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Sunday, 27 June 2010

June 21st to 27th St Neots

Monday, glorious day, barely any wind & lovely sun most of day. Gentle cruise back to Houghton Lock to view Houghton Mill. It is a National Trust property & we struggle to find places to use our membership at these properties as they tend to shut for the winter just as we return from our cruise & don’t open till we set off!! Problem here is moorings, there are EA moorings below the lock but they are on an island & you can’t get to the village/mill. We decided to visit the pub The Three Jolly Boaters, and this entitled us to use their mooring! Nice pub but food seemed pricey. Interesting village, but how on earth were these houses permitted planning? A small estate, clearly from the ‘60s, that just is not in keeping.

There was another picturesque pub in the village too, and the water mill was well worth a visit. If we had arrived earlier we could have seen some milling, but we bought a large bag of the flour & it made lovely bread. Pleasant tea room alongside plus a large camp site.

Being worn out by this exertion, we stopped the night.

Tuesday 22nd and an even better day, getting quite hot. Returning past Huntingdon we shared Godmanchester lock with a narrowboat reversing back to a mooring but we carried on. Apparently this meadow above Huntingdon Bridge is the largest one in the country at 365 acres.

At Brampton there is an old mill with it’s wheel turning, but it is a replacement & purely decorative addition to what is now a restaurant/hotel. Still it looks good.

Slight problem at Brampton Lock, and narrow bendy navigation channel to it when there is a nice direct route. The locks operate by the electric mechanism lifting the guillotine slightly to fill the lock and setting in motion an interlock timer. The gate will not lift further until the time delay has counted down, but here it wasn’t counting down. I lowered the gate, lifted it again & this time it worked!

We carried on to Buckden Marina to top up with fuel before any budget changes, plus water etc. We were able to self declare our propulsion usage at 10%. We had run a load of washing during our cruise, but the inverter tripped out. The only way to get it to do washing was to turn off the freezer. Clearly it is not big enough though we had been told it would be. Also we started getting flashing lights on the washer. The marina was offering a free night’s mooring, so we took them up on it. Lovely marina, some lovely chalets around it & good club house & gym. We also got free power & with a struggle I managed to get another load of washing done, but that was it as far as the machine was concerned!

So we now have to resolve the inverter problem & the washer problem.

A big day of cruising. 8 miles & 2 locks.

Wednesday 23rd was a day of fabulous weather.

I was alerted by a load of squeaking & much splashing in the water & looked out & thought it was a pair of otters. I photographed & videoed this for a while, but looking at it now & having talked to people at the marina, we are sure it was a pair of very large carp splashing around which they carried on doing for well over 5 minutes. These young swallows found our neighbours tiller to be a good perch

I walked the mile & half into Buckden to see the old Archbishop’s Palace that dated from around 1100 onwards. Buckden was quite a nice village with a couple of pubs & Post Office & shops & the palace quite interesting too. Why on earth would the Bishop of Lincoln have his palace built in Buckden which must be well over 50 miles away? It was used to accommodate Katherine of Aragon for a period when she wasn’t Henry 8th’s favourite wife.

I loved this pub notice board.

Whilst I was doing this Carol used the laundrette at the marina to clear all our washing. Off to the club house for a coffee & discussions with Mike at Debdale about our problems plus also to Aquafax. We then set off to St Neots, sharing St Neots lock with 2 plastic fantastics & an EA workboat......they were pressure washing slime off the walls & steps in the lock. We’ve never seen BW doing this, could it be a waste of money?

We moored up on the pontoon mooring alongside the town council offices, right by the water point which had been disconnected!! 5 1/2 miles & 2 locks.

Thursday 24th a busy day on the phone and more fabulous weather.

Found a useful car spares place on Huntingdon St where I got one spare alternator belt & then they got me another spare for the afternoon. Lovely market in the Market Square. Got some lovely fruit & veg plus Carol got a crab & I had a wild, line caught sea bream....beautiful.

I went into the council offices & moaned at the District Council desk about the hopeless tap they have provided at Huntingdon, before finding that the town council were guilty of cutting off the tap on the pontoon outside after vandals had broken the pipe & caused a big waste of water. This caused the council to find out they were supplying the water free, when they didn’t know they were doing so. They terminated the supply. Can I request that boaters write to St Neots Town Council (Clerk) Council Offices The Priory, St Neots Huntingdonshire PE19 2BH. I am trying to find the name of the Chairman so we can make it political.

After lunch I changed the engine oil, thought I had a spare oil filter, but hadn’t so the car spares place was useful again! Then gave the oven an almighty clean, have you tried Oven Pride? It works well but even with this it was a long & dirty job but I suppose this is a drawback to enjoying Carol’s cooking.

After many calls I decided on what to do with the inverter. It seemed from on-line investigation that our washing machine problems probably came from a 50p capacitor but am I really up to dealing with it?

Friday 25th and another lovely day.

We visited the church in St Neots & it is well, worth a visit, but you need to collect the key from the office over the road from the church. The roof has fabulously carved beams & decorations plus some interesting painting. Found that as our washer was only 2 years old it still has a Hotpoint parts warranty. Great! Call out cost £104!! I couldn’t get them to come to the pontoon mooring, despite giving them a post code, so on Friday we have to go back to Buckden. As to the alternator on Tuesday evening a 4kw inverter/charger is being delivered & the 2.5kw unit is being collected. I managed to get a suitable discount to make us happy to take this option.

So after lunch we set off, stopping after 400m to fill with water & empty the loo at the small marina there. No diesel or petrol any longer. We tootled along through Eaton Socon lock, disturbing the local youths jumping in off the top of the guillotine gate. They were a happy crowd and we were soon on our way and we enjoyed our pleasant gently cruise on this river. After about 4 ½ miles around ½ mile before the A1 crosses the river, tied to the river bank, using a plank to get back on board. Not many moorings here abouts.

Saturday & Sunday both fantastic days & we stayed put with Grand Prix, Moto GP & Wimbledon to watch plus Carol decorating our new watering & Buckby cans & I cleaned the lacquer off the mushrooms & re-polished them plus a few other bits and blogging. Lots of bats flying over the river at dusk.

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