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Monday, 12 July 2010

5th to 12th July In Cambridge

Monday 5th and when I went to check the engine first thing the main alternator belt was ruined again so I fitted my spare, there should have been 2 spares but one is hiding. Since we last replaced one at the Pike & Eel we have hardly cruise & have not used high revs at all, there is clearly something dramatically amiss, I'll have to get more spares when in Cambridge & after our planned visit we are going to return to Debdale so they can sort it.

The day started bright & with less wind and occasional cloud, the Old River was shallow in places. We stopped at the old Streatham Pumping Station which is open on the 2nd Sunday in the month & occasionally steams the old Butterly Engine....such a shame that the firm that built this engine, St Pancras Station and even the Falkirk Wheel closed about a year ago, you would have hoped that a company with such a history & that had proved able to adapt to changes in demand would have been able to carry on manufacturing in this country. I suppose if it had been a bank it would have been bailed out!

The EA plan showing facilities on the rivers was proved erroneous again as te Fish & Duck at Popes Corner where the Old River & Cam meet is now no more than a layer of gravel, and there were no facilities available, but that might have been because work was on-going to improve the marina. So we carried on towards Cambridge, calling into Upware Marina, where there were no visitor facilities at all. We tied up outside the 5 Mile Inn alongside the marina where they very kindly let us run a hose to fill up. There is an EA water point alongside the Upware Sluice, but it is downstream & the chamber is about 10 feet shorter than Lily.

I went for a walk down to Wyken Fen to hopefully see some of the rare birds living there, or even to hear a corncrake, but all I saw was a kite, but it was interesting to see the undrained land. On the Ea moorings near the lock I counted only 12 out of 20 boats displaying valid licences!! We ate in the pub off the £6.95 for 2 courses on Monday menu and enjoyed it.  We saw this upturned old barge where it is undergoing some re-plating, except I don't think anything has been done for a while, looking at the weeds around it.

I also decided to put additional ventiation into the cupboard holding the inverter so sawed through the steel, foam lining and thick ply liner with a small blade on my Stanley took quite a while but is now hiding behind a brass louvre, but it does seem to be keeping down the heat level.

Tuesday 6th started bright & with a good forecast and we enjoyed a lovely slow cruise for the 10 miles & 2 locks into Cambridge. There are visitor moorings for 48 hours at Jesus lock where there is a good sanitary station, but we stopped alongside Jesus Green, opposite rowing club boat houses & where it is supposedly only for boats that pay an annual mooring fee, except that there were few boats there that had paid up, most were tied up alongside walls further downstream where there was nothing to pay! We decided that we would happily pay a fee for overnight stops with the lovely meadow alongside, complete with grazing cows and only about 1/2 a mile from the city centre!

We wandered in drank coffee bought a map, considered what to do & then went to Evensong in Kings College Chapel. What a lovely place, glorious choir and the place was almost full too. When we got back we were able to supervise the finishing line of a rowing race against the clock with over 40 crews rowing over 2000 metres. They were set off in roughly fastest first order at 30 second intervals, but even so there was some overtaking.

Wednesday & Thursday we carried on being tourists & falling in love with the place. If you go do go to the Botanic Gardens and the Scott Polar Institute is interesting too. The gardens had some very interesting areas including an area of created fen and also a dry garden which showed just how much you can grow in a garden without watering. They also had several areas showing the changes in plants over the years, the one for grain crops was interesting as was the walk showing the plants introduced in each 20 year period since around 1500. The other lovely thing was the way that large areas around trees were left to grow with wild flowers and long grass.

We loved Cambridge, lots of green spaces right up to the centre of the city and despite it being outside the University term there were so many cycles that cars went very slowly. We took advantage of a 2 courses for £10 at Loch Fynne restaurant and very good it was, as was our Wetherspoons curry, though yet again some of our favourites had been removed from the menu.

We used the lovely fruit & veg stalls in the 6 day market, had some lovely asparagus too, plus right near the centre there was a reasonably sized Sainsburys, Tesco being a bigger store but further out.

This is Carol's garden at the moment.

Friday and we moved to by Jesus lock as it was a bit nearer to the shops & we had to buy food for visitors over the weekend. I had also been chasing delivery of some more alternator drive belts & got 3 in the end, but a bit of a walk. A good job too as the one we were using managed a great 22 hours running before it was just about shredded! That running was almost all at below 1200rpm as we hardly cruised & used it for charging. I've looked closely at the pulleys & I reckon they have been wrongly machined which is something we can't get sorted without getting back to Debdale.

Anyway after shopping we used the very good sanitary station, for those with a pump out it is only £3, and filled with water, before realising it was 4pm, so we went back to our previous mooring, can't go cruising too late! Each morning rowers were out on the river from around 6 & we often heard oars rubbing along the hull.

Saturday 10th and we put up the parasol & cruised slowly to Waterbeach. This cruise was especially slow as there were umpteen rowers & scullers populating the river. One young lad decided to "spin" just before we arrived, I slowed rapidly & gave him a bit more room & went hard aground on a shoal of gravel! It took at least 20 minutes to get off, even had a chap on the bank offering to wade in & give us a push!!

We moored at Waterbeach, on good moorings and shared them with nb Eleanor from Peterborough & Gemma from Cambridge. Both crews were lovely and we nattered aplenty before our Bbq.

I haven't mentioned the weather, well it has been really hot, reaching 30 degrees, and we were really glad of our Worcester windows where we were able to lift out the whole of our windows to get a good draught.

Sunday 11th and our friends arrived in good time for us to cruise back into Cambridge for lunch, plus recording of the British GP, lots of chat and a really pleasant day before we returned to Waterbeach.

Waterbeach is a quite pleasant place. The pub by the river isn't actually in Waterbeach, if you are thinking of eating there, go on-line & read the reviews. There are 2 pubs on the green in Waterbeach, plus a chinese Take-away and a couple of general shops that seemed to sell all you might need. There are several quite intersting buildings, though the church is nothing special, but what made my walk into the place special was the traction engine that was in steam & being tinkered with at the garage. Lovely smells & they were happy for me to look, but I didn't have my camera!

I was a bit worried lest this buoy had floated into this garden in Waterbeach as the garden must have been over 20 feet above river level.

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