Saturday, June 30, 2012

Et Tu Herbie

To go or not to go.  That was the question.  Whether it is nobler to stay at Wilmcote or to take arms against a sea of locks and go down to Stratford and risk not getting in the basin. Aye, there’s the rub.

What if there was space in the basin and we missed our chance?  That would be the unkindest cut of all.  So we caught the train in to have a look.  Space there was.  Well one anyway, but there was no time to bring Herbie down on Friday, yet there is a tide in the affairs of men which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune.  Omitted, all the voyage of their life Is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea we decided to float and take the current down the canal on Saturday morning or lose our ventures.

Not to waste time on Friday, we booked in to see Julius Caesar at the RSC and very fine it was too.  Set in African costume and music it works.  Though this is madness, yet there is method in it. I suppose because Africa is full of dictators and rebellions.  Plus Kath and I love to hear a good Kora player and there was one.

Rising at 7.30 this morning we set off down the 16 locks into the basin.  Contrary to some opinions ventured by others, I thought they were lovely and on the way back I resolve to take some pictures to prove it.  Ok some of the locks are hard but the course of a true canal never runs smooth.

We arrived in the basin, and yes there was room very close to a statue of Hamlet with his head in his one hand and Yorick’s head in the other.  Alas poor Herbie, he knew us well.

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As for Bill Spokeshave he had his back turned to us.  I would have protested but the better part of valour is discretion and I decided to hold my tongue.  Kath is usually the complainer but methinks she doth protest too much.

The River Festival is on and all the posh boats are down on the river leaving us waifs and strays in the basin.  P1060277 (1024x603)

It is very busy here and we are continually being gongoozled. One American lady asked me if Herbie was for rent.  I regret now not having stung her for a fortune.  There are more Morris dancers here than you can shake a stick at, although they are all shaking sticks at me it seems.  Most of them are not as good as they should be although entertaining enough.  Once a man has seen Gloucester Old Spot Morris (circa 1975) nothing else comes close.

I like it here very much and could go on,but brevity is the soul of wit.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Surviving the tornado!

It was looking pretty black over Will’s mum’s when we set off this morning.  Kath has a strange aversion to being struck by lightning, so we had to stop for a while when a thunderstorm blew up.  Then off we went round the Lapworth link and into the Stratford canal.  Lots of boats about and progress was steady but not quick as we descended into the Avon valley.

Then came the storm.  I was just setting a lock while Kath steered Herbie under the M40 bridge and suddenly a few drops of rain turned into a staggering whirling torrent.  I don’t think I have ever seen rain like it.   But we had  stroke of luck.  The dear old M40 is wide and the bridge was just what we needed to sit out the storm as the rain came lashing across the fields towards us.  The lock was full and ready for us but for once  I was happy to wait.

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The rain was so heavy we could hardly see through it.
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I suppose we were the only dry boat and  crew on the whole canal.
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Afterwards as the sun came out, the by washes past the locks had turned into raging torrents and the towpath flooded on lots of places.  Drenched boat crews steamed in the heat and we pottered on to Lowsenford where we met a schoolboy and his grandparents.  Apparently he had been released early from Lapworth school ( a very short distance from us) where a tornado had smashed all the school windows!

Our plan to get to Straford for the weekend has proved to be daft.  All too late we discover that there is a river festival on there and the place is chock a block with boats already.  Plan B is to moor up a few miles North and get the train into Stratford

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Why getting up at 6am is daft

Monday morning.  The Braunston Rally is over and we need to be on our way, but we are facing in the wrong direction.  Nicholsons's says we have a three hour journey to get to the winding hole and back.  So reluctantly Rick and I agree to get up at 6am, leaving Kath to lie in and come up with bacon sandwiches later.  It's a tough job but someone has to do it.

It's a beautiful morning as we set off, bleary eyed.  About 50 yards into the trip we round the first bend and suddenly it dawns on us that the canal here is more than 50ft wide.  So after sacrificing two more hours beauty sleep we accomplish our task in five minutes.  Bah!

