Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Timelapse: Stockton to Wigram's Turn

And here we are, at the end of our excellent two week cruise on Shadow in April 2011. This is the last timelapse film from that journey, which took in all or part of the following canals:

Birmingham and Fazeley
Tame Valley
Ocker Hill Tunnel Branch
Walsall Town Arm
Wyrley and Essington
Staffs and Worcs
Stourbridge Town Arm
Fens Branch
Stourbridge Extension
Dudley No. 1
Dudley No.2
Boshboil Branch
Bumblehole Branch
Netherton Tunnel Branch
Gower Branch
Wolverhampton Level
Worcester and Birmingham
Lapworth Link
Grand Union

When planning the cruise I calculated that we would do 195 miles and 272 locks. But we stopped 3.5 miles and 16 locks short of Stratford-upon-Avon, which reduces the totals to 188 miles and 240 locks. I did all the planning with Nicholson's Guides counting locks and mile markers, so I'll have to check this against CanalPlanAC.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Ironwork frames river view

Last Saturday we joined the Humbleyard Hoofers walking group for a very pleasant stroll in the sun around Kimberley Park in Norfolk.

We passed Kimberley Home Farm ...

... and came to a fine brick and cast iron bridge, dated, as far as I could make out, 1886, over the River Tiffey.

A quatrefoil hole in the ironwork made a pleasing frame for this view of the river.

After a pink house ...

... we came to Kimberley Hall set in grounds landscaped by Capability Brown. Rather impressive!

Two large tree trunks provided convenient seating for a coffee stop.

Monday, 27 February 2012

Timelapse: Wood Lock to Stockton

We're on the last day of our April 2011 cruise now. I'm really pleased with how all the timelapse filming came out, especially as there's no way of seeing what the camera sees when setting it up. I have to point it in the right direction and hope for the best. Apart from one or two power supply problems on the south Stratford Canal I have an almost complete record of our cruise. It included some lesser-frequented parts of the BCN. They, for me, were the best bits.

Today's timelapse film covers from Wood Lock 19 on the GU, up the Bascote Locks and Stockton Locks to the Boat Inn by Birdingbury Wharf Bridge 21 at Stockton. We did a lot of boat cleaning here, and ate lunch in the pub.

Top Thirty, 2012 week 8

Here is the UK Waterways Site Ranking (top thirty places) as it stood at 1310 on Sunday 26th February 2012. This is taken, with permission, from Tony Blews's UK Waterways Ranking Site.

1 Canal World Discussion Forums (=)

2 Pennine Waterways (=)

3 CanalPlanAC (=)

4 Jim Shead's Waterways Information (=)

5 Granny Buttons (=)

6 UKCanals Network (=)

7 Retirement with No Problem (=)

8 Water Explorer (+2)

9 nb Epiphany (-1)

10 Captain Ahab's Watery Tales (+1)

11 Towpath Treks (+2)

12 Waterway Routes (=)

13 boatshare (+6)

14 Jannock Website (+1)

15 nb Waiouru (-1)

16 Takey Tezey (=)

17 Nb. Yarwood (+1)

18 Canal Shop Company (-1)

19 ExOwnerships (-10)

20 Chertsey (+1)

21 Narrowboat Briar Rose (+8)

22 nb Lucky Duck (+3)

23 Derwent6 (-3)

24 Trafalgar Marine Services (+3)

25 Halfie (-1)

26 boats and cruising (-)

27 nb Piston Broke (-)

28 Rock n Roll (-6)

29 Google Earth Canal Maps (-)

30 Seyella's Journey (-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 153 entries, up from 147 last week.

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Three surprises in NarrowBoat magazine

I picked up a copy of NarrowBoat magazine from WHSmith the other day, and I was surprised to see that the boat featured on the cover was nb Kew. This boat belongs to friends David and Mary, and I've had the privilege of steering it on more than one occasion.

