Monday, 28 June 2010

Stretham village

The Red Lion in Stretham, adjacent to the church and the Post Office and opposite the fifteenth century market cross you can see to the left.
I took the folding bicycle this morning and cycled along the river bank into Stretham village which is about a mile from the river and two miles from our current mooring.

Stretham's 15thC market cross.

Stunning Stretham Mill c. 1880 now a private home.

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Hot spot

You know I mentioned yesterday that Joe thought the presence of a 68' steel barge was not likely to be very welcome amongst the weekend boating fraternity - well I think he was right.  By early Saturday morning we were sharing the GOBA mooring with 14 GRP cruisers, some breasted three deep.  We had a fractured night's sleep on Friday as various groups returned to their boats from The Lazy Otter, the last lot at 1am.   Yesterday the party got going  early and the afternoon was filled with games, model boat races and powered model boat displays, a laughing policeman competition, an invasion of a narrowboat crew's quiet reading space plus a group bbq fun, fun, fun.
This morning our generator is running.
We took a walk to Stretham Old Engine in the afternoon but sadly it was not open as advertised in the guide book.  This was built in 1831 and housed a steam driven beam engine to lift water from the fenland into the river.  The steam engine drove a 36' diameter scoop wheel at 4rpm and lifted 30 tonnes of water per revolution.  We will have to try and see this on our return journey.

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Ely to the Old West River

Here is Caxton squeezed onto the end of a GOBA (Great Ouse Boating association) mooring at Stretham Ferry Bridge or the Lazy Otter Pub.  We travelled south from Ely yesterday morning thinking to moor at the EA moorings at Stretham Old Engine but on arrival we find that the EA mooring is designated as private?  The maps and guides still show this mooring which is close-ish to a village and adjacent to the historic engine house ( to be visited later today..) so I am bewildered as to why the EA should give up a public mooring when they are such short supply in these parts.  Anyway, we arrived at the GOBA mooring in the nick of time because we had it seems we had interrupted a weekend gathering of a local boat club - Joe said we were as a welcome as a fart in a spacesuit - crude but apt - 68' of steel barge takes up a lot of plastic boat space leaving them to breast up against each other.
View from the side hatch this morning.

Caxton arriving at Popes Corner, the junction with the R.Cam.  Cambridge is off to the left along the R.Cam but we are heading off towards St.Ives so it is a right hand turn for us.

We had remarked that we only seemed to see single cormorants and yet here we have four having a morning conflab.
Leaving Ely we passed this stunning Dutch vessel.  Look at the lines of that beauty!
This trip boat was busy plying its trade all the time we were in or around Ely with a variety of passengers, some quiet and thoughtful and some communicating their joy by sharing with us their renditions of  'We are Sailing' as they sloshed their vino about...

Friday, 25 June 2010

Ely revisited

Bishop's Palace Ely.  Tudor brick, enormous and very grand.

This house is directly opposite the Bishop's abode, looking across the green.  There is a plaque on the wall just where the lady is passing that commemorates the burning to death at the stake of a number of local people in 1555.  These deaths would have been at the tale end of Mary's reign I think, another year or so and they would have been safe as Anglicans as Elizabeth had ascended to the throne. 
A view of Ely Cathedral walking up the hill from the river.
This establishment, now two shops, still displaying its advertising hoarding from pre railway days.

Detail of the cathedral wall.

This little filly was taking a nap in the heat and oblivious to all and anyone.
A gateway into the cathedral grounds, now part of a school.
I had walked into Ely yesterday morning with the two dogs and this is the view of the Cathedral above the railway station as one enters the town.

Early morning and the blue blossoms of linseed are just opening.
Caxton quieting moving off of our mooring on her journey back into Ely.
Ely Cathedral

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Seeing things..

What a reflection!

And last nights viewing was....

Early evening and over the river embankment came a hot air balloon desperately burning gas to make it across the river and land safely on the other bank --they made it.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010


We arrived in Ely in glorious sunshine on Monday afternoon getting both boats breasted up on the service point to do the 'necessary'.  Town moorings are not really our cup of tea with the dogs and MR's cat Daisy so we moored out of Ely and moored in the countryside at Little Thetford.

Joe and I walked back in yesterday to have a look around the town, which is quite lovely and very vibrant, and visit Ely Boat Chandlers.  We managed to get a second desmo leg and desmo base to complete the adjustments we have, (HE, has) been making to our dinette.   In relation to this project we have now confirmed a order with an upholsterer so the new style dinette will be complete soon and I will publish some photo's.

