Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Little Gits and a Crusader

David did an amount of boat wiping down this morning after our soaking yesterday afternoon and in fact it hammered down several times more, I like to think of rain as God washing the boat.
I am not completely sure why it is but rivers are quite mucky places, lots more trees containing birds   (I love birds but the little gits do leave their calling cards), about than found on most canals and more flying insects who have an inclination to stick onto the side of the boat, die, turn white then remain in an unsightly manner.  
But I think on the whole I was reading my book.

After lunch the three of us cyclists set off for a small tour of the area.  David being the insomniac he is had been up and cycled about 20 plus miles before I had woken up but was happy to come on another far shorter one with us girls.

We went first to the nearby village of Pilton, which is really a hamlet around a farm, but on chatting to a lady resident she pointed out her own house which dated from 1300's, I didn't like to take a photo of it in front of her, but it was built to have corn stored on the floor above the front door, so the front door was almost divided into two.  It was decorated with even older stone faces which were thought to have been taken from an even earlier still building and put on by the builder.  Sort of reclamation of their day.

Next stop was the cutie village of Aldwincle, not totally sure of the pronunciation but I quite like All-Winkle....

These were in a row of scrumptious cottages, sadly none of which were for sale. 

All very old.

Next up was Achurch, here there was an ancient well, any passing horses can still have a drink should they be allowed, sorry to say I have lost the photo of that.  Next place was Lilford, we snooped past the manor, the old vicarage and then the church.  Where we found this

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Maybe it does not look much but this is the oldest grave I have ever seen in a country churchyard and probably ever.  Its the tomb of Sir Ascelin de Waterville, he got back alive from one crusade or another and gave thanks to god by founding this church back in the 1200's, the tomb is 1226 I think.

Lilford church

Then the last leg of our afternoon whizz back down the hill, legs sticking out brakes off and yelling Weeeeeeeeeeee.  
I know buts simply my age.

The 18th century Dovecot at Wadenhoe, the ladder went around to aid collection

650 birds kept here and eaten by the Lord of the Manor

Only very small people allowed in.

Red Kites had followed us all afternoon, sometimes really low above our heads, how fantastic is that?

Afternoon tea in the Olde Barn at Wadenhoe with Joe too, great cakes but maybe we shouldn't have had them as we had a table booked  at the pub in 90 mins!!

Dinner was fabulous, sea bass then cheesecake.  Trouble walking home afterwards....

One fine day and a thunderstorm

A nice afternoon it turned out to be, we did deserve it I have to say.  
After the delicious lunch in the pub here, there was a bit of a rest and napping going on, not for Yarwood, they are most disciplined about dog walking and boaty jobs than us...

So latterly  in the afternoon we played moving the car, I was going to just let David do this but the area is so attractive that I said I would go too.  Big mistake.

We set off at about 4:45pm, cars going home from work.  We went through the village which is mostly untouched by ugly development, just stone thatched cottages intact, the fabulous pub dates from before the Civil War.

Wadenhoe village

I have seen this view somewhere else and the telegraph poles all photo-shopped out

We went first off towards Oundle, a town between here and there but the home to the famous school, but halfway there David pipes up that “Don’t like the look of that cloud”  which was huge, spread out over half the entire sky and rather black.  It started raining pretty soon after too. 
(Did I say?  He was the only who took a coat).  We took shelter under a tree, not terribly good protection does a tree offer lots of gaps between leaves….
David gathered his precious map under his jumper, said this is hopeless lets get going…..  Well Reader in seconds I was soaked completely, glasses awash and wet through to my knickers, did I say it was a mini monsoon?

The plan had been that we both cycle to the car at Fotheringhay then in the car go shopping in the supermarket in Oundle, but this was quickly changed by me to David going the extra miles and I would go direct and dripping to get the shopping, which I did but in a drippy fashion down each aisle. Shivering too.

David arrived pretty quickly and with the heating on in the car at 27 degrees and the heated seat all seemed better somehow.  
Back at the boat the central hating went on then hot showers were had, JimJams and bed socks and I began to recover.

Mushroom omelette  for supper with Waitroses's Gooseberry fool which are delicious I have to say.


Friday, 26 June 2015

Who needs water anyway.....? Well it would be quite nice.

