... feminist, atheist, autistic academic and historic narrowboater ...
Likes snooker, beer, tea, rivets and solitude, and is strangely fascinated by the cinema organ.
And there might be something about railways.

Tuesday 31 January 2017

Books I read in January

It's time to resurrect the never-popular 'Books I Read In...' feature. January started with four books in as many days - nearly four in three days, in fact - such is the nature of a rainy New Year's Day.

Ian Rankin Rather Be The Devil
Reliably good latest Rebus novel. Can't say too much about it - it was my Christmas present to Jim and he hasn't read it yet!

Cathi Unsworth Without The Moon
Police procedural set in WW2. Didn't live up to the gushing cover quotes; rather dull.

Tim Footman Leonard Cohen: Hallejulah
2009 biography I suspect hastily reprinted. Much thinner in every sense than Sylvie Simmons exhaustive 2013 tome; more of an annotated discography. Occasionally slightly amusing, but you can't really respect someone who dismisses 'Sing Another Song Boys' and 'Closing Time' and instead raves about the insipid 'Bird on the Wire' and someone else's version of 'Hallejulah'.

Sabine Durrant Lie With Me
I finished the Cohen biography on the Thameslink, so I had to quickly find something at St Pancras for the rest of the journey, so grabbed this in Smiths. Pretty good psychological thriller; if I saw the ending coming a mile off it's probably only because I read far too much of this sort of stuff.

B A Paris Behind Closed Doors
Another psychological thriller. Good plot idea, but could have been handled so much better to create real credibility and suspense.

Trevor Yorke  Britain's Railway Architecture and Heritage
I saw this on the second-hand shelf in Sebastian's shop and demanded it for Christmas. He forgot, but I got it for new year. Lovely photos, very helpful drawings, and plenty of material for wistful longing - it taught me more about engineering and architecture in a few pages than many much longer books have ever managed. 

Liz Nugent Lying in Wait
Now this is much more like it on the psychological thriller front. Using multiple viewpoints to really good effect, complex, engaging characters, and a genuinely enexpected, but still credible ending. Excellent stuff.  

Scarlet Thomas The Seed Collectors
Cleverly written, occasionally funny but ultimately tediously weird family saga.

Ann Cleeves Too Good to be True
Essentially a short story (a 'quick read') which suffers from the same as all short detective stories - no time to do more than skim the surface of character and crime before wrapping it all up neatly.

Kerry Wilkinson Down Among the Dead Men
Competent, un-gripping Manchester gangland tale - no sympathy for, hence no involvement with any of the characters. The second book I've read this month that makes it seem implausibly easy to incapacitate a Very Dangerous Person by persuading them to drink whisky laced with ground up pills.

Susan Hill The Small Hand
Ghostly novella. Nice writing, but the plot did nothing for me.

Rose Tremain The American Lover and other stories
I used not to like short stories, until I took a course on them and tried to write a couple. Now I really appreciate the skill and the artistry required to create a perfect small sketch rather than a great sprawling canvas of a novel. And these are wonderful examples of the craft.

David Brookfield The Skillful Teacher
You may surmise - and you would be correct - that this was one book I wasn't reading for fun. Nonetheless, as far as the genre goes (and it goes pretty low) this was good - lots of useful practical ideas and hardly any pseudo-theory.  

Andrew Marr Children of the Master
Enjoyable political romp, runs out of steam a bit towards the end. 

M.J. Arlidge The Doll's House
Workaday, unthrilling thriller. 

Books I didn't read in January
Tom Bowyer Broken Vows: The Tragedy of Power
I was looking forward to this; no fan of Tony Blair, I was anticipated a well evidenced, forensic dissection of New Labour policy from this biographer with a reputation for mercilessly skewering his subjects. But it read like the worst kind of Daily Mail journalism, and I couldn't stand it.  

Sunday 29 January 2017

Eighty today

Today is Chertsey's eightieth birthday.