Still it's an ill wind that blows nobody any good and we used up the spare time in filling the water tank from the tap outside Midland Swindlers and emptying the loo cassetttes.

We didn't set off then, for we had an assignation at nine o'clock.  Round the corner on the Oxford, we waited until at the appointed time we heard the chug chug of an old Petter diesel and the preposterously huge prow of a large Woolwich hove into view.  It was Nb Chertsey, with Sarah and Jim who had agreed to accompany us for a couple of days as we headed north up the GU.

Chertsey is approximately the size of the Ark Royal and could cut clean through the average semi trad without noticing.  I had been promised a go at the tiller to see what I could demolish.

Leaving Kath and Rick to follow behind on Herbie,  I was allowed to steer the mighty vessel  for some time.  Chertsey steers surprisingly well.  Especially when you turn your head to gawp at something on the bank.  At such times Herbie unerringly heads for the bushes, whereas Chertsey stays true to her line down the canal.

Turning corners is interesting.  You need to plan ahead.  The front of the boat arrives at the bend hours before the back, and you have to allow for the curvature of the earth I think.  Nevertheless the front comes round really well as you lean on the tiller.

Progress was rapid, largely thanks to Jim setting locks ahead as we went down Calcutt and Stockton flights.  Miraculously Chertsey did not crush Herbie in the locks and we arrived all hot and sweaty in Long Itchington by early afternoon.  There then followed a happy period while everyone lolled around in deck chairs giving me helpful hints and tips while I perspired over a rag and a bottle of carnauba wax polish along one side of Herbie's cabin.  Strangely no-one felt able to take over the task so I was knackered and ready for tea and cake when it arrived.

Long Itchington village lies well back from the canal but is worth the walk.  Intensive consultations on ipad and smartphones led us to the spledid Harvester Inn (nothing to do with the chain of the same name)  where the landlord dispensed fine ales and bonhommie and was very helpful in settling the dispute about which TV programme featured Alfredo the Frog his amazing animal orchestra.

Tuesday followed  the same vein with both Kath and Rick having a go at driving Chertsey.    Here's Kath not looking where she is going.

Rick did most, but he did manage to run Chertsey aground much to our delight. 

My personal delight however was short lived as I managed to demolish Herbie's Morco chimney on a bridge near Warwick.

Thanks be to Sarah and Jim for being so foolhardy as to let risk their beloved vessel to us amateurs.  It's been great.

Now we rest in the very very nice Saltisford arm where we got a good mooring and an extremely warm welcome from the lady whose boat we breast up to.

Walking into Warwick we found it closed.  Well it was five o'clock.  Now I sit writing this in JD Wetherspoon's.

Tomorrow, the Hatton flight.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Herbie's position at stake.

There's always something to do at Braunston.  My principal ocupation since we arrived has been rushing outside to replace our mooring stakes every time a monster boat chugs by and rips them out.  First we hear a chug chug, then everything goes black as the behemoth blots out the light, then Herbie slides three feet forward and there is a squelching sound as the pins tear out of their holes in the soft muddy bank.

This morning I walked down to Midland Swindlers and procured the longest mooring stake that money can buy.  I think anything longer would be illegal for fear of penetrating the earth's crust and releasing a spume of magma.

The big boats are still arriving with some regularity, they must all have arrived soon and then Herbie will be safe again until they all depart. Unusually I think I'm right in recalling that three of them are steam powered- and no, that doesn't include President, which as far as I know is not here. Yet anyway.  Its great fun watching them approach the bridge near us and watching them wait until the very last second before lowering their chimneys.  One of these days one will make a misjudgement and the entertainment will be complete.

Last night Rick and marilyn popped over by car and we all trouped off to see the Daystar theatre play in hte beer tent. Once again their play was very good.  Amazing what can be done by two people and a lot of hats.  Don't miss them if you have a chance.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Supposedly resting, but not

I have decided not to become a young mum.  Looking after a four year old is exhausting.  Not hat I am at all unused to looking after Grace, but this is 24 hours a day stuff.

