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70 now and our five wonderful years aboard our narrowboat Skyy seem along time ago. Jacquie, allowed me to build my replica three wheeler kit car, which was a great success. Now it's time to start on a bigger project and that is to make a good Triumph Stag even better, here goes.

Tuesday, 31 July 2012


FRIDAY 26TH TO TUESDAY 31ST JULY 2012                    

Firstly, many thanks for all the concern shown for Duggie, but I am pleased to say that he is absolutely back to his usual self, the wound has healed well and apart from his shaved paw you wouldn’t know he had been in the wars.

We watched the Olympic ceremony on Friday night with our chums at Eaton Socon, we loved the maypole and cricket on the village green bit, and the industrial revolution, but got confused with the rest of it, but then, I am definitely turning into an old curmudgeon. We had to keep the taxi waiting for half an hour whilst waiting for the lighting of the cauldron, but that was worth it!

We left our mooring reasonably early on Saturday morning, hoping to avoid the rush for the locks, but actually there was hardly a boat on the move, Jacquie said that all normal people would be watching the Olympics on TV; anyway we soon arrived at Great Barford Lock and moored on a lovely bit of open green on the opposite side to The Anchor pub and just before the 15th century stone bridge, well, the down side is stone, but the upside is brick faced, this being added when the bridge was widened in the 19th century.

Other friends, Angela and David, who live in Bedford, joined us late in the afternoon for a meal. They have a river cruiser moored in Bedford and we hope to have a trip out on their boat, during the next few days. On Sunday morning we walked up to the village and passed a white farm house, the front of which, had had an amazing Georgian makeover, giving it the appearance of a grand three story house, obviously the long gone farmer must have had pretensions of grandeur. 

We passed under the indicated arch of the old bridge on Sunday morning without any difficulty and headed upstream on the ever narrowing river. Three locks to navigate; the first two of which were with mitre gates at each end and were set right alongside the weir; these were quick to operate; the last one some way down a cutting, had a guillotine gate at one end and was full of kids splashing about. This lock took a bit longer to traverse, but we were soon back onto the river and within a few minutes we hooted at and waved to David as we passed him whilst he was polishing his boat. We turned into the very poorly indicated BWML Priory Marina and temporarily moored at the fuel pontoon, after finding the tucked away BWML office and checking in we eventually tied up at our allocated pontoon, plugged into the shoreline, filled with water and adjusted the satellite dish.

The end of navigation is just a mile or so upriver, so this is as far as we can go on this trip; it is all downstream from this point on, but this is a good base to stay whilst exploring Bedford. The riverside up near the town centre is lovely, reminiscent of Maidenhead on the Thames and the new silver pyramid construction houses a swimming pool and right next to the marina is the Priory Country Park with lots of great doggy walks. 

David collected us by car on Monday evening and we had dinner with them and today, Tuesday, Jacquie is having a girly outing with Angela, whilst I catch up with the blog and hopefully tomorrow we will experience the river from a proper boat.

Thursday, 26 July 2012


MONDAY 23RD TO THURSDAY 26TH JULY 2012                    
The water had dropped below the river bank and the flow had substantially slowed as we left Holywell behind us on Monday morning. The sun still shone and within a couple of miles we were through St Ives Lock and approaching the multi arched Town Bridge with the remains of its chapel in the middle, the river side buildings are really attractive, but we carried onto the EA moorings and water point off to the right of Holt Island. There was just one mooring spot left and we slipped into it and awaited for Angonoka to come alongside, but by the time they arrived, having visited Jones’s boatyard for services, the boat behind us had left, leaving enough room for them and our hoses were just long enough to reach the tap.

St Ives is very pretty and the town square is dominated by the austere figure of Oliver Cromwell. We enjoyed an afternoon drink on The Dolphin Hotels riverside terrace followed by ice cream before wandering back to a deserted SKYY, most of the other boats having left, including Angonoka. Judy and Don had backed out of this narrow back water to the GOBA field mooring half a mile upstream, but we enjoyed a peaceful night

We joined them on Tuesday morning and proceeded up this very beautiful stretch of river, passing though Hemingford and Houghton Locks which once had mills beside them and stopped for lunch at the garden side mooring in Huntingdon. We decided we would explore this town on our way back in a couple of weeks and so pushed on through Godmanchester Lock and Brampton Lock which still does have a beautiful mill with a working water wheel, it is a pub and resturant now, but sadly there was no room for us at the mill, so we carried on a little further to the GOBA mooring and squeezed in alongside one another. This was to be the last day that we cruised with Judy and Don as they were turning around in the morning to head back, as they have much further to go to get to their home mooring at Newbury. We had a lovely last supper with them and on Wednesday morning we bade them farewell, with the two dogs looking very sad to be parted, as we all were.

