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!

 
sunset_white_mills_marina_river_nene_narrowboats_nene_way

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

 
dizzy_marina_mascot_river_nene_dog

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!

 
white_mills_marina_music_quiz_river_nene

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.

Music_quiz_white_mills_marina_river_nene

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........

 
Winner_Pumpkin_Challenge_White_Mills_Marina_River_Nene

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.  

pumpkin_challenge_narrowboat_river_nene_marina

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!

 

Getting social!

 

It is nearly a month since our last blog .......totally unbelievable. Let us just hope the Winter months fly by as quickly as the Spring/Summer months have.

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There is definitely a change in the air, and it is now beginning to feel more autumnal. It is hard to believe next week we will actually be turning the clocks back. We have just taken a large delivery of coal, (Excel and Supertherm), as well as kindling and firelighters, so if the temperature plummets then we will be well prepared.  We are absolutely loving seeing the smoke puffing out of chimneys when people first light their woodburners on their narrowboats.

The entrance to the car park has now been tarmaced, it has made a huge difference and looks very smart indeed. The team from Phoenix Paving were a really good bunch and went all out to make sure that everyone could access their vehicles with as much ease as possible. Our flower beds at the front have been extended slightly which now means a trip to the local garden centre.  However, this time around, we will have to make sure that we choose something that does not appeal to rabbits!

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The other piece of pleasing news is that we are now officially a 'Certified Site' for the Camping and Caravanning Club, which means as from next May the camping area will only be available to members of the  C & C Club and we will only be able to accommodate six caravans and ten tents.  This we believe will help us to retain its tranquil and picturesque charm.

We have several new boaters we are looking forward to welcoming over the forthcoming weeks, and are now planning a few social events to both welcome them and to round off the rest of the year starting with our pumpkin challenge next week. Plans are afoot for a music quiz and an open house Christmas event which is yet to be finalised.  So there is a lot to look forward to.  

P.S. If you have any Christmas recipes you would like to share, then please do let us have them, so we can pop them on our Cooking on the Cut section of the website! 

 

Coffee morning success

 
keith_grantham_star_baker_white_mills_marina_river_nene

A big thank you to everyone who supported our first coffee morning in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support on Friday 30th September. We are thrilled to announce that from our humble little office we managed to raise a terrific £205 - which was wonderful.

With a fabulous array of cakes lovingly baked by some fab friends on offer and a terrific team washing up, serving and generally being hugely supportive, the event was a very happy one, to say the least.  Once again (and I know we grind on about the weather ALL the time) we were extremely lucky, the sun shone which meant that people could spill outside to enjoy their coffee and cake and admire the super views.

Star baker was Keith Grantham (nb Ouzel ll) who only arrived at the marina last week and still found the time to whip up a hugely popular tea cake.  Many thanks to Keith for jumping straight in. Keith's recipe will be posted up on the Cooking on the Cut section of this website shortly.

If you are planning to visit the marina during the winter months, please note that the office will be closed every Tuesday until April.  We will also be closing for lunch between 12.30 and 1.30 on weekdays only.  We are always contactable on the hotline 07802 890874. So if you need us - just call.

 

 

 

Nene Valley Festival success

 
The_drifter_Haydn_white_mills_marina_river_nene_festival

Wow - what a fabulous day we had yesterday when we took part in the Nene Valley Festival by hosting a special open day and craft fair.

Being the new kids on the block, it was the first time we had dipped our toes in the water to participate in the week long festival and it really was a terrific success. In fact we now can not wait until next year, when hopefully our facilities building will be up and running allowing us to go all out and organise a bigger event or even a series of events!

Nancy_May _Crochet_River_Nene_Marina

I know we are always banging on about the weather, but my goodness me, we really were extremely lucky with it yesterday - the sun shone and there was not a drop of rain about. What really made the day was the selection of lovely craft stalls we had, small yet beautiful - there was canal art, upcycled denim, crocheting and photography, upcycled bottles, pet portraits as well as a spinning demonstration.  However it was the fabulous music by The Drifter that really helped to set the scene. Throughout the day, Haydn played some fabulous tunes on his guitar which all of our numerous visitors clearly enjoyed.

