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Monday, 19 July 2010

12th to 18th July 2010

Monday 12th and a much cooler day, mostly overcast and a bit of rain. We had an easy cruise into Ely. I checked the new alternator belt in the morning and found signs of damage already. I reckon one of the pulleys is wrongly machined and has too sharp edges which cut into the belt. Long conversations with Steve, mechanic at Debdale, who told me that both pulleys had been especially machined for us.

We went for an exploratory walk around the outside of Ely Cathedral including the Kings School buildings. Very interesting, I always assumed that choral scholars had their fees paid, but it seems they only get half paid, and that is only for so long as they are in the choir.

11miles & 1 lock
Tuesday 13th Checked belt fitted new on Sunday and after about 10 hours of gentle running it had no ribs left! More chats to Steve & I decided to fit a new belt with little tension, allowing the belt to slip a bit & get warm to increase its grip, like f1 car tyres, I adjusted the tension to stop excessive slippage. Collected 2 more belts in case but had to wait for delivery after lunch, and these were over £13 each!

Used san station in Ely and set off just as it started to drizzle very fast! Cruised for 1 ½ hours before mooring on EA moorings on river Lark. 5 miles 0 locks.

Wednesday 14th Belt was OK & we were away into Prickwillow, arriving at more EA moorings about ½ hour later. Went to see the Museum of Fen is closed Wednesday to Friday, if we’d got away a bit earlier the day before we could have got in! Looked through windows, lovely large old diesel engines in beautiful condition, we’ll try to get back another time, but not this year, shame.

Carried on to Isleham, mooring with our bows touching the lock mooring, no others really available. Large marina & chalet complex now on lock island, includes Elsan point, but beware they charge £2 & throw! (we didn’t pay, but did use it!)
Walked into Isleham and were pleased to get into the church, but before that we stopped at one of the pubs, Carol enjoyed her coffee & my bitter was lovely and we had a pleasant chat with the locals. The church was lovely with lovely carvings on the roof trusses. Apparently some more were there but Cromwell’s lot objected to the idolatry and discharged their guns at the carvings!

Close by the church was this lovely Norman Priory abandoned in 1254 but still intact thanks to being used for various purposes including as a barn. It was a bit of a walk to get the key but well worth it to get so close to history.

Isleham has various useful shops and 2 pubs doing food plus a garage. On the way back to Lily we did something I had never done before, picked cherries. We saw trees laden with ripe cherries in Huntingdon near our moorings but they were out of reach, these, though smaller, were close to hand. They made a lovely addition to our fruit salad but frankly we should have stopped longer & picked a load. It was another momentous event when Carol picked her first ripe tomatoes from the incredible bush we have growing on the roof.

We also saw loads of kingfishers, including this one that used a drain outlet structure as its perch. The weather was OK. 9 miles.

Thursday 15th and it was WINDY. Quite a bit of rain overnight and wind got plants on the roof rocking. Moved tomato plant & chilli plant below deck and moved other small plants onto rear deck seats. It took a lot of push against the wind to get off our mooring & into the lock. Like all these locks they are fully powered, even the “pointed doors” being powered. Cruised on the twisty & narrowing bit to the end at Judes Ferry, but frankly there was little to recommend it, though we understand the pub/restaurant alongside the winding point is good. Difficult winding through T junction layout & wind & weed.

Wind carried on blowing hard, rain threatened & then poured as we reached the end of the Lark, but the brolly helped to keep me dry. The Lark isn’t up to much, except we reckon Isleham is worth a visit.

Carried on to Littleport, mooring by the Swan, closed till 30th we understand, mooring behind Dutch Barge Moondahl, chatted about their crossing from Boston & up past Kingd Lynn. Pump out out of order and it seemed to have been so for a long time. Littleport is a smallish ?town? with a range of shops a pub & takeaways, and we experienced more heavy squalls as we walked back to Lily. We had a Chinese, not the best!

16 miles & 1 lock twice.

