Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Conkers Past and Present.

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When I was growing up in Watford conkers were an autumnal pastime for kids to play. Apparently Health and Safety now frown upon this game without the use of a visor, what a bunch of party poopers. I don’t recall anybody ever getting injured with them.

Living on Gypsy Rover we were told that conkers were a good way to deter spiders coming aboard and it seemed to work as we had very few. However with this blight now attacking Horse Chestnut tree’s conkers may become a thing of the past as tree’s around here have very little on them.  Dot went foraging for some as we have a few of the little blighters appearing in the flat.  She only managed to find these four, so hopefully they will have the desired result.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Wrong Bus Stop!

This weeks bus trip was changed at the last minute due to our failure to ascertain the correct bus stop. We had planned to catch the Stagecoach X9 bus to Chatteris. While waiting at the wrong bus stop we watched as our intended mode of transport motored off into the distance without us.

All was not lost as there was a Norfolk Green bus to Wisbech which is a town we have not yet visited . Upon arrival in Wisbech we headed down to the Yacht Harbour where the River Nene was just about at low tide. The floating pontoon’s had a normal movement of about 12 – 15 feet between tides but in time of flooding still had as much again. Here, as in Kings Lynn we found flood gates and walls with access steps over them. Scary to think that the river can rise to such heights.

Wisbech 008 Wisbech Yacht Harbour on the River Nene at low tide.

Wisbech 009Wisbech flood gates.

The cemetery of the St Peter’s & St Paul’s church in the centre of town has been turned into a beautiful inner city garden which was obviously enjoyed by many locals. The church itself was also of interest having been started in 1181 featuring many architectural styles including a double nave and a very large organ which when cranked up to full volume would rattle the rafters. The 16th Century tower houses a peel of ten bells.

Wisbech 032 St Peter and St Paul Church, Wisbech.

Wisbech 024 The beautiful organ in St Peter and St Paul Church. Wisbech.

Wisbech 025The High Altar and stained glass window in St Peter and St Paul Church, Wisbech.

Wisbech 022 St Peter and St Paul Church Cemetery now an inner city park.

Around the corner was the Wisbech Museum giving the history of shipping and trading carried on through the port from around the world. Among the famous people of Wisbech were Octavia Hill who campaigned for better housing for the poor and was a founder member of the National Trust. Another famous son was Thomas Clarkson who was the so of the headmaster of the local Grammar school and devoted his life to the abolition of slavery. He is remembered by a very impressive memorial tower in Bridge street.

Wisbech 038Memorial to Thomas Clarkson who campaigned for the abolition of slavery.

At one point we thought we were back in Bath because of a delightful Georgian built crescent of 3 storey houses. At the end of the crescent is what is called the Castle, the term being an historical hand me down.  A Norman castle did stand on the site  bought about by the Norman Conquest. The castle was replaced in 1478 by the Bishop’s Palace which lasted until the 17th century when it was again replaced by another mansion. The current Regency Villa was built in 1816. Only the gate piers of the original mansion now remain. The previously mentioned Georgian Villa’s were built following the circular shape of the original Castle moat. All this history is just mind boggling.

Wisbech 035It was a castle in the Norman days. It has been replaced 5 times to it's present Regency Villa.

Wisbech 036 The Crescent, Wisbech follows the old line of the Castle moat.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Cruising Matilda Rose again.

Another invite to crew on Matilda Rose was gratefully accepted this morning and by 10.30am we were back on board at their Whittlesey mooring. As it was only 4 miles to Stanground lock where you have to book your passage through, there was no immediate hurry.

The plan was to moor at Peterborough where we were to catch up with Joe and Lesley on Nb Caxton who at the time of our departure from Whittlesey were only just leaving Ramsey about 2 hours behind us.

While Dot was at the helm Graham and I were busily fish spotting in the crystal clear water. We spotted pike from a few ounces up to a strangely patterned 6 or 7 pounder. Instead of the usual stripe pattern of a Pike it was more like that of a Turtle. A couple of shoals of large Chub were also seen and plenty of shoals of small fry.

At Stanground lock we had only just pulled onto the lock landing when Tina, the lock keeper waved us in 40 minutes ahead of schedule. After a quick stop for diesel it was out onto the river Nene where after doing a large figure of 8 we finally found a suitable mooring to await the arrival of Joe and Lesley on Caxton.

Peterborough 004 Tina and George or is it Simba at Stanground lock? George could be Simba (our cat in New Zealand) identical twin brother with the same markings. Unbelievable!.  Tina is the lock keeper at Stanground lock as were her father and grandfather before her.

