Sunday August 23rd – Godmanchester
Well the bread didn’t taste bad at all! OK it was a bit weird and was hollow in places, but tasty nevertheless. I am not discouraged and will try again soon.
You will note we are still in Godmanchester. Well we really didn’t want to leave, it is so nice here and it was a lovely day, so we stayed put. Shouldn’t have really, we have been here 48 hours already – oops! I have to say we were astounded by the activity at the lock though. I think everybody who owns a boat on the Great Ouse came through it today, in both directions! It was on the go from morning till night, sometimes four boats in at a time! We did see an occasional narrowboat come through but the majority were cruisers or pleasure boats. We even saw a boatload of pirates passing through – with at least two Captain Jack’s on board! There has definitely been a pirate revival recently – we see so many boats flying the Jolly Roger! So, apart from all the lock activity we had a peaceful and restful day.
Monday August 24th – Huntingdon
After breakfast I went to set the lock ready for us to pass through only to find another boat coming up. So I helped them with the paddles and gates and when they left the lock Clive reversed Lady Arwen ready to enter the lock but two other boats arrived just as he was about to put her in! We managed to get all three into the lock fortunately and we were soon on our way. We didn’t go very far, just to Huntingdon, so it only took us about half an hour! We were delighted to find one space left on the visitor moorings and managed to squeeze in. The reason for stopping in Huntingdon is that we are expecting visitors this afternoon.
Clive as you know has been researching his family history and has really enjoyed doing it. However he has reached a bit of an impasse and can’t get any further now without going to the actual parishes where his forebears lived to look at gravestones and other local records. He was chatting to one of my ex-colleagues, Marian, a couple of months ago regarding family history and she expressed an interest in her own family as she knew very little about her relatives beyond her father on the one side and her grandparents on the other, so Clive offered to do the research for her, simply because he loves doing it. Well he is getting on pretty well and Marian was interested in seeing how far he had got, so she and her husband Reg arranged to come over to see us this afternoon.
Clive spent an hour or so washing the outside of the boat and getting rid of all the cobwebs and spiders! You would be amazed at how many spiders we get on this boat – how do they get on board for goodness sake - can they swim!? They spin webs in the portholes that look like those crocheted doily things that some of the trad boats use. Well at least they stop the bugs flying in –but if the spiders even think about coming inside they will be evicted! Whilst Clive was cleaning outside I did a bit of Spring cleaning inside – well one has to make an effort when one is having visitors doesn’t one!
Marian and Reg arrived soon after 3.00pm and we welcomed them on board. Clive and Marian spent quite some time poring over the laptop examining the family trees etc I gave Reg the guided tour of theboat. Reg had to be quite careful as he is very tall and his head was extremely close to the ceiling! It was lovely to see them both though and as we said goodbye we knew we would be seeing each other again in the not too distantffuture when Clive has got even further back with her family history.
We ended up treating ourselves to a Chinese takeaway for dinner, well the nearest one was only a five minute walk from the boat so it seemed a shame to pass up such a good opportunity. It was delicious and we had a bottle of wine too, a present from Marian and Reg!
Tuesday August 25th – St Ives
After breakfast we set off once again. The weather was a bit iffy and we weren’t quite sure what it was going to do really. We only had two locks to negotiate on the way, one at Houghton and the other at Hemingford. Both of which posed no problems, well at least not for us! At the first lock, just as I was raising the gate, a large, wide cruiser arrived. As it was a lozenge shaped lock there was plenty of room for both craft, however we usually recommend that the cruiser comes in first and get into the wide part then Clive brings Lady Arwen in and moors her to the straight side. So the cruiser headed into the lock and the First Mate (the Captain’swife!) was trying to guide it through the gate because it was a very wide boat and only just squeezed through the entrance, when he suddenly engaged the right hand bow thruster and it slammed the boat into the lock gate on the left, nearly knocking her into the water! When they finally got through I could see that he had really given the boat a thump and part of the bumper rail had become detached from the hull – oops! Clive brought Lady Arwen into the lock, very smoothly and expertly – well he is an old sea (canal!) dog now!
