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Monday, December 22, 2008

DOWN SOUTH FOR CHRISTMAS

Not been much happening of late other than spending 18 days moored in Berkhamsted to get my teeth sorted and after having 3 out and a new set fitted the following 5 days were very uncomfortable. My own fault should go regularly but have a very bad fear not of the dentist but a serious fear of needles in fact I shake violently when the needle comes near but as this was on my list of things to do before .....well you know, so another on the list is to travel on Eurostar amongst other things.
Two days after the dentist i had to move as i was bored to tears, must be the water gypsy blood running through my veins, and made my way to Apsley for a few days then down the Watford area for Christmas with friends and some of the family.
Have already made my mind up that soon after Christmas I will be heading north possibly for a return visit to the Llangollen canal into Wales and after that is anybody`s guess....aaah the freedom of this life.
So my journey nears its end as i cruise under the very ornamental bridge that the Earl of Essex

ordered to be built before he would allow the canal company to cut their canal across his land. Just a short distance past the bridge is Grove Mill and it was opposite this wonderful building
i moored for the night before travelling on to what is now home till after Christmas.
I think next year will be a case of looking at the places in between last years visits as there is so much to see so stopping at some different locations might be a good plan.
Below is one of the canal related Christmas cards i sent out to friends and family ashore and it is re-produced to wish all blog readers a HAPPY CHRISTMAS.


Tuesday, December 09, 2008

PORT of BERKHAMSTED

Port? Well after reading the description in a book it got me wanting to know more and me being me I want to learn about the history of the waterway system I now live on.
So what i found out was that in 1798 the Gd. Jct. Canal (now Gd. Union) had been completed from Brentford to Berkhamsted, the onward connection to Birmingham of the canal was not to be for a few more years, and that meant cargo from around the world being transshipped onto barges could end it`s journey at what was and still is fondly called `The Port of Berkhamsted`.
During it`s heyday the `Port` had 7or8 wharves dealing with cargoes of timber,coal ,grain & chemicals to name a few and with the arrival of the canal boatbuilding began.
Before the canal arrived in Berko as the old boatmen use to call it Berkhamsted was well known for carpentry with one established company, Job East & Son making tent poles amongst other things during the Crimean war and they went on to make 202 lock gates for the widening of the Warwick section of the canal in the 1930`s the company lasted till the early 1980`s. Just as a point of interest the Bulbourne workshops where British Waterways made lock gates was built in 1810 & extended in 1848 so i assume that if at this time the Bulbourne site was producing gates that this amount of extra work had to be given to an outside contractor. Must check it out....I just love this boating life so much to find out as one thing leads to another.



The canal passing through Berko with the town and Waitrose to the left and the railway to the right. The railway, followed by road transport, first put the knife in to kill off canal transport but it was the canal that was used to carry materials to build the railway a bit like you helping build the gallows before you`re hanging. Still at least after 200 yrs much of the canal system is still here for everyone.


Above Coopers quay lower works where Sulphur & Arsenic were the main cargoes to be used in the production of sheep dip. William Cooper came to Berkhamsted in 1840 and on this site was the last of his factories making sheep dip, The site closed down in 1997 after being owned by several different company`s. More about it HERE.


Ravens Lane was a coal wharf now the usual money spinning housing development.




Castle wharf once a busy boatbuilding site and was until recently the home of Bridgewater boats hire base. Planning for 3 houses and 2 flats has been turned down so perhaps this is one wharf that will survive. The tall building to the rear was once used to stable boat horses and the upper floor as warehouse space for boat cargoes.

At the far end of Castle wharf is Alsford wharf once the home of a timber company. The Totem pole is Canadian red cedar wood and was erected some 30 yrs ago. It was carved in Vancouver for J. Alsford timber merchants. The site was sold and developed into flats and as the residents now own the freehold of the site the Totem pole belongs to them all.
This is Knowles animal feed mill now converted into flats

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

WENDOVER ARM RESTORATION

I have cruised down the Wendover Arm in the past but this time decided to have a look at the restoration work going on past the present limit of navigation.
The Wendover Arm was built in 1797 and closed in 1904 due to leakage that got so bad the mainline canal was suffering water loss.
Entry to the arm is at the top lock of the Marsworth flight at Bulbourne but at present only about 1 1/2 miles is navigable and it`s very narrow and shallow in places but with the prop gently turning no problems will be encountered.
Just a couple of bridges and a few houses canalside before passing Tring Wharf and the Heygates flour site then comes the winding hole that looks too small to turn a full size working boat as claimed in the Nicholson guide but they do say nominally for 50` boats. Before the restoration started on this section boats would have to turn here and reverse back to the stop lock just pass the pumping station.
With the restoration it is now possible to carry on past the stop lock where an artificial bank was in place to prevent water loss and cruise into the newly created winding (turning point) hole at Little Tring just through the newly built bridge. The bridge is a concrete construction but has been faced in brick to create typical canal type structure. It was opened in 2001 to replace the original bridge demolished in 1973 due to safety concerns.
So a couple of nights stay at the end of the arm will give me time to walk a bit and check out how the restoration is going.




