Thursday 21st July 1988

A slow start to the day and then a long walk to Waterbeach which had changed since last time but was a still pleasant enough place to eat ice creams under a beech tree.  Then back to The Lady and the cruise down the Cam through Bottisham Lock and to stop at a rural pub for lunch. On to Pope’s Corner and up the Old West River and on through Hermitage Lock and to our favourite Waits Quay mooring where a torrential downpour put paid to any chance of fishing. The Lady celebrated her 2,000th milestone in her Cambridge birthplace, Glenn Ode Prison in Scotland is an inhumane warzone, Chancellor Nigel Lawson is getting ‘support’ from Thatcher as she is rumoured to bring back Alan Waters as adviser and interest rates rose today to a huge 11 ½ %. The government wants to sell off SHORTs, Ulster’s largest manufacturer and employer; Leon Brittan, former disgraced Cabinet Minister, is to replace Lord Cockfield as one of Britain’s two European Commissioners, because the latter has shown himself too independent and pro-European and ‘Red’ Adair, the Texan oil trouble shooter, working on the burning oil platform, reported that the worst well had been plugged and fire put out.

Slept well enough, but we lay in a very long time and the girls got rather restless waiting for their breakfast. Eventually up and breakfast together, with me closely regulating the amount of coco pops the children could have. It showered but was fine afterwards and so we all went on a long walk to Waterbeach to the shops and to get 3 gallons interim fuel supply for Daniel. A nice place, with a surviving triangular-shaped green, surrounded by buildings of all ages and architectures. There were several old ladies stopped on their bikes, chatting and passing the time of day together and we got the impression that the place retained a very good community spirit. One or two shops had closed since last time (the bakery/cake shop had now been developed as housing plots) but there is still a variety of shops around the green; far enough apart that the basket bicycles make the ideal means of shopping for the less mobile. We sat and ate ice creams under the Beech trees and then set off back. We cruised back down the Cam and through Bottisham Lock and then on to stop for lunch at the ‘5 miles from anywhere – no hurry’ pub, which was very pleasant.

Wednesday 20th July 1988

A good night at Clayhithe and then a day trip and back to Cambridge via Baits Bite Lock where Daniel’s friends join us and we have lunch at the familiar Copper Kettle. The weather at fine at first but the rain came later. A commemorative service today for the Piper Alpha victims, the UN try to mediate in the Iran/Iraq conflict and in Angolia and the government is under pressure on dental and optical charges as back-benchers rebel.

A good night’s sleep, after the unrest of yesterday. I was sound asleep until woken with my morning tea at 7.30am. We had a better attempt at our morning routine – without the arguments of yesterday. I had time for a little fishing, but the rain started and so we cast off and set off upstream on the Cam towards Baits Bite Lock. We knocked up the Irish Lockkeeper and he let us through and told us of the plans to electrify the lock later this year; removing the old mechanisms and implementing a self-operation procedure. The old place will no longer be the same, as a guillotine replaces the top mitre gates. On up to Cambridge, with the weather brightening up a little and becoming quite humid. We moored at our normal playground site and walked into town to do some shopping. My contribution was to get the bread rolls and some fishing bait and tackle. Met up with the others for lunch at The Copper Kettle, but Daniel had contacted his friends Gary and Steve by phone and they came to Cambridge to spend the day with him.

Tuesday 19th July 1988

The cruise down The Wissey to Hilgay for some shopping and then downstream to Denver Sluice for an early lunch at the pub and then to stop at Ely for supplies before finally up the River Cam to The Bridge Hotel at Clayhithe where I took Di to dinner and saw leading Tory Geoffrey Archer and family who were also dining there. Chancellor Lawson is upset today as Thatcher appoints a financial advisor and stock markets fall as interest rates rise, there are more Iran/Iraq clashes today despite the supposed ceasefire and thankfully the government is defeated twich in the Lords over charges for eye sights and dental checks.

A rather worrying night. Poor Della had some sort of earache and a complex about wanting to be back, ‘in our proper house’. She awoke crying about four times and both Di and I tried to pacify her until we gave her some paracetamol and a hot water bottle to go in her favourite cuddly rabbit cover. We laid in a while this morning and then I got up first, boiled the kettle, put on the boat heating and then made Diana some coffee. Made myself tea as well and followed Di into the washroom to get washed and dressed. I was then most put out that the family sat down to breakfast before I had come to the table – after I had made the morning drinks as well! This ‘contretemps was to set a cloud over the rest of the day, as I was most put out. I quickly cast off from the bushes and cruised off down the Wissey until we came to Hilgay and I moored up for a while there, so we could get some fuel for Daniel’s boat and some provisions from the nearest shop. Onward to the mouth of the Wissey and then downstream to Denver to tie up at the Denver Arms a little early for lunch.

Monday 18th July 1988

A pleasurable night at Prickwillow, moored on the River Lark and then to try some shopping and to find Prickwillow Pottery open to be able to buy a splendid Great Crested Grebe ornament. Then on to Littleport for water and fuel before cruising up the River Wissey to Hilgay and on upstream as far as we could. The UK air crisis is averted by offers of using Heathrow for the extra traffic, Seve Ballesteros won the Open Golf Championship in the ‘best performance of his life’ and a supposed truce and end of the Iran/Iraq War which is probably too good to be true! Next, British Leyland, now to be taken over by BAE, is to close down two factories, with a loss of up to 5,000 jobs. British Leyland is to be taken over by BAE, with a loss of up to 5,000 jobs

A sound night at Prickwillow, without any noise to disturb us. Nothing human, that is, as there were some noisy toads calling at 4.00am, before the dawn chorus. It made me lay awake and wonder when the last time was that I had heard grasshoppers or crickets, which make a similar, if softer, sound that is increasingly rare these days. Back to sleep and was then woken up with my morning tea at 7.30am. After breakfast, I took the girls to the shops – the post office at Prickwillow was closed, but the girls spent their pennies on ‘chewing gum’ machines outside. Then I went to the Pottery and bought a Great Crested Grebe ornament for £60 and I think it is very nice. All aboard and then we set off on today’s cruise. Back down The Lark, along the Ouse to Littleport, where we filled up with water and we would have filled up with diesel from a floating fuel tanker, but there was nobody about to serve us. Then downstream with Daniel in line astern. I can now cruise at 6 knots and 1500 rpm and this meant Daniel kept dropping behind. I played a joke on him by creeping into a tributary, letting him pass, and then trailing him! He went faster and faster with us in pursuit, thinking he had been left behind! Eventually, up the River Wissey to Hilgay, where we stopped for tea and a walk round the village.