Coming down Watford staircase locks she was brilliant.  Continuously reciting "red before white and you'll be alright" and opening and closing bottom gates unassisted.  I have the photos to prove it if I can ever work how how to get them off my fancy new phone and into a computer.  The lockie awarded Grace a certificate in recognition of her efforts.

Just in case I get a slew of elf and safety comments, I did keep a very close eye on her and she was wearing a lifejacket.

Braunston tunnel was difficult as ever.  I'm sure they built in slalom in there deliberately to catch out unwary skippers.  I should love to see a proper map to explain all the bends and bulges in there.

We got here to Braunston a bit late because of queues at the locks and we have had to moor out past bridge 89.  Still handy for the path up to the village though and we have already raided the butcher's shop and severely depleted his stock.

Usually I pride myself on meticulous forward planning on our trips but this time I have made a boo boo.  In choosing to moor up the start of the North Oxford for the Braunston rally weekend, I forgot to check where the next winding hole was because to continue our journey next week we need to go back to Braunston turn and go along the GU towards Wigrams Turn.  It turns out we'll have to go all the way to Hillmorton to turn round- a round trip of  about ten miles, or four hours. 

Suffice it to say that I am in the doghouse.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Reservoir Figures Latest



Just what the doctor ordered.  As Herbie prepares to set off towards the GU tomorrow, BW has published its figures for reservoir holdings through May and it will come as no surprise that things are looking pretty good on the whole.  The big relief is that the GU South has leapt from 60% to 90%. This must mean that the reservoirs at Marsworth have filled up at last.

The K&A is still doing strange things. I wish I knew why it seems so erratic.

We’re more interested in the GU North and the Oxford/ GU section as we are headed that way.  Please can it stop raining now?

We have masses of locks to do on the way to Stratford upon Avon, but we are only going as far as Braunston for the first week and we have extra crew to help on that bit as Grace is coming with us.  You can’t beat a bit of child labour.  She’s not much good on locks but she’s a demon in the galley.  I won’t have to wash up all week.

If you see us in Braunston give us a shout or drop by.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Tidal cruising–what me worry?

I’ve never won any awards for bravery, although I did once face a room full of seventy irate head teachers when my IT project for them wasn’t going too well.  That was fairly scary I can tell you.  Did it however prepare me for taking on the tidal Thames?

I well remember our first foray in Herbie on to the Thames tideway at Brentford in 2008. 

Nothing much happened.

A bit of an anti climax really.  We had been a bit scared to go out on to the tide as we had previously seen it at Brentford at a state of the tide when only a maniac would go out.  At the proper time of course, it’s placid and gentle, and that’s when we went.  Afterwards, we wondered what all the fuss was about.  Here we are half an hour later going under the Richmond half tide barrier bridge in flat calm and no current.


That was one demon conquered, but what about the big one – Limehouse.  I remember standing by the lock watching a boat go out and thinking, “You’ll never get me on there”.  For someone used to the still narrow waters of canals, a boat can look pretty small on the Thames.

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Then we got to know Sue and Richard on Indigo Dream who have bit by bit introduced us to the experience of cruising on lumpy water.  On two occasions now we have passed through the Thames barrier aboard I.D.,  and of course we have endured the cold, wet, wonderful pageant with them.

What have we learned?

First you have to have someone with a radio thingy into which you have to say everything twice (it’s a rule apparently).  “London VTS London VTS this is narrowboat Narrow Escape this is narrowboat Narrow Escape wishing to enter the tideway at Limehouse “etc. etc.  Sometimes it’s all a bit pointless because the reply can come back with all the clarity of a 1960’s station announcement.  “Narrowboat Narrow Escape, narrowboat Narrow Escape, gurgle, squelch, schwaaach,  . . right hand side”.  You can see from this that it really is a good idea if your boat doesn’t have a daft, embarrassing or difficult to pronounce name.  “London VTS London VTS this is narrowboat Ura Plonker narrowboat Ura Plonker . .”