Friday 16th After topping up with water on the opposite side of river we set off to the Little Ouse, stopping at Little Ouse Moorings to top up with fuel at 75p self declared, but CASH ONLY, that was nearly an OOPS! Just had enough. They have a submersible wet dock for doing blackings, an interesting way of doing it.

We had intended to do the Little Ouse later, after going to Downham Market, but we had well over a mile from the fuel pump to a place wide enough to wind, so we carried on to Brandon at the end of the river. Despite it being a really windy day it was a wonderful cruise with lovely sun, the most beautiful river in this complex, very twisty but clear water and lots of birdlife

Saw this peculiar boat on way to Brandon 

Brandon is interesting, the lock is quite short so we moored just below it on the EA moorings. Walking into town via the Leisure Centre we walked over the old Saxon village where a large number of remains had been excavated, this being a raised sandy area amidst the fens. There was also a large Roman villa excavated in the ‘30’s and a farmer around then ploughed up a load of Roman silver. The place was the centre of the flint knapping industry and they still make flints for flintlock weapons! Useful shops & pubs, plus it is the centre of the BBC......the Brandon Brewery Company, whose beer I enjoyed at the 5 Miles Pub. I bought a bottle fermented beer from them, but I’m afraid it just doesn’t hit the spot for me like a draught pint does.               20 miles today!!

Saturday 17th Not quite so windy at the start & after getting the papers we were away by 10. The alternator belt has performed well, I have just tightened it slightly each day, but it definitely is lasting better despite cruising a t higher revs than we usually use. Day started with bright sun at times but clouds built up a progressively heavier showers arrived. The first didn’t affect us as after cruising about 4 miles we passé under the road bridge at Hockwold cum Wilton & were hailed. It was David & Liz on Hearsease who were about to set off to the Lakenheath RSPB reserve. They told us they came across a boat te day before brought to a stop by a rope around the prop that was attached to an anchor! They were about to get into the river to cut it free as David & Liz passed.

Pleasant chat whilst the showers passed & we bid them farewell cruising easily through the lovely waters we left the river after 4 hours cruising to cover the 16 miles, turning towards Denver Sluice. By this time the clouds had got black and we had endured the first downpour, but a longer deluge followed on the way along the Gt Ouse, along with very strong wind. I cruised on the lee side, the wrong side of the river, but there was no-one else cruising at the time, though we were passed by one nb that must have been doing the full 7mph permitted, if not more....Lily won’t do that speed!

After the deluge it brightened into a pleasant evening as we passed through the Relief Channel Lock down to Downham Market, tying up to the good pontoon mooring and walked into the town. We had covered 24 miles and 1 lock in 5 ½ hours, very fast for us.
Downham Market is quite interesting, good shops & pubs plus a station. The market was just shutting as we walked in.

Sunday 18th Fine day, windy again but mild and no rain. Decided to stop to watch the Moto GP and did some washing, having filled up with water from the tap on the pontoon. Ran engine to keep charge up, belt still fine, but stopped engine before end of GP. It wouldn’t re-start about an hour later with flat battery! It was a new battery just under 2 years before, not sure if it is at fault or the charging system, though the ammeter looks as if voltage is good. Hooked up battery charger from 240 volt system & rushed into town to try to get jump leads. Found the Tesco store not big but it had jump leads, and just 5 minutes before closing! Moondahl was with us & I’d borrowed a charger from him too, but with jump leads on, we were away.

Funny thing, before we came to the Relief Channel I was worried about whether it was wide enough for us to wind in !!!

Quick cruise to the Relief lock. At this lock you have to use a computer keyboard to clock into the channel, getting a 2 week stay, and on the way back we clocked out. Tipping the Elsans at Denver we carried on up river to Hilgay Bridge to the good EA moorings, the wind dropping as evening approached.

5 miles & 1 lock

A Question:- Why is the single track line through to Kings Lynn electrified when they can’t afford to do any of the East Midlands Main Line? Mad

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