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  • clivenmel

June 24th

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;} Tuesday June 23rd � Soon after we had eaten breakfast we noticed that the elderly couple moored up behind us were leaving us and heading off up the river the way we had come yesterday.  Then another boat turned up to go through the lock � it was Rosie Piper!  We had a chat with her crew whilst they were doing the lock and discovered we had something else in common � they are musicians too!  As we were heading in the same direction we thought it very likely we would catch up with them at some point and if so it was agreed that we would all get our instruments out and have a jam!    Sometime later we were ready for off and I got the lock set.  Clive managed to reverse out of the little backwater and point Lady Arwen into the lock and then we were on our way.  It was a stunning day, wall to wall blue sky and sunshine � on with the suntan lotion and hats!  Just before we left I had spotted a dragonfly whizzing about around the boat and after several attempts, coz he just wouldn't sit still, I managed to get reasonable photo of him! We couldn�t make our minds up where to end up for the night.  I was getting a little concerned because we were very low on supplies.  I looked in the freezer to get something out for dinner and apart from a pint of milk, some frozen chopped peppers and two tubs of chilli there was nothing in it!  We had also very little bread left, so really all I wanted to do was find a supermarket and stock up, so we carried on all the way to Peterborough!    We discovered that Peterborough has an abundance of visitor moorings, which was fantastic, except it also had an abundance of blanket weed!  However we managed to moor up in a spot without too much weed and only a short walk to Asda.  So as soon as we had the boat secured we set off on a shopping spree!  It�s a good job it wasn�t very far because we ended up with four full shopping bags and they were quite heavy!  We soon got everything stowed away and then we had to decide what to do.  It was extremely noisy where we were moored, some small cruisers had come and moored up behind us and there was quite a crowd of people gathered on the embankment.  There was a lot of drinking going on and we just didn�t fancy staying there at all.  So we headed off to the right turn up to Stanground Lock, which is were we go through onto the middle levels from the Nene.  However, you have to book your time to pass through this lock and we had arranged for 12.30 on Wednesday.  We were hoping to catch up with Rosie Piper as they were booked to go through at 12.00 the same day but when we arrived at the lock there were no overnight moorings and no sign of Rosie.  So we turned around � no mean feat!  There was masses of weed in the river and most of it ended up wrapped around our prop!  On the way back down to the junction we were making very little headway, the weed was hampering the engine�s power and it was like swimming in treacle!  As soon as we got through the junction Clive headed for the embankment and moored up so that he could get down the weed-hatch and tackle the problem.  He got tons of tangled weed out of the hatch and finally the prop was free and we could set off again � much better!   Well, where to go now?  We knew there were moorings at a place called Overton Lake with a big park around it with a caravan site called Ferry Meadows so we decided to head back there.  We turned down a little channel off the river and suddenly it opened out into the most beautiful lake which looked amazing with the sun sparkling on the water.   few minutes later we spotted the moorings over on the left and there was Rosie Piper!  When we got to the moorings they were full but the crew of Rosie Piper, John and Irene, very kindly invited us to double up with them.  As they needed to leave early in the morning they asked if they could moor on the outside so with a bit of manoeuvring we ended up next to the pontoon and they tied up to us.  We then arranged to meet them later, around 8 ish for some music.   The plan was to take the instruments up onto the bank and sit in the sunshine to play but it actually got rather windy and cool quite quickly so John and Irene invited us onto their boat with our instruments.  I was a bit dubious at first, Rosie Piper is a much smaller boat than ours and I didn�t think there would be enough room but I was mistaken, it�s a tardis!  Because their boat is really open plan and there isn�t a dinette (they have a dinky little dining table and two chairs) there was masses of room, there is actually more open space than our boat!     Irene plays hammered dulcimer, which is an incredible instrument. It has loads of strings and is played by tapping the strings with little hammers.  It sounds absolutely wonderful.  It is a very old instrument of Asian origin. Irene is very good I might add!    John plays two different types of pipes and also various recorders.  He is very critical of his playing but in actual fact he is very good indeed.  The pipes he is playing here have a lovely mellow sound, they have nowhere near the volume of the Scottish Highland pipes - which is just as well, inside a narrowboat the volume of Highland pipes would be absolutely deafening! We had a truly wonderful evening with them , they are a lovely couple � a lot of it was spent just chatting but we also played some tunes together and it was absolutely great � we haven�t been to a folk club for a while and we�ve missed playing with other people.  