After getting re-acquainted with Joe, Lesley,and dog’s Fletcher and Floyd there was just enough time for a chat and a coffee before we had to walk into town to catch the bus back to March. If we missed the 6pm bus it was a 2 ½ hour wait for the next one which wouldn’t get us home until about 10pm.

Once again thanks to Graham, Jill, Mutley and Baxter for another brilliant day on the water. It was great to meet up with Joe and Lesley again,  and it won’t be the last time we meet up with these four fellow bloggers.

Friday, 17 September 2010

Rainbow over the Fens!

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Drawn back again.

Yesterday morning after our daily shopping trip we spotted Nb Matilda Rose on the town moorings. As we walked down Elwyn road opposite the moorings we couldn’t see anybody on board so Dot rang them on her mobile. It transpired that Graham was on board and invited us down for a coffee.

march 075Henry and Hector the Middle Level Commissions weed catcher and weed cutter on the Fens.

We had not long been on board when Jill returned from a trip walking the dogs. Needless to say there was a lot to talk about and we eventually went home for lunch about 3 hours later with an invite to return that evening for a curry. Another 4 ½ hours of chit chat that evening over a lovely curry and a very fattening chocolate fudge cake that Graham couldn’t resist from Sainsbury’s, Eventually we had to leave before Graham wilted like an old flower, poor fella had had a long day.  We did however get another invite to cruise with them today up to Whittlesey.

march 079 Ashline lock Whittlesey.

Needless to say we were back on board by 10am this morning ready to go. Graham decided it was time for a day off so Dot and I were left in charge of the tiller. Other than it being overcast and windy with a short shower of rain it was a very enjoyable day back on the water. Arrival at the moorings at the Whittlesey sport centre and it was time for home made soup and bread made by Jill and Graham respectively.

march 080 Happy chappie Graham from Nb Matilda Rose.

Around 5pm and it was time to head off into town to catch our bus back to March. Thanks guys for a brilliant day out. See you again Saturday!

march 083 Graham checking the moorings at Whittlesey.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

St Margarets Church Kings Lynn

Kings Lynn 046St Margarets, Kings Lynn under going restoration, after 900 years

Just back from the waterfront we visited St Margaret’s Church. This was one of 2 that were built by the Bishop of Norwich, the other being St Peter’s at Great Yarmouth. Building commenced in 1101 and took several generations to complete. It’s more the size of a Cathedral than a church. Due to the soft terrain under the foundations of the church the builders laid many, many Oak tree’s infilled with ton’s of shellfish shell’s. With the water table only 2 feet below the floor, the church has no crypt. Some of the wall’s and pillar’s have a distinct lean but they have been standing all those decades so they will probably be standing for quite a few more yet. The pews closest to the altar were solid timber over 600 years old.

Kings Lynn 037 The monks were not allowed to sit during service but they did rest on the little ledge on the back of the fold down seat. They are 600 years old.

Kings Lynn 034 The carved wooden panel behind the altar should be level with the bottom of the window, but the vicar at the time had the floor raised much to the consternation of the carver as he wasn't informed of the alteration..

Kings Lynn 038 St Margarets organ.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Kings Lynn.

Kings Lynn 001 Kings Lynn Corn Exchange built in 1854 , converted to a theatre/concert hall in 1996.

This week’s trip was to Kings Lynn via Norfolk Green buses. One hour twenty minutes passing through numerous Norfolk towns and villages was as interesting as the final destination. Even though the local terrain is as flat as a pancake, there is still plenty to see.

Kings Lynn 002Kings Lynn open market. Look at all those vegetables!

At Wigginhall St German we spotted the Middle Level Commissioners pumping station just outside Kings Lynn. This was a huge modification project to protect the Fens for the next 70 years or so. A bit further on was another massive project at Saddlebow to build a new Gas Turbine 981MW power station opposite the existing power station. A new 400,000V power grid will need to be built to distribute.

Kings Lynn 017 The old 17C Customs House on the only remaining dock that can be isolated from the tidal river.

Our entrance into Kings Lynn was quite interesting passing through the last remaining part of the towns defence system namely the South Gate. The town centre is a mixture of old and new buildings but down along the waterfront we found plenty of historic buildings. It was here that we found the new(ish) flood defence gates that could close off the streets and alleyways leading up to the town centre. It was quite disconcerting that the river Great Ouse can rise to such a level.

Kings Lynn 056 Flood gates on Kings Lynn waterfront shutting off the river from the town centre in times of flooding.

