Monday 31 January 2011

Timelapse: Waltham Abbey to Hertford

Here is the second timelapse film of our London based cruise of last summer. It covers the River Lee Navigation from Waltham Abbey, just upstream of Waltham Town Lock, to Hertford Basin via the very limit of navigation, and lasts 4 minutes 36 seconds.

Things to watch out for:
  • the "helpful" man whacking up the gate paddle full blast at Stanstead Lock (2'35") despite the dire and severe warnings to open said paddle gently owing to the fierceness of the resulting jet of water

  • the low bridge at Hertford (3'49") which we took very slowly and which still mangled the chimney's coolie hat

  • the head of navigation at Hertford (3'59") and our reversing from it to tie up in the basin

I don't know if it's just me (or my computer), but I find that these YouTube things play more smoothly when displayed full screen. I checked yesterday's uploaded timelapse at work and it plays fine, so I hope it does for you too.

Above Aqueduct Lock, 54 seconds in, we stop to pick up David, Penny and Fergus.

Sunday 30 January 2011

Timelapse: Islington to Pickett's Lock

At last! Here is the first of a series of timelapse films recording our epic cruise from Northolt to Northolt via Hertford, Bishop's Stortford, Limehouse Basin, Thames Flood Barrier, Radcot (almost as far up the Thames as you can go), Brentford and Bull's Bridge. Except that I can't find the first section, from Northolt to Islington. Perhaps I hadn't set up the timelapse camera for that bit.

This timelapse sequence starts on the morning of Monday 16th August 2010 from the north portal of Islington Tunnel, and proceeds via the Hertford Union Canal to the River Lee Navigation as far as Pickett's Lock.

Edited to correct a couple of errors and to add: the film seems to be running very jerkily, not like the original. Perhaps it's my computer.

Top Thirty, 2011 week 5

Here is the UK Waterways Site Ranking as it stood at 1855 on Sunday 30th January 2011. This is taken, with permission, from Tony Blews's UK Waterways Ranking Site.

1 Canal World Discussion Forums (=)

2 - Forums (+1)

3 Jim Shead's Waterways Information (-1)

4 Pennine Waterways (+1)

5 CanalPlanAC (-1)

6 Granny Buttons (+1)

7 (+1)

8 The Boats and Canals Forum (+1)

9 Retirement with No Problem (-3)

10 ExOwnerships (=)

11 Waterway Routes (+10)

12 Jannock Website (-1)

13 boatshare (+1)

14 Towpath Treks (-2)

15 WB Takey Tezey (+3)

16 Narrowboat Bones (+6)

17 Canal Shop Company (-4)

18 UKCanals Network (-2)

19 (-2)

20 Derwent6 (=)

21 Water Explorer (-2)

22 nb Epiphany (+1)

23 Canal Photos (-8)

24 nb Blue Moon (-)

25 Captain Ahab's Watery Tales (+2)

26 Narrowboat Caxton (=)

27 Trafalgar Marine Services (+1)

28 Contented Souls (-)

29 nb Lucky Duck (-5)

30 Seyella's Journey (-)

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.

Halfie is at number 44.

There are 137 entries altogether.

Friday 28 January 2011

Scrabbling for an idea for a blog post

Yes, a bit obvious, I know. But (tenuous boating link) board games are played on board many boats, especially on winter evenings when it's too dark to cruise.

Jan, Ally, Ben and I went for a pub lunch last Saturday, and found a Scrabble set next to our table. I hadn't played for many years. This is what the board looked like at the end of the game.

The scores were as follows: 173, 126, 123 and 104. And, no, I'm not going to embarrass anyone by revealing who got what!

Thursday 27 January 2011

Blog's rise and fall graphically illustrated

Andy, aka Captain Ahab, commented that he'd noticed this blog's recent rise in the ranking chart, and wondered if it was on account of my having included "999" in the title having attracted lots of "outside" interest.

Is it the headline-grabbing story which pulls in the hits, or the headline itself? The content or the wrapper? Initially it must be the headline which entices people to click, but if the story fails to live up to the promise, then, eventually I suppose, people will not bother. They will have learned that this particular brand of sweets is not to their taste.

