The wild flowers of Portholme Meadow, Godmanchester

A good cruise back from Godmanchester to Paxton after a slow and chilly start, past the splendid Portholme Meadow, full of unspoiled wild flowers, and on through Offord and home to find Elm Leisure there to hand over the new swimming pool and everything else all right apart from some dove chick casualties. The spotlight on Africa now with Ethiopia starving but Chernobyl radio-activity casualties grow to over 1,000!


A very settled night and it is a normal irony that once you have settled and acclimatised to the conditions afloat, it is time to come home! Awoke to my tea prepared and the heating already on. Slightly reluctant to get up, but Di persuaded me and I washed and shaved ready for breakfast. The boys soon joined us, as it was chilly in their boat and they also needed The Lady’s comfortable toilet. Daniella slept on and so we cast off and cruised back upstream beside Portholme Meadow, starting at 7.30am!

We were lucky with the weather again – fine and not so windy than of late – and furthermore, the remaining two locks were set in our favour. We were soon through Offord and we cruised ahead in The Lady to get home as soon as possible. Things were fine. Our two oldest dove chicks were still alive, but the next two had died of poor parenthood. However, two more babies had hatched to the blue/grizzle pair. The ducks OK also and Marilyn had been looking after both of them with equal care. At 10.00am, Elm Leisure arrived to hand over the pool; and they took an hour or two to go through the routines of pool use and maintenance. I declined to pay the final installment at the end, as they had kept me waiting in finishing it. This pool meeting took until lunch and then this afternoon, spotting a north-westerly breeze, I quickly lit a bonfire and cleared all of the inflammable rubbish from the riverside plots. The effort continued until dusk, after tea, but I also managed to tend the birds and put everything away. I had to haul Daniel out in his pyjamas to put away his outboard motor and clean several brushes after painting. I had earlier let them use the pool, but, without the heating on for a few days, it had only risen to 69degF by this evening. Then to lock up the property and update my journal before the TV for an interesting perspective programme on Africa. The news stories led with Sir Geoffrey Howe’s speech to the United Nations on Africa. Though he was reasonably encouraging in trying to persuade countries governments to follow the people’s example in Band Aid and Sport Aid, there is much criticism that his words did not contain specific proposals, as 40% of Ethiopians are estimated to be starving. A row over the Met Police Chief’s threatened use of rubber bullets and water hose to contain future riots and there is more uncertainty on the political front in Northern Ireland, as the Assembly is rumoured to be on the way out. New policies on electricity pricing means that rises will now be held back. The Chernobyl casualty list is now estimated at 1,000 and the Kremlin is to publish details of the accident report.