Saturday, September 29, 2007

Sound and vision

Here at last ... as threatened promised ... the all singing, all dancing video footage of Warrior's engine in action.

It doesn't actually do it justice of course; that's probably down to your speakers. It sounds much nicer, bigger, butcher and louder in real life.

Sebastian (the artist formerly known as Baz) very kindly edited the video for me, but I'm not allowed to say so, as I wouldn't let him fiddle about with it nearly as much as he would have liked to (that's what GCSE Media Studies does for you). He has, therefore, asked for his name to be removed from the credits.


Thursday, September 27, 2007

Newhaven tonight

I was struck on the way home from the station, at about half past six this evening, by the lovely pink sky over the river - then I remembered that for once I had a camera on me. So here it is. Sun setting at six thirty (and that's British Summer Time, not real time) - can winter be far behind?

We've been having some half hearted musings about whether we could take Helyn up the Ouse to Lewes before we sell her. It's seven miles, and apparently navigable if the tide's right (highish, I suppose); there's a slipway down at the yacht club (and another one I believe at Denton Island, which is on the left in the picture); the biggest question is how powerful an engine you'd need... and whether we would ever actually get round to it. We ought to really, didn't we.

Well done chaps

Well, it was a pretty big clue. Yep, I've got to have Hawkesbury, the last Large Woolwich built for the GUCCCo, because, officially, its butty was the last Large Ricky, Hale; my namesake. I say officially, as it's quite possible they never actually worked together. They may have done though, and someone with more time and resources than me could no doubt find out.

Hale, I assume, has gone the way of most wooden boats - though if anyone has any information about when or how or anything else about it, I'd love to know.

The lovely photo was shamelessly ripped off from A Canal People, the collection of Robert Longden's photos edited by Sonia Rolt. There's another one featuring Hale (I think in GU livery, though it's hard to be sure), paired with Halsall (close!) tied up outside the Greyhound along with an FMC pair. So, as Andrew points out, at Hawkesbury, if not with Hawkesbury.

A Canal People is a great book by the way. I bought it in a remainder shop years ago, without really realising how wonderful the photos were until later, when I got keener on old boats. I see that Amazon have it in hardback ... Mine's a soft cover and I certainly didn't pay twenty two quid for it!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Monday, September 24, 2007

My motor

So why, of all of them, has this got to be the one for me?

Friday, September 21, 2007

Pictures of boats

On the basis that just what the internet needs is more pictures of narrow boats, I've been uploading some of the boat pictures I took between Atherstone and St Ives - here. (The one at the top isn't one of them, but is the best I can find on this computer.) There are, I'm afraid, still more to come, but it's a slow old process.

Today we're going back to Ramsey to see old Warrior again, and to bring back all the dirty washing. I'm taking the video camera with the intention of recording the engine at long last, although whether my technical abilities will be up to the task remains to be seen. Won't even try to post from there, so hopefully will be back Monday.

Monday, September 17, 2007

A strange end ...

Thank you Andrew - following on from yesterday, Andrew of Granny Buttons has sent me a photo of the 'Rebekah' floral display. Apparently is was created by Roger Fuller and named after his daughter ... so does that mean that this (now sadly neglected)

is also Roger's work?

Finally, reading between the lines at Canalworld, and casting my mind back to last summer, if you look past the heffalump in the foreground here, I think that's Alt behind. How many more do I have to collect now before I can send off for a badge?

Sunday, September 16, 2007

No one likes us

We don't care. Well, they wouldn't, would they, being boats.

To return to the theme of blue tops, in which I got mildly involved having seen a few on our recent travels ... I can see why they don't inspire passion. They're not beautiful, they weren't even liked when they were new because apparently they swim like pigs; it's a bit of a mystery why BWB commissioned them in the first place, as late as the late fifties, when they already had more boats than they knew what to do with. They don't even qualify as historic craft for current BW licencing purposes. Many if not most of them do survive, albeit with varying degrees of mutilation. As I said previously, I don't believe I've seen a fully restored one; Anne, pictured here last August, is perhaps the closest.

Yet it would be sad if they all disappeared or changed beyond recognition. Anne is not as original as it perhaps looks, for it was one of two of these boats built to have its engine externally mounted on the stern. The other was Lee, whose owners we met in Cambridge and again at St Ives. Lee does still have an externally mounted engine (albeit not the original Harbourmaster), but Mark and Toni are planning to change that soon, although they aim to keep the wheel steering. You can't blame them, as there's clearly a reason why only two boats were built like that and it never caught on, but it's still a shame.

