All went well with Judy and Ted’s flights to visit us from Canada, and Jim and Bob drove the short distance from our moorings in Fotheringhay to Peterborough to pick them up from the rail station. Although they were very tired on arrival, we fed them and let them settle in a little and then dragged them off to The Falcon pub for a refreshing ale or two with Chris, Jim, Jane and Michael. It was a magnificent sunny day and we would have liked to stay and enjoy the BBQ offerings of the pub for dinner but sadly they were booked out. We retreated to Celtic Maid and, once fed, let Judy and Ted go to bed and catch up with 13 hours solid sleep. Celtic Maid has a bit of a reputation for letting weary travelers sleep.
We had all decided that on Monday night we would meet up for a shared dinner, and Jane and Michael kindly offered to host aboard NB Moody Blues. Everyone prepared their contributions and after a stroll through the village we met up for happy hour on the bank and then dinner aboard. A brilliant night was had by all – terrific food, sensational company and amazing hosts. Reluctantly we pulled pins on the evening and rested up again ready for NB Celtic Maid to venture off in the morning alone toward Peterborough.
We meandered slowly picking up water at Yarwell Lock and eventually mooring against a high bank tied up to trees in Wansford. Despite there purporting to be three pubs in town, two were not open and the third appeared to be hosting a high tea for mutes as we walked through. So we gave up and retreated down the bank goat style, to enjoy the beverages on offer aboard Celtic Maid pub!!!!
The next morning we left our tree mooring in Wansford and headed to the Nene Valley rail station for a look around. They have a large range of rolling stock there and a red number 38 bus to Victoria!!!!! We didn’t take the train ride but enjoyed the look around. After watching the train pass on the bridge over us we moved onto Ferry Meadows where there is space for 4 narrowboats on two floating pontoons. Here there is lots of boating activity and wildlife on 3 lakes with good walks and a very popular caravan site. Given that this was mid term break for UK schools the place was very busy.
After NB Sylph and Moody Blues caught up with us there the next day, we became the forward scouts again and headed up to the secluded moorings by the Boathouse Inn and Peterborough Rowing Course. Unfortunately the environment was strewn with rubbish and after a quick drink at the pub and being inundated with young people eager to dive off the pontoon where we were moored, we made the sensible decision to continue travelling and find moorings in Peterborough – only about a mile away.
Peterborough is a city that has misplaced its pride and seems to be slowly trying to find it. Some parts are very well kept and inviting to visitors. The moorings do not fall into this category. The water point had not been working for some time despite repeated reportings to both the Environment Agency (who are responsible for the river) and the local council. There is a lot of rubbish and bird excrement on the moorings and nearby, and the rubbish and Elsan facilities are in need of attention. That being said, we felt very safe and it was only a short walk to access shopping and the train services.
After stocking up on some essential supplies and saying hello to NB Sylph and Moody Blues, who caught up with us again, we headed down to the Dog-in-a-Doublet Lock – and nearby pub of the same name. We knew the others were following the next day and we had arranged for Bob and Judy’s cousin, Julie and Phil, to visit us there. We had already booked the pub for dinner with them all so thought it important to check out the pub first. It came up to scratch with good beer choices and an excellent cask cider. There were also a range of books to peruse, and jams, chutneys, biscuits, oils and vinegars to purchase.
Julie and Phil made very good time driving up to us from Essex, kindly bringing with them a few items that we had ordered to be delivered to their address. For Judy and Julie, this was the first time they had met up since they were both children/adolescents so it was good to be able to bring relatives together. We shared lunch aboard Celtic Maid and wandered a bit around the local area before the Moody’s and Smith’s caught up with us.
We have to say the Lock keeper and his wife here were most helpful to us during our stay, suggesting a safe route to the pub and ensuring we had everything we needed. The staff at the Dog-in-a-Doublet were also very helpful both on our first visit and the day after when we returned for dinner. The beer was very reasonably priced, cider was excellent and the food delicious with the chef taking great care with the menu, preparation and presentation. We were all very impressed with the evening and returned home full and happy.
On Sunday we had to return to Peterborough in preparation of Judy and Ted leaving us and Bob travelling with them to attend his eye appointment in London. Once in Peterborough and moored we invited the others aboard for a final happy hour drink before we had our last meal with Judy and Ted. We had gone to some lengths to provide them with tasty and interesting food whilst aboard but resorted to the traditional English meal of Bangers and Mash with Onion gravy for their last dinner. Ted quietly informed us that whilst all of the meals had been very enjoyable this was his favourite!!! Have to admit we all enjoyed it.
All good things come to an end and we said our goodbyes on Monday morning as the three of them headed for the rail station. Loved having them aboard and they are always welcome back. This time we gave Ted a bit of a rest because on their last visit he fitted three blinds in the saloon and a three drawer unit into the kitchen. He was allowed access to a screwdriver only on his last day to adjust the drawer fronts!!!!
Our next journey is onto the Fens or Middle Level Navigations. More exciting adventures I’m sure.