Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Timelapse: Flecknoe to Sutton Stop

I discovered an easier fix for the aspect ratio problem I mentioned yesterday. An internet search revealed that all I have to do is enter a short code in the "tags" section when uploading to YouTube. That's done, so here is our cruise from Flecknoe on the Oxford/GU to Sutton Stop.

Watch out for the impatient boat which overtakes us before Hillmorton Locks.

Monday, 30 January 2012

Aspect ratio

Grr! I've just spent the evening loading some timelapse footage into the editing programme*, adding captions, converting it to a .mp4 file, uploading it to YouTube ... and I've just found that it's all the wrong aspect ratio (making everything look squished).

I'll have to go back to the edit and try to change things to put it right. It looked perfectly OK there.

But I'll do it tomorrow. Meanwhile, here's a photo of Saturday's sunset.

*I use Final Cut Express at home.

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Timelapse: Wigram's Turn to Flecknoe

At last! I have transferred files from the laptop PC to the Mac, and uploaded the first of my timelapse films of our April cruise last year. (It was a laborious process: there's something wrong with my 4GB memory stick so I had to use an old 512MB one, copying one or two files at a time, unplugging from the laptop, plugging in to the Mac, etc.)

So here is the first in a series. We left Wigram's Turn Marina at just after 7 pm on Saturday 2nd April 2011, turned towards Braunston, and tied up by Bridge 103 an hour later.

For these timelapse films I set the interval between images to be shorter than most of my previous attempts. I can't now remember what the interval is - I'll look it up or work it out at some point.

Top Thirty, 2012 week 4

Here is the UK Waterways Site Ranking (top twenty places) as it stood at 0920 on Sunday 29th January 2012. This is taken, with permission, from Tony Blews's UK Waterways Ranking Site.

1 Canal World Discussion Forums (=)

2 Pennine Waterways (=)

3 CanalPlanAC (+1)

4 Jim Shead's Waterways Information (-1)

5 Retirement with No Problem (=)

6 Granny Buttons (=)

7 ExOwnerships (+4)

8 UKCanals Network (+4)

9 nb Epiphany (+1)

10 Water Explorer (-3)

11 Waterway Routes (-2)

12 boatshare (-4)

13 Captain Ahab's Watery Tales (+2)

14 Jannock Website (=)

15 Takey Tezey (+1)

16 Canal Shop Company (+1)

17 Nb. Yarwood (+1)

18 nb Waiouru (+1)

19 Chertsey (+2)

20 Towpath Treks (-7)

21 Narrowboat Bones (+6)

22 Google Earth Canal Maps (=)

23 Trafalgar Marine Services (-)

24 Derwent6 (+2)

25 Halfie (=)

26 Narrowboat Caxton (-6)

27 Seyella's Journey (-3)

28 nb Lucky Duck (+2)

29 Rock n Roll (=)

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 chart;
(=) denotes no change.

There are 150 entries, up from 148 last week.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

A great Humbleyard Hoofers walk

We took part in the local walking group's stroll round the UEA Broad in Norwich this morning. This is on our doorstep, and yet we'd been here only twice before. The conditions were excellent: chilly but not freezing; no wind; sunshine. We parked at the car park (free) at the entrance to the University of East Anglia, and started the walk going past Earlham Hall. Jan and I had not done this bit before -in fact, there was a lot here we didn't know about.

The low sun made the water droplets on the thorn hedge sparkle.

I like the way the water smoothes over the twig, and how the droplets hold an inverted image of the hedge.

We were never far from water.

For this portrait of Jan the sun provided the backlight, and I used flash.

I'm pleased with the photo, but Jan says she looks too serious.

I took other photos on the walk, but I think this is enough for now!

In other news ... I've finished producing the DVD copies of the village pantomime which I filmed a fortnight ago. I totted up all the hours I spent doing it: it came to 20, including filming, loading onto the computer, editing, making a DVD from it, duplicating the DVDs, making the covers for the cases, trimming the covers to fit... I'm sure most people have no idea of the time and effort involved!

Friday, 27 January 2012

My bid for freedom, and a clue

My bid for freedom has failed. My request to be considered for voluntary redundancy was turned down. I wasn't surprised, and so I was only mildly disappointed. I suppose it's gratifying to be wanted.

This means, of course, that any extended bouts of boating are still some time in the future. We're not giving up the boat search, though.

