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Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Into Peterborough with grandchildren

Monday 19th July Bright & warm but still breezy, though less so. Quick check of alternator belt, it was OK and starter shows fully charged after a night on the charger. Short cruise to Littleport, arriving at 12.30  8 miles.

Eldest daughter Sally, husband John plus Sam (16) & Hannah (12) arrived for supper, late as always with Sally & John,though they complained it was the length of the journey at fault. Lovely supper together and a few games of Rummicub before parents left us with the kids on a lovely evening.
The new bar restaurant (The Swan) is due to re-open at the end of July, the new owners have come out of retirement to set up a good quality place to go with 5 chefs & prices to deter the type of customer the old Black Horse attracted before the previous owner ran off to Austria to excape his debts. It will be interesting to hear how it goes.

Tuesday 20th July and a fine day saw us taking the bus into Ely to show the kids the lovely town & cathedral. We had another guided tour & so much better than our first one. Because Carol & I signed a Gift Aid form on our first visit, we get in free now for 12 months, & the kids got in free too! We had a lovely picnic made by Carol after we came out & then visited the Cromwell House museum, which was nearby & interesting.

The Cathedral is littered with "Green Men" carved in various places. They are an old fertility symbol.

Returning to Lily at 5 we set off for Hilgay Bridge & the lovely mooring there for the night.

8 miles.

Wednesday 21st July and a lovely day with less wind. We cruised to Denver to fill & empty and wait for our 2.30 slot. When we arrived we were told we had been told it was 2 (it certainly wasn't the time I was told) and he had already put a boat in the lock. It was at least half an hour before he let it out, & it was wide enough for the two of us, but we were then told we would be last through, arriving at Salters Lode around 4.30. What a difficult turn with no way of judging how fast the tide was flowing in& with there not being a great width more than our 70 feet to turn in. It was far from elegant but we got in, only to be told we should have come earlier when the tide was on the level!!

This sand bar explains why we were driven hard onto the mooring as we cruised upstream to Denver Lock

The EA were lifting one of the gates on the sluice. I was surprised to see that they were made of timber. They are allowed to swing closed as the tide comes in but on at least one gate the steel pintle had broken.

Because we were late we had to wait till 6.30 before it was level again. There is a second lock gate that allows a boat of Lily's length to lock down into the river, but not to lock up!

Now we had a problem. Carol had to catch a train from Peterborough to Leicester to pick up her car on Friday, but when I spoke to the charming young lady at Stanground saying we might not get there in time on Thursday & need to lock through on Friday, she said that would not be possible as the lock would be out of action for an inspection! We set off as fast as we could, but Well Creek is far from deep & the bend at Outwell was very weedy, shallow & awkward in the extreem. The lovely lady at Marmont Priory lock told us to carry on to the lock & knock & she'd let us through, but we didn't arrive till gone 9 & it was getting pretty dark so we made an awkward mooring to the bank.

A long day but only 10 miles & 2 locks

Thursday 22nd July and we were ready to cruise at 8 & by 8.30 Maureen had let us through the lock. Our cruising at first was easy as the water was wide & deep & we made good time. We topped up with fuel @ Fox's in March using 98 litres (they only do 60/40) at £1.01, and leaving at 11.30. I was optimistic we might make Stanground by 3.30 ish on the rate of progress so far and carried on well until we turned  into Whittlesea Dyke at Floods Ferry when it got shallower and narrower and it became much harder going. We cruised using far more revs (1700) than we usually use but even so 3.30 only saw us leaving Ashline lock with the Whittlesea bend ahead.

We managed the bend easily, but it was harder than on the way down, and then we had a fairly heavy rain shower with rumbles of thunder. There were storm clouds all around and we expected to be caught by several, but only one did! We carried on reaching Stanground at 4.45 and were through in short order to tie up on the Peterborough moorings at 5.

Our fuel usage was 3 litres per hour since our last fill up.

A hard day saw us covering 21 miles & 3 locks in 8 1/2hours cruising. And what was this lorry mounted missile doing parked up alongside the waterway?

Friday 23rd July to 3rd August we stopped in Peterborough using the car to ferry the young grandchildren to several places, they are still too young to allow us to set off for a day of cruising, maybe next year. We had a grand family party on the Saturday/Sunday as Sally was 40 & The Grain Barge did us proud, especially important as Emily is highly dairy/egg intolerant. We had all 4 of the youngsters "sleeping" on Lily on Saturday night, & surprisingly there was some sleeping done!

On the 3rd Carol returned the car to Narborough & returned with Sam who will be with us till Friday & will help us get through much of the Nene. The weather was generally good, the proximity of the Elsan & water point was invaluable in Peterborough and near to the moorings was a great swimming pool as well as a Lido. We bought a new starter battery, the old one managed just 2 years, we could only keep using it by running a battery charger onto it full time, though I'll take it back to Debdale to get it checked. I was told that as it is a "commercial vehicle" size there is only ever a 2 year warranty on them!

Final thing about Peterborough. The mill over the river has one or more very squeeky conveyor belts. I'm intending to get in touch with them or the city council about it as it goes on all night. It was squeeking in May & still is now, let me know if it does when you pass.

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