Thursday 30 June 2011

Nuneaton goes aground at Braunston, and Chertsey comes under the bridge

One of the reasons for the slow parade of historic boats at Braunston on Saturday was various boats going aground. One of them was Nuneaton, towing Brighton. Two of the crew were trying their hardest to raise the opposite side off the shallows.

Meanwhile Chertsey, with many other boats, waited.

Twenty-two minutes later Chertsey, steered by Sarah, came through the entrance to the marina.

Wednesday 29 June 2011

Friends and strangers on board

As I mentioned in an earlier post, the reason for Shadow being at Braunston was to try to sell the remaining shares. We had a constant stream of visitors, and we were showing them round while explaining about shared ownership and how it works well for us. It got quite tiring at times, and so it was a relief to be able to sit down and supply tea and coffee to blogging friends - and their friends - Neil and Kath from Herbie; Bones from Bones; her friend Kate; Andrew Denny from Granny Buttons; James and Amy from Lucky Duck; and their friend Sarah from Ling, the latter three enjoying a little respite from the heat on the Sunday.

I was having so much fun I completely forgot to take any photos of you on board Shadow!

And how successful was the share selling? Well, there was a lot of interest, and BCBM, our management company, were hopeful that we'd sold some. Nothing definite yet, but the signs, apparently, were good.

I took the above two photos from on board Chertsey - yes, I got a ride with Sarah (steering) and Jim (restarting the engine from time to time) on Sunday. I'll write more about that in another post.

Tuesday 28 June 2011

Braunston through the honeycomb-shaped window

One of the holdups on the first parade of old boats at Braunston on Saturday was caused by steamer President getting caught on tree roots. From my vantage point on the bridge over the entrance to the marina I watched as Callisto went to help.

The first line fixed between Callisto and President was jerked taught at speed - and promptly snapped. It would have snapped even if President was floating free: forty tons of narrowboat is not suddenly going to move. Inertia dictates that.

The best way to have captured this moment would have been on videom - I wonder if any of the massed crowds were filming or managed to take a photo at the instant of breakage. It's a good thing, incidentally, that the rope broke before it ripped off a dolly, as a flying chunk of metal would have been a bit dangerous.

The next attempt was made in a much more sensible way, the line being gradually pulled tight before real power was applied by Callisto. This successfully pulled the boats clear of the obstruction.

The bridge afforded opportunities for framing photographs.

Here President and Kildare are reversing into the arm.

Monday 27 June 2011

Selling shares at Braunston

We drove to Braunston in the rain on Friday evening, arriving at 2130 to a jacket spud welcome on Shadow from David. He had brought the boat over from Wigram's Turn in the afternoon.

We were there to try to sell the remaining shares in Shadow, our shared-ownership semi-trad. After the demise of OwnerShips we asked BCBM to manage the boat for us. They look after maintenance and the booking chart for owners' weeks on board. BCBM has an office at Braunston Marina, and so we were able to moor at a prime spot for visitors to the annual historic narrowboat rally, which happened to be a prime spot for seeing the boats as they paraded through the marina. This was the view from the bow as President, towing Kildare, came under the bridge.

I'll say more about how we got on with showing visitors round Shadow later, but first here are a couple of pics of what most people came to Braunston for.

One boat many bloggers look out for at events such as this is Chertsey. Here it is, centre left, tied up to Angel, preparing for the first parade of the day. This merged into the second parade after problems with various boats running aground or otherwise getting stuck. Chertsey with its multitude of human ballast took something like six hours to get down to the turn and back up through the marina to its starting point.

When I looked at the photo I was struck by the pose of the couple on Victory.

Top Thirty, 2011 Week 26

Here is the UK Waterways Site Ranking as it stood at 2220 on Sunday 26th June 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 CanalPlanAC (=)

4 Pennine Waterways (=)

5 - Forums (=)

6 (=)

7 Granny Buttons (=)

8 Retirement with No Problem (+2)

9 Towpath Treks (-1)

10 Water Explorer (+1)

11 ExOwnerships (+1)

12 boatshare (+1)

13 Waterway Routes (-4)

14 Jannock Website (+3)

15 Stratford River Festival 2011 (+14)

16 UKCanals Network (-1)

17 nb Epiphany (-3)

18 Canal Shop Company (-2)

19 Google Earth Canal Maps (=)

20 Takey Tezey (+1)

21 Trafalgar Marine Services (-1)

22 (-4)

23 Narrowboat Caxton (-1)

24 nb Blue Moon (-)

25 nb Lucky Duck (=)

26 Narrowboat Bones (-3)

27 Captain Ahab's Watery Tales (-3)

28 Narrowboat Briar Rose (+2)

29 Derwent6 (-1)

30 nb Piston Broke (-)

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 35.

