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  • clivenmel

June 15th

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;} Saturday June 13th - it was another lovely sunny morning and we couldn�t decided whether to stay or go!  I opened the curtains and this is what greeted us!   Clive decided to go out and have a chat with them and a few minutes later I heard him shouting �Get Off� to somebody and when I looked out there was a calf trying to eat the plastic bag that was wrapped around the mooring pin!  (The bag is to make the pin more visible so that people don�t trip over them when walking past the boat).   In the end we decided to stay put.  It was such a lovely spot and we really weren�t in any rush.  We had a lovely restful day.    Sunday June 14th � time to go.  It was absolutely glorious and really warm so cruising along the river was an absolute joy.  The scenery was lovely and there were birds singing and it was just gorgeous.  We were both absolutely fascinated with the dragonflies and damsel flies that were flitting about, there were sooooooooooooo many of them!  One came and sat on Clive�s hat so I couldn�t resist getting a close up.  As far as I can tell it is a common blue damsel fly.   There are also some others called Banded Demoiselle�s but they are very difficult to photograph because they just don�t stay put long enough!  They are the most stunning blue � I shall persevere until I get a good shot!   There were several locks to negotiate on this stretch and we soon arrived at the first one and this was a bit different from the previous ones � it was a guillotine lock but not electric!  It had an enormous wheel on the side for winding the gate up and down � groan!  Fortunately there was another boat coming up the lock when we arrived so I only had to wind the gate up to enable us to empty and leave the lock.  It was quite hard work I can tell you!   We continued our very pleasant cruise through the glorious scenery.  There are lots of lakes and nature reserves all along this stretch of river and it really was beautiful.  It was also very hot!  We passed these horses standing by the river and they all looked very hot and fed-up!  They just stand there, not moving for ages, apart from an odd flick of the tail.  One of the youngsters had obviously had enough and just flopped to the ground and lay down!   We negotiated several more locks, the rest either being electric guillotines or else having �pointing� gates at both ends.  These are like the lock gates we are used to on the canal except they are much more open to allow the water to flow through them when the river is in spate.  Sometimes the lock will fill up without having to wind the paddles up as there is so much water coming over the gates!   We were soon approaching Wellingborough and according to our map there was a waterpoint there and also a Tesco�s very close by.  So we decided to kill two birds with one stone and make use of both!   We came under a bridge and there on the left was The Embankment.  It was absolutely heaving!  Of course it was Sunday afternoon and it was very hot and sunny so everybody and his brother had come down to the park for the afternoon.  There were people having barbecues and picnics, people messing about in inflatable boats and the noise was incredible!    I left Clive on board and trotted up to Tesco�s to do a bit of shopping.  The difference between being on the river and the canal is that the river was obviously there long before any towns and villages appeared whereas the canal, having been purpose built, passes through more towns and therefore shopping opportunities are more frequent.  We knew from looking at the map that there is very little in the way of shops until we get to Peterborough!  Anyway, it didn�t take very long and I was soon back on board.  We then moved the boat a little further down The Embankment to the waterpoint and filled up the tank.   We were soon out of the hustle and bustle and back to the tranquillity of the countryside.  However we started to come across clumps of blanket week floating on the surface of the river, some of them were huge and we tried our best to avoid them.  The trouble with blanket weed is that it wraps itself around the prop and can severely affect the efficiency of the engine.  We also encountered yet another different kind of lock gate, this time it was called a Radial Gate and instead of rising vertically like the guillotine it was curved and sort of rotated backwards.  The blanket weed was very bad around this lock too. However it wasn�t long after this lock before we arrived at the place where we had decided to moor up for the night, alongside the Rushden and Diamond football ground! This is actually an Environment Agency mooring and there are very good facilities here if you wish to make use of them, showers; loos; pump-out and rubbish disposal.  It was also extremely pretty.  There were several other boats moored here too, it�s obviously popular.   Monday June 15th � The weather forecast for today was for heavy showers but it wasn�t raining when we set off.  