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The Odyssey 2010: Day 15

Posted by indigodream on 16 May, 2010

Thursday 13th May

Ashton to Wadenhoe

Lovely landscapes around here.....

Because of our decision to lay up for a day at Ashton, we weren’t under so much time pressure to start back upstream. It’s been very useful having the car for our sightseeing and this morning we had a little mooch around Peterborough. We’d been told that it is THE place for shopping locally and it certainly has more than its fair share of department stores and malls. We had a good look around but I wasn’t in the mood for spending, not least because my bank account’s looking a bit sick until I get paid for all my labours in Scotland! Richard obligingly got his credit card out, but I’m not a shopaholic and I have to be in the right frame of mind – I can hear ladies sighing from here to Timbuktu – what a missed opportunity 🙂

Nonetheless, it was good to have a look around and Richard got some new clothes, though sadly not the new waterproof walking shoes he was looking for. We hope to take a look at some of the many shoe factory outlet stores around Northampton when we get back there.

We did have a look around Peterborough Cathedral – it’s quite awesome, as are all the remaining cathedrals of this era. I can’t think of any organisation that would get away with a building on this scale today, or with the longevity of the project – Peterborough took a mere 120 years to build! But I’m so glad that the medieval church ‘squandered’ their money on these ambitious building – there’d be nothing left for us to wonder at otherwise. I doubt whether structures like London’s Gherkin will still be standing in 800 years’ time……

I was particularly taken by the large mirror table that they’ve erected under one of the more elaborate ceilings in the cathedral – it’s meant to allow you to examine the detail of the ceiling without falling over backwards but I felt as if I was falling forward into infinity……

Peterborough Cathedral - awesome....

Oh, we were fascinated by the “Brewery Tap” – a pub and possibly working brewery we passed on the way out of the city. They’ve used the domed copper top of an old brewing vat as an awning over the door. Two thoughts occurred to me – how come all that copper hasn’t been stolen yet (it’s worth a fortune) and how come the copper hasn’t oxidised to green (I thought the oxidation happened very quickly in the open air)?.

We had a good morning’s exploration and got moving from the Ashton mooring at around 3pm. We were a little sad to leave but there are certain practicalities about a countryside mooring – the big one being lack of rubbish points and, in particular, dog poo bins. Now, it may be a distasteful subject, but Indigo Dream was starting to look like a Thames barge, laden down with rubbish bags on the front deck – definitely time to move!

We enjoyed the scenery on the way back – it is a lovely stretch of river. Today we spotted a large willow plantation – not the reedy withies that you’d use for baskets but the tall straight trunks you’d use for……cricket bats! If you’re interested there’s more information about planning issues around the plantation here; apparently they’ve been harvesting cricket bat willows here for many years – as many as 40 a year for the last 30 years. Growing cricket bat willows is quite a complicated business in order to get the quality of wood needed – the Royal Forestry Society has more information here.

In no time at all we were mooring up at the King’s Head in Wadenhoe, rejoining nb Pendlewych which we’d met at Ashton. It was too early to eat (the pub was shut!) so Richard cycled back for the car. He enjoyed the trip and the picturesque villages he passed along the way. He was particularly impressed with Oundle (again), Pilton and Stoke Doyle – there are a few snaps in the photoblog…..

Later on we went for a little bobble up towards the church – there’s very good dog walking here though the fields are sometimes used for livestock so just keep a vigilant eye. The field adjacent to the church was empty so the dogs had yet another good rummage.

We went up to the pub around 7pm and got settled into the dog-friendly bar. There had been an incursion of the Welsh here – only six people but at the volume of an invading army – we do like to talk! They were down for a grand-daughter’s wedding and we had a good old chinwag. Today’s greyhound story (there’s always one!) is that one of the men used to work at a dog track in Wales, many years ago. He vividly remembered (and gave me a paw by paw description) a dog race between ‘My laddie’ and ‘Ali’ – My Laddie won after some deft fixing on the betting. I can’t find either dog on the excellent Greyhound data website but then again there was (and maybe still is) a lot of unregistered dog racing in Wales. The man himself was not a dog person – Lou looked at him most endearingly and he just ignored her – his interest in greyhounds only went so far as they used to make him money!

