Tuesday, 31 July 2018

A Very Short Cruise - 30 Jul 2018

Monday 30th July 2018
Hartford Marina to Godmanchester
2.5 miles, 1 lock

First job of the day was for Chris to return the hire car whilst I completed the unpacking.  A lot of 'stuff' came back with us including Monty's kibble to see him through to early October, plus a few essentials for us, not forgetting the wine! It was odd having to decide what cold and wet weather gear we might need later in the year when we are in the middle of a heatwave. 

Once all the jobs had been done, we moved to the fuel jetty, filled up, gave our access and electric cards back and we were on our way. It was the first time for a long time that the sky looked like this.  Not a drop of blue to be seen today.

Out past our neighbour, Illustrious - we had reported to the office that his front port side window had been blown in during the storms, which we thankfully missed and also did not suffer any damage. I hope they contact him, so he can come and sort it out, or he may come back to a very wet boat if we get more rain.

 Godmanchester lock was against us, but it did not take too long to get through.  The moorings at the side of the lock were empty and so was the space,

that is fast becoming 'our mooring' between the two weirs.  It was just too tempting not to stop, so we did.

The local family of six cygnets are growing fast.
What a splendid situation for a thatched cottage - right by Godmanchester's Chinese bridge.

It had been a busy weekend - a quiet night was called for.

Monday, 30 July 2018

Family weekend 27-28 July 2018

We travelled home on Wednesday 25th July.  The family all gathered at our house on Friday 27th July - the 17th wedding anniversary of our son (Mark) and daughter in law (Jo).  Food was barbecued, salads made, tables and chairs set up outside and wonder of wonders we had no rain!  We also had three birthdays to celebrate - our son and two of our grandsons.  The candles on the cake (11, 10 plus 4 and two large ones instead of 42!) were lit

and the three of them summoned up enough puff to extinguish them.

They all posed for group shots - the children always make their way to our drawer of dressing up clothes - Jamie (6) just loves the pink tights that Chris wore as a pantomime Dame one Christmas when he was working.

George (10), Evelyn (9), Jamie (6), Molly (14) and Noah (11).

Mark and Jo

Sarah (daughter) and Paul

Saturday saw 9 of us (all but Mark and Paul) at Bromsgrove station to get the 10:43 to Birmingham.  We were off to see Matilda at The Hippodrome at 13:15.  First stop was an All Bar One restaurant for what turned out to be a very long lunch.  Once we had ordered, Sarah and I hot footed it to the theatre to collect the tickets to find out the actual start time was 14:30!!  We had an excellent lunch with a couple of drinks and it was actually good to have a bit extra time to chat with everyone.  It was our first visit to an All Bar One and we were very impressed - everyone got good food and the service was first rate.  One grandchild has a severe peanut allergy which did not phase them at all.

Jo, Molly (14) and I had been to Matilda in 2013 and loved it.  When I first heard it was coming to Birmingham I booked our seats the first time they became available, some 18 months ago.  We were in the front row of the circle. The view was good, however leg room was limited, probably due to the age of the theatre.  The production was just as brilliant as it was 5 years ago.  All nine of us loved it.  Casting Miss Trunchball as a man is just inspired.  What an experience and one I hope the children remember for all time.  At one point I asked Jamie (6) if he could see okay - his answer 'yes of course Grandma, I am nearly 7!!'  That was me politely put in my place. 

All that remained to be done was to make our way back to Bromsgrove by train.  11b was the designated platform for the 17:50.  We were in plenty of time, however the train wasn't.   At 17:57 it was still showing as 'On time'!

We waited and waited - a mixture of smiles a grimaces

Next the display board stated that the next train arriving at platform 11b would be the 18:12 to Plymouth.  Not a good sign.  Eventually there was a tannoy message apologising for the delay, but they were trying to find a crew.  We tried to make the best of it.