At least, January 29th, 1937 was the date recorded for her delivery to the Grand Union Canal Carrying Company, so she was probably finished a bit before then. The real date to celebrate would be the day she first got her bottom wet, but there's no way of ever knowing when that was.

I really liked the idea of holding a party to celebrate at Chertsey's new local, but the chances of getting enough people to trek out there on a freezing day in January seemed pretty minimal. So instead we - Chertsey and I - will hopefully have a joint bash six months hence, when I won't be eighty, but will be having a birthday of some sort, give or take a day or two.

Anyway, Chertsey will be getting lots of birthday treats over the course of the year - blacking, engine tweaking, and a trip to Walsall to name but a few. And, hopefully, a trip up the Ashby around late July.

It's a bit sad that she's spending her big day alone though. If anyone at Alvecote is reading this, nip round the back of the Barlow and give her a pat from me.

Friday 27 January 2017

The joys of planning and the delights of anticipation

I am the sort of person who does like to plan things. Sometimes unexpected nice things happen, and when they do, that's great. But nice things happen far more often if you plan them and set about making them happen. I also like to plan because I'm not a massive fan of dealing with the unexpected. If it's bad, I like to be able to prepare for it, and if it's good, I like to be able to look forward to it.

Of course, a certain amount of planning goes into a boat trip - but that's mainly around deciding the route and making sure there's enough time available. Occasionally we'll co-ordinate meeting up with someone, but we tend not to have an itinerary of things to do and places to see en route because there isn't the spare time available (much as I like the idea in principle). And we generally tend to be travelling to an event which has already been planned and organised for us. Nonetheless, I have in the past been quite remiss in not making the most of opportunities to see and do interesting things, having been entirely concerned with getting there in one piece. Hopefully I can remedy that a bit on our putative summer trip up the Ashby, and also maybe at Easter, to an extent.

So I am very much enjoying planning my trip to Saltaire. It's easier, because there's only my time to consider (and my interests too!)  I have a date in mind not too far off, and am pulling a few ideas together of things to do when I get there...

Wednesday 25 January 2017

Yes, it's destination number 167

I don't suppose that anyone who's interested needs this final clue.

My first Random Town visit will be - as Halfie correctly, but cryptically, surmised - to Saltaire, a Yorkshire mill town with a difference, on the Leeds-Liverpool Canal. I visited last July, on our works outing. Most of our time then was spent in the massive Salts Mill development, exploring its shops, galleries and cafes. I went for a little wander around the village (is it a town, or a model village?), which was quite an odd experience - I recall it as a small island of well ordered picture-box pretty stone houses (a three bedroom one will set you back a quarter of a million) surrounded by a sea of untidy, unruly deprivation - into which one had to venture to get anything as mundane as a bottle of coke and a bar of chocolate.

I believe - please correct me if I'm wrong - that the boat Saltaire is the only one of the large motor boats to exist in two halves - i.e. that there are two Saltaires. This is more common with the 'small' boats, and particularly of course with butties, where the stern end becomes the fore end of a new boat (although I can't off the top of my head think of any large GU butties this has happened to).

I shan't visit this weekend, as I need a bit of time to plan and think about it, and anyway, I have a stinking cold. But I shall go soon. I'm very much looking forward to it.

Tuesday 24 January 2017

The Big Town Tour - first stop

As luck would have it, the first Big Town selected at random is within easy striking distance of Sheffield. I can get there in an hour and twenty minutes for £12.50 return - it'll probably be the cheapest trip of the tour. It has a unique and famous industrial history, and it's on a waterway - one I've not boated on and possibly never will.

