Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Ranworth Church weathervane

We spent a very pleasant few hours by the Norfolk Broads today, mainly at Ranworth. I went up the tower of St. Helen's Church where I enjoyed the views and found this wonderful boaty-themed weather vane.

Back at ground level boats lay peacefully on their moorings ...

... and birds walked around on the ice.

We walked the boardwalk to the Norfolk Wildlife Trust floating building at Ranworth Broad. The low sun was lighting up the reeds.

I'll post some more photos later.

Sunday, 15 January 2017

1970s British Waterways film well worth watching

Thanks to Sarah I discovered this fascinating half-hour film made for BW in the 1970s. "Waterways our Heritage" is refreshingly slow-paced and features a family hiring Water Topaz from the boatyard at Hillmorton.

Brindley's canals are compared with those of Telford. Railway competition, boat families and working boats get a mention - with a brief nod to freight operation - and restoration (of the Kennet and Avon) is looked at. Use of towpaths by walkers and anglers - but not cyclists - is acknowledged.

The date is supposed to be 1972, but comments make it clear that it is more likely to be 1978 or 1979.

There's some great aerial footage, including a swoop up Hatton. There's an old boat in what looks like an isolated dry dock off to the right of the locks by the Hatton yard. Next time I'm there I'll have to try to identify the location.

Do you know the best thing about the film? It's not plastered with music. You can actually hear the natural sounds, even if the birdsong is laid on a bit thickly in places!

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Picture poser: does this help?

This strange "creature" I posted a few days ago has been perplexing one or two of you.

Here is a wider view. Does this help?

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Thinking about where to go this year

For the last few years we have included the Crick Boat Show as part of our itinerary, but this year we shall be further south. The Boaters' Christian Fellowship has an event in Newbury in June, so we plan to do the Kennet and Avon. The only part of this navigation we have done so far is between Devizes and Bath, and that was on Shadow when it was based in Devizes one year. This time we'll be able to cover the whole length of the K&A from Reading to Bristol. We won't venture beyond Bristol as I don't want a mutiny.

Other canals I'd like to travel include a couple of arms of the Grand Union, the Aylesbury and the Slough Arms, neither of which we have explored before. As we'll be on the Thames anyway to access the K&A it would be good to do the Wey and the Basingstoke as well.

Today's photo is of the Thames in London nearing sunset.

(photo taken on 26th December 2016)

Monday, 9 January 2017

Scrap metal on the Thames

Seen on a Boxing Day walk three weeks ago (it seems a lot longer ago than that): this boat by a huge pile of scrap metal. It's on the north (Essex) bank near the Barking Creek flood barrier.

The boat appears to be called Pex and looks to be sitting high in the water. There is some scrap just visible in the hold, no doubt it can take a few tonnes more before heading for China, presumably. The company name on the sign is "MSK Waste Management & Recycling Ltd".

Sunday, 8 January 2017


No, I haven't gone all Dutch, and this post has little to do with boating (of the narrow variety) but I suspect that Val P, blog reader and commenter extraordinaire, will know what I am talking about.

On a recent cruise my father enjoyed playing a form of table shuffleboard, called Dutch shuffleboard or Sjoelen. It is a game of skill where wooden discs are slid along a 2m board. To score points the discs have to go through four archways more than a metre from where you have to let go of the discs. My dad described the game to my brother David, and for Christmas he presented him with a board he had constructed out of reclaimed timber. The wooden discs are the only thing he had to buy - these are genuine Dutch ones, with slightly concave faces.

The rules are here. We enjoyed playing it at David's house over Christmas. Now it is at my parents' house where my dad is putting in lots of practice.

Being long and thin (the board is 2m x 0.4m) the game seems ideally suited to a narrowboat. Does any reader know of a boat thus equipped?

Saturday, 7 January 2017

Evening mist and a picture poser

I went to Jubilee today while Jan helped Ally with Josiah. I lit the stove straight away which warmed the boat fairly quickly. One job I did was to trim some wood from the bottom of the front doors which had been sticking. I tried sandpaper, then a file, neither of which made any difference. Then I used a saw. This did the trick. The doors no longer foul the frame underneath, but they foul each other when closing. This happens only in cold weather as a result, I think, of the steelwork contracting and forcing the doors closer together.

As the light faded this afternoon a light mist formed on the water. Here is Thrupp Wharf Marina with the Navigation Inn in the background. The Grand Union Canal is to the left (not visible here).

And here is a poser for you: can you identify this?

It wasn't on the boat.

Thursday, 5 January 2017

Compost bins? Gas lockers?

Seen on a widebeam at Cosgrove recently (28th Nov 2016): these two large black plastic bins.

What are they? The look like tall thin compost bins. Or are they gas lockers? Or, perhaps, merely general purpose storage lockers. Does anyone know?