Thursday 29 September 2011

Off to the Nene day 8

Last night we walked into town wit the view to eating at Weatherspoons, however when we arrived it was pretty full so we looked elsewhere and ended up in Hubs Place. The menu was fine but we didn’t think the fresh vegetables really came up to scratch.

This morning started faster than planned, I had a call from my sister saying that our mother had had a suspected stroke, luckily it turned out to be a false alarm and the problem was her diabetes and sugar levels, but we decided we would head home anyway.

Last time we passed through Whittlesey lock we were unable to operate one of the bottom paddles or “slackers” so I emailed the Middle Level Commissioners and received the reply that they would investigate, well they did come and look and left the equivalent of a BW Aware notice on it, in this case a note in felt tip pen on the back of a site safety assessment sheet saying its broken stuck on with insulating tape.

The water was very clear and we were able to see the fish happily swimming around until a small pike wanted a late breakfast.

We saw quite a few boats on the move, well a lot for the Middle Level with 5 coming by while we were packing the boat up. We left the boat at about half one and called in to see mum on our way home, who by now was feeling much better.

Wednesday 28 September 2011

Off to the Nene day 7

After shampooing the starboard side of the boat with Phil Speight boat wash we were ready to set off at 10 am. Just as we were about to leave a couple came down to the pontoon with 2 canoes, they had planned to canoe to Peterborough and back, but I have doubts they got all the way there before turning round.

DSCF6703As we entered Waternewton Lock they came paddling up behind us and asked if we minded if they shared the lock as there is no porterage point, It made little difference to us so they joined us, heading away well ahead of us.The same thing occurred at Alwalton Lock, here the banks are particularly high for getting out of a canoe, but they have left a hole in the fence to pass the canoe down to the down stream landing. About a mile further on they had pulled over to have something to eat.

As we approached the entrance to Ferry Meadow lake and mooring we caught up with an ex Canaltime boat who turned into the lakes. We continued on down to Orton Lock and made it ready to enter, we had just gone in and closed the gates when I spotted a Narrowboat coming down behind us, so we waited and it was the ex Canaltime boat again, he had just been into the lakes for a look. He was very interested that I held the boat  both to the side of the lock for him to come in and also held back while the lock emptied, he had never used his centre rope, both him and the misses had jumped off with a rope rope at each end. I didn’t like to tell him that if I had been alone I wouldn’t have used a rope at all.

DSCF6717Below the lock the new moorings and lock landings are looking splendid, the sign says it cost £800,000 to refurbish them which I quite believe. I would not want to be on the river if the water was high enough to have to use the high level landing stage and I would imagine for normal use it would be quite noise but fun watching the canoeists.

We stopped by the park to do a pump out, well its hard to pass by when its free and I have heard that the one in March is not to good in the suction department. While we were there the crew of Balmaha walked up to tell us they were moored against the park down stream of Stanground as there was a funfair on the park and we would be very welcome to join them for a cup of tea, as we had almost an hour to spare before locking through to the middle Level that is what we did.

Quarter to three saw us outside Stanground Lock waiting for Tina to lock us down, but she already had a Narrowboat in the lock coming up so we had to wait for them.

We had planned to stop in Whittlesey for the night on the visitor moorings by the Manor Sports Ground but there were already 3 boats moored there, one of them was there when we came up with no one onboard, so we have moored for the night on the other side just before the lock waiting landing. Shortly I shall be taking Diana out for a slap up meal at Weatherspoons.

Tuesday 27 September 2011

Off to the Nene day 6

Last night we walked to the Chequered Skipper for a meal. The normal rout for this is to walk along the weir stream, over the weir and take the right hand path at the junction to follow the mill stream. When we reached the mill at the end of the stream we found the path fenced off, after climbing over the fence we saw a notice other side saying “Private, No Entry”. So when we returned nicely full we followed the official footpath to the pedestrian bridge at which point we followed the track round to the left which eventually brings you back to the weir at the junction. There is no official footpath from the moorings to anywhere but the EA use the track to get to the lock.

This morning we woke to thick mist but it had cleared before we set off at 10 am but it was very overcast and still, This made all the cobwebs very visible with the light dew in their silky threads.

