Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Peak time to dream

We're back home from our little jaunt in the Peak District. We stayed four nights here:

and did lots of walking. After the cows on the farm the next animal (bird) we saw, as we walked into Bakewell, along footpaths through fields, was this pheasant, catching the sunlight nicely.

As we wandered up to the River Wye in town we noticed that all the litter bins were stuffed with cardboard boxes from the local chippie. Must be a good one, we thought, and so we bought a portion of chips from Wye Plaice. And they were good.

When we first drove into Bakewell we saw roadside posters advertising the local choral society's performance of Elgar's "The Dream of Gerontius" that evening. We decided that we'd go, but we'd walk back to get the car so we didn't have to walk back in the dark after the concert.

So we did walk back for the car, and we did go to the concert, which was in the parish church, and it was very good.

And I will tell the story of the kettle calamity, but not just yet.

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Wildlife (and not so wild) in the Peaks

The farm we're staying on in Derbyshire has cows. We smelled them when we arrived, and we smell them in the kitchen. It's quite a friendly smell really.

I think these are calves. On our walk on Sunday afternoon we passed through a farm where the cows were still being held indoors on winter rations.

We also passed sheep...

...and a cat.

We had excellent weather for our walk, but yesterday, when we visited Andrew and Bekka in Sheffield, was rainy all day. Jan says snow is forecast next.

Before returning home we aim to visit the Cromford Canal. It'll probably be in the snow.

Monday, 29 March 2010

Monsal Head and viaduct

Jan and I are enjoying a few days in the Peak District. We're staying in accomodation on a working farm near Bakewell in Derbyshire. I did a very silly thing as soon as we arrived, which I'll tell you about when I've taken a couple of photos to illustrate my stupidity.

I'm struggling with the PC laptop: it's being reluctant to upload photos I'm too used to the Mac. I've managed to get two photos on: of the spectacular Monsal Viaduct of the old Midland Railway.

We're visiting our son and his girlfriend in Sheffield and are just about to go out for a curry. Yum.

Top Thirty, 2010 Week 11

Here is the UK Waterways Site Ranking as it stood at 1130 on Monday 29th March 2010. This is taken from Tony Blews's UK Waterways Ranking Site.

1 Jim Shead's Waterways Information (=)

2 Pennine Waterways (+1)

3 - Forums (-1)

4 Granny Buttons (+1)

5 CanalPlanAC (-1)

6 (=)

7 Retirement with No Problem (=)

8 Towpath Treks (=)

9 Narrowboat Gypsy Rover (+1)

10 Jannock Website (+2)

11 UKCanals Network (+2)

12 Canal Photos (-3)

13 Water Explorer (+5)

14 Trafalgar Marine Services (+3)

15 Waterway Routes (=)

16 nb Epiphany (-5)

17 Baddie the Pirate (+7)

18 Google Earth Canal Maps (-2)

19 (-5)

20 Narrowboat Bones (+1)

21 nb Lucky Duck (+1)

22 Narrowboat Caxton (+4)

23 WB Takey Tezey (-4)

24 Derwent6 (-1)

25 Chertsey (-5)

26 Working Boat Hadar (-1)

27 Canal & Narrowboat (=)

28 Captain Ahab's Watery Tales (+2)

29 nb Piston Broke (-)

30 Boating Holidays in the UK and Europe (-)

The figures in parentheses denote the number of places moved since the previous chart; (-) denotes new entry or re-entry into the top thirty; (=) denotes no change.
Halfie is at number 39. There are 102 entries altogether.

Friday, 26 March 2010

One horsepower travel

Waterways World Vol. 1 No. 2 (October 1972) had an article which began:

It's been described as "motion asleep". Certainly, it's something like that. Lying on the cabin top with your eyes closed you are completely unaware that the boat is on the move. There is no noise, no vibration, no surging of wash, no "stirring up the mud and knocking down the banks". Open your eyes and the trees overhead are passing by at a hypnotic rate. What is the secret?

The secret, of course, is the horse at the end of a cotton towline.