The winding hole that looks to small to turn a full size working boat as stated in the Nicholson guide.



The stop lockThe new bridge at Little Tring

The new winding hole and end of navigation for now. Where the boats are moored is the route the arm will take to skirt the hill on the left

Some concrete walls in the making and in the distance on the left can be seen some of the lining material being laid to combat water loss.


The same section as above viewed from the opposite direction and now the first bit of canal water.

The pictures above and below showing the huge amount of work that has taken place clearing the canal bed of trees and vegetation and one of the footbridges installed so a public foot path can cross the canal.

In the picture above the canal has been diverted to the left because of the Aston Clinton by-pass that crosses the canal around the bend. The original route was to the right through the trees.
Above the new section of canal on the right joins the original route that is now blocked off on the left. The newly constructed by-pass bridge can just be seen in the distance. The new road is downhill right to left and I assume this was the reason for a new crossing point of the canal to gain headroom. The cutting each side of the bridge was created by the road contractor as part of the build plan.
This is the point the canal passed under the old A41 that was the main road before the by-pass and I only walked a short way past the bridge as my legs were aching.
Click HERE to have a look at the Wendover Arm restoration site.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

WELCOME LITTLE FELLA

Here I am once again the proud Grandad holding Batu second son of Steve & Ozlem. He entered
the world on Thursday last weighing 8Ib 3oz. Congratulations to you both.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The winter season is here and I find myself mooring up longer as i travel but after spending 11 days in one place while I helped Andy/Tina black their boat the urge to move overcome me and i took a short trip up to the Wendover Arm to check out the restoration progress but more on this on another blog.
One thing I have learnt since taking up this life and in fact the lesson was learnt the first winter was no way could I take a winter mooring and stay like some boaters do in one place for up to 3 months but as is said each to there own. A bit windy and none to warm as I set off but with the right clothing a couple of hours on the tiller is wonderful the trees are shedding there leaves after a dramatic colour change and the wildlife is still there with birds easier to spot in the almost bare trees and best of all the smoke rising from my chimney as a log slowly burns telling me the boat will be nice and cosy when i do decide to moor up. Yes there is a lot to be said for moving about in the winter.
It`s during this slower period i have decided to sort out my teeth and those that know me will be aware this was no easy decision as i have a real fear not of the dentist but the needle piercing my skin but the appointment is made for a full MOT that will for sure be a failure and will probably end up costing and arm & leg or maybe that should be tooth & gum.
Heavy frost last night so the central heating went on this morning and although the fire was still sleeping it wasn`t cold on board and it`s nice to get out of the shower into a warm boat.
The picture below is Bulbourne and the old BW workshops where lock gates were once made can be seen through the bridge arch.
The last two occasions I have cruised have been rewarded by the finding of some wood and after
using the chainsaw the logs are ready for splitting to provide some cheap heat. The ones below are i believe pine. Also in the pic can be seen my log storage box i made to keep the roof tidy.





The following 3 pictures were taken at Cassiobury park when the younger members of the family took the old boy out and i just happened across them on the camera.



The pictures below show carp in the canal at Cow Roast lock and although it`s not to clear in the pictures the water here is very clean and in fact closer to the lock the canal bed can be seen some 4` down. the reason for this is the pumping station next to the lock that pumps water up from the chalk beds or Aquifers to use the correct word. So maybe the carp hang around here in large numbers for the clean water.

Friday, November 21, 2008

NEW FUEL PRICES START

Just recently topped up my diesel tank for the first time since the Nov. 1st fuel duty rise and the introduction of the propulsion/rebated fuel declaration started.
My purchase from work boat pair Bletchley&Argus was a top up of 50+ litres and 10 bags of coal even though i burn a lot of logs the coal is used for overnight heat and as an emergency if I run out of logs. At least with 10 bags on board I am guaranteed to keep warm should the availability of fallen trees decline.
The diesel peter on Bletchley told me was 115p propulsion and 72p rebated to be used for generation of electrickery and hotty watery. So what % split do i want to declare Peter asks and I`m thinking i`ll be standing with windlass in the right hand...............