 By amazing coincidence, I visited there last year - and for the explicit purpose of visiting too, not to do or buy anything, or to see anyone, but just to visit the place. It was well worth it too. I've checked, and I didn't blog about it at the time, so I could just cheat and post some of the photos from that visit (and I probably will, but honestly, because I have some nice ones, and it was sunny) but one thing I didn't see was the station. This one did fall victim to Beeching - but was resurrected nineteen years later. So next time I have a free weekend I'll go again. I wonder if these two things I didn't buy but wished I had will still be there.
 I thought £12 was a bit steep for an empty tin, but this seemed much better value. I was kicking myself even as I walked back to the coach for not grabbing it.
Of course you can guess where I'll be going... If not I'll post a really heavy clue tomorrow. The fates have been kind with their choice of first stop on my tour.

Monday 23 January 2017

Touring the Towns

DG had his Random Boroughs, in which he picked a - guess what - random London borough from his special jam jar to visit and write about. His latest random visiting project is the 'Herbert Dip' - the fifty two putative boroughs originally recommended by the Herbert Commission in 1960. While DG takes his randomised journeys in and around London, he travels further afield pretty frequently too - today he writes about Middlesbrough, for example.

Now, I would like to see more of this country. Until fifteen or so years ago, I'd hardly seen any of it, isolated in the little corner of the south east that for so many people is England. Since then, thanks to a couple of jobs I've seen a few bits of West and South Yorkshire and Derbyshire, and thanks to boating, quite a few places strung out along the inland waterways. But there's more, so much more. I have never, for example, been to the Lake District (not that my proposed project will help with that), although I did once live in a Windermere Road.

I like railways. I am fascinated by the fact that the large Grand Union boats were apparently named after towns randomly selected from a railway gazetteer. I have often idly thought about visiting the stations of those places - and some of them are no longer active of course; some may not even still exist.

Yesterday I came back from Newport (Gwent) on the train, and instead of changing as I usually do at Bristol Parkway, I changed at Temple Meads - the first time I've been there. It looked like a very fine station and I was right down the end of the platform about to take a photo when my train came in. Whilst on the journey home, a thought began to form in my mind...

What if I set my favourite random number generator to pick a number between 101 and 186 (we'll stick with the motors for now) and plan to visit the town or station after which that boat was named. It might not be practical, of course, to visit, say, 115, 128 or 165 on a whim, but I could still research them and plan a fantasy trip. Plenty of others though would be a realistic weekend outing. Many of them are places I've already been (103, 105, 111, 112, 113, 116, 120, 121, 122, 143, 146, 148 (of course!), 156, 160, 163, 167, 168 (many times), and 175) but in many cases it was a flying visit and/or a long time ago. Most likely it wasn't by train, and I didn't photograph the station, let alone write it up for the blog. So any one of them would be worth a second visit, plus there's a nearly 80% chance of picking somewhere I've never been.

At the very least it will give me something to write about (you may have noticed there's been a dearth recently). I'm thinking that any visit and research would have a strongish railway focus, looking also at any waterways connections and industrial history. So once I've posted this, I will pick my first random Big Town (some of which of course are really quite small) and see where it takes me. There's a good chance it will be somewhere in England - seventy seven of them are - but it could be one of the seven in Scotland, or the one in Wales, or even the one in Northern Ireland.

So come back tomorrow to see where the Big Town Tour will take us first.

To put you out of your misery, a key to the mysterious numbers may be found here.

Saturday 14 January 2017

Rare archive footage...

Apologies to those of you (you know who you are) who read eighteen page CWF threads and will already have seen this...  Courtesy of David Gunby (of Barrow) - the Fuhrer proves to be surprisingly perceptive.

Friday 13 January 2017

Back to the Black Country

Everyone's talking about their boating plans - it must be that time of year. It doesn't look as if there will be a big trip for us this year, for two reasons - firstly, whatever we do will have to be fitted round Chertsey's docking - both for blacking and for a look at the engine; and secondly, because I can't take big chunks of time off work for the foreseeable future. I seem to have acquired a lot more responsibilities (not that I'm complaining about the money that comes with them), including being responsible now for exams, including exam boards which very inconsiderately take place in June and August (I'm not too bothered about the February ones).

