

I have really appreciated putting my 'work experience' pupil through his paces!

It's amazing what lengths some people will go to,however, to avoid doing any work!!
 Actually it wasn't at all funny!  For some reason unknown to us all, Gill's thumb became very swollen and painful.  I'm getting good at locating NHS walk-in centres!!  This time it was in St Neots.  A course of 
anti-biotics later it is getting better but the doctor didn't know what was wrong either!

Despite that, we have had a really good week.  We have seen loads of kingfishers.  We had a nice meal in the Anchor Inn last night and Will has very successfully learned how to play canasta!

I am now about to leave for Staines with Gill and Will to go and look after my mum for a week and John has moved into Priory Marina with the dogs.  He has a long list of jobs to do!!  Rodney will be bringing me back and then it will be his turn to have a week afloat.

Saturday, 14 August 2010

End of the Line

We have reached Bedford and the title is not strictly true because the end of the navigation is actually a place called Kempston Mill which is about two miles further on.  This, however, is not easily reached due to low bridges.

Bedford - we have never been here before.  In fact I've never given Bedford a second thought - I've always considered it to be a rather inconsequential sort of place.  How wrong can you be!  True, we haven't ventured into the shopping centre itself - at a glance it looked like any other reasonable high street - but the river frontage is the best we have seen anywhere.

Approaching the town the river splits and creates a large island which has been landscaped with paths, grass, a bandstand and connected to either side with lovely footbridges.

 Good mooring has been provided by the town council both sides of the lock but we have been told by other boaters that, unfortunately, at night "undesirables" hang out there and it's not a good place to be.  Such a shame.  They have overcome a similar problem in Banbury by employing security guards - perhaps Bedford Town Council should consider this too in order to attract boaters to come and stay.

One side of the river frontage is called "The Embankment" and, if the sun had been shining (which it definitely wasn't - it was raining heavily!), we could have felt we were in a continental town!
Left:  Town moorings
Right:  Part of "The Embankment"

The flower displays are absolutely spectacular.
There is a water course paralleled by an esplanade of trees paralelled by
beautiful flower beds.
Bedford?  Lovely place

There are plans to create a new canal between Bedford and Milton Keynes.  This will link the River Great Ouse to the Grand Union Canal and will create a really good navigable ring.  It would seem that this idea, however, has been in the 'offing' for a long, long time already.
Let's hope it does eventually happen.

Changing the subject:  
Weather-wise our luck seems to have run out!
Even he or she is fed up with all the rain and wants to come inside!             "Please!!"

It has now decided to rain every day!
This is probably because:-
1.  Gill and Will are coming tomorrow to spend the rest of the week with us on the boat.
2.  Rodney is also going to come for a cruise .......... soon.
3.  We are as far away as we can possibly be from the relative safety of the canal system - rivers go into flood!  We have to go back on the Nene which has a very bad track record for flooding ............ and some extremely low bridges!

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Paxton Pits to Great Barford

St Neots
A larger town than I had anticipated.  A lovely riverside town park with several lots of moorings provided by the town council but we didn't stop overnight.  It rained for most of the day so we carried on to Eaton Scoton and moored by a lovely little nature reserve called Barton Road Pocket Park.  The only thing that spoilt it was the noise of the busy A1 which is close by.  Only since travelling around by boat have I become so aware of noise pollution caused by road traffic, trains and aeroplanes.

In this Pocket Park John successfully found a micro cache!  He said it was easy to find as it was sensibly hidden!  At this very moment in time he is now off searching  for a nano cache!!!! (something smaller). Sad, I know but it gives him something different to do!

The river from Roxton Lock to Great Barford is really lovely - reminded me of the upper reaches of the Thames.

Great Barford is a definite beauty spot.

We are moored on an EA mooring right by The Anchor Inn which is right by the old 17 arch
C15th bridge.

I think we can definitely get Rodney and Gill and Will here for lunch, dinner or both!

We've hardly seen any other boats on the move today - one cruiser, one narrow boat and two canoes in fact.

This little dog was just joy-riding.

The white duck is really tame. 
It let this fisherman stroke it!!
Anything for a bit of sweetcorn!

The sun has shone most of the day and at times has been positively hot.  Considering it is August, from Monday to Thursday the river is really quiet.  Everything seems to kick off at weekends.  Tomorrow we are going to cycle in to Bedford and find out whats-what!

No nano cache but still in a good mood!  Thinks he's worked out the accompanying clue and will try again in the morning.

Sunday, 8 August 2010

All but the name

Yes - three years later - Ben has finished his barge (all but the name).  A sensible time-scale for this renovation would have been 10 years, not 3!!  Everything has a price!  BUT .................. when our friend Dave Smith first saw this he said it was derelict ........ not now!!

