Friday 29 April 2011

10,000 hits and counting

Another unexpected milestone has been reached with the 10,000th and counting visitor to the blog. As blogs hits go, in the blogosphere, this is not a big number. In relative terms it is much more than I ever anticipated. This does not mean that 10,000 individuals have visited. It means that an unknown number of individuals have visited 10,000 times.

So, I must be doing something that attracts people to come back. Looking back over the last few months I have spread the main topic (narrow-boats) to include more personal observations on life. That I think is the key. There are a whole raft of BBC types (Boat Blogger's Club) who are covering the subject. I am just one amongst the many. I do however frequently wander off the beaten track then share my thoughts with you all. Humour is a big part of my makeup as I enjoy a good laugh at my expence or yours. I think and hope that this is reflected in my blog.

So where do the individuals collectively come from?

What are the individuals looking at, here are the top pageviews that people read within the last month.

Postings Viewed by Visitors
Boating types you will find on various forums. 79 Pageviews
Lurking on a forum near you!                            78 Pageviews
Boat Battery Maintenance Pt III                        36 Pageviews
Caption Competition.                                         25 Pageviews
Boat Battery Maintenance Pt I                           22 Pageviews
Have you been watching Guy Martin on TV     22 Pageviews
Safety                                                                 21 Pageviews
Observations on life.                                          19 Pageviews
Boat Battery Maintenance Pt II                          15 Pageviews
That sinking feeling!                                          12 Pageviews

Information Pages Viewed by Visitors
Forums, Magazines and eBooks.         66 Pageviews
Infrequent Updates                              10 Pageviews
Why I write this blog.                            9 Pageviews
2010 Topic Index                                   4 Pageviews
The Ships Log                                        1 Pageviews
Miscellaneous Sites                                1 Pageview
Blog Ethos, Disclaimer and Copyright. 1 Pageview

Where are the people located who are reading the blog?
United Kingdom 4,727
United States      1,909
Germany               423
Russia                   264
Australia               147
Netherlands          122
Slovenia               107
France                   83
Ukraine                 73
Iran                       57

I found the last one on the list "Iran" to be quite a surprise. I did not think there would e much interest in narrow-boat blogs in Iran. So maybe I am being a bit stereotypical. Well, whoever you are and wherever you are, you are always most welcome on here.

The crew of Rosie met up with the crew of Wayward Spinner for a bit of mutual narrow-boat admiration. Wayward Spinner is a stunning boat, we came away with lots of ideas for modifications to Rosie. The Memsahib is one of those people who likes to get ideas and also to get me to impement them.

Moored tonight at Sprotborough lock.  We were going to go for Doncaster Town Moorings, but the Memsahib was detained by Asda and other outlets. I have a pair of new shoes, the Memsahib a new wardrobe!!!


Thursday 28 April 2011


Sunday is a mind numbing waste of a day.

Surprise, shock, horror it's Sunday, the "day of rest". A day that could be spent messing around in the boat and enjoying some quality on the water time. Well, I say "day of rest", however in our household rest means rest of the week and Sunday is not a day for putting your feet up!! No Sunday is the day of traipsing around Homecare or Tesco. It's not even a day for going to visit some Victorian pile, because most of the stately homes round here have long ago been metamorphosed into rubble. The ones that still survive are little more than a damp antique warehouse for mildew. 

Gilbert parking
Sunday however is very good day for encountering that ancient bespectacled species universally known as a "Gilbert" or the dreaded "Sunday driver". With the steering wheel held in a white knuckle death grip, they tear off up the road at speeds approaching 20 mph.

Yes, the roads are full of the flat capped octogenarian kamikaze driver in a just washed and polished, turd brown, Austin Allegro.  Drivers with real fear in their eyes. Kamikaze who are being given real-time driving advice by an octogenarian Hyacinth Bucket look-a-like. No Steppenwolf "Born to be wild" driving style for them. They move along to the sounds and tempo of a selection of Victor Sylvester's greatest hits. Slow, slow, quick, quick slow!

So its not safe to go out for a blast on the motorbike, however there is an alternative to risking  life and limb and its called Sunday TV, the best sleeping draught since Nitrous Oxide. Whilst you might not be risking life and limb you certainly will be risking your sanity. The re-runs of re-runs from years ago. With a much younger George Cole playing "Arfur" in the 1979 series of "The Minder" or Kenneth Cope playing a ghost called Hopkirk from the 1969 series "Randall and Hopkirk Deceased

There is always a fall back to the Antiques Roadshow. No, I'm not on about the octogenarian kamikaze drivers. Do keep up! I am banging on about the television series where people bring along huge pieces of furniture that would better fill a large skip. Furniture of a size that modern buildings could not accept.

Some shirt and tie with Dick Emery teeth, then starts to eulogise on the the item and its rumpled legs. The craftsmanship of its loose fitting drawers and the distressed patina of its over watered plant pot marks.

In reality, all anyone is really interested in is - what its worth as an antique. Because its worth as an item of furniture is zilch.  The shirt, tie and teeth offers an opinion that it could be worth ten grand. Joe Public's mind starts to visualise that little red MG sports car and Jill Public's mind visualises the new walnut kitchen. So its a new kitchen then!

Nerd Punter
Then the specially selected nerd (a 12 pen shirt pocket type) turns up clutching a carrier bag with a collection of Georgian hub caps. The shirt, tie and teeth's eyes now glaze over and I feel that justice has been served, he has met his match. The nerd gives chapter and verse on each one of the four hundred pieces he has brought along as a representative selection from the his full collection.

The shirt, tie and teeth is starting to lose the will to live and comeuppance triumphs. But like the consummate professional shirt, tie and teeth tells the nerd that these items are the antiques of the future. In other words a load of trash unless you can last out another 200 years. The nerd succumbs to the urge to caress a hub cap as we fade to another punter with a selection of antique toner cartridges. Euthanasia certainly has a lot to offer.

