Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Turn left at Fradley

We are in Staffordshire and reached the end of the Coventry canal north of Birmingham and in Cannock. There is a British Waterways Office here which is open so we applied for next year’s licence. We now turn left on to the Trent and Mersey canal. There are locks going down to Derby and locks going up to Stafford. There are always many boats here and once again it was a squeeze getting through. Our friends Sue n Vic on No Problem were heading this way but the river Trent is in flood so they cannot move now.
Having travelled every day for a week we have time to relax over the weekend but it was windy and the fire went out. Thankfully our boiler kept us warm while the fire was cleaned out. Then it was time to change the oil in the engine........
Happy Christmas to all our readers.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Cold but sunny

Waiting for a Christmas 'event'.
We were moving at 9am after a breakfast of porridge and toast. The ropes were stiff with frost and there was ice on the cut. Why do we do it? We set ourselves a task to achieve each day.
An hour of crunching ice got us to Alvecote where the Canal Time boat hire fleet once operated. There we found Dot n Derek on their boat Gypsy Rover and invited them on board for a chat. Good to see them again after seeing them while on our river travels this year. They are going south while we continue north to stop at Hopwas. The warming sun melting the ice and encouraging our 4 hour trip. On approach to the locks at Glascote there were no less than two boats in front and one behind. A total of 4 on the move.

Monday, December 08, 2008


The decorations are up and someone dressed up in a red coat had a huge curly white beard was seen wandering the streets. The town was known for making hats of all types from Top to trilby, now celebrating the fact with this art work.

Unfortunately the old factory still has broken glass in its windows and is unused now.
We moved down and stopped before lock 6. While there for the weekend a goat came through the hedge from the farm.

It seemed friendly but while Ann was taking a picture it came up and butted her in the leg! Luckily not pushing her into the canal!
The battery monitor is in danger of providing too much information! On average we are only using about 10% of our battery capacity between charges. The engine is putting back about 50 Amp Hours in an hour twice a day. 100 AH a day at 13Volts is 1,300 watt hours or 1.3 kilowatts of electricity. That seems to be enough for our TV, computer, fridge, lights and radio.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Nuneaton surprise

How pleasant it was to cruise past Nuneaton. Tree cutting in progress making a clean clear passage with none of the usual rubbish in the canal. The tow path in excellent condition so Ann and Molly walked all the way through. After a few misty cold days this one was bright with sunshine adding to the pleasure while moving.
We stopped at Springwood Haven Marina. Kevin here is agent for Victron Energy and we had got our ‘Blue box’ inverter charger here some time ago. We decided to get a battery monitor. This device measures the current going in and out of the batteries. Now we know how much power we are using. Volts times Amps equals Watts. Up to now it was an educated guess based on experience. Our solar panels actually delivered 1.3 amps when the sun came out, wow, previously an unknown quantity. It has just proved that around 2 hours a day is about right. Various forms of lighting have been evaluated. Obviously the florescent light is better than bulbs but single tube and double tube types draw almost the same current. The fridge wants 4 amps when running, and the inverter uses 1 amp doing nothing! The computer sucks 4 and a half amps when charging as does the TV including the sky bit. At least now we know when the batteries are full and can turn off the engine.
After that stormy night the sun shone and we went out for a walk. Down the tow path and across the muddy fields, over and under the railway and saw the river Anker rushing along depositing rubbish on its bank. We followed part of the Quarrymans walk. There are a number of granite quarries in the area which have created holes in the ground and tall pointed hills.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Moving North

Spent a few days near Hawkesbury Junction, that is where the Oxford and Coventry canals join.
There is a marked contrast between the two in that the towpaths are so much better on the Coventry canal. We were waiting for the diesel supply boat Gosty Hill. Iain and Alison arrived in the dark evening just before 5.
They do seem to work hard and long with many more boats at the junction to serve with coal and diesel before they stop.
We turned right onto the Coventry next day, took on water and stopped just short of Nuneaton, passing the Warwickshire Canal Carrying Company, otherwise known as charity dock.
It is always a sight to see with many old boats, some of which are being restored. Then we saw that The Navigation Inn is now sadly closed. A dull cold day making us stop after less than 2 hours on the move.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