Once out the other side we headed off to the next lock at Hemingford. However when we arrived there was no sign of our previous lock “buddy” – I think they had stopped off somewhere to repair the damage to their boat! We shared the lock with another cruiser and it had two very precious passengers on board – five month old twin grandsons! Her Captain informed me that they had first brought their son on board when he was the same age – their boat was 47 years old and they had had her from new! Wow, she looked in very good nick for such an old lady!
I have to say that passing through Hemingford Abbots and Hemingford Grey was extremely pretty and all along the right side of the river is the Hemingford Meadow, a vast water meadow, which is really lovely. Just as we were approaching St Ives we noticed a very strange, square bowed craft coming towards us with lots of people on board. It wasn’t until we passed it that we realised it was paddle driven!
The other thing we noticed as we were passing by Hemingford Meadow were parachutes or big kites. On closer inspection we realised that there were people in what looked like go-karts being towed along the grass by parachutes – I presume you would call it Para-karting! It certainly looks like fun!
When we were settled in we had a bit of lunch then headed off into St Ives with our 15 tog goose feather duvet in a black binsack. I had discovered the day before that there was a launderette in St Ives that did a duvet cleaning service. I really wanted to have the duvet clean and fresh ready for the coming winter and this was an ideal opportunity. We also took a couple of bags of laundry to do as well. We soon found said launderette, which is run by an elderly Chinese gentleman. We handed over the duvet and put the laundry into the washing machines then headed off to the pub across the road for a wee drink! We also called into the most amazing off-license, which was almost next door to the launderette. This offy has the most enormous stock of whiskies we have ever seen, it also stocks 45 different varieties of Bourbon, which is my favourite tipple! I didn’t even realise there were that many varieties of Bourbon!!! We went back to the launderette and put the washing into the dryers then we went off to do a bit of shopping and finally headed back to the boat laden with groceries and laundry!
Wednesday August 26th – St Ives
We had planned to remain in St Ives for another day, firstly because the duvet was due to be picked up at 2.00pm and secondly because the forecast was for heavy rain, all day! Well, it did rain but only for a short time –what is it with these weathermen, they just don’t seem to be able to get it right these days at all! Clive never believes a thing they say any more, they get it wrong far more often than they get it right!
We had an amazing morning. Vicki had rung to say that two more certificates had arrived relating to Marian's family and we spent the whole morning on the family history websites and incredibly we got back to 1700 with one line! Clive was amazed, that's further than he has got with his own family! Needless to say I contacted Marian to tell her the good news and she was thrilled.
After lunch we headed into town again to fetch the duvet. When we arrived we were surprised to see how well the quilt had been folded to fit into the bin sack, however when we got it back to the boat we realised why – it wasn’t dry! Of course when the feathers are all damp it is easy to fold it up into quite a small bundle. Now what to do!? The only thing for it was to put up washing lines inside the boat, as we have had to do in the past, and drape the duvet over them until it was dry. So that is what we did and sat underneath it all evening watching the TV. It was a bit weird, like being in a cave!!
Thursday August 27th – St Ives
Yes we are still here – by rights we should have moved today but we really don’t want to leave, it is so lovely here by the meadow and the sun is shining too. The quilt is considerably dryer than it was when we got back with it yesterday but could still do with a bit longer. I am just contemplating taking it outside and draping it over the garden chairs and the airer in the sunshine to see if that will finish off the drying process. It will be nice and fresh dried outside too. Yep, that is what I am going to do– I’ve decided!
Clive is sitting outside in the sunshine at the moment with his laptop working on his book. Itis just so lovely here today. Maybe Summer has come back again for a little while – I do hope so.
Clive writing in the sunshine
I think we will have to move tomorrow, four days is pushing it a bit! Where next………….?