Hannah Gorbals
So why did nature create Sunday, I think it was to ensure that one day in the week is worse than Monday and the daunting prospect of another working week. As for the back seat driver - Who needs a back-seat driver to nag them when we now have that annoying Hanna Gordon's voice on our satellite navigation system.

How long it will be before someone coins a negative term like "back seat driver" for our satellite navigation systems. How about satnag or spatnav maybe you could do better. 

Well I feel better for that!

PS. We finally made it down the Tinsley flight after five days lost due to the poor maintainance record of BW. I feel a stong letter to the goverment minister coming on - Lets see if he can acertain why the upkeep of this navigation is so lacking.

PPs Moored close to Wayward Spinner at Eastwood lock Rotherham.- Eastwood lock is broken down again. So this is the third lock that we have become stuck at. Swinton - Tinsley 11, Eastwood and we are still counting.

More Later.....

Sunday 24 April 2011

Call to Action.

I have downloaded the content of another blogpage verbatim. Please read and make you feelings known. Original posting can be seen by clicking Here!

Android, who is owned by Google, has made available in the Android Market a new downloadable game application for your phone called DOG WARS (developed by Kage Games LLC).

This is a DOG FIGHTING GAME. The player feeds, waters, trains and FIGHTS the virtual dog for virtual money. It is clear to me that the people at Google/Android /Kage Games think dog fighting is a joke and that perpetuating the myth that pit bulls are inherently aggressive has no repercussions.

Call to Action: Contact the Android market team here and email to demand this disgusting application be banned from the Android Market.

REPEATEDLY EMAIL until they take this application off the market.

This kind of stereotyping is responsible for countless deaths of loving, gentle and well adjusted dogs across the country. The people at Google/Android and Kage Games are too daft to realize that aggression is not a breed issue, it is a dog issue. Any dog breed can be “trained” to behave aggressively. This fact has been supported time and again.

The developers state on the game description page “If you have a bug up your b*tt about the game concept, remember: It is just A VIDEO GAME…”

It is not just a video game, it is irresponsible and devastating to the animals that are victims of this abuse. The animal abusers who participate in dog fights starve, beat and train the dogs to behave aggressively to both animals and people.

Fighting dogs are kept isolated from other dogs

Fighting dogs spend most of their lives on short, heavy chains, often just out of reach of other dogs.

Fighting dogs may also be given a variety of legal and illegal drugs, including anabolic steroids to enhance muscle mass and encourage aggressiveness. Narcotic drugs may also be used to increase the dogs’ aggression, increase reactivity and mask pain or fear during a fight. Young animals are often trained or tested by allowing them to fight with other dogs in well-controlled “rolls.” Those who show little inclination to fight may be discarded or killed. Some fighters will use stolen pets as “bait dogs,” or sparring partners.

Fighting dogs used by all types of fighters may have their ears cropped and tails docked close to their bodies. This serves two purposes. First, it limits the areas of the body that another dog can grab onto in a fight, and second, it makes it more difficult for other dogs to read the animal’s mood and intentions through the normal body language cues dogs use in aggressive encounters. Fighters usually perform this cropping/docking themselves using crude and inhumane techniques

The effects of dog fighting are devastating, please take a moment to speak up for the victims, thank you.


Friday 22 April 2011

A Leisure Treasure.

Time Constraint.
In our normal everyday life we rush around due to the pressures placed upon us to go to work, go shopping, take children to school and a whole myriad of other everyday tasks. There is little time to spare for just being aware of anything else that is going on around us. We are locked away in our own world of time constraints.

Even going away on holiday can be just as stressful. Packing bags, checking passports, ensuring that this that and the other have all been taken care of, prior to departure. Hours of travelling on the ground and in the air bring us to our “holiday destination”. A sun tan is to be achieved as a measure of how good the holiday was. This is done by broiling our bodies on a beach. Done in the sure and certain knowledge that we are enjoying the relaxation.

However, the tension builds again as we prepare to return back the way we came. More hours of travelling on the ground and in the air – bring us to back home, with suitcases full of washing and the realisation that we are back to our taskmaster the clock, for another year. Even when we relax, it is still done at a pace. Timed and measured to fulfil our self imposed time constraints.
Leisure treasure

Yet there is a little known “leisure treasure”, that can be experienced at any time of the year. This treasure is the inland waterways of the United Kingdom. A canal and river system can create a real family holiday like no other.

It's a curious feeling that I get whenever I start to think about the waterways of England. In the main because it does not bring to mind a single mental picture. Each day on the river or canal brings with it, a whole new series of experiences. The first few days are spent winding down to synchronise with canal time. Then comes the realisation that a boating on a canal is a real family holiday where everyone including the family dog has their part to play.

I own a narrow-boat, it is a place on which I choose to spend a great deal of time. Yet is is much more than that, the boat is my personal tardis. Where, like Dr Who I can roam at will across open countryside, moorland and even through forests. England is criss crossed with rivers and canals and I am part of a community of people who have all discovered the hidden secret of a narrow boat holiday is time travel.

Side hatch
I like to moor our boat in a given location to relax and watch the world go by. I can observe the change from daybreak through to night fall. The side hatch on the boat acts as my instant picture frame. A frame that is throughout the day framing a stream of fleeting ever changing images. Images where the light is ever changing from the red glow of dawn to the indigo twilight as night falls. Clouds sometimes diffuse and soften the light and clear skies can make the image crystal clear to the distant horizon. Calm, still, days leave an inky, glossy, reflective sheen to the water surface. Whilst rain, creates a pattern of intersecting rings and the wind a ruffled surface of tiny waves. All the time through the riverside trees comes the dappled light both golden and green. With occasional shafts of bright sunlight bursting through to inch slowly across the water.