After yet a further wait a man came along and advised us to go to platform 9a and get the 18:50. We did and were amazed to find 9 seats together.  As soon as we sat down we realised why - the stench of urine was almost overwhelming.  We did not explore, but guessed it must be due to a blocked toilet.  The bins were also overflowing.  It was probably worse than some third world countries and made me ashamed to be British.  It is no wonder that people think twice about using public transport.

It did not ruin the weekend, which was fantastic, but with an hours delay we should be able to claim the fare back.  I paid for all nine tickets and have tried to use the West Midlands train site to make my claim, but it appears that you have to make individual claims!  I have sent a message to customer services for their advice on how I make a multiple claim.  The automated reply states that they try to respond to inquiries within 10 working days, but it may be up to 20!  Watch this space. Nothing compared to what some commuters are facing on a daily basis, but I will dig in to get my refund.

On Sunday the family dispersed and we travelled back to Hartford to find the boat safe and dry despite what the weather had thrown at it over the weekend.  The final part of our journey back to Droitwich Spa in early October will begin on Monday 30th July.

Saturday, 28 July 2018

Change of Plans and a warning if you use glass cafetieres - 21st to 24th July 2018

Saturday 21st July 2018
Hemingford Grey to St Ives
1.5 miles, 1 lock

Yes we were going back to St Ives again!  Sadly things did not quite go to plan as will become evident later.  If you use glass cafetieres and don't want to read all the blog please scroll down to the passage in red - IT NEEDS TO BE SEEN AND A WARNING PASSED ON TO AS MANY PEOPLE AS POSSIBLE.

First past the church in Hemingford Grey with its octagonal 'turret' on top of the square tower.  I will try to pay the church a visit and see if I can find out anything of its history at our next visit. 
Just the one lock, but with one large cruiser ahead of us - too big for us both to go with him, so we let him go ahead whilst

we played the waiting game - the shade was with Sue, so she gained a supervisor.

There was plenty to keep us amused - first three swimmers arrived just as we had entered the lock and 

they asked us to let them in so they could climb out up the steps - first time we have had swimmers sharing a lock.  Out they got


and went on their way to St Ives.  They had started at Houghton, so a 2-3 mile swim - not for the faint-hearted.  The husband of the lady on the left was going to meet them when they arrived.  And what do they keep in their bags?  A phone, flip flops and dry clothes!

Next came a party of canoeists - first a lady with all the paddles

followed by three of these to be handled with care

Sue and Ken stopped on the GOBA moorings whilst we went round to see if there was space at the Waits (we needed water).  There was a mass of cruisers there, but nothing behind them, so Chris made the long reverse (with working bow thruster this time!) and there we stayed for the next 48 hours - well just over if the truth be told.

First stop for me was the pharmacist to see what I could get for my bites.  Concern was expressed that they might be infected and that I might be best to go to minor injuries - just a mere 12 miles away.  I left with cream and strict instructions to go and get help if there was no improvement by the next day.  There was, so a long taxi ride (and NHS time) was saved.  A quick Waitrose shop for essentials and then we retired to the boat as I still needed to keep inside as much as possible, so it was a sort of nothing day.

Sunday 22nd June 2018
St Ives

This really is a busy little town.  First thing in the morning there was an outdoor church service by the Norris Museum.  Also just look at those flowers - someone must tending them well.

They are a riot of colour

A big Waitrose shop was the order of the morning and once again we retreated inside away from bugs and heat, but we were suitably entertained without leaving the boat.  I believe this occurs most Sundays in July and August and makes use of the gazebos and chairs put out for the morning service.

There was a good sized audience

 This was our view - a perfect place to listen without the crowds

Boats started to move off mid afternoon, so Ken and Sue moved Cleddau up to join us.

We have stern lockers which makes getting on and off relatively easy - not so Cleddau - the ladder had to be deployed. 

That evening the four of us walked round to the Town Quay

It is our last night together until 10/11th August, so we decided to treat ourselves to a meal at Amore.  We all had different things and every plate was scraped clean.  It is not the cheapest place in town, but we reckon it was worth every penny and would go back.