Kew is depicted being towed by motor Sutton.
The boat must have looked like this when David and Mary bought it from BW when it was selling off the fleet. There was still coal dust in the hold, which they have mostly converted to living accomodation.

The blue fibreglass top has been retained but, for the most part, raised and fixed in position over the cabin.

The second and third surprises came when I flicked through the magazine, at this stage still in the shop. There was a black-and-white photo of Chertsey, paired with Exe (have you seen it, Sarah?), and, on the same page, Darley, owned by blogger Blossom.

As Exe is a three-letter-river class boat like Kew, I wonder if it was also a bluetop. I can't see from the photo.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Timelapse: Warwick to Wood Lock

Another timelapse sequence in two parts. The first starts at the Cape of Good Hope. We go down the two Cape Locks and head out of Warwick into Leamington Spa, crossing the aqueducts over the River Avon and the railway line in doing so. Then up Radford Bottom Lock and up to Fosse Lock 22.

Then it's on to the second film for the last part of day 14 of our April 2011 cruise. Up the Fosse Locks to a mooriing behind nb Rosie below Wood Lock 19.

Friday, 24 February 2012

Timelapse: down the Hatton flight to Warwick

Day 14 of our April 2011 cruise, and we're nearly back at the marina. Just the drop down Hatton and Cape Locks to the sump pound at Leamington Spa, then up to Wigram's Turn. Not all in one day, though.

This timelapse film covers the descent of Hatton and into Warwick, where we tied up by the Cape of Good Hope pub for lunch.

You might have noticed at the end of yesterday's timelapse the boy from the next-door boat kicking a football up the bank - well, he's still at it in the morning when we leave!

Just above the top lock a posse of RCR engineers come to look at Shadow's engine. There was some sort of an RCR awayday at the Hatton Locks café, so I asked them about a minor oil leak from the rocker cover. My account from the time is here.

Unlike some people I quite like the broad locks with their distinctive paddle gear on this part of the GU. Yes, the paddles take a lot of winding and the gates are big and heavy, but the locks empty and fill quickly, and the gates are well-balanced. I would, of course, share locks where possible, and we did down Hatton, but it would have been easier and quicker on our own. The crew of the boat we shared with couldn't manage either the gear or the gates, so I did a huge amount of winding, pushing, pulling, running around and cycling! But I love it!

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Timelapse: Preston Bagot to Hatton, two other short bits and power supply problems

I was having a few power supply problems with the timelapse camera on our April 2011 cruise. The camera is designed to run from two AAA batteries - no good for the lengths of time I need to run it - or a 12V cigarette lighter plug power supply, connecting via a small plug into the camera. Ideal for a boat, you'd think. But the connection between plug and camera is not reliable, so I soldered a couple of wires to the battery connections inside the battery compartment and lead them out to a home-made power supply which I run from a large rechargeable 7.2V battery. The bodged way I connect to the large battery involves pushing the wires into the connection holes. Hardly surprising, then, that they sometimes come adrift. I really will have to come up with a more reliable solution!

When we'd got to lock 31, as on yesterday's timelapse film, the camera's memory card had filled up. I realised that that was what had happened when, still aboard, I transferred some of the files to the laptop to make space for the rest of the trip. Before that point I suppose there was enough space for a couple of (very) short sequences.

First, six seconds of our entering a winding hole just north of Wilmcote.

Next, and more interesting, a whole 14 seconds including steering onto the Edstone Aqueduct. It would have been good if it hadn't stopped before we got to the end!

Now for the full-length feature. Day 13 of the cruise saw us climb from Preston Bagot on the Stratford Canal to Kingswood Junction, turn right on the Lapworth Link, and right again down the Grand Union. Ally and Ben had joined us again; we had a barbecue when we tied up above Hatton Locks.

Tomorrow: the delights of the Hatton Flight.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Brasso then and now

Fear not - there are more timelapse films to come. But I thought I'd write about an interesting find I made in an outbuilding here at Halfie Towers. As all the snow and ice has gone ...

my car under five inches of snow on 5th February 2012

... I put the spade away. But something caught my eye. An old tin. There it was, sitting on a shelf, as bold as Brasso.

