Saturday 31 December 2016

The ladies of Lynn

On 15th November 2016 we visited King's Lynn for the first time, enjoying walking round the old town and looking at the docks. It would have been fun to have parked in West Lynn, on the west of the River Great Ouse, and taken the ferry across to the town.

But we didn't.

Here it is, making a crossing for just one passenger, by the look of it.

It was good to see that King's Lynn is still a working port. In Bentinck Dock were Lady Alida ...

... and Katrin.

At the silted-up end of a channel sat a number of wrecks.

If only the rest of the boat below were in as good a condition as the registration number. You can see several boats in rather better nick in the background.

The swing bridge below is one of two which cross the channel between Alexandra Dock, in the background, and Bentinck Dock, behind the camera. The only access to Bentinck Dock is via Alexandra Dock and through the swing bridges. There seems to be something wrong with this bridge.

A man is looking into it.

Timber is one cargo handled here. Presumably on its way in, not out.

I mentioned Lydia Eva yesterday. She is not actually in King's Lynn, although she was launched there in 1930 and came straight to Great Yarmouth.

Lydia Eva joined the herring fishing fleet and was later used in war work. She is now restored and back in Great Yarmouth as "the world's last surviving steam-powered herring drifter".

As it's New Year's Eve I wish you all a very Happy New Year.

Friday 30 December 2016

Sheffield's grass circles

14th November 2016, the southern outskirts of Sheffield. On a walk with Andrew and his dog, Caspar. We climb a grassy slope ... and come across this.

I don't think we're in crop circle territory here, but what are these strange discolourations? At intervals there were short narrow strips of earth with a line spray-painted along them.

I can only think that this area has been marked out for tree planting, the circles indicating where the trees should go.

I didn't get a shot of Andrew, Jan and Caspar from the front, so this will have to do.

Some of the walk was very muddy. This photo doesn't really show how bad it was.

My shoes weighed three times normal until I could scrape most of the squidgy mud off.

In the evening we went to the Flaming Grill pub in Ridgeway where Andrew did his best to get through this ...

... a quadruple cheeseburger. He almost managed it.

Coming next on this blog: Lady Alida, Katrin and Lynn. Find out who they are tomorrow - and no, they are not former girlfriends. Oh yes, Lydia Eva too.

Thursday 29 December 2016

Josiah's dedication

On 13th November 2016 many family members were in Milton Keynes for our grandson's dedication.

This is similar to a Christening service except that the baby is not baptised but "dedicated" to God with the hope and expectation that he will choose baptism for himself when he's old enough to decide for himself. (It's what we did with our children.)

Josiah, here nine months old, made everyone laugh with his "Baaaa" noises during the ceremony!

There's a certain amount of artistic licence in the design of the cake (that's the top photo, if you hadn't guessed), but it's nice and colourful.

In tomorrow's post ... strange circles in Sheffield.

Wednesday 28 December 2016

Breaking ...

... the silence!

It's been far too long since my last post. I got out of the habit after returning home; not even Sarah's recent return to Blogland spurred me on.

Until now.

Is it too late to wish everyone a Happy Christmas? As Christmas has only just started, strictly speaking, I wish you all a Happy Christmas anyway. (If I had my way I would switch on our (very sober) Christmas lights on Christmas Eve, not before, and leave them up until Twelfth Night (by which time most people would have removed theirs).)

I'll ease myself back in gently - with a photo from a walk Jan and I took this afternoon.

That's the sun struggling to break through a blanket of mist over the Norfolk countryside.

OK, here's another photo. This is from a Boxing Day walk along the south bank of the Thames east of Woolwich.

According to my brother, David, this ancient slipway was used to launch Henry VIII's warships. I couldn't find anything on the internet to back this up; can anyone confirm this?

Thursday 10 November 2016

Rainbows over Thrupp Wharf Marina

We're back on the boat again - hooray! Although we won't be spending a huge amount of time actually on board, as we're driving up the M1 tomorrow ready for the AGM of the Boaters' Christian Fellowship on Saturday; then it's back to MK for Josiah's dedication service on Sunday and another trip up the M1 on Monday to visit Andrew and Becky.

The boat has suffered a little from the ingress of rainwater, especially on the floor by the front doors. I'm not sure where this water is coming from; it could be round the doors or through the ventilation grilles at the bottom of the doors. Some water is also still leaking past a window frame, despite the application of Capt. Tolley's Creeping Crack Cure. The rest of the boat was fine, I'm glad to say!

