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Saturday, November 28, 2009

ON THE WEB

Here`s 3 websites that may be of interest although i would be surprised if the first 2 are not already well known to boaters. Double click on all images on this and all my blogs.

First up is Canalplan, LINK HERE, that i recently used to get an idea of my post Christmas escape from the southern Gd. Union Canal.
Let me explain to non boating readers the problems experienced by Continuous Cruisers such as my self at this time of year. During the winter months (Nov-Mar) British Waterways put in place a maintenance programme of which the greater work is lock gate replacement/repair plus third party requests to close a section of canal, for example railway company`s wanting to work on bridges.


My problem is that i wish to get past some closures some 50 miles from where i intend to spend Christmas with family so i used the above page (use link first) to calculate the time needed to reach the closure. My deadline was 4th January and the calculation using my entries of 3mph, 15mins per lock/swing bridge and 6hrs per day travelling came out at 6 days. So if i left on the 28th Dec i would have a day maybe two to spare. Sounds ok but i don`t like being under pressure to cruise every day and what if it rains, the cold i can handle but rain is a no no NO!
Options are to leave the boat further north and travel to family by train. Something to think about over the next few weeks.
Give the site a try yourself, use say Apsley as a start point and Leighton Buzzard as a finish. Leave the standard settings as they are and you should get 1day 6hrs at 9hours a day, have fun.



Next site is Jim Shead waterways, LINK HERE, that enables a search of boat names listed on several navigation authorities. I typed in the name VALERIE highlighted the BW section and hit find. Result only 1 Valerie is listed so it seems i have a pretty exclusive boat name. Even if you
select` All` the search only brings up 3 boats but only 1 narrow boat......mine. Give it a try by entering the name of a boat name from any blog you read. Enjoy



The last site that might have escaped the notice of a lot of my fellow boaters is Muddy Waters,
LINK HERE, it is the start of a collection of books aimed at children by author Dan Clatcher who was inspired by his grandson to write them. Three books are now available at a special post free price (hit the special offer button top right) with more on the way.

I sent away for the 3 books that arrived within 3 days and below i have opened one up so you can get an idea of the wording for age compatibility with your offspring. Thomas the Tank the boat version is what came to mind when i opened them, why didn`t i think of that idea. Great to
keep on the boat for when the g`children visit. Well done Dan and i`m looking forward to the next set.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

FROGMORE MILL

I have cruised through Apsley near Hemel Hempstead many times intending each time to visit Frogmore Mill the last of many paper mills, Apsley, Two Waters, Croxley among others, that stood along this mixture of canal and river in what is called the Gade Valley.
Frogmore is now run by the Papertrail so perhaps it might just avoid the bulldozers and not end up as another supermarket.
In the picture above can be seen a trip boat with a school group on board coming from the Mill along an arm that once would have been used by work boats carrying coal to feed the steam powered engines that powered the paper making machines or to carry away the finished product. The building behind the boat is Sainsbury`s built on the site of John Dickinsons the paper makers known worldwide.

The 110yr old steam powered paper making machine pictured below now stands silent in the mill the cost of producing paper on it becoming to costly for the dwindling demand but at least it still
forms part of an interesting mill tour and has not been re-cycled into modern day consumables, too much history has been lost already in this area.

Below is another part of the mill where the waste paper is pulped and treated before it was
fed into the paper making machine downstairs. The nice thing about this tour is you get up close to everything with no viewing from behind glass screens or metal barriers until of someone slips on a wet floor but in the meantime Health & Safety bods eat your hearts out.

This is where the original water driven mill wheel was located, well on the left of the brick pier
in fact, the river water seen flowing is the diversion channel that could be used to slow or speed up the wheel by allowing more or less water to flow into the wheel itself. Note also the indentation behind the brick pier and also the hole in the wall on the right this is where the wheel shaft passed into the mill to power machinery.

Also within the mill is a Letterpress print shop that still produces documents for the House of Commons the old fashioned way and memories of my time spent in this section of the print trade 40 plus years ago came flooding back, which reminds me i didn`t mention this is a guided tour and the guide rested his voice through the print dept as i was the only one on the tour.