River pictures update

Our tour of East Anglia this year is now well covered in pictures of the river Nene, Middle levels, the tidal Ouse and the river Ouse. Please feel free to visit our website www.moore2life.co.uk soon.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

New cabinets

We have been living on Moore 2 Life now for many years. The galley has always lacked high storage space and the walls were just begging for cabinets. The existing cupboards have become stuffed. The time has come to fix the problem and we knew a man who can. He even has a van. Dave Bassett of www.dbassett.co.uk. We had originally used his services at Braunston when operating as D. B. Boat Builders. Dave was happy to find us as we moved along. He took about a week to make the units in his workshop and 2 days to fit in the boat.
The cabinets look as if they belong already. We have now spread things about reorganising the galley system. “Where did you put..........?”.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Preparations for a birthday

Ann made a Christmas cake and pudding some time ago which has become a tradition over the years. Brod took both back home after his visit.
Now is the time to think about gifts and cards. We have started by using the internet and getting goodies sent home. Plans have been made to get us home as well. Real shopping is ok so long as it is dry and not too cold. The town centres have the decorations hung up and we look forward to seeing the lights on. It gets dark early now so there is a good chance seeing them lit before we run out of energy! Any more gifts will be sent home by post.
We are slowly heading north now and hope to meet up with our friends on No Problem later. A stoppage at Atherstone will reopen hopefully early in December so there is no need to rush about yet. We came down through the locks at Hillmorton without needing to use any bollards on the way.
Is that a bollard up there by the road?
There has been some concern about British Waterways spending our licence money on unnecessary extra bollards being planted in the wrong places.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Brother’s visit

Last weekend was special because Brod came up from the south to see us. After parking his car, walking to the boat and a welcoming drink we explored Braunston. Up the hill past the church, encouraged by a dry sunny day we went on and visited the Autumn Fair in the village hall.
Then on down to the bottom lock and up to the Admiral Nelson for a social drink while watching a few boats through the lock. The Old Plough gave us all a meal in the evening at a table near a cheerful warm fire. Next day after breakfast he was gone. We had time to catch up with family news and events and swop a few pictures. He continues research into the family tree getting information off the internet.
Having filled the tank with water we went off north for 6 miles to turn at Tarry’s bridge.

Doves at Tarry's bridge
We had ordered a Tesco delivery at Willoughby and the return trip seemed to take forever as it turned colder. Another appointment in Daventry required that we were at least facing Braunston for a few days.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Diesel boat Bletchley

This supply boat passed through Braunston to day. Clearly showing the two prices of 72p and £1.15

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Return to Braunston

We went down one lock to Calcutt Marina who are happy to fill our tank with diesel and allow us to declare our use for propulsion. Their prices were 66p for domestic use and £1.09 for propulsion. On our way back we noticed that Wigrams Turn Marina claimed to have no fuel for sale. Clifton Cruises will be selling diesel at the fixed rate of 98p based on a 60 / 40 % split. They will only sell at the low rate if you have a separate diesel tank for heating.
Molly is 4 years old this month. Ann got a special treat from the Braunston butcher, a bone to chew. Molly was lucky to be found by us and we have enjoyed her company while living on board. We had lots of help and advice while training her to be sociable. She is missing her friends Lucy & Meg at the moment while we travel a different way.
We saw Ernie & Rhonda on NB Ten Bob Note, but had to rush off to catch the bus to Daventry. They had moved on when we returned. The Christmas decorations are up in the Daventry streets and we started our seasonal shopping. There is a good selection of shops in this historic market town.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Winter snap

Having spent some time around Braunston and Daventry we moved south towards Napton. Our favoured mooring is just past Nimrod Bridge. We were expecting cold northerly winds so the trees and high hedges would provide shelter here. There is also a hard edge to cling to and a wide grass covered path, an opportunity to put out the bird feeders. British Waterways have actually managed to cut the grass! While out for a walk Gosty Hill, the diesel boat, passed by selling fuel for 70p in October. He was heading north to Ashby and plans to return in a few weeks.

