Thursday, 26 August 2010

Floyd, the hoodie

The early morning excursion from the boat this morning, the after breakfast 'doggie comfort break',  meant that both dogs got a soaking in the current heavy rain.  Back aboard it was all hands to the task of getting Floyd and Fletcher rubbed down, thereafter Floyd wandered about with his towel over his head for the next twenty minutes....

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

A rainbow worrier perhaps...

This colourful boat passed us when we were moored at St. Ives.  Well it's different...

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Upwell to Bill Fen

On Saturday morning we left Upwell and headed off towards March.  I had given Maureen, the Lock keeper at Marmont Priory Lock just outside of Upwell, a call just before setting off to say we were on the way.

I walked the two dogs to the lock and helped get it prepared while Joe brought Caxton along the narrow Well Creek - above.  Once through the lock the waterway widens significantly and wends its way through the flat fenland landscape past the many wind turbines.  I took the tiller for much of the way handing over to Joe so I could get a shower before our arrival in March.  The town moorings were almost deserted when we arrived but we had booked ourselves into Fox's Marina for the weekend anyway so it didn't matter anyway.
Here is Caxton moored up stern-on with the few hire boats still in.  We paid £7.50 per night and we had a secure and 'peaceful' stay, undisturbed by traffic or revellers.    On Sunday I cycled into town and got some provisions and met with a couple of people gazing longingly at boats moored on the town staithe - Dot and Derek of Gypsy Rover...  We went back to Caxton a cuppa and a chat and arranged to meet the next day to take Caxton to Ramsey and Bill Fen Marina and give them their much needed narrowboat fix after the sale of their boat.
Caxton moored at Bill Fen Marina Ramsey
Despite the dreadful weather in the early hours of Monday morning - we were up at four am because of the noise of lashing rain and howling winds - things had cleared by ten so we set off on our four hour cruise to Bill Fen.  Derek took a turn at the tiller while Dot and I sat up front and watched the world go by.  We were so lucky with the weather, sunshine and a breeze all the way.  However by the time it came to walk our guests into Ramsey to get a bus back to March the heavens had opened with a vengeance - we all got drenched!! 
And our neighbour at Bill Fen, Warrior no less. 
Caxton is booked in here for a month.  We are going to go to the West Country in our caravan and Caxton will be safe and sound here while we are away.  I might add, this is the most delightful marina, the best I have seen so far with lovely landscaping and mature shrubs and trees everywhere...

Friday, 20 August 2010


My husband is a hero!  He took Caxton out through Denver sluice into the tideway and with what looked like years of experience and assuredness slipped her neatly around the awkward turn into Salters Lode lock. No bumps, no scrapes - it actually looked as if he knew what he was doing and the Lockie was suitably impressed - so was I naturally... 

And the gate opens and there is the tideway

We are out on  neap tides, looking back at the Denver sluice.
So we are now back on Well Creek en route to Ramsay.  We are currently moored at Upwell and have  arranged two nights mooring in Fox Marina in March for Saturday and Sunday.  We took a leaf out of Amy and James book aboard Nb Lucky Duck who we managed to grab a very brief conversation with as they passed us on their way back to Cambridge - they promised to look after our mooring there!  On Monday we will pick up a couple of Kiwis, Dot and Derek of Gypsy Rover, and cruise down to Bill Fen together; they are in need of a narrowboat fix and we are very happy to oblige. 

Bye, bye Salters Lode...

Who let her have the helm???

Not a town but a large village

Riot notice in the corner of the Churchyard
I accused Littleport of being a very small town in my last post but apparently Littleport is the 'largest village' in East Cambridgeshire.  On Tuesday I had a cycle around in the rain to see what was there and came across this notice about the reading of the riot act.  I subsequently had a search on the Tinternet and found that this village of some 2000 souls in 1816, shortly after the end of the Napoleonic wars, had been the place where a riot had started that spread to neighbouring Ely.  The following link, Littleport Riots, gives the details of what happened and its consequences but the result for the rioters was the hanging of five of them and the deporting of a further 19 to Botany Bay.  Justice was swift ( well perhaps not justice, more like retribution) for the riots had taken place on 22nd May 1816 and the Assizes were held the following month.  Drunkenness played a big part in the rioting as it unfolded; though their cause was just, with farm labourers and their families facing starvation, their actions were deplorable, highway robbery, theft and vandalism.

The sentencing was harsh, all were condemned to death or deportation but the outcry made the Judges revise their sentences so that the majority were commuted to a year in Ely gaol.  After things had quieted down and five men had been dispatched by hanging,  the Judges reverted the sentence to deportation and the unfortunate inmate's of Ely gaol found themselves on their way to Botany Bay.

