We are continuing to tramp our way in circles on the Great Ouse between Ely and Brandon Creek, which is also known as the Little Ouse. With the number of rivers named Ouse in the UK I can only imagine that we have been as creative with naming in the past as we are at the present. Everything in Ely seems to be called Cathedral this or that (Ely has a cathedral).
Judy's mother has been unwell and in and out of hospital. As a result Judy has spent many weeks looking after her while she has been at home (along with carers, nurses and other relatives), and time travelling back and forth to visit her in hospital. The result was pretty inevitable and Judy's mum died recently. Naturally it has been a rush when she has been on the boat as we have to go to different places for the various essentials such as fuel, water, gas, shops, and pumpouts. So, the last few months has been a little bit chaotic, without producing any progress, as tends to happen at these times.
Winter has been miserable this year. It is considered by the experts to have been the coldest on record, and may well have been for many. For us it was windy and wet with temperatures just above zero over-day and just under overnight. About 40 minutes steering on the back deck at any one time has been enough. It is noticeable that the consumption of mulled wine has increased dramatically.
The most asked question of boaters is “Isn't it cold on the boat in the winter?” and my answer is invariably that the warmest place to be in the winter is on a boat. We have a wood/coal burner which we run 24/7 when it's cold outside. It puts out a fair bit of heat and as the boat is small (compared to a house) it can often be more like a sauna. Lacking a thermostat, opening windows or doors is the only remedy.
We glean a few twigs whenever we can (as they are free) to stretch out the coal (which is getting more expensive by the day). Below is the boat with said twigs. I had to be very careful where I moored the boat as the satellite receiver was a bit hemmed in.
During winter we do feed the local wildlife. We even had a robin practically come up and beg for food during a freezing period (it got fed). Pic below is our favourite swan, the black ones are so much more polite than the normal mute swans.
So, as I have very little to say, having done very little in the last few months except “boat sitting” I will try answering some of the other most asked questions. Boaters, for some reason, are a sort of public property. People think we are just here waiting for their comments and questions.
Q: Why do so many boaters have beards?
A: to be fair, it's mostly the men.
Q: Why are boaters so scruffy?
A: Working a boat is not a very clean business. Lock gear is coated in thick black grease, The inside of locks is often slimy and dank and the towpaths are often muddy, ropes end up wet and muddy. So between our cold weather gear, our wet gear and our scruffy gear somehow the wardrobe space got filled. So for full time boaters, rich and poor, (and there are a few millionaires living on the canals) scruffy is the rule (It produces a very classless society)
Q: Do boaters really hate fishermen?
A: Yes, even the boaters who fish off the backs of their boats hate fishermen.
Q: What happens if you need to see a doctor?
A: You walk in to the nearest doctors and say “I would like an appointment to see a doctor”.
Q: Do boaters pay tax?
A: Yep, we die as well.
Q: Do we pay for moorings?
A: We haven't paid for a mooring anywhere in the last three years, but it's easy to do so if you wish to.
Q: Why are you sawing up that pallet?
A: for firewood
Q: What's firewood?
A: ..................(It just depends on how old they are)
And the most common comment “I am thinking about buying a boat and living on it and I was wondering......... ”. We live in a nation of nosey liars.
And a true story. A lot of boats water storage is the prow of the boat. A couple new to living aboard were talking in the pub to some other boaters. The subject of how often they had to fill up with water came up (mostly about every 2 weeks). We must be very frugal the wife commented, we haven't needed water in 2 months. I keep checking it but there is plenty in there.
Yes they had a hole below the waterline in the prow.
We are going to visit the Lee and Stort rivers this year, For those that have never heard of them our trip looks a bit like this. Lots of bandit country (The whole of the London area is prone to vandal attack) but it keeps life interesting.
and the route planner states:
Total distance is 530.54 miles and 388 locks. There are at least 4 moveable bridges; 16 small aqueducts or underbridges and 6 tunnels.
Made up of 10.75 miles of narrow canals; 278.40 miles of broad canals; 50.66 miles of commercial waterways; 189.98 miles of small rivers; 0.75 miles of tidal rivers; 34 narrow locks; 327 broad locks; 27 large locks.
This will take 252 hours, 19 minutes which is 63 days, 19 minutes at 4 hours per day.
For calculation purposes, this is taken as 63 days
Hopefully we will think of somewhere to spend next winter before it arrives.
For those people who didn't reply last time (and I have not contacted by phone) could you give me a quick reply so that I know that you are out there. Cruising notes uses a different mailing list to my normal emails.