The combination of sunshine and rain led to a fine double rainbow over the marina; the outer rainbow not visible in my photos. And, by the time I got outside, much of this rainbow had disappeared.

My compact camera goes pretty wide, but not quite wide enough for an entire rainbow.

Friday 4 November 2016

Pylons and sunset

I couldn't resist this shot of sunset behind the pylons.

Thursday 3 November 2016

National Grid helicopter

Jan and I went for another local walk yesterday. As we left the house we could hear a helicopter nearby. The noise stayed fairly constant, indicating that it was probably hovering. Air Ambulance? Police? We walked towards the sound and saw that the helicopter was neither ambulance yellow nor police blue. It was this, a National Grid machine.

It seemed to be gradually working its way along a run of transmission lines. Was it surveying the lines themselves? Or the pylons?

Or was it surveying the land for a new set of power lines to connect to a new offshore windfarm? These transmission lines have only very recently been upgraded (five years ago), as I wrote about here.

Tuesday 1 November 2016

November poppy

We went for a walk near home this afternoon and came across poppies in a field of crops.

I thought they were an early summer flower, but November is an appropriate month.

We enjoyed the autumn leaves.

Plenty of holly berries for the birds.

And a few rose hips.

The photo makes it look frosty/misty, but it wasn't. It drizzled a bit this morning but our walk was dry and still on the mild side.

Sunday 30 October 2016


Jan and I recently went to Essex to help celebrate her parents' 70th wedding anniversary. There were ten of us in the lunch party at a the Ivy Hill hotel in Margaretting.

This was their wedding day in 1946. They had got engaged during the war; Dad had been posted to the Far East for three years, but then the war ended and he was back after three months.

HM The Queen sent her congratulations.

Just 36 years to go before ours!

Thursday 13 October 2016

Hang the basket!

It's been some time since my last blog post, so here's an update. Last Wednesday, 5th October, we took the boat out of the marina and cruised gently a mile or so down to The Galleon where Jan had a BCF committee meeting.

This is just below Cosgrove Lock looking towards the iron trunk aqueduct.

We had plenty of sunshine but it got cold enough in the evenings for the stove to be lit (hooray!) I'm using up some of the logs I chopped up in April; when they've gone we'll burn coal when we need to. We have a stash of split ash logs but I'd like to season them before burning. (Salt and pepper to taste ...?)

We saw some of Josiah (and Ally and Ben) while we were here. As we were just about to leave the 48 hour moorings on Friday we saw Wendy and Robert on Gerty who had just come down to wind. They stopped and came aboard for coffee; it was good to catch up and share our news. We last (and first) saw them at Etruria in June.

No rope on their tiller arm, oh no. A hanging basket for them!

They were heading for Ely; we're planning to do the eastern waterways some time, perhaps in 2018.

We reversed back to a nice bit of bank where we could knock the pins in and stay a bit longer; we had to go the next day. I did some rust removal and painting on the cabin top and below the front doors. I also sealed round the chimney collar with silicone. Back at the marina we loaded up the car, drained the water from the shower hose, left a fan heater on a low setting and locked up. That's it until - ooh - next month, when we'll be using Jubilee as a stopover as we go to South Normanton for the BCF AGM.

Now we're at home. It feels weird.

Saturday 24 September 2016

Recycling on the waterways? Don't you believe it

At the bottom of Stoke Bruerne Locks there is a "customer waste facility". In this one, as well as the skips for general waste is a wheelie bin marked "Glass only". You would think that this would be for recycling. You would be wrong.

I witnessed a Biffa lorry come and empty the large waste skips into itself; then the operator emptied the bin with the glass in into the same lorry. Now, admittedly, the wheelie bin didn't claim that the glass would be taken for recycling, but that would be the assumption anyone would make. What a waste. It will all go to landfill. CRT should either arrange a separate collection of the glass, or remove the bin or its labelling.

Jubilee is now back at Thrupp Wharf Marina. We got back yesterday; this is Lock 16. We had only four more after this, and then a similar number of miles.

We had been away for so long that we couldn't remember which was our pontoon; fortunately we recognised our neighbour and slotted into position. It felt a bit of an anticlimax coming back, but we've had an excellent time away which many would be envious of.