We turned SKYY into Buckden Marina as it is part of the same group as Wigrams Turn and admired the surroundings and the log cabins; maybe this will be where we will settle after finishing our liveaboard life, who knows? Filled with diesel and water we carried on passing by St Neots and a very green boat before arriving at Eaton Socon Lock. Kids were jumping in and swimming all over the place as we tried to moor up, one young lad grabbed hold of the boat and I told him to get off as I was concerned that he would get squashed between SKYY and the bank, in fact he was totally exhausted and was about to go down, so he clung on as we carefully eased up to the bank, fending off with the poles so his mates could drag him out. Seems lucky we turned up when we did or it might have been the Fire and Ambulance services that were needed.

After some difficulty I managed to moor stern on to one of the two short finger moorings provide by the lock side Mill Tavern and Jac’s friend Chris and her husband, Mike joined us for a drink at the pub and then dinner on Skyy. They only live a short way off  so we will stay for a couple of days allowing us to watch the Olympic opening ceremony on Chris and Mike’s big TV on Friday before moving on to Bedford.

Monday, 23 July 2012


THURSDAY 19TH TO SUNDAY 22ND JULY 2012                            

Dinner on Wednesday evening, with Judy and Don was, as expected, good fun despite the storm clouds that gathered but the rain didn’t come too much and by Thursday morning the water level had continued to drop. I phoned the number provided by the traffic warden who was collecting the registration numbers of boats who had overstayed the 48 hours and explained our need to stay until after Dug had been back to the vets, the chap on the other end of the phone couldn’t have been more concerned and helpful and it was OK to stay until Saturday. If I hadn’t have called we would have been given a letter telling us to move on, just the first stage I imagine, but it is good to see a proactive approach to ensuring that boaters obey the rules.

Duggie pulled all the way to the vets on Friday morning, despite his plastic boot scrapping on the ground. The wound was healing well, a fresh dressing was applied and we were told to keep this on for a few more days and to still use the boot to keep it clean and dry, but we were free to move on. During the rest of Friday we explored more of Ely, including the nearby Tesco and became even more enchanted with this diminutive city and its friendly inhabitants.

The promised sunshine finally arrived on Saturday, Angonoka headed off upriver, but before we could follow them we turned and headed back to the services and am glad to report that the pumpout was working here. Everything was done in a rush as there was a couple of other boats hovering about waiting to use the facilities, but even the battered flowers tubs got a quick watering.

We caught up with Judy and Don at a GOBA mooring just before Popes Corner and had coffee before moving on. As we moved upstream after the Cam had joined the Ouse the river became much narrower and more canal like and after about twelve miles of sunny cruising, Hermitage Lock hove into view. Previously, the skipper of a boat coming the other way had advised us to take the flowers of the roof before entering the lock and the lock keeper confirmed this, he was also concerned that our roof box might not clear the road bridge which passes directly over the lock. It was decided to let Angonoka go first and she had about a foot between her roof and the bridge we thought we would be OK. As the photo shows we had about four inches clearance, the air draft guide showed 1.9 meters, we would probably scrapped through with 1.8, I must remember those numbers in a similar situation.

The other side of the lock the river is tidal for a couple of miles up to the next lock. The dead straight drains of the Old and New Bedford Rivers are immediately to the right and discharge flood water directly to the sea near Kings Lynn, but even so we were amazed to see how much land was still under water here. Our intended mooring at the abandoned Crown Inn was impossible as the pubs gardens was completely submerged, so we motored on through Brownhill Staunch and kept going to the picturesque, village of Holywell, where the public moorings were only six inches underwater.

The guide book says that the Old Ferry Boat Inn is the oldest in the country; the pub is a little more modest and claims to be’ one’ of the oldest pubs, but either way the pub and the thatched cottages provided a very pleasant back drop, so we decided to stay here for the whole weekend. Colin an old chum of mine, who happened to be in the area managed to join us for Saturday evening, whence I deployed the BBQ for the first time this summer and roasted a pork joint in it, delicious. Colin left soon after Sunday breakfast and we settled down in our deck chairs to watch the boats go by, a good decision as judging by the amount of river traffic, finding another decent mooring at St Ives would have been difficult.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012


TUESDAY 17TH TO WEDNESDAY 18TH JULY 2012                           

Duggie was carried most of the way to the vets for his nine o’clock appointment and he bravely limped off with the nurse. We moped about for most of the morning, but at two o’clock we couldn’t look at his empty bed anymore and had to phone the vets for a progress report, we were told that all was well, but he was having another X-ray. Just after four the phone rang and we were told that we could collect him at quarter to five. The vet showed us the X-rays and little slither of glass that had been removed from his pad and then the little chap came hopping towards us with his front left leg all wrapped up in blue sticky tape.

