Saturday, 30 May 2009

The Hills are Alive

This blog post is brought to you from the top of Pike of Stickle, above Langdale, where we are spending the weekend, with some friends. I can't post photos from up here but there will be some spectacular ones when we get home!


The post was made from the top of this peak. More on the whole weekend later!

Thursday, 28 May 2009

The Duck's Quack

has, thanks to John, just got louder.

He came across a vintage Klaxon in a charity shop, gave it the full John treatment (oiling it us and making it work nicely) and then when we came over yesterday evening, showed it to James. Who promptly fell in love. So, yes, we will soon have a proper loud-noise-making-thing that says 'HOLD IT UP' like nothing on earth. I dutifully rolled my eyes and tutted at the idea when we first saw it, but I do rather like it, and it has made James extremely happy!

In other news, we had a very positive result from our home visit, and Lyra will be coming to live with us sometime next week, hopefully! The two who came to visit us from rescue centre were very taken with the boat and the location and agreed with us that it would be an ideal place for a cat to live!

Saturday, 23 May 2009

Family Matters

Our day started with news of a tragedy. Yesterday evening, five of our swans' new brood had been washed over a weir and could not be revived. John describes the full story here, and we heard it from him as we were just leaving for our respective rowing outings.

When we were both back on land, we met up with James' dad, brother and cousin at the Museum of Technology, where they were visiting an exhibition, so decided to combine a visit to the Duck. The boys enjoyed poring over the various engines on display, and I learned all about the various Listers that James' dad has owned and displayed over the years.

Wet cells on display at the museum

We took the opportunity to pick up lots of petrol in James' dad's car, before heading back out to the mooring. Luke, the cousin, was quite fascinated by the boat' you've got everything you need, just here!' 'its amazing, you look out of the window and see water!' It was great to see them! The swans were also about, acting very protectively about their remaining two cygnets.

Mum looks after her babies

We are now enjoying the evening sun, sitting on a lovely new set of tables and chairs that John and Jackie have picked up which were 'free to a good home' in the village. An application of sugar soap and linseed oil are rendering them quite lovely.

Friday, 22 May 2009

Special Visitors

This blog really has become a series of cute fluffy animal photos but I can't help but put these ones up!

Yesterday morning, as I was cycling to work I noticed a proud pair of swans with a freshly-hatched brood of cygnets. I thought they might possibly be Flanders and Swann, 'our' pair who John blogged about recently, but this wasn't confirmed until last night when we heard a commotion of peeping and the whole family came past our moorings! 

It was too dark to get any photos but luckily this morning they came by again, just as I was about to set off. John and Jackie feed them so they are regular visitors to Pippin, and know how to tap on the side hatch until it opens and the special swan food is distributed! It seemed that they had brought their new family over to show off to Pippin and get fed!

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Our new companion

After much indecisiveness, we have elected to call our cat Lyra. We are still yet to have a home visit, and then she may still have to have another vaccination before she comes to us, but we can't wait!

Lyra is a constellation but also the heroine of the His Dark Materials trilogy by Phillip Pullman.

Lyra is also a Star-class butty, so the name has plenty of canal connections! Granny Buttons wrote about Pullman and Lyra here: and the boat itself is now used as a floating shop and workshop by Ben Selfe of Knot Crazy, who makes traditional ropework fenders.

Butty Lyra

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Hello Zindagi!

I cycled past NB Zindagi this morning, moored at the Waterbeach 48s, and thought that I recognised the name. And lo! I looked them up to find that they are fellow bloggers at and they are exploring the Fens! So welcome to the Flatlands, Dave and Val, and maybe we'll see you as you pass our mooring!

Monday, 18 May 2009

Settlers of the Cam

Yesterday, James coxed the Champs VIIIs Head while I went to work. Afterwards, what was supposed to be a few minutes on Kestrel to let (big)James know what the boat's time was turned into dinner and a couple of games of Settlers of Catan.