Time for the narrow boat based canal traveller, starts to take on a whole new meaning. Our bodies and mind quickly adapt to a more natural cycle of waking with the light and sleeping with the dark. Clocks are soon forgotten and we measure time in days on a calendar, rather than the hour hand of a watch. We choose our starting point and often never arrive at our chosen destination at the appointed time. Not because of a problem, we fail to arrive because the destination becomes no longer of any great importance. We have discovered the narrow boat secret of time travel.

Seasons also play a part in this image through the side hatch. From the bare, grey and black of the waterside hedgerow in winter with only the occasional evergreen of Holly. The stark hedgerow sometimes highlighted with the hard rime of winter frost. The button bright pinpoint of the red plumage of the Bullfinch or Holly berry bring a sparse touch of colour. Sometimes, we get the rare and silent fall of an overnight blanket of pristine blue white snow. Yet we time travellers are tucked away in our snug, warm and comfortable boat with a roaring fire in the stove.  Boating in winter can be a good family winter holiday.
We can even time travel to see the bright green shoots of spring. Where catkins hang in bunches of yellow tails. The white flowers of the hardy Blackthorn arrive before the leaves and the snowdrop comes and goes seemingly in the flicker of an eye. The isolated scatterings of narcissus catch the last rays of the sun before the canopy of trees slowly filters the light from the ground. This is the season of lambs and primroses, stagbeetles and pristine bluebell woods. Boating in spring can also be a good family holiday.

We can also travel time to arrive in the warm days of summer. Where at the vantage point of our place on the canal, we can watch and learn from nature. Now the canals have more boats moving and the tranquillity can sometimes be broken as some other time traveller family passes us by. All done with a cheery wave, smile and a brief hello. Boating in summer can be a good family holiday.

Time travel to later in the year and the browns and golds of the trees give warning of a change of seasons. The browns and golds are the harbinger of shorter days and longer nights. The cold sharpens the pinpoint of star light on black inky nights. The full moon can cast shadows with its ghostly light on a clear and cloudless night. We have time travelled to the autumn. In the day we will often see end of the cruising season boats moving towards their winter moorings. Boating in autumn can be a very rewarding family holiday.

Once more we are back to where we started. Winter, is one of the more deeply relaxing times on the waterways. Many boats are hunkered down waiting for spring. Only the more adventurous families will travel to this time zone. Yet even the winter on the inland waterways has a singular beauty of its own. A time to relax, to read, to enjoy, to write and to watch.

Canal sounds at any time of the year also play a significant part in this leisure treasure. Sharp ethereal bird song with the dawn chorus in spring. Remember that wildlife like people, are attracted to the peaceful and thriving habitat that makes up Britain's canals and rivers. The soft mellow insect hum of the countryside on long hot summer days. The soft slop slop of the water on the side of the boat. The splash of a jumping fish and the shrill creak call of the Moorhen. Then there is the short period of deafening silence as day turns to night and the countryside in an instant goes quiet to an unseen or unheard signal. Rising once again to a seemingly crescendo of soft background sounds. Bats replace the swallows and swifts wheeling and diving in the gloom. Still there is the occasional sound of gentle rain falling on the waters surface at any time of the day. Occasionally the sudden noise of a gust of wind to warn of a much heavy shower approaching.

Movement also adds to this leisure treasure. The fluttering flight of small birds fighting over some morsel in the hedgerow. The vertical rise and fall of a trilling skylark. The wheeling and turning of gulls as they glide on still wings. The sudden bright blue dart of a kingfisher flying close to the water surface. Leaves that flutter on the smallest of breeze. Invisible wind creating a movement, sweeping across fields of standing corn. The quiet water slowly drifting by.

Smell also plays its part in creating this special leisure treasure. New mown hay and other smells given off by the farmyard. The feint scent of hedgerow flowers and the smell of wood burning on the boat's stove. The damp scent of soil that is freshly ploughed. The musty scent of the water itself. Then comes the sudden realisation that we have a sense of smell. A sense that was being blunted by the overpowering smell of everyday life in a town or city.

This timeless experience of time travel only comes when we adapt our ways to those of the canals. When we allow the pace of the canal to dictate the pace of our life. With that change of pace comes an inward awareness of all the other senses alerting to all that surround us. Things that we are normally unaware of, now take on a new meaning. All this leisure treasure and we have not yet moved an inch.

The last sense is the feeling of movement and that comes from the boat. Movement on the canal is slow, as we potter along at a very gentle pace. The engine just ticking over and the world sliding by. Each corner brings a new vista. Sometimes industrial, sometimes woodland, sometimes open countryside. With only the occasional lock to pass through to halt the steady pace. Locks are an invention from the early days of the industrial revolution. They have changed very little in the intervening time. Often treated with undue reverence by the first time boater. As is steering the boat, which like the the locks should be done at a slow steady pace. The freedom of spirit that canal holiday offers should not to be underestimated.

For our children a boating holiday brings with it the chance of a real adventure that is sadly now missing from our health and safety conscious environment. Everyone must take care not to fall in the canal, or trip over a mooring bollard. Every boater has a sometime fallen into the canal. Every boater has at sometime tripped on something or other. The difference comes from being prepared for each eventuality and not fearing an eventuality. The canals are a safe and welcoming place to those who are aware, but we must respect its dangers. Its the dangers that create the sense of adventure.

This is your chance to nurture the children’s understanding of safety as well as nature. Do this by encouraging them to get involved in the running of the boat. Take time to explore the beautiful countryside along rural canals. Take time to enjoy travel through the waterways of towns and cities. There are activities on the boat to keep the whole family busy such as steering the boat, operating locks or swabbing the decks. There are off boat activities to enjoy as well. You can go for a walk , try your hand a fishing and remember that most canal side pubs are kid-friendly. With all the fresh air they'll get, they're sure to sleep soundly at night!