Grey and cold it was early Monday morning as we left the nice farmers meadow, we would have topped up with water here but the water point is in the most tricky of positions, I cannot believe that any person with any experience of boating would have situated it there.  So imagine this Reader,  should you be travelling upstream, then you go under this attractive bridge using the centre arch, then manoeuvre over to your right (Is that Starboard? Maybe) then with the current taking you backwards towards the bridge into the reeds there, look carefully and spot the water point, its behind that wooden fence yes right there where all the bank has eroded away making a leap off the back to secure the boat (onto nothing provided in the way of a bollard) a 5ft gap not too easy.  A wind blowing here today added to the mix meant WaL carried on past.  Not that many water points to choose from on here either.  Much easier to fill here if you are going down stream, so thats fine then?

Beautiful old stone bridge here at Fotheringhay

Yarwood's tail just visible still. 

I had a fleece on and a windproof gilet thingy.  David very quickly put on his thick fleece and then windproof golfing jacket, then winter gloves.  Not bad weather for October he cheerfully called out to another boat...

This was a very lovely stretch of river, several locks to do today, but these locks don't warm you up.

Fotheringhay church, easier to see from the river that it is now half the size it once was, cloisters used to be on this side too

One of the locks we did today, see the wind on the water?  Around the corner trees protect you and then I am boiling, then the wind funnels down the river and its freezing.

David cleverly gets them all to stand and smile for the camera, he is a Cow Whisperer.

Its hard to capture landscapes but it is very lovely.

Quite a few old mills along here, this one right next to the lock, wish I could remember the name.

Ugliest thing I saw today

Hard to photograph, Red Kites all around.

We arrived at the last lock of the day, Yarwood were inside and so was a wee cruiser, it had popped out when it saw Yarwood coming.  That was ok, as we were not in sight, I worked the lock with Lesley but the lady was out on the lock side nattering to the Cow Whisperer, so they got back onboard and pulled out onto the lock landing for a cup of tea.....  This then made picking up the last Lock Hand nice and tricky as I had predicted the other day when I was moaning.   Inconvenience was averted as would you believe it another narrowboat arrived behind us to come up the lock too, they kindly told us to get on and we scuttled off to Wadenhoe, this is a dreamy place as it the garden of a pub The King's Head, room for us all and water here at one end.  We reversed around a slight bend leaving room for that wee cruiser to moor up, on the water point OF COURSE!!! 
Gotta love them.  

Lunch was divine, Crayfish and lemon dressing sandwich with salad and crisps.  Mooring costs £10 a night here, knocked off your dining bill, we had lunch today and dinner booked tomorrow.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Blood everywhere

Lack of 3G made posting impossible but here we are again.

We left Castor on a bit of a cloudy morning.  We had another mammoth cruise of several hours but I am getting used to that now.  I started off in one fleece but soon put on another, then my windproof jacket, later the hood went up and we enjoyed hot coffee.  A few locks to do but here they don't really warm you up much, just this aching finger business.

Open meadows, see on the roof our cratch carpet? Its our drying after water shot up the "Scuppers" in a lock to soak it.  Thought the wind would blow it off at one point, but no.

Lesley and I took it in turns to turn the lock again after leaving it, sort of leap-frogging, as I have said previously there is no room to pick up crews for two boats on the dolly sized lock landings.

Yarwood following us at this point

Forgive the rubbish quality of my phone zoom but this is actually a Grebe with TWO young on her back, they comically shot on at the same moment one from each side.

Finally arriving at our destination Fotheringay.   HERE   Knee deep in history here, bare with me non UK readers. King Richard III  (of "A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse" fame)  was born here, it was a Yorkist castle occupying a strategic position on the River Nene.  Much later it castle was "Given" to Catherine of Aragon, she spent a lot of money on it in her time making it more comfortable and when after twenty five years or so marriage to King Henry VIII his interest wandered, the castle passed down the list of his wives, but there is nothing to say here if they actually visited it*

So below, this is what remains today of the Motte and Bailey, after Mary Queen of Scots was beheaded inside the great hall here in 1587  (Can you imagine the mess?)  the local population fell dramatically   it seemed that nobody wanted to stay living there with its association of Queen killing, the castle was unoccupied and in merely 50 years or so later it was dismantled and the stone removed, not everyone was a loser as the stone was recycled to build a pub in the town of Oundle near-ish by.

The remaining Motte

WaL on the left and Yarwood on the right, photo taken from the top of the Motte.

Castle Farm barn, impressive eh?  Now a B&B and campsite.

Tomb of Richard III's parents.

Altar of church 

Queen Elizabeth did visit here, she was upset that the graves of her relatives were not suitable so ordered two tombs to be made for them, so that is King Richard's parents on the left and his uncle on the right.  Look above the alter and see the archway in the plaster.... this is where the church was once "Extended" making it double the size to what it is today, and today it is impressive, but we were told that the Duke of Northumbria pinched the lead off of the roof, the wet got in and as we all know what damage that causes, the rest of it had to be demolished.  Its a very interesting village to visit so do so if you are nearby.

