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  • clivenmel

June 12th

Normal 0 false false false st1\:*{behavior:url(#ieooui) } /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0cm; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} Thursday June 11th � well things never seem to go as planned do they!  We got a phonecall from AJ Canopies this morning telling us that there would be a change of plan, the man was no longer going to come and meet us at the bridge below the lock!  The lady to whom we had been speaking on the phone informed us that she was coming to Northampton in the afternoon to take her little boy to the hairdressers and that she would bring the necessary bits and tools and meet us there instead!    It was actually bright and sunny during the morning but we decided that as there was no rush because we didn�t need to be in Northampton until late afternoon, we might as well relax!  Big mistake!!!  It started raining around 11ish and continued to pour all afternoon!  Lovely!  So, once more togged up in waterproofs, we set off.   It was yet another miserable cruise, through several locks but nothing really exciting happened at all.  We finally arrived at the visitor moorings on the outskirts of Northampton at about 1.20pm and spotted a B&Q and even better a KFC!!!  So once the boat was securely moored in the shadow of some quite pleasant apartment blocks, we set off over the bridge on a mission.  However first of all we stopped off at KFC and had some lunch � yummy!  Sometimes Colonel Sanders� Southern fried chicken just hits the spot!    By the time we had finished lunch it had actually stopped raining and we headed over to B&Q in search of a rotary clothes line.  We finally found just the right one.  It was a compact one for people with limited space � that�s us to a tee!  So we bought it and a cover too � keeping our fingers crossed that it would fit in the parasol base!   We got back to the boat and I eagerly unwrapped the  whirligig and fetched the base from the cratch � oh oh!  It didn�t fit!  There is a separate section to the base that you have to screw in first, then you put the parasol or other item into that.  This is what the pole of the clothes dryer wouldn�t fit into.  However, the dryer also came with a black plastic �spike� which you are supposed to set in concrete in the ground, this actually fitted into the base on its own but was a bit wobbly.  After a bit of head scratching we finally came up with the idea of wedges and the only thing we had on board to fit the bill were wooden spring pegs with the springs removed and these worked a treat.  So I now have an onboard rotary clothes dryer � ta da!!!!   After all this excitement I took a bit more notice of our moorings and was surprised to see how very clear the water was.  There was lots of vegetation, which kind of resembled underwater lettuce, along with water lilies and reeds.  On closer inspection we could see hundreds of tiny fish and I mean HUNDREDS!  These tiny fish could be seen all along the edge of the canal but a little further into the canal we could see shoals of larger fish and every now and again a really big fish would cruise past.  It was great, it was like floating on a huge fish tank!  Clive was a tad concerned about the amount of weed though and had visions of it all wrapped around his prop!   At around 6pm Clive got a call from the lady at AJs to say she was in the B&Q car park.  He gave her directions to the boat and set off to meet her.  When she arrived and had a look at the stud she realised that she hadn�t brought all the bits!  Clive had told her on the phone that the part that was attached to the boat was twisted and needed replacing, then the two bits that clamp together on the material had separated and needed replacing.  So basically what was required was a whole new stud � she had evidently misunderstood and had only brought a new stud for the material!  Total waste of time and effort for us all!  Oh well � she has replaced the part that she could and is going to post a couple of complete studs to us care of Clive�s parents as we are going to be up there next Thursday helping them to celebrate their Diamond Wedding Anniversary!   Friday June 12th � when we woke up this morning it was sunny and warm � yippee!  After breakfast we got ready to start the next phase of our adventure � the River Nene!  About a hundred yards beyond our mooring was a lock and immediately after the lock the river converges on the canal and they become one (ooh doesn�t that sound poetic!).  I was not feeling as apprehensive as I expected really, having been on the Thames and also the River Kennet when we were on the K & A, so I don�t need to fear the unknown.  The only thing that I was a little apprehensive about were the locks, which are somewhat different to the ones I have become accustomed to.   Well I got to experience them today!  The first few locks were very similar to the ones on the canals, just double gates with paddles, so that was no problem.  