Thursday, 30 June 2011

Back Where We Belong

It feels good to be moored up on the Common again now that the fair has gone. Yesterday I had finished all the work I needed to do that day by 12pm, and decided to take advantage of the lovely weather and quiet river to bring the boat back in from our out of town, countryside mooring near Bottisham. 

I got everything ready and attempted to pull pins. However, the bow was moored up to a long stake which we don't normally use, and proved entirely stuck. Hmph. I bashed and wiggled it, but it wasn't until the chap on the the boat next door came over to help that I got it out. Finally I was ready to set off: mid line coiled within hand's reach, bottle of elderflower, tonic water (and just a teensy bit of gin) to keep cool, EA key and mobile phone ready. The mooring pins I also left on the roof so I could hop off with them when I got to Cambridge.

I was also sporting James' Tilley hat (oh, the glamour!) to keep off the sun, as my hair parting got quite burnt at the weekend! I felt most intrepid.

At Baits Bite lock I was pleased to see that it was set in my favour, so steered straight in and hopped off with the mid line, then tied off the bows. A couple of gongoozlers were watching, which normally means something is going to go wrong, but everything was fine. They seemed surprised to learn that I was going to be operating the lock by myself! Once through the lock I had to immediately stop and wait for a foolish Cantabs eight who decided to spin right in front of me. Luckily the Duck can stop in its own length so no harm was done, but I wasn't impressed. The only other issue I had was with a somewhat dozy narrowboat. There is a cross-over on the Cam, and for a while, all boats are required to navigate on the left as opposed to right, as is standard elsewhere. It's quite clearly signposted. Halfway along this stretch, I saw a boat coming the other way, on the wrong side of the river. I held my course - the only thing I could do, and slowed down. They passed me, shouting 'Are you mooring up?'. 'No, I'm navigating on the left, like you should be! Did you not see the sign?'. I received nothing back, other than a grunt and a startled look. They did eventually switch sides...

I made slow progress back to our usual mooring spot as there was quite a bit of weed on the prop and nowhere to stop, but eventually moored up without any problems. Lyra was glad to be back, and settled down in the long grass.

Boats are beginning to return to the now empty Common. It's good to be back.

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Wednesday, 29 June 2011


At Braunston on Sunday, we were just mooring up Ling after the parade when we met Sophie and her carer (grand-daughter?). Sophie's family used to work Ling and the butty with which it was paired (not sure which one) in the days when the boat belonged to Fellows, Morton and Clayton (in the 30s). She was born on the butty and grew up working the pair with her family. There is a lovely photo in Tony Lewery's book The Art of the Narrowboat Painters, which shows Sophie steering Ling at the age of about 8. (I haven't got it to reproduce here but I've ordered the book.)

She was in a wheelchair, but when she saw Ling, you could see a change in her - she stepped on the stern quite nimbly for someone of her years, and you could tell she was born to it! From the smile on her face it was clear that she was happy to see the boat again. I wish we could have spent more time with her, hearing her stories - there aren't ever so many people left who grew up working the canals. 

Sarah and Sophie
Edit: Sarah looked Sophie up, and found that she was recently married at the grand old age of 86, to her second husband Dennis. Their sweet story is here, and gives a little more detail about her life:
"She can remember delivering "crump"-pebble-like cocoa extract - to Cadbury's factory at Bourneville, and also carried sugar and travelled the length of the Manchester ship canal.
Sophie has vivid memories of life on the canal, where she lived until 1955 when she moved to Low Hill"
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Tuesday, 28 June 2011

B is for Braunston

Of course, there were boats:
and butties
But also...

...bloggers birds
...Buckby cans
 ...bridges sky


...better camping than Glastonbury!

There were so many bloggers to catch up with - we met up with Sarah, Bones, Kath and Neil, Halfie, Andy and the Other Lyra, Adam and Adrian, and Lesley. A great weekend, thanks all!

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Monday, 27 June 2011

Braunston in the sunshine

James steering the Ling

No time for a full Braunston review (will try to get that up tomorrow) but we had a great time. I think Bones sums it up perfectly " It is a show about boats and people, unlike many [boat] shows which are about commercialism"

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Saturday, 25 June 2011

Braunston, here we come!