The graph, from , plots daily hits against the date, for the last 30 days. It can be seen that these did indeed peak on 7th January, the date of my post entitled "Thames talk ends in 999 call". But this post was timed for 23:59, so the hits on that day were looking at previous posts. That for the 6th January was called "Timelapse camera captures moment of rescue, against the odds" A bit long for a headline, but there are certainly enticing elements there.

Since that peak of 283 hits that day, the trend has been ever downwards, reflecting the fact that I have allowed several days to go by without a post.

The graph over the last year shows five or six striking peaks.

217 hits on 3rd May 2010, attributable to the Granny Effect, where Andrew Denny highlighted my blog in one of his posts on Granny Buttons

244 hits on 8th September 2010, when I was writing up our propeller losing antics on the Thames

258 hits on 14th September 2010, after a post headed "Boat capsizes"

402 hits on 22nd September 2010, after a post which included "Elvis" in the title

192 hits on 3rd January 2011, after I'd written about the seals on the Norfolk coast

283 hits on 7th January 2011, that's the one referred to above

One of the best headline writers is the afore mentioned Andrew Denny. While researching for this post I rediscovered Andrew's post headed "Halfie films 100-year-old Russell brand" (the post talks about my film about Russell Newbery, the engine maker). What a terrific headline!

Sarah of NB Chertsey is another blogger who knows the value of a good (or should I say sexy?) headline. "Male member" is her latest inducement. I expect her hits will shoot straight up.

Jim of NB Starcross makes the good point that the hits count gives no indication of whether a particular post has been read through from beginning to end (are you still reading this, by the way?). A hit is a hit, whether it lasted a second or an hour. There's no appreciation factor, in other words. How is it, by the way, that some hits can be registered as lasting zero seconds?

Conclusions: A good headline will attract hits, but it helps to be mentioned by people in high places! Frequent posting is essential to keep the hit rate up.

Wednesday 26 January 2011

What a difference not blogging makes!

At one point recently I noticed that this blog had risen as high as 21 in the UK Waterways Sites ranking. When I took my weekly snapshot of the top thirty on Sunday I'd slipped to number 36. Now, after a week where my time on the computer has been taken up with editing the village pantomime video, and where my blog posts have been less frequent, I see I am at number 46.

Someone else whose ranking has slipped is Granny Buttons. For a time Andrew's blog sat one place below No Problem, showing that blogging frequency is almost as important as content. Today, though, normality of a sort has been restored, and Granny Buttons is back at number 6; No Problem at number 8. The fact that Andrew has recently posted seems to have made the difference.

Sunday 23 January 2011

Long range duck feeding at Sawbridgeworth

As we came into Sawbridgeworth on the Stort Navigation last August there was a man standing on a first floor balcony chucking slices of bread at the ducks.

The pictures tell the story.

Top Thirty, 2011 week 4

Here is the UK Waterways Site Ranking as it stood at 1700 on Sunday 23rd January 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 (=)

4 CanalPlanAC (+1)

5 Pennine Waterways (-1)

6 Retirement with No Problem (+3)

7 Granny Buttons (=)

8 (=)

9 The Boats and Canals Forum (-3)

10 ExOwnerships (=)

11 Jannock Website (=)

12 Towpath Treks (=)

13 Canal Shop Company (+2)

14 boatshare (-1)

15 Canal Photos (+6)

16 UKCanals Network (+2)

17 (+2)

18 WB Takey Tezey (-1)

19 Water Explorer (+4)

20 Derwent6 (-4)

21 Waterway Routes (-7)

22 Narrowboat Bones (-2)

23 nb Epiphany (-)

24 nb Lucky Duck (+3)

25 Chertsey (+1)

26 Narrowboat Caxton (-2)

27 Captain Ahab's Watery Tales (-2)

28 Trafalgar Marine Services (+2)

29 nb Piston Broke (-1)

30 Narrowboat Debdale (-)

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.

Halfie is at number 36.

There are 137 entries altogether.

edited to correct a link

Friday 21 January 2011

Waterways webcams

Thanks to Martin, who left a comment a couple of days ago, I have discovered many more waterways webcams. Some have a better image quality, some update more quickly than others, some are more like marina CCTV than windows onto canal scenes ... but you can judge for yourself by going to .