Then you have to look out for other boats.  Not because there’s not plenty of room, but because they seem not at all bothered that they might sink you.  Commercial skippers have been hear on the radio referring to narrowboats as “monkey barges”, so it’s plain how much they care for our safety. The big ones, like the Woolwich Ferry will try to cut you in half. Others, like the Thames Clippers and those horrible little Ribs will create monster wash waves to try and flip you over or overwhelm your well deck.  Rather to our surprise, narrowboats seem to ride these waves pretty well, but it might be a good idea to take some seasickness pills before setting off.   The Clippers, carrying 200 passengers,  go at a speed appropriate for water skiing and zig zag down the tideway stopping at piers on alternate sides,so wherever you place your boat you will be in their way.

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The next problem is the weather.  Don’t be fooled by clear skies and still airs in Limehouse basin. Once you get out onto the big water it can get breezy and hence choppy.

Here we are looking out from Indigo Dream on a beautiful sunny day

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Not too bad you might think, but glancing across at our neighbouring boat we see how much this swell multiplies when it hits a narrowboat.

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Then there is the tide.  If you go out from Limehouse at the right time and head up to Brentford you won’t notice it much. You may be blissfully unaware that your actual speed over the ground is that of a Derby winner.  Only if you turn round to face the current will you realise you are riding on a really strong current.  Actually your speed doesn’t matter too much except when you come up to the many bridges.  They don’t move, so if you hit one it would be with quite a bump.  They look pretty solid to me, so I imagine your boat would come of worse. Each requires you to take a different arch, so you do need to look at the little pictures they give you so you can recognise which bridge is which.  In the city centre the bridges do come thick and fast.

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Is any of this really really really scary?  Actually, no.  More exhilarating really.  The Thames is to be respected, not feared.

So, the big question is . . would I take Herbie up from Limehouse to Brentford?

First I should say that Herbie is not Indigo Dream.  The latter has a more powerful engine and a bigger prop.  It also has a Richard.  Richard is a large, somewhat commanding figure who is careful to prepare his boat properly and has bags of experience on the tideway.  Herbie is smaller and less powerful then I. D. and I am smaller and less powerful then Richard.  I also do not have a radio thingy, although I am quite good at repeating myself.

Whilst I do not think that Herbie would sink, I have now personally witnessed two narrowboats whose engines have failed on the tideway.  Luckily they had other boats close by to lend a hand and no harm was done.  That would be my concern, and the most likely cause would be the choppy water stirring up sediment in the fuel tank.

The answer is obvious.  Yes I would go from Limehouse to Brentford on Herbie and thoroughly enjoy it too. But – only in the company of other boats.  Joining one of the St Pancras Crusing Club’s periodic flotillas would be a good way to do it.  With them you don’t have to have your own VHF.

As they used to say on the buses, “Only the brave deserve the fare”.

Friday, June 15, 2012

A picture of my dinner

I note on the news that some wee lassie from Scotland has had a million hits on her blog showing a picture of her school dinner and doing a critique of it.  A million hits eh?

Well, never one to miss jumping on a bandwagon, here is my dinner this evening

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Reheated leftover minced beef and parsnip curry with rice and a green lentil daal to pad it out.  All cooked by my own fair hand.

Now I’m supposed to score it.

Appearance - 3 out of 5 - marred by the fact that it is in what is obviously a bowl meant for Italian cuisine instead of Indian.  There is also a stray grain of rice on the rim.

Flavour – 4 out of 5.  Everyone knows(or should know)  a curry is better if left to mature for a couple of days. One point knocked off because the spices had lost a bit of their punch.

Quantity – 3 out of 5.  Adequate only because the daal was nice and filling.

Nutritional value  - 3 out of 5.  Extra lean mince, but probably too much oil for my waistline.  A few sprigs of coriander does NOT count as one of your 5 a day.

That makes 13 out of 20.

All I have to do now is to wait for my million hits.  Fame at last.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Reasons to be Cheerful - and my photo of the Queen

What a good day.  I received some bits of good news.

1. Hose pipe bans are being lifted, which means that the weather is bound to improve.  Did you notice that all the rains we’ve had over the last two months started when the bans were introduced?