And so to the clue. I'm asking for identification of the tunnel to which this ventilation shaft belongs. It's not Netherton, Braunston, Blisworth, Crick or Harecastle (the guesses so far).

And the clue is ... Titchmarsh.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

The full photo

These have been the photos so far ...

... now here is the final one in the series.

And, yes, two of you, namely Kevin and Ross, aka Bert, correctly identified it as a grating over a ventilation shaft, but Kevin wondered if it was a reflection. Well, it wasn't. I pointed the camera up the shaft and clicked.

Now, can you tell me which tunnel?

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Nearly there

Not much more to reveal now.

The next question is: where?

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

The next photo

This is what I showed you yesterday:

and here's a little more revealed:

If you think you know what/where it is, or want to guess, put it in a comment. I'm still not going to say just yet if anyone gets it; you'll have to wait for the dénoument.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Who can get this first?

Here's another photo of a canal feature which isn't immediately obvious - well, I don't think it is.

I'll reveal more in the days to come until someone correctly identifies it.

Actually, I'll still reveal more even if someone DOES identify it. Some of you are very good at this sort of thing! So if you get it immediately I won't confirm the fact straight away.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Nothing to see here ...

No, there really isn't! Just home from a long, busy and tiring day at work. Not feeling up to composing a considered blog post. So I'll just publish the weekly waterways websites chart and get to bed.

Top Thirty, 2012 week 3

Here is the UK Waterways Site Ranking (top twenty places) as it stood at 0850 on Sunday 22nd January 2012. This is taken, with permission, from Tony Blews's UK Waterways Ranking Site.

1 Canal World Discussion Forums (=)

2 Pennine Waterways (=)

3 Jim Shead's Waterways Information (=)

4 CanalPlanAC (=)

5 Retirement with No Problem (=)

6 Granny Buttons (=)

7 Water Explorer (=)

8 boatshare (+5)

9 Waterway Routes (+2)

10 nb Epiphany (-1)

11 ExOwnerships (+13)

12 UKCanals Network (=)

13 Towpath Treks (-5)

14 Jannock Website (=)

15 Captain Ahab's Watery Tales (-5)

16 Takey Tezey (-1)

17 Canal Shop Company (+1)

18 Nb. Yarwood (+2)

19 nb Waiouru (-3)

20 Narrowboat Caxton (-3)

21 Chertsey (-2)

22 Google Earth Canal Maps (+1)

23 Narrowboat Briar Rose (+5)

24 Seyella's Journey (+2)

25 Halfie (+4)

26 Derwent6 (-)

27 Narrowboat Bones (-5)

28 nb Piston Broke (-1)

29 Rock n Roll (-)

30 nb Lucky Duck (-5)

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

There are 148 entries, down from 150 last week.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

It's that (pantomime) time of year again...

Coming up: one boat picture. But you'll have to wade through this boring stuff first. Or you could cheat, and go straight to the bottom...

Every year I'm asked to film the local village pantomime. Every year I do so, and edit it and produce DVD copies of it. Every year I do battle with Final Cut Express, especially the "capture" side of things by which I load the camera footage onto the computer. For some reason, which no-one has been able to explain, the programme crashes unless I limit the amount captured to 5 minutes. So, for the two hours plus of filming, I have to load in at least 24 separate chunks - and then join it all together. And that's before I start to adjust audio levels and edit out gash bits. At least I've learned to film one night only to limit my editing options!

One year - probably the first one I did - I filmed three different performances from three different angles, and then edited it all together. I'm sure no-one appreciated the end result any more than if it had been all filmed in one take from one camera position.

I filmed last Saturday's evening performance, and have been spending my evenings since then editing it. The edit is at last finished, and I'm burning the first DVD right now. Well, it's doing something called "asset encoding", which takes a long time - a few hours. Once it's done that, the actual burning of the DVD takes only a few minutes. The computer will spit it out while I'm asleep.

I have to attach a carrier bag to the side of the iMac to catch the disc, otherwise it usually lands on the floor!

Oops - I've just remembered: This year I've included a roller caption with all the credits on - performers and crew - but I forgot to put myself on. Oh well. Too late now. I'm not changing it now.

I like to include at least one photo on every post, if possible, so here's Shadow on the Coventry Canal crossing the Tame Aqueduct near Fazeley Junction last April.

Friday, 20 January 2012

A boat slipped through my fingers ...

