On Sunday afternoon, we decided to go on a little walk along the upper Lea/Lee (no-one seems to be able to decide how it’s spelled). It’s a waterway we’ve never visited by boat, although we hope to one day. We drove to Ware, walked to Rye House along the river, then took the train to Broxbourne, had a little wander there (including locating the rowing club!), then caught the train back to Ware. It was a glorious day, and the river looked beautiful. It’s an area we’d seriously consider moving to should life take us away from Cambridge.
The gazebos at Ware
Ice cream at Broxbourne
Broxbourne rowing club
The New River
This week, there’s another, bigger, fair in town, prompting another mass exodus until it leaves next Monday. We left early and got a prime spot on Jubilee Gardens visitor moorings, a bit further into town, but well away from the fair, as we didn’t want to leave town for over a week because we’d have had to bring the car out too so James could get to work. At first it was just us and Lucky Duck (they stayed for Strawberry Fair and really regretted it, so were out early too!)
Then more started to arrive:
It’s actually a really nice spot, and we have some nice neighbours. Lyra loves it as there’s less cycle and dog traffic, and a nice tree to hide in and climb. But mostly she just lazes about on the cabin top!
Whilst we’ve been here, the Cam Conservancy’s work boat has been down clearing the weir of debris. This was delayed because a moorhen had nested in the middle of it and they couldn’t get the workboat in until the nest was vacated. There was a bit of grumbling about this by people who didn’t know the reason, so the Cam Con’s new river manager, who is really into communication, put up a sign explaining the situation, which I thought was a great idea.
With Strawberry Fair taking over Midsummer Common, several of us boaters decided to move out for the weekend. It was a lovely evening for boating. We went out in convoy with Ian single handing Loldia for the first time (he did really well), Emma and Laura on Rebecca and Sophie on Admiral Benbow.
We arrived at Clayhithe to find only one bank side space so a bit of narrowboat Tetris was required!
In the evening once we were all safely moored, we headed to the Bridge pub for dinner and drinks. John and Jackie from Pippin came too as well as Chris and Simone of Light Enough to Travel, making for a great night.
On Saturday, James was off coxing so took the train back into town. I joined the Pippins for a cruise to Ely, to empty their pump out. We’d had thunderstorms in the early morning and hoped that was it for the storms, but no, the rain pelted it down most of the way out! Jackie and I stayed inside, leaving poor John on deck. But he was well kitted out in waterproofs and was quite happy. James got very wet coxing too. He then caught the train and met us in Ely as well.
The way back was thankfully much sunnier! We then went and got Willow, to moor for Saturday night on the GOBA moorings. It was a beautiful evening, and we saw an owl patrolling the flood banks looking for mice. Moored next to us was nb Qisma, who write a blog and have just taken up a permanent mooring in the fens!
The plume of smoke is from a haystack near Waterbeach which got hit by lightening and set alight!
Barn owl at dusk
This weekend, we decided to give Willow’s counter a bit of attention. First, we wanted to reduce the amount of ‘play’ in the tiller – previously if you moved the tiller there was a bit of a lag because the central stock which should have been a tapered square had worn down to something more rounded. First job was to grind down the blob of weld which held on the bolt, then remove the nut and the tiller arm completely. Those of you who have been reading our blogs for some years will remember that we’re no strangers to tiller removal, although this time it wasn’t a tree on the Nene but a deliberate removal with a 1″ spanner!
Then it was a case of cutting some steel strips to shim the rudder stock (and sanding/priming a few scratches and nicks while the grinder was out) before putting the “swan’s neck” back on, and securing it tightly onto the new steel shims with the top bolt. The result is that the rudder now responds immediately to movement with out any lag at all.
Next, I got on with touching up some rust spots along the join between the cabin and the gunwales, whilst James got into the bilges under the counter. First he used Charles the wet vacuum cleaner to suck up the water, the cleaned and painted the stern gland bilge with Danboline.
Whilst down there having a bit of a sort of the engine room, James was cleaning under the fuel tank (right at the back under the counter) and found an old penny. It’s a bit corroded but it’s possible to make out that it is a 1d piece from 1938, minted just three years after Willow was built. Traditionally boatmen used to set “lucky pennies” into their cabin steps so I wonder if it came out of an older step? We’re planning to set this one into the step. I love how old boats keep on surprising you!
Today, while James is away coxing at Peterborough regatta, I’ve continued working on painting the counter. Now, all four colours are retouched and it’s looking much better, although a certain tortoiseshell feline did leave a couple of paw prints on the black paint before I shut her in! Don’t want her treading any more paint through the boat!