2. Today, a slew of notifications from BW announcing the lifting of lock time restrictions along the Grand Union and the Oxford canal and (with certain exceptions for remedial works) the Northampton arm.

3. One of our local pubs has just installed a chef doing home cooked Caribbean food.  We went along tonight to his buffet and suffice it to say we’ll be back.

4. (not news, but I’m still cheerful about it) we’re off boating next week, first to Braunston for the rally, and then to Stratford upon Avon.

5.  Thanks to the significant number of people volunteering as lock keepers on the GU, we may well get some help going up the Hatton 21.  Volunteers were certainly out and about at Buckby and Stoke Bruerne last week when we crewed Briar Rose.

Speaking of Buckby and Stoke Bruerne, we noticed quite an unusual number of Calcutt hire boats going down that way.  Boats that I’m sure would normally go down the South Oxford.  I imagine the hire co’s have been encouraged to get customers to avoid the Oxford while the restrictions were on.  Those hirers that we spoke to were pleasantly surprised by the GU, which confirms my view that it is a very under rated canal.

Speaking of volunteers reminds me that BW will shortly be replaced by CRT.  The first signs are now emerging and in London we saw our first bit of canalside machinery sporting the new logo.  Here it is, on one of those little lifting footbridges we have over the canals.  This one at West India Quay.

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If you think this looks a bit grey and gloomy, well it was, we were locking out into the Thames for the pageant at 7.21 am.

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Kath keeps nagging me to show you my photo of the Queen taken as we passed by on the big day.  Oh alright then, here it is.

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Not a competition winner I fear.  Not exactly yer David Bailey I admit.  Well, we had been standing out in the cold and rain for 11 hours and the camera lens was wet and I was wet and shivering. 

Toodle pip.

Friday, June 08, 2012

Foot in mouth


What do you think eh?  The gleaming purple cabin, the italicised windows, the tasteful bright yellow name panel, the practical white gunwales and the sweeping curve of the well deck roof.  Is this the future of narrowboats?  I’m saying nothing.

Kath was not so good at buttoning her lip.  Peering through the side hatch of this boat at the Crick show, and admiring the padded faux leather walls within, she commented to the man next to her “ I’d be embarrassed to be seen driving this along the canal”.  He seemed a bit surprised and asked her why.  “Well for a start, how long would those white gunwales last in a flight of locks?”

The man seemed unimpressed by her reply and wandered back to the rear of the boat, where we realised he was the man who had designed and built the boat.  Whoops.  Sorry mate.  All a matter of taste I suppose.

Unlike most of the show boats at Crick, this one was not commissioned, but built on spec. Rumour has it that they hoped it would be sold at the show so had not planned anywhere to store it afterwards.  There’s nothing like good old fashioned optimism is there?

I thought the show was good this year.  The boats exhibited were perhaps not to innovative as last year, but the few I saw looked sensible and well built.  Perhaps the financial hard times breed a new realism.

I had a chat to Phil Speight about polish, a chat to Calcutt about engine alignment and a long talk with a signwriter thinking of branching into the boat decoration business.  The latter, a time served signwriter working on business signs and lorries, gave me a lot of useful tips which I will certainly follow when I return to adding more script to Herbie’s name panel.

The rain of course interfered with the visitor numbers on Sunday and Tuesday, but I hear that exhibitors did OK.  One new boat was sold on the first morning.

Speaking of Sunday’s rain, yesterday I was privileged to visit the Long Buckby weather station (Rick’s back garden) and was allowed to view the data sheets for the last month.  On Sunday (river pageant day) Rick measured 23.5 mm  which is twice that of the worst day during all that rain in April.  Miraculously our merry trip from Crick to Thrupp Wharf with Adam aboard Briar Rose on Wednesday and Thursday was largely dry, although we did get caught by a few heavy showers.  It doesn’t feel like flaming June though does it?