Narrow boat holidays provide an exciting and inspiring holiday for children. Boating holidays can even become a team building event for all the family. The dog will enjoy all the scents, sounds and walks as well as getting to spend a holiday with you rather than incarcerated in the kennels. You can enjoy boating during the different seasons of the year. If you want a very relaxing holiday then choose a part of the canal system with few locks for you to encounter on your travels.

I have however, just one warning. Boating holidays on the canals of Britain are seriously habit forming for both children and adults alike. If you get hooked by the boating bug, you are addicted for life.


Thursday 21 April 2011

Trees flowers and dragonflys

As well as the two books I recommended a few weeks ago in a previous blog posting on bird recognition.  I would also recommend a few more additional field guides for the boaters bookshelf. This time the guides are on Trees and Wild Flowers and Dragonfly's. The canals are as you know, a very good place to find many different trees and flowers. Especially those tree and flower species that thrive well in wet habitat conditions.

Alder and Willow are the two most common and easily recognised trees that you will find on the banks of our canal and river systems. Due to the quiet nature of the river and canal localities some interesting and unusual varieties such as the Wayfaring-tree (its a shrub) can also be found.
A good pocket guide is the "Field Guide to the Trees and Shrubs of Britain" by the Readers Digest. About £6 for a paperback copy on Amazon.

Flowering wild plants are numerous and can sometimes be difficult to identify. But you can soon build up a knowledge of what is a natural wild plant, an introduced species or one of the invasive and reportable species. You will also be able to recognise the ones that are toxic to the touch such as Giant Hogweed which is more common than you might imagine.
A good pocket field guide is the "Wild flowers of Britain and Ireland" by Blamey  Fitter and Fitter ISBN 0 1736 5944 0

One of my favourite pass times on hot summer days is to go Dragonfly and Damselfly spotting.  You can even report your sightings to the British Dragonfly Society on line. As boaters, being out and about in some of the more remote or unusual locations where dragonfly's are to be found, can provide useful and important research information.
A good field guide to Dragonflies is "Britain’s Dragonflies" by Smallshire and Swash ISBN 978-1-903657-29-4
There are some 56 indigenous Dragonfly's and Damselflies plus several other vagrant species the arrive from abroad from time to time, depending on weather and wind conditions.

Later ....

Tuesday 19 April 2011

Not the nine o'clock news.

Police chase ends in capture.
An eight-day police chase across two counties ended peacefully when a suspected canal barge thief was cornered in a canal basin near Wolverhampton. Read more here.

Revolutionary weight loss program requires no calorie counting or exercise.
A revolutionary new diet has been revealed by the Science Department at Weightlookers that allows people to burn extra calories without increasing their exercise amount. Crucially, this diet works better the more that you weigh. Read more here.

New Private Prison Announces 3,000 Openings.
A press release issued by Big House Enterprises yesterday announced the private prison company is looking to take on 3,000 men to serve as inmates at its newest facility, due to open this Summer. According to the release, the positions will offer generous compensation packages that include fully subsidized housing, food, health benefits and access to recreational facilities – a godsend for an area suffering a lack of job opportunities and affordable housing since the recent economic downturn. Read more here.

Metropolitan Police introduce dress-down Fridays.
The Metropolitan Police Service has finally recognised the changing nature of the modern workplace and begun allowing officers to mark the end of the working week by wearing civilian clothes on a Friday. Read more here.

Two Vicars Charged In Fake Marriage Furore.
Two Church of England vicars have been charged after allegedly conducting hundreds of mock marriages intended to aid illegal immigrants defy immigration legislation and remain in Britain. Read more here.

Underground drug ring busted in Hyde Park nursing home.
The popular multi-vitamin Centrum Silver that contains over thirty essential vitamins and minerals has become the drug of choice at the Marjorie Lee Nursing Home in Hyde Park. Read more here.

Boffin rushed in by Police to explain new speeding rules.
Police forces have called in an Oxford don to explain the new speeding guidelines. Read more here.

Five a day is not enough
Nutritionists working for the Government's Ministry of Health and Safety have announced that the current recommendation of five portions of fruit and veg a day is not enough and it should be raised to eight or nine a day. Read more here.


Monday 18 April 2011

Meldrew moment.

Two posts on the blog in one day is something of a record for the crew.

I was up bright and early to prepare myself for a day of bricklaying. I have been looking forward to this for a while. I took the Memsahib to the railway station as she travelled in to her place of work. On my way back I heard a snippet of the news on the radio. It seems that an electrician faces the sack for placing a small palm cross on the dashboard of his company van. 

It rankled me, which is not a good thing to do, especially as I have a lot of time on my hands and more access to the phone these days.

Mr Atkinson, aged 64, is being taken to a disciplinary hearing by his employer where he has worked for 15 unblemished years. Mr Doody, Mr Atkinson's manager apparently displays a poster of the Marxist revolutionary, Che Guevara, on his office wall. The publicly–funded Wakefield and District Housing association, have ordered Mr Atkinson  remove the Christian cross on the grounds that it may offend people or suggest the organisation is Christian. There is no news on the Marxist poster.

According to Marx, religion is an expression of material realities and economic injustice. Thus, problems in religion are ultimately problems in society. Religion is not the disease, but merely a symptom. It is used by oppressors to make people feel better about the distress they experience due to being poor and exploited. This is the origin of his comment that religion is the “opium of the masses”. 
Wakefield and District Housing association claims to be a religious neutral organisation. (does that makes it agnostic if it does not have any affiliation?) Says that allowing Mr Atkinson  to continue to display the cross would demonstrate favour towards Christians. There is no news on what the Marxist poster demonstrates.

