Sunday, 31 July 2011

One bad apple....

I received a comment yesterday on my post relating to  the Petty and Malicious behaviour of Ben Harp of Ben Harp Narrowboats Ltd and their appalling treatment of Tom and Jan of Nb. Waiouru.  I have taken the liberty Bob, of publishing your comment here because the likes of Ben Harp can do untold damage to reputations of all boatbuilders and that is simply NOT fair and not justified. 
Read Bob's comment below...

"When we were looking for a boatbuilder at Crick a couple of years ago we went to see Ben Harp as he was "on our radar screen". He couldn't even be bothered to get off his chair to speak to us. And he told us he was moving on to Dutch barges as he'd "done narrowboats" (about 6 of them, if I remember rightly).
Instead, we found ourselves a very nice man called Stuart Harper (Barnowl Narrow Boats) to build our boat. Never had the slightest worry that he would come up with the goods.

But then you know that already.

Regards, Bob".

And thankfully we had found the same 'very nice man', Stuart Harper, who built Caxton.
Our experience was pain free.  The boat came in on time and on price and Barnowl Narrowboats were always prepared to go the 'extra mile' to get things right for us. 
There are any number of talented trustworthy boatbuilders out there and they mustn't be tainted by the awful antics of one very bad apple. 

Furthermore, we were so impressed by our first experience of a boat build that Barnowl were the natural choice for boat number two, Nb.Yarwood and that says it all really...

Saturday, 30 July 2011

Shobnall Fields day

We are off to Burton-on-Trent this morning to The IWA (Inland Waterways Association) annual show.  Photo's tomorrow.... 

Friday, 29 July 2011

A Nervous Passenger

Time to hang up the car keys?

My Brother David sent this to me and I just had to share it...

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Hear the beat...

I heard Hadar's engine as Keith and Jo crossed the basin at Stourport yesterday lunchtime, I was inside Caxton blacking the stove and not in a state to herald their passing.   When I came to take the boys for their afternoon excursion Hadar was moored up near the service point so we stopped have a chat and catch up with each others news.  Floyd was keen for their dog, Paddy, to 'come play' but Paddy was not impressed with this great black dollop bouncing around making himself look silly.
Paddy, Keith and Jo, aboard  Nb Hadar

Playtime in the river
We set off south along the river, where the dogs were able to cool themselves by taking frequent dips and then chasing past me and shaking themselves, lovely...

Signs of a past industry
All through this stretch are signs of a former riverside industry and activity.  Bollards and the remnants of wharves semi hidden amidst the growth on the riverbank.

A heavy duty bollard, scaled against Fletcher

And then a bit more buried 'treasure', a capstan?

Severn and Gloucester Company?  Another bollard half hidden in the undergrowth.

Perhaps a 100 years ago the river scene would have been very different.  The size of the forgotten bollards and the height of the abandoned wharves and landings indicate they would have secured sizable boats.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

New boat build starts

Yarwood's hull sides being fabricated
The build of our new boat, Nb. Yarwood, has started and I am blogging about it here .  The new boat build is the reason for our extended stay in Stourport-on-Severn, being on hand to see the progress and do the running about for 'bits and pieces'.
Most of the decisions re the build are put to bed including the majority of the fit out but the trimmings, tiles, lights, curtains etc. have yet to be decided upon and we are waiting to see how the boat shapes up before committing to these.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

A Petty and Malicious act

Ben Harp Narrowboats have excelled themselves by indulging in a petty and malicious act of vandalism and spite.  What a piece of work.  One can only hope that Ben gets his comeuppance and that the owners of this boat, Tom and Jan, get satisfaction!

The damaged  Nb Waiouru

See the full details of what this boat builder has been doing here on Tom and Jan's blog.

