Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Shiny boat

Under the railway bridge by Kingswood Junction last April was this strange-coloured boat. It looks as though it's made from stainless steel. Or is it galvanised? Or aluminium?

There is a handwritten-style name on the side towards the stern, but there's too much camera shake for me to read it.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Are these modern engine houses?

Back in April, as we came up the Grand Union back to Wigram's Turn and the end of the holiday, we passed several smallish brick buildings with shiny semi-cylindrical steel roofs beside locks.

I assume they are pumping stations, to back-pump water uphill.

I wonder how the pumping capacity and running costs compare with older pump houses, such as at Smethwick.

Today's ones certainly use fewer bricks!

Monday, 28 November 2011

Barge on a London canal in the 1980s

I rediscovered this photo today, taken from the bow of Savoy Hill in the early 1980s. I think it might be the Regent's Canal. I don't know what the boat is. I photographed the photo so as to be able to put it on here.

I must try out my slide scanner with negative strips - and see if I can find the relevant negative!

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Broads on the radar

Yesterday was the monthly Humbleyard Hoofers walk. We went to Horning, parked at the village hall (where we bought home-made cakes), and did a circular walk of six and a half miles in good walking weather. Not too hot, not too cold, and dry. There was a bit of a keen wind which encouraged a good pace.

One highlight was the WWII radar installation at RAF Neatishead. The radar dish was impressive (visible on the skyline above the person on the left in the above photo).

The station was operational for more than 50 years from 1941 until after the end of the Cold War. My 1997 Ordnance Survey map doesn't show it, but more up-to-date OS maps do.
It's now a museum.

I'll have to return when it's open. Although it's not on the same scale as the Secret Bunker at Hack Green (on the Shroppie) I'm sure it will take me at least double the two hours it suggests!

The huge green dish dominated the skyline for a good part of our walk.

St. Peter's Church, Neatishead provided a good stop for coffee (and there was even a loo!)

I'm sure someone will be able to tell me the name of this red-stemmed bush. There were several planted in a new-looking hedge. Aren't they what you see in municipal parks and formal gardens?

Horning is known to many as a village on the Norfolk Broads, but our route took us away from there. We glimpsed Hoveton Little Broad a couple of times through the houses, but that was it.

The end of the walk. Off with the boots and home for lunch.

Top Thirty, 2011 week 47

Here is the UK Waterways Site Ranking as it stood at 1720 on Sunday 27th November 2011. This is taken, with permission, from Tony Blews's UK Waterways Ranking Site.

1 Canal World Discussion Forums (=)

2 Jim Shead's Waterways Information (=)

3 - Forums (+2)

4 Pennine Waterways (-1)

5 CanalPlanAC (-1)

6 (=)

7 Granny Buttons (=)

8 Canal Shop Company (+4)

9 Jannock Website (+2)

10 Water Explorer (-1)

11 boatshare (+2)

12 nb Epiphany (+3)

13 Towpath Treks (-3)

14 UKCanals Network (=)

15 Takey Tezey (+3)

16 ExOwnerships (-8)

17 Waterway Routes (-1)

18 Narrowboat Bones (-)

19 Chertsey (+1)

20 Captain Ahab's Watery Tales (-1)

21 nb Waiouru (-4)

22 (-1)

23 Narrowboat Caxton (-1)

24 Halfie (+3)

25 Herbie (-2)

26 Derwent6 (-2)

27 Trafalgar Marine Services (-)

28 Baddie the Pirate (-3)

29 nb Piston Broke (-3)

30 Nb. Yarwood (-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.

There are 149 entries altogether, up from 144 last week.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Mystery acronym decoded

A recent stoppage alert from Waterscape contained an acronym I hadn't encountered. Here's what the alert said:

Stoppage: Peak Forest Canal


Tuesday 29 November 2011 - Wednesday 30 November 2011
Two half day stoppages on the Marple flight for verification of the SCADA gauge.

Day 1 29th November 2011
12midday - 5pm

Day 2 30th November 2011
8am - 1pm


What stumped me was "SCADA". I put it into a search engine, found a fancy website for designing your own gauges, but there was nothing to say what it stood for. Time to invoke Wikipedia.

Ah - so that's what it is: Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition. No doubt lots of you knew that.

