Thursday, 31 March 2011

Daffodils brighten my cycle to work

On my route to and from work there are three isolated clumps of daffodils.

Does each little patch of flowers come from a single wild bulb?

Or do the bulbs multiply under the ground, each producing one flower?

I missed the best opportunity to photograph these. One day recently the sun was out, backlighting the daffodils so that they glowed, but I couldn't stop or I would have been late for work. Now the grey skies and rain have come ... just in time for our fortnight on Shadow!

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Two weeks' boating: the plan

On my day off yesterday I finished planning the route for our forthcoming cruise. I used my old Imray map (that's the one under the windlasses in yesterday's post) and Nicholson's guides, and made a table of miles, locks, hours and minutes for each leg, with a cumulative time as the final column. I have yet to work out where we're going to stop each night. That's something I like to do even if we don't actually tie up at the designated places. It makes it easy to see if we're ahead or behind schedule.

So, the route.

Starting from Wigram's Turn (Napton Junction) we'll go to Braunston; then on the Oxford Canal to Sutton Stop; Coventry Canal to Fazeley Junction; Birmingham and Fazeley to Salford Junction; Tame Valley to Doe Bank Jn; Walsall Canal to Birchills Jn (including Walsall Town Arm on the way); Wyrley and Essington to Horseley Fields Jn; Birmingham Main Line to Aldersley Jn.

Staffs and Worcs to Stourton Jn; Stourbridge Canal to Delph Locks (including Stourbridge Town Arm and Fens Branch); Dudley No. 1 to Windmill End (including Bumblehole Branch); Dudley No. 2 to Hawne Basin and back; through Netherton Tunnel to Dudley Port Jn and Albion Jn.

Gower Branch to Bradeshall Jn and Oldbury Jn; Titford Canal to the end and back; Oldbury Jn to Bromford Jn and Smethwick Jn and on to Gas Street Basin; Worcester and Birmingham to King's Norton Jn; Stratford Canal to Stratford and back as far as Kingswood Jn; Grand Union to Wigram's Turn.

Total milage (by my calculation) 182.25; number of locks 272. (Er ... wow! It's a good job we have two full weeks!) Total time I calculate to be 111 hours 45 mins, which is an easy 8 hours per day for 14 days. (My parameters: 2.5 mph average speed; 7 mins per lock. What we lose in not being able to maintain speed we gain in the fact that locks are often much quicker than 7 mins, especially when I lockwheel.)

I'll next have to double check against CanalPlan, and then check Waterscape for stoppages!

The route includes many options for short cuts if we need to save time, especially the drop down to Stratford. Not doing that would save us 18 hours - or two whole days.

The photo shows the last time we cruised on Shadow. We were returning to Tattenhall Marina after a trip along the Llangollen. Here we're doing a passing manoeuvre in the Bunbury Staircase.

Monday, 28 March 2011

A windlass with character(s)

Here's my latest windlass, the upper one in the photo. The other one is my previous favourite.

I like the lower one as it is relatively light as it has only one socket, suitable for the smaller, more common, spindle size. But I have been caught out on occasion by a large spindle, which, of course, it won't fit. The "new" one has the advantage of the two sizes of socket. It has an attractively bulbous end to the handle, designed, presumably, to make it harder to drop. I have sanded the handle smooth - or smoothish - ready for action this weekend.

The "new" one appears to have been cast in a mould, whereas the other one was constructed by the more usual method (today, anyway) of welding.

I searched the internet for the characters stamped on it, "JHSG A4" and "14D5", with no success - but I found lots of references to a different type of windlass. It seems that a "windlass" on a sea-going boat is a device for lowering or raising the anchor. (How is it that I didn't know that before?)

When I clicked on the Wikipedia entry for (lock) windlass I was amused by the disparaging feel of the second sentence in the description of a windlass handle:

Handle: The handle is long enough for a two-handed grip and is far enough from the socket to give enough leverage to wind the paddle up or down. There may be a freely-rotating sleeve around the handle to protect the tender hands of a novice boater from the blisters which can be caused by the friction of a rough iron handle turning against soft skin.

Back to my windlass. There is also a set of four digits stamped on the arm: 1802. That is almost certainly not the date of manufacture, as I believe the all-purpose double-socketed windlass is a relatively late invention. In the early days I understand that many different types of windlass were in existence, each one suited to a particular canal company's paddle gear.

Can anyone explain my windlass's markings?

