Monday 31 August 2009

IWA Festival: first photos

Arrived back from the 2009 IWA National Festival at Redhill, Ratcliffe-on-Soar this evening. Here are some photos; I'll write something about our time there in my next few posts. Meanwhile I have some sleep to catch up on!

festival site by night

campsite by night

campsite by day

You just can't get away from the dramatic cooling towers of Ratcliffe Power Station!

Top Thirty, 2009 week 36

Here is the UK Waterways Site Ranking as it stood at 2200 on Monday 31st August 2009:

1 Jim Shead's Waterways Information (=)

2 Pennine Waterways (=)

3 - Forums (=)

4 Granny Buttons (=)

5 CanalPlanAC (=)

6 UKCanals Network (+1)

7 NBNorthernPride (-1)

8 Canal Photos (=)

9 Retirement with No Problem (=)

10 Jannock Website (=)

11 Narrowboat Gypsy Rover (+1)

12 Boating Holidays in the UK and Europe (-1)

13 nb Epiphany (=)

14 Waterway Routes (+4)

15 Narrowboat Caxton (+1)

16 Warwickshire Fly Boat Company (+6)

17 Narrowboat Bones (-3)

18 nb Lucky Duck (+1)

19 Derwent6 (-2)

20 Water Explorer (-5)

21 nb Warrior (=)

22 UK Waterways Ranking Site (-2)

23 nb Anonymous Two (-)

24 Narrowboat Debdale (-1)

25 Seyella's Journey (+2)

26 boats and cruising (+4)

27 Lazy Days (-3)

28 Khayamanzi (-2)

29 Contented Souls (-)

30 Google Earth Canal Maps (-1)

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

Halfie is at number 38 (having been at number 32 earlier in the week) out of 80 entries.

Friday 28 August 2009

Timelapse: approaching Burton upon Trent

Another timelapse offering: this time it's on the Trent and Mersey from our pre-Easter cruise this year. Here we zip along in lovely conditions. Right at the end of the sequence we think we're going straight into the lock, but the boat tied up a way back suddenly decides it's his - and he's in.

A question: does having all these videos on the blog make it take longer to load up?

Thursday 27 August 2009

Timelapse of a near sinking

This timelapse was taken on 17th March 2009 as we cruised down the Grand Union Canal at Kings Langley, Herts. At the first lock in the sequence, Lock 70, I spotted that the well deck of the boat coming up, Wol, was filling with water. The boat's baseplate had got stuck on the top gate. We immediately lowered the top paddles and opened the bottom paddles to let water out of the lock so the boat could right itself. If we hadn't done this the boat would probably have sunk. My (near) contemporary report is here.

You see the boat coming up, then a bit of rushing around and the boat going down again, then the boat coming up again before exiting the lock so we can go in. If I look really hard, I can almost see the boat tilting forward slightly before we take disaster-avoiding action.

Wednesday 26 August 2009

To the IWA Festival (with classic car and tent)

photo taken 18 months ago

When I phoned yesterday to ask for advance tickets for this year's IWA Festival I also asked whether they'd like me to put my car into the classic cars section. Yes was the answer, so we'll be driving to Red Hill in it, with a tent in the boot. I didn't have to book a pitch: there's apparently plenty of space on the campsite.

I hope they're not expecting a concourse condition car. The bumpers are looking decidedly rusty now, and there's a bit more rust elsewhere. Jan's looking up some fabric to cover the rip in the bit between the rear seat back and the rear parcel shelf, and I washed the car yesterday morning before cycling to work. I have been considering ordering some stainless steel bumpers ready for when I next visit Amazonia - the workshop, not the jungle: it's in Suffolk - for its annual checkup.

So you'll know how to find me at the festival: I'll be the one standing in front of the shabbier bits of what is otherwise a great car.

last year's National Festival at the south end of the Shroppie

Could I have got into the festival free as an exhibitor? I find the lack of information from the IWA quite frustrating. Their website, well, the part of it about the National Festival, anyway (once you've managed to find it), is almost as bad as Waterscape: geared towards the casual visitor rather than the committed boater. No information at all on how to get into the evening entertainments. And there's no discount on entry for being a member. Why not? Is there any real incentive to being a member? I suppose if you're close to an active regional group it's better. I used to belong to the Milton Keynes branch when we lived there years ago: their meetings were in the Three Locks pub, Soulbury, which was only three miles from our house. I think my nearest branch is Ipswich, which is a good hour's drive away.