I couldn't find a photo of any SCADA equipment, so here's a heron. Staffs and Worcs, April 2011.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Close encounters of the cycling kind

I had a close shave on my cycle in to work this morning. Unusually it wasn't caused by a motor vehicle. Another cyclist was turning right from a side road, didn't look to his right, and cycled right into my path. I was going quite fast down the hill. I managed to shout out a warning while braking; my rear wheel locked up slightly; and, wobbling and swerving, I managed to miss him. While I was trying desperately not to run into him he (fortunately) kept going, said, "Oh s**t", and then I was gone. All over in a fraction of a second.

If it had been a car I think I would have been shaken up, but, as it was, I thought no more of it.

Until my cycle home after work.

I have made up a law of overtaking. It's the inverse law of size. The bigger a vehicle overtaking a bicycle, the less the room the driver gives you. This evening a car came up behind me as I was on the unlit twisty narrowish country lane part of my route, dropped to my speed, and waited ages before picking up the courage to overtake. When it did so, it gave me plenty of room. Excellent. It was a small hatchback. When a large van overtakes me, it often seems to behave as if I weren't there at all, squeezing past even if there is oncoming traffic. In-between-sized vehicles give me in-between amounts of room.

Back to boating. Neil of Herbie is presenting his annual Herbie Awards, the latest being one for the "best village moorings". As he admits, it's an impossible job to choose one place over another, but he's plumped for (the almost impossible to pronounce on first encounter) Alrewas. One shortlisted candidate was Cropredy, so here's the Red Lion last month.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Oxford buildings

We saw more of Oxford when we dropped in by canal last month compared with when we passed by on the Thames last year.

Radcliffe Camera

Bodleian Library: Tower of the Five Orders

a college, but I have forgotten which one (Bones, can you help?)

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Lovely signwriting on Rollo

This is the first photograph I took after we left Wigram's Turn on our Oxford Canal trip last month. Rollo was on the section between there and Braunston.

The signwriting is superb.

I looked up the boat on the A.M.Models website which says that Rollo is an iron boat made in 1938 and that it was renamed Alsager. So how is it that it now appears as Rollo again? (The registration and fleet numbers are the same.) Has it been renamed back?

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

On heating, a decision. Sort of.

Mitchell's Principle Church Heating in St. Mary's, Priors Hardwick*

Most responses to my questions about diesel heating on a narrowboat - and thank you to everyone who has offered an opinion - have been in favour of it. But there have been some negative points raised too.

  • Cheaper to run than gas (at least three people have said this)
  • Can be controlled from a timer
  • Can be noisy (but some types quieter)
  • Consumes electricity
  • Can be temperamental
  • Needs a separate diesel tank (no-one mentioned this, but it must be true!)
Overall, then, it's not cut-and-dried. But some commenters have said that they hardly ever use their central heating, mostly relying on the stove. I am sure I will fall into this camp. We have boated in the bitterest weather and not used the central heating on Shadow. So I'm thinking of regaining my sanity (thanks Adam) and not ruling out boats which have diesel heating.


*An internet search failed to throw any light on this heating system. It's unlikely to be suitable for a boat.

Monday, 21 November 2011

So diesel heating might not be the demon I thought.

From comments to yesterday's post I learn that diesel heating systems on narrowboats are not really all that bad. And I would be "mad" to discount a boat merely because it had that form of heating. I'm still wary of the noise they make, though. I've moored near boats which emit a constant roaring sound, and I'd feel uncomfortable imposing that on anyone else. Bruce suggests asking to hear the heating fired up on a potential purchase, as some are quieter than others. Hmm.

It widens the field. And we would hardly ever use the CH anyway, relying on the stove and hot water from the calorifier (we haven't even turned on our central heating at home yet).

I intimated yesterday that there was another reason to buy a boat. Here it is. Our daughter and son-in-law need somewhere to live in Milton Keynes next year as that is where Ben will be working. The idea is that I will buy a boat which Ally and Ben will live on for a couple of years while they save enough money for a deposit on a house. Then we'll get the boat back!

They are adamant they'll be OK living aboard. They have been with us on Shadow several times. I have tried very hard to be entirely realistic about the lack of space compared with a house, the need to be economical with water, and the joys of emptying the Elsan.

The two year plan could fit in with my work/retirement plan too.

Now - entirely unrelated to the rest of this post! - here are a couple of photos of Stanton at Fenny Compton Marina last month.

Stanton is a "Large Northwich" motor built by Yarwoods in 1936

(info from A.M. Models)

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Diesel heating or not?

entering Shipton Weir Lock - photo taken two minutes after previously published photo

I am now looking for a boat. Yes, we still have the share in Shadow, and we will keep that for the medium term, but I'm looking for a whole boat as well. I'll explain in a future post.