Top Thirty, 2011 week 12

Here is the UK Waterways Site Ranking as it stood at 2215 on Sunday 27th March 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 CanalPlanAC (+1)

5 Pennine Waterways (-1)

6 (+1)

7 Granny Buttons (-1)

8 Retirement with No Problem (=)

9 ExOwnerships (=)

10 Jannock Website (=)

11 boatshare (+2)

12 (+4)

13 Waterway Routes (-1)

14 UKCanals Network (+3)

15 Towpath Treks (=)

16 WB Takey Tezey (+3)

17 Canal Shop Company (-6)

18 Water Explorer (+2)

19 nb Lucky Duck (-1)

20 nb Epiphany (+8)

21 CutConnect - keeping boaters in touch (-)

22 Trafalgar Marine Services (-1)

23 Maffi's Boat (-9)

24 Narrowboat Caxton (=)

25 Narrowboat Bones (+1)

26 Captain Ahab's Watery Tales (-3)

27 Derwent6 (-5)

28 The Wooden Canal Boat Society (-)

29 nb Piston Broke (-4)

30 nb Blue Moon (-3)

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 51.

There are 143 entries altogether.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Sunny day out at Tardebigge, and finding a lock by satnav

After Braunston last Sunday I drove to Birmingham to stay overnight with Ally and Ben. The next day, while Ben was at uni, Ally and I took a picnic to the locks at Tardebigge on the Worcester and Birmingham Canal. It was a very pleasant sunny spring day.

My parking spot by Bridge 55. When using the satnav to drive somewhere such as this - with no post code - I pinpoint the spot on the satnav's map and tell it that's where I want to go. My device is a Garmin and doesn't mark locks, so I used an OS map (actually to find the exact place. Then it's a simple matter to correlated that to the satnav's map, select "shortest distance", and press "go". It's somehow very satisfying to be directed to precisely the right place, within a few yards.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Selling a share at Braunston

I've been exceptionally busy at work recently, hence the lack of blog posts. On Sunday I drove to Braunston to help show prospective share purchasers round Shadow. One couple came back for another look having already seen the boat the previous day - we were delighted when we were told they'd bought a share. There were others looking too, but they haven't taken the plunge (yet?).

I took some time off to go and chat to Ray of No Direction who was manning former working boat Raymond, the last wooden butty to be built at Braunston (in 1958). He is at the helm of Raymond in the photo.

Top Thirty, 2011 week 11

Here is the UK Waterways Site Ranking as it stood at 2240 on Sunday 20th March 2011. This is taken, with permission, from Tony Blews's UK Waterways Ranking Site.

1 Canal World Discussion Forums (=)

2 - Forums (=)

3 Jim Shead's Waterways Information (=)

4 Pennine Waterways (=)

5 CanalPlanAC (=)

6 Granny Buttons (=)

7 (=)

8 Retirement with No Problem (=)

9 ExOwnerships (=)

10 Jannock Website (=)

11 Canal Shop Company (+5)

12 Waterway Routes (+2)

13 boatshare (-2)

14 Maffi's Boat (-1)

15 Towpath Treks (-3)

16 (-1)

17 UKCanals Network (=)

18 nb Lucky Duck (+6)

19 WB Takey Tezey (+1)

20 Water Explorer (-2)

21 Trafalgar Marine Services (-2)

22 Derwent6 (=)

23 Captain Ahab's Watery Tales (+2)

24 Narrowboat Caxton (+2)

25 nb Piston Broke (-2)

26 Narrowboat Bones (-5)

27 nb Blue Moon (+3)

28 nb Epiphany (-)

29 NB Siskin (-)

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 42.

There are 143 entries altogether.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Wedding video edit finished at last!

Ally and Ben will be pleased to hear that I have, at last, finished editing the film of their wedding (that's me - the bride's proud dad - on the left in the still above). A week ago I wrote that I'd completed the first and most complicated part, the service, a three camera shoot. Over the last week I've put together the rest of it, including the speeches. The best man's speech was very funny!

As I write this, the DVD making program is doing its "asset encoding", which is taking an extremely long time. Two hours gone, and it's not half-way through yet. When that's done, it will take only ten minutes or so to burn each DVD. I wonder how many will be required.

I'm off to Braunston early tomorrow to help at the Shared-Ownership boat show. It will be good to get back on a boat, even if it won't go anywhere.

Friday, 18 March 2011

Waterways facilities going - it's cut and dried

The cuts are creeping in. This notice from reveals that BW is not going to repair or replace a broken washing machine and drier at Anderton on the Trent and Mersey. Is this the pattern for the rest of the system?

Advice: Trent & Mersey Canal‏
Anderton Service Block

Friday 18 March 2011 until further notice
The washing machine and drier at the service block have been broken for some time. Estimates for repair are well in excess of any resource allocated and there are no funds available to purchase new replacements. The machines have been removed and the decision has been taken not to replace them.