The article had several photographs of horses in canal scenes; here are two of them with their original captions:

One horse power pulling a day trip boat on the Grand Union Canal near Berkhamstead - picture WW

There are complications - Jack Roberts, ex. Shropshire Union fly-boat skipper, hands in the towing line to pass a pair of moored narrow boats in the Potteries. - picture WW

(edit) Sorry, this published originally as a title only!

Thursday, 25 March 2010

An old ad, an old phone number, and horse-drawn trip boats

An advertisement in the very first issue of Waterways World reads as follows:

'I O N A'
is plying for hire to groups of gentle folk, at very reasonable rates, as a form of relaxation, and as a subject of absorbing interest to all
Please Apply

Ridiculously archaic copy, even in 1972. Perhaps they wanted to keep the riff-raff away - they might have frightened the "gentle folk".

Do you see what the telephone number is? Weren't phone numbers simple in the old days? All you had to remember was "Woodseaves" and "292". Easy.

Now, if you wanted to contact Norbury Wharf Limited, and you hadn't written it down, you'd have to memorise 01785284292. Or you'd e-mail them, I suppose.

Norbury Wharf doesn't list horse-drawn boat trips on its website. A quick trawl for horse-drawn boats produced the following:

Llangollen Wharf
Tiverton Canal
Godalming Packetboat Company for trips on the Wey
Kennet Horse Boat Company, Kintbury on the K&A

Iona was launched in 1935 as Bellerephon, a "star class" Small Woolwich steel composite butty, originally paired with Bootes.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Journey into the 30s

A marvellous series of articles, with photographs taken in 1935 by Cyril Arapoff, began in the first issue of Waterways World, in Spring 1972. The scenes recorded were thus from only 37 years previously - now, of course, they are of 75 years ago and outside most people's memories.

The location is Brentford; the subject is wide boat Golden Spray.

"These boats were built and styled along the lines of a narrow boat, but with a more generous beam for the wide locks of the Grand Union.  Golden Spray is pictured at Brentford after loading 40 tons of grain in 2 cwt sacks from a lighter.  The sacks were swung by crane from the lighter's hold on to its hatch covers and then by men with sack-hooks on to the gunnel.  They were then dropped onto the shoulders of the skipper of the Golden Spray, lying alongside, who carried and positioned them in the hold of his boat - a typical example of the back-breaking loading methods of canal boats."

Two more photographs accompanied the article: in the first the elder girl is "clothing up" after loading.

According to the text the two narrow boats in the background (below) "are Fellows, Morton and Clayton boats: Composite boat Foxton, built 27th July 1900 and registered BIRMINGHAM 1058, and wooden boat Evenlode, built at F.M.C.'s Uxbridge yard in 1922 and registered UXBRIDGE 523."

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Waterways World 38 years ago

The first issue of Waterways World was dated Spring 1972 and cost 20p. The first photograph of a narrowboat is on page 9; the "free canal holiday" was to be taken aboard a cruiser; the phrase "narrow boat" didn't appear until page 19 of a 48-page magazine. How times have changed!

Can you identify the front cover photo location? Answer at the bottom.

Another illustration of how we've moved on is the article headed "Womans World" (sic). The editorial earlier in the magazine says "Woman's World gives the female slant [...] starting with a look at women at working parties."

The article starts:

"There were no skirts to be seen at
Ashton on the cold, grey morning
of March 25th, but that doesn't
mean that the women of the canal
fraternity are shrinking violets when
it comes to getting dirty.  They were
there of course, but beneath the
mud it was often difficult to tell the
men from the girls.  Indeed this is
one place where Women's Lib.
comes into its own, and jobs are
allocated regardless of sex - every
woman playing an important role
in this, the biggest ever voluntary
working party to be held on our
inland waterways."

Nowhere does it explain what "Ashtac" stands for. Ashton Camp?* And isn't the font used for the title similar to that used by rock bands such as Yes in the Seventies?

Four issues later (December 1972) "Woman's World" had vanished.

The description of the front cover photo, taken by Harry Arnold, reads: "Looking up (sic) the Northampton Arm of the Grand Union Canal after last year's National Rally of Boats".