In the meantime, I'll say how difficult this search is proving to be. My heart tells me I'd like a boat with a traditional back cabin and separate engine room, and one which looks good as well, such as a tug. My head, on the other hand (if that makes sense), tells me to go for a trad or semitrad with rear galley, fixed double bed etc. And so does Jan (at the moment).

One thing I don't think I'd like is diesel central heating. So far, I've been skipping over ads as soon as I spot the dreaded D-word. But am I missing out on a lot of potentially good boats for no good reason? Is diesel heating really all right?

Here's a bit of a wish-list:

trad back cabin
separate engine room
fixed double
Elsan loo
gas cooker
gas heating
pullman dinette
forward saloon
solid fuel stove
no bow thruster

Or, if back cabin etc. idea doesn't work out:

trad or semitrad stern
rear galley
Elsan etc. as before.

Second-hand, of course.

Edited to add: I should have said that it has to be narrow beam, and no more than 58 feet in length.

Top Thirty, 2011 week 46

Here is the UK Waterways Site Ranking as it stood at 1650 on Sunday 20th November 2011. This is taken, with permission, from Tony Blews's UK Waterways Ranking Site.

1 Canal World Discussion Forums (=)

2 Jim Shead's Waterways Information (=)

3 Pennine Waterways (=)

4 CanalPlanAC (=)

5 - Forums (=)

6 (=)

7 Granny Buttons (=)

8 ExOwnerships (=)

9 Water Explorer (+1)

10 Towpath Treks (+4)

11 Jannock Website (-2)

12 Canal Shop Company (=)

13 boatshare (=)

14 UKCanals Network (-3)

15 nb Epiphany (=)

16 Waterway Routes (=)

17 nb Waiouru (=)

18 Takey Tezey (=)

19 Captain Ahab's Watery Tales (+3)

20 Chertsey (=)

21 (-2)

22 Narrowboat Caxton (+2)

23 Herbie (-2)

24 Derwent6 (+3)

25 Baddie the Pirate (-)

26 nb Piston Broke (+3)

27 Halfie (+1)

28 Narrowboat Briar Rose (-)

29 Nb. Yarwood (-)

30 Google Earth Canal Maps (-7)

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.

There are 144 entries altogether, down from 151 last week.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Can you identify this? - the full photo

As Andy has correctly said, this is where the River Cherwell leaves the Oxford Canal just above Shipton Weir Lock.

The blue boat is moored on the river, in the supposedly unnavigable section above the weir. Jan is steering Shadow into the lock just out of shot on the right.

The position of the lettering on the sign suggests that there used to be a word or words above "Oxford Canal". Perhaps it read "British Waterways" or British Waterways Board". Does anyone know?

Friday, 18 November 2011

Can you identify this? (still more revealed)

Well, this should at least reveal the waterway it's on!

But where?

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Can you identify this? (more revealed)

Here is quite a bit more of the photo I started showing yesterday.

In the next post I'll show what's to the left of the reflection. That'll help.

In the meantime perhaps there's enough here for someone to get it.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Can you identify this?

Here's a mid-November teaser.

What and where is it?

More to be revealed tomorrow.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Dashwood Lock and curious cow

Neil has just started his annual Herbie Awards, his first category being "best day's cruising". One contender is a day on the southern Oxford Canal. Well, last month we had a week on that canal, and it was one of the best weeks' cruising we have had, so I won't be surprised if it wins.

Looking back at Dashwood Lock just after we had descended, I saw a cow crossing the bridge.

She was probably going to join her mates at the watering hole.

What made this a particularly good week?

  • We had plenty of time to stop and explore as we went along

  • We had guests on board for some of the time

  • We saw Maffi, Bones and Kate en route (sorry about the rather dated link)

  • We got to the very end of the canal, thus ticking off another bit of waterway

  • We had good weather

Monday, 14 November 2011

Henry Rodolph de Salis and my possible connection with him

Henry Rodolph de Salis compiled Bradshaw's Canals and Navigable Rivers of England and Wales (1904) after spending 11 years exploring every inch of them in his launch, covering 14,000 miles in the process. The book is a marvellously detailed record of every navigable waterway in existence at the beginning of the twentieth century. It lists all the locks and distances between junctions, wharves and towns. It gives brief details of what goods were carried, maximum size of vessels and through which counties the waterways passed.