We recently came close to finding a boat which would have been very good for us. Last weekend Ally and Ben looked at two boats for us, both in the north west of England. One of the two was very good, but the broker phoned just after they'd looked at it to say that an offer from someone else had been accepted. I don't seem to be doing this boat buying thing very well. The other boat turned out to be more of a "project" boat, something I'm not interested in.

I have now been persuaded that diesel heating isn't necessarily such a bad thing after all, which opens up the field rather.

The boat we'd had our eye on had diesel heating and a rear galley. My work makes it difficult to get out and look at boats - I think it might be worth taking a week's leave and devoting it to the search.

Oh, another thing is that Ally and Ben might not now be quite so keen to live on any boat we might buy. There's a possibility that they might have fixed a route to alternative accommodation in Milton Keynes. We'll see. If that is the case, it takes the pressure off slightly. Which is a shame, because I'm really looking forward to buying my own boat!

So it's still Shadow for now. (Rare pic of me steering.)

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Netherton Tunnel ventilation shaft

When I'm cruising through a tunnel I always like to glance up at the sky through every ventilation shaft. To take a photo while on the move is quite hard as it's a sort of "blink-and-you-miss-it" thing. On my compact camera there's no time for the autofocus to work properly - it's a case of pointing in roughly the right direction, i.e. upwards, and hoping for the best. A quite good thing is that the camera doesn't get swamped in a deluge.

This is my attempt while passing through Netherton Tunnel on the BCN last April. According to the metadata the shutter speed was 1/52, hence the blurriness of the image. That, and the fact that it probably wasn't in focus!

Of course, it would be possible to "cheat" and stop the boat under a shaft so as to be able to take a bit of time over the photo, but, so far, I haven't really thought it that important.

The ventilation shafts in canal tunnels were actually construction shafts through which spoil was removed while the tunnel was being dug.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

A bucolic scene

Er .. what does "bucolic" mean? I'll look it up later.

Anyway, here it is. Another in the series "what I saw on my way to work".

I saw the pheasant on top of the bale, braked, went back, fished my camera out of the pannier, and hurriedly snapped a photo to get one "in the bag". By the time the camera was ready to take another one the bird had gone.

I think that the pylon makes the scene less bucolic. Still haven't looked it up.

Back to canal stuff tomorrow.


Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Hatherton Canal "stoppage"

Back in March last year I received a stoppage alert from waterscape.com. Nothing unusual about that, you say. But the "stoppage" was interesting because it related to a canal which has, for the most part, been unnavigable for decades.

All right, it was just the towpath which was closed. But it did catch my attention!

From waterscape.com:

Towpath Closure only: Hatherton Canal

Saredon Brook Feeder Outfall

Monday 21 March 2011 - Thursday 31 March 2011
Engineering works to install Hydrometric monitoring equipment and pipework in the culvert beneath the towpath between Monday 21st and Thursday 31st March.

British Waterways apologises for any inconvenience caused.

Enquiries: 01827 252000

More stoppages on this waterway: 

You can find all stoppages at the url below:

(This post had been sitting in my "drafts" section for ages - I thought it about time it came to the surface!)

Monday, 16 January 2012

Sheep, crows and frost

I cycled past this scene on my way to work this morning, stopped, went back, and took this photo.

Well, that's a bit of a fib. The photo I actually took was this ...

... which would have to be called "Sheep, crows, frost and pylon".

Or perhaps I should have cropped it like this:

Oh. I just did.

All it needs now is a section of frozen canal ...

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Waterways past and present

This is the other book I bought from Oxfam a few days ago.

"Waterways past and present" is 160 pages of Derek Pratt's photographs with a few lines of text accompanying each one. As well as his gorgeous colour pictures of canal scenes there are black-and-white comparison photos, many taken in the 1970s. The blurb seems to indicate that Derek took these as well, but there is at least one from 1958 of boats on the Coventry Canal. Is this his work too?

I didn't recognise the cover photo, and I couldn't even decipher the name on the lock cottage. I had to look in the book for the answer. But do you know where this is?

Top Thirty, 2012 week 2

Here is the UK Waterways Site Ranking (top twenty places) as it stood at 1315 on Sunday 15th January 2012. This is taken, with permission, from Tony Blews's UK Waterways Ranking Site.