Monday, 25 July 2011

Ah, Saturday

When I got back from a shopping trip to Tesco I found Joe had given Caxton a wash and was just finishing the leathering the paintwork.
 And after lunch when Joe decided to get the wax and 'buffer' out I took the boys for a walk.  I am always looking for different routes, where Joe seems content to walk the same area day in day out I need a change of scene.
Stourport Town Bridge c.1870
So today I crossed the Stourport bridge and headed south along the river bank.   The town was busy with lots of tourists enjoying the amusements and attractions of the riverside park, from their accents, many from Birmingham.  The mutts and I headed out into the more peaceful environs of the rolling open countryside that surrounds Stourport.

Holiday-makers enjoying a river trip.

Sandstone bluff full of caves.
On reaching this sandstone bluff/cliff/outcrop, whatever, we had to climb a steep staircase to the top and there we found ourselves looking out across acres and acres of grassland crisscrossed by a multitude of public footpaths, dog walking heaven!   Another route discovered.
When we returned a couple of hours later, Caxton was looking bright and shiny and Joe less so...but a job well done.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Walk-on part

Watching the re-run of The Golden Age of Canals on BBC2 last I spotted a very familiar boat, no not NB. Hadar who actually 'features' in the programme,  but NB CAXTON!   A chap was being interviewed about the Stourbridge Arm whilst standing on one of the bridges there and as the camera panned towards the basin there was Caxton, moored up all alone!

Friday, 22 July 2011

Took a trip

We took a trip yesterday, another case of 'have wheels, will travel', to deliver a Nikon zoom lens to an acredited repairer in Stoke-on-Trent.  The replacement cost of the lens was such, that a repair, if it could be repaired that is, was probably worthwhile.  We were not disappointed, the team at the repairers certainly knew their stuff and we left the lens for a new autofocus motor to be fitted. 
Now what?
How about a trip to Scholar Green on the Macclesfield canal, just a few miles fron Stoke, to see friends, David and Linda of Nb, Critical Point.  A few phone calls later we had tracked them down and were soon sitting in the conservatory enjoying a cuppa and a catch-up.

Jo, Linda and David

Hall Green stop lock, the official start of the Macclesfield Canal

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Pass the Salt - Droitwich 2

Droitwich has been in the business of salt extraction since pre Roman times and much of its wealth and prosperity (that's wealth and prosperity for some, hard work for others) in former times was because of the abundance of underground lakes of brine. The salt content of the brine is so high that two and a half pounds of salt could be produced by boiling just one gallon of brine/water.

The sculpture below depicts a family of salt workers, the 'hard work' side of prosperity

'SALTWORKERS', a fine sculpture by John McKenna

The reverse of Saltworkers sculpture

When salt started to lose it's commercial value the canny mineral owners took advantage of the fashion for SPA towns and simple Droitwich became Droitwich Spa with hot brine baths to attract visitors.  The town still has one brine bath at the private Droitwich Spa Hospital and there is talk of building a new brine bath for public use.
The Raven Hotel
The timber framed Raven Hotel, built in the reign of Elizabeth I and yet another place it is reputed that Charles I slept in on his way to do battle with the dastardly Roundheads.
A mural fashioned in clay tiles that depicts notable aspects of the town - a salt barge, canal bridge, the former brine baths, the Raven Hotel, the old Town Hall and St. Andrews church are just some.
Tucked away up a tiny side street we found this, the Tower Hill Brine Pump.  This is now operated by using a submersible pump that extracts 6000 gallons of brine per hour which is pumped to the Droitwich Spa hospital baths.  Formerly the extraction from this well was by steam power and then electric motor to operate the gear you see in the photo's below.
The brine well
Redundant pumping gear.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Driotwich - - - by car..

Yesterday afternoon we drove into Droitwich to have a recce.  Parking at one of the numerous car parks in the town we wandered off in search of the High Street and more importantly, Vine Park and the newly opened navigation.  The buildings in the High Street are a sight to see; subsidence caused by centuries of salt extraction have caused the buildings to lean every which way.  It must be a carpenter's nightmare trying to hang doors or fit windows where 'level' is an entirely alien concept - they are still standing though..