Mr. de Salis includes a glossary which contains the now well known "gongoozler" (an idle and inquisitive person who stands staring for prolonged periods at anything out of the common. This word is believed to have its origin in the Lake District of England.) The glossary includes such essentials as "loodel", "soar pin" and "jambing pole".

I have a 1969 David and Charles reprint of the 1904 edition and find it a valuable adjunct to Nicholson's Guides, especially to find out a bit about the history of the waterway I might be on.

For example, here is the start of the distance table for the Worcester and Birmingham Canal (No. 90b) (every waterway in the guide is given a reference number).

Birmingham, Worcester Bar,                   Miles.   Fur.
junction with Birmingham
Canal Navigations, Main Line
(No. 10a1), to-

Birmingham, Granville Street Bridge          -     2
Birmingham, Davenport's Brewery             -     3
      Sturge's and Bloxham's Wharves           -     4
Edgbaston Brewery        ...       ...       ...        -     6
Islington and Wheeley's Road Wharves      -     7
Stop Gates,
      Worcester end of Edgbaston Valley       1    6
Pritchett's Wharf           ...          ...       ...       2    2
Metchley Park Tip         ...          ...       ...      2    4
Kirby's Pool Tip             ...         ...        ...      2    6
Selly Oak Wharves, and junction with
      Birmingham Canal Navigations, 
      Dudley Canal, Line No. 2 (No. 10f2)    3     0

(I hope the formatting comes out right - I don't know how to do it properly.)

That should give you an idea of what it's like. You can pinpoint, to the nearest furlong, each listed wharf etc.

And my (possible) connection with the great man (who was also a director of Fellows, Morton and Clayton)?

Well, on Saturday we left the BCF AGM in Kidlington to drive straight to Norwich for a meal with other members of our village choral society. I discovered the surname of one of the singers there was de Salis. She confirmed that there were Rodolphs in the family, and thought it likely that she was related to H.R. I was impressed.

There's a sad footnote. The February 26th 1936 edition of The Times reports:

Mr. Henry Rodolph de Salis, brother of Count Sir John de Salis, was found shot dead yesterday in his bedroom at his home, Acton Lodge, Church Hill, Leamington. A revolver lay near the body. Mr. de Salis, who was 69 years of age, was prominent in business circles in Birmingham. A recognised authority on canal traffic problems, he was the chairman of Messrs. Fellows, Morton and Clayton canal carriers.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Spring is on the way

Jan drew my attention to the fact that daffodils are already coming up in our garden.

Perhaps we'll bypass winter this year. Or perhaps not.

Top Thirty, 2011 week 45

Here is the UK Waterways Site Ranking as it stood at 1420 on Sunday 13th November 2011. This is taken, with permission, from Tony Blews's UK Waterways Ranking Site.

1 Canal World Discussion Forums (=)

2 Jim Shead's Waterways Information (=)

3 Pennine Waterways (=)

4 CanalPlanAC (=)

5 - Forums (=)

6 (=)

7 Granny Buttons (=)

8 ExOwnerships (+4)

9 Jannock Website (-1)

10 Water Explorer (-1)

11 UKCanals Network (+5)

12 Canal Shop Company (+3)

13 boatshare (-2)

14 Towpath Treks (-4)

15 nb Epiphany (-2)

16 Waterway Routes (-2)

17 nb Waiouru (+1)

18 Takey Tezey (+1)

19 (-2)

20 Chertsey (+3)

21 Herbie (+3)

22 Captain Ahab's Watery Tales (-1)

23 Google Earth Canal Maps (-3)

24 Narrowboat Caxton (-)

25 Narrowboat Bones (-3)

26 nb Lucky Duck (-1)

27 Derwent6 (-)

28 Halfie (-2)

29 nb Piston Broke (-1)

30 Working Boat Hadar (-)

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.

There are 151 entries altogether.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

BCF AGM at Kidlington

I did a lot of driving today - everywhere's a long way from Norfolk. We went to the AGM of the Boaters' Christian Fellowship which was in Kidlington, near Oxford.

It made a pleasant change from Nottingham, which was where it's been held in recent years.

Not that I have anything against Nottingham, but our route to Oxford takes us very near to where we used to live in Buckinghamshire, and it's good to revisit old stamping grounds.

The old Volvo performed reasonably, the only hiccup being a reluctance to start from hot after a loo stop in Milton Keynes. Well, it is 42 years old. The car, that is. (MK is actually two years older than that, being designated a "new town" in 1967.)

Friday, 11 November 2011

Canal meets railway at Lower Heyford*

The water was still still at 0945 when we cruised through Lower Heyford last month.