In a bizarre arse over elbow stance Wakefield and District Housing association says that employees who adhere to other faiths (other than Christian apparently) are allowed to wear headdresses and turbans. Wakefield and District Housing association said "We do not allow employees to display any personal representations in our vehicles, although they are free to do so upon their person."    Mr Atkinson could lose his job over his alleged failure to comply with company policy, which prohibits employees from displaying personal items in the organisation's vehicles.  
Now, call me old and cynical but this carries with it a smell of a different kind. This is crass stupidity that has been thought through to a monumental degree. Someone working within Wakefield and District Housing apparently has to much time on their hands. Plus their left leg is shorter than their right one. 
My views on religion are - I don't have any. I was brought up in an enlightened Christian household where I was given the choice. I chose not to have any and my wishes were recognised as such. So that makes me a none denominational, fundamental agnostic.  However, I do recognise and support the freedom to have personal beliefs, to practice those personal beliefs and to demonstrate those personal beliefs. Whatever those beliefs are. In the 2001 census I was at that time affiliated to the Jedi Knights.

So this morning I rang Wakefield and District Housing association  to express my displeasure as a none denominational, fundamental agnostic, member of the public and Jedi Knight. I voiced my objection to their employees displaying religious apparel without a red plastic nose.  I pointed out that I found it deeply offensive to me that these particular employees were not sporting a red nose. That this was aimed specifically at me as a none believer in the religious persuasion of the individuals choice. (Exactly the same views as the person who complained about Mr Atkinson's cross) Wakefield and District Housing association it seems did not understand what I was talking about. That's because is was a load of bollocks just the same as the complaint and their actions towards Mr Atkinson.  

Che Guevara was a terrorist, albeit one who captured the tee shirts of a whole generation.  He was a symbol of rebellion and played a leading role along with the Castro brothers in the guerrilla campaign to over throw the Cuban government of the day. Following the Cuban Revolution, Guevara was placed in charge of reviewing the appeals and then organising the firing squads for those convicted during the post revolutionary tribunals. Guevara remains as a revered by some and reviled by others, questionable historical figure.

Che Guevara is a role model to some and a murderous despot to others. Wakefield and District Housing may have managers who have made their choice. However, I have not been able to find out which one it is. 

The bricks are calling. 


Bugsworth Basin

We had a day out with boating friends Ian, Diana and their daughter Bridget. The highlight being a visit to Bugsworth Basin and calling in to the Navigation Inn for some liquid refreshments. We found the Peak Forest canal to be a very picturesque waterway and the arm up to Bugsworth is certainly well worth a visit. Bugsworth is a late 18th century inland port and was associated with a multi-level tramway which was used for moving large quantities of limestone. Bugsworth also had an industrial complex for producing slaked lime. Now that the limestone industry has gone and the tramway has fallen into disuse the ruins of the basin and tramway are very picturesque.

Nb Augers Well
 The weather was magnificent and the trip provided a welcome break from the bricklaying task  at château Wits End. Though it was early in the season it was easy to see why so many visitors and boaters are attracted to this part of the canal system.

The Navigation
There were quite a few narrow-boats on the move into and out of the basin and quite a large collection of local gongoozelers were in attendance. We have already started making some tentative plans to bring Rosie to this part of the canal system. The mooring facilities round the basin are very good and the preservation of the basin is an ongoing project.

We started to walk up the tramway for a short distance into a traffic free area, where we could exercise the dogs to burn off some of their energy. We saw lots of people out walking their dogs and one of the more noticeable aspects was the lack of dog excrement to be seen. It was a pleasure to see people actually clearing up after their dogs.

The IWPS (Inland Waterways Protection Society) have been working on the maintenance of the site for over thirty years.

Poppy and Abbie met quite a few other dogs out for a days walking. Though we did have to warn one boating family that Poppy was trying to figure out how to join them on board. 

There is a small museum in the basin with lots of information about the working life of of the tramway and the canal during the period of the industrial revolution. Later we retraced our steps back to the basin and set off along the towpath towards the Peak Forest canal junction. 

Nb Meg
Soon it was time for some lunch and we headed for another of the local pubs. It was a welcome surprise to find that the dogs were more than welcome to come inside. They were both well behaved and sat quietly in a corner out of the way. The pub also has several dogs of their own who were also well behaved. As there was none of my favourite lamb on the menu. I had to rough it with, roast pork followed by apple pie and custard. Life is sometimes such a disappointment!!!

The Dog and Partridge is well worth a visit, as is The Navigation Inn. In this enlightened time of refurbished pub interiors it was nice to see the  Dog and Partridge like the Navigation had not been redeveloped. The Navigation also has many old pictures of Bugsworth basin in its heyday that are well worth taking the time to view.

Where did they go?
After lunch we retraced our steps once again back towards Bugworth Basin and the gentle exercise and the very warm weather helped to create a good thirst by the time we were back at The Navigation.

The dogs retired to the car boot where Abbie was soon fast asleep. Whilst Poppy did her best to attract the attention of people passing by.

We had a most enjoyable day. Which was rounded off with a visit to see our friends John and Tracy at their place in the Hope Valley.

Here is a selection of other photographs taken on the day.

A busy day on the Peak Forest canal
Nb Inuksuk
Nb Bojangles
Nb Barleycorn
Nb Ning
Nb Bella
  Nb Arboretum 

Nb Dreams

Sunday 17 April 2011

Wanted and unwanted arrivals.

The first of the château "Wits End" Swallows were seen taking a well earned rest on the telegraph wires after their trip back from Africa. It seems so long ago that they left us at the end of last summer. Two broods were raised last year. We saw groups of Swallows returning back north when we were in Spain last month. Soon other birds will be arriving to join the small band of Sand Martins that arrived last week. House Martins and Swift are imminent arrivals and eagerly watched out for. In the warm sun an Orange Tipped Butterfly checked out the garden. I found a host of ladybirds that had overwintered in the log-pile in the garden. I transferred a few into the greenhouse where the grapevine is busy sprouting new tendrils. Yes, spring is here.