For comparison I've put it next to a tin I bought recently.

There are a number of obvious differences: the typeface has changed; the volume is now metric; the "By Appointment" crest has moved to the front; stainless steel and chrome are now listed as suitable metals for the polish (but zinc is not mentioned and pewter is tucked away in tiny print) ...

... but what I like best is the instruction not to place the tin close to the fire. Not "fire" or "a fire" but THE fire. So this comes from the era before central heating. I wonder how old it is.

Reckitt appears to be teamed up with Benckiser (what happened to Colman?) and has moved from Hull to Slough (still on a waterway, though.)

The tin felt almost full, so I tried to unscrew the lid. I had to resort to a mole wrench (made in Newport, I see), then it came off easily.

And, yes, the liquid inside still looks and smells like Brasso, and I can confirm that it works.

Of course, I couldn't do a post on Brasso without mentioning Steve's boat of that name, seen here on the north Stratford Canal two or three years ago.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Timelapse: Lapworth to Lowsonford - locks galore!

This is the second part of the timelapse file which was too large (or something) for YouTube to handle. It's one great Stratford Canal lockfest: the entire Lapworth flight plus the slightly more spread out locks past Kingswood Junction down to Lock 31 at Lowsonford.

The timelapse film starts as we leave Lift Bridge 28, then we have to wait for Land and Water contractors to move a mud hopper out of the way.

We stop just below Lock 28 for a breather. I've been lockwheeling all the way - see how most of the locks are magically ready for Jan just to steer into!

After this point I let Jan have the fun of lock operation.

Monday, 20 February 2012

Timelapse: Billesley to Lapworth

Yes, I've done it! I've managed to split the unuploadable file into two, and have managed to get them both onto YouTube!

Here is the first of the timelapse films, 2' 40" long, covering from Bridge 5 on the Stratford Canal down to Lapworth Top Lock no. 2.

See Shirley Draw Bridge rise in front of us!

Watch as a boat reverses out of our way at Earlswood Motor Yacht Club!

Wonder as Hockley Heath Draw Bridge draws out of our way!

Marvel at how the next moveable bridge, no. 28, lifts as we approach!

Tomorrow I'll post the onslaught on the Lapworth lock flight and more.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Timelapse: Lowsonford to Preston Bagot

I haven't yet been able to upload the timelapse of the first - and most interesting - part of day 11 of our April 2011 cruise as YouTube keeps "rejecting" the file. So here is the next part of that day's journey: 1' 48" of timelapse film covering Lock 31 at Lowsonford on the Stratford Canal to beyond Bridge 49, a mile south of Preston Bagot.

I hope to figure out a way of uploading part one at some point.

Top Thirty, 2012 week 7

Here is the UK Waterways Site Ranking (top twenty places) as it stood at 1045 on Sunday 19th February 2012. This is taken, with permission, from Tony Blews's UK Waterways Ranking Site.

1 Canal World Discussion Forums (=)

2 Pennine Waterways (=)

3 CanalPlanAC (=)

4 Jim Shead's Waterways Information (=)

5 Granny Buttons (+1)

6 UKCanals Network (+1)

7 Retirement with No Problem (-2)

8 nb Epiphany (+1)

9 ExOwnerships (+1)

10 Water Explorer (+1)

11 Captain Ahab's Watery Tales (+2)

12 Waterway Routes (-4)

13 Towpath Treks (+2)

14 nb Waiouru (-2)

15 Jannock Website (-1)

16 Takey Tezey (=)

17 Canal Shop Company (+2)

18 Nb. Yarwood (-1)

19 boatshare (-1)

20 Derwent6 (+2)

21 Chertsey (-1)

22 Rock n Roll (-1)

23 Seyella's Journey (+2)

24 Halfie (+2)

25 nb Lucky Duck (-2)

26 (+1)

27 Trafalgar Marine Services (+3)

28 Narrowboat Bones (-4)

29 Narrowboat Briar Rose (=)

30 Working Narrow Boat Hadar (-)

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 147 entries, down from 157 last week.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

A momentary lapse ...

