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Monday Sept 21st - Ely to Stretham

Monday Sept 20th – Ely to Stretham


We had a lovely time yesterday.  Vicki and Ben arrived late afternoon and we gave them their birthday presents.  I produced a birthday cake, complete with candle, along with the cups of tea and coffee and we sang Happy Birthday!  We had decided to go out for a meal that evening and the consensus was Thai.  We found one in Ely called BKK and it was fantastic.  We arrived at 7.30pm, the service was very good indeed and the food was really, really good!  Vicki and Ben then dropped us back at the boat and headed off back to Cambridge.

Vicki, Ben and the cake!


We slept in again this morning – it was nearly 10.00am when we woke up!  We had breakfast then sauntered up into town again as Clive still needed a few more bits and pieces for the solar panel installation.  We also wanted to find a bookshop in order to get a copy of Marie’s book Narrow Margins.  We tried W H Smiths first but they hadn’t yet received their delivery so we went to Toppings which is a gorgeous old bookshop in the centre of Ely. It looks quite small as you go in but goes up three floors and we could both have spent hours in there, however we did manage to find a copy of the book thank goodness.


Once back on the boat we decided to head off down to the other moorings which are very close to Tesco’s.  Fortunately there was plenty of space when we got there and we moored up without any bother, then we went shopping.


We had a spot of lunch when we got back to the boat then set off once more, this time for Stretham. It was a lovely sunny day and it was great to be cruising again.  Before long we reached Pope’s Corner and turned right onto the West River again.  The moorings were only a short distance along here and again there was plenty of space. As we cruised past all the residential moorers alongside the marina we spotted Minerva, Geoff and Marie’s boat.


We relaxed for the rest of the afternoon and I made the mistake of picking up Marie’s book with the intention of just reading the first page to get a feel for it – a short time later and I was on page 35 and totally engrossed! 


Geoff arrived as promised just after 6.00pm and got started drilling holes.  The first one is inside the rear cabin, at the top of the steps and goes right through to the engine room.  This is where the controlbox is going to be situated. 


The 20ml hole through into the engine room

The second hole is from the engine room through into the rain gutter under the engine room cover.  This was Clive’s ingenious idea – his plan was to avoid drilling too many holes (not good in a boat!) so the cable will come from the solar panel, across the roof, along the side of the roof under the handrail, down the side of the rear door, into the rain gutter then through into the engine room via the hole in the engine hatch drainage channel, back through the hole into the cabin and join the control box.  Then another cable will go from the control box out through the hole into the engine room and connect with the batteries – well something like that anyway! 

Geoff down in the engine room!

Once Geoff had drilled the holes I asked him if Marie would mind signing our book.  He said he was sure she would be happy to.  So we all traipsed along to Minerva.  I was getting quite excited as having read 35 pages of the book I felt as if I knew all the family already!  We were met at the boat by Mortimer, the family dog!  He is a very exuberant and excitable one year old Staffy who is extremely friendly and incredibly strong!  Poor Mortimer was banished to the garden once we were on board – bless!  We met two of the characters from the book straight away, Sam and Charlie, who were watching TV in the saloon, then Geoff introduced us to Marie. 

We had a great time chatting to Marie and Geoff about their escapades on board narrowboats and also shared some of ours with them.  I was delighted to hear that they had already been on our website and read some of the blog and looked at our photographs too.  Marie was especially taken with the photograph of our first snowfall back in October last year when we were on the Shroppie!  We remember it well!!  Clive also got some very useful tips and advice from Marie with regard to getting a book published – he has already got 30,000 words under his belt and there is a lot more to come.  Marie is now working on her second book – we will look forward to reading that too in due course.

Marie signing her book "Narrow Margins"


We both admire Geoff and Marie very much indeed – our lifestyle on board Lady Arwen seems quite decadent compared to theirs as they embarked on a very different adventure to us. Their first boat, Happy Go Lucky, was an old boat which they renovated whilst living on board, unlike us who moved onto a brand new boat with all the facilities we could possibly need. Believe it or not they are now repeating the process - when they had finished Happy, which by all accounts was absolutely beautiful, they sold it and bought Minerva, another old boat, which they are now renovating whilst living on board, with two children and a dog! Brave, very brave!


Finally we tore ourselves away clutching our newly signed copy of Narrow Margins and trudged back to the boat and the roast chicken that had now been in the oven for two hours!  I quickly put some potatoes on to boil and did some stir fry veg and it wasn’t long before we were sitting down to dinner.  The chicken was so well cooked it just fell off the bones and hardly needed any carving at all – it was yummy!  I hope Geoff enjoyed his dinner too eventually – I am afraid it was rather delayed due to our impromptu visit! 


Tomorrow is the big fix day.  Now Clive has his holes drilled all he needs to do now is get all the cable pinned out in place and then connect the panels.  If it is a sunny day we have been warned to be very, very careful and keep the panels covered with a blanket because as soon as the sun hits them they will immediately start pumping out current!

We must say we are very grateful indeed for Geoff’s help and advice.  You see, I have said it before, you meet some very nice people on boats!




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