Mark kindly gave me a couple of photos of Lee to post here. Here it is as they bought it, an effluent boat on the Thames,
And here it is with their new cabin on it. The engine is in that big box on the back.

Finally, the boat I spotted at Bill Fen has been identified by Lyn Shotbolt (and confirmed by the good posters of Canalworld) as Axe.

A former butty, Axe now has a very nice traditional style counter stern; its old butty rear end (under the name of Rebekah) is now a floral display in Stone, where I saw it last year but failed to take any pictures.

Monday, September 10, 2007

You want photos?

Oh boy, have you got photos. I've only just recovered from uploading them to here. This collection represents about a quarter of what I actually took, but you're not missing much. I will however at some point get around to doing another album for all the pics of nice and/or interesting boats we saw - they didn't really seem to fit within the record of the trip. Don't judge the quality too harshly - they're essentially snapshots, not works of art. Webshots keep changing the format of the site; I carefully filled in captions to about a third of the pics, but you can only read them if you scroll down the screen, and they're not displayed at all in a slide show.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Ramsey Hollow Bridge

Ramsey Hollow Bridge was in the (waterways) news last year. It spans the Forty Foot, and, until last December, had headroom of about 5', or 1.5m. Low, even by Middle Level standards. Last December, a team of Royal Engineers, funded largely by the Peterborough IWA, raised the bridge by nearly a metre to open up a 'cruising ring'. We noted the bridge with interest as we sailed easily beneath it. We assumed, that had it not been for last year's efforts, we would have had to find an alternative route.

Not so, we subsequently learned. When John Shotbolt built Warrior for the Middle Level, he not only made the boat short enough to go through Welches Dam Lock, but also low enough to go under Ramsey Hollow Bridge, and he and Lyn cruised the Forty Foot many times. Once, Lyn told us, as a result of going too fast - and so raising the front of the boat - they had scraped the bridge. And the evidence is still there to be seen.

Now that's what you call a low bridge.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Boating boots

Getting dressed up for work yesterday I picked my shortest skirt, in order to show off my lovely brown legs - the first time in my adult life, I believe, that the backs of my legs have been brown. Unfortunately, the pleasing golden glow stops dead at the ankle, giving the impression that I have found a very subtle version of this year's must-have footless tights.

This is because whatever the weather, I will not boat in anything other than my trusty boating boots. Tried and tested for comfort, flexibility and non-slip qualities, these DMs that I got in a charity shop in Huddersfield are unbeatable. From the flooded towpaths of Atherstone to the mud of St Ives, they've seen me through it all. You can't beat a good pair of boots. Wherever you are, whatever's wrong with your life, put on a good pair of boots and you're standing on solid ground, and you've got a friend.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Shock to the system

Brought to you from the 1619 (delayed) GNER service frm Peterborough to Kings Cross.

Yes, we are very sadly on our way home. When I was a child, my parents had a set of very modern fab and groovy Mappin and Webb stainless steel cutlery. The thing about it was that the handles were hollow, so it was relatively lightweight, but we never noticed because we were used to it. Well, we never noticed except when we came back from holiday (Guernsey, ten days, twice a year from birth to 1975), when we would go to have our dinner and find our cutlery hands sailing into the air. The moral of this tale (which I absorbed at a very early age) is that when you go into a new environment you subconsciously expect everything to be different, so it doesn't strike you as strange; it's when you return, expecting things to be familiar, that they strike you as different.

Which may be why Peterborough station seemed so utterly, utterly horrible this afternoon - the cars, the bus and coach smells, the crowds of people. The stuff of everyday life (I work in London, for heaven's sake) rendered completely alien by a month away from it.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Where's Warrior?

Can you spot Warrior in its new home? Not so new really, but its birthplace and first home. I think we're going to be just fine here. Coming home tomorrow, but it won't be long before we're back for a weekend (to collect the washing), hopefully accompanied by Carl and Sean and their caravan. Oh yes, and Baz, maybe, if he doesn't have any more pressing musical engagements. And Christmas on the boat? A definite yes, this year. Booking form for next year's IWA Festival? Safely packed - almost definitely going to use it.

When I get back (straight to work on Monday) it might take a few days to sort out a. the photos; b. my head, before I get round to posting again, but there are plenty of pictures that I haven't used yet which all have their stories or polemics so that'll keep me going for a while.

It has been a great trip, a brilliant experience, and an extraordinary month. It seems like we've been on the boat forever, and that we've been away no time at all. Yet when I look at the photos of us on the Oxford, say, I can scarcely recall being there, let alone that it was less than a month ago.