Sunday, September 18, 2022

Photo competition -what should I enter?

 Every year, the moorers' association at Ventnor marina has a photo competition.  Each member can submit one photo which is then judged by all the other members who can make one choice of a winner. I can't remember what the prize is, probably not an all expenses paid round the world trip, more likely a can of stern tube grease or something like that.   The only rule of entry is that your photo should be waterways related, and of course taken by yourself.

I can't remember who won last year but it wasn't me. 

So, I thought maybe you can help me by choosing one from my short list of my photos from this year.  Actually I don't think I've got a winner this year either, but it's good to take part, so here are the best I can find.  Remember that this will be judged by ordinary folk like you and me, so technical perfection isn't the criterion. It's probably more an emotional thing.

Sunsets are a bit corny, but people do seem to like them, so here are some. Probably best if you click on them to see them bigger if you have a bigger screen than a phone.

1. Taken at the moorings below Napton locks.  The cattle on the horizon are what prompted me.

2. Taken a couple of miles north of Braunston on the N Oxford.  It's the reflection on the water I like.

3. Or from the same spot but a few minutes earlier. Again it's the reflections taht do it.

4. Now for something completely different.  Hawkesbury

5. Or this one of our marina entrance in March

6.  Night time pub

That's about it I think.  As I said, I don't think any are good enough to win, but I'd like to send in the best one.  I notice they don't look nearly so good when blog  size, but that's how the judges will probably see them. Having seen them this size I think I have a favourite, but I'd love to know what you think. All comments welcome.

PS re my previous post - a simple statistic: 

Herbie blog 157 hits last week.  
Narrowboat Vlog by Ben and Amy 2 weeks ago 13K views.

Ten years ago Herbie was getting about 150 hits on a good  day.

I have to be satisfied being niche!

Friday, September 16, 2022


When I posted my first entry on this blog in January 2006, there weren't many of us bloggers about.  The first might have been Sue of No Problem fame.  Before we owned a boat we encountered Sue on the Nene while we were delivering our son Richard's boat to him in 2005.  She told us about her blog then.  I'm not sure I knew what a blog was.   The other boat blog I remember from that time was Andrew Denny's Granny Buttons blog. Most of his posts were about boaters joining the blogging community and I remember we got a mention.  I suspect there might have been no more than a dozen boat blogs then.  We were ahead of the game -"early adopters".

Five years later there seemed to be dozens of boat blogs to read and through them we met and made some good friends on the cut.  Richard and Sue on Indigo Dream,  Maffi, Bones, Halfie ,now on Jubilee, Jim and Sarah -what was their boat called before they got Chertsey?, Adam and Adrian, then on Debdale but now on Briar Rose, George and Carol- then on Rock 'n Roll, Oakie on Stronghold, James and Amy on (then) Lucky Duck and no doubt some more that have slipped my mind right now (apologies).  Some blogs were travelogues, some photo montages, some  opinion pieces (notably Maffi, whose opinions I always disagree with although he is a very nice person when you meet him ), some DiY reports and some were diaries "Got up, made breakfast, went to Tesco" etc.  All valid.  For my part the Herbie blog has been a mixture of those things, plus occasionally an attempt to amuse readers and to show how not to do DiY.  For me personally, it's a valuable diary and a nostalgic photo album .

Now in 2022, I see that far from being in the van of web publishing, us bloggers might have to admit to being dinosaurs, for today Vlogging is the thing.  Type "narrowboat" or "canal" into YouTube's search box and you'll be rewarded with a plethora of videos about life aboard.  Like all these things some are better than others.  It's quite handy to watch someone taking their boat somewhere you've never been but might like to, such as the scary crossing of the Ribble on to the Lancaster canal, or the tidal Trent, or crossing the Wash.  In other blogs it's nice to see someone else going down the weed hatch for a change, or trying to cope with things breaking on the boat.  Robbie Cummings is quite good for that.  One I have been following lately is Ben and Emily, a young liveaboard couple going through many of the experiences we had in our first years boating.

Is all this to tell you I am thinking of Vlogging for Herbie?  Nah, actually I don't know how, although I'm sure I could learn.  I imagine it takes an inordinate lot of time if you edit the videos properly.  I generally write my blogs in retrospect, looking back over photos perhaps.  With a video blog , the good ones at least, I suppose you have to film it as it happens, in the moment, speaking to the camera, maybe walking around with your phone in your face as you comment on what's happening.  Hard I imagine.  Then of course I'd have to breath in to minimise my old age paunch, and speak properly for fear of shocking viewers with my Vale of Evesham burr.

