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August 13th 2010 - Clayhithe (Waterbeach)

Well, we have had quite a busy time since the last blog!  We've been up and down the River Cam like a fiddler's elbow! Had lots of visitors and been out and about eating, drinking and being generally merry - with one exception!

So where to start?  Well, I think August 4th would be best, it was a memorable day - our granddaughter Indeia's fifth birthday!  We had arranged to meet Gareth and Indy in Cottenham for a special event but how to get there?  Gareth has a van, which only has two seats, so he couldn't give us a lift, therefore we checked out the buses and discovered that it would be pretty easy for us to get there.  We were up bright and early and had a quick breakfast then we set off to the city centre to catch our bus.  We found it easily enough and were soon on board clutching our Dayrider tickets.  The bus set off and a few minutes later we realised that we needn't have walked all the way into Cambridge at all, the bus stopped very close to where the boat was moored - doh!  Oh well, at least we knew we could get off there on the way back!

We duly arrived in Cottenham and then proceeded to walk through the village to our destination.  We stopped at a crossroads to look at a large map on the side of the road.  Just as we found the "You Are Here" arrow we heard a horn honking behind us - Gareth and Indy!  Gareth told us which way to go (he had his satnav on!) and we followed in his wake.  A few minutes later he arrived back, without Indy and said he would give me a lift first then come back for dad!  Finally we were all where we should be and there was Indy, looking very excited and happy sitting on the back of the cutest little white pony you ever saw!  Her very first riding lesson.

First pony ride!

She had a wonderful time.  She went through a series of confidence-building exercises like laying backwards, leaning forward to touch the pony's ears, touching her toes etc etc.  She took it all in her stride and did very well indeed, a natural!  When the lesson was over she helped to remove the tack and then was given a brush and taught how to groom the pony.  All in all it was an excellent birthday present from her daddy, one I am sure she will always remember.  However, just to be sure I took lots and lots of photographs to remind her!  It was a bit difficult knowing what to do for her birthday as she flies back to the US on August 10th and obviously can't take lots of big presents back with her!

Gareth and Indy left us walking back to our bus, they were going to go for lunch somewhere and we were heading back to the boat.  Gareth had decided to take her to the cinema in the afternoon but arranged to meet back at the boat later as Vicki and Ben were joining us there after work.  We didn't have long to wait for our bus and were back on board Lady Arwen a short time later, just in time for lunch, having made a short detour to the supermarket on the way for a birthday cake!!

Vicki and Ben arrived at the boat soon after six and Gareth and Indy not long after them.  It was time for Indy to open her presents!  Again, we had struggled with ideas regarding what to give her but finally decided on a digital photo frame.  I had originally planned to make her a scrapbook but decided in the end that I could get far more photographs on a digi frame and as she is a bit of a technodweeb already thought she would appreciate it more.  So I had spent several days choosing and downloading photographs from all the thousands I must have taken since she was born.  I ended up with just under 300 photographs on it!  These started from the day she was born right up to the present day and include lots of photographs taken with her daddy but also other members of the family like Clive and I, Clive's parents, Vicki and Ben etc etc.  We gave her the parcel and she excitedly ripped the paper open and then looked at the box with a distinct lack of enthusiasm!  We got it plugged in and switched it on, once it was working her face lit up and she sat quite enthralled watching the photos changing - I think she will appreciate it once she is back in the States - I hope so!

Indy's birthday present!

Soon it was all over, Vicki and Ben had to go as they were going out for dinner.  Gareth and Indy went home and that left the two of us once again.

The following day, August 5th, we decided it was time to leave Cambridge again - we really shouldn't stay more than 48 hours but we keep doing!  So after topping up the water tank and pumping out the loo we left Jesus Lock behind us and headed back to Clayhithe.  It was an uneventful trip and we were delighted to find plenty of space to moor up when we arrived.  The only trouble with this mooring is the poor dongle signal, its only 2G!  However we do have a pretty good TV signal here.

There was a very good reason for being back at Clayhithe, we were expecting visitors!  Clayhithe is a good spot for us to meet up with visitors as the moorings are just over the road from The Bridge public house and there is also a very convenient little carpark which is quite secluded and safe enough to leave a car parked there for a couple of nights.  We had a nice quiet day on the Thursday which we just spent relaxing.

On the Friday we did a bit of tidying up and got the boat looking ship-shape ready for our visitors - Linsey Britton and her mum, Pat!  Lindsey actually lives near Auckland in New Zealand and has been there since 1991, she has come home for a month long visit and we were delighted that she managed to fit in a trip to Cambridge to visit us on board Lady Arwen and doubly pleased that she brought he mum too!  They duly arrived soon after 5.00pm and we had arranged to meet Vicki and Ben and Gareth and Indy at the pub, I had booked the table for 6pm.

Family gathering!

We had a great evening, Lindsey and Pat got to meet Indy and also Vicki's partner, Ben, for the first time.  After the meal we all trooped back to the boat because Indy wanted to meet our other guest, who hadn't come to the pub with us, Pat's gorgeous little dog, Jesh!

Jesh and Indy took to each other straight away and even went for a walk along the towpath together - Gareth went along too just to keep an eye on them both!  Indy was delighted to be taking Jesh for a walk and is getting very excited about her return to America as she has been promised a puppy for her birthday when she gets back!

Finally everybody went home and left the four of us and Jesh to settle for the night on board Lady Arwen.  It all worked out very well - the dinette converted into a double bed, for  Pat and Jesh and we also have a self-inflating single airbed which we put down in the saloon for Lindsey, then we all went to bed!