I tried and I tried and I tried last night to upload the next in the series of timelapse films of our April 2011 cruise - but YouTube kept rejecting the file, saying that there was something wrong with it. Well, it looks perfectly all right to me at home, looking at it on RealPlayer and QuickTime, and it's a .AVI file just like all the others, so I don't know what to do. Perhaps the system is objecting to the size. At about 400MB it's slightly larger than the previous uploads. Perhaps I need to cut it in half. But if I do in in Final Cut the aspect ratio goes wrong ...

It's a good one, too, with lots of locks (Lapworth flight).

Does anyone have any ideas which I'll be able to understand? YouTube talks about browsers, mentioning Google Chrome and Firefox. I'm on an oldish version of Safari (yes, I know, what do I expect?)

Is there an easy way to chop a Quicktime movie file in half so as to be able to upload each half separately?

Friday, 17 February 2012

Timelapse: Worcester Bar to Bridge 5, Stratford Canal

This timelapse film from our April 2011 cruise runs for 6'24" but covers only the W&B from Birmingham to King's Norton, and then the Stratford to Bridge 5 at Billesley, less than three miles from the junction. Bridge 5 is the nearest point to Ally and Ben's house, and this is where they got off.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Timelapse: West Smethwick to Gas Street Basin

Two timelapse films for you today to finish off the fascinating trip we made from Windmill End on the Dudley No. 1 Canal to Birmingham. The first one is only nine seconds long - I don't know why - but does include Telford's Galton Bridge and the Galton Tunnel.

The last part of day nine of our April 2011 cruise is recorded in the following 1'08" timelapse film which takes us under the amazing Engine Arm Aqueduct and on to central Birmingham, just past Gas Street Basin and Worcester Bar. We tied up in front of The Mailbox, just before the right turn to Holliday Wharf.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Timelapse: Windmill End to West Smethwick

Another great day's boating here. This timelapse film is from day nine of our April 2011 cruise centred on the BCN, and covers the Boshboil Branch, the Bumblehole Branch, Dudley No. 2 Canal to Hawne Basin and back, the Netherton Tunnel Branch through Netherton Tunnel, the Gower Branch up the Brades Lock, a very tight turn from the Wolverhampton Level into the Spon Lane Locks (I've always wanted to do that!), and another nearly 180º turn back onto the Birmingham Level. Almost all of this day was new stuff.

Top Thirty, 2012 week 6

Here is the UK Waterways Site Ranking (top twenty places) as it stood at 1025 on Sunday 12th February 2012. This is taken, with permission, from Tony Blews's UK Waterways Ranking Site.

1 Canal World Discussion Forums (=)

2 Pennine Waterways (=)

3 CanalPlanAC (=)

4 Jim Shead's Waterways Information (=)

5 Retirement with No Problem (=)

6 Granny Buttons (=)

7 UKCanals Network (=)

8 Waterway Routes (+3)

9 nb Epiphany (+1)

10 ExOwnerships (-2)

11 Water Explorer (-2)

12 nb Waiouru (+4)

13 Captain Ahab's Watery Tales (-1)

14 Jannock Website (+1)

15 Towpath Treks (+3)

16 Takey Tezey (+1)

17 Nb. Yarwood (=)

18 boatshare (-5)

19 Canal Shop Company (-3)

20 Chertsey (=)

21 Rock n Roll (+2)

22 Derwent6 (+2)

23 nb Lucky Duck (+3)

24 Narrowboat Bones (-3)

25 Seyella's Journey (+2)

26 Halfie (+3)

27 (-)

28 nb Piston Broke (-3)

29 Narrowboat Briar Rose (-)

30 Trafalgar Marine Services (-8)

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 157 entries, up from 153 last week.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Timelapse: Dudley to Windmill End

This is the timelapse film of the last bit of day eight of our April 2011 cruise. After visiting the Merry Hill shopping centre (the only useful shop is Clas Ohlson) we continued up the Dudley No. 1 Canal to Blowers Green Lock and Parkhead Junction. Here we watered up before taking the Dudley No. 2 Canal to Windmill End.

