Saturday, March 10, 2007

Reading Canal Boat

No, not a mystery craft on the K&A. That should be Canal Boat as in the magazine, but I can't do italics in the title. And reading as in reading, not as in Reading. Apparently there's a longstanding (positively bewhiskered, I should think) joke at the University of Reading about the visiting academic who asked when they were going to get around to writing (arithmetic, presumably, being left to some more specialist institution). I was at the University of Reading last April attending the annual conference of the Political Studies Association, which is the non-boat-related highlight of my year. This year I shall be doing likewise in Bath. Not really moving it around the country much, is it, from one end of the K&A to the other.

Anyway, back to reading Canal Boat: the first issue to be delivered to our door since we took out a subscription, the inducement to do so having moved on from a 'wine kit' to a free Nicholson's guide of one's choice. With our free Thames and Southern Waterways guide we now have the complete set, except for Scotland. We've also subscribed to Waterways World for which the motivation was a fairly substantial cost saving and two (count them ladies and gentlemen) WW guides (SU and GU were the choice this time). Jim actually prefers these to the Nicholsons, whose layout he finds maddeningly counter-intuitive. It doesn't bother me, being as I am in the fortunate position of having no intuitions whatsoever when it comes to map-reading and direction-finding.

Poor old Canals and Rivers may now fall by the wayside, as without our regular order the local newsagent probably won't stock it. But it is, sadly, a publication of truly dismal quality. I suspect I might still be unable to resist if I see it in Smiths at Victoria though. We have, roughly, those three canal mags; last time I was in Smiths I counted no fewer than fifteen catering to those with an interest in railways. It's amazing how many whole other worlds there are out there, each with their own arcana and devotees*, with a tantalising glimpse into them only a mouse-click away. e.g.

Anyway, there was lots of good reading in Canal Boat, including an account of how to get from Ellesmere to Atherstone avoiding the Wolverhampton Flight and the BCN - we of course will be doing part of that route very soon but will be positively embracing the Wolverhampton Flight and the BCN. There was a fascinating article about replacing lock gates (no, really), good letters and Q&As. But what really grabbed me was a four-page piece on the Sussex Ouse, full of things I didn't know about my local river, which made me feel very guilty for casually dismissing the Kent and East Sussex WRG a few days ago. So guilty in fact that I shall no doubt shortly be sending them money too, along with the Sussex Ouse Restoration Trust.

*There is a much better word that I want to use here but I can't think what it is at the moment. I think it begins with e. I will edit it in once I remember what it is.

Baz has just told me that the word I wanted was esoteric. Indeed, that was the word I was thinking of, but it won't actually do for here, so I shall leave things as they stand.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for subscribing and for the kind comments about the mag. Should be another piece of special interest to you in the next issue.

Kevin Blick, editor CB