Weekends Afloat

We have adopted the pattern of looking for somewhere 'nice' to stay put over weekends.  This weekend we have really come up trumps!  We are at Paxton Pits Nature Reserve!  There is a small GOBA mooring - just big enough for two narrowboats to squeeze in to (which we have!) right in the middle of the reserve.  The whole reserve is SO well managed and there is a fantastic choice of dog-walking routes.  The reserve has two hides (well-maintained and open FREE to the public!), lots of view points, good paths AND you can walk the dogs around AND they only have to be put on a lead when they are in a bird hide with you!  If you arrive by car the car park is FREE and the visitor centre is informative and well managed too!  All thanks to Huntingdonshire District Council.  The reserve is 'under development' and will, one day, be really very special.

Paxton Pits Nature Reserve

Maggie - Ace Canine Watcher!  
Of course, she's not interested in anything with feathers - she wants fur and a little white bob-tail!

We are on course for getting to Bedford next weekend to pick up Gill and Will but ........... looks like there could be a problem!!!  Old ladies strike again!!

Thursday, 5 August 2010


Last night we moored at Godmanchester.  The town council have provided good moorings by a lovely little park right on part of the Ouse Valley Way and the largest meadow in England (apparently) - Port Holme Meadow.
We couldn't get onto the mooring of our choice as another narrow-boater had beaten us to it!  A Chinese wooden footbridge links the lock island to the 'mainland'.  There is a small but useful collection of shops here.

We haven't moved on far today but it has been the loveliest part of the river covered so far.  We are now moored up close to Buckden Marina on a really nice GOBA mooring.  That stands for:- Great Ouse Boating Association and we subscribed for the year so that we could legitimately use their mooring sites.  Actually Buckden Marina is more of Cambridgeshire's "Centre Parks" - we walked all around today and there are lots and lots of wooden lodges - all looking very nice and be-decked with flowers.  The cheapest come at £160,000 and out of the last 27 to be built, only four remain.  Recession?  The whole site was once gravel pits.  Now it's a water park where you can zoom around on your water skies!

One of the the 'posh' log cabins. 

Passed today:-
Brampton Mill - now a pub/restaurant - doesn't come much more tempting than this!

"Slow down!"
Even Maisie thought the waves that were made were too big.
We haven't seen another narrowboat on the move today but plenty of plastics.

This is our current 'garden' - not bad eh?  As I look out of the kitchen window at the moment I can see a large herd of cows of all sort of colours - young and not-so-young - slurping and munching.  
The heron is making a racket and the fish are making circles in the water.
Doesn't take much to please me!!  

I'm sure you've heard of it!  Well, now that we have this 'marvellous' satmap (curtesy of the tax rebate!) we thought we would have a go!
Either the 'marvellous' satmap is not so marvellous or we are just really naff at it - best not to respond to that!!
We have attempted to find three micro caches now and all we have received for our troubles are nettle stings and hawthorn scratches.  We couldn't even locate caches we had planted ourselves!!!!!!
  At the moment I fail to see the attraction ............. or the fun!!

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

The Royal Departure

Today Ken and Sandra have begun heading back downstream towards Denver Sluice on their way 'home' to Shobnall.  According to our calculations they have got a journey ahead of them consisting of 206 miles and 100 locks!  Easy Peasy!!  We have really enjoyed their company and I have been thoroughly spoilt having Sunday dinners cooked for me by the Floating Boating Chef!  Back to cooking my own now!  Have a safe journey you two and .......... keep out of trouble!  We will miss you.

Yesterday was Market Day in St Ives - now that's what I call a market.  It is very traditional and seemed to have a bit of everything - we came back pretty laden with what we considered to be bargains anyway!  We also discovered a Fair Trade shop with lots of lovely handmade crafty things in it - nice to look at.

Our friends Rosa, Richard and youngest daughter, Beth were coming back from Sheffield so they took a detour and came to find us for lunch.  It was really good to see them - perhaps next time they can stay overnight?

John and I have also left St Ives today and are now moored on an island by Houghton Mill.  We have noticed how much busier the river has become - people are now out for their holidays on masse.  No more having the locks to ourselves and first choice of moorings!  The village of Houghton is a gem - again, very pretty.  There is a thatched clock tower in the village square -

There are also two really nice-looking pubs.  This one particularly caught my attention.  I have lived my entire life thinking that ONE was more than enough!!!!

For those of you who might not know:-
"The Jolly Butcher" pub in Staines has patronised the Blake males for at least three generations, possibly four.
We are now going to make our way slowly to Bedford.