His follow up medication was explained, a plastic bag, made from an old saline drip bag, was tied over his taped up foot, a follow up appointment was made for Friday and the bill settled, fortunately pet insurance will pick up the majority. After a little hopping along so that he could have a pee, I carried him back to SKYY where he settled down to sleep off the anaesthetic and we relaxed happy to see his bed re-occupied. 

We all slept in late on Wednesday, but Duggie was keen to get out once I had tied on his plastic boot and was running around so fast I had to put him back on the lead, but he looked back to his old self. Rain arrived again mid morning and it was a day for doing not a lot except a bit of people watching from the cosiness of SKYY as they soddenly walked the river side.

In the evening Judy, Don and their dog Chressie are coming on board for dinner and it promises to be a fun evening.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012


SATURDAY 14TH TO MONDAY 16TH JULY 201                  

Thank you Adam from NB Briar Rose and to Lesley from NB Yarwood for putting me straight about my ugly goose, it is actually a Muscovy Duck, which sounds much more attractive than the bird looks. I must consult my Ladybird Book of Birds more often, I apologise for my fowl ignorance.

I was surprised though that my blog ‘A DELIBERATE MISTAKE’ posted on June 2nd invoked no response when I added a picture of the beautiful harbour of Imperia, which is in Italy not far from the Italian/French border, with the implication that it was Kings Marina in Newark. I do hope that blog followers haven’t been disappointed if they have subsequently visited Kings Marina and it wasn’t as expected.

I did forget to mention that whilst at Ely there was a knock on the boat and Kevin introduced himself, he has read the blog and saw us arrive and called to say hi. Kev is busy fitting out his wide beam boat, Avalon and the next day we paid a visited and a justifiable proud Kev showed us around, a beautiful interior, so well executed, well done. Kev’s blog would be very useful for anybody else building and fitting out a boat. http://boatbuildblog.blogspot.co.uk/

It rained hard all night Friday and was still raining well into Saturday morning. The water was lapping over the edge first thing and by the time we took Duggie out the gang plank had to be deployed. The students were busy bailing out the punts and one had sunk and had been flushed through the sluice, but with such a fierce flow I doubt any will be punting today. A large part of the park was underwater, but not from the river, just the ground being totally waterlogged. 

We had a long chat with Kenny from the Cam Conservancy, who said that it was unlikely that we would be able to move until Monday as there was still a lot of water to come down river. Although the sluice had been lowered and the flow has been considerable reduced, the level is still rising and I have taken the precaution of banging in a couple of poles to ensure that we don’t float over the bank during the night.

At last sunshine and Sunday lunch at La Mimosa and a new radio aerial from Maplins to replace the one that got snapped off at Upwell, Radio Four has now been restored. The water level is gradually dropping and we should be able to get underway tomorrow, but Duggie is now hopping along on three legs so a visit to the vets is on the cards.

More rain on Monday morning and although the bollards are visible by the water and pumpout station on the other side of the river there was still about four inches of water slopping about on the concrete, making thinks difficult, but fortunately not impossible. We set off after NB Up Spirit and caught up with them at Bite Bait Lock, fortunately the lovely lock lass saw up through and in no time we were at Bottisham Lock, saying Hi to Matilda Rose on the way. The lower landing stage was well under water so we left the V gates open as we departed, but as we met several boats coming the other way I am sure that they would have been grateful.

Don and Judy of NB Angonoko were surprised to see us arrive so early at Five Miles from Anywhere, but we must have been travelling downstream at 6-7 MPH. Our options were limited Hermitage Lock up the Great Ouse is still closed, so we decided that we would go back to Ely after lunch and an appointment at a local vets was made for late afternoon. We struggled to find a mooring but squeezed in by the Cutter Inn in plenty of time to get the little fella to the vets. The pad that Duggie cut at Brandon is slightly infected and he will need to have a small operation to find if a foreign body is trapped in the pad, so tomorrow he is booked in for the day.