Sorry, this has turned into a rant, which is unusual for me. Rant over. I have to say that Sheila, on the other end of the line at the festival site when I phoned, was most courteous and helpful.

Tuesday 25 August 2009

Approaching Middlewich - better timelapse

A couple of days ago I uploaded a timelapse video direct to Blogger. The quality was poor. Here's a better version, uploaded via YouTube.

Monday 24 August 2009

On the Grand Union in Milton Keynes

More timelapse for you. This time I'm on Willow heading down the Grand Union from Woughton on the Green to Fenny Stratford Lock, on 15th March 2009. I've exported it at an even higher resolution than yesterday's film: does it make any difference?

Sunday 23 August 2009

I've signed up to YouTube to give you better timelapse videos

Here's another timelapse video, this time of a five mile cruise from Stoke on Trent into the Harecastle Tunnel. And now I've signed up to YouTube I can upload a higher resolution video. At least, that's the idea. We'll see if I can do it.

Wow! With a bit of guesswork I did it! Now I'll have to upload yesterday's video of our approach to Middlewich so you can see a better quality version. But not just yet.

Top Thirty, 2009 week 35

Here is the UK Waterways Site Ranking as it stood at 0925 on Sunday 23rd August 2009:

1 Jim Shead's Waterways Information (=)

2 Pennine Waterways (=)

3 - Forums (=)

4 Granny Buttons (=)

5 CanalPlanAC (+3)

6 NBNorthernPride (+12)

7 UKCanals Network (-1)

8 Canal Photos (-1)

9 Retirement with No Problem (-4)

10 Jannock Website (-1)

11 Boating Holidays in the UK and Europe (-1)

12 Narrowboat Gypsy Rover (+1)

13 nb Epiphany (-1)

14 Narrowboat Bones (+2)

15 Water Explorer (-1)

16 Narrowboat Caxton (+9)

17 Derwent6 (+2)

18 Waterway Routes (-7)

19 nb Lucky Duck (-4)

20 UK Waterways Ranking Site (+3)

21 nb Warrior (=)

22 Warwickshire Fly Boat Company (-2)

23 Narrowboat Debdale (-1)

24 Lazy Days (+5)

25 Takey Tezey Tales (-1)

26 Khayamanzi (-9)

27 Seyella's Journey (-1)

28 Zulu Warrior (=)

29 Google Earth Canal Maps (-)

30 boats and cruising (-)

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

Halfie is at number 40 out of 78 entries.

Saturday 22 August 2009

First attempt at uploading video

If this works, there should be a timelapse video of our approaching Middlewich from the south on the Trent and Mersey. This would have been on 9th April 2009.

Well, it seems to work on the preview, so I'll publish it. I'm a bit concerned about how much of my Blogger data allowance it uses - this was about 0.5MB - so it might be better to upload to YouTube first and then link to that. I haven't uploaded to YouTube before, either.

Friday 21 August 2009

A stab in the dark

Work has been busy ... no, I have been busy at work recently. Oh to be on a boat and not have to go to work the next day! Or the day after that, and the day after that... !

I got a letter from the pension scheme a couple of days ago, telling me that if I wanted to retire early and claim my pension then I had until March next year to do so, otherwise I'd have to wait until I was 55. Hmm. It made me think. But there'd be a big reduction for early payment, plus the fact that I won't have paid into the scheme for long enough ... oh, plus the fact that I wouldn't get the state pension until 65 (or is it even later than that?) So I'll have to carry on working for the time being. And dreaming of extended cruises...

Meanwhile, here's a photo I grabbed while steering north through Harecastle Tunnel in April. I had one chance to snap the skeleton, which is painted in an alcove a hundred yards or so from the north portal. I didn't have a torch (or a third hand), so I had to aim and shoot more or less by guesswork while steering the boat. I was zoomed in too much - you can't see the alcove. But it could have been worse: I could have cut his/her head off...

... but it's improved by cropping.

Wednesday 19 August 2009

Now Adam's reviewed it, I can publish my photos

On 10th April 2009 we cruised into Nantwich Basin on the Shropshire Union Canal. There we saw a most unusual-looking narrowboat, The Silver Kroner, just about to go on its maiden voyage. This is the boat which Adam of NB Debdale reviewed in the last issue of Canal Boat magazine. The most striking feature of the boat is its four section sliding sunroof, and the apparent height of the roof to accommodate it. Adam says it looks higher than it is, though, but there are some low bridges on the Caldon I'd like to see it try. As for Froghall Tunnel, forget it!

We were warned not to hit it!