Having boated late into the year last year (finishing at the beginning of December, in contrast to the previous year), I'm now itching to get started as soon as possible this year. Easter seems like a good time to start, and we were planning to go to Ellesmere Port. A habit has grown up over the past decade or so that in addition to the regular Easter gathering at the Port, in alternate years HNBC organise an alternative, more southerly, gathering for people based further south. Thus 2014 saw us at Foxton, and 2012 Droitwich - we (that is, HNBC) usually try to tie this into an anniversary event, or campaign of some kind. In 2016 it was the Basingstoke, but because of the need to travel on the Thames, and the possibility that it might be too floody at Easter, we went in the summer. So, the HNBC alternative Easter Gatherings tend to be in even-numbered years. So I assumed there wouldn't be one in 2017, and thus planned to hit the Port for only the second time with Chertsey (I think we've been three or four times in all).

But it appears there has been a bit of a mix up, which I can't guarantee I've fully got to the bottom of, but this is what I've pieced together from what was announced at the HNBC November 'social'. The Boat Museum at Ellesmere Port are celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of their first gathering, or their fiftieth gathering, either this year, or next year. At some point, it was believed that this would be in 2018, so HNBC decided not to organise an even that would clash with it. They therefore organised an alternative event for 2017. It then turned out that the Boat Museum are having their celebration in 2017 as well. So we have the clash of Easter Gatherings that we set out to avoid. 

This leaves us faced with a difficult choice: should we go to the Port, as originally tentatively planned, or should we abandon them for the heady delights of Brownhills and Walsall. Well, we have decided on the latter, for a few reasons. The Port will still be there next year, and in future years (obviously, Brownhills and Walsall will be too, but the thought of company renders them a lot more attractive. We might even get to visit Walsall Art Gallery before it closes). Brownhills is nearer our Alvecote base, by quite a long way, meaning that we won't be so tight for time. Hopefully quite a few fellow-HNBCers will be going as well. We even hope to take a brief detour along the way to meet up with the Princess Lucies. And... we get to travel a new route, never previously traversed in Chertsey, not indeed by me - the dreaded (not least by Jim) Bottom Road.

Wednesday 11 January 2017

The Garden Bridge

I don't know what all the fuss is about over the proposed, massively expensive, potentially doomed, Garden Bridge over the Thames.

It's already been done, at far less expense, on the Coventry Canal. Can't those metropolitan elites think of something original?

Monday 9 January 2017

Back in time for a bit more boating

Following my celebration of a thousand Chertsey posts, I thought I's continue counting backwards in hundreds through the posts on my previous blog, Warrior.

So, at -100, we have a brief, unillustrated, record of a day I often recall, with some small degree of pride - the day I steered through Islington tunnel thirteen times. This, in July 2009, is surrounded by posts detailing the excitement of Chertsey's purchase, though none of them fell on the magical 100 mark.

2009 a top posting year, with 267 posts, so it's little wonder that they weren't all exciting. Thus at -200 we have a brief quizzical look at county councils' logos. (I am well aware that I mentioned a county council in yesterday's post.) I wouldn't even bother clicking on that one, to be honest.

So let's hurry on to post -300. This edges us back into 2008, and my brave attempt to create an advent calendar with a Christmas-themed quote for each of 24 randomly selected photos. This one in fact is worth a look - it represents one of my finest sand-sculptural hours (which actually took place in July 2007, my heavens, nearly a decade ago.)

Back to -400, and still no boating. This one sees me at a conference. Extraordinarily, it appears that Boris Johnson was there and gave a speech. And that I had been at an even where Ken Livingstone spoke the previous week. This is extraordinary because I have absolutely no memory of having seen wither of these performers live, and had you asked me, would have sworn I hadn't. It just goes to show how worthwhile it is keeping a blog.

