Still doing this retrospectively... so much easier than worrying about getting back from the pub in time, though I can report that we made a triumphal entrance into Cambridge yesterday evening and are tied up to Melaleuca on the visotor moorings just below Jesus Lock. They'll be leaving today and heading for home but we have time to hang about and explore this lovely city with its unbelievable quotient of good pubs, and have been promised a tour round the colleges by James and a charity shopping trip with Amy. But that's all in the future.
Back to yesterday and Ely... The Moomins set off relatively early, along with the Ducks, leaving us to follow once we'd had a look round Ely. It is a really nice city with beautiful buildings and good shops. There is a super housewares shop, not cheap but the best stock I have ever seen anywhere where we had a happy browse and I bought a sieve. Then on to the pound shop - again another marvel of its type with a wide variety of bankrupt stock as well as all the usual plastic boxes and cheap mugs, both of which we stocked up on as well as some springs(!)as Jim is still seeking the perfect one for the gear lever. He has replaced the previous one which was a bit feeble, with one that is a bit too strong. I prefer it, as now when you put it in reverse it stays in reverse, but it's quite an effort to get it back into forward and there is always the exciting possibility of losing a finger in the process. Then, scarcely able to carry our bounty, we pushed on to Waitrose... ooh, to be rich and classy and shop here all the time... for chick peas and spinach (the need to eat something healhy hving kicked in). After that we had to come back to the boat to drop all this stuff off before heading off to the antique shop.
Now this was really good, but ot in the way I was envisaging. We didn't buy any antiques although I was sorely tempted by a big enamel cooking pot, and fascinated by an egg preserving copper, but on the top floor there's an army surplus stall, which was utterly brilliant. Not least because normally when browsing army surplus you're being supervised by an army surplus psychopath in full combat gear, and secondarily because by London/Brighton standards, it was amazingly cheap. I could have got the sailor's top I've always wanted for a fiver (and probably will when we go back, although it's not really practical) but then I tried on a 1940s vintage Swedish naval (did I even know there was such a thing?) jacket and it fitted perfectly. And it has nine pockets including two great big ones on the back and it was £10. So I had to have that. And exploring further, I finally discovered a replacement for the anorak I've been attempting to pension off for a while. This has done good service, having been bought when we first had Helyn, but I am now the proud and very warm and comfy owner of a brand new, US government issue (Jim reckons) extreme cold weather parka, and by golly it's lovely. And it's not even khaki.
The shopping done, we had lunch and finally set off at quarter to three... only to stop five minutes later when I noticed that the habitual drip of oil from a long-term leaky joint had become a visible drop and a puddle. An impressively quick and effective repair was made with self amalgamating tape (well it certainly impressed me) and we were on our way again. The Ouse was still intrinsically dull but the sun had finally come out to bestow upon it a superficial sparkle, and that makes all the difference, and anyway, we were soon on the Cam, which might look exactly the same but is more romantic.
And then we were coming to the outskirts of Cambridge and surely one of the last really anarchic moorings left in the country... about which Jim and I had a trenchant disagreement... and then into the city to see the Duck on Midsummer Common, and James on the bank, and rowers all over the river, and right on up to the lock, the normal limit of navigation, dinner of chickpea and spinach curry, then off with Amy and James to the Elm Tree for more super beer, but time only to sample the one pub, which is why we will have to stay for a few days.