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  • clivenmel

June 29th

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 25th - Wow, what a night!  We finished our evening meal and I got tarted up to go out, well I put on a clean tee shirt, put my lenses in and finished off with a spot of lippy and mascara!!  Then we grabbed the instruments and headed up to The Ship where we found Ed and Jenny but no sign of Irene and John nor Neil and Cath off Herbie!  We figured they had decided to out for a meal together first.  So initially we just sat and chatted and reminisced with Ed and Jenny about the old days at The Wheatsheaf.   There was a young lady at the bar with a couple of guys and she had noticed Clive�s guitar and asked when we were going to play.  So I unpacked my flute and Clive unpacked his guitar and we started the evening off with a rendering of Ye Jacobites, which is always a good ice breaker, it being such a rousing song and we soon had everyone in the bar joining in � I have to say there weren�t many people in the bar besides us, about another four!   A short while later we noticed some people passing by outside and I nipped out to have a look and sure enough it was the crews from Rosie Piper and Herbie � they had been out for a meal!  So once they knew where we were they went and fetched their instruments and we soon had a session going.  Neil plays guitar and Mandola and his wife Cath plays Hammered Dulcimer like Irene, however she didn�t have her instrument with her so she borrowed Irene�s to give us a few tunes.   At one point during the proceedings I noticed a large bug fly in through the open pub door and it shot over to the far side of the bar behind the pool table.  It looked quite large and I was intrigued to find out what it was.  John and I went to have a look and we saw that it was a large beetle which John bravely picked up.  As soon as I saw it up close I recognised it as a Great Diving Beetle (Dytiscus marginalis) � it certainly didn�t belong in a pub!  After a quick scoot around the pool table it was retrieved by John again who took it outside and put it on the grassy bank down to the water � hopefully it will have found its way back down and into its usual habitat.  Perhaps it just fancied a pint!   We carried on with our impromptu folk club and found the landlord to be extremely enthusiastic, he even joined in with the songs and actually did a solo.  It was starting to get late and the participants gradually left and went their weary way.  We packed up our instruments and went to say goodbye to the landlord and to thank him for his hospitality.  He said he had had a great evening and that we were welcome any time � in fact he said he would love to do this sort of thing on a regular basis.  It turns out he has only been in the pub for a week and is trying to turn it around, it was a bit run down and not very well frequented.  We suggested he put an ad in the local rag inviting folkies to come along and get something going and also to put a notice outside to inform passing boaters too as there are many floating folkies along the cut.  He thought that would be a great idea.    Just before we left I asked the landlord his name so that I could include him in the blog � Clive he said!  We cracked out laughing and explained the coincidence and he then pointed to another guy in the bar who had been there all evening � he�s called Clive too!  Incredible � that definitely deserves a photo!  Shame our Clive wasn�t paying attention at the time � I didn�t realise till the following morning that it wasn�t a particularly good shot of him as he is talking! Three Clives, all bald, with diminishing facial hair from left to right and all in their 50s!   Friday June 26th � we heard Herbie leaving before we got up this morning but they had to get to Stanground Lock by lunchtime and it takes quite a while.  Once we had had breakfast I got the bed stripped and all the dirty linen packed up ready to go to the launderette.  We were just setting off to the launderette when we bumped into John and Irene who were popping over to the local library and were then heading off so we said goodbye again but will probably see them again as we are going in the same direction.  We also bumped into Ed and Jenny who informed us they too were going to the launderette.   We soon found the launderette about 10 minutes walk from the boat.  We had to wait a few minutes before two machines became available and Ed and Jenny had to wait even longer because they arrived after us!  Ed popped out for a while and returned with the day�s newspapers and we were shocked to learn that Michael Jackson had died!  Its strange � I can never remember where I was when I heard that Kennedy had been shot nor what I was doing when I heard that Elvis had died but I somehow think I will always remember that I was in a launderette in March when I heard that Jacko was gone!  