I mentioned near the beginning of this blog about the work boats bringing coal to the mill and following the tour whilst looking at the exhibits i came across an original book in a display case opened up at entries for the 1930`s.
5/9/1936
Boatman J. Nixon coal from Newdigate Colliery.
Gauged weight passing thru Coventry, Oxford & Grand Union canals was 52 Tons.
Tolls paid were £o-10-6d, £2 -12-0d and £3-15-5d respectively.
Coal un-loaded at Frogmore 52tons-19cwt.
At 13/6d per ton cost to mill was £35-14-10d.

For the younger readers these are pre decimal figures of pounds shillings and pence with 20 shillings to the pound and a shilling being the now decimal 5p with 12d (old pence) to the shilling and the weights are 20cwt to the ton. Ask dad or perhaps grandad.
I can handle the money but millimetres and metres can go back from whence they came i measure in yards, feet and inches, again youngsters ask some old gent like me.


Frogmore Mill like all the other paper mills had it`s own fire dept and this machine still runs and pumps water at many shows around the country.



Below is a short video i made on the tour showing paper making by hand. The chap is using a mould which is a sheet of fine wire mesh with a wooden frame on top called a deckle. The mould is filled with the pulp mix the water drains through the mesh is then tipped out onto a piece of felt and the pile will then be placed in a press. In days gone by the sheets of paper would be hung up to dry but nowadays they are hung in a drying cabinet.
Various things such as re- cycled banknotes, grass cuttings, finely cut foil even coffee can be added to the pulp to give different effects the mix in the video contains wild flower seeds. A lot
of the hand made papers produced here are used by artists.
So press the button on the video and see an ancient craft still being performed in this high speed world we live in ....well you lot live in my world is a lot slower and stress free.

video

Friday, November 20, 2009

COMMENTS

Just going through my E Mail box tidying it up and decided to do a quick blog.

Recently had an E Mail asking about the comment system on the blog asking why the comment the chap made took a while to appear. I shall make this clear by showing, but not in full, below a
sample of some rubbish that is circling in cyberspace attaching itself to sites.



Nice looking lady eh! well her and her less dressed friends arrived via a comment to the blog. Let me explain the workings of your comments to the blog, as you comment the content is held up by Blogger for me to read and ok the content before i hit the publish button also the comment is E mailed to me as below.
_______________________________________________________________

[BOATS AND CRUISING `VALERIE`] New comment on CRUISING WITH NATURE.‏
From: 123 123 (noreply-comment@blogger.com)
Sent: 19 November 2009 14:38:09
To: lesbiggs1948@msn.com
123 123 has left a new comment on your post "CRUISING WITH NATURE:

Great article as for me. It would be great to read a bit more about this topic.
BTW look at the design I've made myself Russian Escort

Publish this comment.

Reject this comment.

Moderate comments for this blog.

Posted by 123 123 to BOATS AND CRUISING VALERIEat Thu Nov 19, 02:38:00 PM

_________________________________________________________________

In reproducing the above e mail i have deleted and re- typed all the underlined words as they provide links, Russian Escort being the naughty one.
So you can see that without some moderation system in place all sorts of trash would be published and i for one don`t want any youngsters especially my g`children to click the links to see..............well you know the content.

Hope that clears things up for you James.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

CRUISING WITH NATURE

As i`ve been taking it easy of late my journey`s have been short but my last move was from Berkhamstead down to Hemel Hempstead a distance of just 5 miles but with 12 locks and a swing bridge to do it became a long day. It was a dry bright day and with stops for a tea breaks and lunch it was most enjoyable.
The trip became a nature watch with time at each lock to watch the many different birds going about their daily hunt for food etc except that is the 2 joggers who were just out for exercise but still came into my nature watching day.
The changing colours of the trees


Mr Heron watches me as i glide by

The little Robin eyeing me up as i fill a lock

Best of all a Kingfisher poses in a tree as i pass by. Now as most boaters will tell you the Kingfisher usually takes off as you approach but this little fella was not in the least bothered and did in fact remain in the tree just changing branches a couple of times even as i reversed back to grab a few pics. Altogether i managed 7 pictures and witnessed him dive into the water coming back to the same branch with a small fish all within 12` of me. A real cool dude!