The sun was setting when we came out to make our way back to our boat for coffee.


The town quay really is a rather magical setting and I glad to say that they seem to have had a clean up of all the swan poo.

It was after we got back that it all went wrong.  Chris was plunging the cafetiere when it exploded.  Yes I kid you not - a true explosion.  Hot coffee went all over his face and chest (thankfully he had his glasses on) and coffee, glass and grounds were all over the place.  First things first - cold water flannels for Chris' face and chest, then ice packs and burn reliever from the first aid box.  A clean shirt was provided and ice to try and keep things cool.  Next to sort out the mess.  I moved the biggest bits of glass, but there were not many of them and after sustaining a couple of very minor cuts I folded up the two mats and put them in a nearby bin.  I am not sure they would ever have come clean, but it was the glass that was the biggest problem.  We were glad that Sue and Ken were there to offer advice, sympathy and moral support.  Not the way we planned to end this phase of our joint venture this year.

Today (Friday 27th July) Chris has still not been able to shave and we think it will be a while before he can do so. His nose and lips are less swollen, but are still sore.  He has been to the Minor Injuries clinic and has dressings on his chest.  We now own a stainless steel cafetiere for the boat and will get one for home in due course.  If you do use a glass one, I would advise plunging when it is in the sink and stand well back.

Monday 23rd July 2018
The Waits, St Ives to The GOBA moorings, St Ives
0.25 mile, 0 locks

Our 48 hours would be up around 10:30.  We were supposed to be heading east through St Ives with Cleddau.  They were heading along the Old West River, whilst we had intended to stop at Holywell - a place yet to be explored.  However, after the events of last night we had no intention of going anywhere we didn't need to.  First job was to get some advice and supplies from a pharmacy.  I called the council to ask if we could overstay for a few hours 'No problem' came the cheery reply.  I am not sure they would have noticed even if I had not asked, but it is not something we do unless we are up against it.  A quick trip round the corner to the GOBA moorings where it was a little cooler and yet another day inside the boat to keep Chris's skin out of the sun and me away from biting things,  Not what we had planned at all.

We were due in Hartford Marina on Wednesday to collect a hire car on Thursday for a quick trip home for family events at the weekend.  Neither of us had the heart to pootle about unnecessarily, so a couple of calls were made and both marina and car hire were brought forward by a day.  There are times when you just want to go home.

Tuesday 24th July 2018
GOBA Moorings St Ives to Hartford Marina
3.5 miles, 2 locks

The first lock (Hemingford Grey) was against us despite a boat leaving a couple of minutes before we arrived, but those two minutes were long enough for the gates to be shut and for the process of turning the lock for a boat coming down to have started.  To be fair they probably hadn't seen us.

By the time we were in we were joined by another narrow boat - so much easier with two.

 We also shared the lock at Houghton - completely deserted today.

In no time at all we were at Hartford Marina.

It is nice and easy to get into and it is


It is more like a lake than a marina!

 We have a lovely mooring with the exit just beyond the bow, 

plenty of space behind us

and probably the best side hatch view we have ever had in a marina.

We were made very welcome and the staff are excellent.  All the boat owners that walked past said hello, but despite all that we might think twice about stopping here again and that is purely due to the location of the mooring in relation to grass for Monty, rubbish bins, loos etc.  It is a long, long pontoon to walk round last thing at night and first thing in the morning.  Also a decent dog walk is non existent.  Having said all that the boat is safe and secure and we will only be on the boat for two nights before we resume cruising next Monday, by which time we hope Chris' wounds will have healed a bit more.

For now we are at home for a family barbecue for 11 this evening (we are bound to get a thunder storm at just the wrong moment) and 9 of us are off to see Matilda in Birmingham tomorrow (today when you read this).  We have three July birthdays and an anniversary to celebrate.  The cake has been bought and bubbly is in the fridge!