Monday, 13 February 2012

Timelapse: Stourton Junction to Dudley

Our April 2011 cruise took us on many waterways which were new to us. This timelapse film covers our exploration of the Stourbridge Canal and its navigable arms and extensions, all unknown to us before.

My account written at the time is here.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Timelapse: Gothersley Lock to Stourton Junction

This timelapse film rounds off day seven of our April 2011 cruise, covering the bit from Gothersley Lock to Stourton Junction on the Staffs and Worcs. We paused at Limekiln Chandlers at Compton, and at Bridge 45 for the Round Oak pub for lunch.

Contemporaneous account here.

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Timelapse: Aldersley Junction to Gothersley Lock

Day 7 of our April 2011 cruise round much of the BCN. This timelapse film covers the chunk from Aldersley Junction down the Staffs and Worcs to Gothersley Lock. We stopped for lunch at the Round Oak at Wombourne for lunch.

My contemporaneous account is here.

Friday, 10 February 2012

Timelapse: Going down the Wolverhampton 21 as the sun sets

This 2' 43" timelapse film is the continuation of Day 6 of our April 2011 cruise. We'd set off from the visitor mooring at Ocker Hill Tunnel Branch just before half-past eight in the morning and had reached New Bentley Bridge at Heath Town on the Wyrley and Essington nine hours later. This film picks up from there, showing us turn right at Horseley Fields Junction in Wolverhampton and then start the descent of the flight of 21 locks. We meet Andy Tidy, aka Captain Ahab, at Lock 6: he helps us down the rest of the flight.

We pause at Lock 11 to let the engine cool down after it overheated. If it hadn't been for this delay we'd probably have got to Aldersley Junction in daylight: as it was, we did the last few locks in the dark. You can see occasional flashes of torchlight.

As the sun set in front of us the camera picked up some lovely colourful images.

For a fuller account of this day's cruise, including the overheating story, click here.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Timelapse: Ocker Hill Tunnel Branch to Wolverhampton

The sixth day of our April 2011 cruise took us on more canals which seem to be rarely used. We passed only one moving boat all day (10 hours cruising time)!

This 6'49" timelapse film shows us turning right out of the Ocker Hill Tunnel Branch onto the Walsall Canal; then winding in a shallow winding hole (shaft needed); turning into the Walsall Town Arm and tying up just before the basin (I didn't know I could have pushed the yellow boom out of the way to moor in the basin itself); ascending the Walsall Locks; turning left onto the Wyrley and Essington Canal towards Wolverhampton. You'll see we stopped a few times for prop clearance.

The next timelapse film should show the continuation of this day, where Captain Ahab joins us for the descent of the Wolverhampton 21.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Timelapse: Holloway Bank Bridge to Ocker Hill Tunnel Branch

This is really the last little bit of yesterday's timelapse, covering the westernmost mile of the Tame Valley Canal, a tiny bit of the Walsall Canal, and our exploration of the Ocker Hill Tunnel Branch. We went to the ends of the two sub-branches before tying up on the fenced-in visitor mooring. Well, we hadn't planned to go anywhere that night!

The actual cruise was on 6th April 2011 and my contemporaneous account is here.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Canals at 200 mph; and Timelapse: Curdworth to Holloway Bank Bridge

This timelapse film is 6' 49" duration and took too long to upload last night for me to post it here last night. So here it is now, showing us ascending the Minworth Locks, passing under the building at Erdington and under Spaghetti Junction, going up the Perry Barr flight and over the M5/M6 interchange. The pink splodge coming out of the sky in the last bit is the sun. When it's shining directly into the lens the camera's CCD chip can't cope.

