The great drainage engines of Prickwillow museum

Abandoning the cruise up The River Lark from Prickwillow in very windy weather and then returning to Ely for a walk to the city centre and lunch before rowing to get more fuel as Geoffrey has a fruitless meeting with President Botha and will return toi even greater calls for joining the sanctioning nations. BA Weybridge closes down with the loss of 2,000 jobs and Boy George is fined for drug abuse.

Slept reasonably well last night and so did Diana for once. The rain fell as we settled down to bed, but the night became clear and ended cloudy but fine. A fair breeze this morning, but after our breakfast and other morning preliminaries, we took a walk together around Prickwillow. Strange to see the way the buildings have sunk with the shrinkage of the peat, so that you are level with the occupants upstairs bedrooms. Stranger too to think that the settlement was sited on the old course of the River Ouse so that they could have the road and foundations on the clay bed, and that the new cut that bypassed this stretch is close to Ely.

Noticed the new building work on houses in three parts of the village and the concrete heavy-duty foundations that they have to conform to. Eventually found a children’s playground at the other end and, after they had enjoyed it, we walked across the adjacent playing field and back down a parallel lane, where a bullock in a paddock, a rabbit in a hutch, and a fettered nanny goat were of fascination to the children. Back to The Lady via the Post Office Stores and a quick visit to the Engine Museum. We sat on the river bank eating our ice creams before boarding and departing. I turn The Lady round, for it is far too windy and uncertain for the journey up the Lark. I tell another boat’s crew as we depart, because they had planned to go up with us. The cruise back to the main river and then to Ely was quite straight forward, though the wind was strong and mooring tricky! We ended up at the field below the municipal quays and then walked up into Ely city centre to put on several days of washing to wash at the laundrette, before having lunch at Bennet’s café in the main street. After, we stayed for some time in the laundrette reading the papers as Di first used the washing machines and then the tumble driers. I got a pair of new rowlocks at the chandlers and then Daniel rowed Blue Peter across to the boatyard and motored back with some more 2-stroke fuel. I watched the final throes of the England vs New Zealand test match that ended in an inevitable draw, after the weather had intervened. Then some fruitless fishing before ending the evening reading the many guide books and local history pamphlets that I keep in the boat. We managed to get the girls asleep quite early, Daniel to bed and, after listening to the TV news, we went ourselves. News tonight is of Geoffrey Howe having a fruitless meeting with South African President Botha and returning to Britain after being called ‘a meddler’. There will now be irresistible pressure on Thatcher to agree sanctions against them, from both within Britain, the EEC and the Commonwealth. Pressure also in the USA by the Senate and Congress on the Presidency. Bad news today of the closure of British Aerospace Weybridge plants, with the loss of 2,000 jobs, but it is hoped they will be voluntary. Pop star ‘Boy George’ was fined £500 for possession of Heroin and has condemned use of the drug and warned others against getting involved with it.