In relation to the flooding in the district there were 5 markings on the wall of the St Margaret's Church’s foyer. The highest mark was about 2 feet up the wall, which, when you realise the church is probably on the highest point of land in town it’s mind boggling as to how bad the flooding has been in the past.

Kings Lynn 041St Margarets Kings Lynn. Flood markers between 1883 and 1978.

There is still plenty to see around the area so we will have to make a return trip before too long.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Happy Birthday Robin!

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Nearly as old as me now Robin.  We’ll take a raincheck until next year to celebrate.  Hope you had a great day.

Llangollen 116-1Robin at the helm of Narrowboat Gypsy Rover in August 2008

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Happy Birthday Richard

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Hope its a good one, won’t mention your age as it may incriminate me.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

March Model Railway Open day.

The sun shone for the club’s open day which bought over 300 people through the doors of St Peters church hall. With the clubs new layout, plus 3 privately owned layouts, the Junior clubs layout and 3 trade stands there was plenty to see. For the beginners or the mildly  interested there were demonstrations of constructing buildings, rolling stock and scenery construction.

march 056-1 "00" country station layout at the March MRC open day.march 059The canal flows blissfully below the Dawton New Street station.

Only half of  the club’s new layout appeared as the fiddle yard had not been completed on time. A temporary electrical system was set up to trial the main display part of the layout which was a complete success. Due to the short lengths of track just loco’s and a DMU running backwards and forwards.

march 066 Driver error on the 4.55pm local train. Gongoozlers on the towpath are completely unaware of events above.

march 068 Boy racers come to a sticky end from the narrow road above the station.

march 067 Dawton New Street station.

march 069 Tranquil scene on the canal as trains roar past overhead.

march 070 GWR branchline train waiting for the loco to run around the train.

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Christchurch New Zealand

No doubt most of you will have now heard that Christchurch suffered a large earthquake yesterday morning measuring 7.1 on the Richter scale, fortunately with no fatalities due to the early morning hour.  This is the largest natural disaster since the Inangahua earthquake in May 1968 also measuring 7.1 with the loss of 3 lives.

New Zealand’s worst earthquake was in February 1931 when the cities of Napier and Hastings were devastated with the 7.8 magnitude quake with the loss of 256 lives.

quake9-600x400 The devastation on the corner of  Manchester and Worcester Streets in Christchurch central.EPA/David Alexander

To all our readers in Christchurch we wish you all the best and hope that your lives were not affected too much by this terrible quake.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Peterborough here we come!

Peterborough 002 The Butter Cross 1669 –1671, in Cathedral Square Peterborough .  Photo taken when we were there in 2008, unfortunately I was without  my camera today for a change.  Won’t do that again.

After getting a bum steer about being able to drive our motorhome on a car licence it was time to get the ball rolling to obtain a class C1 licence (LGV’s up to 7500kg). Although holding a heavy trade licence in New Zealand I had not bothered to change it over when I got my UK drivers Licence. Naughty Boy!  Today I had a doctors appointment in Peterborough for a medical examination. Even though the doctor passed me as fit he warned me that the DVLA may request a further Cardiologist's report which sounds crazy to me as the Cardiologist at Coventry hospital has signed me off back to my GP.

Immediately after this I headed off to the DVLA’s local office to deposit all the necessary paper work to apply for a provisional C1 licence before I can undergo a theory and practical tests on an appropriate vehicle.

Dot also had to take her brand new Nokia phone in for repair.  As a mobile phone it was useless, our callers could hear us ok but we were unable to hear them.  After taking it back to Carphone Warehouse where they verified the volume was unacceptable they suggested we take it direct to the Nokia repairer just around the corner.  No problem it should be back in a couple of days.  

Peterborough 001 I just love this old building in Cathedral Square

As we hadn’t seen Tracey for a while she decided to catch the train and come and join us for the day. As the weather was an absolute scorcher it made for a very pleasant day out. Of course while I was at the doctors  Dot and Tracey did the shop’s in the Queensgate centre and surprisingly enough it was only Dot that bought anything. Dot had seen a pair of sandals she liked when visiting Lesley on Nb Caxton.  Well she was lucky enough to get a pair her size in the end of season sale at less than half price, how lucky was that?

Catching the 6pm bus back to March meant we wouldn’t be home much before 7.15pm. Arriving back in March we called into the Kashmir Balti House restaurant just up the road from our apartment for Indian takeaways. Chicken and King Prawn Korma’s for myself and Dot respectively. Yum!

After a quick meal I headed off to the Model Railway club as tonight’s meeting was the last before the club’s open day at St Peter’s church hall on Saturday. There was still plenty to complete to get the club’s new layout partially operational for the show. Fingers crossed for the day.