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Saturday Sept 19th - Ely again!

Thursday Sept 17th – Ely


What I failed to mention in the last blog is that whilst we were relaxing on the boat yesterday afternoon I noticed a man standing on the bank looking at our boat with a big smile on his face!  I opened the window and popped my head out to say hello and enquire why he was beaming! He laughed and asked if I would mind if he took a photograph of our boat as he had a friend called Arwen! Needless to say I said yes but of course we ended up chatting and Clive joined us too.  His name is Geoff and it turns out that he too lives on a narrowboat moored at Stretham, with his wife and family.  Interestingly his wife has just had a novel published called Narrow Margins (Auth. Marie Browne), which relates the story of their move onto the boat following the collapse of the Rover car industry, which resulted in them losing everything!  I am definitely going to get it, it sounds like a good read.  Geoff turned out to be an electrician! 


Clive immediately asked Geoff for his advice regarding the installation of the solar panels and Geoff very kindly said that if he would like some help he would be happy to assist.  He therefore gave us his contact details.  After he had left us we set off up into Ely to source some bits and pieces that Clive required in order to fit the panels.  We bumped into Geoff again just around the corner where he had parked his van.  He called us over and gave Clive a handful of rubber bungs to ensure that when the holes are drilled through the bulkhead to take the cables we won’t end up with water getting in.  Wasn’t that kind.  I have said it before and I will say it again - you meet some really nice people on boats!


Gareth duly arrived late afternoon – carrying the large box containing the solar panel array on his shoulder!  That’s ma boy!


Clive couldn’t wait to get into the box and play with his new toys!  The box was put on the dining table and carefully unpacked whilst Clive eagerly examined all the bits.  He is really looking forward to getting it all installed.


In the meantime I made the dinner – needless to say Gareth was starving! 


Gareth also brought with him Vicki’s hard drive with the whole of the last series of Who Do You Think You are downloaded onto it –brilliant!  We had only managed to see two of the episodes and were really looking forward to seeing the rest.  So after dinner when Gareth had headed off home we settled down to watch it.


Friday Sept 18th – Ely – Prickwillow


After breakfast we got ready to move but decided to take advantage of the FREE pump-out facilities here in Ely first.  Well it is a big saving – the price of a pump-out varies from £3 in Cambridge to £18 at some of the canal marinas! Let’s face it, anything free is good!


That done we headed off North.  The weather was very pleasant and we had a lovely cruise and after about an hour we reached the turning onto the River Lark – new territory!  We weren’t going very far up the Lark though.  We have had some rather conflicting information about this stretch of waterway.  According to our trusty book there is no turning space for craft as large as ours beyond Isleham, however Clive spoke to the River Inspector on the phone the other day and was informed that turning was no problem at all at a pub called Jude’s Ferry, which is near Mildenhall.  Evidently there is a slipway opposite the pub which enables craft up to 70’ to turn.  But just as we arrived at the first of the Prickwillow moorings (which were full!) there was a narrowboat moored there and we asked if they had been up to Mildenhall – “ooh no don’t go up there", he said, "you’ll never be able to turn around to come back"!  Well, we didn’t know what to do for the best!  In the end we decided for the time being to stay at Prickwillow.  We therefore moved on a little further to the next set of moorings – which were also full!  Oh dear – now what?  However there was a cruiser moored there and her captain shouted over to say they were just leaving – with them gone there was plenty of room for Lady Arwen – phew!


I jumped off with the centre rope and pulled the boat into the bank, Clive tied up at the stern then came forward to tie off the bow rope, however just as he had secured the rope he stepped backwards onto the bank and his foot shot down a hole full of very muddy water!  So he ended up with a very dirty, wet shoe, a sopping wet sock and a wet, dirty trouser leg - yeuch!

In case you were intrigued by the name Prickwillow, it is derived from the 'pricks' or skewers made from local willows.  (Not a lot of people know that!)


Once we were settled we phoned our folkie friends, Michael and Kathryn, who last week had offered to give us a lift to the Red Lion as they don’t live far from the River Lark.  They said they would pick us up just before 8.00pm – lovely! 


Clive also decided to give Geoff the electrician a call and see if he could enlist his services with the solar panel installation.  Geoff very kindly agreed to help and therefore we have arranged to be at the moorings in Stretham on Monday afternoon ready for the big event! This is yet another occurrence of serendipity – aren’t we lucky!


Michael and Kathryn arrived as arranged to pick us up and we had a lovely evening at the folk club again.  This could well be our last visit to the Red Lion for a while, though there is a vague possibility we might manage to get there next Friday, we’ll keep our fingers crossed!


When we got back to the boat we invited Michael and Kathryn on board for a cuppa and a guided tour of Lady Arwen.  It must have been midnight when we arrived and an hour must have passed whilst we were chatting so it was a rather late night for all of us, still it was fun.


Saturday Sept 19th – Prickwillow back to Ely!


Today is our lovely daughter’s birthday and she and Ben (whose birthday was yesterday!) are planning to come over to see us.  We decided that the best place to meet would be Ely, yet again!  Well there are plenty of pubs and restaurants in Ely and we are intending going out for a meal this evening to celebrate Vicki and Ben’s birthdays.


Ely is becoming a bit of a home from home!  We have to come back again next Friday as we are having the boat serviced at a local boatyard in the morning and then Vicki is coming to collect Clive after work and drive him over to Cambridge to pick up the van we are renting for the big move!


Its all go isn’t it!


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