I swear to declare the percentage
all the percentage
and nothing but the percentage
so help me Brussels

but no nothing like that just my signature needed on the invoice. 20/80 was my choice ie 20% propulsion and 80% generation.
Now I based this on the fact that since i last filled up a few days before the start of all this EU nonsense i have used diesel more for elec and water heating than for moving the boat....i think but i`m not gonna sit up all night working it out so maybe next time i might do a 30/70 split if i feel it to be about right.
Some fuel suppliers are only selling on the HMRC recommended 60/40 while others are using a figure based on the 60/40 say 92p. All together a right mess.
Think of this possibility, you fill your tank and say 40% is for propulsion but you do a lot of cruising and suddenly you`ve used that 40% and all that`s left is 60% of rebated fuel! What now do you commit a crime and push on using rebated fuel tut! tut! how could you possibly think a boater would do such a thing, shame on you all OR do you pull the boat along the towpath perhaps miles to the next diesel seller and buy some propulsion fuel. Well i think HMRC should take on the Catholic view and set up a confessional accessed via an 0800 free phone so you could cleanse your bilges and pay the extra duty by debit card.
Anyways getting back on the fuel purchase i paid £42.55 so it worked out roughly 81p a litre on my total of 53 litres. I worked out roughly it cost me 43p per day extra against the last fill up.
Maybe one day i will do some proper figures then maybe i probably won`t because at the end of the day the boat will not move without diesel so just have to grin and bear it, at least i`ve got my bus pass to save some money.
All figures in this document are approximate.
The author will not be responsible for any headaches incurred trying to follow the figures.
The use of cash decimalisation and the word litre is by kind permission of the EU.
No trees were harmed during log cutting.
Just trying to put a little humour in as it`s been a s . . t week with the funeral, Tina/Andy leaving and now Tina rings to say Harley her 20yr old cat has passed away but life goes on so lets be thankful each day we wake.
Nite all


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

GOODBYE FRIENDS

Monday was the day that I sadly said farewell to my friends Andy/Tina on NB Ytene as they are cruising to.........where they start work in a weeks time. We have been cruising together on and off since May 2006 after meeting at the Crick show and thinking as i type places coming to mind are Stratford, Llangollen,Wigan,Skipton, Chester, York and a hundred others in between.
Their reason for taking up boating, and I`ve heard many from boaters on my travels, was a change of lifestyle to slow down the pace of fast land life and why not a bit like someone taking extended leave. Anyway like myself they`ve not been a burden on the taxpayer these past years and have now decided to work for a while at a canal based site so the lifestyle will still be there in the background. Good luck to you both and I`ll call in as i cruise past.
Before Andy/Tina departed we spent the w`end blacking `YTENE` and she is pictured below coming out of the water resting on two trolleys being towed up into the shed. It was Friday first
thing and the idea was to jet wash off the hull and rub down the roughness of the waterline where the air and water causes most corrosion. Below is Andy supervising me and laughing as i remember when i mentioned how wet i was getting.
It was soon cleaned off and rubbed down and all that remained was to have another one of the
endless cups of tea supplied with a bacon sarnie by Tina and wait for the hull to be dry enough for the first coat of black bitumen.
With a coat on Friday and a second Saturday and Sunday an extra bit along the waterline it was done and all that remained was for Andy/Tina to finish the gloss on the gunnel`s.
Sunday night I was taken out for a Tai meal with wine and beers to follow but what made the evening was the company of them both. Thanks guys it was a magic evening.
After Sunday it was hard getting up on the Monday not hung over but the thought of `YTENE`


going back in the water and my friends sailing away. So there she goes back down the slipway
out under the marina bridge, and she does look smart eh. Below the hardest picture I`ve had to
put on this blog as it is of `YTENE` cruising away.
Bye for now, will pop in on you both as i cruise early next year.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

TRING MUSEUM

Thankyou for your comments on the last post. I won`t be publishing them as I regard them as personal messages to me.
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As you might gather from the title of this blog the Tiger pictured last time is an exhibit at the Tring Museum or to be precise "The Natural History Museum Tring" .
This collection of stuffed mammals,birds,reptiles and insects was known as the Walter Rothschild Zoological Museum and in 1937 Mr. Rothschild gifted the building and the collection to the nation.



During his lifetime he accumulated;
  • 2,000 mounted mammals
  • about 2000 mounted birds
  • 2 million butterflies and moths
  • 300,000 bird skins
  • 144 giant tortoises
  • 200,000 birds' eggs
  • 30,000 relevant books
The museum also houses what is believed to be the finest ornithological library in the world housing some 75,000 books. The library is open to the public by prior appointment.
There are 6 galleries in the museum but one is closed at the moment for refurbishment with another partly closed for storage of items while work proceeds.However don`t let this put you off visiting as there is still a lot to see and they have provided windows to view part of the closed gallery so at least some of the exhibits can still be seen.