We spent the weekend here and lovely it was too.  Sunday  lunch in The Falcon was FAB  HERE.  I had the roast lamb and cheesecake.  We three cycled all around the villages hereabouts and had a very jolly time of it.

* Much of the history of the castle and church was told to us by a chap in the church, I took him to be a member of the very active Richard III Society, however I cannot find any online references to back it up, but I believe every word!

Ha! Just found this snippet     HERE    if you have an interest scroll down and here they talk of the changes Catherine of Aragon made to the castle.

Monday, 22 June 2015

Anyone for a swim!

Now Reader you will have to bare with me for the next couple of days..... No photos to show.  This is due in the main to me forgetting my camera wire on the last trip home.  Several items of great importance were forgot not least David's underwear......
Lets move on. 

We moved from the pretty Ferry Meadows and set off upstream.  The wind blew (Just for a change) and as we moved along the scenery changed from tree lined banks to open water meadows.  Not so many houses, actually no houses as this whole area is a flood plain and a silly place to build on, but that's a lesson for the C20th.  I ticked off a sighting of a new bird in my Little Book of Birds   HERE  a Reed Bunting, pretty quick it was too, no photo and just the one sighting too.  Lesley was on Yarwood and following us at a distance and when we both landed at the lock she asked had I seen the King Fisher (Had I heck), she had seen two.

So then moans about the River Nene, its lovely, but mini sized lock landings, double locks but dolly sized lock landings.  Why?
This takes a period of adjustment for us, boring I know to cruisers owners and I might just hear the faint sound of "Well clear off back to yer canals then" but we like a lot of narrow boaters we have paid a sizeable chunk of money for the pleasure of coming here, it is a pleasure too, but it would be appreciated if when pontoons were installed they put in two of them.  
Now for Nene Virgins out there lock work differently here. Going upstream arriving at the lock you should find the guillotine bottom gate raised and sail straight in. On leaving you should do the same, that is to say empty the lock to leave the bottom gate raised unless of course another boat is waiting to enter, so far this hasn't happened to us but we live in hope, surely if another boat is waiting its a fair assumption that he will be waiting on the lock landing, one landing yesterday was around a right angled corner out of sight.  Now being a women, I can work around this, but life would be  frankly safer and more peachy with longer landings, end of.

Keeping an eye out with my binocs handy off we went, a nice bendy section, herons, swallows, house martins, red kites and terns but no king fisher.

I did however spot these two, heads down swimming hard not looking out for boats, I did text Lesley though to warn them behind us.

Approaching Castor Lock

Bish bash bosh moored up, forget lunch lets walk to the pub, dog ready.

Passed this by on a most enjoyable walk a ghost of a previous life of the village of Castor three fields away

Lesley took this of us.

We landed at Castor after a mammoth cruise of five hours.  After  bunny hopping down the Fossdyke canal to Boston the other side of the Wash due mostly to the weather delay of three days or so it was quite novel to be cruising again.  The village is three fields away the four of us ambled to The Prince of Wales pub and sat in the garden in the sun where everyone bar me enjoyed Woodford Wherry beer I think it was called.  Lovely pint said David with a creamy moustache.

A sunny evening, a salmon salad, my favourite chocolate opened and I finished my book.  Book 9 from the Poldark Series by Winston Graham. Number ten ready and waiting, only twelve in the series and I shall be so upset when I have finished them.  

Friday, 19 June 2015

Queens, Cromwell and patchwork.

So no talk of churches castles or cathedrals for days now, so it's high time for another. 

Peterborough, what a beaut.  We had a lovely chap doing the guided tour too, who's name escapes me but so knowledgable and enthusiastic. 
So two Queens buried here, Catherine of Aragon for one, then later Mary, Queen of Scots, although when her son came to the throne as King James 1st he had her moved to London.   What was very touching was that on the tomb of Catherine of Aragon were pomegranates, her symbol plus flowers, evidently laid by Spanish visitors, of  which there are many who make a sort of modern day pilgrimage to Peterborough to pay respects to her.  Indeed the Spanish Ambassador will presently making a visit amongst others for a celebration of her life.  Her tomb was desecrated during the reformation but in more recent times has been restored, more fitting for this Queen.

Now look at this and admire this as part of your heritage...

Fantastic isn't it?  You know what it is of course......

Oh my golly gosh see this? A painted ceiling that survived the Reformation and Cromwell, he was sick his entire time in Peterborough, maybe that was the reason, we'll never know.  

