Thursday August 13th – Buckden Marina
We had a lovely evening with Vicki and Ben last night. I made a lasagne and we finishedoff with a Summer Berry crumble (which I didn’t make!) and custard. It was nice to cook for someone else besides just us for a change.
We didn’t do much during the day today – I baked another loaf of bread in the bread maker but this time it didn’t quite turn out the way it should, it tried to climb out of the pan! When it was finally finished and I shook it out of the pan it looked rather like a stove-pipe hat, like Abraham Lincoln used to wear! Never mind, it still tasted good. Reading the troubleshooting instructions in the back of the manual it said that the temperature in the room can affect the rising and/or too much water has been added. Well I followed the instructions to the letter and as it was rather warm on the boat I can only assume it was the temperature that caused the problem.
We also had our engine serviced during the afternoon. The poor engineer arrived in the pouring rain, climbed onto the roof and trundled his toolbox along to the stern. It didn’t take him long to replace the oil in the engine and gearbox and also replace the oil filter with the new one we had bought at Hartford Marina. So once more we were all shipshape and Bristol fashion!
Our friends Jim and Jean arrived to pick us up around 7.30pm and on the advice of the lady who worked in the marina office we went toThe Horseshoe in Offord Cluny. It was very nice indeed and we all enjoyed the meal very much. It was great to see Jim and Jean again and it was good to catch up on all their news. They drove us back to the marina and we said goodbye, with a promise to catch up again if possible before we leave the district, so to speak.
Friday August 14th – Huntingdon
We were up bright and early this morning as it was time to leave Buckden Marina. The boat has been moored there for a whole month! I have to say it is a very nice marina indeed. The facilities are excellent and the staff were all very nice too. However, you can have too much of a good thing and I have to admit I was going a bit stir crazy and needed to move on, it was a bit like living on a housing estate where only a few of the houses are lived in! The thing being that the majority of the boats in the marina were cabin cruisers, which are moored there all the year round but only taken out by their owners atweekends or for holidays and of course they don’t live on board!
So, by 8.45am we were off, we slowly reversed from our mooring and said goodbye to Buckden Marina – free and easy again – yippee!
We had originally planned to head for Bedford when we left Buckden but had a slight change of plan as we had agreed to look after our granddaughter, Indeia, for the afternoon. So we headed forHuntingdon. We hadn’t been travellinglong when we saw two rather strange craft heading towards us.
Clive saw them first and thought the one infront was some sort of dragon boat. However when they got nearer we realised that they were both reed cutting machines, sort of like floating lawn mowers! We have been reliably informed by Ken, the gentleman we met in Ely, that there is just one family who have the rights to cut reeds on the Great Ouse and they have been doing it for a very long time. The reeds are used in the furniture industry. You will no doubt have seen examples yourself, such as the woven seats of chairs for conservatory furniture and the like.
We soon arrived in Huntingdon and moored up just after the lovely old town bridge. This bridge was built in 1332 and was apparently started from both sides of the river. The two parts didn’t quite meet and there is a bit of a wiggle in the middle!
We secured the boat and headed off for the bus station and were soon on the bus for Cambridge. It was quite a pleasant trip actually, we went through all the little villages on the way and even did a sprint down the A14 at one point. We finally arrived at Drummer Street in Cambridge an hour later at 12.30pm. We met Indy and her mummy in town and then went for a spot of lunch at a nice Italian restaurant near the market square. We sat outside on the pavement under an parasol, it was lovely, we almost felt as if we were in Italy! After lunch we went for a wander around townand managed to buy Indy a very pink cycle helmet complete with elbow and knee pads –now she’s a proper cyclist (if a very pink one!) Eventually we caught another bus, this time to Caldecote, in time to meet Gareth when he arrived home from work. We stayed for a little while, then Vicki arrived after work to take us back to Huntingdon. It makes a change having the kids running us around instead of us running them around like we used to do years ago!
Saturday August 15th – Huntingdon
It was so nice in Huntingdon we decided to stay another day. After a rather late breakfast we headed off up into the town to have a look around and do some shopping. We found a Waitrose! We stocked up on a few bits and pieces then headed back to the boat. Although it was a very pretty spot where we were moored it was extremely noisy. There was a constant flow of traffic over the old bridge but to make it even worse just beyond that bridge was the big modern bridge which carries the A14 and that made a muffled roar all the time! To cap it all there was a disco going on somewhere close by that evening so there was the constant thump thump of base music going on asvwell! Oh well never mind, we coped.
