Friday, 30 May 2014

Just out of Reach

Does that remind you of a song title ... Something about two empty arms?? Must Google it. Onmthemothwr hand, we are moored just on the edge of Reach in Cambridgeshire.  We're at the end of navigation . Just enough room to turn QISMA and on 48 hour GOBA moorings. It does say that we should only moor here with advance permission from the Parish Council. None of the books or maps say this and there is no phone number. We're staying!!

Before we set off this morning NB MASIBERT and NB BAROLA came past on the way to Cambridge. They'd been to Burwell. Next stop for us.BAROLA is a past winner of Best in Show at Crick. We saw her on the Caldon not long afterwards.

The one feature on the 3 miles of Reach Lode

it's a port ... who knew that??

Our mooring

We ARE there!

And our view  we can only hear birdsong

The fantastic Dykes End pub ...  we'd been looking forward to visiting and it did not disappoint. Going back tomorrow.

Thursday, 29 May 2014


Not forever thank goodness but for the 2 hours and 37 minutes it took to carry out the Boat Safety Certificate inspection yesterday. LJ and I wandered the river and the length and breadth of Ely. My original plan of a walk and then into Peacocks for ...  Something with cheese obviously...was foiled by half term. The dog friendly room was packed all afternoon with yummies and ankle biters.

QISMA will be 4 in July so the inspection is mandatory. Alistair had 30 years of worrying about Maritime and Coastguard Inspections during his time in the RFA.  The further up the chain he went, the more responsibility for success or the alternative! He is therefore pre-programmed to worry.

I can almost here the thoughts .... But the boat is only 4 years old, what can possibly be wrong? Hmm. I returned after an hour to be told it's going to fail and will take at least another hour. Off we went.

Seems the purpose built cupboard for our batteries didn't pass muster. He wasn't happy that no rubber mats covered the batteries - though that seems dangerous to me but what do I know? He,said that because gas pipe ran behind,this wooden facia, he could make us rip it out!,And there was too much soot in the chimney!

Alistair went behind doing self  help. The high quality foam that the useless tv sat nav came in was sacrificed, as were,some,rubber backed mats. With that and some additional roping down.... we got through. Too stressed to celebrate!

Meanwhile in Ely. A new addition to the new addition on the waterfront.

 LJ's favourite Ely walk in the grounds if the Cathedral.

 And a fix of goslings to make up for lack of cygnets

Monday, 26 May 2014

Cygnet watch

Since we arrived on the Old West River our resident pair of swans have been looking after their eggs. We were told, for six weeks, so knew that,the action was imminent. The,first cygnets arriVed on Saturday evening. We has the,full contingent,yesterday but it was only today, when they took to the water, that we saw there were seven.

They've been out oppositE the boat this afternoon. How lucky are we?

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Friday, 23 May 2014

It's all about Mr and Mrs Jason Isbell

I abandoned ship on Tuesday. Headed by train to Nottingham to see/hear Amanda Shires at The Maze with my friend Eileen - a fellow music lover and fan of  The Marvellous Mr Curtis Stigers. I only mention Mr S because from last summer on he was raving on and on about Southeastern, a new record from singer and songwriter Jason Isbell.

At the time, I confess, I had never heard of Jason Isbell but with the help of Google and YouTube ... I was there! Downloaded Southeastern in November when it was available in UK and joined the #spreadtheword  campaign.

I can honestly say for months and months, I went to sleep with a track from Southeastern playing in my head and woke up with a track playing in my head, most likely something different. I extended my collection to Live from Alabama and Here We Rest and ...  carried on spreading the word. With success as far away as New Zealand. Peter and Vicki getting to see them in Auckland before we did here.

Amanda Shires, is Mrs Isbell and as well as touring with Jason and his band, the 400 Unit, is a multi talented  musician and singer songwriter  herself. Down Fell the Doves and then Carrying Lightening quickly on the ipad.

Other fans of Mr S went down the same path. Collectively we were thrilled when tour dates for Ananda were announced.

Cup running over etc etc when days later same for Jason.

