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Sunday, 8 August 2010

Up the Nene

Wednesday August 4th and after slight overnight rain we set off after paying homage to the water point & sanitary station, being away before 10. The weather was not good, not a lot of wind but not warm & with several light showers. Several boats coming downstream & passed a cruiser at Alwalton lock where the gate would not rise sufficiently for him to pass without taking down his canopy & windscreen. He was waiting for the EA, but my guess is he had a long wait.

We had taken Emily & Annabel on the Nene Valley Railway during their stay, here it is crossing the river. I enjoyed the day at the NVR, but I was sad to see how many of their engines had been allowed to decay badly. They certainly did not look in as good condition as those at the Great Central Railway in Loughborough.

I tried to get a pic of the train crossing, only to run out of battery power. Anyhow, this is what it crossed, it is a few yards to the left of the picture.


For us we made good progress tieing up at Fotheringhay at 5 having covered 19 miles & 7 locks in the day. I thought there were EA moorings there but seeing none tied up to posts in the farmers field just as he was walking along to collect his £4 overnight fee. It was a pretty good mooring & at least had posts.


Thursday 5th and after a sunny start early on (6 ish) by the time we got out & about had light cloud & a fair breeze. We walked into Fotheringhay which is a pretty place, the pub looks pretty upmarket, but at 10am was closed, and the church is interesting. It was originally an abbey church & much bigger, but is now a manageable size, but very tall for its footprint. There was a very large display inside about Mary Queen of Scots who was imprisoned there & beheaded there, as well as a lot of info about the ins and outs of the claims to the crown around the time of Elizabeth 1st accession. Well worth a visit.

There is obviously some money around in Fotheringhay, this person flies around.

We saw two weed cutting methods on the way from Peterborough, this was the neatest.

We then set off to show Sam what Oundle looked like and moored just above Alton lock, where we had moored on our way downstream. We managed to moor close to the bank before, but this time our stern was well out & we were on a big tilt. We decided to stop the night after our long cruise of 5 miles & 3 locks, and walked into Oundle & Alton.

On our previous visit I had noticed a metal railing & gate surrounding what looked like a memorial, but it was set in an area full of reeds that looked boggy. This time Sam & I decided to investigate it, picking our way carefully though the stingers that protected it. We were so glad we did, it was just a raised manhole with a pipe coming out of it, I expect designed to let off excess pressure....but why the ornate railings & gate?

I had noticed that our charge rate was only around 10 amps with the batteries only at around 75% full, we should have been charging at around 50 amps, yet I had tightened the belt in the morning. Investigation when engine had cooled, after further tightening still only gave 11 amps so I fitted a new one and suddenly we got 50+ amps. The belt taken off was by Unipart and managed only 2 days, and in fact was difficult to get working at the start, the new one is by Gates and works well even when not very tight. The old belt was obviously slipping all the time, certainly the alternator pulley was very hot. We can't wait to hear what Debdale make of it all when we return shortly.

Friday 6th and by 8.30 we were under way after checking belts etc & we stopped at Oundle Marina. People say it is difficult to access going upstream, in Lily it would have been impossible without the bow thruster as we reversed in, we would have needed to do a 270 degree turn to get in otherwise.

Anyhow, once in, they said the entry was kept tight to allow them to block it off when there are flooding events. We filled with108 litres at 80/20 costing £105 and were able to tip the Elsan, there being no EA tipping points on the river other than Northampton & Peterborough and frankly we can't manage that distance on 2 cassettes.

Away again we pushed on, hindered by me leaving our only EA key at a lock! The weather clouded over & gave us the odd shower and by cruising at for us a fast pace we arrived at Irthlingborough at 5, though we had shared the last 3 locks with a couple who had set off from Fotheringhay that morning! The moorings outside the Rusden & Diamonds football centre were very good, but now were showing the signs of having been made using untreated timber and many of the boards were flaking away.

Many info sheets show there are full facilities here, but not any longer. There is a working water point & a pump out, though people said that this was out of order, & had been for 2 years! The other advertised facilities (showers, toilets, Elsan disposal) were set within the adjacent leisure centre, but the owners shut them when the EA would not pay for them!!!

There were lovely blackberries picked alongside the mooring, & we had picked a load of mirabelles at a lockside some miles before. Sally & family came to pick up Sam, bringing with them a takeaway curry from our favourite restaurant in Leicester, so this evening we were again on our own!

19 miles & 11 locks

Saturday 7th and we were supposed to be entertaining more friends on Sunday but Carol's back said "enough". I rang them & deferred their visit and we stayed put. I walked into Irthlingborough to buy newspapers & see what it had to offer amounting to a tiny Tesco, a butcher a Post Office stores plus a few takeaways, not a lot and it was a fair uphill walk from the moorings.

During the day we were plagued by flies, possibly from the blackberries.

Carol's tomato plant has been very productive.

Her chilli plant is also being very productive, we just noticed one of the chillis is a yellow orange colour. They are pretty hot.


Sunday 8th and a lovely day. After topping up with water we were away by 9.45, drive belt fine, and we raced ahead to Wellingborough. We had intended to shop & then carry on, but lethargy hit us & we stopped after 5 miles & 3 locks. We were alongside the childrens park & play pool & it being a lovely day the place was packed with families having a great time.

We might try to get to Foxton for next weekend's festival. It would be nice to see old friends again, but it does seem a bit of a slog, we'll see how we look in a couple of days. No visitors expected in the next week, other than Sam & Hannah are joining us on Saturday night! It's tiring, but lovely to be wanted.

Finally, I keep getting comments from people in what looks like Chinese. From what I can decipher they are all complimentary, but are in rather peculiar terms. As I have read that people have used comments to blogs to pass on encrypted information I will not publish any comments unless they are in clear English text. Sorry if I'm being a bit neurotic.

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