Friday, 30 November 2012

A break in the weather

Finding a couple of clear days between two rainy periods is all I need to take me back to the boat. Yesterday I pushed off at 10.00 am along a very peaceful Old West River.

The water level was much lower than my last outing - about 8" I guessed. Many of riverside fields were now above water and the banks had a clear edge. It's also so much better now that the emergent water plants have died back. I arrived at Ely and took up a mooring near the Maltings, as usual. Apart from a few 'over-stayers', it's quiet, out of season and midweek so there's no jostling for moorings.

I spend a quiet day mooching about the town followed by a quiet evening on board. Next morning, as predicted, the weather turns cold and I wake up to find a very clear morning and Skylark's roof glistening with frost. I'm pleased the stove pushes out the heat but a little disappointed the central heater boiler has gone on the blink. I will phone Mick when I get home.

As the river is so peaceful I take time to return to Lazy Otter. 

There's no one else moving about and even the Herons are either too cold, too hungry or just can't be bothered to fly off as I pass them. There's also more Swans about. I wonder where they have been for the last few weeks?

Being on my own I need to assess how much wind there will be as I moor the boat. As I have said before, any wind speed above 5 mph and in any direction other than north or south can be a problem when you're by yourself. Fortunately  this morning there was virtually no wind as I approached the mooring.

So, there we have it. Another peaceful, uneventful trip - it doesn't get much better than this.


Sunday, 25 November 2012

More wind and rain

I know the southern, western and northern parts of the country have really had some bad weather but the forecasters have been telling us it's now our turn. A combination of high wind and heavy rain over the eastern counties prompted me to take a look at Skylark on her moorings. When I got there yesterday, it all looked fine but it was too tempting just to stay there and wait for the weather to arrive so I took a spin up to Ely. When I left Lazy Otter at about 1.30pm it had already started to rain, the wind was brisk and the current on the river was quite fast.

I pulled into Ely about an hour later - normally it would take about 1hr 30mins but the current and following wind helped propel me along.

I found one of my favourite spots near the Maltings and settled in for the rest of the day. The night was fairly quiet really; but, when I woe up, I found the current had increased and there was a lot of branches, twigs and leaves on the riverside. Now, I'm not saying we've had it bad here in the east, but I took me at least ten minutes to sweep all those leaves off the roof.

As the morning went on, the wind gradually subsided so I decided to head home. First, I went out of town to turn around. As I came back I was flagged down to help move a college catamaran. These are the ones that accompany the rowing teams. It looked like it had come adrift from its moorings and had floated a couple of miles downstream so, after a bit of maneuvering in the light wind and strong current, I hitched it up and towed it to the nearby moorings. I guess, the college guys will find it on their first trip out next week.

It was then a case of going back up the Ouse to Lazy Otter and as I did the wind reduced further. Once into the Old West River I caught sight of a Barn Owl hunting along the riverbank and I was treated to a good sunset (at 3.30pm!). The calm river also meant I could get Skylark back into her mooring without any embarrassing shunts or bumps which would also please my neighbours I'm sure. 

Friday, 23 November 2012

What a perfect day

Catching a clear break in the almost continual wet weather, I spent a few hours on the boat. I had thought to fix a Victorian brass door handle to the rear hatch but it didn't feel right. Not only would it create an unwelcome head-banging hazard but I thought the hatch may be too heavy for it. A word with Mick is called for, to see if the runners can be loosened up a bit. I'll then reconsider if a bit of brass will add anything.

Anyway, I found the boat unaffected by the recent high winds and wet weather apart from a small problem with the jetty. It looked like the river levels had risen by about 6" and the stern fender had got slightly wedged under the top rail of the jetty. Not a big problem. Solved by running the boat forward out of the mooring. Anyway, it's something I must be careful about in future.

I headed off at 9.30am and the river looked fantastic in the pale autumn sun. It was so calm and tranquil, it reminded me of the odd occasions when I have been the first person to dive into a swimming pool...

I had a look around the town for an hour or so and decided to go home while it was still light. By the way, I mentioned the 'S' sign on the side of The Miller's House in my last post. I have Googled it and couldn't find any explanation for it. In fact another person had also photographed it and asked for an explanation. All the responses so far are at the humorous end of the scale; nothing serious, so if you know what it means, please let me know.

I headed home at 3.00pm into the setting sun. I would not normally attempt a photograph directly into the sun but I thought, what harm could it do?