After checking the car started - it did - we did some packing and I washed the car. We ate with Ally and Ben, slept on the boat and drove to Essex this morning to join the celebrations for Jan's mum's 91st birthday.

I took this photo on the way to Wolverton yesterday.

Thursday 22 September 2016

Coaling up

We called into the well-stocked Whilton Chandlers this morning to agonise over what we could spend our voucher on. We'd won it in a raffle at the IWA Northampton Branch gathering back in the spring (remember spring?). I'd only just bought oil and blue, and we were struggling to think of something useful to buy. We were saved from having to make an immediate decision by the sudden appearance of our friend Tony from Paws 4 Thought who had driven down from Fazeley for some fenders and blue. His purchases came to very nearly £50; our voucher was for that amount, so we paid with the voucher and Tony gave us the cash. I will try to ensure that we buy stuff from there the next time we pass so as to be within the spirit of the voucher.

It was only later that I realised I should have bought coal from Whilton. I was intending to get some from Rugby Boats at Stowe Hill as they had Supertherm at a good price last year. On the way we passed Southern Cross, with Supertherm on board, but no-one was in. I had hoped to top up the diesel as well.

A laden working boat looks good.

Just before Weedon there were major earthworks taking place either side of the canal and railway where they come close together. I wonder if this is to be a bypass road.

Oh yes, there's a boat in the field. More than one, actually.

We stopped for lunch at Weedon, then stopped at Rugby Boats for a couple of bags of coal. They had no Supertherm, a brand I have got used to, and I allowed myself to be talked into accepting Excel. I hope it does. Their diesel price was 60.9 p/l, but I didn't get any as I hoped to bump into another fuel boat. We also stopped at Bridge 32 - Fred Tarry - where I discovered their diesel price was 63 p/l. I bought a bag of Supertherm. All our recent log acquisitions and the three bags of coal should last us into spring next year.

We had a very good, sunny, run down to Blisworth. The countryside is delightful, enhanced by the blue sky and fluffy clouds.

Just before Blisworth Tunnel a large branch had come down on the towpath. It didn't hinder navigation but is a real hazard for towpath users.

Look at the broken-off branch high up. It is completely detached from the tree.

I have e-mailed CRT. I haven't yet had the automated "thank you for contacting CRT; we will try to get back to you in 5 working days" response.

It was good to see Kathryn when we tied up at Stoke Bruerne. She has now had a proper hip replacement and this seems to have gone well. She certainly seems very happy with it and looks much more nimble. No stick!

Tomorrow we have just the seven Stoke Bruerne Locks and a few miles - then we'll be back at the marina.

Wednesday 21 September 2016

Delayed at Buckby Locks

We set off from Braunston, knowing that we would be joining the queue for Buckby Locks later on. There was a problem with a bottom gate paddle necessitating the draining of a pound for its repair. We topped up with water and emptied the Elsan just past the A45 road bridge and shared the Braunston Locks with Chris and Jennifer on Pearl, a Wyvern hire boat.

In Braunston Tunnel we encountered a boat with its tunnel light pointing straight in front and thus dazzling oncoming boats. If this wasn't bad enough the boat had come to a complete halt, although - fortuitously - staying on its side. Pearl, following us, reported that they had the same problem, only the back end of Boaty Dazzler had drifted across, leading to an inevitable collision. Apparently the boat had even switched off its engine!

Just before the bridge at Norton Junction we joined a boat at the back of the queue for Buckby Locks. Hearing that it could be up to two hours before the flight reopened we had lunch. Then I got my bike out and cycled down to Lock 8 where the problem was to see what was going on.

CRT was just rolling up the orange netting having completed the repair.

With the lock refilled it's impossible to see the repaired paddle frame; it's the other side of the gate, anyway.

Another view of the scene.

Withe the paddle frame repaired, and the lock filled to check it would be all right, it still took a while for the pound to be refilled. We eventually started our descent at about 1630, behind a dozen or so boats. We shared with Thetis. Rob was on his way to Ely, having bought the boat just 11 days ago. For someone who claimed never to have done any boating before he was a very competent single hander.

At the bottom we tied up for the night and I went back to help a couple of lock-loads of boats down the bottom lock.

Some boats had been delayed for more than a day; we were fortunate in being held up only for four hours. The original plan had been to get to Weedon; tomorrow we'll get to Stoke Bruerne and be back at the marina on Friday.