Anyway, its very sad, he was such a great talent in his heyday � at least his music will live on and hopefully he will be remembered for that and people will gradually forget about his odd ways and weird lifestyle!   I had decided in my wisdom that as the weather was so glorious I would just dry the bedding and the big towels and the launderette and then when we arrived at our next destination (Upwell) I would get my new whirligig out and dry the rest of the stuff in the fresh air.  Well, best laid plans!!!!    We got back to the boat, untied and set off.   We had phoned ahead to the lock keeper as instructed to let him know we would be there in about two hours.  It continued to be fine and sunny and we were really enjoying our cruise then I happened to look behind us � oh dear - it was black!  One of the interesting things about being on the fenland waterways is that you can see for absolutely miles because it is so flat and the sky is just a huge dome and you can see in all directions, therefore you can see the weather coming and boy was it coming!  It was absolutely fascinating to watch the clouds building and churning and we could see that rain was falling in the distance.  However we began to think we would miss it as it was sort of bending round behind us.  We also arrived at a wind farm and these turbines are absolutely enormous, we have never seen such big ones before.  Clive commented that they looked like something out of War of the Worlds, like huge aliens marching across the landscape!  We also noticed that they were slowing down and beginning to turn � the wind was changing direction � oh no!  Yes a few minutes later and we realised that the storm clouds were rapidly heading towards us over the right bank.  I dashed inside and got the waterproofs out, helped Clive put his on first then I went back inside to get mine just as there was a huge clap of thunder and the heavens opened!  It was a deluge � enormous drops hammering down, it was amazing.  I quickly got my waterproofs on too and went back outside.  Clive had said I didn�t need to be on deck that there was no point us both getting wet but I wouldn�t have missed it for the world, it was great fun, we were soon laughing like drains as the downpour continued.  Our waterproofs are very good and keep us totally dry.   The rain accompanied us all the way to the lock and there was another boat already on the jetty waiting to go in � Red Fox.   The guy on the boat invited us to moor alongside him until the lock was ready.  I was surprised to see that this lock was overflowing and that it would be taking us up rather than down and the guy on the Red Fox explained that we were actually below sea level here!  A short while later the rain had subsided a little so he and I went up to see the lock-keeper.  He was a lovely guy � it turns out he bought the lock-keepers cottage back in the sixties when the lock was no longer in use and the channel was going to be filled in, in order to build a big dual carriageway.  However about ten years later there was a change of heart and they decided to reopen the waterway and the lock now needed a lock-keeper so his wife said she would do it.  They don�t get a salary for doing the job but they do get their phone bill paid!  He does however get voluntary contributions of a �1 from boaters passing through the lock!    We went into the lock first and the lock-keeper said there was room for Red Fox as well if we squeezed right up to the front gates.  Red Fox came in behind us and we managed to fit in, just!  I was holding the bow rope to ensure that Lady Arwen didn�t move and the lock-keeper started filling the lock.  A short time later there was a yell from the back of the lock � Red Fox was taking on water!  There was a big old iron ring on the lock wall and it had caught under the cill of Red Fox�s bow, thus holding the front end down as the water was rising around it.  All narrowboats have drainage holes in the bows to get rid of excess water from rain or leaky locks but these were actually allowing the bows to fill up as they were now under the water level.  Water was then leaking through the ventilation panels into the front cabin itself!  As soon as the lock-keeper realised what was happening he rushed to rear gates and opened the paddles again so that the water stopped rising and started dropping, Clive and I stood on the bows of Red Fox jumping up and down whilst her captain was pushing outwards and finally she broke free of the ring and bobbed up again � phew!  Fortunately only about a bucketful of water had actually gone inside the boat but it was a scary moment and just goes to show that one should never be complacent, things can and do go wrong!   Finally we were through the lock and on our way again.  The channel was now very narrow and we could only go slowly as there were also lots of boats moored along the side.  We finally arrived on the outskirts of Upwell and we spotted Rosie Piper moored up on the left.  