Then we arrived at a very strange lock � this one was all open above the waterline at both ends and the water was flowing over the top.  I couldn�t imagine for one minute how on Earth I was going to empty it and get the water to equalise thus allowing the gates to open!  However amazingly once the front paddles were opened the levels actually dropped and much to my surprise the rear gates did actually open without much difficulty at all!  The reason for the strange gates is that if the river is in spate the water can flow over the rear gates into the lock and straight through the front gates so the area around doesn�t flood.   Soon after this lock we went through a flood protection device.  This actually looked a bit like a roll up garage door!  If the river rises above a certain level it triggers the device which closes thus stopping the water from flowing backwards upstream and causing flooding.  It operates a bit like a level crossing, with flashing lights and sirens so if you are approaching and these go off you have to stop and moor up somewhere till the water levels drop and the floodgate opens again!   It was absolutely lovely to be on a broad river again with wide open spaces.  Of course we are now heading into the �flatlands� where some days you can see for miles and miles and miles! Still in the summertime it is very pretty with all the trees in leaf, like Constable paintings!  I actually said to Clive today that I am feeling really excited about being back in East Anglia and am especially looking forward to seeing it by boat!   Anyway, to continue � we soon arrived at our first guillotine lock!  These have normal lock gates at one end and as the name suggests a large flat gate at the other end which is electrically operated (thank goodness!).  Once I had opened the control box with our new Environment Agency key and read the instructions I realised it was almost the same principle as operating the electric bridges.  I have only experienced guillotine gates twice before, both up in Yorkshire.  The first one was in Slaithwaite (pron. Slowit!) on our way down from Standedge Tunnel and that one was manually operated.  The second one was on the way up to Hebden Bridge and that one was electrically operated but the controls were broken and the BW men opened it for us with a Heath Robinson controller!  The other difference was that with these two locks there were paddles to let the water out of the lock before you raised the gate, the ones here are quite different you actually press the button to raise the gate a very short distance then it stops automatically, the water runs out through the gap underneath and after two minutes you press the button again and it continues to lift up the rest of the way so that the boat can pass underneath.   Before long we had arrived at Cogenhoe Lock and found the visitor moorings, which were just before the lock itself.  It is really lovely here with fields and trees and cows grazing etc - gorgeous.  The river is ever so clear here and we can see fish of all sizes from tiny tiddlers to one which was about a foot long!   During our cruise today I was doing some laundry.  I put it in to soak first and left it for a couple of hours then gave it a quick wash and finally rinsed it.  As soon as we were moored up here at Cogenhoe I got my brand new whirligig set up and as we had all this grass alongside I put it out there rather than on the stern.  Within a matter of minutes all my newly washed laundry was blowing in the breeze.  Only you women out there will understand how delighted I am with this � there is nothing so nice as drying washing outside � it is a very satisfying thing to see clean washing waving on a washing line.  I am chuffed to little mint balls!   This mooring is directly opposite a static caravan site which has a little shop too so I popped over and got a loaf of bread and some milk and then we settled down for the afternoon to enjoy the sunshine and the peace and quiet of the countryside.  I spent quite a bit of time just watching my washing dry!  A short while after I had hung the washing out I noticed that the cows seemed to be grazing closer and closer to the boat and in the end one of them wandered over to have a look at us, I was a bit concerned at the way it was eyeing up my washing!   We got our regular online weekly Waterscape newsletter this morning and Clive was interested in one article regarding safety on the waterways for the summer season and warnings about not swimming in the canals in order to cool off during the coming �scorching summer�!  Do they know something we don�t!?   One other little snippet � I am extremely gutted to have to announce that my gold filling has come out AGAIN!  According to the last dentist who stuck it back in I won�t be able to have it stuck back in again so will need something else doing.  I now need a temporary fix until we get back to Cambridge and I can go and see my own dentist! Meh!!!    

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