It got very cold and the sleet turned to snow as we got back to the boat. The midlands got a covering of about 2 inches during that evening and caused some loss of TV signal spoiling our ‘comfort zone’ in the warm as the temperature dropped to zero outside. Thankfully the wind stayed away. The clocks have returned to GMT and we are now in the winter months. Despite the weather many boats are still very busy passing by in both directions from dawn to dusk. A busy week for the holiday boats with the school half term upon us.

We have booked our flu jabs in a few weeks time so are just moored up for a while. Need to stay near the diesel supply at Napton. November has arrived so our diesel fuel now has extra duty to pay but only if you use it for propulsion. The majority of our fuel is for heating and light so we should not have to pay too much more. We are required to declare the percentage used for propulsion so need to keep detailed records of use. You never know, some tax man may find us and ask for proof. If we are lucky the extra tax will find its way back to the waterways. The ‘Oxford Canal Walk’ between Coventry and Oxford would benefit greatly from the extra investment. Perhaps the Countryside Commission could offer to help out as many canal tow paths are public amenities.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Autumn leaves, heading ‘home’

While at our mooring near Heyford Wharf ‘Epiphany’ with John and Fiona arrived, now free to explore the waterways.

We had another blogger meeting with No Problem also nearby. They have left the Kennet & Avon wondering about its lack of care and maintenance that threatens its very existence. We had spent many years on that canal watching it improve dramatically after a huge donation from the lottery fund and it would be such a waste of that public money to let it fall apart.
A slow trip to Wilton through the autumn tints, the golden leaves falling in to the canal and clogging the prop while passing slowly many groups of moored boats on the way. Diesel at Wilton Marina was selling for 79 pence a litre and we also got some goodies from their well stocked chandlery. Then it was time to tackle all those wide locks all the way up to Norton. Some effort required to work the gates after being spoilt on the rivers where most locks were ‘push button’ operated! And then Moore 2 Life took us through Braunston tunnel while NoProblem took our friends Sue n Vic north with a plan to meet before Christmas.
Braunston has become our canal life ‘home’. We seem to start and end our annual adventures here. As soon as we had arrived, familiar faces walked by the boat. The ‘tow path telegraph’ was activated again. “How is so n so?” “Where have they been this year?” We saw our friends in the Marina and exchanged stories of our adventures.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Change of environment

We are back on the canal system. Through Northampton and up that flight of locks. Apparently British Waterways got called out to replace the water again as a queue of boats gathered at the bottom. Then one boat behind the other progressed through the narrow locks and shallow muddy ditch. Helping each other by opening the bottom paddle after leaving the lock so the next is empty.
We have our memories and pictures of the last 6 months touring the rivers of East Anglia to look back on. But now we look forward to rediscovering the canal system again while heading north and making plans for the next year’s adventures.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

On our way again

The waters have calmed down and we are travelling every day now to get off the river Nene.
Wonderful bright sunny days to enjoy cruising up river, some starting off with a mist in the cool October mornings. There have been a few narrowboats moving down stream. The World Conker Championships were being held in Ashton as we left.

Our habit is to travel with No Problem in the mornings, covering around 10 lock miles a day and stopping at our favourite moorings on the way. The afternoon is then free to walk dogs, make jam, and catch up with emails, bloggers and the day’s pictures.
We have been sorting pictures of our travels on the rivers this year and adding them to our website pages. Just updated the ‘Middle Level’ with over 70 views sorted in order from Stanground to Salters Lode.
Thought for the week – What is money without trust? Value is what you pay for.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Waterway Environment

