Sunday, 28 June 2009

"She fell in the water!"

This evening, being as it was, so warm and lovely, we were eating dinner outside. And we thought that it would be a good idea to gently introduce our Lyra to the outside world. We have let her into the well-deck a bit already, so going though the front door wasn't new to her, but she'd never been across the gang-plank onto the bank.

Walking the plank

"Its big and wet... can I walk on it?"

So we supervised as she made her way outside in her own time. She nervously padded her way down the plank and onto the grass. The edges of the riverbank seemed to intruige her most, but she seemed to be very careful, picking her way along the edge by the boat, but not going very far. She wandered, under our watchful eyes, over to Pippin, and said hello to John and Jackie. All seemed to be going well. We watched her as she sniffed and padded along the edge by a neighbourig boat, and the we watched as she went a little too far and 'splash!' Her back legs and tail went in but she was very swiftly back on the bank and made a bee-line straight for Lucky Duck and safety.

A damp cat.

After cleaning herself up carefully, she was happy to come back outside again. We didn't want her first outing to end on a bad experience, and eventually after wandering about some more, she headed in of her own accord. Now she is sprawled out on the kitchen counter asleep, while we watch Stephen Fry in Kingdom.

All the fun of the Fair...

Midsummer Fair has been in town for the last few days, which means that in time-honoured fashion, all the boaters who moor on the Common are not (except for one...)

This has made practicing for Bumps starts along the common rather easier, since there's no-one to complain, but does make the river feel somewhat empty! 

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

I'll bet you a fiver...

... you can't do that again! said my James to (big)James when he was awarded a score of 10/10 by the lock keeper for his entry into Salter's Lode Lock last summer.

He had all but forgotten this wager, when a couple of days ago, Kestrel was again en route from Cambridge (via the New Bedford tidal river) to the Middle Level through Salter's Lode. And lo and behold, he went and did it again!

So, last night at the pub, the princely sum of £5 was handed over, and will now be signed, framed, and placed in Kestrel's engine room apparently! (big) James has also bet £5 that my James will get a score of at least 7/10 next time we do it, which means that he will have to screw up spectacularly and deliberately if he is to win it back!

Sunday, 21 June 2009


I've been living on this boat for two weeks now, and it's alright. There's plenty of flies and rolled-up receipts for me to chase, and my two humans are doing a good job at looking after me. They don't like being woken up at 4am, when it gets light, but I need feeding.

They've gone out rowing this morning, so I've hijacked this little magic box thing. I found a spider just now (it was quite tasty) and I had a nap on a clean shirt that femalehuman left on a chair; but I'm at a loose end, so I decided to blog.

I went outside briefly, yesterday. They put me on a harness and lead thing, but there was no point going out. It was cold, and the food doesn't appear by magic every morning and evening, so I went back inside again.


Saturday, 20 June 2009

There's a badger in my toilet!

Picture the scene.

The Cambridge News newsroom. Paul, News Editor and Chesterton RC rower, is sitting at his desk feeling glum. The paper is full, but the content is a bit depressing.

But then- a phonecall!

"There's a badger in my toilet!"

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Now that really is Something...

Petrel, a Fellows, Morton and Clayton boat, arrived in Cambridge recently and moored outside the Fort St. George pub.

Apparently, it's now got a Lister HA2, which has got to be far more convenient than the original Bollinder single cylinder semi-diesel!

This is what I'm aspiring to. One day. 
(EDIT: As long as we can have a butty as well, to actually LIVE on! - Amy)

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Catching up with the Ducks

This past week (and a bit) has been one of those where we've been so busy, and just haven't had the time to blog about what we've been up to!

Lyra has been our main preoccupation, and has settled in well to life aboard Lucky Duck. She has fully explored every part of the boat and chosen her favourite places to sleep, and well as managed to find fun in everything, even when we're too tired to play with her. A balled up expired bus ticket falls of the floor and becomes an instant plaything, and we've both struggled to tie our shoelaces when in a hurry to leave because she has found them such fun to play with!

In the mornings the sun streams in through the window to our shower room, and one of her favourite places to sleep in in the sink! She equally loves stretching herself out in the sun on the bathmat or falling asleep on the kitchen counter.

And so to the rest of the week. James and I helped Emma move Kestrel from Stretham to St Ives last Tuesday, which was a lot of fun. The most hilarious moment, as Emma wrote, was when the side hatch opened and several flaming pieces of toast were flung into the river, as a result of James setting light to the butter as he tried to warm the toast!

On Sunday, since Emma and I were both at work, the two Jameses went on a bit of an epic voyage, cruising all day to get Kestrel from Bedford to Hemingford Grey. Emma and I met them (after having bused to Huntingdon, picked up the car and driven to the moorings there). On their travels, they had managed to salvage two life rings which they then presented to us...

The other occupation which, as always, takes up many of our evenings is rowing (and coxing) which we have both done plenty of, with the Town Bumps races coming up at the end of July. We also watched the University bumps last week, which was as exciting as ever. As I have no doubt explained in previous posts, bumps racing is when rowing boats (eights usually) line up along the river (held out by a long pole) about a length and a half apart, and then, when a cannon goes off, all have to row as hard as they can to hit the boat in front before being caught by the one behind. Trinity's First and Third Boat Club is deemed to have the best introduction. Last night I rowed and James coxed in the XPress Head (in different boats!), which was great fun, and all our club's boats did very well.