All in all a great day which was rounded off by a very relaxed and thoroughly enjoyable BBQ for all our regular moorers. 

Thanks to everyone who rolled up their sleeves and got involved.

 

White bread - a definite no no for swans

 
angel_wings_white_bread_river_nene

There has been great concern over recent weeks over one particular cygnet on the marina who really has not been blossoming like the rest of its siblings.

Two or three of our boaters had commented on its flight feathers, or should I say lack of flight feathers and had noticed it was becoming more isolated from the rest of its family.  Their concern prompted a call to the RSPCA who wasted no time in coming out to take a look.

According to the inspector, our cygnet has something called Angel Wings which means that as it was growing and developing it was fed too much bread (especially white bread) which has resulted in its flight feathers becoming deformed as it has matured meaning Gabriel as he/she has since been christened will never be able to fly.  The RSPCA inspector did say that Angel Wings is becoming an increasingly regular occurrence.  However he assured us that Gabriel is not in any pain, and could expect to live a long life, even so for this particular newcomer to the marina it is all really rather sad.  Needless to say, Gabriel has won our hearts

 

Still learning.

 
nene_valley_festival_craft_event_white_mills_marina

Where on earth has August gone? Infact, more to the point, where have the past few months gone? We can not believe that we have been up and running for five whole months now. 

Both of us have learnt and are learning so much.  We are continuously meeting so many lovely people all of whom are keen to offer help, advice and endless tips to help us create a successful marina that is a popular and much welcomed stopping off point for visitors to the River Nene. 

The feedback we are getting from boaters who are new to the River Nene, is that they are absolutely blown away by the river's natural beauty and refer to it as one of Northamptonshire's best kept secrets. Its lovely to see more people are appreciating what we have known all along.

Bank Holiday weekend proved to be incredibly busy (actually you could say we were almost rushed off our feet!) with a good number of boaters showing a keen interest in mooring their boats with us not just over the winter, but more longer term too. 

We are now looking forward to our next Open Sunday this Sunday 4th September, from 10am - 4pm  which will be followed two weeks later by a special Open Sunday on Sunday 18th September again 10 - 4pm  when we will be celebrating the start of the Nene Valley Festival  (17th - 25th September) by a hosting a small craft fair.

Exhibiting at the White Mills Marina event will be canal art by Alice's flowers, crocheting by Nancy May Crochet, Portraits by Colin Ashby Portraits, upcycled bottles by Moonshine, recycled vintage denim by Jilly Palacek, music by Drifter and hopefully a few more stalls too,  We will also have one of our boaters demonstrating the art of spinning, so all in all something for everyone. 

macmillan_coffee_morning_White_mills_marina

Later in the month on Friday 30th September we are taking part in the Worlds Biggest Coffee Morning and will  be holding a coffee morning here in the office - more details to follow, 

 

 

What a weekend!

 

What a weekend! 

white_mills_marina_bridge_opening_nene_way_river_nene

The weekend at the marina started on Friday with the official opening of the long awaited bridge over the entrance,  Martin Cahill, former Chairman of Earls Barton Parish Council did the ribbon cutting. He is a great supporter of the marina, so it was perfect that he agreed to officiate. Dog walkers and folks from the village came along to be amongst the first to walk over the bridge which was fun and definitely one of those moments in time....

White_Mills_Marina_Nene_Way_River_Nene

Charlie Ward our fabulous commercial photographer from Earls Barton took some great pictures of the event and jumped aboard narrowboat Charlie Beere (thanks Roger for captaining your ship so wonderfully!) to take pictures of everyone on the bridge.  It really is great to see the Nene Way footpath back in action, and there has certainly been some action, with dog walkers, cyclists, ramblers and bird watchers all enjoying the gorgeous River Nene once again.  A huge thanks to everyone for being so patient!  