Alternative facilities exist in the Northwich area, British Waterways apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.

Enquiries: 01782 785703

More stoppages on this waterway:

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Weathered stones

Today has felt much colder than it ought to have done. So here's a photo from last summer: a part of the remains of Flint Castle in north Wales. The stonework has been weathered to give an amazing textured surface.

As you can see, there really isn't much left of the castle.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Surprise fraternal visit

My brother phoned me this afternoon to say that he was in Norwich for a meeting. This was Peter, the brother I don't see a lot of - just on Christmas Day, usually. Actually, he was going to be even nearer to us than Norwich: his meeting was at a hotel on the edge of our village. Jan went to pick him up while I cycled home, and we were able to give him shortbread biscuits, a Cheshire cheese sandwich and a coffee. And then I took him to the station.

Peter is not a narrowboater, but he takes to the water in a narrow boat. A very narrow boat. About two feet wide, I should guess. With oars (or are they sculls?). As a member of the London Rowing Club he rows competitively on the Thames, and must be even fitter than me (!)

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Legging through Dudley Tunnel?

I always like doing waterways which are new to me, so, for our forthcoming two weeks on Shadow, I'm thinking of heading for the Stourbridge canal. There's plenty of scope for a circular cruise: Plan A is to head up the Oxford and Coventry canals; then the Birmingham and Fazeley; then to Wolverhampton via possibly the Tame Valley, Walsall, and Wyrely Wyrley and Essington; then down the Staffs and Worcs to Stourton Junction; then up the Stourbridge.

I would love to leg through the Dudley Tunnel if Shadow is deemed to have a low enough air draught. Nicholson suggests that all one has to do is give 24 hours' notice, "if possible", and there could even be an electric tug for escort. We would need extra crew for this, and, presumably, legging boards. My brother and I legged for fun through the short Woodley Tunnel on the Peak Forest Canal in 2005 (photo above) but did it by lying on the cabin top and "walking" along the roof of the tunnel. I can think of two reasons for legging to be done sideways, as it were: you're not constantly dislodging bits of soot and masonry into your eyes; and the width of a tunnel is probably more constant than its height.

Has anyone reading this legged through Dudley Tunnel? I'd like to hear from you if you have.

David, are you available in April? I'll let you know when I've worked out which day it's likely to be.

edited to correct spelling of Wyrley

Top Thirty, 2011 week 11

Here is the UK Waterways Site Ranking as it stood at 0910 on Sunday 13th March 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 (=)

5 CanalPlanAC (=)

6 Granny Buttons (=)

7 (=)

8 Retirement with No Problem (+1)

9 ExOwnerships (-1)

10 Jannock Website (+1)

11 boatshare (+1)

12 Towpath Treks (+1)

13 Maffi's Boat (+1)

14 Waterway Routes (-4)

15 (+2)

16 Canal Shop Company (-1)

17 UKCanals Network (-1)

18 Water Explorer (+1)

19 Trafalgar Marine Services (+4)

20 WB Takey Tezey (-2)

21 Narrowboat Bones (-1)

22 Derwent6 (=)

23 nb Piston Broke (+2)

24 nb Lucky Duck (-3)

25 Captain Ahab's Watery Tales (+5)

26 Narrowboat Caxton (=)

27 The Wooden Canal Boat Society (-)

28 Canal Photos (-)

29 Contented Souls (-)

30 nb Blue Moon (-6)

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 55.

There are 146 entries altogether.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Bit quiet on the blogging front...

Much of my spare time recently has been taken up with editing our daughter's wedding video, hence the lack of posts on this blog. Yes, this is the wedding of 2009. I know, I know, that was ages ago. But originally it was to have been edited by someone else; then they didn't do it and the tapes came to me. And then I struggled with Final Cut, the editing software. For some reason it crashes when trying to capture more than five minutes of video at a time, so I had to split it up into five minute chunks - 61 of them - that's about five hours of rushes! And that takes up a huge amount of storage. The edit is going all right, though. Ally and Ben will be really pleased to see it when it's finally done - it's looking good so far! Five hours sounds worse than it is, by the way: there were three cameras simultaneously filming the church ceremony, so the whole thing should be no more than two hours long. Which is plenty! I have suggested doing a cut-down version for showing other people: Ally and Ben might want to sit through all of it, but I doubt if many others will.

Here is a still showing Ben and Ally reacting to a particularly embarrassing revelation during the best man's speech! (Note to self: must brighten the pictures a bit...)