The natural world adapts as the environment changes. Animals will change their habits or move away to a place that suits them. So if the environment becomes unsuitable the animals will leave. And then we will miss them when they are gone.
Boaters on the canals and rivers are the same. If the environment is changed boaters may change their habits or move away. The environment is changing. Not a natural environment but a man made one caused by increased costs and lack of maintenance. Some boaters on limited incomes may well leave the environment and try to sell their boats in a declining market. Some of us may consider reducing exploration of canals and rivers. Will the authorities then realise that they are staving the golden goose?
Meanwhile conditions on the river Nene have caused us to stop moving again. A natural change, after heavy rain the river has risen and increased its flow. The Environment Agency has closed the navigation. We are happier this time being in the company of our friends on No Problem and are able to walk to the shops at Oundle.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Home alone with Molly and Tara

Ann went home to help our son and family move house. It is surprising how many people and organisations need to know where you are. We, Molly and me, are in a new routine, she tales me for a walk in the misty mornings and in the warm afternoons. We found a stick in the field which is being chewed and thrown if Molly will let me. It becomes a game next day trying to find where it was left the day before. Poor Tara does not do much as she is old and has gone blind but is happy because she can still purr.
I can cook for myself providing there is something to eat. One spud, cabbage, carrot and even a parsnip goes down with meat pie and gravy. Ann went to the local butcher to stock up before she left. I must remember to get it out of the freezer in the morning. “Done that”. Mince and bolognaise sauce with extra mushrooms and a fresh tomato served with spaghetti for Sunday.
A community of boats has arrived for the weekend. They are all quite friendly with some dogs and a cat among the boaters. But there is always one that runs engine with prop trying to bore a hole in the bank. It was only the other day that some men arrived to fill a hole with sand bags. Well at least the Environment Agency do respond and carry out repairs when needed.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

On the move again

We are going up through the locks on the Nene many of which have a weir to one side where the river rushes over a waterfall. It has become a habit to use our front rope to prevent the boat heading over to the weir as we leave the lock.

We stopped a night at Fotheringay after topping up with water. The stone arched bridge showing some damage caused during the flood where boats coming down stream had smashed into it.

St Mary & All Saints church here has a huge lantern tower but because part of the original building was demolished it now looks out of proportion.

An air balloon landed in the field in the evening not far from the boat. The balloon was slowly deflated as darkness fell. Ann went to watch and felt all the hot air being forced out. The owner of the field had charged us for staying the night here and also asked the owner of the balloon for a landing fee!
Later on we intend to get back to the canal system. Must be before November when the Northampton flight is closed for winter maintenance. We are concerned about items of news in Narrowboat World on the internet. Two narrowboats stuck in a bridge hole! “Some disagreement about who should go through first”. Apparently there is a rule about giving way if you are on the towpath side. “Just stop and wait by the tow path then”. The other rule is to give way to boats coming down stream while on rivers. Also reported is the boater who’s boat, with fenders down, got stuck in a narrow lock! The ‘old’ boaters would never move with fenders down.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Situation improving

RCR located an engineer and they arrived in the afternoon. Two young well mannered lads set about sorting the problem. Not the cable but the gear box lever which had moved on the shaft, apparently a common problem on PRM 120’s. Having been reset and tested the gear box was given a clean bill of health. The lads accepted a tip with our gratitude. During the dry warm day a few more boats passed by us some still suffering from the strong flow on the way down river.
Meanwhile Ann goes for walks round the fields and into the woods. On the way discovering these Herdwick Sheep. An ancient Lake District breed regarded as the hardiest sheep breed in Britain. Lambs are born black and woolly and go grey with age. The wool is waterproof while the meat has exceptional quality, dark, fine grained and well flavoured.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Day ten

Never before have we stayed in one place for so long. The Environment Agency officially opened the river to navigation at 2 pm today. Several boats had already come up stream. One sailor boat owner told me he had come over from France entering from the Wash, passing Wisbech and Peterborough. I pointed out that the river was still closed to traffic. “No Strong Stream Advice is going to stop me after coming across the channel”.
Later a narrowboat coming down stream had hit a bridge and smashed up the front of his boat. The cratch and cover destroyed. And still they come from far and wide muttering about low bridges. Many coming from Denford which is 14 locks and 23 miles away! Why do they do it? “Got to get back to work” they said. Oh was it worth it.
The river inspector came to see us again, this time delivering containers of water which we poured into our tank. We told him that we could not move yet because we had a problem with the gear box. Since then I discovered how to remove the cable and found that the gear box worked ok. Somehow it is the cable that needs adjusting. We wait for the engineer to be sure it is all working ok before moving on.
That evening a boat went by in the darkness at about 10 o’clock. When we went out later with Molly we discovered that the lazy boaters had left the gates open and guillotine up. This is not the correct procedure. All locks on this river should be left with the guillotine up thus providing a safe haven for those who may be coming up against a strong stream. Just wondering how many other locks have been set wrong.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Up to trouble