The unwanted arrival was in the shape of one of last years juvenile Heron's who has over wintered on one of the local ponds. He/She had the cheek to pay a visit to the fish pond in the back garden. The Memsahib caught sight of him/her sat on the roof checking the menu. He/she  was soon sent packing to browse for breakfast elsewhere. We lost a fair few fish in the pond during the big freeze so the stocks are a bit low at the moment. I also need to do some remedial work round the pond, so a large pallet of house bricks from "Jewsons the builders merchants" is sat on the drive. I know that I shall "enjoy" moving them round the back of the house.

Well move them I did, plus I made a start and laid the first half of the bricks. My back is not used to spending long hours bent over. So, the second half of the brick laying session will have to wait. By way of a rest we are off to Bugworth Basin and lunch in the Navigation. This is also a day out spent in the company of our boating friends Ian and Diana of Nb Katynca.

Abbie topping up on lunch

Poppy on the Tinsley canal towpath

Our latest arrival is wonderful Abbie a twelve year old Fox Terrier. Abbie is with us because she has been having problems with settling, whenever her owner (the Memsahibs identical twin sister) leaves her alone at home. There is a big family wedding being prepared for and the much loved Abbie is feeling a bit abandoned. So she has been calling (forlorn howl and getting stressed) for the rest of her missing pack whenever she has to be left alone at home. 

Poppy our three year old Fox terrier thinks the new arrangement is wonderful and has almost become Abbie's shadow. Actually me and the Memsahib are quite enjoying the company of this gentle old lady in her twilight years. Saying that, the "Old Lady" can get a bit motivated whenever she catches sight of any of our three cats - It seems that she has always thought it one of her duties to see them off the premises. Its become a bit of a culture shock for her to be introduced to  them. Especially Jasper the 28 year old and venerable tomcat. Jasper is a veteran of many encounters with dogs over the years. The fact that he does not run away but gives a boxing lesson has been something of a rude awakening for Abbie and the source of much amusement for us.

The Memsahib has been changing Abbies diet, to fresh prepared food without any preservatives. And "Abster or little bird" as she is also known is enjoying the change. Whenever people get a dog, they get formulated puppy food for the first few months. Later they change over to a normal adult diet. However, few people remember to change the diet again when the dog gets older. Behaviour problems with older dogs can often be caused by preservatives in their diet.

The new top-box for Rosie has been completed and will be taken to the marina sometime next week as we prepare for our Easter cruise. I just need to complete the modification of a waterproof top cover. So what else has been happening - The first of the château "Wits End" house maintenance projects has also been completed. Wits End is now sporting a new set of square section rainwater guttering and renovated soffits 

Yes, I am enjoying retirement, I think!


Saturday 16 April 2011


Saturday in our household is a non day.

This is the day the Memsahib says "do you want to go shopping". This is not a rhetorical question that you can ignore, or a question that you can offer the answer "no" in reply. No, "do you want to go shopping" is more of a statement of fact. So off we go to enter the rugby scrum that is Aldi. I look around and I can see many other male faces with that "resigned to a fate worse than death" look. I fail to grasp why it is essential for me to be in attendance when I would much rather be shoving hot needles into both my eyes. 

Saturday is not even a day for watching football any more, because SKY have slid a large pile of shekels to the cash strapped Football League and the  Football League  are doing their best impression of Uriah Heap in watching out for the interests of the supporters. You would think that Digger Murdock Enterprises would be far too busy listening into other peoples private phone calls anyway.

Which takes me into the murk and mire that is the fragrant realm of celebrities. Who on earth gives a toss about celebrities. This is an industry manufactured by the press to provide "news" to keep the pleb public entertained. Which brings me on to the paparazzi. Look, I don't want a new photograph everyday of the same bulimic tart flashing her knickers as she gets out of a taxi. Look if the truth be known I did not want the picture the first time round. I certainly don't want a picture of the alternative which seems to be one of a silicone reconstructed strumpet with four kids by different fathers. Look, these people are page three mucky picture models not role models.

I suppose I could go and watch a live football match. However, the bile rises into my throat when I look at the cost of a ticket. Money that is being used to pay for under talented but over waged players. I could go down to the local recreation ground and watch a better game played out between two pub league teams. Where the result is not measured in goals but in blood.

Which, takes me on to another pet peeve, the   Premier League dive! I watch a game of rugby and one large Neanderthal gets tackled by another equally large Neanderthal. Up they get and get on with the game. If one Neanderthal gets a broken leg, then he slows down a little. If he gets another broken leg the coach will consider substituting him. Contrast this with the "Premier league" where one player gets a gentle tap and does an writhing impression after executing a perfect forward roll in the pike position. A bald headed bloke in black then shows a series of traffic light coloured cards, but all to no avail. I expect one day I will go to a boxing match and a spontaneous  game of football will break out.

But there is always the alternative of terrestrial TV. Sports entertainment starting with Saturday kitchen. Saturday morning has long been a time for sport broadcasts. It is not a time for a competition to find a recipe for quiche. Quiche for me is a concoction that has an uncanny resemblance to those "pavement pizza" you find about a hundred yards from a kebab house just after the pubs have closed.

Thinking in terms of a regurgitated pavement pizza, as being a short term waste of money. Takes me onto the Royal Wedding. Who cares if the sprog of a philandering - would be king - wants to get married. Here we are, with cash starved banks unable to pay out their mega bonuses. We the tax payer are now expected to be funding a wedding. When my kids got married I paid for it - when their kids get married we all pay for it.

Just what is the roll of "The Firm" anyway. We could easily save millions if we got rid of them. The French and the Russians did it. I know that their form of a retirement plan for the royals was a bit drastic - well for the royals anyway. I hear all this twaddle about how much money the royal family brings into the country. Fergie proved that they were able to acquire the wherewithal to pay for it themselves, with a little bit of her skulduggery I'm sure some mug would be happy to pay. Instead we the tax payer all get mugged. If having a royal family was a good income generator - every country in the world would have one. 

