Sunday, 23 September 2012

Earith to Huntingdon

Day 2. Tuesday, 18 September 2012. Earith to Huntingdon.

We both had a good night’s sleep and woke at about 7.00am. I sorted out the first brew and we were ready to leave at 8.00am. Our first stop was at Brownshill Staunch, a double guillotine lock with a lift of about 2 feet. 
Were now out of tidal waters and on to one of the most picturesque parts of the Great Ouse. We passed the very attractive village of Holywell with its reputably haunted pub. We stayed there in the past and didn’t experience any spiritual appearances apart from a ghostly character walking into the en suite bathroom during the night. Horrible it was.
We arrived at St Ives at 10.00am and moored up alongside the quay at the Waits – a narrow cul-de-sac that has no turning space for anything longer than about 20 feet. We explored the town including the antique centre and auctions rooms where we made a scoop purchase of a fairly old ‘canal ware’ bucket with a tasteful selection of roses painted on it. I’m not a great fan of canal ware, especially pieces with the traditional castles, but this was both attractive and practical.
In one of the shops in the town we bumped into the crew of ‘Beau Jangles’. We said our hellos as though we were old friends. And then we said our goodbyes. That was short and sweet!

After a joint visit to Waitrose for some supplies and the briefest of visits to a Pound Shop to buy a tin opener, we reversed slowly out into the main stream (no turning space remember). I was expecting (hoping) the current and brisk wind would catch the stern and take her round but, as she came out, she slewed sideways and started to go downstream sideways. So, a quick change of plan – I turned the whole boat downstream and made a right hand turn just before the bridge. As the boat was now under full forward control, she turned well and we got back underway.

The rest of the day was a pleasure, especially in the bright sunshine, but it was turning a bit windy. At the very attractive Hemingford Lock we came alongside an ex Black Prince boat now hired out by Bridge Boat Yard at Ely and, to our surprise, on board was Stella, our clock repairer who lives in Ipswich. What a small world. We shared the lock with her and her crew and went on to share Houghton Lock too. We then left them to cruise at their own pace and we went on to Huntingdon. We arrived at 3.30pm and moored opposite the old Maltings in the last of the sun.

A skirmish in to the town took us past the Phones R Us shop and it reminded me of the last time we were here when I needed a new charger for my mobile. When the girl found one and told me it would cost 20 quid and I took a step backwards in surprise (well you would, wouldn’t you). Seeing my reaction, she went backstage and came back with a box full of old ones. She found one that worked and said, ‘You can have that one for nothing, but don’t tell my Boss’. Now that’s what I call service. In fact, I was so grateful that I went straight across to the nearest bakery and bought her a cream cake. Her face lit up when I handed it to her with thanks. It still brings a smile to my face.
This also brought a smile to may face. We popped into somewhere called Wilkinsons to buy some glue to repair the window seals. When we got to the checkout, the woman asked if I wanted a bag. I said, ‘No thanks, I’ll stick it in my pocket.’ Oh how we laughed!

The evening meal was a complete success, comprising spinach and ricotta ravioli, a tomato and mascarpone sauce with two large lumps of garlic bread washed down with a white wine. Thanks Kay. I didn’t mention the tin opener again.
Just before lights out, we saw a huge spider running across the floor as though it owned the place so the great white hunter was sent forth on a search and destroy mission. I should mention, to put this in perspective, Kay described it as the biggest spider she had ever seen - about the size of a large dinner plate in fact. Anyway, after a thorough search, I found it lurking under a kitchen stool. I moved the stool, pounced on it, caught it in a single handed death grip and sent it over the side. An extra bar of Snickers for me!

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