My new regime of foregoing my car park pass - giving me an effective £500 per year pay rise - is working well. As soon as I'd handed the pass in last year the weather turned very cold, but I cycled through it. There have been very few days where I can recall getting wet - possibly only one or two in two months. It was good to cycle in the sunshine this morning - may it soon warm up as well!

Thursday 20 January 2011

Discovering Lost Canals

A while ago I acquired a slim paperback called "Discovering Lost Canals" by Ronald Russell. It was first published in 1975; my copy is a second edition (1980). To each of 16 canals Mr. Russell devotes about three pages, divided into a section on History; one on The canal today; and a sketch map. Being concise the book is very readable, but manages to pack a wealth of information about the canals' start in life, problems in construction, their main cargoes, the reasons for their decline and eventual abandonment.

It's fascinating to read about canals which have since been restored, notably the Rochdale and the Huddersfield Narrow.

This is the start of the section on the Huddersfield Narrow Canal:

Many eccentric and ambitious projects flowered in the 1790s, a decade in which, to canal promoters, nothing seemed impossible. [...] One such, however, was the Huddersfield Narrow Canal, one of three completed projects to take waterway traffic across the Pennines and provide a link between the east and west coasts.

Further on:

The Huddersfield Narrow still supplies water for industry and the tunnel serves to drain the railway tunnel above it, but the locks are unusable.

Then in the Canal Today section:

Vivid descriptions have been published of voyages through the tunnel [Standedge] in recent years, but it is considered too dangerous for visitors to be allowed through. [...] A long term and admittedly costly plan for the restoration of the canal to navigable standard has been drawn up by the Huddersfield Canal Society.

Now, of course, the restoration has been carried out (hooray!) and we have ourselves cruised its length.

These are the canals covered:

The Bude Canal
The Chard Canal
The Chesterfield Canal (Chesterfield to Worksop)
The Dorset & Somerset Canal
The Grand Western Canal
The Grantham Canal
The Herefordshire and Gloucestershire Canal
The Huddersfield Narrow Canal
The Lancaster Canal (Kendal to Tewitfield)
The Leominster Canal
The Rochdale Canal
The Shropshire tub-boat canals and the Shrewsbury Canal
The Somersetshire Coal Canal
The Thames and Severn Canal
The Wey and Arun Junction Canal
The Wilts and Berks Canal

There is a chapter headed
Some other lost canals; and another headed Lost canals found.

The book would make an excellent companion for an exploration of any of the featured canals, especially for the section on history. One to watch out for in a second hand bookshop.

Wednesday 19 January 2011


Thanks to Adam of Debdale, who mentioned it in a recent post, I can now look at a patch of waterway in (almost) real time.

This is a screen grab from the webcam installed at Great Haywood Marina on the T&M. It seems to update every couple of seconds, so you can almost see movement. It looks as though the mooring in front of the camera could be a service point, so the scene should get busier as the year progresses.

Even if the boats don't move much the clouds do.

Tuesday 18 January 2011

1970s photos of the Manchester, Bolton and Bury Canal seen again thanks to slide scanner

With some Christmas money I treated myself to a slide and film scanner from Maplin. This is it, the FS500 S1, bought for £29.99.

Installing the software on Jan's PC laptop was quick and easy, and I was soon scanning and uploading photos I hadn't seen for decades. While at Salford University, and staying in the (now demolished) Halls of Residence (Davy Hall, for the record), I borrowed an SLR, bought a roll of Fuji colour reversal film, and started snapping away at my surroundings, carefully recording the location, date, shutter speed and aperture. Fortunately the piece of paper with all this information has stayed with the slide box. I took all the photos here on 7th May 1978.

Within a mile was the Manchester, Bolton and Bury Canal, some of it still in water. The canal passed Agecroft Colliery and power station, both still operating at the time.

The above photograph shows a bridge over the canal...

... three and a half miles from Manchester (the junction with the Irwell?)

This bridgehole (?) was, as I remember, a little further towards Clifton Junction (but this was nearly 33 years ago!)

From the Peel Building, in which I had some lectures, I could see the dry canal bed as it ran next to an old railway line. The railway crossed under the A6 to emerge in a marshalling yard. Sadly I have no photos.

Monday 17 January 2011

Appropriate narrowboat names

As promised, some boats with appropriate or clever names, so here they are. These are from our Thames trip last summer.

How about this for starters: Corrie d'Or.

