Thursday Aug 20th – St Neots
We reluctantly left our lovely mooring at Great Barford around 10.00ish and for once the wind was a great help to us. We were moored facing upstream and needed to turn around to head downstream. It was extremely windy! So Clive untied the bowline but kept the stern line around the bollard, gave the bows a gentle push off from the bank and waited……….slowly but surely the wind turned the boat almost 180 degrees then I quickly pulled off the stern line and Clive engaged the engine and we were off, absolutely perfect manoeuvre! However, the wind is only useful when it happens to be blowing in the direction you want it to, it can also be an absolute pain! As soon as we had turned around and set off downstream we immediately encountered Barford Lock and Clive pulled over to let me jump off at the landing stage. The first thing I noticed was a Strong Stream sign and went over to read it. It stated that the river was running very fast today and boaters were being advised not to navigate the river until further notice, also that the lock was closed to navigation! This didn’t seem right somehow, it was windy but we were not aware of any differences in the water level or flow. I knew that there were workmen at the other side of the lock putting in a new jetty so I went over to have a word with them. They assured me that there definitely wasn’t any strong stream advice in progress as if there had been they would have been the first to be informed. Their foreman very kindly contacted the Environment Agency to check for us and it turned out that the sign was incorrect and shouldn’t have been on display! The foreman therefore went and closed the sign (it was one of these that folds up when not required and should have been padlocked shut). He reckoned that some little darling had opened it for a bit of a lark!!! I blame the parents myself!
I therefore proceeded to set the lock and it wasn’t long before we were on our way again. Considering yesterday had been absolutely glorious and very hot today was quite a contrast. It was overcast and we really thought it was going to rain at one point but fortunately it held off. However it wasn’t really cold, just blustery. The rest of our cruise was quite uneventful and we soon arrived back in St Neots and there was just enough space on the moorings for us – we had about six inches to spare at each end between two other narrowboats.
Once the boat was secure we locked up and went off to do a bit of shopping. There was a Waitrose very close to where we were moored so we managed to stock up on a few bits and pieces. There was also a pub very close by so we popped in there too and sat outside on the terrace overlooking the river watching all the boats go by. It was lovely. I had a very interesting drink – its called Jacques, Cider with fruit! It sounds very strange but was actually delicious, pleasantly sweet and fizzy, actually it was much more like pop than alcohol!
I have to include a photograph here of a boat that we passed just before we arrived in St Neots. We had noticed it on the way down a few days ago but I didn’t have my camera ready that day. I think I can add this one to my collection of strange craft that we have seen. Although it is a standard wide-beam, it’s not often we see them with a turf roof! In fact when we had passed it on the way down there was actually a lawn mower sitting on top so they obviously mow it along with the rest of the garden! How bizarre!! Clive couldn’t see the point of it and thought it was dreadful but I suspect it is to make it blend in with the rest of the garden because I think when they look through the windows at the garden the boat will just look like an extension to the lawn!
I'm just popping out to mow the boat dear!
Friday Aug 21st – Godmanchester
It was extremely windy last night. The boat kept buffeting up against the jetty all night. However we were lovely and cosy on board so it didn’t bother us a bit. But this morning when we set off I realised we had a casualty! Our little blue plastic stool, the one we use as a footstool on the stern, was missing! I went and checked in the cratch in case Clive had put it there – no. Clive checked in the engine compartment as he sometimes stores it there – no. It had disappeared! We can only assume that it blew away during the night in the strong wind – I shall miss that stool, it was very useful indeed, so we will have to look out for another one now!
We headed off around 11.00am having had a bit of a lie in. The weather was not looking good at all! There were big black clouds looming and they followed, gradually gaining on us! Eventually they caught up with us and it started to rain but at first it was just a light drizzle and they were short showers so it wasn’t too bad. However just as we approached the second lock of the day the heavens opened and it started to really come down – good job we had our Berghaus’s on!