The staff here are lovely and we had a great meal. Later on we met the owner (who also owns Wadenhoe House where the wedding was being held). We were able to give him lots of positive feedback about his pub and he, in turn, uttered the unwise phrase ‘moor here are long as you want’. Uhm, you don’t want to saying things like that to narrowboaters – we’ll stay for the whole year! This seems to be a good spot for exploring the local villages – either by foot, bike or car. The Nene Way runs nearby and offers miles of pathway of varying quality!

Here’s an overt plug for the King’s Head Beer Festival from the 4 – 6th June – wish we could be there – the cider they have on tap is very tasty – it would have been nice to sample the guest ciders (and ales of course)! Go there if you can…….

We were well content as we drifted back to the boat and had an exceptionally quiet night…..

Photoblog:

Dizzying perspectives at Peterborough Cathedral....

This elaborately painted ceiling is apparently the original from the 12th century...

It's a dog's life in Peterborough......

Soilmec upstream of Ashton lock has at least three piling rigs in its back yard - an imposing site as you come down the river

"Summer is icumen in......." - there are little chickies everywhere - the parents weren't impressed by Indigo Dream....

These paddles are often hung from electric lines around here - we think they're to make the lines more visible to farm vehicles in the fields below. Any other guesses?

Low headroom at Upper Barnwell - if you zoom in and look closely you'll see the swallows' nests on the left hand side in the angle under the bridge

Lilford (or Lifford) Hall - what a fine pile that is.....

Below Lifford Lock....

Above Lifford Lock....

Under the spreading (horse)chestnut tree......

A view over Pilton....

The church in Stoke Doyle

Around Oundle (1)

Around Oundle (2)

Around Oundle (3)

Around Oundle (4) - some of the old gables lean backwards alarmingly.....

8 Responses to “The Odyssey 2010: Day 15”

  1. Hi

    The paddles are to stop swans flying into the lines, I have it on good authority, from a guy who works with high voltage transmission.

    ATB

    Bruce

  2. indigodream said

    Thanks Bruce, I’ve been wondering about that for ages!

    The blogging community has been so helfpul in solving these little conundrums – it’s great!

  3. indigodream said

    Bruce, your comment was very helpful – Richard’s done some digging and found some articles to confirm that bird strikes on power lines is a real problem and the poor swans often die later of their injuries – how horrible. We found a research paper here http://www.conservationevidence.com/Attachments/PDF1293.pdf – it’s not for the faint hearted.

    There’s also confirmation that the energy companies are on board with this in the Cambridgeshire area – http://www.edfenergy.com/media-centre/press-news/Energy-company-saves-swans-and-power-supplies.shtml and a little bit about the technicalities – http://www.clydesdale.net/view_products_02.asp?productID=188&siteIndexID=6&sectionIndexID=25.

    Swans can also be diverted by red/yellow plastic ‘springs’ on the wires – the paddle design looks more visible to me but then again, I’m not a swan!

  4. Kath said

    Hi there you two. My question is this: how easy is it to find parking for the car at rural places. Is it okay to ‘park’/ abandon cars on wide verges for instance? I will be setting off on my own trip next weekend and am not sure about protocol on where I can and cannot leave a car for a day or two without upsetting the locals. For instance first night is in Osberton Estate (think I will be okay here) but the next two overnight stops are simply where I have spotted a road bridge crossing the canal on the map and on the ground this may not be suitable. To start with I need to find fairly rural locations to bed the cat in gently to her new life afloat. I have not thought much further ahead than this as I don’t want to overload my panic module due to the River Trent obstacle I have to overcome!