Intrepid Researchers

L-R Jill, David, Amanda and Joe.

On Sunday we had another visit from aspiring liveaboards, David and Amanda.  Armed with bottles of wine, bread, organic eggs and bags of nibbles our intrepid researchers arrived to grill Joe and myself and Graham and Jill on our experiences of living on board. 
David and Amanda have already short listed their preferred boatbuilders, one of which is Barn Owl Narrowboats, Caxton's boatbuilder; they are now busy asking questions about the lifestyle out here in the ditches.  Significantly, when asked to identify what the downsides are of this life neither Jill or Graham, Joe or I could think of a single thing!  Says it all really doesn't it....

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Jobs and chores

The Met. Office weather forecast is for a break in this very windy/wet weather on Monday so I think we will be pulling pins and heading south towards Ely.  The time here around Denver has not been wasted of course with plenty of walking being undertaken by a pack of dogs and the female contingent of the boat crews... Here on Caxton we have also washed the curtains, rubbed down the donuts (the internal wooden liners for portholes) and varnished them, rubbed down the side hatch doors and undercoated them in preparation for a colourful paint finish; rain stopped play or this job would have been completed by now.  The cratch board is also going to be painted - it is currently varnished - as paint will keep looking good for longer and the added colour pleases the eye - well my eye anyway.

Denver and Downham

The village of Denver is approximately 2 miles away from the Denver Sluice complex and yesterday Jill and myself and the four dogs walked into the village to have a look.  I might add that this morning I cycled in, got soaked, bought a paper and cycled back by which time I was dry again... 
The mill on the edge of the village is operational and makes and sells specialist flours.  The pub in the village is operational and sell's real ale and, and this is a big AND, the Post Office is operational and seems to be thriving!
The Clock Tower in the square at Downham Market circa 1878?
My brother David and his other half, Denise and their black Labrador, Bentley.  David and Denise had not seen Caxton but as we are as close to their home as we are ever likely to be they took the day off on Wednesday and came a visiting.  We cruised up-stream for a couple of hours with both David and Denise taking a turn at the tiller (me too..) before returning to Denver and a BBQ in the lovely sunshine.

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Salters Lode to Denver

The tide had been going out and we had now reached the stage where the level of the tidal waters in the River were the sames as Well Creek - as soon as the lock gates cracked open a tad we opened them fully and Matilda Rose went into the lock chamber and straight through onto the ebbing tide closely followed by Caxton.

The tidal Gt.Ouse looked towards Downham Market, Kings Lynn and The Wash.
Out on the River, looking back towards the Salters Lode lock.
Approaching Denver lock.

Following MR into Denver lock.
Out we come followed by MR.  Safe, back on non tidal waters.
And here we are moored up on rather splendid EA moorings ready to explore the Great Ouse.

Upwell to Salters Lode lock

Last night I made a determined effort to get some photo's uploaded (it beat watching football) so I am playing catch-up. 
Last Saturday we left the comfort of our mooring on the Marmont lock landing and headed into the village of Upwell and the pontoon mooring just below the church of St.Peter's. Passing these reed /weed cutters that had been not so much moored/parked as abandoned...
The Well Creek, on which we are travelling, forms a kind of High Street through the village and in the past WAS the high street.  The villages of Upwell and Outwell were, pre Domesday Book, once a single village of Wella, which was an important inland port.  In the 14th century the Well Creek was the main water highway between the port of Lynn (now Kings Lynn) and the Midlands.

Until the 10th century eels were used as currency in this area, the abundance of the things (yuk) and other fish making it an important source of food.  A charter issued by King Edgar allowed twenty fishermen to catch 60,000 eels for the use of the monks at Ramsay Abbey; so that would be, eels on toast, roast eel, steamed eel, eel pate, eel jam, eels with custard.....

Caxton moored on the village moorings below the church.

St. Peter's church.

We stayed in Upwell on the Saturday and Sunday nights moving off to wards Salters lode sharp on Monday morning for our booked slot of 12.00.  Moving out through Outwell, above, the remains of a windmill now converted into a house.

Passing through Outwell and Nordelph.

Here we are moored on the lock landing at Salters Lode.  We arrived early and found ourselves seventh in the queue, Matilda Rose being the eighth.  We had to wait for level water because the lock is too small to accommodate boats of our size but watching the activity  and helping Paul (lock keeper) with the lock as well as giving the dogs a run before we crossed the tidal Gt. Ouse