I like the next one. There's more space inside a narrowboat than appears possible from the outside.

The owner is presumably a Doctor Who fan.

I saw at least two boats called "Yes Dear"; there was an "About Time", which I read as a pun; and Overdraught III, again, there's a pun there if you look for it.

Sunday 16 January 2011

Great Ouse Aqueduct on BBC Look East

image grabbed from the film, ©BBC

Last Wednesday BBC Look East did a story on the iron trunk aqueduct over the Great Ouse between Cosgrove and Wolverton on the Grand Union (for viewers in the west of the BBC East region). Samples of paint were being gathered by a BW contractor abseiling from the parapet.

"Is it dangerous?" asks reporter Jozef Hall of Dean Blagg, the abseiler.
"Nowhere near as dangerous as it looks."

The idea is that new paint will be made up to match the old, and the ironwork will be repainted in time for the aqueduct's bicentenary. See the 1'20" film here (it's on the BBC's Beds, Bucks and Herts page, so it might remain available beyond iPlayer's usual one week).

The aqueduct officially opened on January 21st 1811, so it won't be repainted in time for the anniversary. There's more information on Waterscape here, including the snippet:

Since it was built, there have only been two occasions when the aqueduct was de-watered for repairs - the first in 1921, and again in 1986.

Top Thirty, 2011 week 3

Here is the UK Waterways Site Ranking as it stood at 1220 on Sunday 16th January 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 (+1)

3 - Forums (-1)

4 Pennine Waterways (+1)

5 CanalPlanAC (-1)

6 The Boats and Canals Forum (+2)

7 Granny Buttons (-1)

8 (-1)

9 Retirement with No Problem (=)

10 ExOwnerships (+1)

11 Jannock Website (-1)

12 Towpath Treks (=)

13 boatshare (+2)

14 Waterway Routes (+2)

15 Canal Shop Company (-2)

16 Derwent6 (+5)

17 WB Takey Tezey (-3)

18 UKCanals Network (=)

19 (=)

20 Narrowboat Bones (-3)

21 Canal Photos (+1)

22 Halfie (+3)

23 Water Explorer (+5)

24 Narrowboat Caxton (+6)

25 Captain Ahab's Watery Tales (-2)

26 Chertsey (-)

27 nb Lucky Duck (=)

28 nb Piston Broke (-2)

29 Seyella's Journey (-)

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 top thirty; (=) denotes no change.

There are 135 entries altogether.

Saturday 15 January 2011

Teddington Skiff Lock

When we got to Teddington Lock on our way down to Brentford last summer I looked out for the Skiff Lock. I'd read that it was the smallest lock on the Thames, and I'd missed it on the way up as then we were crammed into the Barge Lock with loads of other narrowboats who had also made their way upstream. The Teddington Lock website gives the dimensions of the Skiff Lock as 15.08m long by 1.77m wide (or 49'6" by 5"10") - too narrow even for a narrowboat! (I suppose slipper launches could use it - do they?) The length dimension is academic as any boats using the lock will have to negotiate the tight bend at the tail! I wonder why it was built like that. The website says that the Skiff Lock isn't used very much.

The paddle gear looks interesting: that on the top gate looks like it's a simple lever pivoted to give very little mechanical advantage. Perhaps it's used only when the lock is nearly full.

Friday 14 January 2011

Up Yaws! The boat name says it all

On the outskirts of Windsor sat this gin palace.

Am I being snooty?

Blog post to come soon on interesting names for narrowboats.

Thursday 13 January 2011

Reflections on a slipper launch

Some of the most beautiful boats to be seen on the Thames are the slipper launches. The woodwork is varnished to a mirror finish. Look at the steering wheel reflected in the side of this one, Romani, at Maidenhead.

I suppose they get their name from the way they look like items of comfortable footwear.

Wednesday 12 January 2011

Creating a left bank mooring on the Thames

As we sped downstream past Bourne End, between Marlow and Maidenhead, on the left bank was a brand new riverside mansion, with de rigeur solar panel and off-line mooring. What do you call these single-boat-sized chunk-out-of-the-garden moorings? They must have a name, but it escapes me at the moment.

I read somewhere that to determine which bank is "left" and which "right", as often applied to the Seine in Paris, you visualise yourself standing upstream of where you want to describe. Then if it's on your left, that's the left bank.