*(edit) Ashtac could stand for Ashton Attack, according to Jim of Starcross. Thanks Jim.

Monday, 22 March 2010

Campaigning has started ...

... in the General Election which hasn't been called yet.

The Green Party sets up its stall in front of a deserted Norwich Market. The paste table buckles under the weight of literature, the faithful party worker is besieged by the hordes all wanting to question him on Green Party policy ...

Er, not quite.

Well, OK, perhaps that's not really fair. The prospective parliamentary candidate himself is there, but there aren't many people to talk to. The pigeon looks to be paying a flying visit, but the carpet man is walking right out of the picture.

Mr. Ramsay practices the politician's stance.

In order to show fairness I shall be similarly mocking of the other parties, assuming I can get to photograph them too.

Sunday, 21 March 2010


Têtes-à-têtes - or mini-daffodils - in the garden showing that spring has arrived at last. Four and a half weeks ago they looked like this:

Soon we'll be puttting the clocks forward. Yes, summer time is nearly here. This is the time to be boating!

Top Thirty, 2010 week 10

Here is the UK Waterways Site Ranking as it stood at 0820 on Sunday 21st March 2010. This is taken from Tony Blews's UK Waterways Ranking Site.

1 Jim Shead's Waterways Information (=)

2 Pennine Waterways (+1)

3 - Forums (-1)

4 CanalPlanAC (+1)

5 Granny Buttons (-1)

6 (=)

7 Retirement with No Problem (=)

8 Towpath Treks (+6)

9 Canal Photos (-1)

10 Narrowboat Gypsy Rover (-1)

11 nb Epiphany (=)

12 Jannock Website (-2)

13 UKCanals Network (=)

14 (-2)

15 Waterway Routes (=)

16 Google Earth Canal Maps (=)

17 Trafalgar Marine Services (+4)

18 Water Explorer (-1)

19 WB Takey Tezey (+1)

20 Chertsey (-1)

21 Narrowboat Bones (-3)

22 nb Lucky Duck (=)

23 Derwent6 (+2)

24 Baddie the Pirate (=)

25 Working Boat Hadar (+1)

26 Narrowboat Caxton (-3)

27 Canal & Narrowboat (+3)

28 Tony Clayton's Canal Photographs (-)

29 Narrowboat Alacrity (-)

30 Captain Ahab's Watery Tales (-)

The figures in parentheses denote the number of places moved since the previous chart; (-) denotes new entry or re-entry into the top thirty; (=) denotes no change.

Halfie is at number 34. There are 101 entries altogether.

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Spot the difference

May 2008

March 2010

Top picture:

red; worn out; rusty; front gear change broken; mudguards barely attached; tyres cracked; saddle a mess. The old bike.

Bottom picture:

black; in excellent condition; no rust. The new bike.

But there are actually a remarkable number of similarities.

Same style of dropped handlebars with brake lever extensions; same method of (frame-mounted) gear changing; same frame construction and size.

I bought the old bike from Phil Corley Cycles in Milton Keynes with £100 I was left by my Granny in, I think, 1984. Since then it's been hammered. I reckon I've done at least 60,000 miles on it, and when I stopped using it a couple of weeks ago, like the legendary broom, there wasn't much left that was original (only the frame, brake levers and calipers, rack, pedals). It's been in a major road traffic collision; it's been mildly crushed between a low bridge and the boat's cabin top; its saddle has been wrecked by Wrenbury Lift Bridge.

I bought the "new" bike from a garage in a nearby village. The man there buys up bikes from police auctions and collects abandoned ones from the University of East Anglia, and accepts donations. He does them up, and sells them in aid of East Anglia's Children's Hospices. My bike has hardly ever been ridden. Indeed, it must have been taking up space in someone's garage for years. I've just searched for the name on the internet, and the few references to it seem to date it to the 1980s, making it probably the same age as my old bike! And that would explain the similarities, I suppose.

The bike man gave me the purple metal mudguards from a scrap bike as the originals were pathetically short. My test ride was in the rain; I got a wet bottom from all the spray flung at me from the back wheel. You will notice that I've transferred across the paniers, the D-lock, the lights, the bell and the pump. It's a lot heavier than when I tested it!