Irene also has another instrument called a Cornamuse, which is sort of an early clarinet.  She played a duet with John on his pipes and the two instruments sounded wonderful together.  Irene is part of a group that play mediaeval instruments and has also recently joined a ceilidh band, so there were several tunes that we all knew and could play together.   We suddenly realised that it had got very late and John and Irene had to be up early in the morning in order to go shopping before their appointed time at the lock so we said our goodnights and swapped contact details.  It wasn�t until we actually got into bed that we realised it was nearly one o�clock!   Wednesday June 24th � I heard Rosie Piper leaving at 7.00am this morning and the sun was already streaming in through the windows!  We weren�t in any rush and didn�t actually leave Orton Lake until 10.30.  I wanted to call in at Asda again quickly to pick up something I had forgotten to get yesterday!  We have acquired a bread maker!  A friend of Vicki�s (Ben) had two that he didn�t want and he has very kindly given the smaller of the two to us.  We are not sure if our batteries can cope with it but are certainly going to give it a try.  The plan being to put it on whilst we are actually cruising so that we have full battery power for the time it takes to do the full cycle.  So I nipped in to Asda again and bought a couple of packets of bread mix so that we can give it a try � watch this space!   Once back on board we headed off and looking back we could just make out Peterborough Cathedral in the distance.  We continued on to Stanground lock ready for our allotted time slot and we were early!  However it was soon 12.30 and the lockkeeper set the lock for us.  We also had to buy yet another key, this one is for the sanitation station in March and also unlocks one of the locks on the middle levels.  Plus we had to buy a new windlass (the handle for winding lock paddles up and down) as the ones we have aren�t the right size for the locks we will encounter in this part of the world.  Don�t you think it would have been a good idea if, a couple of hundred years ago, all the canal builders had got together and discussed things and standardised all the lock gear so that we wouldn�t have this problem today!   Anyway a few minutes later and we had left the River Nene behind us and we were on the Middle Levels!  This waterway is much narrower than the river of course and all the waterways in the fens are really not much more than dykes or drains whose initial use was for draining the fens but also came in useful for transportation by boat.  We were soon in the familiar flat fenland area that we have become used to since living in Cambridge � you can see for miles in all directions!   We had one hairy moment at a spot called Briggate on the outskirts of Whittlesey � there is a Normal 0 false false false /* 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;} 90o bend, which it says in the book is quite tricky for long boats � it was!  Fortunately Clive was aware of its existence and was looking out for it so when we got there he slowed right down and aimed for the opposite bank, reversed then went forward again and it worked very well � phew!  A short time later and we arrived at the visitor moorings in Whittlesey but they were full!  The last boat on the pontoon was Rosie Piper!  John and Irene came to greet us and to see if they could help us to moor up on the bank.  We managed but it was a bit precarious and we had to use our plank as a gangway because we were several feet off the bank.  However not long after we had secured the boat we saw some people walking back to the moorings armed with shopping bags.  They were off the other boat moored on the pontoon and once they had unloaded their shopping they left � brilliant!  So we untied the boat and leapfrogged Rosie Piper and were soon much more safely moored on the pontoon.   These moorings are alongside a big park area which is connected to a leisure complex, with a swimming pool, gym, tennis courts, skateboard park etc etc, its very nice.  It also has a large car-park, which is very useful as we have another engineer popping over to see us tomorrow to do a few more maintenance jobs on the boat.  We have sent him the address and the post code and he should be with us around 11ish tomorrow morning � excellent!   So with a gin and tonic in hand we settled down for the afternoon, Clive with his book and me with the laptop.  I realised after a little while that it was extremely quiet and when I looked, Clive was fast asleep in his chair � bless!  You see it is such hard work enjoying yourself and of course we did have rather a late night last night!   Later on in the evening Irene and John had visitors and decided to take them for a bit of a cruise as it was such a lovely evening.  Needless to say as soon as they set off another boat came up the lock and pinched their mooring!  When they arrived back from their cruise we suggested that they tie up against us again, like we had the night before, which they did.  We are sincerely hoping that we meet up with John and Irene again as we really enjoyed their company and their music.  Tomorrow after Dan the engineer has been we will be heading off again and hopefully will make it to March, where reputedly there are some good moorings in the town and according to Yell.com there is a launderette there too - oh goody!

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