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Boating soon - must get planning

Yes, we have a couple of weeks on Shadow coming up next month. Hooray! The boat is now based at Wigram's Turn, which will be quicker for us to drive to than Tattenhall, which is where it was before. And two weeks gives us a lot of cruising options. I'm looking forward to sitting down with a few Nicholson's guides, and seeing where we could go. There's a bit of the BCN we haven't done; or we could go to Oxford; or to Stratford; or down to Northampton or up to Stoke Bruerne. We could do one of several rings ... but we won't go on the Thames this time.

I'll have to check on stoppages, of course, but I'm expecting scheduled works to be out of the way by April. Oh, and CanalPlan will be consulted too.

The photo is of us returning to Tattenhall last July after a trip up the Llangollen Canal. That's Hurleston Reservoir behind the grassy bank and fence.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Engineer's Wharf

Kevin wondered yesterday if there were any boats using the marina by the recent Taylor Woodrow development on the Paddington Branch of the Grand Union. He's talking about Engineer's Wharf, near Northolt. Here's a link to BW's blurb about it.

A modern urban village provides the setting for a brand new basin on
the Paddington Arm of the Grand Union Canal at Northolt in west
London. British Waterways has worked alongside Taylor Woodrow’s
Bryant Homes to develop the basin, known as Engineer’s Wharf, and
has created 20 new narrowboat moorings which we are now able to
offer boaters in the London area.

This is what it looked like when I passed in September last year.

I didn't know there was a "Grand Union Village", did you?

Engineer’s Wharf benefits from the proximity
of facilities in Grand Union Village including
shops, a nursery and community space.
‘Home Zones’ create safe residents’ areas and
the development boasts over 20 acres of
public open space, playing fields and children’s
play areas.

And here are the (2007) prices from the same Waterscape site:

Annual mooring prices
from 1 April 2007
Residential berths £5,250
Non-residential berths £4,000
All prices are inclusive of VAT

£4k for a non-residential mooring sounds pricey to me.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Timelapse: Bull's Bridge to Northolt

The final stage of our summer 2010 adventures on nb Willow is recorded in this timelapse film of 4th September 2010. After touching up some paintwork on our friend's boat we left the excellent mooring at Bull's Bridge Junction at 1110 to cruise along the Paddington Branch back to the boat's home base at Northolt.

The stop along the way was for me to cycle back to have a look at the boat we'd just passed. It had had a "for sale" poster in the window with a very low price. As I'd suspected, the notice was for a different boat. Not the bargain it initially seemed!

Top Thirty, 2011 week 10

Here is the UK Waterways Site Ranking as it stood at 1215 on Sunday 6th March 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 (=)

5 CanalPlanAC (=)

6 Granny Buttons (+2)

7 (-1)

8 ExOwnerships (+1)

9 Retirement with No Problem (-2)

10 Waterway Routes (+5)

11 Jannock Website (=)

12 boatshare (-2)

13 Towpath Treks (-1)

14 Maffi's Boat (+2)

15 Canal Shop Company (+2)

16 UKCanals Network (-3)

17 (+3)

18 WB Takey Tezey (=)

19 Water Explorer (-5)

20 Narrowboat Bones (+1)

21 nb Lucky Duck (-2)

22 Derwent6 (=)

23 Trafalgar Marine Services (+6)

24 nb Blue Moon (-)

25 nb Piston Broke (-1)

26 Narrowboat Caxton (+1)

27 boats and cruising (-2)

28 Narrowboat Alacrity (-)

29 NB Siskin (-)

30 Captain Ahab's Watery Tales (-2)

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 39.

There are 144 entries altogether.

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Timelapse: Kingston-upon-Thames to Bull's Bridge

We're nearly at the end of the timelapse tour of the River Thames and some neighbouring navigations. On Friday 3rd September 2010 we left Kingston-upon-Thames and went down to Teddington Lock. There it seemed as though there was a long queue for the lock, but I walked up to talk to the lock keeper who said we could lock down straight away. Then it was a short dash down the tideway, a sharp left turn: and there were Thames Locks, our gateway off the Thames. We were glad to get back onto "proper" canals. But we hadn't left behind all adventure. This film shows us inspecting the opposite bank of the Grand Union after a semi-submerged log jammed the prop as we approached a lock. Fortunately fellow blogger Neil of NB Herbie was on hand to catch a rope and pull us in. Neil had come to help us up the Hanwell flight: you can catch brief glimpses of him in the film.

