Wednesday 30 June 2010

Braunston 2010: Chertsey video

On Sunday, at the Braunston Historic Narrowboat Rally, I got out my small domestic camera and filmed Chertsey on parade. I've edited it and put it on YouTube.

Sorry the aspect ratio is wrong. I filmed and edited it in 16x9 but YouTube seems to think it's 4x3. (Update: I've fixed the aspect ratio. Now it all looks right, although still jerky.) A worse error is that I left my tripod behind, so I'm sorry for the wobblevision. And I'm sorry I've gone back to my old apologising ways.

I don't know who the steerer is. Can someone enlighten me? Ray Robinson of Travelling in No Direction says

"Looks like Keith Ball from Industry Narrowboats to me. He had a staring role in the Narrowboat Dover TV programme."

Thanks Ray.

Tuesday 29 June 2010

Braunston 2010: bloggers met

In an earlier post I wondered how fellow bloggers might meet up. I needn't have worried: most who were there at the same time as us were encountered on the towpath. Here's Boots, and, no, those are not Bones's feet.

And then we found Chertsey, and Sarah in Chertsey's engine 'ole.

Back on the towpath Bones introduced me to Bottle and Wozie of Oakfield. I looked for Harnser - several times - but Brian and Diana had left the previous evening.

I also met Blossom and Dawn by Chertsey (where else?)

Here's a view from Butcher's Bridge: Chertsey is second boat up, second boat in from the left. Having followed the story of Chertsey's purchase and restoration (so far) it was great seeing it in the flesh for the first time.

Still to come: a couple buying a hotel boat business; and filming Chertsey.

Monday 28 June 2010

Braunston 2010: Songs of Praise

After a hot, sticky night at Ally and Ben's house in Birmingham we drove to Braunston. All the car windows were open, but we still got too hot. I must fix that heater temperature control! The roads were almost empty as we took a direct route through the middle of Solihull and Coventry. We parked in a lay-by near Bridge 90 on the Oxford Canal and walked to the boatyard where the Songs of Praise service was being held. And we almost got there in time for the beginning (unlike at Crick recently, when we arrived just as the service was ending).

service leader and boater Marian Thomas with band

Boaters' Christian Fellowship member Marian Thomas, whose narrowboat Kharis was moored at Braunston for the weekend, led the service. A letter she wrote recently has an arresting beginning:

Letter from Marian Thomas - Licensed Lay Minister

Dear Friends,  I cannot believe that it is now a year since I fell into the canal at the Stop House and turned the experience into a short talk on trust in God at the Marina Service ...

In this year's service Braunston Marina owner Tim Coghlan read from Mark's gospel the passage where Jesus feeds the five thousand. I think that was chosen for the verse which says, "So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place."

The service was held on the "marina point". Most people had dispersed by the time I'd walked over the walkways over the drydocks and got onto the bridge to take this photo.

More from Braunston tomorrow.

Sunday 27 June 2010

Braunston 2010: first post

We go back to Norfolk at about a quarter to eight having been at Braunston all day. We left before the England v Germany football match had finished (no, we weren't watching it in the beer tent) and I managed to avoid hearing the result until I'd watched bits of it on iPlayer. All of which means that this will be a short post with just a couple of photos from the Historic Narrowboat Rally. There is more to come!

For now, here's Nutfield towing Raymond out of Braunston boatyard.

Top Thirty, 2010 Week 26

Here is the UK Waterways Site Ranking as it stood at 0720 on Sunday 27th June 2010. This is taken, with permission, from Tony Blews's UK Waterways Ranking Site.

Another week with no new entries.