The museum is open daily 10-5 except Sunday when it is 2-5. I lived in the same county as the museum for many years and never got around to visiting not that i wasn`t aware of it just never got around to a visit. For the last 3yrs it`s been on my to do list as I was reminded of its existence by a guide to tring in the Nicholsons canal guide.
A 35 minute walk past the reservoirs at Marsworth and over the Wendover Arm is one access for boaters or a 10 min bus ride from the stop opposite the anglers retreat pub.
If you`re not a boater but interested in canal life Marsworth is a very popular place with its flight of locks, Wendover and Aylesbury Arms at each end, 3 reservoirs, plenty of moored boats and 3 pubs. So a good place for a day out combining the FREE entry museum and a walk around my world of water.
So I will leave you with a few more pictures and once again thanks.



Sunday, November 09, 2008


This page is dedicated to

DAVE

who passed away early this morning

I`ll miss you bruv

Thursday, November 06, 2008

ALONG THE WAY

Leaving Cosgrove on the offside the Teepee pictured below which i was told by a residential boater along this stretch is lived in by a single chap, evidently it`s the real thing, an artic tee pee, not just a copy and he even has a fire going inside the smoke exiting at the top just like the red indians you see in the cowboy films.

Coming up through the Soulbury 3 locks we encountered a long delay and upon walking ahead
it became clear what was wrong. Two boats were ahead of us one going through all 3 locks and the other wanted to wind (turn) and come back towards us. Now this is an official winding hole so he is not doing anything stupid but un-fortunately the pound was low on water and he went aground. If you look on the right of picture the normal waterline can be seen on the wall.
The solution was easy all that had to be done was let the water flow through the lock behind where i`m standing taking the pic and fill the pound but the other boat was still in the lock and owing to only one paddle working and gates leaking it was taking for ever to get the boat out of the lock so we could open the paddles at the other end to fill the pound, 35 mins delay but that`s boating folks.


One of the long term moorers along this stretch had gone to a lot of trouble making this tin man from scrap metal and below the Heron decided to pose as i cruised by, usually as you approach they fly off and land ahead of you only to take off again as you catch up when the next take off takes them over a field to land behind you.
The picture below is the Wyvern holiday boat dock at Leighton Buzzard and passing this way last year there were 23 boats moored 4 abreast leaving just enough room to cruise by. As you can see
just one boat is moored but on reflection I think it was school half term so the fleet was all out on hire.

Just recently i either watched something on TV or read in the paper about computers, well the jist of it was we are sitting at our PCs me typing this then you reading it and thinking not much power is being used so we are only making a tiny carbon footprint but what I didn`t think of was the servers - you know the big computers the internet links to- that are running to supply our net needs and the amount of power that`s used to cool them. The small rooms housing these servers are the size of football pitches with hundreds of them squeezed in with large air con units cooling the room. Anyway the interesting point of this story is a company is leasing large warehouse`s in Iceland, country not the shop, to house their servers and they reckon they will re-coup the cost by a dramatic reduction in cooling costs.
So here`s me sitting thinking how good i am living on board not causing to much of a problem to the world.............

Anyway below is a preview of the next blog

Monday, October 27, 2008

COSGROVE/FENNY STRATFORD


On the last bog i mentioned waiting for post at Blisworth and below is what i was waiting for andalthough it looks like police mug shot it is in fact as you senior readers will know my bus pass. So far it has saved me £15 in fares which will get swallowed up by the rise in diesel tax on Nov 1st, oh well as Mr Tesco says "every little helps" maybe a good government follow up would be the scrapping of the TV licence for land based pensioners.

Left Cosgrove, NB Valerie above on right, and cruised down to Wolverton passing on the way the old railway works (below) most of which seems to be transformed into housing. I did notice though that behind the canal side walls large steel girders were being installed so I assume that the developers are having to keep the original walls and convert the insides to flats.
The Jam `ole run passed whilst moored at Fenny Stratford returning to Braunston and the picture below shows Corona.
Amazing what people throw away but as the saying goes one mans rubbish is to another gold and
these brasses are just some of a box full I found when i dumped my rubbish in the bin. In all there was about 30 and after a good clean and some new straps there was enough to share with my friends Andy/Tina on `Ytene`, yes Tina i know you cleaned your own, what was left kept 2 of the grandchildren Jack/Jordan busy polishing on a visit to grandad, hope you two have hung them up in your bedrooms.
Before i go Congratulations to Lesley&Joe on the launch of NB Caxton and you can see pictures on their blog HERE.