I had the waterproofs all laid out on the bed ready to put on at the arrival of the first drop, I also had the umbrella out on deck � just in case!  Once again it was very pleasant cruising along the Nene, it really is lovely around here.  We could see big black clouds looming in all directions but we somehow seemed to have a patch of blue sky above us which stayed there.  We could actually see rain falling in the distance behind us but it didn�t catch up with us, which was quite bizarre.  Finally we came around a bend in the river and headed straight into a shower so I grabbed the umbrella and we huddled under it giggling and laughing like a pair of kids, it just seemed funny at the time!  The shower was very heavy but fortunately didn�t last long and by the time it petered out we were approaching the place we wanted to moor up.    Up in front was a very old arched bridge and according to the map the moorings were near it.  We went through the largest arch and realised just as we were passing through it that we had actually missed the moorings!  We could see them through one of the smaller arches up a little backwater on the other side of the bridge!  Clive did a pirouette with Lady Arwen so we were facing the other way and we went back under the bridge.  However the turn to the right to the moorings was just too tight so he had to go back the way we had come, downriver, then do a 180o turn so we were facing back upstream again then turned left towards the moorings.  Then he decided it would be better to reverse in as it was going to be a nightmare to get out of if we were in bow first.  He got her nose into one of the small arches and then deftly reversed into the mooring � we almost filled the space and Clive jokingly said that only a very small boat would be able to fit into the space that was left!    Once the boat was secure we decided to go and find the pub which was marked on our map.  It wasn�t very far, just up the bank and across the road.  We didn�t stay very long, after a beer and a cider we headed back to the boat and found we were not alone, a very short boat (31�) called Marge was moored in front of us!  Clive went and had a chat with the two ladies who were on board and they decided to move Marge behind us so that they weren�t moored on the water point or quite so close to the bridge.  I went out to say hello and noticed that they had a large cage on board the boat, intrigued I asked what it was.  A parrot!  He is actually a Black Headed Caique (pron. cake) and his name is Jaffa! We were both invited on board Marge to make Jaffa�s acquaintance.  He is absolutely gorgeous.  Laura and Alison were lovely ladies and we spent quite a while chatting to them and being totally captivated by Jaffa, then we went back to the boat for dinner.  I was really cross with myself for not having had my camera with me earlier so after dinner I left Clive on his own and went back to Marge armed with said camera and asked if I could take some photos of Jaffa.  Well I don�t know how long I was there, at least an hour, Laura and Alison were great company and Jaffa � well all I can say is, forget the ship�s dog or cat I want a parrot now!   I have always seemed to have a strange affinity with birds.  My parents in law used to have a budgie called Bill and he loved me!  I think it is because I can speak budgie!  Anyway, I can obviously speak caique as well because Jaffa really seemed to take to me and wouldn�t leave me alone.  He was also quite fond of my silver bracelets and kept wandering down my arm to get at them � trouble is parrots have very strong beaks and he could easily have broken the links on the bracelets.  I hadn�t realised but earlier when Clive had been holding him he undid the quite complicated clasp on Clive�s watch!  Anyway, he is absolutely adorable � I�m hooked!  I finally said goodbye to Laura and Alison with an invitation to come aboard Lady Arwen in the morning � they were intrigued about our bamboo interior and wanted to have a look.   Tuesday June 16th � We were staying put on our little backwater today until Richard, the engineer, arrived to fix our bathroom tiles and one or two other little problems that need sorting out.  Laura and Alison had come on board just as he arrived at around 10.30 and we could see straight away that he was not really built for work on narrowboats � he is a big guy, very tall!  He hat to stoop all the time he was on board so we were quite surprised when he told us he and his wife used to live on a narrowboat!   We left Richard to get on with his task in the bathroom whilst we entertained Laura and Alison � they loved our boat � we have a little more space than they do on board Marge!  However they just use her for weekends and holidays, they actually live in a lovely house overlooking the Grand Union Canal, which we must have cruised past as we were heading for Leighton Buzzard!  A short while later another boat arrived and as there was no room left on the mooring Clive invited them to moor alongside us.  They were only staying for a couple of hours in order to go shopping.  