Tuesday 18 August 2009

Canals from the train

Limekiln Lock, Trent and Mersey Canal, Stone, April 2009

A strong memory from my student days of travelling to and from Manchester by train is the tantalising glimpse of Chester's Northgate staircase locks, apparently carved out of rock. I determined then that, one day, I would go through those locks myself: an ambition achieved four years ago. Of course, the Northgate locks weren't the only ones spotted from the train between Euston and Manchester Piccadilly all those 30+ years ago; and today I'm always on the lookout for canals, whether from train or car.

Northgate Locks with the railway crossing just below: it was from this bridge that I had my first views of these locks

In April this year we moved Shadow from Stockton Top Marina on the GU to Tattenhall Marina on the Shroppie. As I'd left the car at Stockton I went back by train to pick it up which gave me the opportunity for more canal spotting. This time I had my camera with me.

turnover bridge immediately north of Harecastle Tunnel, Trent and Mersey Canal

same location, a couple of seconds later

Sunday 16 August 2009

Top Thirty, 2009 week 34

Here is the UK Waterways Site Ranking as it stood at 0945 on Sunday 16th August 2009.

1 Jim Shead's Waterways Information (=)

2 Pennine Waterways (=)

3 - Forums (=)

4 Granny Buttons (=)

5 Retirement with No Problem (+2)

6 UKCanals Network (=)

7 Canal Photos (-2)

8 CanalPlanAC (=)

9 Jannock Website (=)

10 Boating Holidays in the UK and Europe (=)

11 Waterway Routes (+4)

12 nb Epiphany (+1)

13 Narrowboat Gypsy Rover (-2)

14 Water Explorer (-2)

15 nb Lucky Duck (+2)

16 Narrowboat Bones (=)

17 Khayamanzi (-3)

18 NBNorthernPride (+8)

19 Derwent6 (-1)

20 Warwickshire Fly Boat Company (-1)

21 nb Warrior (=)

22 Narrowboat Debdale (+3)

23 UK Waterways Ranking Site (-)

24 Takey Tezey Tales (+4)

25 Narrowboat Caxton (-5)

26 Seyella's Journey (-3)

27 Tony Clayton's Canal Photographs (-)

28 Zulu Warrior (+1)

29 Lazy Days (+1)

30 nb Kestrel (-8)

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

Halfie is at number 41 out of 78 entries.

Saturday 15 August 2009

Off road in Derbyshire

Last weekend we visited our son and his girlfriend in Sheffield. He has a passion for vehicles: one he's acquired is a Range Rover in which he likes to go off-roading. I went with him on a short foray on a green lane in the Peak District - nothing too scary.

One of his other vehicles is a van which is his business.

If ever you want anything moving to or from the Sheffield area Andy's your van man.

Wednesday 12 August 2009

Time travel, Takey Tezey style

I'd often wondered how some of Heather's posts on her Takey Tezey blog appeared with post dates several days in the past. I'll explain what I mean with an example. If I'd read her latest post on a Monday, say, and looked on Tuesday and Wednesday to find nothing more; then I'd look on Thursday and suddenly find posts dated Tuesday and Wednesday, even though they definitely weren't there on those days. Is that clear?

So I asked her how she did it. And, of course, it's done using the Post Options. I had assumed Post Options would work only if you entered a date in advance; but no. It works for a date in the past too.

Hmm. I think I'll post this yesterday.

typo corrected tomorrow

Goods. Very Goods.

While searching on the internet for something recently - I think it must have been the Sankey Canal - I came across Mike Smith's fascinating website - Goods & Not So Goods. It's intended for builders of model railway layouts and has much useful information about how railways and canals interacted.

There are one or two surprising nuggets:

A lot of odd materials were shipped by sea, Britain at one time imported large quantities of dried dog droppings from Persia, this material being used for its high urea content in the preparation of leather (removing the hair from hides). These days synthetic Urea is shipped in place of the dog droppings ...

But the best stuff is the clear pictures. I've "borrowed" one here as an example.

... A variation on this approach was used at one coal loading point on the Grand Union Canal, here the wagons used tended to be conventional types and the bottom doors, assisted by man-with-shovel method was used. The railway lines were lower, which might make it an easier proposition to model, for a canal parallel to the track turnplates can be used as shown in the sketch ...