Sunday August 16th – St Neots
We left our mooring in Huntingdon around 11.00am. It was a beautiful day – Summer is back at last! We headed off back towards Buckden yet again. The first lock was at Godmanchester and as we were arriving at the lock two boats were just leaving it, a cruiser and a narrowboat. There was also a very small cruiser, with an awful lot of people on board, waiting to go into the lock as well. We managed to get both boats in as it is a generous sized lock. A kind gongoozler (boat watcher!) helped shut the gates and I headed off to work the electric guillotine gate. I ended up chatting to the skipper of the small cruiser, he was very interested in our boat and where we had been, how long we had been doing it etc etc. After we had been chatting for quite a while I realised that the water level in the lock just didn’t seem to be rising at all. I excused myself and ran back to the rear gates and sure enough I could see water pouring out the other side! The two boats we had seen leaving the lock hadn’t closed the paddles! That is sooooooooooooooo annoying and very poor etiquette indeed! I yelled at the cruiser skipper to close the guillotine and grabbed the windlass from the boat and closed one of the paddles, the kind gongoozler closed the other one for me, then the cruiser skipper reopened the guillotine again and we were back in business!
On the way to the next lock we passed The Old Mill bar and restaurant. This was obviously once a working water mill and is a really lovely spot. We would have liked to pop in and have a drink, just to have a look round really, but the moorings were only suitable for cruisers not narrowboats so we had to give that a miss. Shame really, it looks lovely. Mind you we did wonder if it might be a bit pricey when we noticed a large shiny Bentley pulling into the car park!
There are some really narrow bits on this stretch of the river. Well on the navigation channel that is. Sometimes you are directed off the main river into a small navigation channel which takes you to the lock and the one leading to Brampton Lock is exceptionally narrow and winding. So much so that you have to sound your horn to warn oncoming boats that you are heading their way. We met one boat coming the other way and he took one look and went into reverse! These little cruisers are so much more manoeuvrable than Lady Arwen, who as you know hates to go in reverse!
We got through Brampton Lock without any fuss. There were another couple of boats in the lock with us and more waiting to come in as we were leaving – it is so busy on the river at the weekends when all the cruisers come out to play! Soon after that we passed the entrance to Buckden Marina and then into the Offord Lock and thus into pastures new!
The next stretch of the river was absolutely beautiful. The sun was sparkling on the water, the birds were singing, the trees were gently swaying in the breeze –what more could we ask for, it was glorious. It continued like this for quite some time and we really enjoyed it. It is so good to be out on the water again, we had both really missed it. I honestly don’t know how either of us will cope if and when we have to move into a house on dry land again. Well we don’t have to worry about that for another thirteen months at least!
One more lock and we were approaching St Neots. Again this is a town which has been just on our doorstep for the last seventeen years and neither of us can remember ever being here before! Well except once when we came to the St Neots Folk Club and that was years ago and at night! We found a great mooring next to The Priory Centre, which is a sort of theatre type venue with a café etc. Once we got the boat secured we went off to explore and to find a post box.
I forgot to mention, when Vicki arrived to pick us up from Gareth’s on Friday she brought our mail and one of the letters was addressed to me. It was telling me that my car had been caught on a speed camera somewhere in Essex! Well as you may remember my Mondeo finally got sold at the beginning of June and as this speeding offence had taken place on August 4th I heaved a sigh of relief – it wasn’t me! So I had to fill in a form and explain that I had sold the car and was not the naughty driver spotted by the camera.
After posting my letter and having a good look round we spotted a pub selling real ales, so we popped in for a quick one! Just as we were about to go in we got a phonecall from a good friend of ours from the folk club, Ted Lindley, asking if he and his wife Beryl could pay us a visit in about an hour's time – we were delighted. So we had our drink then headed back to the boat for a quick tidy up before they arrived.
They arrived as arranged and came on board to have the guided tour then we adjourned to the stern for coffee and biscuits. It was such a lovely day it would have been a shame to sit inside and we can just fit four chairs on the stern. It was great to see them both again and we really enjoyed sitting out in the sunshine chatting. I had intended to make a curry for our evening meal but when Ted and Beryl left we both decided it was too late to start cooking so we nipped out and got a Chinese takeaway instead, which was delicious. So, it will be chicken curry tomorrow night instead!
I wonder what tomorrow will bring………………………….