On Saturday it was all hands on deck as we went all out to get the marina looking ship shape for Sunday's Open Day.  With the weather being so perfect, it was lovely to see so many of our boaters out and about enjoying themselves. 

Our Open Day went well, Boatfinder Brokerage came down and did some viewings of Jersey Lily and we were kept busy chatting to people keen to find out more about the marina, and of course discussing winter moorings.  Whilst it was windy, it was a warm wind and we were so lucky to have a fine day. On the farming side John and the lads managed to juggle combining the wheat with helping down at the marina, fortunately everyone managed to multi task beautifully and harvest in now underway.

 

Building bridges

 
 
white_mills_bridge_river_nene

There has been some serious action at White Mills over the past two weeks.  Land and Water Services have returned and are now erecting the long awaited bridge over the entrance of the marina. 

The completion of the bridge will now mean that by the end of next week, the footpath along the River Nene will be reopened, enabling walkers to walk along the River Nene towards Cogenhoe and of course in the other direction to Great Doddington and beyond too.

 
 

The bridge has been designed to be accessible to everyone, hence the size.  It will be lovely to see walkers along the river bank once again, and we can not thank everyone enough for their patience and tolerance whilst the footpath has been closed.

We hope to have an official opening at some point and will post details as and when they have been formalised.

Additional work that Land and Water Services will be carrying out over the next couple of weeks includes finishing off the flood compensation area around the far side of the marina adacent to the Tooley pontoons, installing a drain and finishing off the car park. So all is looking good. 

white_mills_marina_river_nene_summer_fun_narrowboats_cruisers

It was tremendously thrilling at the weekend, Northampton Boat Club chose to host one of their many annual events at White Mills.  Watching the convoy of boats cruise into the marina was truly wonderful. The feedback we received from them was not only did they have a thoroughly enjoyable time, but they are hoping to make a return trip later this Summer.  And of course we will look forward to welcoming them.

 

 

Boats and folks

 
narrow_boat_for_sale_white_mills_marina_river_nene_moorings

I don't like to count our chickens before they hatch but this morning it is beginning to look as though Summer has finally arrived!

Mind you it is not just that yellow ball in the clear blue sky that is suggesting that Summer is here, but the number of boaters who came to visit us over the weekend and especially at the Open Day yesterday.

From the moment we opened we had a steady stream of boaters wanting to look around, and if we had a penny for every time someone mentioned the fantastic view of Whiston church high up on the horizon then we could retire! There was a wonderful atmosphere at the marina all weekend, and we were lucky enough to have Kelly Coffee Beans down with her array of different coffees which seemed really popular.

What was particularly exciting however was the arrival of our first brokerage boat 64ft Jersey Lily which we are mooring on behalf of Boatfinder Brokerage.  We will now be carrying out viewings which we are looking forward to doing.  It is another step to making us feel like an established and fully functioning marina.

Finally, our deep freeze was installed in the office on Friday and is now full to the brim with ice creams. With the sun shining brightly this morning and a hot, dry week to look forward to then it really could not be more timely. 

 

 

Maintenance Matters

 
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The rain combined with sunny intervals has provided the perfect conditions for our newly sown grass to grow, which means that keeping it nicely manicured is proving to be a team job.  John has recently invested in a rather industrial looking Scag mower that seems to be doing a top job and is far less strenuous than the one he had been using.  Of course whenever you have a new machine such as a mower suddenly grass cutting becomes a job for the boys, so at weekends now there is no shortage of assistance!

Our local builder John and his able assistant Frank have made a marvellous job of putting some wonderful looking wooden steps into the bank off the car park. Our boaters who are moored on the Arnold and  Tooley pontoons now have an attractive and handy short cut to their destinations.  

cakes_white_mills_marina_sunday_teas

Sadly Darla Rose the vintage coffee caravan is not able to come along on Sundays anymore due to previous commitments. We are actively looking for someone to provide some refreshments over the weekends until our facilities building is up and running.  In the meantime, Phoebe Knuff has stepped in and is baking really fabulous cakes for us every Sunday, which we are serving with teas and coffees from the office. In addition, ice cream lovers out there might be pleased to know that we have bought a small deep freeze and as from this weekend we will be selling ice creams from the office too.