Tuesday 11 August 2009

Tracking down the Lancaster Canal (northern section)

Aynam Mills, Kendal

We've not long been back from a holiday in the Lake District, in a cottage near Kendal. We had a good, if slightly damp, time, and enjoyed several walks. One attraction (for me) was the finding of traces of the Lancaster Canal, which terminated in Kendal. I discovered roads called Canal Head North, and Canal Head South (pretty good clues); and a former "ticket office".

The plaque claims it's the Kendal-Lancaster Canal. Isn't that like someone in Liverpool calling the northerly route over the Pennines the Liverpool-Leeds Canal?

The plaques in Kendal are generally very informative, though.

It's good to see businesses acknowledging their surroundings: here's the Canal Head tyres, exhausts and brakes place...

... and here's the Canal Head Household Waste Recycling Centre.

Ah, but now we're getting somewhere. You see that footpath on the right? That's the line of the canal! I found it at last.

And, if confirmation were needed, a little further south was the first (last?) bridge. A "change bridge", no less, where the towpath changes sides.

Near the town centre the footpath (and cycle path) ran down the middle of the filled in canal, but further south it tended to the line of the original towpath, with the canal visible as a depression in the ground. In places it was hemmed in...

... but elsewhere the bridges popped up apparently in the middle of nowhere.

About five miles out of Kendal, the other side of a bridge (and gate), the canal is suddenly in water.

One day I should like to come here by boat.

Monday 10 August 2009

Wine, water and a hairdrier

Last week it was all going swimmingly, and then it was swimming in it.

I'd fired up the computer, sat down with a glass of red wine to try to get up to date with blog posts ... and Aaargh! I'd knocked over the glass, tipping wine over the keyboard and desk. Mostly into the keyboard. Jan rushed in with paper towels, and we mopped up as best we could. I knew that if the wine dried out it would make the keys sticky, so I unplugged the keyboard and held it under the cold tap, sloshing water freely all over it. Drastic, I know, but water should dry out and not cause damage, whereas the wine would be catastrophic. After shaking the drips out I patted it down onto paper towels, and then gave it a fairly gentle hairdrier treatment.

That's done it, I thought, and so I connected it back to the computer, a bit too soon. Uh-oh: the computer made its "I'm not happy" noise. More still to do.

Water had got right inside the keyboard, unsurprisingly, and was visible through the clear plastic case. I needed to take it apart. At work the next day I borrowed the tiny-sized allen key and separated the bottom from the top. But I got scared by the two flimsy ribbon cables joining the two halves, so I didn't dismantle further. I managed to insert a piece of ordinary paper to where I could see there was water trapped between two pieces of plastic, and eventually I judged that it had dried out sufficiently for reassembly and re-connection.

This time there was no unhappy noise, and everything now seems to be working fine. Hooray!

I'm still way behind with my posts, though.

Sunday 9 August 2009

The clue's in the name

On our way back from visiting our son in Sheffield I noticed a pub called The Lock Keeper. It was on the A57 in Worksop. Hmm... The Lock Keeper? I wonder if it could be by a canal?

I've just looked it up, and, yes, it's on the Chesterfield Canal - a waterway I haven't visited. Next time we'll have to stop and explore a little.

Incidentally, while searching for a link to the pub, I came across David Morris's blog, in which he frequently mentions canals and boating in the Sheffield and Chesterfield areas.

Top Thirty, 2009 week 33

Here is the UK Waterways Site Ranking as it stood at 2045 on Sunday 9th August 2009. (I missed last week - sorry.)

1 Jim Shead's Waterways Information (=)

2 Pennine Waterways (=)

3 - Forums (=)

4 Granny Buttons (=)

5 Canal Photos (+2)

6 UKCanals Network (-1)

7 Retirement with No Problem (-1)

8 CanalPlanAC (=)

9 Jannock Website (=)

10 Boating Holidays in the UK and Europe (-)

11 Narrowboat Gypsy Rover (=)

12 Water Explorer (+5)

13 nb Epiphany (-3)

14 Khayamanzi (+6)

15 Waterway Routes (-3)

16 Narrowboat Bones (-3)

17 nb Lucky Duck (-3)

18 Derwent6 (+1)

19 Warwickshire Fly Boat Company (-4)

20 Narrowboat Caxton (-4)

21 nb Warrior (-3)

22 nb Kestrel (+3)

23 Seyella's Journey (-1)

24 Google Earth Canal Maps (-)

25 Narrowboat Debdale (-4)

26 NBNorthernPride (-)

27 nb Piston Broke (+3)

28 Takey Tezey Tales (-4)

29 Zulu Warrior (-6)

30 Lazy Days (-4)

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

Halfie is at number 51 out of 77 entries.