Speedy work

 

When we were told that our new wooden boat house (aka the facilities building) would be up within two weeks - we were, to be honest, a little bit sceptical.  However, the rate the builders have been working the past few days has absolutely blown us all away.

A smallish team arrived on Wednesday and by Friday evening we really couldn't believe it, all the external walls were in situ as were the internal walls, even all the roof joists were secured! All within just three days. It was only a couple of weeks ago in our last blog that we said the materials had been delivered!  Now look where we are!

It really is a hugely exciting time for the development of White Mills and there is a real buzz of anticipation around the marina.The weather hasn't been particularly brilliant but rain has never stopped play - so a huge and well deserved pat on the back to the Keops team.  Excellent work.

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So it is now the start of the long summer holidays. Let us hope that the weather stays fine and warm, so that all the hard working youngsters can have a well deserved break and get outside and explore their surroundings especially the beautiful Nene. Many of our recent visitors are newbies to the Nene, and even by the time they reach us just on that short stretch from Northampton to Earls Barton they are totally enchanted by it's crystal clear waters and abundance of wildlife. So you can imagine we are looking forward to their return journeys to hear how they got on and what they thought of the Nene Valley.

Word is beginning to spread about White Mills Marina being a certificated Camping and Caravanning Club site, and most weekends we have campers staying with us.  Once the facilities building has been completed then we can focus our attention on our pretty camping area and install electric hook ups. There is always lots to be done!

Well that is about it, must dash - we have an opening celebration for our delightful boaters to organise!

 

 

 

Comings and Goings

 
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Last week was a real diverse week, not only did we welcome a good number of overnight visitors, which is always lovely as we hear about all the adventures they have had on their journeys along the waterways, but we also welcomed several new permanent moorers too.  It is great to see how quickly they along with their four legged pals, have settled in and are enjoying their new, beautiful surroundings. So welcome one and all!

The first delivery of materials for the final phase of the facilities building also arrived, which is very exciting. Work actually gets underway on building it a week today....... And as we keep on saying, it really can not come quick enough.  It will make such a difference.

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During the week, we had a very useful visit from Northamptonshire Fire Services, four firefighters spent the day down at the marina, speaking to boaters and offering fire safety advice.  They even handed out fantastic new smoke alarms which can differentiate between burning toast and something more serious! How clever is that?  It was a hugely useful exercise and much appreciated by our boaters, so thank you to Carrie for organising.

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Our quiet and tranquil River Nene has seen a small increase in boaters over recent weeks, but the waters are still relatively quiet, under used and of course stunningly gorgeous.  There was  a segment on last night's Countryfile about the River Nene and the Rushden Lakes development so it appears the secret about how picturesque and underused the River Nene is might be out! Hey Ho!

 

 

Busy open day expected

 

This week we are gearing up for next Sunday's Open Day, and having had a very successful Crick Boat Show we are expecting it to be busy.

Already we have had a number of visitors phoning up to book a slot for a tour, so to make sure that everyone receives personal attention the entire Skinner team including Sam, Ben and Joe will be on hand to help. Carrie of course will be steering us through the whole day to make sure it all goes smoothly, whilst Wendy (NB Annie Rose) will be making sure there is enough tea, coffee and cake for all our visitors.

We are now hoping that the weather will do us proud and that we all have a great day.  Look forward to seeing you then! 

The Open Day is on Sunday 2nd July and will run from 10am - 4pm.

 

Cracking Crick

 

Phew! What a weekend we had at Crick Boat Show this weekend. Things really could not have gone any better.

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We had a fabulous spot in the Waterways World Marquee (Stand 80) right on a corner in the middle of a busy thoroughfare and were surrounded by some fabulous exhibitors many of whom we met for the first time last year.  It was a very happy, buzzy atmosphere and we felt so incredibly lucky to be located where we were.

It was a real family affair too with all of us spending at least one day manning the stand. Carrie joined the team on the Saturday and made sure that our boat was ready to sail smoothly over the three day event.  And it did! Each one of us came back to HQ in Earls Barton feeling totally buoyed up by the response and interest we received from boaters who are either looking for new moorings or are planning to visit our tranquil and picturesque River Nene.  

We handed out loads of leaflets not just about White Mills Marina and what we have to offer, but also leaflets about the significance of our location right on the edge of a Site of Special Scientific Interest. Destination Nene Valley had given us a range of information highlighting what is good about the Nene Valley and River Nene, so we were armed with much more useful information this time around, which visitors really seemed to appreciate.  

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Our enthusiasm and excitement for actually being lucky enough to run a marina has been injected with a huge amount of adrenaline thanks to the Crick Boat Show and which looks set to continue for many weeks and months to come. 

If you are planning to pop in and see us, then please do,  we would be thrilled to show you round and the kettle is always on. Don't forget we have an open day on Sunday 2nd July.

