Monday, 16 July 2012

One hundred hours service

We had a few days away last week with the intention of exploring the three Cambridgeshire Lodes (medieval for waterway). They are found just off the River Cam near the Five Miles from Anywhere pub and take you to Wicken Fen National Nature Reserve, and the small villages of Burwell and Reach.

As we left Lazy Otter, I had an immediate problem of blanket weed around the prop so this forced a stoppage. Ten minutes later, the same, and then again a few minutes later. If this was proving to be a problem on the Old West River then I guessed the narrower, shallower Lodes would be worse so, when we arrived at Popes Corner, we turned left and went down to Ely. The River Great Ouse was reasonably clear of the weed but we stayed well away from the edge and any floating rafts of weeds. I can't say if the weed problem is better or worse than previous years but I guess the problem is linked to the continued high run off of nutrient rich water from the fields. If you know different, please let me know.

Anyway, being in Ely made it easier for Mick to get to us for our first 100 hr service. He changed the oil and its filter, and the fuel filter, and tightened various nuts including the jubilee clips on the calorifier that appeared to be causing the leak in the stbd bilge. The service was very straight forward and didn't throw up any problems.

On Thursday, we invited my parents, brother and girlfriend for another trip up the river. The weather promised to be the best of the week and it actually came up trumps. We pootled up to the quiet Goba moorings about 3 miles south of Ely and had a very English picnic on the sun-drenched bank.

On our third morning in Ely, we received an official brown envelope from the East Cams District Council, delivered by air mail - well, to be honest, it was thrown through the air by the ECDC car park inspector from the riverside into our forward deck. The accuracy of her throw suggested she was very experienced at throwing things at offenders. Anyway, the letter formally advised us of the 48hr Byelaw and, because we had now overstayed our welcome (or words to that effect), we had to leave 'forthwith'. So, knowing when we were not wanted, we left, forthwith. We had planned to leave anyway but might have spent a few more hours and pounds in the town.

A personal view now: Coming from a local government background myself, I know it can be very frustrating for Council Officers when they find disreputable members of the public flagrantly disregarding local byelaws but when confronted by a couple of respectable, retired people trying to spend a few hours relaxing by the river in their narrowboat, it would have been nice if she had had the courtesy of speaking to us. I wouldn't have been awkward or difficult, in fact I would have been quite understanding and compliant. It could also be argued that, rather than developing her overhand reverse finger slingshot technique of delivering bad news, she might have found another way to get job satisfaction, ie talking to the punters! Perhaps more time should be spent swatting up on the Council's Customer Care Policy rather than its Byelaw Compliance Policy - staff and councillors might find there are more benefits for all concerned. End of personal view.

Our journey back to Lazy Otter was on the damp side, confirming my view that I needed to get a large umbrella to replace the one that floated off the other day.

If that was not bad enough (you have to realise, I don't have to deal with many problems now!), when I got home I found my laptop had developed a terminal problem with its screen, which meant, amongst other things, I could not download my photos. So, during the next few days I spent a significant amount of time researching both a new umbrella and a lap top.

My next post will explain how I got on. BFN.

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