It wasn’t until almost noon that the sun came out, the skies cleared and it was a very pleasant day for a trip down the river as can be seen by these people on an open boat enjoying a day out.


We topped up with water at Yarwell  Lock and the notice by the tap proves that not all information on this river is up to date. On our way we passed the boater who had been stuck in the lock on Sunday, he said he had been in there for two and a half hours.

DSCF6681We carried on round Stibbington again admiring the property that we think is next to Pat Buckle’s, it looks as it it should be a boat club but I think it is probably a private residence.


DSCF6678Just upstream of this there is a stone obelisk standing right by the water. I wasn’t able to see if there is any inscription on it, maybe a bit of Googling when we get home.


DSCF6686We carried on to moor again on the EA pontoon at Wansford Station. Although the railway is not open to the public today were quite a few members about and I did get a picture of the diesel crossing the bridge, some time later it came pulling a very smart break van and a Royal Mail carriage, unfortunately it didn’t cross DSCF6685the bridge with them but shunted them back off the main line. The Break van looks very smart in its fresh brown paint.



DSCF6689A little later I looked out, and no it wasn’t a plane I saw in the sky but a Virgin Hot Air Balloon drifting effortless across the sky, what a wonderful evening for it.

Monday 26 September 2011

Off to the Nene day 5

Well last night we ate onboard again last night as the pub doesn’t do food Sunday evening, nor on Mondays so we wont go back tonight.

DSCF6619We were treated to the most wonderful sky as it started getting dark, the only thing to spoil the evening was the cows on the far bank singing to each other. They continued well after dark before wandering off to another field the other side of the weir stream.

We had a few heave showers overnight I could hear them above the sound of the weir but by the time we were up the sun was out. As we were taking the dog for a walk a boat came up the lock, I expected him to be long gone by the time we returned to the boat at 1030 am. but he was just going round the corner and not travelling to fast so we decided to up sticks and try to catch up to him before the next lock. As we approached the Warmington ( no sign of Captain Mainwaring) the gate had just started to lower but after a couple of long blasts and a wave it was on its way up again. This is the first of the manual locks. The boat in the lock was “Shropshire Lass” and the lady onboard who we had not seen before is wheelchair DSCF6647bound so they have wheel steering so that she can drive from the wheel chair. We agreed to share the following locks, he set off first and we closed up, lift the gate etc. The church at Fotheringhay looked magnificent in the morning sun.

DSCF6650Just before Perio Lock there are parcels of land for sale 60ft by 80ft with fishing and mooring rights, car access and mains water. These are being sold by a local estate agent Woodford & Co  Tel.01832274732

At Perio Lock we found our new friends sitting on the lock landing as there was a boat coming down, the only one we were to meet all day. There was bit of a delay as he came out of the lock as he realised he had left his windlass on the lock side. This was an easier lock as it is electrified unlike the last lock of the day Ashton Lock where we bid good by to our friends as they head off onto the canals.

DSCF6655Once out of the lock I reversed back into the weir stream and moored with our bows almost against the canal portage where we sat in the sun and ate lunch on the front deck.
Diana walked off into Oundle, it took her 20 minuets to get there to do a bit of shopping and have a look round town while I scraped off a bit more paint from the roof and treated the rust patches. I really need to strip the whole lot but I keep putting it off and doing bits. Just after she arrived back a second boat came downstream and moored in just behind us for the night.

Tonight’s plan is to eat at The Chequered Skipper in the village, I have already rung them and they do do food on a Monday evening and if its as good as last time I will be quite pleased.

Sunday 25 September 2011

Off to the Nene day 4

Needles to say both the other boats had departed before we were up this morning. The cruiser just crept away, but the Narrowboat who was moored against us rattled well before setting off.

It was a bit windier still warm and sunny, I am keeping a close eye on the weather because I know the Nene can rise very quickly if they get any amount of rain further up.

DSCF6607Just before we set off the 10 am steam train crossed the bridge on its way to Peterborough at the same moment that a boat was coming under the bridge so a quick snap was taken, the angle could have been slightly wider to get more of the engine in.

There is a very smart building at Sibbington that looks as if it should be a boat club but I don’t think it is, I will try to get a photo as we head back down stream, its right beside what I think is Pat Buckle’s yard.
DSCF6609We made our way upstream through Wansford lock, just below the lock an Environment Agency weed cutter was moored up, this was much smaller than the last one we met on our trip down the Nene.

