Monday 19th to Sunday 25th September 2011

Not a lot of time left in the day to write this but in summary we’ve been through Ely, down to Brandon Creek, through Denver, onto the Relief Channel and back up to Denver to await Monday’s tidal crossing to Middle Earth.

A couple of happenings come to mind, like leaving my keys at the service point in Ely and a mad night of Farkle with Kass and Joe during their stop-over Saturday night.

The key problem was solved by catching a train from Downham Market to Ely and hunting down the boat that followed us to the water point on Wednesday.
Mission accomplished, I count the £7 train fare a pittance against the cost of replacing all the keys on the key-ring plus its (untested) cork float.

There was another highlight, apart from living with V and even then only half as exciting, which was getting a tour of the Dutch barge Flevo.

Even now I’m still having the occasional “absence” where I’m steering Flevo down the Gt. Ouse, past Kings Lynn and turning right not left at the waves. I’d have to be a lot more careful with her because, unlike Balmaha, she only has a 5mm bottom and I can imagine she’d be a lot less forgiving than this boat when it comes to grounding on bricks, angle iron and supermarket trollies. But who wouldn’t want that challenge? Maybe one day eh, we’ll just have to see.

Our week ended on a high when Kass and Joe drove up to stay the night before Joe’s birthday.
This was only the second time I’d seen the dice game Farkle but I played like a pro and took the trophy but not without calls of cheat-cheat. How they imagine I can influence the dice falling from a cup I could not tell you but my scoring so incensed ‘someone’ that my hand was confiscated on more than one occasion. There are some poor losers in our family.
All was forgiven by Sunday morning, Joe’s special day. Things to eat, wear and put in the bank (some hope) should keep him going for a couple of days.

Cousin Roger and captain Babs called in during the week and we caught up on events since we last met on the Thames cruise organised by SPCC back in May this year.

Their boat Megan is finally off the Basingstoke Canal having been craned out because no one could guarantee passage down to the Thames this or any other year, such is the uncertainty on that navigation.

V and I walked along the river bank at Stowbridge on Saturday to see the tide turn. I was really looking forward to seeing the famous east-coast Aegre but as it happened the tide turned without announcement and I returned home a little deflated.

And so to Denver once again, this time under the skipperage of Joe who can’t be parted from his trusted deck-hand Kass.

Tomorrow’s tide is early in the morning so we’ll be up before the sun, armed with photographs of the sand banks outside the lock and waiting for the signal sometime after 8am.
Must remember to ask if it’s a rising or a falling tide, it makes a difference when turning into Salter’s Lode, especially on an equinox spring tide.

But however we encounter the lock entrance, whether we clout the wall or overshoot, there shouldn’t be anyone but the lockie to see us.

This signals the end of our summer cruise, we’ll take it slow and easy from here, pausing to savour the Nene, exploring the odd bits we’ve missed out in previous years when we’ve dashed to and from the Fens.

We’ll miss the blue-green water, the slack mooring lines, speed limits faster than we can manage and the wide open spaces. Cormorants, grebe and fish visible on the bottom will become memories, so will cheerful anglers but I have to say we shan’t miss the 48 hour mooring restrictions.