We decided to pull in and join them so we waved Red Fox past.  Unfortunately it didn�t work out as planned, we couldn�t get into the side at all.  Irene and John came out to help but to no avail.  They were actually moored up to a small jetty � there are several of these along this stretch but they aren�t big enough to accommodate Lady Arwen as they are only about 30� long.  Rosie Piper had no bother at all as she is much shorter than us.  So we said goodbye to Irene and John again and continued on into Upwell.  It was quite bizarre cruising through the town, it was like we were sailing up the high street between the houses � weird!   We finally spotted the church on the right and knew that there were moorings there and sure enough when we arrived there was Red Fox already moored up so we slipped in behind and made fast.  I now had a bit of a dilemma � a whole bag full of wet washing and it was still raining!  We decided to have tea and watch a movie then before we went to bed I had a brainwave � we actually managed to put the whirligig up in the saloon!  I soon had all the washing pegged on it and then we went to bed!   I forgot to mention, a little while earlier, whilst we were watching the movie, our daughter Vicki phoned to ask me something.  When I told her we were moored in Upwell she was astounded � it�s only about 20 minutes drive from her flat!  I explained that we would be going further the next day and if all goes to plan we will be even nearer to her, so all being well she is going to come and pay us a visit and possibly even stay the night.  That will be lovely.   Saturday June 27th � it wasn�t raining when we woke up!  It wasn�t sunny either, it was sort of overcast and very muggy.  However not to worry.  My washing was still very damp so we left the whirligig up and opened the windows in the hope that it might dry a bit whilst we were cruising.  We set off after breakfast and made our way to Salters Lode.  There is a lock here and you have to once again book your passage through in advance.  This lock takes you out onto the tidal Great Ouse so the lock-keeper tells you what time to come to hit the tide right.  We were told to be there for 12.30pm. When we arrived Rosie Piper and a couple of other boats were already in the queue and we were fourth in line to go through, which meant we got the chance to watch the other boats going through so we would know what to do.   The reason for this is that as you leave the lock you have to do a 180o turn to the right.  If you turn left you end up at The Wash!  Rosie Piper with John and Irene on board did a sterling job.   Finally it was our turn to go through and it all went very well and we were soon heading in the direction of the Denver Sluice once through this lock and you have left the tidal Ouse behind.  It all went very well and we were soon tied up at the lovely visitor moorings outside The Jenyns Inn.  We phoned Vicki to let her know where we were and she said she would join us around 5pm and would stay the night.   Once we had got settled I un-pegged all the washing, collapsed the whirligig and set it up again on the stern then pegged all the damp washing out again in the hope that it would dry.  I then set to making a curry ready for dinner and in no time at all I got a call from Vicki just checking where we were, her sat-nav had brought her to Denver but not right to the moorings so I went for a walk up to the lock to meet her.  Whilst I was waiting for her I noticed that the water level before the lock had gone right down and you could see lots of mud banks � the tide had gone out!   Vicki soon arrived and we drove round to the pub car park where she was leaving the car for the night.  She was laughing about the fact that we were really out in the wilderness � she said it was the longest, straightest road she had ever been on, it seemed endless and empty!     We had a great evening, lots of curry, lots of wine and lots of chat.  We didn�t watch any TV we just talked and laughed � it was lovely then finally we all went to bed.   Sunday June 28th - Vicki needed to leave around 10.00 in the morning as she had a busy social calendar for the day including a barbecue at lunchtime and a dinner date in the evening plus she had promised to pop over to Gareth�s with what was left of the curry!  Just before she left I was up on deck pegging out the washing yet again � at least it was sunny this time!  All of a sudden I heard Clive groaning in pain � he was staggering down the corridor and very gingerly laid himself down on the bed, obviously in terrible pain!  He had been bending over the breakfast bar reading the map and when he straightened up something �went� in the middle of his back � he was in agony!  Oh dear!   First of all I got him to take some Ibuprofen and propped him on his side with a cushion, after half an hour when he was no better I phoned NHS direct.  They advised Paracetamol as well as the Ibuprofen and to try and get up and move about � easier said than done!  