So this week I had THE most amazing time. Seeing Amanda and her base player Stephanie in Nottingham was just a delight. Then I scooted over to Manchester to meet up with Justine, fellow Stigers fan etc etc, and her husband Stuart  for what can only be described as a wild night of rock and roll.  (They saw Amanda in Shrewsbury on Monday)

Two very different styles of music. Amanda has the purest voice and entranced. Because The Maze is a small venue we were fortunate to spend a bit if time sitting and talking to her after the show and she was sweet and funny and very open with us.

Manchester just rocked.  By luck, Jason was outside as we arrived so were able to say hi and pass on Amanda's love as requested - though there is clearly no need for strangers to be doing that.

I was still buzzing yesterday.

I know they will be back, together or separately. So will I.

Now in the calm at Tyruched to collect mail and car. Back on QISMA tomorrow,

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Tom Cruise is NOT Jack Reacher

Luck was with us over the weekend. I let our friends Jay and Michael know we'd arrived and would soon have the car. Turned out they were going to be in  Cambridgeshire over the weekend. So came for lunch on Sunday - the first barbecued leg of lamb for 2014!  We hadn't seen them since their wedding last October.  They had tried to find us in Newbury as the passed through earlier this years but we were in Wales.

Jay had brought limes  so .......

 LJ just wanted to go swimming ..... Will one of you take me?

We saw a swan attack a rower in a small inflatable who got too near his nest - the eggs still not hatched. Pretty scary. 

Into Ely on Monday ready for me to hit the road on Tuesday. Concerts to go to people to see!! Michael, who is from US couldn't quite believe I was seeing Amanda Shires and Jason Isbell? Not bad for an old bird. 

Sadly, only saw Mum and Dad this time.

Early evening Monday we caught up with  Tweet and Bloggers  Fen moorers and owners of  Mr Perkins cat Caity and Colin from @Nb_narrowescape and shared a bottle of wine.  Glad they made it down in time from their boat blacking at Earith. Turns out, amongst other things, we are all in agreement Tom Cruise is not Jack Reacher. 

Friday, 16 May 2014

Peacocks or bust!

Back into Ely on Wednesday. This time to moor, do some shopping, be poised for the market yesterday and to have lunch at Peacocks!

I loved it but the menu must have changed, out of maybe 12 choices of sandwich, only 2 without cheese. And when they delivered Alistair's ham and pickle they had put cheese on it! I'm not sue I'll get him back anytime soon! 

Still, a drink at Cutters helped.

 And we did have our favourite mooring.

 And rather cute neighbours, hatched that morning.

Then back home!

 Over the fields to Ely Cathederal.

 Soon there will be more neighbours!

I know some will be wondering why we've taken a mooring when we could just continue to cruise. It is a big expense but we fell in love with the Fenland waterways and want to stay ... At least for a good while and we know the winters are likely to be tough. - well windy anyway! The chance of a mooring on the Old West in this beautiful spot was just too hard to resist. 

Good to know that a 90 day visitor licence for Cambridge is reduced to around £40/5 for QISMA. I think the take up was ver poor last year. 

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Feels like coming home

Ely - our favourite spot 

Arriving at the Old West River 

The view from the marina

Moored in Ely


We've booked in at the marina and back into to Ely ready for market day tomorrow, Thursday. Ticks already for Peacocks and Cutters. Sun out ... What could be better.  What could be better! 

Before we left today, three boats pitched up for fuel. Last seen by us somewhere near Ripon in 2011. We learnt that one of them almost sank on the Bristol Channel ... A story Alistair heard from our pilot and the reason our pilot no longer takes a convoy! 

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Was that the sound of corks popping?

Since we left Newbury we've covered 326 miles. Been through 286 locks and sailed up the Bristol Channel. All to reach the waterway we fell in love with last year.  Although it is cause for celebration, instead of popping corks, we're toasting our arrival with some favourite red wine. The weather is a bit murky so. Ore of a blazing fire, red wine, sort of evening,

Photos of the Middle Levels too numerous to post. But here's a selection.

And the sandbank outside Salters Lode Lock

To say he had,some difficulty would be an understatement!  40 minutes,to get him in. Lock keeper was brilliant. Lisa from the boat says they were sent down an hour early so no wonder not enough water for them! They must have been frantically worried. 

 Where did that sandbank go?

And finally, some  326 miles and 285 locks later

Our first mooring