There are 144 entries altogether.

Friday 24 June 2011

Cheeky mooring, Mikron and the Missing Man

At the (very) beginning of this month we were in Welford to see the Mikron Theatre Company perform Hell and High Water, their excellent dramatisation of the history of the Bridgewater Canal. As we approached the basin at the end of the arm we passed end-to-end moored boats, many of which had, no doubt, also come for the play. We knew we could wind at the end, so we kept going. And then we saw that we could probably tie up the other side of the winding hole, in front of Tyseley, Mikron's boat. We checked it would be all right - we were blocking them in, but would be leaving before them the next morning - and nabbed one of the best spots on the arm!

We enjoyed the performance, which brought to life the characters of Francis Egerton, the third Duke of Bridgewater; James Brindley and John Gilbert. Gilbert often seems to be forgotten in brief histories of canal building - at least, he is not as well known as Egerton or Brindley - but he was the engineer whose idea it was to construct the canal from Worsley in the first place.

Mikron Theatre Company in performance at Welford

Thursday 23 June 2011

Sign of the (old) times at Welford Lock

The notice reads: "IMPORTANT On this paddle use only the new-style windlasses with small tapering hole". Haven't windlasses always had a small tapering socket? Or is this spindle smaller (more spindly? Spindlier?) than most?

Wednesday 22 June 2011

Walking backwards over Husbands Bosworth Tunnel

A few weeks ago now we walked the horse path over the top of Husbands Bosworth Tunnel on the Leicester Section of the GU. It's always interesting to go over the top, as it drives home the difficulty of the terrain for the canal builders.

The path over HB tunnel is clearly defined, and is itself a tunnel through the trees for much of the way.

There are splendid views over the Leicestershire countryside - this really is a lovely area.

David and Fergus are both going in the same direction, but which of them is walking backwards?

Monday 20 June 2011

What and where: the answer

Captain Ahab, you were close with your suggestion of a bridge, but it wasn't on the BCN. I thought you might have got it after you deciphered the number 1166. The letters after the number are YDS (yards).

Flingel saw that, deduced it was a tunnel, knew that I had been in the Crick area, checked the lengths of the two nearby tunnels and came up with the correct answer.

Yes, this is the east portal of Husbands Bosworth Tunnel (or north portal, if you like), photographed leaning over the edge (not too far, obviously, or that would have made for a rather more interesting post!) - hence the upside-downness of the inscriptions.

In this photo of Just Siviting approaching us you can see right through all 1166 yards of the tunnel. It's that speck of light in the bridge hole.

Just Siviting moments later. Just that they didn't sivit.

Sunday 19 June 2011

What and where: more revealed

Not much more revealed, but this could give it away.

What and where is it?

More tomorrow.

Top Thirty, 2011 Week 25

Here is the UK Waterways Site Ranking as it stood at 1620 on Sunday 19th June 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 CanalPlanAC (+1)

4 Pennine Waterways (-1)

5 - Forums (=)

6 (=)

7 Granny Buttons (=)

8 Towpath Treks (+4)

9 Waterway Routes (=)

10 Retirement with No Problem (-2)

11 Water Explorer (=)

12 ExOwnerships (-2)

13 boatshare (=)

14 nb Epiphany (+2)

15 UKCanals Network (=)

16 Canal Shop Company (-2)

17 Jannock Website (=)

18 (=)

19 Google Earth Canal Maps (=)

20 Trafalgar Marine Services (+1)

21 Takey Tezey (-1)

22 Narrowboat Caxton (+1)

23 Narrowboat Bones (-1)

24 Captain Ahab's Watery Tales (+1)

25 nb Lucky Duck (-1)

26 Narrowboat Harnser (-)

27 NB Siskin (-)

28 Derwent6 (-2)

29 Stratford River Festival 2011 (-2)

30 Narrowboat Briar Rose (-)

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 35.

There are 144 entries altogether.

Saturday 18 June 2011

What and where is this?

Here's another mystery photo for you. I expect you'll get the "what" quickly, but what about the "where"?

I'll reveal more tomorrow.

Friday 17 June 2011

A whizzy hand food mixer whisk thing David bought at Crick

David bought a whizzy hand food mixer whisk thing from Crick after seeing it demonstrated there.