Look at the countries like Australia, New Zealand and Canada. They have a royal family - but it is one from somewhere else, err here actually. So they have all the dubious trappings of the royalty without paying a royalty so to speak. We could do the same. The English Interregnum from 1649–1660 was a republican period in Britain. Cromwell got rid of Charlie I using a variation on the French method. We had a period of ten years without a royal family. We actually managed quite well until some idiot called George Monck went and invited Charlie II back. Now we get to pay for the “sprogs wedding” of Charlie III's ill fated first attempt at marriage.

I think Cromwell got it right and we need to give his idea a second chance. He was so right that we have a statue of him outside Parliament. He was buried in Westminster Abbey for a while, (before we executed him - after he was already dead) we even struck coinage with Cromwell's head on.

Ah! it's time for Time Team, now there is a good alternative, to the celebrity cook-athon on ice. A show staring Edmund Blackadders sidekick Baldrick. Supported by a wild haired Einstein look-a-like, but without the brain. Who in turn is supported by a feather doffing, equally wild haired mole-a-like. Who in turn is supported by a woman with a wrong way round blokes name. All advised by one sort of geek or another. Is it me, or is that the same field in every episode?

Television is not what it used to be. Bring back Mortimer Wheeler and Magnus Pike. Even the potters wheel, the windmill or the tank of angel fish were better than what's on now.

That as they say - is entertainment.

I must go and get my pills.


Friday 15 April 2011

Thought provoking

Two thought provoking items today.

The first one is a petition, the petition that has been raised to challenge the recent increases in pro-rata license fee payments.

The petition reads: The purpose of this petition is to challenge British Waterways (BW) recently increased 6 month & 3 month river licence fees to circa 80% of the annual fee & request they return to the pro-rata charging basis on the grounds the increases are both excessive, discriminatory & undemocratic because existing licence holders were not consulted despite a BW mission statement to the contrary when they could have been as BW hold existing customer contact details.

The petition which is on waterways watch, should be read in full and there is a link provided where you can add your signature if you wish.

Read the full details here.

The second thought provoking item is from down memory lane.

I spend some time surfing the web, my fingers searching out information on this, that and the other. There are some very special sites which are thought provoking and if like me and you are of a certain age. These sites  can bring back memories of a certain period in my life time.

When I view such sites,  I always feel the impact for some time afterwards. The type of day that I have afterwards can vary. One such website is hosted by Life Magazine and is The 100 Photographs that Changed the World. Viewer discretion is needed before viewing the images.

In human terms, for a photograph to have a world changing impact, violence and suffering of the worst kind is often associated with the images. Some of the photographs also highlight the bravery of individuals standing up against tyranny and oppression. Some illicit the nausea that comes with the collective guilt of how on earth did we let that happen.

Here we are, on board, enjoying a comfortable carefree lifestyle whilst cruising the canals. I hope that these images may just rock your boat!

Life Magazine and their "100 Photographs That Changed the World" then sparked a whole genre of copy cat books around this thought provoking theme.  Such as "100 Days in Photographs: Pivotal Events That Changed the World." by Nick Yapp. "Photos That Changed the World" by Peter Stepan. As well as Life Magazines "100 People Who Changed the World: A Photographic History of Those Who Mattered Most" and "100 Events That Shook the World: A History in Pictures from Last 100 Years"

Copies of Life Magazine and their "100 Photographs That Changed the World" are available on for as little as £3.03 plus postage.


Thursday 14 April 2011

A Race Against Time to Find Apollo 14's Lost Voyagers

A Race Against Time to Find Apollo 14's Lost Voyagers.

In communities all across the United States space travelers that went to the moon and back with the Apollo 14 mission are living out their quiet lives. The whereabouts of more than 50 are known. Many, now aging and reside in prime retirement locations like Florida, Arizona and California. A few are known to be in the Washington, D.C. area. However, hundreds more are out there -- or at least, they were. And Dave Williams of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, wants to find them before it's too late.
The voyagers in question are not astronauts. They're "moon trees" Redwoods, Loblolly pine, Sycamores, Douglas firs, and Sweetgum trees that were sprouted from seeds that astronaut Stuart Roosa took to the moon and back. The seeds that later became moon trees orbited the moon 34 times in the Apollo 14 command module.

Demand for saplings outstripped supply, but still requests kept on coming, from abroad as well as home. "They went all over Europe - France, Germany, Spain - we know Douglas fir, sweetgum and redwood do very well in Europe. The British Isles got half a dozen." Unfortunately, any record of who asked for Moon Trees and who got them appears to have vanished.

So do you know the whereabouts of any of the moon trees that were sent to the UK?


Tuesday 12 April 2011


Being a biker, and very keen on self preservation. I do tend to be over cautious on the road with other users and this rubs off into our boating exploits. The Memsahib thinks that I am "a bit of a mother hen" when I occasionally remind her about possible dangers.

On the road, I use the "three phase" looking ahead road scanning method. I visually check behind (called the lifesaver). I then check the road ahead as far as the next vehicle. Then I check into the distance as far as I can see. Then repeat it all again.
On a bike you also have to read the road surface. A pothole in the road, white lines, and metal grate covers when wet can be very dangerous hazards when you are only on two wheels. I also use the police motorcycle rider positioning techniques, with the maxim "never give up safety for position." - When combined with road scanning, (to the uninitiated) it looks like I am wandering about on the road. But I am placing myself in the safest position on the road. However, it my be safest option to be in the wrong riding position such as to avoid a road surface hazard.