1 Jim Shead's Waterways Information (=)

2 Pennine Waterways (+1)

3 - Forums (-1)

4 Granny Buttons (+1)

5 (+1)

6 CanalPlanAC (-2)

7 Canal World Discussion Forums (=)

8 Retirement with No Problem (=)

9 boatshare (=)

10 Jannock Website (+1)

11 Towpath Treks (-1)

12 Narrowboat Gypsy Rover (=)

13 UKCanals Network (+2)

14 CutConnect - keeping boaters in touch (+9)

15 Waterway Routes (+2)

16 Trafalgar Marine Services (-2)

17 Water Explorer (+2)

18 Chertsey (+7)

19 (-3)

20 nb Epiphany (+1)

21 WB Takey Tezey (-3)

22 Canal Photos (+4)

23 Google Earth Canal Maps (-1)

24 Narrowboat Bones (=)

25 Narrowboat Caxton (-5)

26 nb Lucky Duck (+1)

27 Derwent6 (+2)

28 NBNorthernPride (-15)

29 Working Boat Hadar (-1)

30 CanalBoatingHolidays (=)

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 116 entries altogether; Halfie is at number 36.

Saturday 26 June 2010

(Very) Polite Request (not mine)

After picking up my car the other day Ewan and I stopped off in Eye (Suffolk) for a coffee. We found the Gallery Café in Broad Street above a sort of haberdashery shop. The coffee turned into full English breakfast which we ate in the sun on the rooftop patio.

Next to the post office in Eye is a private house with a slightly wonky wrought iron gate.

On the gate is a Polite Request Whose Every Word Begins With A Capital Letter. But it really is a polite request. Please don't tie your dog to the gate, use the boot scraper instead. I wonder how many people do.

Brum today; Braunston tomorrow.

Friday 25 June 2010

Poppies, balloon and sun

Photos taken four days ago on my cycle home.

I rather like this last one, shot right into the low sun.

Thursday 24 June 2010

Amazon oil change

On Tuesday I picked up my car after it had had some work done (a new front wing). I'd been without the car for several weeks but not really missing it as I've been cycling to work. The new wing didn't really take that long - I was waiting for some tyres to come in stock at a supplier, but they never did. Another time.

When I got home I changed the oil and filter. It's always satisfying to find it difficult to see the new, almost invisible, oil on the dipstick. I just need to give it a good wash, and it'll be ready for the trip to Brum and Braunston.

For my records: oil and filter changed 22nd June 2010; odometer reading 27669 miles. (I don't know how many times it's been "round the clock".)

The car is a 1969 Volvo 131 2-door saloon, manual with overdrive, 1990cc petrol engine.

Wednesday 23 June 2010

Speeding boats: the final solution?

The subject of boats going too fast along our canals has come up again, with a fresh comment on Andrew Denny's post on Granny Buttons headed "Thank you for not putting out rude signs". This post was referred to in his post "Maffi Dredd: I am the canal Law", which is itself a response to Maffi's post "Two wrongs don't make a right".

Are you with me so far?

Anyway, all I wanted to do was show this photo, taken on the Worcester and Birmingham Canal just south of Hanbury Wharf two years ago. I've tweaked the closeup version to bring out the text on the sign better. It says, "I WAS A BOAT SPEEDER!"

(I would like to make it clear that I do not condone the hanging of boat speeders.)

Tuesday 22 June 2010

Where do bloggers meet in real life?

A number of canal bloggers are going to be at Braunston this weekend for the Historic Boats Rally. How do I know? Because we've said so, either in posts we've made, or in comments on other people's posts. Fine, but if we haven't met before, how do we recognise one another? I certainly wouldn't expect anyone to recognise me from my profile photo, so here's a closer version of my ugly mug.

Of course, I could very well be wearing a hat, especially if it's raining or sunny. Or cold.

Perhaps a feature of events such as this could be a bloggers' stand, or a flip chart or something, so bloggers who want to can "sign in", just so that people could see who is/was there.

We're intending to be at the Songs of Praise service at 0930 on the Sunday on the "marina point" (wherever that is). And then we'll hang around, see a few boats, talk to a few people ... I'm especially looking forward to seeing Chertsey after all the work Sarah and Jim have put into it, brilliantly described in Sarah's blog.