As we approached Yarwell lock there was a boat on the lock moorings and the guillotine was down. The people on the moored boat explained there was a boat trapped in the lock, they had gone in and tried to close the guillotine which dropped a few feet by its self and then wouldn’t move so they were stuck. EA had been called so we breasted beside them and had lunch. It wasn’t long before two EA chaps arrived and diagnosed a sheared bolt in the drive. A new bolt was fitted and the gate raised exposing the stuck boat. Just then another boat came upstream and past both of us who had been waiting some time and headed straight towards the open lock, I explained the situation but he carried on only to be stopped at the lock mouth by EA as they wanted to run the gate up and down before anything went underneath it. So boat number 1 who had been stuck since I don’t know when went up alone. This was followed by a boat coming down, the late comer still tied to the bollard at the lock mouth. I then dropped back to let the boat on the inside of us go in as he had been waiting longer than us fully expecting the other boat to slide in, but no, the crew came back and said we could both go ahead of them as they were only going to fill with water and then come down again. The fact we had been waiting 2 hours wasn’t mentioned.

Once up in the lock I left first, its not he easiest of locks to leave as its a very sharp turn to the left and the river flows across the mouth of the lock to the weir on the right, added to this there was a fair blow coming down the river and then I spotted 8 swimmers coming down stream who wanted to get out on the lock moorings, right where I wanted to go to fill with water.
Once they had crawled out and dragged their canoe out I pulled in and filled with water, this still left 2 swimmers and the back end canoe who hat to swim past me to get out.

Just past the lock on the right hand side there is what looks like an alligator on a stick, I spotted him last time we came this way but was to slow to get a photo.

I haven’t posted a plane photo recently so I thought I would include this shot of a powered glider just to make up for it.DSCF6615 We moored for the night just above Elton Lock hoping that they are doing food tonight in the Crown Inn hoping its as good as it was last time we came this way.
We had only been moored up about half an hour when the other Narrowboat moored here started the noisiest petrol  generator I think I have come across and there is a cruiser between us, so we are not close.

Off to the Nene day 3 part 2

When we moored at Wansford Station moorings yesterday afternoon we were the only boat there, but I moored right at the back of the pontoon with the mooring ropes angled inwards to use a minimum of the bollards in case anyone else should arrive while we visited the Nene Valley Railway, it was just as well we did as when we came back another Narrowboat has squeezed on the end, I offered to drop back a bit more but they said the weren't stopping and were soon on their way. A little later a cruiser arrived and tucked in, it turned out that he had lost his reverse gear and was planning to leave early the next mooring before the wind got up and there were other boats about. About an hour after this a Narrowboat came down stream looking for somewhere to moor so we breasted them on the outside of us for the night. We got chatting and it transpired that he had bought the boat in Wigan and was making his way to Cambridge where he was attending college and intended to live on the boat while he studied and also did the boat up. I asked if had a mooring sorted to which he replied he was on the waiting list and had gone down from 100 to 67.

While we were visiting the Nene Valley Railway we noticed they had a steam special running to Peterborough and back leaving at 7 pm.  DSCF6602
It was a “Banger and Mash” special with a quiz and I was hoping for maybe a good photo of it with the carriage lights on. Unfortunately for me they were 10 minutes late leaving and took a very DSCF6596slow trip to Yarwell eating their dinner before crossing the river to go to Peterborough. By then it was quite dark, to dark for my camera hand held to handle. If they had have been on time then there might just have been enough light just as there was for the shot of the signal box.

A short time after the train had gone two cruisers came down the river breasted together, one was in total darkness with no power whatsoever and the other one was relying on his cabin lights with all the curtains drawn closed, so just a glow.
It must have been about 10 pm before the train returned and all the party goers started to depart in their cars, this was the same time that we were taking Magic for his last trip out before bed, as we walked along the road the sky was clear with no moon and I spotted a shooting star, it definitely looked different to what I saw the night before.