“It is ok to go up through the lock but no further”. Well we did ask. We had got so depressed and desperately needed a change of view. The top lock landing looked so inviting so when we could we moved into the lock. Like being let out of a cage it was. Opened the gate and moved slowly out, we had used the centre rope while in the lock but as the boat struggled to get round against the flow it had fallen off. Luckily the boat had started to inch towards the bank when it happened. The engine suddenly stopped. I managed to get the front rope to Ann on the bank and she tied it to a bollard. The flow of water then completed the job of coming into the landing and I tied the back on. The rope had of course got wrapped round the prop shaft. The first time for us in many years of boating. We were both well shaken by these events.
Removing the rope with knife and hacksaw was a struggle below decks in the cold numbing water and I gave up as the light faded. Thankfully we were able to run the engine to fully charge the batteries. There was a comment on our previous blog offering help. How wonderful is that. Next day Roger & Pip arrived for coffee and a chat. They then kindly offered to take Ann to Tesco. While they were away I tackled the rope again and got some of it off. On their return and a drink Roger offered to have a go and eventually got it all off and the prop was free to turn. Unfortunately the prop went backwards but not forwards! Pulling the lever up by hand engaged forward but it was not happy. I called the local marina but believe it or not they do not send engineers out! They expect you to go to them! Roger recommended using River Canal Rescue so I joined up on line and called them out.
Stop Press: News is that EA will be allowing boats to move on Tuesday, thanks to Brian's comment on previous Blog.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Going down

A tree is about to come down
But it won't get under here!
Warnsford lock
Bridge too low or high water!
The angry waters of the Nene
The landing stage is under water. We have been lucky here. At least we were able to get off. Some boaters were given scaffold poles to prevent grounding.
The river inspector was right when he told us we would be here at least a week. The water started going down on day 6. On day 7 the water gauge is now reading 2 whole meters and we can see under the bridge even if we cannot get under it! Our view of the world today has changed now that the water has gone down 0.6 meters which does not sound much but it means a lot to us. Another 0.1 of a meter will bring the level down to the minimum head room specified for navigation on this river by the Environment Agency. We are forced to quote metric because that is how it is measured. That clearance is only just enough as we have to remove many items off the roof to proceed.
The landing stage is now just above the surface and we spent a ‘happy hour’ with Molly, bucket and broom washing all the mud off it. For safety you understand.
The River Inspector came to see us again and was kind enough to take our rubbish away.
The Strong Stream Advice will continue till at least Tuesday. The worst area is at Islip footbridge near Thrapston where the water is still higher than normal ahead of us.
Oh dear it has started to rain.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Nene flood (Strong Stream)

It is so important to keep stocked up with the consumables while on the waterways as you may not be able to continue your journey. It is now 5 days since we were forced to stop moving. The River Inspector has called each day to keep us informed about the flooding situation. Many locks are still ‘reversed’ letting water rush down to the sea from Northampton and beyond. The river water has turned a dirty brown just like many canals! So long as there is no more rain we could continue by the weekend. The air draught remains at 1.5 meters. We need 2.2 meters to get under the bridges. So the water has to go down 0.7 meters or about 2 feet 6 inches. We have been told that some boaters continued to move against Environment Agency advice! There are many low bridges which are impassable now.
We are unable to get off the boat without having to climb out on to a metal guard rail.
The landing stage is now about 20 inches under water and we look forward to seeing the bollards again!
Each day Molly the dog is packed into the haversack and carried off on Ann’s back. They have been off to the Post Office / Shop in Wansford for food. Many gardens are now under water there.
A couple in a red car stopped and asked if we need any help. Ann asked for some vegetables. Later in the day they returned with several shopping bags of food from their garden. Thank you very much for the Marrow, runner beans, tomatoes’ and potatoes. We were overcome with emotion seeing such generosity and care from strangers. “Anyone know how to make Marrow Soup?”.
Thankfully we are cheered up by a warm sunny day.