Post -500 features the Bill Fen pumpout. Hooray, a popular boating theme at last. And in the comments Nev introduces us to the concept of 'poking the pyramid'. You may of course rather wish he hadn't. Of course we haven't got a pumpout any more, dumpthrough or otherwise, and neither has Warrior. And I have still never emptied a toilet. I was gearing up to, recently, but the boat was tied up in such a position that I couldn't have got it off and across the other four boats between me and the bank.

Hooray! Post -600 finally sees Warrior on its travels - we are in March, in August 2007, en route to the IWA National at St Ives. I heard the other year that the weeping willow we planted at Floods Ferry before we left in 2005 is no longer there. The cat who attached himself to us at about the same time is still around though.

A return to dullness with -700 - discussions of Warrior's paint, and the painting of the engine - but with no pictures. But I do remember how exciting it was - and how cold - painting Warrior's engine as it sat on a trailer inside a shipping container at Stretton. Warrior has been through a couple of different paint schemes since then, but I don't think the engine has. Ironically, of course, Chertsey's engine is the same colour, Quite possibly the only two engines that colour (muscat) on the entire waterways system, and we've had both of them.

Finally, post -800 (you will recall that there was a total of 859 posts on the Warrior blog). And it's... the start of the original rag rug that still sits on Chertsey's back cabin floor. Others have come and gone, but this first one, the heaviest and densest of them all, endures. I can't believe that it is now over ten years old. It's still doing a brilliant job.

And there we have it. More interesting posts are to be found either side of most of the featured ones, but if you set yourself arbitary parameters you just have to take what you're given.

Sunday 8 January 2017

Wetton muddy walk

I went for a walk with my Ramblers group today for the first time in ages - looking at my records, it appears not sinec June 19th! So a more gentle start might have been called for than twelve miles with lots of hills.

The description of the walk said: 'From Hartington, to Wolfscote Hill, cross the Dove, over Narrowdale Hill to Wetton. Walk north between Wetton Hills to Ecton Hill then back over fields to Hartington.' Which I guess is what we did. The interesting thing about this walk was that it was taking advantage of access land rather than sticking to footpaths. So we covered areas that many of even the most seasoned members hadn't previously walked, and for those who like to collect them (and there are such people of course, two of whom were on the walk), there were not one, but two trig points.  From my perspective, the focus on access land meant there were a lot of muddy fields. Oh, and did I mention the hills?

At the top of Wolfscote Hill, we were told that there were stunning views... on the day in September when the leader had recced the walk.
Down in the dale, things were prettier

This being the White Peak, there was lots of limestone (my direction of causality may be a bit awry there).
Lots of people like it, but I prefer the nearer, grittier, bleaker, and - significantly - less slippery Dark Peak.

The start point of the walk was a twenty five mile drive from Sheffield, but it was still slightly disconcerting as always to find ourselves on paths (we didn't avoid all of them) maintained by Staffordshire County Council.

Saturday 7 January 2017

Squared off

My first crochet project is finished! Seventy-two squares, begun in September and the last one finished on Christmas day, now all joined together, finished off round the edge, and heaven knows how many ends tucked in and knotted off.
And I must say I am pleased. It's not perfect by any means, but one thing I have discovered is that crochet (at least on this scale) is quite forgiving. It's certainly satisfying to have made something so large. I don't know what the next project will be. The ultimate aim is lace, but I don't think I'm ready for that yet. I need to find whatever is the next stage of working towards that. Whilst practising the melodeon too of course.

Friday 6 January 2017

Hundreds and Thousands

Well, it's taken just over seven years to get here, but this is Chertsey's 1000th post!  Hooray! Throw the streamers and release the balloons!