Saturday 24 September 2011

Off to the Nene day 3

The moorings at Ferry Meadow were as we expected quite quiet with the exception of the resident flock of Canada Geese that were swimming round our stern late at night, luckily they didn’t stay too long before moving off for the night. As  we walked the dog I saw ether a shooting star or a bit of the satellite returning to earth. It streaked through a slightly cloudy sky but seemed to leave a burning trail as it went which was visible for several seconds.DSCF6550

The other bit of excitement was a burning haystack between the lake and the river which required the attendance of the fire brigade, this was still smouldering when we passed this morning

The island just behind the moorings is home to several cormorants and they could be seen  sitting it the rather bare trees catching the morning sun. Some were all black while others had white chests.

With the moorings all full last night one Narrowboat just DSCF6543dropped anchor in the middle of the lake, there would have been plenty of room for him to have breasted up but once he saw 4 Narrowboats there already he didn’t even come close.

We set off at 11 am this morning, just as the cruiser who went through Stanground before us yesterday arrived, so I was able to tell him that there would be a vacant mooring in the next 2 minutes if he just hung on. No soon had we left than the boat that had been the other side of the pontoon pulled out as well. The other two boats were planning to stay for another day.

DSCF6549Once back on the river we turned left, upstream and could see 4 more haystacks, this are made from 3 large bails stood on top of each other and as we passed the farmer was carting them away, lifting a stack of three at a time.

DSCF6570We didn’t meet another boat until we reached Waternewton. The mill must be the prettiest building on the river.As we approached the  lock I spotted a boat coming round the bends as we entered the lock. I am thinking to myself this will save stopping to empty the DSCF6571lock when we are through and raising the guillotine gate. We had just lowered the guillotine gate and Diana was lifting one of the top paddles as the boat arrived. It turned out to be friends of ours on “Dragon Lady” who we bump into about once a year. After spending some time catching up we pushed on to moor for the night on the EA floating pontoon just by Wansford Station the home of the Nene DSCF6579Valley Railway, as we came in to moor the steam train was was just returning back from Peterborough, I took a photo as it crossed the DSCF6589bridge but found I had a tree branch in the shot right in front of the engine, but as it was  a weekend there was a regular service back and forth so I was able to get a better shot of the next one leaving.

As I stood on the pontoon I could see two chaps hard at work cleaning the signals at the end of the platform, they hadn’t been down half an hour and the next train sat in the station ready to depart belching smoke all over the nice clean signal.DSCF6586

Friday 23 September 2011

Off to the Nene day 2

The only problem with the moorings at Whittlesey is the close proximity to the railway, some of which found it necessary to blow their horn as they approached, however they didn’t keep us awake so maybe they didn’t run all night.

This morning we woke to bright warm sunshine with no wind, the water was like a millpond. As we didn’t need to be at Stanground Lock until 2 30 pm. we took a walk round the town. It was much bigger than I expected and it looks as if the moorings by The Manor sports centre are as close to the town as you will get. If you need a post box there is one just a few yards to the right of the main gate. The town still has several pubs including a Weatherspoons but we didn’t see much in the way of shops other than the Post Office. We spent a bit of time looking round the church where we were made welcome and given tea and biscuits. One of the things that caught our eye was a large patchwork completed in 2000 showing different scenes around the area.

Back to the boat and by 11 30 am we were away. The first obstacle was the Whittlesey bend, I didn’t negotiate this as well as I may have done but still, I didn’t bash the walls and I have an excuse, there were several people watching. At the end of the walled section I met a cruiser, I pulled well to the right but he still stopped mid channel and then reversed back as I approached before moving over to the side.

DSCF6519We we came this way last there was a sunken boat by the houses along Kings Dyke, its still there.



It wasn’t long before we pulled in to the lock moorings at Stanground Lock, it was only about 1 pm and Tina called out to ask if we were waiting to go through or if we were having lunch first. Thinking it was probably her lunchtime as well we said we would eat first. About quarter to Two 2 cruisers came up behind us and pulled along side, they were booked to go up at 2 pm but Tina came straight out and toldDSCF6521 them to go into the lock together, I wandered up and gave Tina a hand closing the bottom gates and she told me to enter the lock as soon as she had turned it, so it was now Diana’s turn to help.