I might have a go just to see how you do it, but for now I'll just have to test your patience and persistence in ploughing through this somewhat prosaic text.

Saturday, September 10, 2022

Tight squeezes on the canal and at home

Last time we were out, we moored up for our final night on the narrow stretch just east of Wigrams Turn.  There's plenty of mooring along there and it's only a short hop back to Ventnor when it's time to go home.   We had just cruised up from Napton, and as we passed Napton narrowboats we realised it was hire boat turnover day and we could see all the new holiday maker crews eagerly boarding their boats and one or two of them were just pulling out to start their journey.  

You never know with hire boaters, some are very experienced whilst others of course will be complete novices.  We settled in behind one boat, fresh out of the boatyard and crawling along nervously towards Wigram's turn less than five minutes away. Not that we were bothered because we would be stopping just after the turn.  That boat took the turn to go under the bridge and towards Warwick so they were soon out of our way.

That was just as well because our cunning plan was to do a 180  at the turn and reverse up a hundred yards or so to tie up for the night. so that next morning we'd be facing the right way to go home. A gongoozler sitting on the grass outside Wigrams Turn marina  seemed somewhat fummoxed by our antics.  What the heck was this crazy boat doing turning round and then reversing towards Braunston?  All good fun.

Having thus tied up, we looked up and saw the pack of newly released hire boats heading towards us and realised that the canal was pretty narrow where we were.  Oh lor! Would any of them clout us as they passed?  We would have been the first obstacle they encountered after setting off.  Over the course of about half an hour at least a dozen of them squeezed past without, I happy to report, any incident, although inevitably some we going too fast.  One or two had marina staff on board, showing them how to handle the boats.  Later, one such guide walked back past us muttering about some person who despite his best efforts seemed fated never to get the hang of tiller steering. "They'll be lucky to make it to Braunston in one piece", he sighed.

Just after that a very wide widebeam boat appeared.  Blimey, this was going to be tight.  I wasn't even sure the canal was wide enough to get past.  In the event the skipper did a good job and calmly crept by, making it look easy although the offside of his boat was well into the greenery across the canal.  I complimented him on his steering and he cheerily remarked that he spent half his time in the bushes.

It doesn't look too tight in this shot:

but look at the next:

Anyhow all's well that ends well.  We had our final feast on foraged blackberries, and next day headed home to see what they had done to our downstairs loo/shower - an equally tight space to fit a lot into and a difficult space to work in.  This was the reason for us not being allowed home before now, because of the water being off. The space is too tight to even photograph properly.  Any how it all looks fine and worth the wait so that's a big relief.  Note the cunning washbasin built into the top of the cistern.  A good space saver in that tiny room.


All done by our Claire's partner Gary.  When we arrived home Gary formally asked me for Claire's hand in marriage!  A plumber /  bathroom fitter for a son in law - deep joy. Now he's tiling our upstairs bathroom floor and fitting a new loo and washbasin.  Having checked out his abilities I'm wondering what he could do to Herbie.

PS I am paying Gary but it's a lot of work and he's going the extra mile for us.  Result!

Thursday, September 08, 2022


 Look at this monster which toured Ventnor marina last week.

As you might have guessed, what this monster eats is weed.  I mentioned recently that the dreaded blanket weed was spreading in the marina and I'm glad to say that Aquavista, the marina owners took action and booked contractors to cut and clear it all.  Of course the paddle wheel design is the sensible thing to use because propellers don't do well (to put it mildly) in blanket weed.

Actually two boats were involved, one to cut the weed (about a metre deep apparently) and one to rake up the cut weed and dump it on the bank.  Here they are in operation.


Rake/dumper (sorry for the dark photo)

The rake/dumper boat was fun to watch as it rocked and dipped alarmingly when the weed filled rake was lifted.

In all they took the best part of three days to complete the job and it looks like they were pretty thorough, passing time and again over some of the open areas.  I should imagine the bill for the work will be sizeable.  The cut weed (some tons of it I would think) is being left in huge piles on an unoccupied bank of the basins to dry out after which the marina says it will be composted.

In other news, we return to the mystery of the piling spotted in the towpath (see a couple of posts ago).  Just outside the marina I found this sizeable length of it.


To me, this lends weight to the theory that the canal was once wider, odd though that seems.