    Thanks
    Kath
    nb.bobcat

  5. indigodream said

    Hi Kath

    When you start it is a bit of a worry, particularly as we leave our boat behind. You need to take a deep breath and go for it! I have no idea if we have just blundered through but we have had no problems with car parking.

    Towns are relatively easy, I will normally try to find a quiet residential street or somewhere with cctv coverage. Sometimes I need to resort to station car parks or council car parks eg in Central Birmingham but quite a few have some sort of pay by phone arrangement which makes life easy. Out in the countryside you sometimes need to try a few bridges before you find somewhere to park, we have always managed to find somewhere within sensible proximity. Commonsense obviously needs to be applied but I feel more relaxed about security in rural areas but I am concerned about causing an obstruction, hence sometimes leaving the car in a village a few minutes away or the next bridge where there may be unofficial parking arrangements (never had any comment from upset locals, the fishermen don’t seem to get upset either).

    I can’t give you any advice about cats other than make sure that any boats with greyhounds on know that you have a cat (we often ask in very rural areas). The crew of Matilda Rose seem to have their cat arrangements very well sorted so talk to Jill if you want to find out more – http://www.contentedsouls.blogspot.com/

    Cycling hints: If you cycle a lot then don’t read further. I use an old hybrid bike (ie something halfway between a racer and a mountain bike), I like it a lot as easy on roads and ok on most towpaths. I bought folding pedals for it, they are wonderful as they make the bike easier to stow away and allow it to sit flatter on the roof. I carry an allen key (one of many we have from Mr Ikea) so that I can twist the handlebars round, again makes it easier to chuck the bike into the car boot and most importantly the bike then sits flat enough on the roof that Sue can see over it. Oh and get a decent saddle, suited to you and your needs.

    River Trent: We have never been there – draw a line from Liverpool to London and generally we have not been north of that line so I don’t really know what you are about to face! Before we bought a share in a boat (ie pre-Indigo Dream days) we went on a RYA Helmsman’s certificate course with Malcolm at http://www.toplocktraining.co.uk/ near Marple. Absolutely fantastic, highly recommended even for a bloke who thinks he can drive anything because he is a bloke. If Marple is too far, look who is local to you on the RYA website – http://www.rya.org.uk/coursestraining/Pages/default.aspx. For our first trip on the Thames Tideway we booked an instructor to give us some tuition, that was also very valuable, if only to re-assure us that we were doing things right. Now I am sure I read that you managed quite an adventurous first trip so you clearly know what you are doing. However if you are worried about the Trent then get an instructor to give you a days general tuition and make sure you time it so it is on the worse possible bit of the Trent and the worse possible time … If the trainers are anything like Bircham Newton were for our Thames Trip then they will come up with useful hints.

    Do enjoy your journeys, the boat looks fantastic.

    Richard

  6. Kath said

    Wow

    I didn’t expect quite such a full reply. Thank you very much all hints very useful, for now the bike will rest on the front deck as no motorbike there yet. So no need for the folding pedals any time soon, and I am sure the motorbike will share if/when they are both on there together. I am not a true biking afficionado and have the biggest most comfortable seat on my bike. It is lovely. The sales woman didn’t want to sell it to me she said “you do realise it is meant for the ‘larger lady’?”

    Too late for the trainer though as Trent looming quite soon (I must charge up the radio)! I will be making sure that I have crew and/or another boat travelling at the same time if possible. Especially as the boat is essentially ‘untried’. I also (after the last time) will only be doing relatively short hops on the Tidal Trent. Fetching the car will be awkward at that stage as many times the boat and I will be on one side of the Trent and the car on the other! I will probably leave the cat at home for the stretch through Newark and Nottingham as mooring locations are few and far in between and worrying about the cat is one thing I could do without at that stage!

    Well here goes nothing, see you on the other side.
    Kath

  7. ditch said

    Received your comments

  8. indigodream said

    Thank you!
    Richard

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