Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Not in my backyard?

After negotiating the collapsed Norwood tunnel, the restored canal can theoretically pick up its former course, through four sets of staircase locks (three threes and a four) at Norwood.  Following on from the closed portal of the tunnel, the canal is quickly in water - but looking at this point more like an ornamental lake.
I will confess that I was quite surprised then to encounter some clearly rather prosperous dwellings
with their gardens backing right up to - and in some cases incorporating - the old locks.
Maybe it will turn out to be easier to build some new locks a few yards to the right...
Although I guess the name of the house is a bit of a clue.

Progressing on our way, the canal continued to be in water on and off...

 Here at Bridge 30 it presented a typical canal scene:
But the towpath was very overgrown with brambles and nettles, necessitating a brief detour (especially as I was wearing shorts) - captured for posterity on the map:
We finally stopped for lunch near Killamarsh, and ate our picnics overlooking a large lake, which it is planned to incorporate as another brief detour from the canal's original line. Unfortunately I was sat there so long I forgot to take a photo.

Only a little while later we left the canal just after bridge 25A -
this disused railway bridge, which Paul was somewhat mystified by my enthusiasm for (but look! Rivets!), and made our way through a housing estate to the unimprovably named Halfway tram terminus, whence we whizzed back to Sheffield at speeds of up to 67.4 km/h (yep, I left the tracking running). Considering it's £2.50 from the station to my stop, this lengthy (18.4 km - I will reset my copy of the map to miles!) run at the same price seemed excellent value for money.

Thanks to Paul for another great walk, and of course, for Fun With Maps.

Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Chesterfield ramble continued

This may take a few more posts, as I've quite a few photos. Hopefully though for once this is actually interesting stuff, as we continue to trace the proposed route of the soon-to-be-restored Chesterfield canal.

The Chesterfield Canal Trust's survey showed, as they has hoped, that the first section of the Norwood tunnel (from the Kiveton Park end) is sound and in useable condition. To get around the blockage though, the canal will come up out of the tunnel about here
and then continue in a cutting that will diverge from the original course.
Here the old course of the tunnel is the broken grey line, and the proposed new cutting outlined with the broken red lines. The broken blue line is the proposed re-opened tunnel section, and the yellow line shows that we walked directly along it.  The map also shows a proposed new marina, which at the moment is doing service as a fishing lake. A few anglers are going to be diasppointed when the boats finally arrive. And here is the marina car park:
Another significant obstacle will be the M1.
Somehow this bridgehole will be adapted to take both the farm track and the canal.
Shortly after the motorway, the proposed detour rejoins the old line, at the other end of the tunnel.
Where I will pick up the trail again tomorrow.

Monday, 20 May 2019

What was, and is yet to be

So, to continue our journey along the present, past, and future course of the Chesterfield canal, testing out Waterway Routes on Memory Map as we go. Memory Map is an app, which Paul uses as a platform for his waterways maps, but can also do all sorts of other things (and comes complete with some other maps that also look like they'll be fun to play with). It costs £15 after a free thirty day trial, but that's a one-off payment. Paul has given me, free, a whole country's worth of Waterway Routes maps (there's probably something in the bloggers' code of practice, if such a thing existed, that says I should declare that), and I am very impressed - not only with how they work and the things they can do, but - even more so - with Paul's dedication in compiling and keeping them up to date, not to mention his extremely patient (non)customer support.

For those unfamiliar with the Chesterfield canal, it is one of - if not the - most successful of current ongoing restoration projects. From the Trent at West Stockwith it is navigable as far as Kiveton Park, where it encounters the long-collapsed (since 1907) Norwood Tunnel.
The new brickwork in the bricking up of it is the result of the Chesterfield Canal Trust making an exploratory survey into this section last year. We got this far with Warrior in 2009, but might not be able to repeat the feat on Chertsey. Although the extremely narrow Stret lock has now been remedied, when we tried in 2011 Chertsey was unable to get through the earlier Morse lock.

Starting at the other end, in Chesterfield, restoration is creeping onwards and there are now just nine miles to go to join the two sections. These are, of course, the nine most difficult miles. Nonetheless, the Trust - which is certainly one of the liveliest canal organisations I have encountered - have recently committed to completing them in time for the 250th anniversary of the canal's opening - a mere eight years hence.

Because of the foresight of the Trust and its predecessors, and thanks to long term support from the local authority, most of the land required for the restoration has been secured. There are, however, some insuperable obstacles, not least the collapsed - and in parts, unstable - tunnel - meaning that part of the joining section will follow a new route. This is where the map was invaluable, both in tracing the proposed new line, and identifying places on it subsequently.
Roughly here, for example, will be the top of two triple staircase locks bringing the canal back to its original line after it has passed under the M1.