Monday, September 08, 2008

On the River Nene

At Peterborough we picked up water and used the facilities before moving on to stay at Ferry Meadows Country Park.

Two empty pontoons welcomed us to provide moorings for one night. Spent the afternoon tucked up inside watching a DVD with the radiators keeping us warm. When the rain stopped we walked round the lakes.

We spent time just watching the wild life on the water.
Set off next day heading for Elton but the water flow seemed to be increasing as we approached Wansford railway bridge. There a boat moored under the bridge restricted the available width. We managed to miss both the boat and bridge as we passed in the fast flowing water. “Why are some people so inconsiderate?” Passed the boat club and arrived at Wansford lock with the bypass weir water rushing across the bow.

“Oh look the landing stage is under water, hang on we can’t get under that lock bridge”. Some landing stages are pontoons floating on the water but this was not. Ann had to get her wellies on before jumping off into two inches of water. Thankfully most of the river water is flowing over the weir so not much is falling over the lock gates and passing us. We did not see red flags flying at the boat yard and no other warnings were offered about the conditions and several boaters had passed us going down stream in the morning.
Next day the Environment Agency River Inspector arrived to offer some safety advice and told us that most of the locks were ‘reversed’ yesterday afternoon. That is no boats move as water is allowed to pass through the lock with all gates open. We could be a week here as there is a lot more water to come down. If the water rises more than 2 feet above the landing stage the boat may land on top of it! Then we would not get off as the water went down! We have hung our metal ladder down below the water line to prevent that happening. When we arrived the air draft was only 1.9 meters and we need 2.2, it is now only 1.7 and getting smaller as the water continues to rise.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

The Middle Levels

We have to go through a lock at Denver and travel about a mile on tidal waters that come from the Wash at Kings Lynn. The last time we did this the tide was going out and we slammed sideways going into Salters Lode Lock having to turn sharp left across the flow.

When we arrived the tide was almost at its highest, a spring tide which was actually crossing the weir into the River Ouse. Far too high to get through the lock. An hour later the level had started going down and several other boats had joined the queue. Three boats went through before us so by the time it was our turn the tidal flow had slowed a bit.
After all the concern we turned across the flow and went into the lock without touching the sides! We gave ourselves 10 out of 10 but the lock keeper was not even looking! The trick was to slow with reverse thrust then let the tide push the stern round.
One of many low bridges

The sun came out and we managed to get to Upwell before it rained. Then it developed into a thunderstorm that evening.

Next day we got some meat from the local butcher, where else! The town has shops and houses spread along the roads either side of the waterway. Traffic consisted mainly of lorries and tractors moving quite fast along the narrow roads. Vegetables are good value in these parts as were the winter pansies. We then set off to March under several very low bridges and through one lock. It was quite windy as we passed the wind farm with all 18 generators rotating at 20 RPM. It was an impressive sight creating the power with no pollution. The park at March is worth a walk round while the sun is out. The council have just built a band stand. Now they need a band to play music.
March is in the middle and we have a five hour trip to Stanground Lock. Nothing much to see or do, just moving in the channel part river part drain. It rained part of the time and we took turns driving the boat. By 4 o’clock we were up and out on to the river Nene near Peterborough.