There is a plaque on the lock DSCF6522wall indicating when it was lengthened in the winter of 1989 1990. It looks as if it could do with a bit of a polish but I thought better of mentioning it as I still wanted to get onto the Nene.$R96AMUL

Just before we joined the main river I spotted a Kingfisher land in the bushes, I took a quick photo hoping for the best as I could not actually see it, luckily the camera could.


Again there was very little flow on the Nene and quite a few DSCF6525boats moored along the park. One of the cruisers that locked out ahead of us was now moored to the railings by Asda to do a bit of shopping, just ahead of them someone was feeding the swans.

There was a train “parked” on DSCF6528both the bridges crossing the river in Peterborough but as we passed under the second one the signals changed and he started to drive off, I wonder if he always drive with the door open.

Last time we were this way there was major reconstruction work going on below Orton Lock and a temporary lock landing stage had been anchored right back at the road bridge, I eased in and dropped Diana off onto the pontoon, no sooner had she gone than a smartly dressed chap informed me that the new lock moorings were now open, I suggested he didn’t mention it to Diana who by now had walked all the way round the back of the site. He was an Environmental DSCF6530Agency chap along with 3 other managerial types and asked if I would mind if he photographed me at the new moorings.
The work includes a lock waiting area, a lowered level for canal portage and then a short section of 24 hour moorings with tall sliding mooring posts to make it flood proof. There is even a high level walkway to get off your boat in times of flood.

As we passed the PYC i noticed a cruiser which I thought was listing a bit and mentioned it to Diana but she pointed out that there was a group of people onboard in the cockpit having a drink which what was probably the cause. DSCF6531As we passed a chap came out and shouted friendly greetings to us (makes a change) and wished us an enjoyable trip, it turns out he reads our blog. Just by him there was a very interesting boat moored up. It look quite a bit narrower than a “Narrowboat”.

We carried on a short way before turning sharpDSCF6533 left into the cut leading to Ferry Meadows moorings. We have never been here before so didn’t quite know what to expect. What we found were two floating pontoon moorings about 70 foot long and one of them was vacant so we slid in and moored up. DSCF6535The only down side is they are covered in galvanised steel grating which didn’t impress Magic to much when he hopped off to go for a walk.

Thursday 22 September 2011

Off to the Nene day 1

After unloading the car and topping up with water I backed out of the moorings at 1440 hrs. in a steady breeze which I needed to turn into, but it wanted to take me sideways faster than I could bring the bow round, so I had to cheat.

We headed off towards Whittlesey where we planned to moor for the night. Just west of our moorings you will find fishing pegDSCF6514 number one, an hour later we passed number 150, thank goodness there was no one using them.

DSCF6504We did pass two fishermen opposite the Meridian sign who were quite chatty and friendly. We were only making about 3 mph with quite a bit of vibration on the tiller, that could only mean one thing but it would have to wait.

Between our moorings and Whittlesey lock there are 300 fishing pegs and not a single angler on any of them, however there was one on the lock landing with his net out and all his stuff strewn about and another 3 fishing in the lock its self.

As the bottom lock gates have to be left open I could drive straight in and Diana climbed the ladder so we didn’t squish the fisherman’s gear. The ones fishing in the lock packed up and left, I didn’t see if they climbed the railings or had a key for the gate.
DSCF6516It takes about 80 turns to draw the top paddles and of course the same to lower them before drawing the bottom one as the lock has to be left empty with the gates open and the paddles or “Penstocks” as they are called round here down. One of the bottom paddles we couldn’t move so this slowed things down a bit. We still wound the windlass some 420 turns.

Once through the lock we moored for the night at 5 pm. on the visitor moorings by the recreation ground. Once secured I set to and removed some black polly from the prop which should improve things tomorrow, I then changed the oil and filter followed by checking the water levels in the batteries. Once that was done I was able to sit down with a glass of red and some olives.

Saturday 3 September 2011

Cooking on a Back Cabin Stove

I have read about the old boatmen, or should that really be Boatwomen cooking a meal in a bucket. I assumed that it was just a case of putting all the ingredients in metal bucket they already had onboard and standing it on the stove.


This week I visited the East Anglian Transport Museum at Carlton Colville and in the building displaying road repairing machinery which included a living waggon I saw this poster on the wall.

It is plain to see that this particular cooker was sold complete with a bucket for cooking in.

I welcome any comments as feedback on this topic.