 

Views to savour

 
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One of the loveliest things about White Mills is the stunning countryside that surrounds the marina.  

 

 

This was certainly brought home to us at the weekend when photographer Mike Long from Hi Pix Photography popped in to take some pictures. 

 

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We are so lucky to have such fabulous views of uninterrupted countryside to enjoy. Who wouldn't be happy to come to work in a place like this everyday?

 

Early birds catch the chorus

 

Hats off to our bird enthusiasts who on Sunday rose at the crack of dawn to take part in National Dawn Chorus Day by going out for an early morning stroll with local bird enthusiast Ian Moore.

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The team set off at 5am along the River Nene and headed towards Great Doddington, they did not have to walk far to be treated to a whole cocophony of different bird song. 

During the two hour walk, a whole range of different species of birds were identified purely by their individual songs. Amazing!

As everyone enjoyed it so much Ian has now agreed to host a butterfly and dragonfly walk in mid July which will be fabulous.  Spaces will be limited so if you want to secure your spot, then please contact the office asap.

 

 

 

And we are off!

 

Its now full steam ahead creating our  much anticipated facilities building, with work finally getting underway today.  Phase II of White Mills Marina development should be completed by the middle of July, so let us hope that we get some decent dry weather and everything goes according to plan.  None of this of course would be possible if we had not been lucky enough to secure European grant funding for 40% of the project from the Rural Payments Agency, the Rural Development Programme for England and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development.  So a huge thanks once again for believing in our project.

 

First birthday celebrations

 
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It must be an age thing when you find yourself always commenting about how quickly time flies,  so when 1st April came along, needless to say we could not believe that White Mills Marina has actually been up and running for twelve whole months!

To celebrate the occasion, we hosted an open weekend, erected a brand new roadside sign,  held a cake break in aid of our new charity of the year the Multiple Sclerosis Society which raised a fabulous £185.00 and then hosted a small 'drinks do' for our boating community which comprised prosecco (obviously) and a fabulousl cake. We were blessed with good weather which meant we could celebrate al fresco. I am not sure what we would have done if it had been raining, mind you. It was a really lovely event and one I suspect which will be repeated every year in one way or another.

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With the EA licensing renewal up on 31st March we have said farewell to two or three boaters who wanted to move further afield, which was sad, however, thankfully and very happily we have welcomed and are looking forward to welcoming a whole host of new boaters to our community - which is really wonderful and something we still find very exciting. 

Latest news from the marina is that the super duper WiFi has now been installed, there are just a few tweaks to be made to ensure that everyone on site can receive it.   With regards to the facilities building, there has been a delay in kicking off construction mainly because we have made some minor changes.  Any alterations that are made to our original plans need to be passed by the Rural Payment Agency who approved our application for European funding. Hopefully all our ducks are now in a row, and we can get cracking within the next week or so. 

We are delighted that Carrie Hewitt has agreed to help us out more. Carrie will be working in the marina office full time as from the beginning of May.  Luckily for us, Carrie  not only shares our work ethic and ambition for White Mills to become a five star marina, but she also shares our sense of humour.

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Well that is about it, forthcoming events  include another open day on Sunday 7th May 10am - 4pm and a dawn chorus walk along the River Nene on the same day at 5.30am with bird enthusiast Ian Moore.

At the end of the month, we will of course be exhibiting at Crick Boat Show over the bank holiday weekend, so we look forward to seeing you then!

 

 

 

 

Cancer charity benefits from marina donations

 
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We were so thrilled when we counted up the cash in the Pancreatic Cancer UK charity collection box yesterday and discovered that we had raised a very respectable £180.00 over the past few months.

The money had been collected through donations via the Craft Fair in September, two charity quiz nights in the office along with the occasional donation from visitors to the marina office.

So a big thank you to everyone who kindly donated - it means an awful lot and as they say ..... every little helps. 

We have now chosen our charity for 2017/18 which is the Multiple Sclerosis Society - we will be kicking off fund raising by having an Easter egg raffle which will be drawn on Easter Saturday. Raffle tickets are on sale now in the office and cost just £1 per strip.

 

 

Marina of the month

 
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We were so thrilled when Canal Boating Times approached us to see what we thought about being marina of the month in their January issue.  Of course we were absolutely delighted and accepted straight away. Of course we can not thank them enough for thinking of us, it is such a brilliant article and we are all so pleased with it, so we have to share it.  Another fabulous boost for 2017!

To check out January's edition of Canal Boating Times click here

 

Grant Success!

 
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We have done it and it is official!

Our application for grant funding provided through the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) and the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) under the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) 2014-2020, has been successful.