However about fifteen minutes after he had taken the Paracetamol he was up � amazing!  He felt much better once he was up and about and soon all that was left was a dull ache.  We both sincerely hope it doesn�t come back again, whatever it was!   We were both very relieved that his backache had gone away as we were expecting visitors in the afternoon and really didn�t want to put them off as we were looking forward to seeing them very much.  Around 5.00pm a big Nissan �truck� pulled up and out got Jack.  We have known Jack since he was 17 when he first started coming to our house at the weekends.  Initially he was Gareth�s friend then later Vicki�s boyfriend � that lasted for about four years until they finally decided to be just good friends, which they still are to this day.  Jack has now been married to Paula for six years and they have two lovely children, Harvey and Charis.    We had a lovely time with them � Harvey and Charis were delighted at being on the boat.  They had lots of fun feeding the ducks from the cratch and also enjoyed exploring the boat � Harvey was particularly fascinated with flushing the loo!  Unfortunately Paula couldn't make it, but it was lovely catching up with Jack again and hearing all his news.  He and Paula now run a pub in a village called Feltwell and sound to be doing very well indeed.  All too soon it was time for them to go but we will hopefully catch up with them again soon, certainly before we leave East Anglia.  We are hoping that Vicki, Gareth and Indy will come and pick us up one Sunday and drive us over to Jack and Paula�s pub, as they evidently do a fantastic carvery on Sunday lunchtimes � yummy!   I forgot to mention, just before Jack and the children arrived we realised that the washing was finally bone dry and ready to fold up and put away � it was touch and go there for a while but my whirligig finally did its stuff � excellent!   Monday June 29th � it was already hot when we woke up this morning!  Well, we had been warned � we�re gonna have a heatwave!  We soon got up, it was far too warm to stay in bed under a 15 tog quilt!  We really must swap it for our summer-weight quilt!  So we were ready for off at 8.15 � amazing!  Actually up on the stern was the best place to be as whilst we were moving the air was flowing over us and keeping us cool.  It was lovely.  We really aren�t in a rush to be anywhere at the moment so around 11.00ish we came to the junction with Brandon Creek and there is a lovely pub there called The Ship, however it didn�t open until 12.00 noon so we sat outside enjoying the sunshine and chatting to a gentleman who does odd jobs around the pub; mowing the lawn, looking after the hanging baskets and planters etc.  He was a lovely man � he�s lived in the Fens all his life, a farmer by trade, as was his father and grandfather.  He told us all sorts of stories about life in the Fens, it was really interesting.  Soon it was 12.00 and the pub opened so we popped inside � Clive had a pint of one of their guest ales and I had a long cool soft drink and we also ordered a light lunch, which we ate outside, it was really lovely.  Oh this is the life � have I said that before!!!!   Whilst we were finishing our drinks a TR6 drove into the car park.  Clive couldn�t resist having a chat with the driver and his wife � he is missing his �baby� and really looking forward to bringing it back down from Huddersfield when we get back from Mallorca.  My brother Nick has been storing it in his �shed� since we set off and has just recently brought it out of mothballs and had it MOT�d � it passed straight away, it always does, its only 36 years old!  They don�t make �em like they used to do they!   We went back to the boat and Clive had a little nap then we set off again.  It was absolutely glorious cruising down the Gt Ouse on such a wonderful day.  Clive had told me that once we were in the Fens we should watch out for Harriers as they are quite common in this part of the world.  I soon spotted one and took a photo.  No Melanie, he said, I don�t mean a Harrier jet I mean a Marsh Harrier, the bird!  Oops!    A short while later and we arrived at Littleport.  There are quite a few moorings around here but the first ones we came to were all full then we finally spotted a space over on the right bank and that�s where we are now.  These moorings are for 48 hours so we may well stay here tomorrow.  Vicki is going to pop over and see us again tomorrow evening all being well and as there is a road bridge right in front of us and we are moored outside yet another pub, which of course has a car park, it will be an easy place for her to come to.    We are now just trying to keep cool!  Lots of cool drinks, all the curtains closed on the starboard side of the boat to keep the sun out and all the windows and doors open to let as much breeze in as possible.  Please note � we are NOT complaining!    

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