Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Canyoning in Shropshire

Last week we explored a waterway of a different sort. Light Spout Hollow is one of many valleys cutting into the Long Mynd in Shropshire. The little stream runs down dozens of waterfalls into carding Mill Valley in Church Stretton. Whilst we opted for a stroll up the footpath, Jacob elected to do it the hard way - clambering up the stream bed.

The colours on the hillside are amazing right now, the heather, the billberries, the bracken, all mixing together to make a super patchwork.

Jacob had plenty of climbing to do ...

to reach the main waterfall where we turned back.

Summer feels like its on its way out soon. These young swallows where we were camping fled the nest last week

For those of you wondering where Herbie is, fear not. We'll soon be off again, picking up Peter for a week from Paddington and giving him a well eanred holiday from his hard work at Cambridge. Recently he's been to California, to Google no less, where he networked with other "Geeks" working in his field of scientific search engine software.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Past times and a new arrival

Its almost a year now since we took our epic(for us) trip to deliver our Richard's boat, Bankside, from Iver to Huntingdon. Looking back at the photos, its interesting to see how much greener everything was compared to this year. Here we are about to refuel "at sea" from the coal boat at Berkhamsted.

Look how lush it all looks. Even then the weather was dry and hot. It was that 3 week trip that finally resolved us to get a boat of our own, leading to a 6 month search until we found Herbie.

Our daughter Claire and partner Joe now have a new puppy, Cleo, a Staffie.

She's quite a handful at the minute as she is so lively. She's going to be a rotten guard dog because she'll happily go to anyone for a stroke and a lick. She does sleep sometimes though as here in my brilliantly constructed cardboard box bed.

Next week were camping again in Shropshire. After all that's done I guess we'll be back to boating, when the school holidays have passed and there are less boats moving. I know we need more rain, but a sunny September wouldn't go amiss.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Boating at 10 times our usual speed

We spent the day in Portsmouth last week and had an interesting journey to the Isle of Wight and back. Outwards we took the Fast Cat from Portsmouth Harbour to Ryde Pier. This took a while to get into the fast lane, but when it did, there was a belch of black smoke and we were soon belting along at over 40mph, or then times the canal speed limit! For the return journey we took the hovercraft from Ryde beach to Southsea.

Part way back we overhauled a Cat coming the same way, but we weren't a lot faster in the hovercraft. 45 knots they told us. That's about 50mph. Nearing the beach we had to dodge round the back of a car ferry, without slowing down, and I reckon we missed it by 4 feet!

Portsmouth is just THE best place for boat spotting. Everything from fishing boats to aircraft carriers, not to mention HMS Victory of course.

The locals complain about the huge cost (£millions) of building the Spinnaker Tower near the harbour entrance, but I recknon it was worth it. A great landmark for scores of years to come.

One of these days I'm going to photograph all the lovely old Pompey pubs with their mosaics proclaiming "brilliant ales" and "unrivalled stout and porter" . Brickwoods brewery has long since gone but the old pub signs remain.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

A visit to Bankside

Bankside is the 54ft narrowboat on which our son Richard lives, and we've just been visiting (sadly, by road). His engine was overdue a service and his fridge had packed up so I offered to pop up and see what could be done.

We're very envious of Richard's moorings at Hartford marina near Huntingdon. A beautiful spot.

Quite handy for fishing too as Jacob discovered.

Bankside has a huge rear deck, and access to the engine bay is perfect - bags of room - so the service was easy. I also took the chance to look at his electrics which are far less complex than ours on Herbie. Now I've decided to have a go at simplifying the system on Herbie, I'm sure there is a lot of redundant wiring.

Richard was all set to buy a new 12v fridge, which at £400 is not cheap. However, we discovered that the fault with the old one is just a bad connection, so we got it going again.

On the way home we met up with our other son Peter in Cambridge for a pint and a pub meal. If you ever go to Cambridge, try the Castle pub in Castle Street. Excellent. Peter is doing a post doctorate project writing a sort of chemical search engine which can read natural language. He's excited because in a couple of weeks he's off for a sort of brainshare do at Google HQ in California.