Ely Cathedral
St Ives Quay
Chapel in St Ives Bridge
Wash day at Little Thetford
Mirrlees pump engine
Mirrlees pump engine info
Wissey sugar beet factory
River Wissey
River Wissey
Misty morning on the middle levels
Les Lobbs Diary
July 2011
Contact us
Sorry for the delay - my back has decided to show who is really boss and I have been laid up for a few days; back to normal soon, I hope.
Holywell, sunny
We set off later than usual, 10.50, with the intention of just doing a couple of hours. After Popes Corner, where the Cam meets the Gt Ouse, we had about 4 miles of weed; there were rafts of the stuff, which meant stopping the fan and drifting over it, where possible. Hermitage lock, at Earith, was manned, so we didn't even get off the boat, but the moorings listed on the chart were not long enough for us, so we carried on. There are not many mooring opportunities so when we saw the public quay outside The Old Ferry Boat Inn we called it a day, and even though it is very shallow, we got close enough to get off the boat and sample a pint, followed later by a meal.
Huntingdon, just started raining
The further we travel up the Gt Ouse the prettier it gets, lots of birdlife, with Oyster catchers, grebe, kingfishers and fousands of swans. The locks are mostly non-manned, but are the push button guillotine type, so fairly easy to use. Lots of Tupperware boats, that slip and slide all over the river, but fewer narrowboats. If it is raining tomorrow, we will probably stay here because the head of purchasing has found a Sainsbury nearby.
St Neots, sun & rain
I accompanied purchasing to Sainsbury and we came back with 2 bags apiece - what does she do with it all? As it was sunny, we set off, and that was the prompt for the wind to get up; we managed 4 locks and 10 miles before we tied up at St Neots (the wind was helpful in the end, as it blew us sideways onto the mooring pontoon). After a cuppa, we had a stroll around St Neots and found an ice cream shop; we just got back to the boat and the heavens opened, so on went the stern cover and we are in for the night. We are meeting people that we met going up river who are now returning, so getting info on moorings, water etc..

Question 1:
If you knew a woman who was pregnant, who had 8 kids already, three who were deaf, two who were blind, one mentally retarded, and she had syphilis.

Would you recommend that she have an abortion?

Question 2:
It is time to elect a new world leader, and only your vote counts.
Here are the facts about the three candidates.

Candidate A:
Associates with crooked politicians, and consults with astrologists. He's had two mistresses. He also chain smokes and drinks 8 to 10 Martinis a day.

Candidate B:
He was kicked out of office twice, sleeps until noon, used opium in college and drinks a quart of whisky every evening.

Candidate C:
He is a decorated war hero. He's a vegetarian, doesn't smoke, drinks an occasional beer and has never committed adultery.

Which of these candidates would be your choice?

Gt Barford, changeable
When the rain stopped yesterday morning, we had reasonable weather through 3 locks and 10 miles and arrived at Gt Barford mid afternoon. In the evening we were entertained by a group of youngsters racing their dragon boats (see clip). As an added bonus we found a water point here, which is not listed on the chart.
Gt Barford, changeable but wind has dropped
We filled up with water, after the head of housekeeping had done a couple of loads of washing. The head of catering then baked a rather good date and walnut cake and we settled in to do a few odd jobs and a lot of reading. Dawn was frightened by a lecherous old man peering in the window, it turned out to be our blond correspondent from P'boro (obviously smelt the cake); he is camping nearby with his friend Bob (don't ask!) and had dropped by for a chat. Our friends Ian & Penny are popping over tomorrow afternoon, so we will stay here till Sunday. It's just started raining again.
St Ives, sunny
Ian & Penny visited us on Saturday and we spent an enjoyable day exchanging photos and family news - we hope to see Ian's brother, Roger, when we return through P'boro. On Sunday we had a sunny trip down river to Huntingdon, where we spent the night and did some shopping this morning before leaving. Today was very hot, so we stopped at St Ives town quay, where we are now tied up, next to Malcolm on his boat Gwendoline.
Popes Corner, Cloudy and windy
We left St Ives at 08.30 and passed through 3 locks to reach Popes corner (the junction with the Cam) at 14.30. There were seals basking on the bank at Earith, where the New Bedford river joins the Gt Ouse. I had fun playing Chicken with Tupperware boats coming upstream who seemed to think they could keep to the centre of the river and drive other boats into the weedy margins; as downstream craft I had right of way, and we are about 15 tons of steel, so they eventually veered off and I gave them a cheery wave as we passed each other. We are still tucking into the goodies I & P brought for us, brilliant fruit loaf, great toasted with marmalade.
Waterbeach, Cam, cloudy
We are on the Cam, about two thirds of the way to Cambridge. Today's trip was a bit windy, but with pleasant views and very few boats; tomorrow we should pass all the rowing clubs as we near Jesus Green Lock, the end of navigation during the summer months. The coots all seem to have had a second brood, with the minute chicks having weed stuffed into their bills while the older siblings watch on; lots of oyster catchers, terns, and occasional plovers, but still no sight of the harriers that the fens are famous for.
Little Thetford, sunny
This morning we travelled into Cambridge, as far as Jesus lock, and then returned to the Gt Ouse, where we are now moored at Little Thetford. While we travelled Dawn baked a couple of cakes and did some washing, which she has hung out on lines rigged from the boat to the fence ( the washing, not the cakes).
When we stopped I changed the engine oil and filter and tightened up the stern gland, which was dripping more than usual. We think we will stay here tomorrow, as the forecast is not too good and we would like to visit Ely again before we "do" the River Lark on Monday.