Monday 21 June 2010

Taxis not allowed to charge - so they're free!

Two "tricycle rickshaws" have appeared in Norwich. There's some wrangle with the licensing authority which means that, for the moment, the operators are not allowed to charge a fare. So Philip Russell and his tricycling colleague, who was at lunch when I took these photos, are supplying their services free of charge. Free, that is, to customers; the tricycles' sponsors pay the "rickies". In the peak season the rickshaws will be plying for trade in the north Norfolk seaside town of Sheringham, where they will be licensed.

Philip recently graduated in aircraft engineering but hasn't found a job in that profession owing, he says, to the recession.

The tricycles have assistance from an electric motor powered by a lead-acid battery, which fits in the "boot" between the two rear wheels. One battery pack lasts for a morning or an afternoon session before having to be recharged.

In Norwich they're restricted to within the inner ring road, but make an exception for City College on Newmarket Road.

A brief internet search throws up one manufacturer of cycle rickshaws, Bluebird Electric Rickshaws, but they look much more basic. The fibreglass machines in Norwich have a semi-recumbent pose for the pedaller, and a reasonable amount of protection from the weather.

Sunday 20 June 2010

Meriden, cycling centre of Britain

Returning home from Birmingham at the beginning of the month we drove through Meriden, between Birmingham and Coventry.

Here there is a monument to cyclists who gave their lives in the two World Wars. Cyclists who gave their lives? A quick search reveals 2Wheel Chick's blog and her post about it.

This is what she writes:

At a time when we remember those killed at war I have been thinking about cyclists who perished. Browsing through a French history cycling site special mention is made to those cyclists lost during the first world war. It seems that cyclists paid very heavily with their lives during that time.

Among the French cyclists mentioned were former Tour de France winners, Octave Lapize (plane shot down, 1917), Francois Faber (shot, 1915) and Lucien Petit-Breton (killed in a motor car accident, 1917). The latter's brother, Anselme Mazan was also killed during the war, in 1915.

Other high profile cyclists of the day who were lost were the 1913 winner of the Giro d'Italia, Carlo Oriani (died from pneumonia), the 1896 Olympic track champion Leon Flameng (killed in a plane crash, 1917) and the English track star Tom Gascoyne.

As well as the elite cyclists there were hundreds of amateur cyclists killed during the Great War.

At Meriden in the West Midlands stands the National Cyclists Memorial, a monument which specifically commemorates cyclists lost during the First and Second world wars.

Well, people from all walks of life were killed in the wars, and I acknowledge the debt we owe to them, but I didn't know there was a memorial specifically for cyclists. Are there memorials for kite flyers, pigeon fanciers and pram pushers in more remote parts of the country? Unless, of course, 2Wheel Chick has missed the point; and it's cycle messengers or other cyclists more obviously contributing to the war effort who are remembered in Meriden.

Cyclists from all over the country make an annual pilgrimage here. Here are some pics from one of these services.

Back to my photo:

Oh, look, I missed a trick here: trying to hide between the monument and the phone box is a No Cycling sign.

Another thing about Meriden: for centuries it has claimed to be at the centre of England. There's another stone structure on the green, a weathered sandstone cross (which I didn't see), with a metal plaque to that effect.

And another cycling connection: Triumph motorcycles were built here from 1941 to 1983. I didn't know that, either. A housing estate now sits on the site of the factory.

This post is long enough, so I'll hold over more cycling stuff - free cycle taxis - until tomorrow.

Top Thirty, 2010 week 25

Here is the UK Waterways Site Ranking as it stood at 0855 on Sunday 20th June 2010. This is taken, with permission, from Tony Blews's UK Waterways Ranking Site.