We can now crack on with Phase 2 of our development and erect a facilities building to accommodate ladies and gents toilets and showers as well as disabled facilities.  So a big and huge thank you to the EAFRD and RPA for believing in us.  It really is such a boost, and will of course mean that not only will we have a terrific meeting place for all our boaters and visitors but we will be able to host functions, events and really move the marina's social side forward.

It is hoped if everything goes according to plan, to have the facilities building up and running for 1st May, just 13 months after we officially opened for business as a fully operational marina on 1st April last year. We are so excited and thrilled.

Watch this space for all the very latest! What a terrific start to 2017.

Thanks to all our lovely media who continually support us - below are a couple of links to stories

Narrowboatworld.com

Northamptonshire Telegraph

Northampton Chronicle and echo

Brief Report

 

 

 

 

 
 

Twitchers paradise

 
Picture taken by Martin Swannell

Picture taken by Martin Swannell

There has been great excitement on the birding front at the marina over the past few days.  It kicked off just after Christmas when some White Fronted Geese were spotted having a wonderful time,  and then yesterday a rare Cattle Egret was seen in a neighbouring field.  The sighting caused huge excitement within the local bird watching community with several bird watchers parking up, waiting and watching with long lenses in hand to record this unusual spectacle.

Picture taken by Nicholls of the Yard

Picture taken by Nicholls of the Yard

According to local sources,  it is only the 6th ever recorded sighting of a Cattle Egret in Northamptonshire, so it was a very special moment indeed.  The bird watchers are out in force again this morning, hoping to have yet another glimpse.   And then to round off the day yesterday, a visiting  bird watcher managed to snap an action shot of one of our three pairs of kingfishers who have made White Mills their home. How lucky are we?

 

Happy New Year!

 
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Well here we are nearly a week into 2017 and already we have a lot to look forward to.  Not only will we be erecting our new facilities building in the Spring, which will include toilets, showers and disabled facilities as well as a spacious meeting place,  but we are also looking forward to adding a whole host of finishing touches to the marina, including extending the car park, upgrading the WiFi, finishing off the landscaping and investing in some bicycles and other recreational equipment.  Of course for us, none of it can come soon enough!

Once we have a completion date for the facilities building, then we will be in a position to arrange a number of events for our boating community at the marina. So as we keep saying, exciting times really are ahead. 

The very cold and dry spell we have had of late, has certainly inspired our photographic friends, with some amazing sunsets and sunrises being posted up on social media.  Kate Ashby NB Monkey Monkey has set up a White Mills Marina Boaters Group on facebook, so please do feel free to join this new hub, you never know what you might find out or see.

We would like to take this opportunity of wishing everyone a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year. If anyone is thinking of taking up running as a New Year's Resolution, please let us know, as we have one or two people who are looking for some running buddies.

 

 

 

Merry Christmas

 
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As we approach the big day this weekend, we would like to wish all our boaters and visitors to White Mills Marina a very Merry Christmas and a Happy and Healthy New Year.

The support we have received from visitors, villagers and boaters over the past twelve months has been really encouraging and we are now looking forward to the start of 2017 with even more enthusiasm.  So thank you so much one and all!

 

 

 

 

What a squeeze!

 
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Huge thanks to Bud Smith (nb My Girl) for hosting and organising our first Music Quiz last night.  We all had such fun.  What perhaps amazed us all most is that a staggering twenty six of us managed to squeeze into our little office!  The 100 questions that Bud posed were not quite as easy as we had anticipated, with many of us knowing the songs but not having a clue who the artist was!  Each person paid £2 to enter the competition, and we raised a very respectable £50 for our chosen charity Pancreatic Cancer. So well done everyone.

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The winners of the night were team Marie Stella who walked away with a flagon of cider courtesy of Bud and Chris.   Everyone brought along their own nibbles and drinks, and all in all a great night was had by everyone.

Thank you to Carrie for instigating the evening -  and once again thank you to everyone who came along to make it such a success.

Cheers!

 

And the winner is........

 
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Well what fun we have had over the past week or so as entries trickled in for our Great Pumpkin Challenge.  The enthusiasm and support for the challenge has been wonderful, and we felt really sorry for our lovely judge/neighbour Carol who kindly agreed to officiate.  It was a difficult task as every entry had its own fabulous quality. There were pumpkins that morphed into flower arrangements and beer coolers along with the traditional and miniscule pumpkins.  In the end it was Gary with his troll creation that won the trophy and bottle of fizz. His was a last minute entry, and the detail was most impressive.  

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Now however we are left with a complete mystery, no one has any idea who created the magnificent narrowboat pumpkin which everyone totally admired. It mysteriously appeared outside the office one morning with no clue as to its creator.......  We are now on the case to track down our very own mystery carver. Sherlock Homes and Hercule Poirot would have a field day no doubt! oops and not forgetting Miss Marple of course!