Tuesday 11 January 2011

More thoughts on my narrowboat search

Tempting though the 62' boat is which I discussed yesterday, I think I shall hold out for a slightly shorter one. I want a "go (almost) anywhere" boat and don't want to be restricted unnecessarily.

More advantages of a shorter boat: cheaper mooring fees; cheaper to black/paint; just cheaper overall, really.

Disadvantages of a shorter boat: not as much space; slightly less like a "real" narrowboat (although I expect Simon will disagree).

Of course, a boat with boatman's cabin and engine room is very likely to be more than 40 feet long.

Here are four boats I have skippered:

Savoy Hill, 1983, 63 feet

Lee Swallow, 2005, 58 feet

Willow, 2008-2010, 40 feet

Shadow, 2002-2010, 58 feet

Can you identify the locations? (I don't remember where Savoy Hill was photographed, but perhaps you can tell)

Monday 10 January 2011

Is a 62 feet narrowboat too long?

Nev of Waterlily recently drew my attention to a 62' narrowboat for sale on Apollo Duck (thanks, Nev). It has nearly everything on my wish list: boatman's cabin, engine room, forward saloon etc., but is four feet longer than I was contemplating. The conventional wisdom is that to get round the entire connected system your boat must be no longer than 58 feet. But then I looked at the dimensions guides on Waterscape (you have to select the waterways you're interested in) and could find only one place that would be impossible for a 62' boat: the Huddersfield Broad Canal. Even the Leeds and Liverpool, it appears, can take a 62' boat.

Is this right? What will be inaccessible for a 62' boat?

Sunday 9 January 2011

Hirers try to capsize boat on Thames

As we made our way downstream on 1st September 2010 we came across Millstream Lady at Windsor. Its crew was rocking the boat violently from side to side, presumably seeing how far it could go before taking on water.

They were having a whale of a time, although I don't suppose the boatyard would have approved.

If it had shipped water it would undoubtedly have sunk within moments leaving six lads in trouble. Not a lifejacket in sight, of course.

Top Thirty 2011, week 2

Here is the UK Waterways Site Ranking as it stood at 0945 on Sunday 9th January 2011. This is taken, with permission, from Tony Blews's UK Waterways Ranking Site.

1 Canal World Discussion Forums (=)

2 - Forums (+1)

3 Jim Shead's Waterways Information (-1)

4 CanalPlanAC (+1)

5 Pennine Waterways (-1)

6 Granny Buttons (=)

7 (=)

8 The Boats and Canals Forum (=)

9 Retirement with No Problem (=)

10 Jannock Website (=)

11 ExOwnerships (+8)

12 Towpath Treks (+1)

13 Canal Shop Company (+2)

14 WB Takey Tezey (-3)

15 boatshare (-1)

16 Waterway Routes (+2)

17 Narrowboat Bones (=)

18 UKCanals Network (+2)

19 (-3)

20 nb Epiphany (-8)

21 Derwent6 (+6)

22 Canal Photos (-1)

23 Captain Ahab's Watery Tales (-1)

24 nb Blue Moon (-)

25 Halfie (+3)

26 nb Piston Broke (-3)

27 nb Lucky Duck (-3)

28 Water Explorer (-3)

29 Narrowboat Debdale (-3)

30 Narrowboat Caxton (-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 136 entries altogether.

Saturday 8 January 2011

Thames talk ends in 999 call

The Thames drama didn't end when we returned home at the end of our three week adventure of last summer.

The talk last night went well, as far as we could judge. It was held in the local Methodist church, where people enjoyed a jacket potato meal in the hall, before coming in to the church.

As they came in I had the timelapse playing; when the washers uppers had come in we started. Jan had had the good idea of beginning with a short (one minute) reenactment of how we might have decided to do the Thames; and then we got into the illustrated talk proper.

"... so I got into the water ...

... it came up to here ...

... wading around, feeling for the prop with my feet ..."

Most of the 55 to 60 audience stayed awake.

The event raised £170 for the churches (no, we didn't charge; people put in a donation for the jacket potato supper).

(Gruesome alert - skip the next paragraph if you're squeamish (no pictures though!))