 Droitwich High Street.
 This is now an Indian/Bangladeshi restaurant but clearly its origins were more homely, an Inn?  What the betting it was called the 'Crown'.
 Canal Fix - one of the swing bridges over the canal in Vine Park.
 We happily assisted this family from Eire through the lock: second day out and a little bewildered by this latest obstacle, a swing bridge over the barge lock.
 " You need your BW key",
blank looks,
"What this?",
offering up a anti-vandal key.
 " No, it is a Yale key."
More blank looks
" The key you use for waterpoints... possibly on a cork?"
Light dawns and the key is found from within the boat and offered up to the crew. We get the swing bridge open, the boat fully in the lock, and the rest goes like clockwork.   Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves though the level of confusion was on the high side - one wonders how much tuition/guidance these hirer's actually get...

 We were particularly interested in the provision for overnight stays in Droitwich and here it is.  Excellent secure pontoon moorings.  Access for boaters is through the locked gate to the pontoons that are separated from the bank by a fringe of reeds.

The former Town Hall

Monday, 18 July 2011

Super ZOOM!!!

I have just bought a new camera, a super ZOOM camera, a super zoom COMPACT camera, a BRIDGE camera.    'Bridge' because it sits between a compact and a full sized SLR. 
I am very impressed with the two Panasonic Lumix compact cameras I have, the FX37, that which I drowned whilst washing the boat, and its replacement, the TZ8 so naturally I looked to a Lumix again.   After much rummaging in the web-world I settled on the either a FZ28 or its replacement the  FZ38 and what I was able to get was a new FZ38 on Ebog last night.

Panasonic Lumix FZ38

The Leica lens gives the camera a 18 times magnification, the 35mm equivalent of 27- 486mm which is quite a feat in one lightweight lens. 

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Hello Junior...

Meet young master Robin Redbreast - minus the red but getting there and full of his own importance already

Saturday, 16 July 2011

A day spent in the past..

Hand cart - canal connection ...

Yesterday, Himself, Floyd, Fletcher and Me took ourselves off to Blist Hill (Victorian Town) open air museum in Coalbrookdale.  Joe and I had visited here years ago with our previous dogs, Sam and Mac, and I had been many years before that with Mum, Dad and my brothers, Bob and Dave.  The museum is similar to that of the Dudley Living Museum in that they have created a Victorian town which includes, butchers, bakers and yes, candle makers, as well as a Lloyds Bank, a Post Office, drapers, grocers and chip shop and pub of course.  There are well over 50 exhibits that range from the  cobblers shop to a blast furnace and a ironworks.

The Victorian Chemist/Pharmacy that was used for the filming of the BBC2 programme ' Victorian Pharmacy' presented by the social historian Ruth Goodman.

A pair of fine dray horses (Clydesdale's) drawing the brewers 'dray' around the town

The Post Office manned by a Mr. Alladay who explained that this was not work for women as we are too flitty and our brains couldn't cope with figures - I said that I admired his ability to dig a hole for himself...

Joe sitting for a charcoal portrait in the Victorian park

SOMEONE, is eating all the pies and it is not the Boys!

Many of the cottages have the requisite outside loo and attached pigsty, many occupied - pigsty's, not loo's...

The Victorian Fair - Joe has a go at the shooting gallery and wins 4 out of 5 shots

The HAY inclined plane.  204' drop to the river below from a short canal arm that serviced a mine.  Tub boats were used. The laden tubs could be lowered to the river in  4 minutes.

Man and dog checking the canal.

Monday, 11 July 2011

Mixing it up...

As well as a display of the local classic cars, motorbikes and tractors Stourport Steam Fair really mixed it up by including the likes of the following; 

Billy Goat Gruff, strutting his stuff
Rescued donkey's - often bought as companions for horses but too bolshie for the job so rehomed..

A trampoline that caught Joe's attention - I think he thought it would suit the nude trampolining for the over sixties club..
Steam at last..
and more steam
a baby (model) traction engine/steam roller
and preserved and restored lorries