We had decided to stop off at Buckden Marina on the way to use their pump-out facility and it was still raining when we got there. We got the boat secured to the jetty then Clive went off to the marina office to get a token for the machine, whilst I remained with the boat and got everything prepared. Suddenly there was a cloudburst and it was absolutely tipping it down so I rushed inside the boat and shut the hatch! It was hammering down on the roof. Fortunately again it was only a short shower and by the time Clive arrived back with the token it had virtually stopped. Once the pump-out was finished we got on our way again and finally arrived in Godmanchester at around 2.30pm.
You may recall that last time we were moored in Godmanchester we met up with our friends George and Karen, well I had contacted Karen earlier in the week to see if they were planning on going to the folk club at the Red Lion, Whittlesford – they were – so we asked if we could cadge a lift! We met up with Karen during the afternoon and she took us back to their house for a cuppa and to say hello to George and meet all their cats and the dog, Ralph! We headed back to the boat later for a quick bite to eat and a wash and brush up then we walked back round to their house at 7.00pm, we all piled into George’s van and headed off to Whittlesford.
We had a lovely evening at the folk club. It was great to meet up with our folkie friends again and listen to some great music. It’s such a lovely folk club – we do miss it. When it was all over we headed back to Godmanchester and George dropped us off by the river and we walked back to the boat. It was very late when we got back so we just fell into bed and were soon fast asleep!
Saturday Aug 22nd – Godmanchester
We have decided to stay put here for another night. Our son Gareth had said he would pop over and see us with his daughter, Indy, whilst we were here as it is so close to where he lives. I got a phonecall from him midmorning “can we come for lunch?”. So we had unexpected guests for lunch, which was lovely. We always enjoy a visit from ourgranddaughter and its nice to see Gareth too!
I have had a bit of a disaster this morning! I decided to make some bread in the bread maker but this time I wasn’t using a bread mix. I had bought strong flour and dried yeast so was making it from scratch. Well first of all I don’t have any weighing scales with me on the boat so I was using the small measuring cup that came with the bread maker. Also the measurements in the instruction book were all in grams or teaspoons/tablespoons etc etc The trouble is that the measurements on the cup were in ounces! So I did a conversion using a calculator from grams to ounces and added the requisite amount of flour that it told me, plus the water. Next it told me to add two teaspoons of yeast– but it didn’t say heaped or rounded, then two tablespoons of sugar, which I first misread as teaspoons! Also, I used a teaspoon then afterwards realised I should have used the little measuring device that came with the machine as it is much more accurate! Oh dear, not good! Anyway I set it all going and within a few minutes it was perfectly obvious that all was not well, it was all gloopy! Either too much liquid or not enough flour! Well I couldn’t take any liquid out so therefore I added more flour. After a while when it had mixed a bit I thought it looked reasonably OK. I would now just have to wait until it was baked to see how it turned out. Well finally it was done and I tipped it out of the pan – it didn’t look too bad. However a short time later it just split at the top! Once it was cool enough to touch I picked it up and it feels awfully heavy at the bottom end – oh dear! Somehow I think I am going to have to write this one off to experience and be a little more careful with my measurements next time! Fortunately Gareth brought a sliced loaf with him when he came!
Oh dear! It just doesn't look right does it!
Well I don’t know what we are doing tomorrow – we haven’t decided yet. We are definitely going to hang around in East Anglia for several more weeks. We got some great news this week from our daughter Vicki, she has managed to find a new place to live and instead of a tiny, weeny flat she has got a three bedroom house with a garage and garden! It is so big and she has so much room that she has suggested we move all our stuff out of the storage unit and put it in her new house. She will be able to make good use of our larger pieces of furniture and especially our 46” flat screen TV! She will also have plenty of room in the smallest bedroom to stack all our boxes etc. We will feel much happier with our belongings in her house rather than in a storage container, so it works out well for us all. She will be moving at the end of September and we are therefore going to make sure we are close by in order to help her with the move and maybe stay for the housewarming party!!!
So that’s all for now folks!