I thought I would celebrate by looking back at every hundredth post since this blog started on January 1st 2010. And in order to maintain some semblance of suspense, I shall do so in reverse order, starting with post number 900, which, in some way appropriately, marked the tenth anniversary of starting my first blog, nbWarrior. This was posted on April 1st last year, and was post number 1,759. In it I hinted at exciting new developments to come, trailing what was to become my new Rivetcounter blog. If you want to know the simple reason why Rivetcounter never took off, it's this: I couldn't deal with the template. I could never get it to look or behave how I wanted it to, especially on iPads. So I stuck with the tried and tested, and very dated, ten year old Blogger template that I've been using ever since I started that Warrior blog. Rivetcounter has now become a repository for hostiong photos that I want to hotlink to Canalworld. Sad, in a way, especially as it's such a brilliant title and I couldn't believe it wasn't already taken. I believe Sebastian has snapped up the Wordpress equivalent too, just in case I should ever want to have another go. I am of course still trying, and still failing, to emulate the great Diamond Geezer.

The 800th post is also the first post in April - two years earlier. 2014 and 2015 were the thinnest posting years, and in fact 2015 evades having a commemorative hundredth post at all (2010, 11 and 12 have two apiece). This post, about the relative merits of different stoves, demonstrates a rather annoying occurrence: all the photos posted with Blogpress over the years have disappeared, so for more than one of these commemorative posts, you will have to exercise your imagination. This is where I raved about the Origo stove. It's still going strong, and it's still great. It must have paid for itself many times over since 2014 by making cooking a meal on the boat an easy alternative to going to the pub.

Post 700, in May 2013, saw us 'ready for the off' - ready to set off for Langley Mill for the start of an epic year's boating. I seem to recall that we had a great time there, with half the Holymoorside Brass Band in the hold. As for the trip to Watford, Jim has certainly never forgotten it. It is also responsible for Alan Fincher buying Flamingo, so he probably hasn't either.

Amazingly, the 600th post occurred exactly one year earlier, in May 2012. This was while we were living on Bakewell, and I garnered  a healthy eight comments by asking the good people out there to identify the non-flowering plants growing on the mooring. I now know what not to eat.

Number 500 sees us immersed in the machinations of the CRT elections, when CRT was still a novelty, in January 2012, and I was still the press secretary for HNBOC, which was still HNBOC. Willow gets a mention, as escapologist. He is still around, poncing off the little old ladies of Newhaven, and must be at least fourteen by now. Apart from the fighting injuries which he still regularly incurs, he's looking well on it.

For post 400, we're back in 2011, and we're in Burton-on-Trent enjoying a couple of pints in the Coopers' Tavern - Bass and Jaipur in my case. Now I must be getting old, because I eschew Jaipur these days because my head can't take it. Back then, Burton was only associated in my mind with beer - we had yet to meet two of the town's finest natives who have become brilliant friends, met not through boating, but through the new job that I was over a year away from getting.

Still in 2011, in January, post 300 found us hopefully - but nervously - anticipating our escape from Great Haywood, having found ourselves iced in for six weeks en route from Kings Bromley to Stretton, as we moved to our (then) new mooring, where we were to stay for over five years. Reading the subsequent posts reassures me that we did make it, although we had to contend with lock closures and fallen trees along the way. The post is actually mostly about getting cheap train tickets. I must admit that I have reached the point of complacent prosperity where I have begun to consider just getting an open return sometimes. As a bit of an aside, I've been doing a bit more driving lately on long journeys. I still can't make up my mind which is better. Driving, when it goes well, is certainly more convenient and capable of greater spontaneity. However, I can never quite shake off the feeling that I am doing something terribly dangerous and it can be quite nerve-racking. When it goes wrong, it can be cold and expensive, and often there's no toilet. Going by train requires more planning, and simply doesn't work for some places (e.g. Braunston). But when it goes well it is comfortable and hassle-free; when it goes wrong it is frustrating, sometimes worrying (being dumped at Doncaster station on a Sunday night to be told that the last replacement bus had gone without us), and sometimes there is no toilet. Rail travel goes wrong more often, but more mildly, than driving. And at least when it goes badly wrong you get a refund. So I think rail clinches it, in the end.

