Chop Chopping. 3rd September

Peartree Farm FOTRN mooring to Oundle Cruising Club

Just gone 9:30 it was push back time, the covers were rolled up and mooring spikes soon to be released from the hard ground. The chap who’d been cutting grass yesterday came for a chat. He and his wife arrive on a Friday evening about once a month and over the weekend he strims and trims the grass to keep the mooring looking nice. We chatted all things FOTRN, how rubbish some boaters literally were and how much we certainly appreciated all that the volunteers do with the moorings.

Goodbye Peartree see you in a few days

Then we were off backing our way the short distance to the junction with the river, we winded and headed off downstream. Soon followed by NB Sakuma (?) who reversed to the junction and winded to follow us, we’d be sharing the locks back to Oundle today.

3″ of caterpillar

Mick soon spotted that we’d got a stow away! A large caterpillar was crawling along our pram hood. I popped it into a tub so that we could release it on dry land at the water point at Wadenhoe. I think it was a Buff Tip Caterpillar at about 70mm long, this will turn into a moth that has fantastic camouflage looking like a twig of a birch tree.


This stretch of river was certainly popular this morning. We counted nine ladies swimming in batches of three, another about to set off from by the Kings Head, throw in a couple of canoes for good measure, it was busy. Fortunately the water point wasn’t so busy, in fact the pub moorings this morning were empty apart from one cruiser. We pulled in and topped up on water and released our stow away into a hedge.

Our locking partners soon arrived and once we were full we swapped with them, we headed for the lock landing to wait. Here the hedgerow was filled with sloes and blackberries. Two tuperwares came out and we started picking. Not being fans of gin the sloes were left for someone else. I know I could make something else with them, but they’d only go to waste as I haven’t the time. A Kingfisher kept an eye on how many we were picking, we did leave plenty for the birds.

An engine could be heard from below. The lock was in our favour, but we were waiting for the other boat. I went to see if I could assist the boat and explain the delay in coming through the lock. Below was Chop Wales on NB Freya, we’d moored alongside each other at Ferry Meadows a couple of weeks ago. He was quite happy to wait as he was going to do a bit of pruning to the willows at the end of the lock landing below.

Chop chopping

Chop by name, Chop by nature he got out his big choppers and from the stern of his boat he lopped away at the tree which was making the lock landing hard to reach. As we came out of the lock we chatted with him. He’ll be waiting in the queue for Islip Lock to reopen too, so we’ll see him again. He informed us that he’d been at Oundle Cruising club last night, we already knew this as we had spies keeping an eye out for vacant spots there. If no-one grabbed the space Chop had just left we’d have a mooring for a few days.

Down through Lilford Lock and then Upper Barnwell Lock, each boat taking it in turns to set the lock and work it. We glanced in to Lilford Marina, the pooh sucky machine backed to a pontoon. Today Saturday is the only day when you can get a pump out on this stretch of the river, no sign of NB Otter, maybe they’d already had their tank emptied.

Below Upper Barnwell Lock we wished our locking partners farewell, they were carrying on further downstream today. We nudged under the low bridge and there was NB Otter, NB Shadow and an Oleanna sized gap that Chop Wales had left this morning. We had a mooring!

A very warm welcome greeted us, credit put onto a hook up for our use. We had to daisy chain a couple of leads together to reach, and only just, picnic benches moved to cover any possible trip hazards.

Why have you tied up Wooferdom!?!

With there being some friendly cover about Tilly was allowed some shore leave, but warned that there were a lot of woofers about. This kept her on her toes about the place, at least 7 woofers about.

Mick bobbed into town for a Saturday newspaper and bumped into Ken and Sue, an invite was issued for them to join us for an evening drink at ‘our club’.

Old and new versions

I did some work, amending the adverts in Piccadilly Circus and trimming things down to be neat. Then at 6pm we headed to the club house for drinks. A couple of hours of convivial conversation, the temperature dropped, it was getting dark and we all needed some food to help soak up the wine and beer. We headed back to our respective boats, sadly it was too dark for Mick to head into town for a takeaway so we made do with a pasta salad. Another very pleasant evening with the Cleddau crew.

3 locks, 4.47 miles, 1 full water tank, 67 blackberries, 1 big chopper, 10 swimmers, 4 longhaired Dachshunds, 3 Jack Russells, 6 glasses wine, 2 Bombardiers.