This trip, we did the worst activity that I've ever done on a vacation. It was so miserable, that I cried. A lot.
Hang on a minute, while I tell you about the cute little pub that we ate lunch at on our way to our misery.
Arriving just as they were opening their doors for lunch, MJ's Cafe and Bar in Suffolk is the epitome of an English pub. It had darts, it had a pool table and it had scruffy looking patrons (us excluded of course). What it really had though, was friendly service and great food. I ordered the daily quiche, which was fabulous. It was served with coleslaw, which sounds strange, but was a good combo. Dan ate a full English breakfast and the kids had pizza and beans on toast. All were happy.
The kids loved that MJ's had a playground. They even had a British style totem pole.
After we left MJ's, it started to rain. Then it started to pour. We should have taken the change in the weather as a sign.
What vacation activity could have been so horrible?
Boating on the canals.
This is where I quickly learned that I'm not a boating holiday type of person. It's like camping, either you love it or hate it. Boating = hate it.
We arrived at the Bridge Boatyard in Ely for our three night rental of Sunquest Cruiser #4. Yes, SUN-quest. The irony is not lost.
After checking in at the office, we were shown aboard our boat. As we entered, there were two men trying to fix a leaking window above one of the beds in the back of the boat. Rain had poured in and soaked the mattress. They used duct tape to fix it, but the mattress was wet to damp the entire weekend. Luckily we didn't need all of the beds, because it was unusable.
I realized when I was going through our pictures that none of these really make it look too bad. What you can't see is the smell. Mold smells and everything aboard was damp and moldy. Dan even found mold behind all of the cushions that we were sleeping on. Ew!!!!
Let me give you a tour of our floating hotel.
Here is the backdoor and the two beds in the back, including the one with the leaking window. I slept on the side that didn't have the leak. It was still damp and moldy. Spider were everywhere and they fell on my face and skittered across me in the middle of the night. I didn't sleep much.
This was our bathroom with the shower. The other bathroom that was near the children's room had a sink and toilet. I did get in the shower to rinse off, but it had mold and was gross. I couldn't manage to stay in it long enough to wash my hair.
Our kitchen had a mini fridge and a stove. It was stocked with basic utensils and kitchen gadgets. I have no complaints about how the boat was stocked, but I personally found it difficult to use the kitchen on the boat. The cabinets were so full of kitchen items, that there was very little storage for our groceries.
The movement of the boat made me nervous to use the stove and it was a pain to clean dishes in the small sink. We had gone to Waitrose and stocked up on groceries, planning to cook on board, but quickly scrapped that idea and only did breakfast and snacks.
The one good part about boating, was stopping at pubs along the canal. It was relatively easy to eat out for all of our meals. Unless you're on a really strict budget, I wouldn't recommend cooking on the boat.
Dan and the kids slept in an triangle shaped alcove in the front of the boat.
Our living room doubled as the dining room and was the same area that had the steering wheel. When we had sun, we were able to retract the roof over this area of the boat. This was also the part of the boat where the ants liked to invade!
My favorite part of the boat is this hole.
In this picture were are being given a lesson in daily maintenance checks. We were supposed to clean the filters in this hole twice a day, morning and night. The filters get clogged with river muck from green plants that cover the water. Twice a day sounds nice...try several times a day as the boat kept coming close to over-heating. Dan would have to stop the motor and hand the filter to me, as I ran to the back of the boat to dip it in the water, clean it off and get it back to him, before the boat drifted too far over to the edge. It was frantic team work. Canal muck dripped all over the boat.
During one of the checks, Zoe lost one of her pink crocs down the hole. We never recovered it. The boat ate her shoe.
As the sun was starting to set and rain was coming down in buckets, we headed down the river on our miserable adventure.