Back to Your Hundred Best Blogs. At number 200 - getting into the depths of history here - we have a disquisition on one of this blog's favourite themes: tea. It is clear from the way I bemoan the quality of bag-made tea here that I have not yet discovered Yorkshire Tea teabags. Give me a good teabag any day in preference to too few leaves crammed too tightly into a fancy little pot. In fact, as soon as I finish writing this I'm off to make a cuppa. We still have the big brown pot, maybe a little more battered now. I'm pleasantly surprised to see that the link to Mike's photos still works, and I've just spent a distracted few minutes looking at them... Lovely to have the memories of our first trip to Braunston, on which Mike was such a help with boating as well as chronicling the trip.

Finally, the 100th post sees us on our travels again - but on Warrior this time - a Fens break in the midst of restoration work on Chertsey in April 2010. We have visited the splendid antiques market at Ely and made a number of purchases.  I believe we did put some of that copper behind Warrior's stovepipe; Chertsey definitely sports some. That brass chain is still Chertsey's best chimney chain. The eiderdown, sadly, I no longer have. I gave it to my sister - I'm not actually sure she even really wanted it, but it seemed like a good idea at the time. The days of going at seven miles an hour are probably behind us too now.

Prior to starting the Chertsey blog, I'd already racked up 859 posts on nbWarrior, so perhaps I'll continue counting backwards through them. But that's for another time. Right now I have to go and watch West Ham get knocked out of the FA Cup, then I can stop thinking about it for another year.

Thursday 5 January 2017

Aber added

There are so many boats missing from the sticker album that I have seen at close quarters in the last few years, but either haven't photographed, or can't lay my hands on the photos. However, browsing my old iPad over Christmas, now in Jim's hands, I found a lovely one of Aber, which was apparently taken on June 17th 2012.

Wednesday 4 January 2017

Hang on, who's this?

Oh yes, I have grandchildren. And they're really rather sweet.
Eloise (nearly seven) and Max (nearly three - their birthdays are on the same day in March). Might even get round to taking them boating this year. One at a time. With a parent.

Now, can anyone identify the 'sheet music'?

Tuesday 3 January 2017

Wot no narrow boats?

Chertsey is on the National Historic Ships Register. This doesn't cost anything, and does, I am sure, lots of very good things, so I shouldn't complain. Quite a lot of narrow boats are registered, and I know some have benefited from the small grants that NHS awards for restoration projects. They also run an annual photo competition, which I have entered, on occasion.

Every year they send me a nice calendar, with a historic shippy picture for each month. This is my default kitchen wall calendar for the year. For at least the last three years, one month has been illustrated with a narrow boat picture - December, for the past two years, because I suppose you don't get too many photos of snow-covered ships out at sea, and, in 2014 October (or possibly September) was illustrated with my photo (fame!) of the launch of Walton. It didn't win or even get commended in the competition, but unexpectedly seeing it in the calendar was far more rewarding.

But this year... no narrow boat pictures at all. Perhaps no one sent one in. I will make sure that I, at least, do this year.

Sunday 1 January 2017


Hooray! I managed my 100 posts for 2016.

Once I'm back in Sheffield I shall pick up again and try to better that in 2017, even as the world collapses about our ears. I shan't be sorry to say goodbye to 2016, a year in which many horrid things happened - but it will also be memorable for the wonderful summer trip down to Woking and up the Thames, so it wasn't all bad.

I should have plenty to write about next year... on the cards is docking, an Easter trip to Brownhills and Walsall, a birthday cruise up the Ashby, the decoration of the back cabin and of course the Braunston (non stop?!) and Alvecote gatherings - but no long trips. Let's hope that whatever unexpected things 2017 brings are nice ones.

So here's to a good road for everyone in 2017.