After the race, we headed over to the Fort St George pub for a few drinks before heading home. Eariler on, I had seen nb Herbie outside the pub on our favourite visitor moorings, and it was a pleasant surprise when Kath came over to say hello! They are down our way visiting family and exploring the area.

Today, I have a day off, so I'm running the generator, while sitting in the sun and Lyra is stretched out next to me on a newspaper I was trying to read! My job is not something I often mention here, but since I'm doing a bit of a catch up, I thought I may as well. I've been working in a clothes shop in order to pay the bills, alongside work for an architectural research company. However, they have asked me to come and work with them full time, which will be really exciting, and a chance to get involved in something I'm really passionate about. I've not got a start date just yet (it will depend on which projects the firm gets) but I could be starting in at little as six weeks.

Saturday, 6 June 2009

Ship's Cat

Introducing the latest addition to the Duck's crew: Lyra, who is making herself very much at home, and seems to be enjoying life afloat so far. I went and collected her by myself this morning after my rowing outing since James is not well and is confined to bed. Thanks go to the team at the Blue Cross rescue centre in Cambridge who have been really helpful and friendly, making the adoption process very easy for us, and not at all worried about rehoming cats to boats! I left in a taxi with all Lyra's papers, and several weeks worth of food for her, and a cat carrier that went 'meeeep'. She didn't enjoy the taxi ride to our mooring but it didn't take too long and she did actually get used to it towards the end. I was a bit worried, since when my family took our cats home when I was 11, they were both very car-sick! But Lyra was very good. I arrived back home and we opened the box and let her make her way out. 

She then spent several hours rushing about, sticking her nose into every nook and cranny, watching ducks out of the window and playing with her new toy.

Now she is sleepy and curled up purring next to me. She's not completely asleep, but pricks up her ears every time she hears birds near the windows or the sound of another boat's drainage pump. She has quite happily used her litter box and worked out where her food bowl was even before it contained any food! Its lovely to have her about and I'm amazed at how quickly she became comfortable  and affectionate with us and happy with her new surroundings. 

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Lakes Trip Day 2

For our second day in the Lakes, the group split up into those who wanted a leisurely stroll to the pub and those who wanted another, longer, walk. We contemplated attempting Scafell, but decided that the Coniston ridge was more practical, and it also meant that Jess could collect a few more peaks for her Wainwright Challenge! So we drove to a convenient carpark, and started the ascent to the ridge. Again, the sun shone, and we were afforded stupendous views across Coniston Lake towards Morecambe Bay in the distance. Once up on the ridge. it was a lovely walk with not too much up and down, although we did ascend above 800m at one point.


The J's on top of Coniston Old Man

On the top of Great Carrs, there is a memorial to a Halifax bomber which failed to clear the ridge during a training flight in a storm in WW2. Bits of melted an mangled aluminium scatter the ridge and the rest of the plane can be seen at the bottom. It is a sobering sight.

Halifax memorial

The final peak was Weatherlam, to reach which we had our first proper descent down Prison Band. It was tough, and James in particular felt it badly on his knees. But we made it to the summit and then back down the other side, although James was in a bit of pain by the end. Despite this, we still really enjoyed the walk. We both spent our childhoods walking (me on Dartmoor and James in the South Downs) and resolved to escape Cambridge and do more of it more often!

It was a long drive back, but we were grateful to Dan for dropping us off close to our mooring!

Lakes Trip Day 1

Lase weekend saw us, along with the residents of nb Kestrel, some members of our rowing club, and some of (big) James' colleagues, in the Lake District. The trip had been excellently organised by James and Emma and is something of an annual event. We were predicted amazing weather so it was with some anticipation that we set off  Northwards on Friday afternoon.

At 9:30 or so in the evening we arrived at Great Langdale campsite, having been driven there by a colleague of (big)James. We set up our tent (recently acquired from James' mum) which we had never put up before, let alone seen! It turned out to be far bigger than expected, but thankfully easy to put up. We nicknamed it the Millenium Dome because it was so pointlessly large for two people camping for two nights! Alas I didn't get any photos. We retired to bed after a dinner cooked on the Kestrels' new BBQ which was still going when we arrived.

On Saturday morning, we awoke to a beautifully sunny morning, as predicted, and the whole party set off at about 8:30am. (big) James, as expedition leader, had picked out a lovely route, taking us up to Stickle Tarn, on to Pavey Ark and Harrison Stickle before ascending Pike of Stickle (on top of which I found full 3G signal and blogged the last post!) then returning to the campsite and pub down a long slow path, not too had on the knees! We stopped to eat on top of Pavey Ark, where James cooked our lunch of sausages, which was quite excellent. There was quite an ability range, so the group did spilt up according to relative speed of walking, but we all enjoyed the walk and the weather remained fantastic! 

James attempts the rugged mountaineer thing on top of Pavey Ark.

Lunchtime! (the highest sausages in England?)

We had a lovely dinner at the pub in Great Langdale. My game casserole was particularly excellent, and retired to bed, looking forward to the next day, when we hoped to complete a longer walk with (big)James, Jess, and Dan.