Ely, drizzly
We are spending the weekend here on Eel Island; we soon learnt that weekdays are the best for travelling, as all the tupperwares come out to play at the weekend. As we came into Ely, we spotted Countess, a boat we travelled with on the GU, so we stopped and had a chat; when they were at P'boro, the boat behind them had two bikes stolen off the deck - they cut through the padlock chain with bolt croppers. We have done a couple of little jobs, like fixing a permanent 240v outlet socket for the inverter, instead of trailing leads out of the cupboard. Dawn has done a major shop at Tesco, which should see us through to October !
Littleport, drizzly and windy
Yesterday was very windy and it broke a large branch off a willow tree, two boats away from us. It crashed onto a seat which, fortunately, was empty and it missed all the geese - so no luck there. The nearest boat to the tree was moving into our space, as we left this morning at 07.30. Despite the wind, we reached the head of navigation on the river Lark and decided to turn in a winding hole, just short of the lock. It
was not a winding hole and we spent quite a while trying to push ourselves off the sandbank I had planted us on - if there is a next time, I will travel the extra 200yds and turn in the weir stream, where all sensible boaters would turn. We then returned to visit the drainage museum at Prickwillow; this contains the history of how the fens were drained and some engines salvaged from various pumping houses, when they installed more modern pumps. There was a short introductory video and lots of information on the engines etc. as you walked round, including videos of the various engines running. For anyone with a mechanical bent, this place takes some beating; I'm only sorry we were not there on one of the days that the engines are run. After that we re-joined the Gt Ouse and are now moored near Littleport bridge.
Little Ouse junction, clouding over after a sunny day
We had been told about a boatyard on the Little Ouse that sold diesel at a reasonable price, so this morning we went and filled up - 222 litres- and replaced an empty gas bottle. On the way there Dawn did a couple of loads of washing and was able to get most of it dry, after we moored up near the junction with the Gt. Ouse. Tomorrow I am going to ring the lock keeper at Denver sluice and book a slot for going back onto the Middle Levels; it is nearing neap tides this weekend, which means less flow but also less depth of water. We have seen our first egrets of the trip today.
Little Ouse junction, iffy
I've just rung Denver Sluice and Monday seems the best day for us, at about 12.30, depending on the tide. We will probably stay here for the day and, weather permitting, have a trip along the river Wissey tomorrow.

Denver, bright morning
Yesterday, we "did" the river Wissey and thought it the best of the rivers in this system. It's a river of contrasts, with the massive sugar beet factory and beautiful banks of wild flowers. There are very few mooring places, so we have come to Denver and are going through one lock this morning onto the relief channel to Downham Market. Hope you are feeling better Ann.
Salter's Lode lock moorings, sunny evening
We came back from Downham Market this morning, after spending a couple of days roaming the town; a very interesting place. As the weather was good, we joined the queue and went through Denver Sluice onto the tidal section to Salter's lode; I made a rather bumpy entrance into the lock channel because of the tide pushing us about..We left the lock and lost all power - the throttle cable had broken; if it had broken on the tidal section I might be writing this in the Wash! A chap from the boatyard at Ely came out and fitted a new cable and the lock-keeper said we could stay on his moorings until morning because it was after 18.00.
March, dry and sunny
We left before 06.00 to get to Marchmont Priory lock by 09.00; we arrived at 08.20, before the lock keeper started, so we locked ourselves through. A great early morning start, with mist on the water - how could anyone want to stay in bed on mornings like this? A fairly dull trip to March, where we will stay tomorrow and then move on to Stanground lock on Wednesday.
I've got a couple of small jobs to do - change gearbox oil and remove the bypass hose I fitted to the calorifier circuit, it did not improve anything.
March, cloudy
I got the gearbox oil changed and the bypass hose removed by 09.00. We have an old water trap/sediment collector on the diesel line which must be a collector's item, it has been weeping very slightly for yonks, so this morning I decided to strip it down. After replacing the seal on the water drain, I put it back together, bled the system, and fingers crossed, it is still dry. We are booked to go through Stanground lock at 12.00 tomorrow and plan to tie up on the embankment, where we stopped before. Dawn has done two loads of "big" washing at the laundrette here and we have done a small shop.
P'boro, Ferry Meadows, Sunny
We set off Wednesday at 05.45 and reached Stanground lock earlier than we had booked; we were locked through and tied up on the embankment by 11.45. Our friends Roy and Madge visited us in the afternoon and Barry & Ann in the evening. This morning we shopped at Asda and Roger came on board for lunch and a good long chat. As the weather was so good, we left the embankment and moved through one lock to Ferry Meadows, where there are excellent 24hr moorings on floating pontoons. We were surprised to see Gary and Sheila walking their dogs at the side of the river; unfortunately we could not get near the bank, so had a brief shouted chat. Thanks to everyone for their birthday wishes.
Gayton, G.Union, sunny
The night we spent at Ferry Meadows was a bit noisy, because a side wind got up and neither of us could be bothered to get up and put out extra fenders. We made an early start and stopped the next night at Thrapston and the following night at Earls Barton; today we left just after 05.00 and arrived at Gayton at 15.00, after 13 miles and 27 locks. Julie and family are coming out on Tuesday, for a couple of days; they are staying overnight in a local hotel and the boys are sleeping on the boat - well that's the plan! We then need to decide which way we are going, Leicester arm or otherwise - it will depend on water levels, as some of the canals are getting low on water