P.S.  To those who read my pageant posts and tutted at my mis-spelling of hypothermia, I have to say that I was merely dictating the text to an anonymous typist, who for the sake of sparing blushes I’ll just call K.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Up For It - the pageant pictures the BBC missed

Despite the appalling weather at the pageant on Sunday, we were all up for it.  Kath and I were up for it at 3am!  Even the Thames Barrier was up for it (mercifully). Sarah (Greygal) was obviously up for it, and right in the spirit.  What some cheek!

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The crowd were certainly up for it.  Narrowboaters are used to having to wave at folks on the bank, but this was ridiculous.  My arm was soon aching. Now I know how the Queen feels.  These people on the cruise ship Discovery in the Isle of Dogs had the solution.

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There were more waves than the sea. The Queen waved at us several times

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and of course other boaters waved, even the stationary ones.  Delighted by our Greyhound mascot on the foredeck of Indigo Dream, they shouted  “Look at that mouse/ rat/ womble” .  I suppose the Queen thought it was a corgi.

I hear that there has been criticism of the BBC’s coverage of the event.  Even Rainman, not known for his radicalism, has written to the Radio Times about it!  Even then , I expect the TV viewers saw more of the parade than we did.  We were some miles back from the posh boats at the front.  The crew of Nb President probably saw nothing, as they were wreathed in smoke and steam the whole day!  Actually, we did see a bit of the telly, as you can see.

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I hear the music was good up front.  We had some less professional but equally enthusiastic accompaniment.

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Everybody here at Crick has been expressing envy at our participation in the big event.  They are right to.  Despite the cold and wet and the fact that we didn’t even get to witness the stuff happening at the front of the parade, we really felt part of something big.  And I now have been waved to by a million people.

Crick show has been great.  Tomorrow it looks like its back to getting wet again as we enjoy helping Adam get Briar Rose back to base.  Don’t worry, it’ll be great.  This time we’ll wrap up warm.

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Not over yet!

Still patrolling up and down the cold lumpy waters near canary wharf waiting our turn to lock into West India Quay. It will be not a minute too soon, we are all tired and night is falling. The race is on to be in the next lock to avoid another 45 mins wait.
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The queen looked nice and dry as we passed and she did seem to wave at Sue in her greyhound costume. We however, are cool and moist.
We understand nobody died but the count is still out for hypothermia cases!
Congratulations to those on the bank who have borne it with us.
I think we are somewhere near Limehouse but visibility too poor to confirm. We now have to sit it out downriver for some hours waiting for the lock to open.
I don't know how my frozen fingers typed this.
Deep joy.
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Police are having to deal with small boats who have unofficially intruded into the flotilla. No doubt they will be sleeping in the Tower tonight.
Also 1 narrowboat has pulled out with engine failure.
Great fun.
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Formation all to pot due to boats in front not getting away properly - and the narrowboats were doing so well.
Now we'll be late! Hope HM doesnakt mind.
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Under starters orders!

All activity as we don our fancy clothes (some of us) and life jackets and reasy for the off. The rest of the fleet seem to have disappeared without telling us, hope we manage to catch them up.
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1pm boarded and awarded!

The official scrutineers have been on board and checked everything - including our inside leg measurements. So now we are good to go when the starter fires his gun. Having passed all checks Indigo Dream at last sports its official flag.
We have just heard there have been a close up of us on Sky tv - the only thing Murdoch has ever done for us.
P.S. We have had loads of food and cake - lashings of ginger beer to come!
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12.05 Miracle on the Thames.

I can't understand it but we all seem to have moored up to our bouys in the correct order! And almost on time. Had to pick our way through hoards of rowing and paddling boats including a boat of Antipodeans (Maoris?) singing a Haka as they rowed. Brilliant.
Even the rain has stopped.
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We've found them!

At last we come across the rest of the fleet. Swarms of RNLI boats zip around us. Not sure what the posh boats think of us.
Just the small matter of all narrowboats mooring to the bouys to come.....
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11 am Putney

Still moving upstream, crowds now thinned to 1 minor with a vuvuzela. No fatalities yet. Still no sign of the other 960 boats - they may be lost. Rain easing.
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Not drowning but waving! 9.30

Now on the way through central London on the way to form up. Can't believe the number of people lining the banks already in the pouring rain. Arms ache from waving.
Visibility terrible.
Enjoying every wet minute.

