Of Trains, Boats, Bikes, Cows and Coincidence

I had to take the train to Ely today. It could almost have been Alkmaar. The station platform was a sea of chained bikes.

Bikes at Ely Station


The fenlands of Cambridgeshire are flatter, as I know to my cost, than parts of the Netherlands. And the locals are equally fond of their bikes. Though they don’t celebrate them with flowers and suchlike as the Dutch do. These bikes were parked close to the shop where I bought my pannier. Inside there was a sign inviting customers to Pimp Your Bike. Truly.

Dutch Bikes in Alkmaar


From Ely, I was collected and taken to see das Boot, high and dry, jet washed, but as yet unrepaired. I had a fruitful discussion with the nice man who is going to do the work. There’s a scrape on the starboard side from when the boat got knocked against the pontoon. He advised buying bigger fenders. I said how in the Netherlands I had seen lots of pontoons with old tyres hanging from them, and asked if that would be a good idea. He grinned, and said only if I didn’t mind lots of black marks on my boat. I do. However, if I buy a new set of fenders, I can string the old ones along the side of the pontoon for extra protection. Fenders don’t come cheaply, and I need ten, so I am glad I got my holiday in first. The new kitchen may have to wait a while longer. Or maybe I can start selling pictures of NotCat and turn him into a money spinning celebrity feline.
I was interested in another boat they had there in the marina. It was a bigger, more modern version of das Boot, a vessel designed, as she was, for the Norfolk Broads. There was also a static houseboat. This marina has a number of people who live full time on their boats, and I assumed this must be one of them. I was wrong. It turns out it is a country escape for a man who works in London.I asked if he had a day boat too, and was surprised to learn he hasn’t. My man described it scornfully as a shed, and if you look at this picture of a houseboat community of similar boats in Zaanse Schans, you can see what he means.

Static Houseboat Community, Zaanze Schans


I wouldn’t mind living in one, but I would want a day boat. That’s our leader, by the way, striding along the path. This was the last day of the holidays, and by this point only six of us were joining him for a not very demanding walk. The mosquitos were out in force and I still have three nasty bites, plus circles of what look like, but aren’t, blood blisters around my ankles; my first experience of sock rash. I hope it’s my last. Continue reading