Now, the question is: will it be suitable for towpaths?

Friday, 19 March 2010

"I think you'd be hard pushed to find a shopping trolley in a canal these days" - BW

photo of kingfisher from

Canals featured on the Today programme this morning, just before seven o'clock. John Humphrys interviewed Mark Robinson, British Waterways's National Ecology Manager following a BW press release asking for people to record the wildlife they see at their local waterway.

The interview is available for a week to listen again to here (it starts at 0:53:52), and I've transcribed it below.

John Humphrys: The time is now nearly six minutes to seven ... and they are worried about the kingfisher. That's because of the hard winter. British Waterways is launching its annual wildlife survey, and Dr. Mark Robinson, the national ecology manager, is on the line from Gloucester, good morning to you.

MR: Good morning John.

JH: So kingfishers don't like cold winters. Is that it?

MR: The cold winters are particularly bad for kingfishers because, as you know, they fish, along with some of our other water birds, and when the canals are frozen, er, they find it very difficult to to find food and often have to move to other areas, perhaps where there's kingfishers already and there's competition, so they do have a particularly hard time when the canals are frozen.

JH: There are some ... I saw one not that long ago running along, no, I was doing the running not the (laughter) ...along a river in Manchester, it darted out in front of me - wonderful sight.

MR: It is. It's so exciting when you're walking along the canal and you get that unexpected flash of blue and, you know instantly what it is, even though you, perhaps you don't see them that often.

JH: So is there anything that can be done, I suppose you can't actually sort of, put live fish on a bird table or something can you, I mean ... how do you, how do you help a kingfisher?

MR: I, I think there's, there's not a lot we can do as far as the frozen water .. I mean we can, we can help by improving the habitat along the canals so they've got good perches when, when the canals aren't frozen, they can, they have good fishing points if you like so they can see the fish, erm, but there's not a lot we can do to help them over the frozen water, whereas some of our other bird species like some of the small bluetits and long-tailed tits, they regularly come to bird tables and that and and do get a benefit.

JH: And the waterways, well, you'd, I'd expect you to say this: yes, they do matter, but they do matter a lot really, don't they?

MR: Of course they do, and they're, you know, they're a 200 year old, 200 year old historic structure that is a magnificent place to visit, it's very vibrant, and the wildlife there is, is just excellent, and one of the things that excites me about the canals is that they're excellent habitat corridors so they bring the wild ... the countryside and the wildlife into the hearts of our towns and cities.

JH: And what sort of state are they in generally compared with, er, well, I don't know, ten, twenty years ago?

MR: Oh there's, there's been a huge huge renaissance in the canals with, with erm improvements not only in the heritage but the the habitat for the wildlife and the water quality improving, I mean when I was a kid and used to go down the canals they were, twenty, thirty years ago, it was a very different different place to what we've got today.

JH: What, lots of shopping trollies and stuff like that (laughter) ... Why do we always associate shopping trollies with canals? I wonder if that's true, or is it just a bit of an urban myth, that they're all full of shopping trollies?

MR: I think you'd be hard pushed to find a shopping trolley in a canal these days. (laughter)

JH: Do you reckon? (laughter) ... Somebody out there is going to test you on that you know, we'll have e-mails winging their way in even as I speak!

MR: We, we do respond fairly quickly to to getting shopping trollies out if they do appear.

JH: Do you? And are they cleaner generally, I mean are there the sorts of wildlife in them quite apart from the birds that use them, obviously, but is there the kind of wildlife that, erm, should be there?

MR: I think, I think because things like the water quality has improved which, OK, it's good for the fish, but it's had that knock-on effect for other things like the kingfisher again, you know, so there's more small fish in there for the kingfisher to to feed on. So, you know that that habitat has improved and it has had a massive impact on the wildlife and it's made it a much more interesting place to visit. You know, if you go for a walk at the weekend with the kids or a picnic or even have a sandwich at lunchtime on the side of the canal you're bound to see some wildlife. Maybe not a kingfisher, but ducks or something of interest.

JH: And if you do see a shopping trolley give 'em a ring. Dr. Mark Robinson, many thanks.