I've set this to post on Saturday, as we are on our way to spend the weekend in Braunston for the Historic Boat Rally. Well be camping on Sarah E's Ling, the hold of which will contain about three tents! Look out for us, we hope to see lots of bloggers and boaters there.

This is where the Ling is currently residing, ready for the rally, Photo: Sarah E.

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Friday, 24 June 2011

My Favourite Finds v.11: Swish Report

So, last night, we held our Swish. We had tags to tell the stories of the clothes, changing rooms cunningly made out of display boards, cakes, and cordial. 

The 'changing rooms'
Story tags



How do I look?

Everything went to plan: we picked up the rails from Oxfam, set out the room at the Engineering Department, laid out the treats and drinks, and had some nice music playing. Unfortunately we didn't have nearly as many ladies show up as we'd have liked, which was a shame. But, it was a success in the sense that everyone who came had fun, and almost everyone came home with something new. The small number of ladies (I think we only had about 10) meant that everyone got to know each other and give opinions on the clothes that were tried on. So thanks to all the lovely ladies who were able to make make it. I hope you had fun too!

I brought quite a few things, and in the end only took home one new top, a pretty grey, flowery Laura Ashley dress/tunic.

All the unswapped clothes went to Oxfam, and we will definitely be organsing another. Perhaps it was good to start small, but now we know it all works, we can easily arrange another date for the Autumn and really work hard at publicising it to get more people and more clothes.

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Thursday, 23 June 2011

All the fun of the fair!

Last night we were in Ninety-Nines boathouse, with a great view of the Common and our normal mooring spot. You can see why we don't particularly want to be there right now! 

Where the Duck isn't!
Also, just a reminder to anyone local: my Swish is happening this evening, 7:30pm at the Engineering Dept. Would be lovely to see you there!

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Wednesday, 22 June 2011

A belated Midsummertide

Midsummer's Eve sky Source

If you are going to cycle 11km back home at 9:45 pm, then Midsummer's Day is surely the time to do it. Last night, there was still light, and so I decided to set off for home in the dusk. I made it back, to find that James was on Pippin, and so stopped for a cup of tea and a chat with John and Tom (who deigned to join us).

My cycling challenge has been mostly sucessful so far: I have decided that cycling back along that route after dark by myself is probably not wise, so on Monday night I took the train. I've been enjoying the cycle and can make the 11km route (all flat) in 35 minutes with the wind or 45 minutes against it, going as fast as I can, and doing some good cardio work, so I just hope I can continue to keep it up now!

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Monday, 20 June 2011

Trains and Training

Midsummer Fair is in town, so for the next week or two we will be out of town, and commuting in from various places on the river, north of Cambridge. This coincides with the run-up to the town Bumps races, for which James and I are both preparing. This year I am in the bow seat of the first women's boat, which is very exciting, but means that I really have to step up to the plate in terms of fitness. I will be doing my time on the rowing machine, and plenty of hard outing with my W1 crew, but I want to make the most of my spare time to do extra training like running and cycling. Which means cycling in and out from wherever we are moored and doing it as hard and fast as I can. And no taking the train. I work near the train station, so when we are moored at Clayhithe it would be very easy to take the quick (and lazy) route. But I am determined not to take the train and to cycle in every day - up to 22km per day depending on when we are moored, which will be a good addition to my other training. 

Last night was my first opportunity to do the cycle ride, but my way was blocked by a crack willow which had cracked dramatically across the path, meaning that cyclists had to get off and somehow get themselves and their bikes under the tree! 

I was also assaulted by midges (yuck!) and found that the best way to avoid breathing them in was to wear my headband like this: (yes I'm aware I look quite silly, but it was extremely effective!)

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Friday, 17 June 2011

London Olympics 2012

Picture: the Guardian
So, it's official - I just got the email - we're going to watch some Olympic rowing at Dorney Lake next year! I applied for tickets as a very last minute 'well, why not' sort of way, but thankfully I found it all pretty straightforward with the help of the wonderful Diamond Geezer's guide to ticket application (if you've not come across his blog before, do have a look - it's fantastic). I only applied for £100 worth of tickets, in case I ended up being 'lucky' and getting them all, but in the end they only took £40 out of my account, which means that we're not going to see any finals but will see some excellent semi- and quarter- final rowing none the less. The tickets are pretty good value because you can stay all day at the lake and watch as much as you like. 