See in the above photo, the original font, lost for centuries and rediscovered in a nearby back garden, maybe it was hidden from Cromwell....

Four pillars holding the tower here at Peterborough, the tower is much shorter and "Dumpier" than the one at Ely, they feared the weight would be too great so it was kept low.

The original 13th century great oak doors.

Patchwork for men
Now this was fascinating, these tiny mosaics are being relaid piece by piece, then hoovered, tidied up and relaid.  I love patchwork but I am glad I am not doing that job.

So you know what that the first picture above was of.... The oldest clock in the world, dated at 1320!!!!!! No face but these early clocks chimed the hours.  How amazing is that?   HERE   
The three of us cycled here from the boat at Ferry Meadows, we returned in the car and so begun the latest round of Bunny Hopping the car along the river.

Lincolnshire sausages for supper, they are the best in the world too.

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Keep the great British White

The time had definitely come to leave Peterborough, The Yars have been here for over a week and due to some noisy oafs at night hadn't enjoyed uninterrupted sleep.  WaL was serviced first on the free pump out station here which has a very good quick pump and was seeming finished in seconds, then Joe came with us to the local boatyard to fill up with diesel, its a funny little yard that has become engulfed in housing, on a narrower section of the river and as we are a bit big it was helpful to have an extra pair of hands to reverse into the tiny jetty, we did block the river here for a short while.   Sadly for Joe WaL pretty much emptied their tank, Joe wanted to put 200-300 litres in....  Delivery tomorrow.

So nothing to be done but to return to Yarwood, turn tail and leave Peterborough for the divine Ferry Meadows, up the river and through one lock.  Now I hadn't done a guillotine lock since Lincoln and that was about a month ago, so I had a one to one tuition from Lesley and we took it in turns to get the aching finger as you have to keep your finger on the electric button most of the time during the operation, but then turn the paddles with lock keys in the usual way.

I suspect this is a British White, grazing very close to central Peterborough and very rare too these days.

Ye olde Custom House, now the Sea Scouts play here fantastic stone building.

First lock to do in a month, now then what do I do again.......?

Yarwood making the turn into Ferry Meadows

All incredibly happy here except for F&F as the pontoon was very harsh on their feet, all mats and rugs brought into play here for them.

Not often seen, a pair of Grebes and a baby, then a pair of swans approached, the Grebes faced up to them and saw them off

As they did so the baby shot onboard and there remained out of sight.

Goats cheese and pea tart with courgette lemon and chilli salad for supper.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Refugees and fairy cakes

So here we are all cosy and back onboard WaL after a week at home for "Life Admin".   Those nice people on Yarwood have watched over WaL for us in Peterborough.   

Today we took a trip out to Elyto see the cathedral and to call on NB Seyella to say goodbye properly as it was so rushed that last morning at Wisbech as we were like refugees on the pontoon as all our friends went off.....

6am and feeling glum at having to leave the Jolly Band

You can see how far down the tide is

Unflappable Derek as always

Dearest Group Captain, if you see him on the Middle Levels give him a kiss from me.

Here is one more last shot of the water flow, or rather the speed of it at Wisbech that didn't help my general relaxation that night.

Believe me it looked far worse in real time....

So our day at Ely was joyous, we walked along the river there,  had coffee sat in the sun Reader, now that was a first!!!  

Then through the city towards the cathedral.  We left Joe outside with the two "Lovely Boys", actually Joe is also a lovely boy, and we three went into the Cathedral.  Its old alright, read   HERE for the gen on it but we are looking at in the region of 900 years old.  The Victorians have played a bit fast and loose with it, but they did install this piece of total treasure

A painted ceiling, back when constructed the interiors would have been highly painted and decorated all lost in The Reformation.

How beautiful is this?

I am sorry that picture is on its side, its straight upright in my photos, but I will get some advice on this business but look at it and see the centre tower, its below too from the outside,  the previous centre fell down in the 1300's and so work was begun to rebuilt it, four pillars were replaced by eight and the very top is all wood framed built onto the eight pillars.  David and I climbed up to see it.

So we went up there....

So the frame is all english oak, 70ft trunks so this means that to allow for growing these beams are 1300 years old!!!!!

Fantastic panels all Victorian, a wee bit Pre-Raphealite which I LOVE, the panels open for better viewing of them and looking down......gulp

Up again

Glorious art

Tiny door to get through and even tinier staircase down.

Uninterrupted view for miles and miles
David and Lesley, Ely very different in style from Lincoln so both need visiting clearly.

We found Geoff and Margaret from NB Seyella   HERE  and departed with some of Group Captain's Butterfly Fairy Cakes, thank you Geoff.