Evan Davis: Coming up to two minutes to seven now, what's the weather going to be on our waterways, John Hammond's got that ...

John Hammond: Well I'll be running up the towpath later on this afternoon checking for shopping trollies and kingfishers, it's set to be a fine day today...

The actual survey was mentioned only in passing. Even the press release says little about it; for details you're directed here. I was interested to find out when the survey was to be conducted: it's actually from now for another six months plus. How is the data to be interpreted when, as the form says, Remember, you can tell us about your waterway wildlife sightings as many times as you like until 30 September.?

The best quotation from the interview I've used as the title for this post.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

We need a holiday

I commented on Granny Buttons that we're looking for a canalside place for a few days' R 'n' R at the end of this month. If we had 100% ownership of our boat that would be no problem, but someone else has it then. So we'd like to find a canalside place, preferably self-catering but possibly a B&B, ideally in the Birmingham area (for proximity to our daughter) or the Sheffield area (ditto our son).

A view like this would be just perfect! The search continues.

Update: we've found a cottage near Bakewell. OK, not exactly canalside, but in great walking country (and somewhat nearer Sheffield than Norbury Junction!).

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Playing around with photos again

Andrew Denny is fond of saying that 300 words is worth a picture, but I don't come near his standards. Instead here's a treated photo of Panther on the Llangollen Canal last October.

Only 45 words, but it'll have to do. Have a picture anyway.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Street clutter

Over the last few weeks I've become aware of how many A-boards and other advertising signs are taking over a pedestrianised area.

This is Gentleman's Walk in Norwich, by the market. In the short length immediately alongside the market I counted 29 of these signs. Bad enough when you can see them and walk round them, but an unnecessary and unwelcome hazard if you're blind.

Monday, 15 March 2010

Birthday girl

I've already mentioned that we visited our daughter and son-in-law at the weekend. On the Saturday we joined them and several of their friends for a meal at Deolali, a modern Indian restaurant in Moseley. The meal was to celebrate two birthdays: Ally and Ben's friend Mika's, on the day itself; and Ally's on the Sunday.

Jan had cooked a delicious birthday cake for Ally. We couldn't quite work out why there were only three candles, given that Ally was 7.3333333 times 3 years old!

Interesting to compare the photo above with that of Ally's Granny, below:

Sunday, 14 March 2010

A boat with no name

We've just returned from visiting Ally and Ben in Birmingham. They live near the Stratford Canal, and I took this photo on my way back from an abortive trip to get milk (the Co-op wasn't going to open until 10.00 on a Sunday).

The boat on the right had just reversed out of the way of the one on the left, coming through the bridge hole, and it was obviously easier for them to pass on the "wrong" side. I looked in vain for a name on either boat. Why do people (or boats) seem to want to be anonymous?

Turning to Jim Shead's Waterway's Information site and looking up the BW registration numbers, just visible on this and another photo which I haven't published, gives the name of the boat on the right as Lynx; and that on the left (a Black Prince boat?) as Endeavour (if I've entered the correct number. It's hard to read.)
Here is the UK Waterways Site Ranking as it stood at 2220 on Sunday 14th March 2010. This is taken from the UK Waterways Ranking Site.

1 Jim Shead's Waterways Information (=)

2 - Forums (=)

3 Pennine Waterways (=)

4 Granny Buttons (=)

5 CanalPlanAC (+1)

6 (-1)

7 Retirement with No Problem (=)

8 Canal Photos (+2)

9 Narrowboat Gypsy Rover (+2)

10 Jannock Website (-1)

11 nb Epiphany (+4)

12 (+16)

13 UKCanals Network (=)

14 Towpath Treks (-6)

15 Waterway Routes (-3)

16 Google Earth Canal Maps (+6)

17 Water Explorer (=)

18 Narrowboat Bones (+2)

19 Chertsey (+5)

20 WB Takey Tezey (+1)

21 Trafalgar Marine Services (-)

22 nb Lucky Duck (-3)

23 Narrowboat Caxton (-7)

24 Baddie the Pirate (-6)

25 Derwent6 (-2)

26 Working Boat Hadar (-1)

27 Hollinwood Canal Society (-)

28 Seyella's Journey (-1)

29 Contented Souls (-3)

30 Canal & Narrowboat (-1)

The figures in parentheses denote the number of places moved since the previous chart; (-) denotes new entry or re-entry into the top thirty; (=) denotes no change.