We visited Dorney by boat in 2008, and moored up close by with Warrior. Sarah and Jim fed us a delicious curry after we'd been for a walk to look at the lake itself, eerily empty and vast in the dusk light. It will be quite a different atmosphere next August, and I'm pretty excited! 

Did you apply for tickets, and if so, were you lucky?

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Thursday, 16 June 2011

Eco Fashion

I went to a clothes swap or 'Swish' a few months ago where I got a beautiful Yumi dress, and was inspired to set up my own! I teamed up with the lovely Jane of Transition Cambridge and together we've set up our own Swish, to be held at the Engineering Department on Trumpington Street next Thursday at 19:30. We'll be serving cake and cordial and hopefully there will be some beautiful things to sustainably update your wardrobe!

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Wednesday, 15 June 2011

BCN 24 hour Marathon Challenge 2011 Results and a video

So, the results are out for the BCN Challenge! Team Yeoford did reasonably well (coming in at 14/22), considering we were limited by the fact we had hired the boat and so it had to start and return to Gas Street. Our little detour up the Grand Union probably didn't help either!

Well done to Indigo Dream!

1 Muskrat 539.10

2 Atlas & Malus 506.80

3 Indigo Dream 481.25

4 Tawny Owl 475.00

5 Elemiah 453.50

6 Firefly 436.12

7 Tardebigge 430.29

8 Odana 426.13

9 Guelrose 426.00

10 Joanna + buttys 409.30

11 Kershez 400.31

12 Wandering Bark 394.73

13 Dove 368.60

14 Yeoford 352.70

15 Clara 336.80

16 More - Jam 330.60

17 Amphora 321.90

18 Brookweed 286.45

19 The Cat who walks by himself 230.97

20 Joseph the Bookboat 169.08

21 Mr Toad 163.20

22 Clarrie 138.08

Mike made an wonderful video of the weekend, as well (beware, the music's pretty loud):


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Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Bottle top boat

While we were out cruising on Saturday, we passed a chap paddling along in a somewhat small, home made boat, looking tired but determined. A bit later on, we passed a bloke with a video camera who asked if we'd seen a little boat being paddled along, and we explained that he wasn't far behind us. 
Yesterday's Cambridge News and BBC Look East explained what it was that we'd seen: the little boat was made of 10,000 melted milk bottle tops and was being paddled along the Cam to raise money for the Women's Royal Voluntary Service, who had organised the collection of so many bottle tops. He melted down the plastic lids and formed them into a little boat.

You can see a video about the boat here: and his Justgiving site is still accepting donations here, if you want to help raise money for the charity, and see a few more photos of this bizarre little craft!

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Monday, 13 June 2011

Sweet as cherry pie

The cherry tree in the cemetary near where I work is dripping with almost ripe cherries. Wondering what's the best way to make use of them - pie, jam, or just eat them as they are? Any other suggestions?

In other news, the lovely Ark shop has a sale on, and I got this dinky little cat purse for £2.95. It matches my duck bag pretty well. The keys are in the shot just because I think they look pretty, although the ribbon is mainly to help me locate them in the bottom of my bag. I used to have a bright pink lanyard with my name on but I've temporarily mislaid that set of keys. Thankfully this is only a minor mishap since I had a spare bike key and we have a combi lock on the boat.

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Sunday, 12 June 2011

Soapy Duck

My mum and Peter brought this back from Germany for us! It's a handsoap dispenser. Really, I must do a blog about all the many and various duck-related objects we have collected over the past few years. This little fellow probably wins for most useful, though - if he looks slightly green it's because he contains three normal sized bottles of blue handsoap!

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Saturday, 11 June 2011


This weekend, my mum and her partner Peter have been visiting. It has been wonderful to see them. We were both rowing in the morning but once I'd got changed out of my kit I took them both for a walk around the grounds of Jesus College, which has beautiful grounds and a sculpture collection, followed by coffee at Tatties. When James finished rowing we took them on a lovely long cruise out to our old mooring and back, as the weather was so good. The Pippins and Rhoda were about so we stopped in for a cup of tea and introductions. I also gave them some of my elderflower cordial, since I had so much of it!

At about 4pm we headed back into town as we had booked a table at the Plough, where we moored up and headed in to enjoy a delicious meal. 

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