July 1988

This record wet month still allowed us to have two blissful weeks cruising on The Lady; upstream to start with and then downstream through Godmanchester, Huntington, Houghton, Hemingford, and on to St Ives where I recovered from a bad cold and then Holywell, to chat to the eel fisherman, the walk to Needingworth, and then on to Ely to find pubs, Morris dancers and a swim in Paradise Pool. The next leg took us up the River Lark to Prickwillow and then via Littleport up the River Wissey to Hilgay before ending up at Denver Sluice. After this, The Cam to Clayhithe and the Bridge Hotel and on to Cambridge and back from that base with a walk to Waterbeach. We then re-traced our route back up the Great Ouse and home to Paxton. Debbie is now accomplished at her recorder-playing and horse-riding and Della enjoyed the party we laid on for her birthday this month and is growing and quite the little lady now. A few church and other visits with the family but the holiday interrupted my council, history and financial work but I was doing well as a councillor and persuaded Peter Wilmer to stand for the County Council. The main domestic news was of the North Sea oil terminal tragedy, where Echo Bravo, an older oil rig, exploded killing 1-200 people, with only 60/70 surviving as a hundred and fifty men were trapped screaming and roasting to death with no means of escape. Texan Red Adair’s team finally put out the fires and stemmed the leaks. Thatcher ploughs ahead with all manner of controversial changes to the DHSS, the Education System and the economic management of the country as interest rates rose to a dizzy 11 ½ %. Huge delays for air travellers highlight the lack of UK capacity and the British prison system is in a mess. The US Air Force admits to shooting down an Iranian airliner, with 290 people on board, in a ‘target mistake’, which causes Ayatollah Khomeini to declare an all-out war with peace talks stalling. Amongst bombings in South Africa, the 70th birthday of Nelson Mandela was marked by an appeal for Archbishop Tutu for his release from jail, Seve Ballesteros won the Open Golf Championship in the ‘best performance of his life’

This was a month of very wet weather – the second wettest July in 100 years – when it seemed to rain just about every day with some days and nights of torrential rain and occasional thunderstorms. When the weather did brighten up, showers and heavy rain were never far away. This prevailed until the very end of the month which became sunny and warm but blustery too. Fortunately, The Lady withstood this watery onslaught and had not leaked and so, this month we enjoyed our fortnight on the river, though it seems strange explaining to people that we went to Huntingdonshire for our holiday! There was a delay setting off due to business and so I had to reassure Diana that our slightly delayed and curtailed boating holiday would still be enjoyable for the two weeks and it was.  I had to spend some time working on The Lady sealing some fuel and cooling hose leaks and then, after reconnecting the heating system after a winter layoff, I detected a boat heating system problem but, after failing to get LH Jones to come and attend to this, I spent a tiring but successful day repairing my ARDIC boat heater myself! All this done, we loaded up The Lady and set off upstream through the Paper Mill lock and moored at Coneygeare for the night.  Next up to Eaton Socon and then on to Tempsford after a further rather unsettled night.  We had some nice meals with Daniel’s guests joining us, refreshments at the garden centre and then a meal at a very crowded Anchor pub. An easier day of weather for cruising and enjoying time aboard The Lady then followed with just the odd shower as Dan and Tom joined us on board for breakfast and the children playing on the swings until I cruised to St Neots Town Quay for some shopping, lunch at the Cross Keys and then the long walk to swimming at Ernulf pool. The cruise back downstream followed, with us mooring at our own Little Paxton moorings to collect some forgotten items before we cruised on to Buckden Marina for water and fuel and then on to Godmanchester for the night.