The next morning dawned bright and sunny much to our delight as we were planning to set off later for a cruise up the Cam and find a nice spot to moor for the night. First of all though Gareth and Indy were popping over to see us as this was our last chance to say goodbye to Indy before she returns to the States on Tuesday!  Its going to be a long time before we see her again, probably next July!  However we are going to keep in touch via the computer and will be able to see and talk to her using the Webcam, one of the wonders of modern technology.  Its going to be hard though, we will all miss her very much, especially her daddy!  Indy however is very matter of fact about the whole thing, though of course at 5 her concept of time is not the same as ours. 

Gareth, Indy and Jesh

We finally set off after lunch and Lindsey and Pat thoroughly enjoyed the trip, this being their second stay on a narrowboat in only a few days.  Another friend of Lindsey's, Christine Thorpe, who I used to know at Junior School too, also has a narrowboat and Lindsey and Pat had been to stay with her for a couple of days before coming down to us.  They had been cruising on the Caldon Canal in Staffordshire.  Thankfully we had much better weather for our cruise up the Cam. One thing that delighted me was having Jesh on board.  I have been nagging Clive for the last couple of years to get either a ship's dog or a ship's cat but he won't!  He thinks it would be too tying - I would so love a dog - I shall keep on at him, I'm sure he'll relent one day!  Anyway in the meantime I got my wish temporarily - Jesh took to boating like a duck to water!

Jesh - stand-in Ship's Dog!

We had planned to reach the Five Miles From Anywhere pub and moor up there but unfortunately there was no room at the inn, well at least not on the moorings, so we turned into the Reach Lode, went through the lock and moored up just before the entrance to the Wicken Lode.  As it was such a nice day after lunch we decided to go for a walk up the Wicken Lode path, before we had gone a hundred yards Jesh fell in the water!  Bless!  She was bone dry by the time we returned to the boat an hour or so later.

Once back on board I proceeded to make Spaghetti Bolognese only to discover when the sauce was made that I didn't have enough spaghetti for four of us!  We ended up having Macaroni Bolognese instead and Clive declared that he liked it better than spaghetti!

The next day, after a breakfast of bacon sandwiches, Clive very deftly turned the boat around in the very narrow waterway using the entrance to Wicken Lode and headed back down to the lock.  We were soon back on the Cam and cruising down to Clayhithe again.  Whilst we were on our way Pat decided to make herself useful and wash-up!

Pat in the galley washing up!

She was quite at home in our little galley, being a veteran caravanner for many, many years, in fact when she was over in New Zealand at the beginning of the year she and Lindsey went off touring in the family campervan, which is now well into its 20s but still going strong!

We arrived back at Clayhithe and once again were lucky to find a mooring.  Pat and Lindsey stayed until about 4.00pm and then headed off on the journey back to Huddersfield.  It wasn't a particularly sad parting this time as we hope to be joining Lindsey in New Zealand in time for Christmas this year!

We remained at Clayhithe for another day then decided to head back up to Ely for a few days.  Once again it was an uneventful trip and we were very lucky with a mooring, as we were approaching the moorings one boat was leaving, there was just enough room for us to sneak in!  Once moored we went for a shopping trip to Tesco's and stocked up the fridge and the cupboards again.  Unfortunately the weather took a dive then and it has been pretty grim for the last few days.  We have kept ourselves occupied though as Clive offered to research Pat's family tree for her and so we have been pouring over the laptop scrutinising census's and birth, marriage and deaths dating back to the 1800's, its been fascinating!

We did have one little surprise yesterday, Gareth popped over to bring our folding bikes!  I bought the bikes the week before we moved on board the boat but we never had a place to put them and they have been up at my brother's in Huddersfield ever since.  However Gareth brought them down a little while ago and finally we now have them on board!  What surprised us though was Gareth's appearance!  He has been shaving his head since he was 17 but in the last couple of weeks he has let it grow and he looks quite different.  When he arrived though he looked different again, at first I thought it was just the hat and shades he was wearing until I realised he has shaved his moustache off!!! 

Hair but no tash!

We left Ely this morning to head back to Clayhithe but the weather was very inclement so I suggested that Clive leave the pramhood up in order to stay dry.  He hasn't really got used to cruising with the top up, it restricts his view somewhat and just feels altogether different.  Also, we don't have windscreen wipers!  However I came to the rescue by fastening a squeegee to a piece of metal tubing using duct tape and we now have a long handled, manual windscreen wiper, the trouble is you have to hang out the side of the boat to use it which is a bit precarious!  Still, it works.

Our plan was to go to the folk club this evening at The Red Lion, Whittlesford.  Waterbeach railway station is about a ten minute walk from the boat and we could get a train from there at 19.17pm to Cambridge, change trains and be at Whittlesford station, which is next door to the Red Lion, by 8.00pm, absolutely perfect.  The return journey was also very straightforward.  However, three things have interfered with our plans!  Firstly I woke up this morning with a very bad knee, not only is it painful but it is giving way too, which makes walking very difficult.  Secondly I also appear to have pulled a muscle in my back, also very painful!  Thirdly we have torrential rain!  This combination does not bode well for our proposed night out at all so we have reluctantly decided not to go.  All being well we will get there next month - keep your fingers crossed!

This is going to be a busy weekend all told.  We are expecting our good friends Barry and Shirley Collings to pay us a visit tomorrow then on Sunday we are going to get the train to Royston (Herts) as my friend Marian (whom I used to work with at Addenbrooke's) and her husband Reg, have invited us to their home for dinner.   We will also be joined by Helen and Steve Gilson (Helen is an ex Addenbrooke's colleague too) and all being well they are going to pick us up at the station in Royston and take us round to Marian's, we are really looking forward to that.  Sincerely hope my knee and back are much better by then!  More tablets, maybe mixed with alcohol, that should do the trick!!

So, until next time..............................

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