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Monday October 5th - Wadenhoe

Sunday Oct 4th – Wansford to Fotheringhay


We left Wansford Station bright and early this morning, at around 8.15am.  It was a beautiful morning, in total contrast to yesterday!  However Autumn is most definitely in the air, we both needed to wrap up against the chill!


We had a really pleasant cruise and even saw a couple of kingfishers in flight but unfortunately didn’t manage to get any decent photographs. 


We have quite a lot of locks to negotiate now before we get to Northampton.  In fact there are 38 between Peterborough and Northampton!  One of the things I had to remember was that the rules changed as soon as we came through Stanground Lock from the Middle Levels.  Instead of leaving the lock gates open at whichever end we exit from, on the Nene you have to leave the locks with the V gates shut and the guillotine gate open.  As we are now travelling upstream this means that the guillotine gate is open for us as we approach the lock but when we have exited the lock I have to close the V gates, empty the lock, then raise the guillotine gate again.  This makes quite a difference to the time it takes to negotiate every lock.  The other thing that I was not looking forward to on the Nene were the guillotine gates which have the large manual wheel mechanism for opening and closing them. In all fairness the majority of the locks on the Nene now have electrically operated guillotines but I think there are 6 or 8 (I hope its 6!) which have to be manually operated using a big wheel – I hate them!  They really take a great deal of effort and wreak havoc with your shoulder muscles!


We had arranged to meet Dave Bassett, the man who made our cratchboard, at Fotheringhay, in order for him to assess the damage to the wooden frame.  Clive had figured that it would take us about three and a half hours to get there but he had definitely under estimated it, it actually took us nearly five hours!  Fortunately Dave didn’t set off too early but even so he arrived about forty-five minutes before we did! 


Finally we came around a bend and there was Fotheringhay ahead of us.  It didn’t take us long to get moored up and after a quick phonecall with our whereabouts Dave managed to find us.   We hadn’t been there more than a few minutes when I saw another man standing on the bank – he turned out to be the “mooringman” here to collect the mooring fee of £3, he certainly didn’t waste any time, we can’t have been moored for more than 5 minutes! (To add insult to injury his wife arrived about three hours later demanding the mooring fee - I told her in no uncertain terms that we had already paid.  She decided her husband must have had a senior moment!)


Clive and Dave undid all the cratch cover and peeled it back so that Dave could get the A frame out onto the grass to inspect it – basically it’s a write off!  Fortunately the cratch board itself (the piece that goes along the top to support the cover) was not damaged but we are going to need a completely new A frame and window. 


Whilst they were removing the cover Clive discovered something tucked away underneath it on the top of the boat – a large black chrysalis! 

Large, black chrysalis found under the cratch cover


As you can see it is over one and half inches long!  We have no idea what kind of moth it will turn into but it is now safely in an ice cream carton with some grass and a stick for it to crawl up and dry its wings when it emerges. Watch this space!


Once Dave had got all the necessary measurements we said goodbye and he headed off back to Redditch.  Clive got settled down in front of the TV to watch the Grand Prix and I played solitaire on the computer!


One thing I have to report is that a couple of weeks ago I commented to Clive that in the 12 months since we set off on board Lady Arwen neither of us have been afflicted with either a cold, a tummy bug or virus of any sort, which is quite amazing. However I spoke too soon – I started with cold symptoms on Wednesday evening and now I am sneezing and coughing and not feeling too brilliant at all!  Oh dear – this probably means that Clive will be coming down with it soon too!  Never mind – it could have been worse - swine flu for example!!!


Monday October 5th – Fotheringhay to Wadenhoe


We didn’t wake until after nine this morning!  By the time we had eaten breakfast and got ready to set off it was 10.00am!  The last thing I did before I went up on deck was to put the bread maker on.  We know that there are no shops anywhere nearby for the next couple of days and the only thing we were short of was bread.  This time I decided to try a wholemeal loaf for a change.  I am however sticking to packets of breadmix now as it is safer than trying to guess measurements!


It was a funny day weatherwise really, it was very calm with no wind at all but it was dull, no sunshine either!  Still, it wasn’t raining! 


We had seven locks to negotiate today, one of them however was very easy indeed!  We were just approaching Perio Lock, the first one of the day, when Clive noticed some strange craft moored at the landing stage and no room for us moor up!  However as we got closer we realised they were reed cutters and dredgers and there were several Environment Agency guys nearby.  One of them shouted down to tell me to stay on board – not that I could find anywhere to get off mind you!  Then he very kindly proceeded to raise the guillotine gate, which just happened to be one of the manual kind with a big wheel!  Well I got out of that one nicely didn’t I!  It was quite unusual to be on board whilst we went up in the lock! 


All the other locks were uneventful except one.  We were just approaching the Lower Barnwell Lock when we noticed there was another boat in the lock, then I saw her name – Guinevere!  It can’t be! It was – our old folky friends Ed and Jenny whom we had last met up with in March back in June.  (that sounds weird doesn’t it!).  Once they had come down the lock they pulled in alongside us and we had a chat.  They were just out for a week’s holiday that just happens to coincide with the World Conker Championships which are taking place near Oundle later this week and Ed wants to go!  They also informed us that they are intending to venture onto the canals in the Spring and head North so we may well see them again, who knows!

A short while later we arrived at Lilford Lock, having past the most gorgeous Lilford Hall, which is a Jacobean mansion on the left bank of the river.  This is a very beautiful stretch of the river and is steeped in history.  Looking back from the lock we could see this lovely bridge amongst the trees.  It is really tranquil here.


Finally we arrived at Wadenhoe where we had decided to moor for the night.  You may recall that we moored here back in June and left the boat overnight when we went up to Huddersfield for Clive’s parents’ Diamond Wedding Anniversary party.   It is so lovely and peaceful here.  The moorings are at the bottom of the King’s Head’s beer garden and are for patron’s only so I am afraid we are just going to have to bite the bullet and go for a drink later and maybe a bite to eat!  Oh life’s hard sometimes!!!


The chrysalis still hasn’t “hatched” by the way!




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