I somehow managed to record both the time of our leaving the mooring at Curdworth and our passing Holloway Bank Bridge exactly nine hours later. This means I can calculate that the amount by which the film is effectively speeded up is about 80 times. So our usual 2.5 mph cruising speed here looks more like 200 mph!

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Timelapse: Fazeley to Curdworth

After lunch with David and Mary we continued up the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal, through the Curdworth Locks and Curdworth Tunnel, tying up conveniently for the White Horse. Here is the timelapse film of that journey.

Top Thirty, 2012 week 5

Here is the UK Waterways Site Ranking (top twenty places) as it stood at 2150 on Sunday 5th February 2012. This is taken, with permission, from Tony Blews's UK Waterways Ranking Site.

1 Canal World Discussion Forums (=)

2 Pennine Waterways (=)

3 CanalPlanAC (=)

4 Jim Shead's Waterways Information (=)

5 Retirement with No Problem (=)

6 Granny Buttons (=)

7 UKCanals Network (+1)

8 ExOwnerships (-1)

9 Water Explorer (+1)

10 nb Epiphany (-1)

11 Waterway Routes (=)

12 Captain Ahab's Watery Tales (+1)

13 boatshare (-1)

14 Nb. Yarwood (+3)

15 Jannock Website (-1)

16 nb Waiouru (+2)

17 Takey Tezey (-2)

18 Towpath Treks (+2)

19 Canal Shop Company (-3)

20 Chertsey (-1)

21 Narrowboat Bones (=)

22 Trafalgar Marine Services (+1)

23 Rock n Roll (+6)

24 Derwent6 (=)

25 nb Piston Broke (-)

26 nb Lucky Duck (-1)

27 Seyella's Journey (=)

28 boats and cruising (-)

29 Halfie (-4)

30 Contented Souls (-)

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 153 entries, up from 150 last week.

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Timelapse: Polesworth to Fazeley

Day 4 of our April 2011 cruise started with an unsuccessful search for the chimney's rain hat which had blown off in the night. When we got going we continued north and west to Fazeley Junction. Here we turned left onto the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal where we looked out for our BCF friends David and Mary and their narrowboat Kew, alongside which we tied up.


Today I took this photo of blossom bursting out of a twig.

Later in the evening the forecast snow began to fall. This was the dusting outside the back door at 9.30 pm.

They say we're to get six inches of the stuff. I'll see in the morning when I go to work.

Friday, 3 February 2012

Timelapse: Boot Wharf, Nuneaton to Polesworth

Here is the next timelapse sequence from our April 2011 cruise.

Are these timelapse films playing all right for you? Have you tried changing the viewing quality (by hovering over the gear wheel and choosing a different setting)?

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Timelapse: Sutton Stop to Boot Wharf

I have, for now, given up on trying to edit my timelapse films on Final Cut. The procedure for exporting the file for uploading on YouTube is just too complicated and time consuming. And it doesn't keep the original aspect ratio.

So I will put up the individual sections of timelapse, rather than joining up all those for a particular day.

Here, then, is the record of our cruise from Sutton Stop to Starline Boats at Boot Wharf by Bridge 20 on the Coventry Canal. We stopped here to get a new glass for the stove fitted - and some new mooring ropes. The glass didn't last long - it must have been fixed too rigidly.

Oh! The quality seems to have improved (and I didn't do anything). You can hover over the gear wheel symbol at the bottom right of the video and select HD for best quality.

(edited to add link. I don't know what's going on with Blogger/YouTube - these timelapse films are showing as the wrong ones except when I preview them. All very confusing.)

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Gardner 1LW (now with photo)

On display at Braunston last June was this beast.

A Gardner 1LW, restored by Tony Redshaw.

I'd show it to you if only Blogger would let me upload the photo.

At last, I've been able to upload the photo.

I'm also doing battle with YouTube - I can't seem to be able to get the same high quality timelapse images on there as I did for the Thames trip.

I'm hoping that normal service will be resumed soon.