Their boat is called Salamis � the emphasis being on the mis,  It was not named after a long German sausage but a sea battle which took place in the Mediterranean in 450BC between the Greeks and the Persians.  Laura and Alison went off to do some sightseeing and when Richard had finally finished his work on the boat we decided to go off to the shops ourselves.   I mentioned earlier that we had been negotiating the arches of a bridge, well this bridge is known as Nine Arch Bridge but it doesn�t have nine any more!  In 1795 a great flood destroyed several of them!  This bridge divides two villages, Islip on the left bank and Thrapston on the right bank.  The pub we went to when we arrived is The Woolpack and it has an amazing history.  In the front of their menus is a two page description of the pub�s history dating way back listing all the landlords it has had.  It was actually in the same family for many, many years.  It made very interesting reading.    However it was to the right bank we went to do our shopping, in Thrapston.  We managed to find a Co-op supermarket and got everything we needed.  We also found a pharmacy and I bought a dental repair kit to see if I could glue my gold crown back in � it�s going to be an interesting task � watch this space!   We got back to the boat and unpacked all the shopping and I heard some loud squawking � Jaffa!  I went up to have a peek and saw that Laura was outside in the sunshine with Jaffa on her shoulder!  I was a bit shocked at first, thinking he might fly away and get lost till I realised he was wearing his harness!  Yes they do make harnesses and leads for parrots! Jaffa doesn�t like having it put on and complains for a few minutes but then when he realises he is outside and can enjoy himself he relaxes.  However, he has a very sharp eye and can spot a buzzard or a kite when they are mere specks in the sky � he obviously knows that predators like these like Jaffa Caiques! (sorry!)   A short while later we said our goodbyes and Marge set off to continue her journey and we were now ready to go a little further too.  It was actually 3.00pm by this time so we knew we couldn�t go too far but we wanted to get as far as possible because we needed to be in Fotheringay by Wednesday afternoon.  That is where we had arranged for Vicki and Gareth to pick us up for the journey up to Huddersfield.   It was very pleasant, not full sunshine as it was a little bit cloudy, but it was very nice nonetheless.  We have noticed over the last few days, since we have been on the Nene, that we haven�t once met another boat on the actual river, we have only met them at locks, which of course is great because they set the lock for us.  However today we suddenly met a boat coming the other way � a first!  Whilst we were passing them we noticed a very old looking church in the distance and old churches usually mean there is an old village nearby.   According to the map we were approaching Wadenhoe and it said there were moorings.  We soon found them � oh my goodness what a beautiful spot!  The moorings were on left bank on land attached to the local pub (fortuitous!) and came off the main river into a little backwater.  There were already two or three boats moored up, including Salamis, whose crew jumped off and came to help us to moor up.  We actually moored along the backwater itself � its going to be fun getting out!   Once we were moored up we went to have a chat with some of the other boaters, including our next door neighbour who was fishing off the back of his cruiser.  He told us that the pub didn�t open till 5.30pm (it was about 5.15pm)  or when the landlord has had enough of fishing � he was the guy standing on the bank fishing right next to us!  Anyway, it opened a short while later and we went for a little aperitif!  This place is absolutely fantastic, looking out of the pub window we could see rows of lovely little terraced cottages, many with thatched roofs, it looks idyllic.  As soon as we got back to the boat we checked on the map and made the decision not to go on to Fotheringay but to stay and let the kids pick us up here.  It is so peaceful and quiet and the boat will be very safe here I am sure.  We are going to go and explore the village and check out the church to see how old it is whilst we are here.   I can�t remember whether or not I have mentioned the reason why we are going up to Huddersfield on Thursday.  Clive�s parents, Joan and Sydney, will be celebrating their Diamond Wedding Anniversary and are having an �open day� for all their friends and family.  Lets face it 60 years together is one hell of an achievement isn�t it and definitely worth celebrating.  Should be a great party.   And finally � further up this blog I mentioned I was trying to photograph a Banded Demoiselle, well I was very luck as one landed on the grass right outside our dining room window and I managed to get a really close shot of one.  They really are the most incredible blue colour.  I am not really into bugs as such but I do like dragonflies and their relatives. Some are extremely attractive and this is one is particularly gorgeous!

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