I know this because I took the photo on my phone and it therefore has an accurate timestamp of 1157. When I got back, with Paul's help. I downloaded the 'track' of our walk from the tablet into Memory Map on my computer. It's the yellow line. Hovering the cursor over any point on that line tells me the time I was at that location. So by hovering until I found 1157, I could see just where I was when I took the photo.
Waterway Routes map, used with permission.
It also tells me how far I'd walked to that point, the speed I was walking, and how high I was above sea level. Hover slightly differently and it gives the OS grid reference.

More tomorrow...

Sunday, 19 May 2019

Walking a canal that doesn't yet exist

Well, up to a point. On Thursday I walked along a stretch of canal that does, most definitely exist, even if it's a while - very nearly ten years, in fact - since I managed to visit it by boat. Thanks to Paul, I then continued to discover bits of canal that are not navigable, but soon will be again, and even more excitingly, just about trace where there has never previously been canal, but soon will be.

Yes, we were on the Chesterfield. I met Paul at Sheffield station and we caught the train to Shireoaks, where we quickly found our way onto the towpath. Paul had brough along a Samsung tablet with his maps on for me to try out, to get feedback from someone 'who's not good with maps.' On the other hand, I'm not bad with satnav, which is how I was using the Waterway Routes maps with the Memory Map app. I can report that I found it very easy and pretty intuitive to use, and its benefits are not so much in the course of navigation (although this does come into its own when following a canal that doesn't yet exist - and for which the map exists only because Paul has made it) but the things you can do with the data afterwards. But I'm getting things out of their correct chronological sequence, so I'll come back to that later.

Saturday, 18 May 2019

A new route

On Thursday Paul (of Waterway Routes) was kind enough to invite me to accompany him as he re-surveyed another stretch of canal route as he regularly does to keep his maps up to date. I've been too busy to write it up fully yet, but here are a few photos of the route, which Paul hopes to be boating within the next decade, whereas I'm not sure I'll ever get that far ...

Friday, 17 May 2019

Why I love my job

... challenging ... variety ... blah ... blah ... changing lives ... yep ...
But no, why I really love it is that when I'm doing things like drafting the plagiarism and unfair means policy I get to make up stuff like this:

An occurrence will not be counted as a second occurrence if it occurs concurrently with the first occurrence.

Now, that's what makes it all worthwhile.

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

Another week, another riverside...

Sunshine, and a pint of Landlord (yeah, with sparkler, but I didn't want to be churlish).

Hard work, this research business.

Tuesday, 14 May 2019

On not washing

... of clothes, that is, not self.

Reading the Flamingoes' blog about doing the laundry - a mere day and a half into the trip! - brings home how easy it is to take for granted the washing machine and efficient spin drier, and indoor drying space if the weather is inclement, none of which is available on a historic boat, even a big one. Flamingo has a battery bank, and a washing machine, which is more than Chertsey has, and while I enjoyed playing around with the posser on the Trent a few years back, it's certainly easier not having to do washing on a long trip.

So how, you may ask, can I go a boating for a month without doing any laundry? The answer is, firstly, by never throwing away any knickers, and secondly, by redefining 'dirty'.

Chertsey may not have electricity, running water (still less hot running water), or a washing maching, but what it does have is plenty of space. And I have plenty of clothes. However, I have learnt over the years that I actually get through far fewer clothes than I expect.

So, had I gone on a month-long round trip to Hebden Bridge, what would I have taken?
30 pairs of knickers - yes, I do possess that many, if you include the ones that live in the attic and are tactfully referred to as 'boating knickers'.
15 pairs of socks, of varying thicknesses
15 bras - this might once have been the trickiest item, but I have now stocked up on £3.50 'sports' crop tops from Primark which, again, only come out for boating.

These are the things one wears every day, and are thus easily predictable. The rest is a bit more flexible, and weather-dependent, but for this trip I would have taken all the shorts I possess (i.e. 3 x walking pairs, and 2 x lazing around ones), probably four pairs of trousers (2 x walking; 2 x hippy) - plus the emergency quick-drying ones that live on board; 6 t-shirts, 4 long-sleeved t-shirts, 6 sleeveless vests; 2 shirts and 2 fleeces, to be worn in various combinations (and this would turn out to be too many, but which would be superfluous would depend on the weather). 4 nighties (but could get away with fewer if I had to). I usually take a nice-ish jacket (actually always my brown cord Levi's jacket from the RSPCA shop in March, circa 2007) and a skirt, in case of going anywhere posh, but I usually wish I hadn't, because they're the one thing I can't just stuff in the cupboard, and after a few day's boating, anything that hasn't yet been worn counts as posh.  This nearly all fits in the cupboard over the cross-bed.  As things become dirty, they get stuffed in a succession of bags in the side bed.