Image from flikr

I was introduced to this excellent game by a friend during my third year at university. Simple in concept, it involves colonising an island by building roads, settlements and cities using resources gained according to your positions on the board and traded with other players. In concept it is quite non-violent, but it brings out the competitor and ruthless trader in even the most demure of character! I wasted many long hours playing it whilst at university but hadn't played since graduating, so I was pretty excited to get my hands on a set again, even though it was just the little travel version. I had at various times in the past, enthused about this game to my James, so was glad to have a chance to show him how much fun it is. Being a competitive sort by nature he loved it as much as I though he would.

(big) James was the winner of both our games last night but I always enjoy it whether I win or not. A rematch will certainly be required, however, and if one of us gets the expansion pack, we could introduce more of our friends to this game! It was even suggested that we could make our own version, Settlers of the Cam, where boaters endeavour to take over the river from the rowers or vice versa.

While scouring the internet for an image of the game I found that there seems to be a trend for creating edible versions of the game, using cupcakes! More images of the individual cakes here.

Saturday, 16 May 2009


The title refers to two things.

Firstly, to my unfortunate capsize in a four this morning (it was very windy and bowside's blades got caught under the concrete bank. We toppled in slowly, but no-one was hurt, we just got a bit wet!)

Secondly to our visit to the Blue Cross in the afternoon. We fell in love with a beautiful little tortoiseshell cat who goes by the name of April. She was a stray so its impossible to know exactly how old she is, but the shelter estimates her to be about 6 or 7 months old. She was friendly, excitable, and seems like the sort of cat who would make the most of our lovely setting. In a couple of weeks time the Blue Cross will come to our mooring to give us a home visit, and if they are happy, she will be able to come home soon after that! This isn't a good photograph, she was rushing about too much to capture, but she is beautiful, with huge green eyes, and lovely brindled fur.

This evening, our friend and her four year old son came to visit us at our mooring, which was great fun. The boys raced around on the grass, and when he left, Yano got a ride in John III's trolley! We also had a nice few drinks as the sun went down aboard Pippin, which was very welcome.

Now we are definitely NOT watching Eurovision. Oh no, that would be far too trashy... Ahem.

We also have to choose a name for the new addition to our family. April is pretty but she only got it because she was picked up as a stray in that month... Current ideas include Quantum (Jess has always believed in the presence of a cat which may or may not exist aboard our boat) and Leander. More suggestions welcome!

Friday, 15 May 2009

Multi storey parking

Cambridge style...

Gwydir St this morning

In other news, we are going to go cat shopping tomorrow afternoon! A full report will follow.

Monday, 11 May 2009

Having kittens?

Now that we have a permanent mooring, in such lovely surroundings, we are again turning our thoughts to the adoption of cats and/or kittens. Looking at the Blue Cross website, I came across several cats for whom the centre in Cambridge is looking for 'plenty of freedom, away from busy roads and preferably somewhere with a large garden or in a rural setting' which is exactly what we can provide out at our tranquil mooring.

Both of these two are used to an outdoor existence, so our location would be perfect!

A trip to the rescue centre is in order, I think, but we probably won't take any furry friends home for a few months yet.

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Gratutious cute fluffy animals photo No.2

Ducklings resting with their mother on the pontoon where the Clare punt lives.

I had a very rivery day yesterday (more so than normal anyway). It began (obviously) with waking up on my boat, followed by a cycle down the river to Queens' boathouse, where I then got in an VII to row back in the direction I'd come from. I retired to the library to complete some job applications, before meeting up with James at Clare College, where we had a picnic by the river before collecting the keys to the Clare punt. We went for a trip up and down the river, James skilfully avoiding several collisions with the vast numbers of inept tourists and inebriated students who flock to Cam on sunny days. Best quote of the day "We are now approaching St John's College, where the hat was invented in 1492" by a guy who was clearly parodying the Scudamores tour guides. It was also hilarious to hear that Mr ASBO has now become included in the punt tour guides' shpeil! 

St Johns Kitchen Bridge, the lowest bridge on the Backs. Would the Duck get under, we wonder? 

After our punt trip, we wandered over to Kestrel to see if anyone was in, and stopped by for a cup of tea before heading to B&Q to buy an anglegrinder. James has lost the keys to his bike lock so we were resorting to desperate measures! When we got back to our mooring (my by bike back along the river again) James was very excited to try out his new toy. John gave him a quick lesson in how not to chop his fingers off, and the bike was soon freed from its shackles.