The lock keeper allowed us to stay the night at the lock landing.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Meeting friends again

We plan to return to the canal system during September. But first we meet Sue n Vic on No Problem. Molly, our dog, has been down in the dumps since going our separate ways these last 15 days so it was not just us who missed their company. Molly, Meg and Lucy were chasing each other and going off for walks once again. Then we all enjoyed a ‘Sunday Lunch’ on board NP and Ann made an apple crumble for pudding. Next day we were off on the first step of our journey, the long stretch of the Ouse to Denver. Thankfully it did not rain but it was windy pushing us along down river. We have reluctantly lowered our ‘biminy’ because there are many low bridges to get under while on the Middle levels and the river Nene. The back cover provided excellent protection from the sun, wind and rain while on the move.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Up and down the Lark

This river is only about 7 miles to the lock at Isleham with a further 3 most of which is un navigable past the lock.
It took about two hours to get there near the 4 MPH speed limit or 1,500 RPM. There are flood banks either side of this ruler like river.
We passed several pump houses on the way with huge pipes bent over the bank to pump water out of the productive fen lands below. Turned at the lock and stopped a while for lunch. Ann took Molly up the bank and attempted to walk back along the ridge. It was not long before a rescue had to be made because walking was impeded by thick over growth.
Once back at the new Mile End EA mooring we settled down for the evening.
Next day we both walked along the flood bank with Molly to one of those pump houses. A new installation of three electric pumps Set at the end of a ‘drain’. They were out in the open while the old diesel or steam engines are in a brick building. Outside lies the remains of the old steam boiler tanks. The drain is a few feet below the field, the road is several feet above the field and the banked river is several feet above the road. The top of the bank is also several feet above the river. So I suspect the water is pumped up at least 20 feet. The river then takes the water eventually to the sea. Without the pumps the land would just be under water. As it is the farmers are busy harvesting. Tractor loads of onions, straw bales, grain and root crops coming off the fields.
The old wooden wind pumps could manage to raise water a few feet on a windy day using a scoop wheel. Steam powered beam engines using a scoop wheel could manage 20 feet. 19 Steam engines did the work of 250 wind pumps. Gradually the scoop wheel was replaced by the centrifugal pump and then electric motors replaced steam and diesel power units.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Bank holiday

While in Ely we got that diesel this time at the marina for 95p per litre. Luckily, as we approached the pump a boat moved off. Ely is now full of boats on the river as they have come out for this long weekend. We set off down river to Littleport and about 6 cruisers followed us out of Ely. It was not long before they had all passed us with their big engines and bow waves spreading out behind them. Thankfully there was one space over on the left shore at the Environment Agency moorings while the moorings on the right were full with two narrow boats and three cruisers.
It only took 15 minutes to get into the village which has a few shops including Co op, Hardware, Pharmacy, Butcher and gifts. But there is no Post office. The information board at the mooring told us about the local history. William Harley lived here and in 1860 went to New York in the U.S.A. There his son met the Davidson brothers and created the iconic motor cycle.

This is a stainless steel representation of the original design. A shrine for all those who admire that Harley – Davidson bike. In 1944 the Oxford and Cambridge boat race was rowed on the Great Ouse from near Littleport to Ely. I wonder which University won that year. The river has no bends so it would have been a strait dash to the finish.
When we returned we moved the boat up to the end of the mooring as a boat had left. Just as well because a faulty pump out machine behind us was a bit smelly. By the end of the day more boats turned up filling all available spaces including double parking by the water point! An Environment Agency launch was seen on patrol. They have FM radio communication with most of the other boats and get to know about ‘overstayers’ and undesirable boats on the river. You can imagine the chin wagging going on between the owners of cruisers looking for available moorings. The net result is that there are very few rubbish boats on the rivers. Although EA & BW both get their grants from the government EA do seem more efficient.
All moorings are limited to a stay of two nights so we move off down the river Lark on Monday and hope that at least some boats will be heading back to the marina. The Lark was quite wide in places and the first set of moorings were full.

However we were able to stop at Prickwillow and moored half on and half off at one end accompanied by an abandoned boat in the middle! The other end was shallow with a rocky bottom where the water point was sited.
We paid an educational visit to the Drainage Engine Museum here. Old steam and diesel engines lovingly restored and run on occasions. The fens are now kept dry by electric pumps scattered about the system of drains, lodes and rivers.