Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Something worth regretting

I largely agree with whoever said that the only things you can regret are the things not done... and not stopping atVirtual Orchard cider for a couple of bottles was one.

I passed this guy merrily stomping apples in a trailer, with crates of apples next to him. It was early Tues morning - not yet nine, possibly.

I asked him how much he loved his job - he grinned and held out his arms as wide as they would go...


Edit - here's their view from the wharf that morning - well before I passed and ruined the view:

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Photo Opportunity?

The weekend of 18th/19th Oct, the "Great Western Society, based at Didcot are running steam railmotor trips down the line from Southall to Brentford, which closely follows the route of the Grand Union down to Brentford.

(I've nicked their picture, but probably fair use, as this is a plug for their trip - book here)

These steam railmotors ran on branch lines such as this from the turn of the 20th century. My mind turned to this picture, I've mithered on about before.

So... if anyone with an old boat, who fancied lurking about at Three Bridges that weekend for the fun of having a few photos? Just a thought...

Monday, 18 August 2014

You don't have you be mad to work here...

One of the few things in Stratford not entirely based on some bloke who wrote plays ( or extracting money out of those here because of him) was another highlight of the trip - The Mechanical Art & Design Museum, full of various machines and automatons - imagine a particularly vivid dream after playing Mousetrap...

a moan about CRT

On Saturday afternoon, just below lock 50 on the Stratford Canal, we passed a CRT workboat, locked up, spewing noxious smoke across the canal. On closer inspection I guess it was some kind of webasto style heater running very inefficiently, also drizzling tar down the outside of the boat. It was all locked up, of course.

I called the CRT emergency number on the back of the licence holder - and got through to a call centre who apparently couldn't care less. They tried to end the conversation before I'd given them the boat details/description, for a start. However, I'd done what I could - what more could I do?

This morning - late Monday morning, that is - I passed the boat again - still stinking the place out, still locked up. Yes, that heater should have run safely unattended, but it seems in a right old state. It's probably running as I type - and who runs a heater in mid August anyway?

Sunday, 17 August 2014

A Little Dark over Bill's Mothers

(Actually, we were pretty lucky with the weather this weekend, but when have I ever let reality get in the way of a good title)

This isn't Mary Arden's house, in Wilmcote. It's indeed a very nice old house in the parish of Wilmcote, a stone's throw from the Stratford Canal, but Shakespeare's mother grew up, it is thought, in the slightly less spectacular one next door. Nevertheless, it forms part of a rather endearing complex that represented our one monetary dalliance with the local bardic tourist industry.

You can read more, by clicking on the bit that says 'read more'...

Thursday, 7 August 2014

The Herbies Were Right

You be right in thinking the title goes without saying, but this time they were even righter than usual: -) There i was, bumbling through middle england when i noticed the charge warning light was on. I shrugged mentally (read that in any way you wish), revved the engine, it went off, and i forgot about it - until the next time, and the next. After a while it wasn't staying off, it would be only off on high revs... I was approaching Calcutt locks, and there's a handy boatyard half way down. I tied up and now whatever i did, that pesky charge warning light stayed on. This was at 4.30; by the time they closed an hour later Tortoise had a new alternator, and i was very glad i hadn't decided to press on and try to see if i could sort it... So yes, the Herbies where right. I'd link to the right post but i'm on a new fangled infernal contraption - which is also why i'm making do with a poor pic (although i was impressed, i'd never seen it go that far before...

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Thank you British Waterways*

So, these new knobby handle things on the paddle pawls (I bet there's a proper name for them, but hey, there's a picture) have an interesting feature; they're just the right height to get stuck up the leg of my boating shorts as I cross a lock gate. Thankfully any results were comedic rather than tragic, but it could have all gone horribly, horribly wrong...

* I know. But they title refers to a rather jolly (if unrepresentative) song by Philip Jeays, which you can listen to here - but do try things like Richenda or Idiots in Uniforms too. So, the title stays, until Phil writes a song about Banal Liver Rust, which I believe is a minor disease that cattle get, spread by white Range Rovers (never has a car colour been so pointless - would anyone take it anywhere near the mud?)

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Modern Canals

two pictures...
the Slough Arm, or is it the Sargasso Sea?

In Uxbridge, the canal so shallow at the edge that this guy's dogs could paddle in it. Not swim, paddle. Picture taken with permission.

More positive posts to come, I'm sure... ;-)

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

'The Holy Greyhound: Guinefort'

'All over the world, threading through a multitude of diverse cultures, and as some scholars assert, perhaps originating in prehistoric times, there has been passed down a legend of a heroic, selfless greyhound'

On Saturday, Blackbird & Indigo Dream fortuitously coincided at Apsley, and very pleasantly moved up to Berkhamstead together;

You'd never guess if from the picture, but, as you might guess, Richard & Sue had a dog or two with them...

Then, on Monday, John Finnemore (author of modern day radio classic Cabin Pressure) was on 'The Unbelievable Truth' on Radio 4, and did an almost Reithian 'talk' about dogs. Most of this was amiable tosh, but it did include the fact that St Christopher was often depicted with a dog's head. This was explained on the radio as being confusion between Canaan and Canine (John Finnemore writes it up rather entertainly here), but there seems to be far more to it than that, explained here, and also this one, which goes into the Greco/Roman cult of Asclepius. I took the quotation at the start of this entry from that, and goes on to say:

These greyhounds, which were kept at the temples, appear to be akin to an animal totem for the god Asclepius. It was believed that their lick had great healing powers. People's affection and tokens given to the greyhounds were offerings made to the god himself.

So, neatly back to Indigo Dream - here's Carrie's picture of a mere fraction of the seven greyhounds on board - including two from Greygal (owner of the rather lovely Henry H) and latterly two with Maragaret & Roger of the Wendover Arm Trust.

So, thanks to Asclepius worshipping (or possibly just greyhound obsessed) Sue & Richard for a lovely day - and coffee the following morning, and we just hope our dawdling didn't mean a long day boating in the rain on Monday... and I think we have a name for your next boat ;-)

Saturday, 5 April 2014 which I impersonate a musician...

A trip to South Wales to visit various relatives took us in the vicinity of old acquaintance George, a far better accordion player than anyone has the right to be. He hosts a singaround type session in Narberth, suitably between our respective parent's domiciles, and close enough to home for George for me to be able to borrow his double bass (every good home has one) and carry it under my arm to the bar...

Carrie took this panorama picture with her phone (inspired by Neil Herbie's work), and I think it sums up the evening pretty well - click for a better size. I'm having fun with a real bass (haven't really played one since sixth form), George is doing his thing, Adrian on the left is trying to work out the differences between his uke & my mandolin, and a lovely surprise was the trumpet on far right, which came into its own when Sue (on my right) sang Kirsty McColl's 'In these shoes'. The designated driver's orange juice takes a starring role - and so it should. ;-)

Boat, yeah, must write something soon...