• Lizzie Hensman

OUSGG Summer Activity 2016

Being the intrepid explorers that we are, this year we ventured for our summer activity into the wilds of Norfolk and Cambridgeshire. Bravely captained by myself with Matthew as first mate (read Matthew was in charge but I wanted to be a pirate), we cruised the seven seas (well five rivers) looking for wrongs to be righted and adventures to be had. Think famous five but instead of having our own dogs, I just got incredibly excited at everyone else's dogs.

On Friday, we traveled to Downham Market where Steve, king of the canal boats, kindly gave us a lift to Stoke Ferry where our Harboro Adventure II was waiting for us. We all climbed aboard (stepping not jumping of course) and after doing all the relevant engine faff, powered into the distance.

A wonderful thing about sleeping in a boat is that lots of pubs have moorings for patrons. So, unlike normally when you go out drinking, the walk home was mere steps. It was at one such pub that Shell and Luke joined us on the first evening. A not so wonderful thing is that you are down by the river and so there is no escape from the mosquitos.

On Saturday, after a brief detour to refuel, we traveled down the River Great Ouse towards Ely, a tiny city with an amazing cathedral where we lunched. The sun was shining and after a wander around the town, we returned to the boat to continue on in an attempt to reach St. Ives.

We wove our way upstream, mostly remembering to signal to Luke, who was at the helm, what was happening around each corner. However, it was one of the things that I was most looking forward to about the trip that caused problems in our plans of reaching St. Ives. A lock. The first lock we happened to encounter turned out to be operated by a lock keep and we got there after he had shut up shop for the night. We were stranded the wrong side of the lock from the village pub, not only did we not reach St. Ives but we had to walk more than 10m to get a drink!

Robbed of our first lock, on Sunday we turned around and made our way back to where the Cam joined the Ouse and started heading towards the Other Place, and more importantly our first lock. The next day, we wandered into Cambridge, ready to be unimpressed. Somewhat upsettingly, Cambridge is lovely if a bit small. We saw Matthew's old college and the geology museum.

That evening marked the first night that we didn't make a pilgrimage to a pub. We braved the wilds of Cambridge, mooring up on a bend in the river. Here Matthew thought us to juggle using oranges and empty beer bottles.

(See PostScript for the rest of Lizzie's account)