At another lock some movement caught my eye and Mr Rat lined up for a picture.

Friday, November 13, 2009

AYLESBURY ARM without the boat

During my enforced stay at Marsworth i passed some time walking along part of the Aylesbury Arm. The arm is just over 6 miles long with 16 locks that drop the canal 95` to Aylesbury almost into the town centre.
Built in 1815 it`s cargoes included grain, timber and coal amongst others but as with transport on all the UK canals the coming of the railways slowly but surely took away canal trade.

The Aylesbury arm leaves the Gd. Union main line at Marsworth, far left of the picture below, passing the old works that once produced concrete pilings for the canals. This now derelict sitenow displays notices of planning application for 14 dwellings. The buildings centre to right of picture are part of the BW maintenance yard that includes boaters facilities of water,rubbish and elsan and i hope this site is not part of the development. The picture below taken from the opposite direction shows the BW yard alongside the canal with the boaters services in the foreground and the start of the Aylesbury arm behind the building on the far left.






Standing on the first bridge of the arm the staircase locks, unique on the southern Gd. Union, lead you down past the cement works hidden on the left behind the trees. The difference for those that don`t know and i`m now bearing in mind readers from abroad is these two locks have 3 sets of gates. The section of water you see in the picture is duplicated above the gates seen in the distance and these gates not only form the exit from the first section of water seen but also are the entrance to the second section of water. So you have 2 chambers of water gates each end and gates in the middle, 3 gates 2 chambers against a normal lock of 2 gates 1 chamber. Hope that`s clear but if you`re confused look at the second picture below forget the chambers-gates and look at what lies ahead at the start of the Aylesbury arm.
Six miles of lovely countryside passing the village of Wilstone visible if you look hard but not much else in the way of civilisation.



The arm ends at the basin run by the Aylesbury Canal Society since 1971 who have a lease granted by BW until 2018 although the current landlords are Aylesbury council who have plans for a huge canal side development. They are currently in negotiations with the society to re-locate to a site at Circus Fields to the east of town where another housing project is planned.
On the right can be seen building work already under way with a new theatre building in place and plans for housing and a supermarket etc.......Gas St. Basin comes to mind. Oh well they can`t build over every inch of the waterways so there will always be plenty of isolated quiet places to moor.





















Tuesday, November 10, 2009

ON THE MOVE at last

Yipeee i`m on the move after 31 days. It would have been yesterday but i awoke to a miserable misty damp morning and decided another day won`t do any harm.

The first leg of the journey would be the 6 Marsworth locks that would take me to Bulbourne and the summit level of the Gd. Union Canal where i topped up the water tank as i was not sure how far i would venture as my back might decide to complain but i`m glad to report my brain informs me no complaints were received.

On through Tring Cutting, pics below, with the trees dropping their leaves all around with no wind or sound of any kind it was like cruising through a magic forest with no other boats on the move i could just relax and soak up the scene. Times like this makes me wonder why some boaters moor up for winter spending 2 maybe 3 months in one place and paying rent to BW, the canals this time of year take on a new look and by moving every few days or so to me is a pleasure but then each to their own i suppose and what we all get with this boating life is freedom.

One good thing about my new location is the good Internet signal that means i can download to the blog some pictures of the Halloween w`end spent with some of the g`children.
Lena May celebrated her birthday on the 31st so had some strangely dressed guests to her party as well as brothers and sisters pictured below.





Sister Nicole



The birthday girl


Kiernan & Keira


I noticed on the journey 2 stoppages posted at a lock that are not mentioned on the stoppage list here but are on the online regularly updated list here.
They are Cow Roast lock Jan 6th-22nd and Ironbridge lock(77) 16-20 Nov. This might help someone on the move here on the Gd Union who has already made plans based on old info.

Well just leaves me to say goodnight but before i do, hello to Jaqueline Almdale in the USA thanks for your e mail in response to my asking for overseas readers to make themselves known.