Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Here comes the sun

Huntingdon- St. Neots

10 miles, 4 locks

In which the Duck and its crew brave some odd landing stages designed for cruisers, get back into the swing ofmanual locks, and finish up in St. Neots- enjoying wonderful sunshine all the way.

Today we were very lazy and watched the sun sparkle on the bedroom ceiling for ages before getting up. My reluctance to emerge from the duvet was, I think, caused by reading a book by Stephen Fry until half past two the previous night- it was simply too good to put down!

However, eventually we set off and watched the sun start to peep through the grey clouds. We observed several useful moorings along the way, and having passed through Godmanchester Lock, we found Brampton Lock a bit more of a challenge. The lock landing stages have been designed for cruisers, and this particular stage required you to approach it at right angles, make a sharp turn, and end up alongside. Perfectly possible if you've got an outboard motor or a Z-drive on a boat that can turn on a sixpence- but the Duck isn't quite that maneuverable... in the end, I let the wind blow the boat onto it, which was the easier option!


The locks were all against us, which slowed our progress, but just before lunch- soup, taken on the move- the sunscreen had to come out, as the sun emerged from behind the clouds.

Amy and I shared the steering, and I abandoned her (deliberately) to enter St. Neots lock by herself, which she managed perfectly despite a very strong cross-wind. This lock is massive, over a hundred feet long and about 12 foot in width, with a fall and rise of about ten feet. Amy managed to cover herself in slime from the lock wall whilst she attached the centre rope to a vertical cable- her screams were very girlie! (Apparently, it was "very slimy slime" and she didn't like it.)

Finally we made it into St. Neots, and moored up on some floating pontoon moorings right in the centre of town. We plan on using these and other local moorings in the future, as it's only a 40 minute bus ride from here into Cambridge on the infamous X5 bus- which has now been revamped with leather seats, air conditioning and wifi, so the commute might well be quite pleasant.

We visited the Waitrose supermarket having looked around the town, and established that the bus stop is a mere three minute walk from the mooring- convenient! Once back at the boat, we filled up the water tank (having been lied to on two previous occasions by the IMRAY guide, which promised water points which turned out to be non-existent) and had a wonderful picnic in the sun by the boat, with choc ices, quiche, cake, and sausage rolls.

The floating pontoon here attracted a few groups of local children, however one group- having been smoking and playfighting- decided to leave in a hurry after one of their number fell in. The soggy hoodie trailed home, followed by his mates, and we restrained laughter.

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