  • untying in the morning sunlight (0.02)
  • Kingston Bridge (0.04)
  • Kingston Railway Bridge (0.06)
  • mooring for Teddington Lock (0.18)
  • Teddington Lock (0.30)
  • Richmond Bridge (1.01)
  • Richmond Railway Bridge with train (1.03)
  • Twickenham Road Bridge (1.05)
  • Thames Locks (1.20)
  • Brentford Gauging Locks (1.31)
  • overhanging warehouse (1.42)
  • railway bridge with train (1.43)
  • A4 Bridge (1.44)
  • Clitheroe's Lock (1.47)
  • Gallows Bridge (2.02)
  • M4 Bridge (2.05)
  • Osterley Lock (2.06)
  • Prop jams (2.05)
  • Hanwell Locks (2.27)
  • Pause to refill low pound (2.51)
  • Bull's Bridge (4.32)
  • watering up and tying up (4.32)

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Fly tipping, windscreen wipers, and the importance of a good earth

Yesterday I drove 26 miles to the person who fixes my old Volvos. I needed a replacement windscreen wiper motor for my 24-year-old 240. I checked the wipers didn't work before I went; and I checked that they still didn't work when I got there. Nope, definitely not working. Brian, the PWFMOV, verified that that was the case. We connected up the replacement motor to make sure that worked OK - just a matter of pulling out a plug and pushing it into the new motor, and earthing it - yes, it worked. I pushed the plug back into the original, still-in-situ, motor. I was all ready to unbolt the old and bolt in the new (Brian had assured me that it was a simple job and that I could easily do it myself), when Brian suggested that I could check the motor was properly earthed. So I got out the jump leads, ready to strap between the motor body and the car earth - and switched on the wipers.

Now you will have guessed what happened. Jump leads in one hand, wiper control in the other. Yes - they worked! I hadn't even touched anything - the mere threat of making a good earth did the trick. I didn't know whether to be cross or pleased! Cross that I'd gone on a needless 52-mile round trip, or pleased that I'd saved myself 35 quid. Cross also that I didn't think of double checking the earth before. I mean, when there are three chunky bolts bolting the motor to the metalwork of the car you tend to assume that there will be a certain amount of metal-to-metal contact, don't you?

The wipers continued to work, even when I demonstrated them to Jan when I got home. My next task is to put in an extra earth bonding strap, to ensure the wipers don't fail again.

Now to the flytipping. On my way back from Brian's I pulled off the road for a wee break. I was horrified to find that a load of asbestos waste had been flytipped, along with a fridge, car battery and other rubbish.

I have reported it to the council, but haven't heard anything back from them.

This lot looks like it's been here for a while. And the council tip is no more than four miles away.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Timelapse: Chertsey to Kingston-upon-Thames

This 2' 06" timelapse film continues to record Willow's progress down the Thames. It's Thursday 2nd September, and we've had lunch in the Kingfisher Pub by Chertsey Bridge. I've successfully replaced the weedhatch seal, and we got under way at 1535. Just three locks on this leg, and we tie up at Kingston-upon Thames at 1900.

I've just thought: as I have reasonably accurately logged the start and end times of the timelapse filming, I can calculate various things. First, the camera was running for about three and a half hours, that's 210 minutes, or 12,600 seconds. The film runs for two minutes and six seconds, or 126 seconds. So things happen on the film a hundred times faster than they did in real life.

Inching though the film one frame at a time reveals that it replays at ten frames to the second. So in the three and a half hours it took 1260 images: that's one every ten seconds. Good: that confirms how I'd thought I'd set it up.

  • Chertsey Bridge (0.00)
  • Shepperton Lock (0.16)
  • Desborough Cut (0.27)
  • Walton Bridge (0.36)
  • Sunbury Lock (0.51)
  • Molesey Lock (1.26)
  • Hampton Court Bridge (1.36)
  • Kingston Bridge (2.00)

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Timelapse: Windsor to Chertsey

This 2' 33" timelapse film records Willow's journey from Windsor to Chertsey on 2nd September 2010. We were not in so much of a rush now, so we didn't leave until 0910. On some days we'd already done three hours by then! We tied up by Chertsey Bridge so I could tackle the weed hatch sealing job. This went better than I had anticipated - details here - and we had lunch at the Kingfisher pub overlooking the bridge and boat.

  • leaving a sunny mooring (0.06)
  • Windsor Bridge (0.09)
  • Romney Lock (0.13)
  • Black Pott's Railway Bridge (0.25)
  • Victoria Bridge (0.29)
  • Albert Bridge (0.38)
  • Ham Bridge (0.43)
  • Old Windsor Lock (0.46)
  • Bell Weir Lock (1.21)
  • Runnymede Bridge (1.28)
  • Staines Bridge (1.34)
  • Staines Railway Bridge (1.37)
  • Penton Hook Lock (1.50)
  • M3 Motorway Bridge (2.09)
  • Chertsey Lock (2.12)
  • Chertsey Bridge (2.21)