Wednesday, 9 June 2010


I must have written before - but I don't recall doing so - about cycling canals before having a boat. Here and there in the nineties if I had a few days off and nothing better to do, I'd stick a tent & sleeping bag on the back of my bike, and cycle a canal [towpath]. The first one was Brentford to Birmingham, of course, a neat three days; subsequently I did Wolverhampton to Llangollen, and Reading to Bath, and possibly more. They were lovely trips - I remember friendly boaters (and less than friendly fishermen), and a self-imposed rule of stopping at the next pub if it started raining. Some of the towpaths were barely impassable, due to edge corrosion or just good old plain mud, and I relaise now I wasn't really helping the situation by cycling on them in that stte. I'd generally find a bit of waste ground to camp on, once on a bit of waste ground on the off side fo a lock, that kind of thing.

Anyway, on that first trip, somewhere near Leighton Buzzard, I spotted a boat in Fullers Brewery colours called 'The Griffin', and took a picture. That subsequently got enlarged, framed and given to my local pub, the Griffin. I may have said enough about this particular brewery, but give me a small pub that stocks bottles of Fullers beer (at room temperature, not chilled to tastelessness) and I'm unlikely to complain. Anyway, that picture's still there (just to the right before you get to the loos, if you're passing), and a little better composed than the ones below...

Tortoise is at Cowroast, moored just a little down from Griffin's home mooring, and indeed Griffin is in residence. I realise I rarely name other boats I mention (for good or bad reasons), but not much point in hiding this one:

I've no idea what connection, if at all, the boat has with the brewery - some, I guess, as it's mentioned as being at the opening of the Paper Mill in Apsley in a report on the net. For me it's a reminder of my early canal trips, as much as the namesake of the pub at the end of the road...

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Follow up to my last post

i think you'd have to be really, really uninterested in the world around you to not know what happened last weekend. The Rachel Corrie, sailing from Ireland a few days later was similarly hijacked in international waters; the first thing the Israelis do is block mobile and satellite transmissions, we're still waiting for news of those on that ship.

Boater Sharyn Lock, whilst not on the convoy this time has been able to blog on, and is well worth a read, her most recent post includes links to recent press articles. I'll add to those links (all recommended) Swedish author Henning Mankell's moving account of his experiences - like all people involved, all personal possessions (including any way of recording what happened) were removed and not returned - stolen by any other name.

Time and again Israel openly commit atrocities, flouts international law, suppresses media coverage (and gives us their smug spokesman instead) - and the rest of the world at best tut, and continue to support, fund, trade with and side with, Israel. It's about time this changed.

This post was going to be about canals, and escapism. Escaping from the events of the mediterranean, west Cumbria (where I grew up - good article on how so much more dignified the locals have been than the media here) and the forthcoming world cup (and associated nationalism). It's a priviledge to have that, to be able to watch young birds learning to feed and forget the world, but it's still out there. I wonder if fewer of us ignored it permanently, it might be in a better state.