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Arrived 6.10!

Here we are, accredited by security, and on board Indigo Dream. Crew in various states of undress, weather appalling. This dock is enormous, 40 narrowboats barely noticeable in its vastness.
We are warned we will be afloat for about 14 hours - if we are spared.
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Saturday, June 02, 2012

Testing, testing

We have the technology. If this works, I'll try to blog updates during the Royal Pageant tomorrow, so you can follow the triumphs and disasters as we entertain her majesty.
Stay tuned.
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Friday, June 01, 2012

An unboring week.

An exciting week.  Following on from the thrills of the pageant rehearsal the week continued with more drama. 

Monday night saw the first night of the 2012 pan European tour of our Supergroup PRANK.  To be fair, I should also add that it was also the last night of our pan European tour.( I am an indispensable member of PRANK (Pete Rob And Neil and Kath), for without me they would be KRAP.)  Anyway we gave our all at the Rose and Crown at Sandhurst to a packed house of at least three people and went down a storm with at least one of them.  We were followed by a chap playing what appeared to be a silent guitar, at least I couldn’t hear him but his fingers moved impressively.  Fender make good solid electric guitars, but their acoustics are generally inaudible.

Then Tuesday saw Kath and I making the trip up to Crick in readiness for the rest of the week’s adventures. After unpacking we sat out on our grassy knoll to be entertained by the launching of a 70ft wide beam barge from off a lorry.  This was not an exercise for the faint hearted.  First came the enormous crane with its own entourage of an articulated lorry to carry the crane’s accessories and a van full of people who I assume were health and safety consultants and slingers.  For about half an our the crane was used to unload all its accessories, such as huge pallets to support its feet and cables and spreader bars for the lift. The sling cables appeared to be a thick as a man’s arm and took two men to lift each one.  Then came the lorry with huge boat, coming to a rest at 20 degrees to the vertical on the slope down to the crane platform.  Quite how the boat stayed on the lorry without sliding off I’m not sure. 

Then came the scary bit.  The slings were slid under the boat and the tension taken up by the crane.  Now I am no expert, but I would have thought that  on a 70ft boat, the slings out to be more than 6 feet apart.  I don’t know how many tons were cantilevered out each side but it must be a great many.  Would the boat snap in half?  We had to wait ages while the assembled “experts” went into a huddle.  Half an hour in fact.  I think they were probably having a quiet pray.

Eventually they did lift the boat a few inches and the lorry drove off from underneath and scarpered before he could be blamed for any disaster.  The boat remained at its  unreasonable angle as it  was swung out over the water. 


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When they lowered it I assumed it would slip slowly beneath the waves with a gentle glug, there to provide entertainment for future sub aqua clubs, but miraculously it floated. and the crane and its entourage packed their bags and drove away no doubt breathing huge sighs of relief.

And so to Wednesday, when Adam came to collect us to help move Briar Rose from her moorings at Thrupp Wharf up to Crick.  Quite an easy run these days now that the flights of locks have volunteer lockies to render assistance.  Blisworth tunnel was remarkable dry, except  for the numerous air shafts which were that day acting as waterfalls.  I am ashamed to say that on approaching each of these I ducked inside, leaving poor Adam to get a good soaking each time.  However I got my come uppance later in the day when we both experienced a downpour the like of which I cannot remember before.  The met office  warned us of this but they said it would be at 4pm and it arrived 15 minutes early.  I want my money back.

Ably assisted by Rick and Marilyn who came along for the day with muscles and cake,we arrived here at Crick next day to be greeted by a gaggle of Braidbar owners (Briar Rose is a Braidbar boat) who helped slot BR into her allocated mooring which had  generous 2mm of free space at either end.

So now I sit typing this and waiting for the festival bar to open to commence the show festivities.  The bunting is up.  The flags are flying, and the man on the PA is saying  “One, One, One One”  Can these guys never count?