1 Canal World Discussion Forums (=)

2 Pennine Waterways (=)

3 Jim Shead's Waterways Information (=)

4 CanalPlanAC (=)

5 Retirement with No Problem (+1)

6 Granny Buttons (-1)

7 Water Explorer (=)

8 Towpath Treks (+4)

9 nb Epiphany (-1)

10 Captain Ahab's Watery Tales (+4)

11 Waterway Routes (-2)

12 UKCanals Network (-2)

13 boatshare (=)

14 Jannock Website (-3)

15 Takey Tezey (+4)

16 nb Waiouru (=)

17 Narrowboat Caxton (+2)

18 Canal Shop Company (-3)

19 Chertsey (-1)

20 Nb. Yarwood (+4)

21 Narrowboat.co.uk (+1)

22 Narrowboat Bones (+1)

23 Google Earth Canal Maps (-2)

24 ExOwnerships (-7)

25 nb Lucky Duck (+5)

26 Seyella's Journey (+1)

27 nb Piston Broke (-)

28 Narrowboat Briar Rose (+1)

29 Halfie (-4)

30 Trafalgar Marine Services (-)

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

There are 150 entries, down from 155 last week.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

The story of the Victoria Line

Before I discovered canals I was interested in the London Underground. I always found it very exciting to travel on it, and once went all the way round the Circle Line just for fun! When I was in my early teens my grandparents lived in sheltered housing near New Cross Gate. On one visit to them I had a great time exploring the East London Line, travelling through the Thames Tunnel, the first tunnel under any navigable river (Wikipedia). I vowed one day to buy a Red Rover ticket and do as much of the system as possible. Somehow that never happened.

Now to the title of this post. I bought a couple of books from an Oxfam charity shop the other day, one of which was "The Story of the Victoria Line" by John R. Day, published by London Transport in 1969 (my copy reprinted 1971). The slim paperback is full of fascinating details of planning, problems and solutions - if only similar contemporaneous accounts existed of canal construction projects!

In some ways the London Underground seems similar to the canal network, in that the system grew from individual lines - each built to serve a particular need, and in competition with the others - rather than being planned as a whole.

The Victoria Line opened in 1969, the first Underground line to be built for 62 years. I'd love to be able to do a review as good as one of Captain Ahab's, but I can't. I have only just started reading the book, anyway!

Friday, 13 January 2012

Sheepish sunset

No, not today, but last October at Braunston.

We had just started our week from Wigram's Turn to Oxford and back, and had time to nip along to Braunston too.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Strange tree and Feeder Bridge

On a cycle ride yesterday this tree caught my eye.

It looks half in leaf and half bare.

I think it's probably being strangled by a luxuriant growth of ivy.

I'm never sure whether it's the growing of ivy on a tree which kills the tree, or whether it's that ivy is attracted to a dying tree.

No ivy to be seen on Feeder Bridge on the southern Oxford Canal last October, but there is some damage to the bridge at its eastern end.

The bridge takes the towpath over the feeder from the Boddington Reservoir to the summit level. Let's hope this and all the other reservoirs get topped up enough to keep the canal system open.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Back on line!

Hooray! When I turned in to my driveway after spending an hour on a computer in the library this afternoon ... there was a team from Openreach repairing my phone line. As I'd suspected, one or both conductors in the overhead line had snapped where the line was being stretched by a tree branch.

It didn't take them long to remove some branches and string up a new line from the pole to the house. It's still rubbing against the trees, though, but loosely now. So I expect the problem will be back in a few years.

I asked them about routing the line underground, but they said that that would have to be at my expense.

What's that, you say? I wouldn't have this problem on a boat? No, you're absolutely right.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Adamant at Braunston

While I'm waiting to get reconnected, I found some posts in the "drafts" section of my blog.

Here we are back at Braunston last June at the historic boat gathering as Adamant steams past on the parade.

Monday, 9 January 2012

I've been looking back through some past posts ...

... and I am reminded that I still have some timelapse to turn round and publish. There's quite a feast to come: all of the April BCN trip. Assuming it all worked OK, that is. To make space on the memory card in the camera I had to transfer some footage to the laptop, so now I have to try to get that onto the Mac and export it in the right way for uploading to YouTube when we get our phone line back.

There's no progress on that, by the way. The BT fault reporting website was down today, so I couldn't even see if anything was being done. I might have to resort to telephoning, but I hate hanging on while some rubbish muzak is forced down the phone at me.

Meanwhile, here's another image from our April trip, and another rarely visited canal crossed off.

This is the end of one fork of the Bumblehole Branch.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Tunnel temptation

Let's hope I hear from BT on Monday. It would be really good to have our phone line - and internet - back.

Meanwhile ... here's something I'd like to do one day: leg through Dudley Tunnel.