When it was all over, Adrian joined us at home for a mug of hot chocolate. Perhaps I should have had the same, and not a bottled Abbot. At about midnight, shortly after Adrian had left, I suddenly felt unwell with a severe stomach ache. Then I was sick ... and fainted in the hall while throwing up. Jan was there and tried to rouse me, but I didn't respond. She grabbed the phone to call an ambulance - but there was no dialling tone! Her mobile phone was upstairs, so she rushed to the kitchen phone and dialled 999 from there. While Jan was giving details of our address etc. I started to show signs of life. I came to, aware that Jan was talking to someone on the phone, and asked what was going on. When I'd convinced her that I was actually alive, and unlikely to die in the near future, we stood the emergency callout down. We worked out afterwards that I'd been unconscious for between 30 seconds and a minute. As you might imagine, Jan was very worried, thinking I was dead! When I fainted I slumped forward from my kneeling position and hit the floor head first. Checking my injuries, I found a bad cut on my chin; a bruised chest, probably from a radiator valve; and a broken tooth. I felt a lot better, though, not feeling sick!

I think it was a combination of late nights (preparing the talk!), an early start for work yesterday, and possibly a sickness bug. Oh, and that's why there was no blog post last night!

Thursday 6 January 2011

Timelapse camera captures the moment of rescue, against the odds

I mentioned that I have at last viewed the timelapse footage of our eventful trip on the Thames last summer. Amazingly, one of the images is of the precise moment when I threw our bow rope to our rescuer at Bablock Hythe. This was when our propeller came off and we were drifting out of control in the vicinity of plastic cruisers. Read the story here and in the subsequent posts.

The timelapse camera took a picture once every ten seconds or so. That it should have captured this moment was a one-in-a-thousand chance. And, of course, it was fixed to the front window, facing forward, so the boat was pointing in the right direction for the photo. An impossibly slim chance!

In the near future I shall upload the timelapse films onto this blog.

Wednesday 5 January 2011

Talk prep going well, but could do with more time!

We made sure the powerpoint on the laptop would work with the projector this evening, and then carried on talking about what we're going to say. We could do with a few more days - but now there's only Thursday evening left.

One thing I'm very pleased about is the timelapse footage. For nearly all of the three weeks of our Lee, Stort and Thames trip I had the timelapse camera going, and it was only this evening when I looked at it back. It has captured all the dramatic incidents, and the pictures look good. I've been delaying uploading these to the blog as my computer is currently extremely short of space. I must do something about that, and then you can enjoy the timelapse too. It's even captured the very moment of my throwing the rope to the passer by when we lost power on the Thames.

Tuesday 4 January 2011

Preparing a talk on our Thames adventures

This evening Jan and I have been preparing for a talk we'll be giving on Friday. Lots of people from the village have signed up to indicate that they'd like to come and hear about our exploits on the Thames last summer. You know, where we lost a propeller or two, and I got a bit wet - not once, not twice, but three times.

This is the first time I've done anything on Microsoft PowerPoint (on the PC laptop), so I hope it all works OK. I'm slightly worried that photos which "overhang" the borders of the slides will cause a problem. We should find that out tomorrow, though, when we try it with a projector.

Monday 3 January 2011

Horsey Windpump

At the start of our walk to see the seals yesterday was Horsey Windpump on a canally bit of the Norfolk Broads. The windpump was built in 1911 but put out of action by a lightning strike in a storm in 1943. According to RoadTour:

The storm that night was so ferocious that the operator got tangled up in the sails as he struggled to secure them. It is said his screams can still be heard on a gusty night!

When we returned from the seals as dusk fell we heard no screams. They would have been drowned out anyway by the noise of huge flocks of geese (or perhaps swans - it really was getting dark!) circling over the mere.

Sunday 2 January 2011

Minding the Horsey Gap - seals galore

Adrian phoned this afternoon. Would we like to accompany him to Horsey Gap to see the seals? So we went, and saw.

The grey seals come ashore at this beach on the Norfolk coast in January to breed.

The adults are the black ones, about seven feet long; the pups are white.

The adults occasionally belly-flopped along the beach, but I didn't see any pups move about. They just lay where they were, looking beached and bored.

Scores of people had, like us, squelched across a boggy field and along muddy paths to get to the sand dunes to see the seals.

The sky was dramatic: stratified greys over the sea...

... with a patch of brightness the other side of the sand dunes.