A Moonlight Swim in Crappy Peterborough

Tuesday morning dawned fair for a quick run into Peterborough.

Peterborough Town Key and EmbankmentPeterborough Town Key and Embankment

Peterborough Town Key and Embankment

The lengthy town quay is nicely screened by willows, and – at least at one end – amazingly close to the town centre and main shopping street. The only snag is that the area is home, in the day, to hundreds of Canada geese, dozens and dozens of swans, myriad pigeons and so on. They don’t even bother to move out the way for humans, though rouse themselves for dogs and cats. Some of the local population take it upon themselves to feed the birds on a positively industrial scale: whole loaves, large carrier bags stuffed full of bagels, even a couple of pounds of raw mince left on the side. Somewhat similar, only much worse then Wellingborough, where one boater was grumpily opining that the Eastern European and Asian immigrant communities regarded them as free food and went out catching them at night – perhaps they are all Daily Mail readers. Don’t know if it’s true, but it sounds like a good plan, because they really do make an awful mess, even if it doesn’t smell as bad as dog-poo. On many places on the Grand Union, there were pretty signs exclaiming “There is no dog-poo fairy…” but what the whole waterways system really needs is a goose-poo fairy. And it’s not just the banks: the water is full of muck, feathers, etc. which goes nicely with the duckweed.

After a nasty outbreak of traipsing round the shops, we headed out again for dinner, and observed that there were large numbers of people streaming from every direction towards the London Road Bridge right by where we were moored. Just over the other side, within earshot, was the home of Peterborough Football Club, and we guessed there must have been a mid-week match. Somewhat worried about noisy or riotous post-match shenanigans, we saw and heard nary a peep: checking the next morning showed they’d been trounced 4-1 by Charlton, so I guess there were a lot of subdued fans walking home.

The Captain normally has the run of the  boat at night, and access to the outside world; where he feels comfortable he makes the occasional trip landside to explore and do his business before returning for refreshment, but he usually spends most of the night asleep on a chair or curled up on the end of the bed. If awake, we know when he comes in, as there’s a slight thump as he jumps down from the gunwale onto the cratch locker, followed by a quiet noise from the cat flap, inevitably followed by crunching noises as he gets stuck into his food. Sometime later we might hear him pad down the length of the boat and jump on the end of the bed.

Unable to sleep (or perhaps ruminating on Canada goose recipes), the chief cook got up at about 03:00, and it being a fine moonlit night went out on the back deck for some air. Don’t know where they go at night, but the only wildlife in sight were four bunnies (heaven knows where from) and a bat. It was clear Sir wasn’t aboard, so she called him once or twice, but there was no sign. We’d earlier caught him sloping off down the quay some distance to the Peterborough Beer Festival that was in full swing – perhaps he’d gone back to check it was all quiet.

He normally comes when called at night, but there was no sign, so SWMBO dutifully tossed and turned, worrying that he was out so late.

Some half hour later we heard the usual thump as he jumped down into the cratch, followed by the flip-flap of the cat flap. But no munching noises: just a high speed run down the length of the boat and a slight “meep” as he launched himself onto the end of the bed – soaking wet – and demanding a towel rub down with extreme prejudice.

Don’t know what had happened: if he’d gone in the water anywhere near the boat he’d have been covered with duckweed, feathers and miscellaneous rubbish, but he was just “clean” wet, and his head and spine weren’t really all that wet, just a bit damp. Another of life’s little mysteries.

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