Halfie is at number 39. There are 101 entries altogether.

Saturday, 13 March 2010


Remember the photos I took of the seagulls following the tractor ploughing a field on my way to work last week?

This is what the field looked like the next day. Potatoes, I presume.

Friday, 12 March 2010


Mention that you have a problem with your squirrel in boating circles, and there'll be sympathetic talk of cracks or leaks or flues.

Go to fullsize image

Mention that you have a problem with squirrels ...

... and I'd talk about them digging holes in the lawn, chewing through our phone line, waking us up with scratching and scrabbling noises in our loft, and chewing up the loft insulation to make their nice cosy beds. All that has happened. So far they haven't managed to bite through the wiring. Perhaps they will one day.

You can see why they're not my favourite creature.

Ships of the Fens

From the carriage window on my train trip to Cambridge the other day I snatched a couple of photos. I knew that I'd see boats on the approach to Ely, but I wasn't ready with my camera when I first saw them.

I missed my best chance of a shot of Ely Cathedral too: I could see that a load of trees were rapidly going to block my view, but I managed to get something, despite one right in front of me here. The train was going too fast!

Ely Cathedral is known as the "Ship of the Fens" as it used to be surrounded by a lot more water before the fens were drained. The town (city?) itself was the "Isle of Ely".

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Battery charger for the price of a week on the Broads

On Monday I wrote about the week's holiday on the Norfolk Broads you could have had for £2 a head. On the same spread in the Radio Times of April 20th, 1928, are many other fascinating advertisements.

These were the days when if you wanted a radio you'd probably build it yourself. Promising "Grand tone and plenty of volume" Ediswan's New R.C. Threesome could have been yours for £2 10s (and an hour's construction time).

You can make this 3-valve set yourself. An hour's work. You can't go wrong. Parts cost only 50/-. Reproduction is beautifully mellow - clear as crystal. Several stations at full Loud Speaker strength. Excellent performance made certain by the Ediswan Valves H.F.210, R.C.2 and P.V.2 - be sure to use them.
Send coupon now for free
Instruction Book and Blue Print.

The same company was also promoting a battery charger:

with the Ediswan Home Accumulator Charger. Save money - no trouble - for the radio and the car battery.
All that is necessary is to connect Charger to lampholder or power socket, and to the accumulator to be charged. There is nothing to go wrong. Safe and compact. Full instructions are enclosed with each Charger.
Price £2 17 6 Complete
for A.C. Mains only.

I like the "absolutely safe" and "nothing to go wrong". And "safe" again. You wouldn't be able to say that these days, especially with two unprotected valves - made of glass and which get hot - sticking out! Oh, and the complete lack of an electrical earth!

But look at this Wonderful Wireless Offer. A ready-built two-valve set in a polished Oak Cabinet, with matching Loud Speaker on Easy Terms (10/6 down, and a further 14 monthly payments of the same amount (total "easy" cost £7 17s 6d compared with buy now (then) price of £7 17s 6d ... hang on, that's the same! You didn't have to pay any more for credit!)) So that's four people for a week on the Broads, or £1,000 now. See Monday's post if that doesn't make sense.

On the same page there's an Adana Printing Press for 47/- (or £2 5s).

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Two or three Ducks seen in Cambridge

For more than a year I've been saying to myself, every time I've driven along the A14 over the River Cam, I must call in and say "hello" to James and Amy of NB Lucky Duck. And now that BBC Cambridge has moved to new premises at Cambridge Business Park I've had the opportunity to combine a visit to the new building with a chance to greet the Lucky Ducks in person. Well, it almost worked. I got the train from Norwich to Cambridge, and a bus to the business park, and was suitably impressed by the facilities.