Friday, 8 May 2009

My commute to work

is along this lovely track:

And this morning I had the luck to chance upon this little rabbit at the side of the path. It stayed still just long enough for me to photograph it, before darting off.

Sunday, 3 May 2009

Maverick to Iceman- the Cheese is On The Train...

John found that he couldn't take Pippin into Cambridge on Saturday, because we'd closed the river. That's partially true; our rowing club, Chesterton, was organising the Head of the Cam race on the morning and early afternoon of the day.

Emma on Kestrel has worked like a trooper (or is it trouper? I don't know) organising 150 boats into some semblence of order, extracting money from students (very hard!) and trying to accomodate requests along the lines of, "our third boat might have to share a boat with our second boat if our strokeman doesn't get back from Heidelburg on time, in which case we would like to row in the second division, otherwise we'd like to row in the first. Unless it's a full moon". (That's a very slight exageration, but you get my drift!) and, as always, the event was oversubscribed and we had to turn things away. Big James sorted out numbers, and I think that only Jess' lack of opposable thumbs saved her from having to assist...

The day itself was bright and sunny, and fantastically warm. The event ran very smoothly; the first division of boats went off five minutes late- which is very good going- and the second was about to start five minutes early when it was announced over the radio network that Georgina was on the course, so we couldn't set the boats off racing. They had scheduled a trip onto the course, and despite being emailed twice and telephoned about it, claimed ignorance. We'd have officially changed the times we were racing if they had asked, and then no-one would have been upset. In the end, we got them off a mere ten minutes after the scheduled time, and although that delayed us starting the third division, we were only five minutes late finishing overall- which, bearing in mind some races on the Cam finish over two- and some even three!- hours late, is pretty good going!

Feeling jubilant, we returned all the kit- and I had to give back my loudhailer, or, rather, James had to pull it from my resisting hands!- and after throughly congratulating Emma on a job well done,retired to the pub. We discussed suggestions, some serious- getting more radios- and some not so serious, like the radio call signs we ought to have used. "Start" and "Finish" are boring, we apparently should use others- from Top Gun and other assorted films- and should use coded phrases too- "the badger has left the sett" and "The weasel is eating the begonias"; or, alternatively, "the cheese is on the train".

After a few G&Ts and other such refreshments, in the evening sun, we decided to return to the Duck in style aboard Kestrel. While visiting the pump-out, we saw how busy all the visitor moorings were- completely full, because of the bank holiday weekend. Luckily, now we have a permanent mooring, that's not a problem for us any more!

We headed off into the dying light, and made Clayhithe by nine. After a convivial (but tired) dinner of pizza, we headed off back along the floodbank in the light of the moon, leaving Emma and James- and of course Jess- to a well-deserved good night's rest.

Friday, 1 May 2009

Stuck Duck

This evening we had planned to take the Duck into Cambridge. Our club, Chesterton Rowing Club, is organising the Head of The Cam race tomorrow, and we had planned to use the Duck as a toilet stop for the Red Cross volunteers who are on standby all day in case something goes wrong.

So we reversed out carefully, and set off. Not long after, I heard the engine cut out and a series of expletives from James. We had lost drive and the Duck was drifting towards the bank: the coupling had come loose again. James was able to tighten up the bolts but he noticed that the shaft was looking pretty worn. We started up the engine and I carried on doing the washing up. About twenty minutes later exactly the same thing happened, but this time we were opposite moored boats and were unable to get into the bank before the stream caught us. Using poles, we were able to get back into the bank without hitting anyone but it was a bit scary, especially as the stretch of river above Baits Bite lock is currently frequented by first boats who use it for fast pieces, and could at any moment come hurtling around the corner.

So we decided to turn around and head back to our mooring, rather than risk being stranded in Cambridge, with no drive. Moving slowly with the stream, we limped back. All in all, a very scary and frustrating evening, patricularly as we will no longer be able to act as loo-boat. But at least we've got somewhere to stay while we fix it!