1 Jim Shead's Waterways Information (=)

2 - Forums (=)

3 Pennine Waterways (=)

4 CanalPlanAC (+2)

5 Granny Buttons (=)

6 (-2)

7 Canal World Discussion Forums (+1)

8 Retirement with No Problem (-1)

9 boatshare (=)

10 Towpath Treks (=)

11 Jannock Website (=)

12 Narrowboat Gypsy Rover (+3)

13 NBNorthernPride (+12)

14 Trafalgar Marine Services (-1)

15 UKCanals Network (-3)

16 (=)

17 Waterway Routes (-3)

18 WB Takey Tezey (+1)

19 Water Explorer (-2)

20 Narrowboat Caxton (-)

21 nb Epiphany (3)

22 Google Earth Canal Maps (-2)

23 CutConnect - keeping boaters in touch (+3)

24 Narrowboat Bones (+3)

25 Chertsey (-1)

26 Canal Photos (-3)

27 nb Lucky Duck (-5)

28 Working Boat Hadar (-7)

29 Derwent6 (-1)

30 CanalBoatingHolidays (=)

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 111 entries altogether; Halfie is at number 37.

Saturday 19 June 2010

Boundary Notice ... but which bridge?

Almost at Hockley Heath on our walk now. Here's a sign which I expect most boaters miss: fixed to the "inside" of a bridge on the Stratford Canal is a cast iron plate marking the boundary between what I assume are, or were, the Severn River Authority and the Trent River Authority.

And how many of those who do spot it realise that the bridge numbers don't agree? According to the notice it's Bridge No. 24. But according to the bridge number plaque it's out by one. Now I have to confess that I can't remember which bridge this is. I remember thinking at the time that I'd remember. But that was more than two weeks ago and I've forgotten.

Friday 18 June 2010

Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, a potato field and sky.

This week I have been visiting a friend in hospital every two days. It's been easy for me to call in on my cycle home from work: just a half mile detour half-way along my journey.

So far my trips have been well timed. On Wednesday, when I didn't go, my friend had had five visitors; on Thursday I was the only one.

It's easier for my friend to listen than to talk, so, in what I hope is not a boring way, I've been describing my ideal boat. And that is something I will do on this blog soon.

Thursday 17 June 2010

If you don't watch your wind turbine ... this could happen

We've reached - at last - the Blue Bell pub where we had, not a glass of cider, but a welcome cup of tea. No, not a cup, but a decent size mug. Rather than incarcerate ourselves in the electrically lit interior of the pub, we found our way to the "beer garden" overlooking the canal, and sat on the only dry seats there were, under a gazebo whose fabric roof had collected a ballooning puddle of rainwater. (Very tempting to push up, but there's always the danger of getting drenched unless one's extremely careful!)

From one of the boats moored opposite came the sweet smell of woodsmoke. Another boat had a wind generator on a pole sticking into the trees. I guess the boat had been there some time: perhaps it tied up before the leaves had come out, or perhaps the weight of rain on the foliage caused the branches to foul the turbine.

A shame, because, judging from the wind chimes hanging in the window, this is clearly a boat which appreciates wind.

Wednesday 16 June 2010

Any colour you like

Round the bend from Dickens Heath was this stealth boat. Well, not so stealthy, with that TV aerial on the roof.

Ah, so it was green before. I wonder if the tunnel bands will be kept.

Tuesday 15 June 2010

What the dickens ...?

This looks like something you'd rather not get tangled round your prop. It's a sculpture we encountered on our towpath walk along the Stratford Canal a couple of weeks ago.

It's at the top of the watery staircase on the new development at Dickens Heath. To see it properly you have to tie up and walk over the bridge.

Not the bridge in the above photo; the bridge over the canal out of shot to the left.

Monday 14 June 2010

Opera from Covent Garden in Norwich in the rain

Last week after work I walked over to the open space outside Norwich's newest shopping centre, Chapelfield, where a live relay of Bizet's Carmen, from the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, was about to be shown on the big screen.

People going to the free event had been advised to bring their own folding chairs, as only 80 were going to be provided. As it turned out, the cold and rain kept numbers down - or was it that Norvicensians are an uncultured lot? There were plenty of chairs available, but most people, understandably, were sheltering from the rain along one side of the open space.