I wasn't just swanning around, looking at other people working, though. I got roped in to edit a package for Look East. I then took a bus back towards the town centre, and walked along the river looking for Lucky Duck. I knew I was unlikely to see its occupants as they had told me that they had other commitments in the evening, but I had something for them which I was planning to leave on board.

I walked along a line of narrowboats moored up along Midsummer Common without spotting any sort of duck. Two boats to go. Ah - there was someone just leaving the nearer, nameless, one. "Excuse me, I'm looking for "Lucky Duck". As the person turned round I could see that it was Amy, and she said, "This is "Lucky Duck". So we introduced ourselves and I gave her the cake - that was the "something" - and then she had to cycle off to a meeting. Just before she went, an eight came rowing along in the darkness: James was coxing, but I could hardly see him in the gloom. He didn't even look up! (Does the cox count as crew?)

Amy with headlight and cake

One other Duck I did see was their cat, Lyra. Stupidly I didn't think to photograph her. Or is that one of her cat's eyes twinkling in the window?

James and Amy, I'll try to visit again, and next time let's hope it can be mutually more convenient.

Monday, 8 March 2010

Explore the Norfolk Broads by bungalow

In yesterday's post I mentioned an advert in my 1928 Radio Times for holidays on the Norfolk Broads. Here it is.


£2 PER WEEK is the average cost per head of hiring a fully furnished wherry, yacht, motor-boat, houseboat, bungalow, camping skiff, etc., to explore 200 miles on inland rivers between Cromer, Yarmouth, Lowestoft, Norwich. No extras, only food.

FREE Our 224-page Booklet, "How to enjoy a Broads Holiday," containing details of 400 yachts, wherries, motor-boats, houseboats, bungalows we have for hire weekly.


BLAKES LTD., 19, Broadland Ho., 22, Newgate Street, London, E.C.1.

Train Services, Fares, and other information from any L.N.E.R. or L.M.S. Enquiry Office.

Er ... how do you cruise a bungalow? (And name a river which isn't "inland".)

Looking at the Blakes Boating Holidays website I calculate that there are now 1066 boats under their flag - and no mention of wherries, camping skiffs or bungalows. A week's holiday in August this year on a four berth cruiser on the Broads would set you back a smidgen under £1000, or £250 per head. No doubt you still have to supply your own food.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Definite article

Reading Sarah's recent post about the stove she's fitting to Chertsey's back cabin got me thinking about the use of the definite article in product names.

Her stove is an Epping. Or, rather, it's "The Epping". (I've borrowed your photo, Sarah, I hope you don't mind.)

Products which are inseparable from "The" include newspapers ("Did you see that article in The Times yesterday?"); pubs and restaurants ("I'll see you in the King's Head"); and bands (There's a group called 'The Verve'; have you heard of it?). Try saying those without "the".

Some rock groups, of course, lose their definite article. My favourite rock group from my teens started out as The Pink Floyd. (They'd become merely Pink Floyd by the time I started listening to their music.) The Rolling Stones and The Beatles keep their "the"s. Actually, I'm more than a little out of touch with modern popular music - what other bands have lost their "The"?

And there's a disconcerting trend for supposedly upmarket bars to lose bits of their former names. Our local, to which I shall always refer as "The King's Head", occasionally displays an A-board announcing goings-on at, if I remember correctly, "Kings". Ugh.

What products are there, apart from stoves for back cabins, called "The ... (something)"? I'm sure there used to be many more than nowadays. I'd have to look through an old newspaper for advertisements ... I know! I have a very early Radio Times. There's bound to be an example there ...

Hmm. I've just looked through a 1964 Radio Times - fascinating - but nothing to back up my theory.

But here's the really old one, from 1928 (above). If the 1964 copy seems ancient, this from just six years after the British Broadcasting Company was formed - yes, it was a company before it became a corporation - seems almost from the beginning of time. There's an advertisement for The Prudential Assurance Company Ltd. And one for The Winston Simplified Dictionary (send no money: free approval is the best test of value). And look! For £1 down in 1928 you could have listened to the wireless on The Langham Radio Speaker.

There's an advertisement for holidays on the Norfolk Broads too, but I'll save that for another post.