Dudley Tunnel south portal

We were there last April, tantalisingly close. I've legged the trip boat at the other end (and have a certificate to prove it!)

Top Thirty, 2012 week 1

Here is the UK Waterways Site Ranking (top twenty places) as it stood at 1655 on Sunday 8th January 2012. This is taken, with permission, from Tony Blews's UK Waterways Ranking Site.

1 Canal World Discussion Forums (=)

2 Pennine Waterways (+1)

3 Jim Shead's Waterways Information (-1)

4 CanalPlanAC (=)

5 Granny Buttons (+1)

6 Retirement with No Problem (+2)

7 Water Explorer (=)

8 nb Epiphany (+1)

9 Waterway Routes (+3)

10 UKCanals Network (=)

11 Jannock Website (=)

12 Towpath Treks (-6)

13 boatshare (=)

14 Captain Ahab's Watery Tales (=)

15 Canal Shop Company (+4)

16 nb Waiouru (-1)

17 ExOwnerships (+1)

18 Chertsey (-2)

19 Narrowboat Caxton (+7)

20 Takey Tezey (-3)

21 Google Earth Canal Maps (-1)

22 Narrowboat.co.uk (-1)

23 Narrowboat Bones (+4)

24 Nb. Yarwood (-)

25 Halfie (-1)

26 Baddie the Pirate (-)

27 Seyella's Journey (-)

28 Derwent 6 (-)

29 Narrowboat Briar Rose (-6)

30 nb Lucky Duck (-)

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

There are 155 entries.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Remember when you were young?*

Still no contact from BT about our dead phone line, so I'm having to regurgitate some old photos. Here's another one from last year's hot April.

Despite a wide-brimmed hat I got a sunburned neck cruising along the Tame Valley Canal.

According to BT's fault reporting website I should be contacted within three working days of reporting the incident. So what's a working day? For me, every day can be a working day. I'm working this weekend, so will BT count Saturday and Sunday as working days? I somehow doubt it. BT's first deadline, then, to address the problem of my dead line, is 0943 on Tuesday.

*Who will be the first to supply the five words following on from the title of this post, appropriate to the photo?

Friday, 6 January 2012

Memories of April 2010

Still internetless at home. This is another stop-gap post, and a look back at the marvellous cruise we did in April last year. It was so warm the engine overheated!

This is Shadow nearing the bottom of the Wolverhampton 21. Is that Captain Ahab steering? He'd helped us down the flight and now I can't remember if he steered this bit or was also on the towpath taking photos.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

The effect of wind

Last night in Norfolk the wind seemed stronger than ever. This morning there were lots of twigs and bits of branches which had been blown out of the huge ash tree in our driveway. On an impulse I picked up the phone to check that there was still a dialling tone. There wasn't. Oh dear. No landline, which, for us, means no internet.

The last time we lost our landline was when the developer next door "accidentally" knocked over our telephone pole, which was inconveniently sited for all the houses being built. That's the hole where it used to stand.

And the time before that was when a squirrel chewed through the overhead line.

Each time it took BT - or Openreach or whatever they call themselves - about two weeks to fix it.

We'll see how long it takes this time.

The line is still physically in situ, I think the conductors inside couldn't take the strain where the line is under tension from a branch pressing against it.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Beer or beans? See what Ben chooses

Boxing Day 2011. 7.50 pm. Time for a beer.

Beer for David, anyway. It's baked beans for Ben.

This looks like a suitable photo for a caption competition. I'm useless at these, so can you suggest something?

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Broad and narrow

On our walk round Whitlingham Broad yesterday we spotted a narrowboat on New Cut (which bypasses a loop of the River Yare), tied up just above Thorpe Railway Bridge.

A train conveniently crossed the bridge as I prepared to take the photo. The railway connects Norwich with Sheringham, Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft.

Calamity Jane looks to have a nice mooring. I'm sure you'd get used to the trains rattling over the bridge every so often.

Monday, 2 January 2012

A walk round a broad

Today was my last day off before returning to work tomorrow. We went to Whitlingham Broad, on the outskirts of Norwich, for a walk round.

The broad was created as recently as the 1980s by gravel extraction.

The tea room at the end of the walk was excellent.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Thames "scrap" sculpture

On a Boxing Day bike ride by the Thames we came upon a curious assemblage of rubbish arranged to form a sculpture.

It looks like a sailing boat. David says it's been there for some time.

I like the yellow person with the hat.