The railway and canal come very close to each other here, with a convenient station. It's reminiscent of Bournville on the Worcester and Birmingham ...

... only not quite so purple.

* yes, I know the canal came first

Thursday, 10 November 2011

There's something "wrong" with this towpath

I was interested to see the cattle coming up to the water's edge on the Oxford Canal at Somerton, and it took me a few moments to realise what was different from normal.

This was the towpath side - and there was no hedge. There must be very few lengths of canal without some sort of towpath boundary, and, from the evidence of my own travels, it is usually a hedge. (The photo is taken looking back towards Somerton Bridge 196.)

15 minutes earlier the low autumn sunshine was giving a warm glow to the scene at Meadlands Bridge 195.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Have you ever seen a footpath sign like this?

I hadn't, until Pigeon Lock (I think it was) on the Oxford Canal last month.

I especially like the bite taken out of the rusty post!

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Another date in the wall

As we went into Oxford last month I spotted some writing on a wall. We'd gone past before I had a chance to get my camera out, so I resolved to photograph it when we came back.

I almost missed it again, it was so faint. And impossible to see on the unenlarged photo above. But there it is, inscribed into the cement rendering, while setting, at the foot of a canalside wall:

MAY 1ST 1956.

C.N.R. (?) HOLMES.




Wow! That graffiti - if I can call it that - was done before I was born! Presumably messrs. Holmes and Webb were two of the builders responsible for the block of flats above.

Monday, 7 November 2011

As I was on my way to work ...

... I stopped to take three photos of the sunset.

This was the best.

Yes, on the way to, and not from, work. Unlike Adam I don't often have to start in the evening, but during the footy season I occasionally have to go in to compile the highlights of some of the local matches. This was a few days ago.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Floating shed

Just south of the wooden pyramid is an unusual boat.

It's a garden shed on water.

It looks like a very nice garden shed.

I wouldn't mind one in my garden.

Presumably its profile would stop it getting through bridges, let alone tunnels, so it probably doesn't move very much. So it doesn't really need to float. It might as well be standing on stilts - or standing on the bank.

Top Thirty, 2011 Week 44

Here is the UK Waterways Site Ranking as it stood at 0920 on Sunday 6th November 2011. This is taken, with permission, from Tony Blews's UK Waterways Ranking Site.

1 Canal World Discussion Forums (=)

2 Jim Shead's Waterways Information (=)

3 Pennine Waterways (+1)

4 CanalPlanAC (-1)

5 - Forums (=)

6 (=)

7 Granny Buttons (=)

8 Jannock Website (=)

9 Water Explorer (=)

10 Towpath Treks (=)

11 boatshare (=)

12 ExOwnerships (=)

13 nb Epiphany (+2)

14 Waterway Routes (=)

15 Canal Shop Company (+3)

16 UKCanals Network (=)

17 (=)

18 nb Waiouru (+3)

19 Takey Tezey (=)

20 Google Earth Canal Maps (+4)

21 Captain Ahab's Watery Tales (+1)

22 Narrowboat Bones (-2)

23 Chertsey (+3)

24 Herbie (-11)

25 nb Lucky Duck (-)

26 Halfie (+4)

27 Baddie the Pirate (-)

28 nb Piston Broke (+1)

29 Contented Souls (-)

30 Narrowboat Briar Rose (-7)

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.

There are 150 entries altogether.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Fireworks and a bonfire

On my way home from work this evening I stopped off at the Earlham Park fireworks. I had to wait only five minutes before they started, 15 - 20 minutes of a fairly concentrated aerial display.

I had a good view from the road, along with many other people. Why would anyone pay?

At home the wind was in the right direction, and it was certainly the right night for it, so I lit the bonfire. It had become a huge pile of tree trimmings, hedge trimmings and other garden waste. And I do mean huge: about 12 feet by 10 feet by 7 feet high. No photos, so you'll have to take my word for it. Despite the outer layer being wet it soon got going, and, yes, I was as careful as I could be not to roast any poor hedgehogs.

I tended it for nearly three hours before judging it safe enough for me to come in and leave it to burn itself out. Which I expect it will have done by about Wednesday!

Friday, 4 November 2011

Strange wooden construction on top of narrowboat

On the Oxford Canal just south of Duke's Cut we passed this narrowboat with a wooden pyramidical frame perched on its roof.

What is it for? I have no idea.

On the way back I noticed the unusual side hatches, made in the shape of a pentagon and a circle. How strange!