The weather forecasters are predicting more rain and high winds creeping over the country to us tomorrow. Batten down the hatches!

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Recharging my batteries...

Yesterday, I took advantage of another day of fair weather. My time away also had to fit in with other commitments so this trip would be limited to a day and night. I took a trip up to Ely and I soon found the local wildlife was taking advantage of the warm weather too - ducks, moorhens, swans, coots, grebes, herons and kingfishers were all out and about.

Apart from a few anglers and liveaboards, there were few people about on the river. The town itself was buzzing though.

While I was strolling through the town, I took time to look at some of the details...look at the detail on this place!

The little sign below told the local fire brigade if you had taken out fire insurance.This one looks like an early Sun Alliance brand but I might be wrong.

Do you know what the sign below denotes? Maybe the house was built by someone called Stephen (ha ha)? More likely, being located on a house next to the river, it marks the south facing side of the street. You can just imagine a boater falling out of a local pub and, before he sets sail, he takes a look at the sign - maybe not!
This tall and very long narrow house had a specific use. Guess what?
If you said somewhere to make stilts, go to the back of the class. The answer... 
This morning, I needed to leave quite early in order to pick up my ballot box - yes, I am one those official looking people who will be helping you to cast your vote for a new Police and Crime Commisioner. It's good that we have a democratic right to vote in someone to oversee our Police. I don't remember being asked if I wanted a PCC but in time, I'm sure we'll find it's much cheaper to have only one person per county representing everybody rather than a whole committee.
My short trip back to Lazy Otter this morning confirmed the weather bods had got the forecast right again, bless them.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

More clocks sold

A couple more clocks have been sold - one from a small display in our front window, the other from a local Knick-knack shop.

The lady who bought the first one invited us to join her and a few others at her local hotel for a Swedish Christmas sale. She and her husband appeared on the tv programme, 'Hotel Inspector' a few years ago and by all accounts the hotel has gone on to become a very nice place. The sale, which has by definition, a Swedish theme, should be a good place to sell a few more clocks and some other bits and pieces we have collected over the years.

I now need to settle down to make a few more clocks in time for the Christmas rush. So, I'm now off to my back room, which is starting to look like a cross between Wallace and Grommits basement and the set of Antiques Roadshow!


Friday, 9 November 2012

A few days away

With a predicted 3 day break in the cold wet weather, I decided to have a few days on the boat. So I packed my bags and headed off to Lazy Otter. Over the ‘summer’ I had drained the fuel tank to less than 50 litres (oops) but now I had about 150 litres of diesel so Skylark felt a little heavy in the water. This put up a higher stern wave than before so I kept the revs down. The weather on the Ouse proved good although there was a bit of a cold breeze blowing in from the south. At least this meant it was hitting me from behind rather than in the face.

I got to Ely at about 2.00pm and went down to the water and waste point. Unfortunately a cruiser was moored up to the first bollard which meant I couldn’t get far enough along to use the facilities. It’s a shame some people don’t think more about the effect their actions have on other people. Anyway, I moored nearby and hoped that the owner might turn up in the next day or so in order to let me in.

While it was still light, I popped into Sainburys and bought a family sized Apple Pie for my desert – well, they didn’t have a small one – and settled in for a nice quiet evening on board.
Next day, with more good weather on the horizon, I chilled out around Ely; a wander around the Thursday market and the local shops, a bike ride along the waterfront and a few jobs on the boat including putting up a new piece of brass bling..
The cruiser had moved so I took on board some drinking water and I emptied the waste tank.
In the afternoon, I thought the sun was about to take a dive behind the ever- building clouds so I thought I would make the most of the remaining light and pop up the river for a spin. As I started to unhitch, a Canadian man asked about the boat and I spent the next few minutes giving him a potted history of narrowboating. Now, I can tell when someone is genuinely interested in boating or if they are getting bored with it all but this guy was really interested. After about 20 minutes I had to make my excuses and I slowly moved off.
As expected the sun didn’t last long so I turned around near Little Thetford and headed back to a peaceful mooring right outside the Malting Conference Centre. After a slap up tea, I went into the centre and watched one of their Thursday night films.
9 November 2012 - Happy birthday to me!
Following an unusual breakfast of man-sized Apple Pie and Yogurt (yum yum) followed by industrial strength coffee, I went for an early morning walk into town while the sun was out. The sun then disappeared and I decided to head home.
Au revoir Ely al la douche.
Now some 7.30am while the sun was out...
And then, it got cloudy, so I packed up and went home...