So, what does dirty mean? On land, at work, it means 'showing any sign - visual or olefactory - of having been worn.' When boating, it's a bit different.

Dirty from the inside is still dirty, exactly the same. Hence the multiple undies. But I do usually manage to give myself a good scrub every night, which sees off the worst of it. Getting food or drink down something - that would still mean I definitely wouldn't wear it again, but fortunately, I mostly manage not to do that. Mostly.

But when boating, the following on clothes do not count as dirt:
  • dust
  • coal dust
  • soot
  • ash
  • oil
  • grease
  • lock wall slime (in moderation)
  • grass stains 
  • lichen
  • sunscreen
  • small quantities of mud
Because if they did, you'd be changing your clothes every hour, for a start. They are accessories. (You may be able to add to the list.) And as Quentin Crisp didn't quite say, after the first two weeks, they don't get any worse. And that is how I manage to go boating for a month without doing any laundry.

Monday, 13 May 2019

Bath in brief

As in Saltaire, this Big Trip featured First Ice Cream of the Year
Finally, I hear you sight with relief, we come to the end of the Bath posts. We are very wrinkled, and the water is distinctly chilly, but here is the final round-up of all the Big Day(s) Out to Bath posts:
First impressions

Temple Meads Station (yes, I know it's not in Bath but it was part of the trip)
Stations in Bath

River Avon
K&A in Bath
Big Woolwich in Bath 
Bath Deep Lock

Holburne Museum extension
Ghost signs
Ladymead Fountain 

The Star
The Old Green Tree

Museum of Bath Architecture

Fifteen posts - if felt like more! And I don'r feel I did it particularly well; they're mostly superficial, photo-led, and not that interesting. Still, plenty of time to practice. Wonder what the next destination will be...

Sunday, 12 May 2019

The path not taken

In a parallel universe, in which we were still going to Hebden Bridge, I'd have spent yesterday chugging up the Trent and Mersey.  In this one however, I walked five miles (in three separate walks), did a big and long overdue Tesco shop (and found my parking space still there when I got back), went to the garden centre (and didn't), washed the ousdide of my front room windows for the first time in two years, tidied the front garden, and festooned it with troughs of geraniums.
I wonder what I'll do today instead of waiting to go through Harecastle.

Saturday, 11 May 2019

The Museum of Bath Architecture

I didn't visit the Roman Baths (been before; have actually had dinner in there, courtesy of the Political Studies Association) nor the Pump Rooms (been before, albeit in 1977), and neither did I grace the Jane Austen experience with my presence, not least because, dear reader, she is one author I have never been able to love, despite numerous attempts.
However, my visit was not devoid of improving cultural influences, because in passing I spotted the Museum of Bath Architecture, and thought, 'that might be interesting', and it was. Not so much the Bath bit, but the architecture bit - or, more precisely, what it had to teach visitors about Gerogian design and building techniques and technologies.

It's only a small museum, and I had to go round twice to get my money's worth, but it was very interesting and I learnt a lot. There were models of houses, builders' pattern-books, surveyors' tools and the tools of various trades,
and a couple of really interesting videos showing the old techniques of plasterwork
and - my favourite, glassmaking - in action.
This started off as a sphere of blown glass, and through being trirled like a boater's mop, ended as a flat circle for a window.

There was a shop, with a good selection of architecture-related books, and knowledgeable and enthusiastic volunteers, making it well worth a visit.

Friday, 10 May 2019

Bath tap

Almost the final Bath pun, I promise. A fabulous - and fabulously inconcruous, now - Victorian drinking fountain.
Rather than copy or paraphrase the information plaque, and pretend that I'd actually done some research, I'll just bung in a photo of it.
There. Now you know as much as I do.

Thursday, 9 May 2019

Plughole end

Perhaps slightly unkind, but too good to pass up - and anyway, those who know me will know that I was very pleased to find this slightly less salubrious part of central Bath when I went for a Sunday morning stroll (and I've actually forgotten what the area was called). But here I found some charity shops, and generally felt rather more comfortable.
I did a double-take when I saw this, then realised the shock was because it was built of red brick.
And here were some fabulous glazed bricks, another weakness of mine.
And waht you can't really see in the photo, a sturdy scaffold shore holding up the building at the back (although not nearly as impressive as the one I saw holding up a facade on the way to Bristol).

