And What of Bella…?

5 Sep

What indeed.

No doubt there will be those of you who couldn’t give a monkeys  are gagging to hear news of Bella, having waded through three previous posts that detailed her progress only to be left midstream, so to speak, wondering what happened next and where she is now.

So now, if you are sitting comfortably, Boatbird will reveal all.

Dah-dah-dah….da-da-da-dah. No not like that stupid!

If I remember rightly, we left her waiting it out in the new marina at Northampton until the Nene strong stream advice was withdrawn. It had to be so frustrating, having made such good progress to date, to be stuck like this – not to mention damned expensive. So we took a drive over there to visit Bella and her keeper, Dave. We thought it would be good for a laugh the supportive thing to do and anyway, John could retrieve his canoe – the one he fished out of a skip on the Lea.

Did I tell you about that? No?

Well, never let it be said that John will pass up a chance to hoover up someone else’s junk; hence the about turn we did that day on the river in order to grab this bright yellow beauty. Just what he’d always wanted.

It was an interesting manoeuvre that wasted a bit of time, saw us in shallow water and me panicking slightly. The mission was eventually accomplished successfully and canoe hoisted onto Bella’s roof. It wasn’t like we stole it – it was in a skip – but felt a bit naughty all the same.

Just one more obstacle for me to bitch about.

I have to say that the Nene didn’t look that angry when we pitched up at Northampton but further downstream, where the river narrows, it could be a different story. We had a very pleasant visit, met some more of Dave’s friends (also nice people) and John left by way of said canoe – de-de-de-de-der-der – just as far as the car park that is, where he loaded it onto the van roof and tied it down.

You keeping up with the tunes?

We’d arranged to visit one or two spots on the Nene on our way home to check on the raging river and report back. Which we did and, whilst the odd bridge height looked slightly iffy, it didn’t seem to be flowing that fast and we thought it was worth a go. With Caution.

I think they got as far as Thrapston before high water defeated them – a bridge too low. Bella was there for a few days before the water dropped enough so they could proceed. What can you do but wait?

John joined them further on for the tidal crossing to Denver. There was weed in the lock at Salter’s Lode, which naturally ended up on Bella’s prop, stopping her dead as they left the lock. Great. Tidal water with no power and no steerage. The weed hatch was quickly lifted, weed pulled off and all was well once more. But a bit exciting for a moment there…

They managed to negotiate the sandbanks and, once through Denver, Bella and co were nearly home. The Lark isn’t far away. In fact they made it – against all the odds – in time for the weekend so could settle in and have a much-needed rest (some very long days boating – like 16 hours) before work on Monday. Excellent.

We left it what we thought was a respectable time before we popped along to Isleham Marina to re-visit Bella. Let them get established. It’s a very pleasant place with all the usual amenities, interesting boats and lovely people. We’d been there before, a while ago, and liked it. We thought the place had a good feel then and am pleased to  report that it still does now.

Bella isn’t in the marina basin but out on the river in its own little spot, which is very private yet still connected to the populated part for socialising when desired. Trees and bushes had been hacked down in order to create a shore side access and patch of ground for the BBQ/sun lounger/garden/shed/place for the dogs/piles of junk/whatever.

As we arrived, Dave was getting the shore power hooked up – courtesy of a few helpful souls – cable connected to supply, buried and connected to the boat. He was able to switch on the fridge for the first time since arriving. A special moment!

We thought it was perfect – back of the net in fact – truly the best of both worlds.The Lark is a peaceful little river with just the one lock and no significant water movement. A super little haven. And a pub within cruising distance – what more could you want?

Seems Parrot and Annie (the dogs) had settled in well too..And Dave has been getting up to some serious cleaning…When he wasn’t poling about…Or fishing off the roof…Or off the sharp end…He and Bella seemed to have adapted well to the new life and location.

It’s hard but someone has to do it.

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