Finally, there are some exciting developments with regards to the footbridge and the finishing off of the marina- watch this space for the latest news.  We do not want to say too much and count our chickens before they hatch.

Finally, finally please do not forget we have an Open Day this Sunday from 10 - 4 - so if you have not yet been to visit us, then please do drop in - we would be thrilled to show you around.

 

Happy families

 

Today is the first day that there has actually been time to write a quick blog!  Since Crick we seem to have been endlessly busy taking calls, showing people round and of course thanks to the inclement weather, continually cutting and strimming the grass which incidentally is coming along very nicely indeed. (Not that surprising considering the amount of  rain we have had!)

We had planned our first "boaters" barbeque last Friday, the 'ap' on our phones showed the forecast to be non stop rain, which it was at lunchtime when we took the decision to postpone our debut event. Typically almost as soon as we had contacted everyone, the rain stopped for the rest of the day!  We were hugely disappointed, but hopefully there are plenty of hot, sunny days ahead to be able to reschedule.

Our little families of geese, swans and moorhens are all progressing beautifully and have grown so quickly. One enthusiastic bird watching boater even booked a narrow boat mooring on the strength of the  numbers of different species of birds he saw including a real close up of a red kite. What undoubtedly helped to clinch it too was the spitfire flying above which was truly a wonderful sight to witness.

Darla Rose continues to attract visitors to the marina on Sundays, which is great news, and each week she has a totally different cake on offer.  

As a reminder, we have three open Sundays coming up over the next three months, Sunday 3rd July, Sunday 7th August and Sunday 4th September - Why not pop in?

 

Crick boat show success

 
crick_boat_show_white_mills_marina_river_nene

Well what a weekend! Our first ever Crick Boat Show and what a welcome we had.  It was not just enthusiastic boaters looking for moorings for their wide beams and narrowboats on the River Nene who gave us such encouragement and support but fellow marina operators too, which was wonderful.

 

Sam and Ben manned the stand throughout the weekend, and clearly enjoyed meeting so many new faces and striking up relationships with other exhibitors.

The whole experience has been a real delight, and quite honestly we are now looking forward to exhibiting next year not as the new kid on the block but as a fully fledged marina with a handsome occupancy rate.

Thanks to everyone for their kindness, support and encouragement, you really made us feel part of the whole waterways team.  

 

 

 

Secluded spot perfect for campers

 
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Our delightful area towards the back of the marina hidden amongst the trees is really beginning to take shape beautifully and will make a gorgeous spot for visitors to our neck of the woods who prefer four wheels. 

The grass that was sown barely three weeks ago is beginning to thicken out and we are almost  ready now to welcome motorhomes, campervans, caravans and tents.  In order to keep it nice and peaceful our plan is to only accommodate a total of five caravans and ten tents at anyone time. 

Campers will be able to enjoy all the benefits we have to offer from water and elsan disposal to having the use of toilets and showers as well as access WiFi.

With such good road links and easy access to the lively little village of Earls Barton, what more does anyone need for a great escape to the country.

 

Its the little things ......

 

A big thank you to one of our over night visitors for kicking off our book swap station this week. Chris who stayed for two nights, very kindly left us a couple of books which reminded Roger and Emmeline (who had already made the suggestion) to bring in their books, which in turn prompted Jan to donate a couple of books along with a trio of DVDs.  So now our little library which is located in the laundry room is up and running ...... Its the little things that count. As you can see from the picture we even have some hard backs available! How smart are we?

 

What a classic - vintage Rolls Royce makes a visit

 

A very special car visited White Mills Marina on Sunday and it certainly caused a few heads to turn.

A visitor who is renowned for loving his vintage and classic cars called into enjoy a 'proper' coffee at the Darla Rose Vintage coffee caravan in his immaculate bright red 1929 Rolls Royce. 

We couldn't possibly let such a special visit go unmentioned, let alone photographed could we?