Having done some training with the police on a Bikesafe course a few years ago. This started me appreciating just how much better a trained police rider really is. There is a book that is recommended reading for the course.  - Yes I know another book. - It is called The Police Rider's Handbook to Better Motorcycling. The book is easy to understand and very informative. It covers all aspects of riding a motorcycle safely.

Canals and rivers are also like the roads a dangerous places to be. However, if you can minimise risk by using safety techniques, then so-much-the-better. As was said on the safe riding course "complacency comes with experience." So for me safety checking carries over when working through locks - The Memsahib does sometimes get the hump-on if I remind her of the basic safety rules.  We also have a couple of small handheld radios that each of us carries when locking. They have proved very useful for communicating on some of the bigger locks of when out of sight of each other.

I have my own set of locking rules that I try very hard never to break.
  1. The helmsman is in charge at all times.
  2. Always try to be in line-of-sight with the boat helmsman.
  3. Never let the bow or stern come into contact with the lock gates.
  4. Always be prepared to close the paddle(s) in an emergency.
  5. Never open a paddle more than half way before the lock is half full.
  6. Always walk, never run.
  7. Never jump cross an open gap.
  8. Always visually check the cill marker.
  9. Never walk closer than three feet from the lock edge.
  10. Always remove the hand windlass.
  11. Never have your back to the lock.
  12. Always ask before assisting another boat through a lock.
  13. Never walk down the sides of the boat in a lock.
  14. Always use a centre mooring line in broad locks.
  15. Never be in a hurry.
  16. Always accompany a crew member who is new to operating a lock.
  17. Never operate a lock without the safety ratchet on.
  18. Always check clothing will not get caught in the lock paddle mechanism.
  19. Never let a lock paddle drop.
  20. Always do a quick visual scan of the lock for problems before beginning to operate.


Saturday 9 April 2011

200 not out!

I hope everyone is enjoying the wonderful weather. I am doing a bit of outdoor DIY and taking advantage of the sunshine.  The temperature gauge is showing 22C at lunch time... Another hot day...

Well, It comes as something of a surprise to find that I have posted my 200th item into Rosies blog. I never realised how much I tripewrite these days. It's almost like a cricket score - but as I know little about the game, its hard for me to make comparisons.

I think that I am one of the rare breed of "Yorkshire Cricketing Numpty" because I find cricket a fascinating cure for insomnia. But not as enjoyable as several glasses of the malted falling down liquid.

The bit that I find even more surprising about Rosies blog is that the "topic juice" has never dried up. I put this down to reading more and more canal based materials and keeping a list of topic ideas that I pick-up along the way. A quick check shows that I have a further four posts ready for publishing and several more that are partly edited.

If I am not careful, I have a feeling that will be tempting fate on bloggers block.  Bloggers block is a form of brewers droop - that only effects bloggers.
The other thing that helps with the creativity is that I am happy to drift off the main topic and then to find a tenuous link back to boating to justify the inclusion in the blog.  The last posting "Caption Competition" seems to have tickled some peoples fancy. At the last check there were eleven entries from "Anonymous" he, she or they have been a bit busy.

Today's DIY is building a top box for Rosie so that we can keep the roof tidy and to give me somewhere to store the canvas and frame for the pram cover. I have chosen a size of six feet long by four feet wide and I have included a couple of internal, removable dividers.

The Memsahib is down in Birmingham again, (round trip by bus £7.50) visiting daughter (Dr Steph) to assist with the latest round of decorating her new flat. I volunteered to stay home and look after the dog - well someone has it to do.

Easter and the ceremonial unplugging of the electrical umbilical cord from the power point on the jetty  is drawing ever closer. Soon we will be starting Rosies engine in ernest and heading down the Tinsley flight of locks and making our bid for boating freedom.  Yipee.


Thursday 7 April 2011

Caption Competition.

I love Internet based caption competitions, I enjoy trying to think up a good caption. Here is a sample of a typical Internet based caption competition to be found elsewhere of the Internet. Click Here.  So I thought I would run a once a month caption competition, with a canal theme. However, the captions should try and reflect the canal theme. I will be the judge and jury and the prize will be a mention in the ships log.

Here is a sample, with some possible captions.

  • Nest-cafe
  • To kill a Mocha bird.
  • Kencoo
  • Coot Noire
  • Douwe Eggbirds
  • Mellow Birds Instant Coffee
  • Bird mugged at local coffee house.
  • Coot in the act.
  • Dipper mugged
  • Redbull did not quite hit the spot
  • Starbeaks
  • Starpeck's
  • Chickory

 OK, let's get the ball rolling and start with the inaugural Rose of Arden caption competition. The caption under the picture is our entry but does not count.

This is the first caption competition.

  • Does my Ass look big in this?

To submit your caption  Click on the comments tag below.

Monday 4 April 2011

Best of the Blogs (2)

This is the second in an occasional series of what we on Rose of Arden consider to be the "Best of the blogs."

Do you enjoy a good read, well what about a very good, political and cynical read?

Then Diamond Geezer is the blog for you.

With a bloggers jaudiced take on just about everything since September, 2002 right up to today.  I started reading this about six months ago and I am busy working my way backwards in time.  Here is a flavour of the content from August 2009.

"Below Three Mills, the Lea rises and falls. Twice a day, to be precise, because the last couple of miles of the river (along Bow Creek) are properly tidal. Sometimes the water's lapping up to the banks, and then six hours later there'll be barely a trickle creeping across the mud at the bottom of a gapingly empty channel. At such times there's no hope of navigating anything deeper than an origami paper boat, which may explain why the promised flood of waterborne Olympic construction traffic through Prescott Lock has yet to materialise. The final lock on the Lea is at Bow Locks, enhanced by a picture-postcard bow-shaped footbridge which is fun for walkers but a bit of a slog on a bike." Read the rest here.

If you would like to know something of the history and location of the  "Lost Rivers of London" then have a read just here.