Wednesday, 8 May 2019

Found another one!

Another photo for the Sticker Album, that is, whilst idly flicking throug the iPad. If I had a memory I'd be dangerous.
Shirley was spotted on the bank at Bollington Wharf last autumn.
Sixty-two collected, twenty-four still to find.

Tuesday, 7 May 2019

The end of the world

Well, OK, the end of the World Snooker Championship, and the end of my annual seventeen days glued to the TV (and sometimes the iPad as well). I think it is probably true that I watch more TV in those seventeen days than the rest of the year put together; it is almost certainly the case that snooker accounts for more than 50% of the TV I watch in any given year - probably nearer 80% given that I don't even watch University Challenge any more (and I do watch more snooker, thanks to Jim reminding me when it's on more obscure channels).

It's forty years since I watched my first World Championship. I missed a few in the early 2000s, when we didn't have a TV, but I've certainly got back into the swing of it now.  And now, here I am, living in the city where it all happens. I went to the Crucible in 2016 to watch a couple of sessions - a teenage dream come true, apart from the fact that it was the year Steve Davis retired. And I may be going again next year, depending on how one of my Foundation Year Network colleagues fared on the ticket website yesterday morning...

Monday, 6 May 2019

Twist, and stick

We'd left Chertsey tied up on the outside of the marina, in anticipation of leaving this Friday, but as we're now not going to, it was necessary to go back and move her again. I'd planned to go over some time to give her a bit of a clean and tidy up, so yesterday I drove down with Margi and we made a bit of an afternoon of it. About half an hour after we'd arrived, a passing boat tooted to say that we were untied at the front. The rope had broken - it had been rubbing on the fender chain and the movement caused by the previous passing boat had been enough to snap what was left - but what a serendipitous coincidence that it happened while I was actually there. The boat that spotted it very neatly pushed Chertsel back into the bank, and even threw me the other fore end line, which was very helpful.

After that bit of excitement, we got a fair bit of cleaning done, with Margi doing stirling work sweeping up the shedded fibres of blue string while I scrubbed and swabbed. Then we had lunch in the Barlow, before setting off on a very short trip to the winding hole after bridge 71, where I performed a near perfect turn, before returning to tie up for another few weeks on the pontoon.

Sunday, 5 May 2019

Not one historic pub...

... but two. Making up for the complete lack of drinking dens in Saltaire, I managed to take in two in Bath. It was in fact the barman at the Star that pointed us in the direction of the Old Green Tree, the other pub in the centre of Bath to be on the National Inventory. The interior here dates from 1926, and is notable for a ubiquity of oak panelling.
Woodblock floors,
Numbered doors...
... each room had to be numbered for licencing purposes.

And a layout, with two rooms with a 'drinking lobby in front of the servery' in the middle which is apparently 'common in many a northern pub but most unusual in the south' - something I hadn't realised, but which was familiar to me from places like the Bath (that's the Bath, not Bath).

Saturday, 4 May 2019

Beautiful boy

A brief Geoffrey interlude...

Friday, 3 May 2019

My kind of historic Bath

On every Big Day out I like to take in some heritage, some waterways, some railways, and something of local interest... and there's one more thing to add - something that was almost uniquely, and deliberately, missing from Saltaire, my first destination - a pub. And not just any pub, but if I can find one, a pub that's on CAMRA's National Inventory of historic interiors. And boy did I strike lucky in Bath - before I'd even formulated the intention.
My guide, Sol, knew from the blog that I like beer, so although she's not a beer drinker herself, she promised me that her local - less than a minute from her house - was a 'proper old man's real ale pub'. But even that didn't prepare me for what I found when I walked inside.
I sensed straight away that this was something special
A perfectly preserved 1928 layout (in a pub first licenced in the 1760s) with all its separate rooms intact.
On Saturday night we sat in the lounge:
And Sunday lunchtime met in the Glass Room...
... where I noticed the 'remarkable, fold-up slate shove ha'penny board.'
I tried a local Abbey Ales beer, which was behind the bar on stillage, on Saturday, but on Sunday had a fabulous half (well, it was lunchtime, and we had another historic pub to visit) of Bass, and a packet of crisps.

I got chatting to the barman
ooohing and aahing about the interior, and said that presumably it was in the National Inventory. Yes, he said. It's on the cover
And so it was, of their rather earlier edition than mine, which I tried to photograph in the same location as the cover photo had been taken - because obviously, it hadn't changed much.