It was a bit like watching television, but wetter and colder. And with poorer sound. Perhaps if the place had been packed there might have been a better atmosphere, but I left after the first act. I hadn't planned to stay that long, and my stomach was protesting about the lack of food. If I had been better prepared (with food, drink and warm clothes) I would have stayed to the end as it was very good.

Some of the Norwich "crowd" clapped along with the Opera House audience - but that just seemed weird.

Sunday 13 June 2010

Cole Aqueduct and horrible things under a railway bridge

Here's one for Captain Ahab: the aqueduct which carries the Stratford Canal over the River Cole and Aqueduct Road. This is a good one to look at on Google Streetview. This shows the brick-faced south west side of the aqueduct; this shows the rendered north east face as in my photo. (I've forgotten how to embed a Streetview image.)

Just the other side of Shirley Drawbridge is the Whitlock's End railway bridge. Now many of us will have seen trees festooned with plastic bags containing dog poo. Perhaps the same disgusting people think it's all right to chuck their revolting bags of excrement under the bridge. Well, it isn't.

Top Thirty, 2010 week 24

Here is the UK Waterways Site Ranking as it stood at 0905 on Sunday 13th June 2010. This is taken, with permission, from Tony Blews's UK Waterways Ranking Site.

Only one new entry in the top thirty this week: Working Boat Hadar, back in action again, re-entering the chart at number 21.

1 Jim Shead's Waterways Information (=)

2 - Forums (=)

3 Pennine Waterways (=)

4 (+1)

5 Granny Buttons (-1)

6 CanalPlanAC (=)

7 Retirement with No Problem (+1)

8 Canal World Discussion Forums (+14)

9 boatshare (-2)

10 Towpath Treks (-1)

11 Jannock Website (-1)

12 UKCanals Network (+1)

13 Trafalgar Marine Services (-1)

14 Waterway Routes (-3)

15 Narrowboat Gypsy Rover (=)

16 (-2)

17 Water Explorer (-1)

18 nb Epiphany (=)

19 WB Takey Tezey (-2)

20 Google Earth Canal Maps (+1)

21 Working Boat Hadar (-)

22 nb Lucky Duck (+5)

23 Canal Photos (=)

24 Chertsey (-5)

25 NBNorthernPride (+3)

26 CutConnect - keeping boaters in touch (-2)

27 Narrowboat Bones (-1)

28 Derwent6 (-8)

29 Baddie the Pirate (-4)

30 CanalBoatingHolidays (-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 111 entries altogether; Halfie is at number 38.

Saturday 12 June 2010

The Reluctant Gosling

(Five minutes after the hearing of the cuckoo we came across the Goose family.)

Mummy Goose and
Daddy Goose, with their five children,
Gosling One,
Gosling Two,
Gosling Three,
Gosling Four and
Gosling Five,
decided to go for a swim.

But Gosling Five couldn't get into the water. The drop from the bank was a bit too steep, and she didn't really want to leave the nice grass and buttercups.

Gosling One,
Gosling Two,
Gosling Three and
Gosling Four
loved it in the water, and raced Mummy Goose to the other side of the canal.

But where is our sister? they asked.

Here she is. Daddy Goose has helped her into the water.

Now Gosling Five can join
Gosling Four,
Gosling Three,
Gosling Two and
Gosling One
in their line.

We like swimming in a line, say the Goslings. Oh, look! Is that someone we can play with?

No, that's a duck. Now, you see that field of buttercups over to the right? We're going to swim back over there and dry our feet.

And so
Mummy Goose,
Daddy Goose,
Gosling One,
Gosling Two,
Gosling Three,
Gosling Four and
Gosling Five
paddled back to their bank.

Goodbye, Mummy Goose.
Goodbye, Daddy Goose.
Goodbye, Gosling One.
Goodbye, Gosling Two.
Goodbye, Gosling Three.
Goodbye, Gosling Four.
Goodbye, Gosling Five.