Monday, 16 August 2010

Out of Ely

We spent the weekend in Ely but this morning it was time to say our farewells and head towards Denver and the end of our summer here on the Gt Ouse.   Despite the Met forecast which indicated a bit of the shiny stuff it was grey day with a stiff breeze so after watering Caxton on the Ely service point - having cleared the ever present fishermen of course- we headed off into the wind on the wide, banked, Gt. Ouse passing the confluence of the R. Lark and moored on the EA moorings at the small town (very small town) of Littleport.
We are booked to go through Denver sluice and Salters Lode, taking us back on to the Middle Levels, on Thursday afternoon.

This is the entrance to the R. Lark which we will leave to explore on a subsequent visit.

Caxton moored up at Littleport. We had just returned from the town where we had tried to use a launderette to wash a sleeping bag (it is too big for my on board washing machine) but there was only one large washer, and it was in use, so perhaps tomorrow.
There is no progress on the side hatch doors as the painter and decorator has taken to his bed with manflu, or at least a streaming cold!

Saturday, 14 August 2010

It starts with doors and only gets worse

Stage three on the side hatch doors - Joe starts the scumbling with Fletcher's guidance of course...
And another coat of red
Dutch Barge, Alie tried to lay up alongside Caxton this afternoon to disembark a group of elderly passengers but when we couldn't get a secure enough landing we moved off WITH ME AT THE HELM OF A DUTCH BARGE to find another landing.  After a couple of hundred yards I handed over to the Skipper - this fangled wheel things were far too confusing for the likes of me - and he turned the old gel (1922) and moored further along the town wharf.  I got a guided tour of the old lady and I must say I am TEMPTED! All that space wow!!
And finally, I thinks I might have broken my toe - lesson to be learnt, DO NOT Kick the bed!!

Friday, 13 August 2010

More change afoot

The preparation begins
We have decided to paint Caxton's side hatch door linings which are currently solid ash with a coating of yacht varnish.    Joe took himself off on the bus to Over where Craftmaster Paints are based and bought some scumble undercoat/base and some scumble.  We are going to try to replicate the design on our rear doors on our side hatches.
More sanding
The first coat of undercoat is applied.

We are hoping to get a a little done each day - currently between the rain showers...

Thursday, 12 August 2010

A change of dinette

We have changed the dinette in Caxton from the pullman style we had stipulated when Caxton was built to this new arrangement.  When we initally considered making changes to Caxton we wanted to free up a bit more living space in the saloon and thought that an L-shaped dinette might well offer a little more 'floor space' where a dog and his bed could find a home.   Joe then thought that a simple bench/settee would be more advantageous if we wanted more usable space so earlier this summer he dismantled the dinette and built a side bench.  Once were were convinced that this configuration worked for us we contacted John Hunt Upholstery in Peterborough  and had a couple of new cushions made and covered in leather to match the chairs.

The dinette is 27" deep, 75" long and the back cushion is shaped to provide support for the lower back.  The change has provided more space day to day, we still have a comfortable dining arrangement but we have also gained a great place to slob or doze or read a book.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

While the Cat's away...

Punting on the backs in Cambridge
With Nb Lucky Duck away visiting Birmingham, Matilda Rose and Caxton slipped quietly into Cambridge and occupied the ducks mooring on Midsummer Common.  We arrived on Thursday last and left at lunchtime on Monday, enjoying an extended weekend in one of the best City's in England.  On Saturday I went off exploring on my new bicycle, dodging and dicing with the traffic and the hoards of pedestrians and cyclists with the best of them.   This is a very special place, it is SO alive, so green, so genteel, so historic and so fascinating and we enjoyed a great mooring right in the heart of things.  

The R.Cam flows at the back of a lot of the colleges, hence the term, the backs.

The beautiful gatehouse to Trinity College

Kings College gatehouse.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

A couple of weeks ago....

Having left Bedford a couple of weeks ago we made our way to St.Neots where we moored on the park and awaited the arrival of FAMILY.  The Family stayed for the day, eat us out of boat and home and left us with Nephew Jack or 'lock-boy'.

Jack  trying out my new folding bicycle - the former had collapsed - with a game of cycle football with Floyd.
Jack, in charge
The sight most mornings when I walked through the boat to make the tea, an unconscious Jack and an opportunistic Floyd!

Most days we had been cruising and were arriving at our planned destination as sleepy head emerged from his 'coma'.

Below - And while Jack was sleeping this is what he missed as we slipped quietly out of St Ives early in the morning

Great Barford to Bedford and back...

The EA moorings at Great Barford with pub close by and (R) Caxton in the depths of CastleMill lock enroute to Bedford
Cardington Lock, the last before entering Bedford.

Street Sculpture in Bedford .
Priory Marina where we stayed for two nights.  We fueled Caxton here as self declaration is catered for and enquired about a mooring.  The first night's mooring was FREE! and the second night half price at £5.50.  With water available on the pontoon and a countrypark immediately outside the gates of the marina we were well and truly pleased with our stay.
After a couple of days in Bedford we moved out and moored up on a GOBA mooring we had spotted just outside the town.