It works like one of those screwdrivers you push down on to make the head rotate. Only better. (It would take a long time whisking up an Angel Delight* with a push-to-turn screwdriver.)

You push down on it and the whisky bit rotates. (That's "whisky" as in "like a whisk".)

Then you lick it.

Amy, I think you'd like it. £10, apparently.

*the featured gunk is actually "Chocolate Delight"

Thursday 16 June 2011

Benevolence is a model narrowboat

Yes, it wasn't hard to see from yesterday's photo that Benevolence is indeed a model narrowboat. In this wider shot the cargo of stone is visible. Steve Parkin in his Narrow Boat Albert blog gives the extra information that the boat belongs to James Griffin of Wyvern Shipping.

Now, I don't know if this is Mr. Griffin. He doesn't seem to be watching where Benevolence is going, but there were more model boats zipping around in front of The Boat Inn pub at Stoke Bruerne.

Not these, though. Victoria and another boat emerge from the top lock, both very much full size.

Well, that might be all from Stoke Bruerne, but there's plenty of material left from our two recent trips. Including more timelapse footage of our BCN expedition, when I get around to uploading it. Watch this space!

Wednesday 15 June 2011

Unusual boat

Apart from the apparent lack of steerer there is something unusual about this boat. Can you spot it?

Tuesday 14 June 2011

The Fudge Boat

You've heard of the Cheese Boat (did you know there are two of them? I didn't), but what about the Fudge Boat? Both were at Stoke Bruerne last weekend. Both offer tasters of their wares, both were popular with the towpath tourists.

I sampled a few fudgy flavours and bought four bags for a fiver, mostly as presents. Individual bags were being sold for £1.50 each. The fudge lady told me that their best seller is the rhubarb and custard flavour. I tried it and, well, settled on good old traditional vanilla fudge for ourselves.

The Ducks might be interested in the display of cats to the right of the basket of fudge!

There is fudge in there really - it's just hiding behind the label! (We might have eaten one or two pieces...)

What is it like? Crispy, not soft. But not hard either. Tasty.

I might be able to squeeze another post out of Stoke Bruerne tomorrow.

Monday 13 June 2011

Want to buy a butty?

At the boat gala at Stoke Bruerne on Saturday was nb Cygnus, a 1935 "Small Woolwich". Alan Baillie, the owner, was finishing off the signwriting and was very happy to chat, telling us that he was selling it, and did we want to have a look round?

So we entered the reasonably conventional back cabin and went through to a tiny galley: hob on the left and stainless steel sink on the right. Then into the engine room - only this is a butty, so no engine, just an elsan (and guitar) in the corner; the rest of the space empty except for evidence of being used as a workshop. A bulkhead separated this space from the hold. The floor in the cabin was, I have to say, horrible. Wood-effect vinyl.

Sorry - pictures only of barefoot Alan busy with his brush ...

... oh yes, there's one of his for-sale board. (I'll never make a journo - I didn't ask him the price.)

Alan suggested one way of providing motive power would be to tow it with a small tug: "You can get one for about six thousand pounds". Or, he said, you could put an outboard engine on it. Yes, he was being serious. Converting it to a motor boat (inboard engine) could cost up to £20k.

More from Stoke Bruerne tomorrow.

Sunday 12 June 2011

Stoke Bruerne gathering

We've just driven back from Milton Keynes where we'd been for a friend's 50th birthday celebration. On the way there yesterday we stopped off in Stoke Bruerne to have a look at the boat gala.

We picked the right day for it as it was dry apart from one very short light shower. Today (Sunday) it has been raining all day. Here is motor Kestrel breasted up to butty Verbena ...

... and here are Nuneaton and Brighton coming in to tie up.

This was expertly done, motor Nuneaton coming in to be held bow against the bank, while butty Brighton, with a little residual forward motion, being coaxed down the right side of Nuneaton until it was itself against the bank. And a boat came past while this was going on; the crews getting on with it in an unflustered manner.

Oops - Archimedes and Ara across the cut, their stern line having come adrift.

Oh - Formula One commentator Martin Brundle has just pointed out that "race car" read backwards is "race car". (The Canadian Grand Prix has been stopped for over an hour for torrential rain.) Coincidentally the odometer on our Volvo 240 read palindromically on the way to Stoke Bruerne.

Must go - the race has restarted.

More from Stoke Bruerne tomorrow.