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Monday, 30 November 2015

Scottish Canals on St Andrew's Day.

In honour of St. Andrew's Day I thought I would share some photos of our boating Holiday we had up there in March 2011. Firstly though it seems to be quite a coincidence that St. Andrew was actually  that to have been born in Syria. He wouldn't have stood a chance today would he! He is the Patron Saint of Cyprus, Scotland, Russia, Greece, Romania, Ukraine and Bulgaria. He offers protection to fishermen, rope makers, fishmongers, textile workers, singers, miners pregnant  women, butchers and farm workers. He is also well known to guard against sore throats, convulsions, fever and whooping cough. All in all a good bloke to have as your Saint. The St. Andrew's cross, the X is said to represent the cross that he was crucified on as he didn't think himself worthy to be killed on the same sort as Jesus. Research has found that it isn't until the Middle Ages that this story gains currency so I'm not sure how the Scottish flag may have looked, or indeed the Union flag.

On our holiday we had mixed whether it is fair to say, but it didn't rain all the time. One of my brothers came with us, with his dog, and daughter Amy also attended. We picked the boat up at the foot of the Falkirk wheel and then headed towards Glasgow. I'm not sure how it is these days but all the locks and bridges had to be worked by C&RT employees and this made it awkward  as you had to give a definite time that you would be at the locks and bridges so that they weren't waiting around. If we had been on our own I reckon we would have had no trouble getting down to Bowling and Glasgow, back up to the Falkirk Wheel and into Edinburgh and back to Falkirk in the week. As it is there were few locks between Glasgow and Edinburgh but there are plenty from Glasgow to Bowling, so we missed that bit out in the end. We completed the entire length of the Union Canal from Edinburgh to Falkirk but not all the Forth and Clyde Canal.

The canal has some wide bits and some normal canal sized bits. A big draw back to the Forth and Clyde Canal is the fact that it is stoned at the sides so there are very few places that you can actually tie up.

The locks are wide beam and longer than the English canals as the canal was built to take seagoing vessels from the Forth and Clyde Rivers. Hence the name! C&RT said that lock keepers had to be used because of the volume of water but I don't think that they are too much bigger than the wide beam canals down south.

A more normal sized bit of canal.

We couldn't get to the end of the Union Canal as they were working on the bridge that guards the end of the navigation so it was a little further to walk to the city but it is still great to be on a boat this close to Edinbugh Castle.

At the other end of our trip on the outskirts of Glasgow we couldn't moor at the end of the navigation either. This time I think it was because the bloke couldn't be bothered to come and open the small bridge that allowed you in to this massive basin, with two boats in. Still you are very close to the centre. I seem to remember it was about as far as the Coventry Basin is from the centre of that town.

Despite Edinburgh and Glasgow at either extremity of the route it is the bit in the middle that is the highlight. The Falkirk wheel attracts many visitors and is a beautiful thing to look at as well as a marvel of engineering.

There is no juddering or jerking in the movement of the wheel as it effortlessly raises you up and down from the Forth and Clyde to the Union Canal.

As you enter the Wheel from the top you really do get a feeling that you are going to just drop off the end. Almost an 'infinity canal'. The views are great too.

This was the conceptual model of the 'Shelties' that was on show at the Falkirk Wheel. Of course they are built and in situe now and must make a glorious sight. They are on the Forth and Clyde arm that goes down past the Falkirk Wheel and meets up with the River Forth.

These are the two guys that did most of the lock and bridge work when we were on the Forth and Clyde. I must say they were pretty unhelpful and grumpy the whole time and were quite awkward about things most of the time. I was accused of being late at rendezvous etc and the fact of having to run to a time table and deal with these guys ruined the holiday much more than the weather did.

This is the staircase lock just up from the Wheel. The wheel and staircase were to replace the lost locks that raised the canal up originally. The Union Canal is much more canal like as it wasn't built to take the large sea going vessels. The girls that were on duty at the Falkirk Locks were much more pleasant too.

I think that this is the Avon Aqueduct on the Union Canal.

Just outside Falkirk is the Falkirk Tunnel. As you can see there is a little bit of everything on the small number of miles of canal in Scotland. We were really glad that we went but if we went and hired abroad again it would be to the canals of Ireland I think.


Saturday, 28 November 2015

A bitter pill to swallow.

In our travels round the system we see quite a few old WWII defence installations. I have always threatened to look them up to see what I could find out. And now I have. Only in 1940 did they set up the Directorate of Fortifications and Works (FW3) to design a range of pillboxes that could easily and quickly be erected by soldiers or local labour. They were mainly just bullet proof as it was found that the shell of a 2lb anti tank gun could find its way through 2 feet of reinforced concrete.
They were mainly formed by pouring concrete between wooden shuttering with reinforcing bars in the middle. Some have been found to contain scrap steel. This may be where all the church railings etc  went to! There was inevitably a degree of making it up on the spot and designing them to fit the location, or using the materials at hand so they are not all standard.

The photos below are just the ones I have taken photos of this year but hopefully seeing these will open your eyes to the complexity of the topic and also realise that despite the numbers that may have been constructed their numbers are dwindling year by year. So much so that many are now becoming Listed Buildings.

This is a Type 24 which is hexagonal. The walls were usualy on bullet proof at 12" thick but other versions were made shell proof with thicker walls, sometimes known as a Type 29! Inside was a room divider like a 'Y' that prevented ricochets in the interior. The embrasures were for rifles or light machine guns. This one is on the Trent and Mersey Canal near the River Dove Aqueducts.

The rear of the Type 24 has the longest wall at 14' with an embrasure each side. These are actually the most numerous still existing as there are 1724 recorded. This is the back of the One above.

This one is on the Coventry Canal guarding the Tame Aqueduct. I can not fit this into any category as it it has only two small embrasures to the north and one to the east. 

It is a listed a Grade II Listed building and all it says in the listing is that it was built in 1940!

This is a a Type 26, about 10' square with a gun port in each wall. This is actually the prefabricated variant where concrete was poured between shuttering but it wasn't reinforced and then just slotted into concrete posts. Their other name was the 'Stent' after the Stent Precast Concrete Company and as only about 140 of the Type 26 exist, including the Stent, they are quite rare but two or three can be seen from the Oxford canal south of Napton.

This is a Type 28A pill box and is found near to Day's Lock on the Thames. This is the largest pill box as the 28A was enlarged in length to allow extra room for an infantry chamber and another forward facing embrasure. This was supposed to make it less vulnerable to a frontal attack. and is the only one that was specifically designed to withstand shells as the walls are about 42" thick. The main embrasure was able to take a 2lb anti tank gun. There are only 209 Type 28A boxes still surviving.

Monday, 23 November 2015

2015 costs for boating summary

For the sake of completeness and for easy reference for others her is the breakdown of our costs for running our 58' 8" narrow boat for the past two years.

                                        2014                2015
Fixed costs   ..............   1157-57          1504-09
Mooring cost   ..........   1298-48           1524-55
Fuel costs   ...............   1156-66             824-94
Repair costs   ...........     790-84             321-63
Equipment costs   ....     678-22             164-22
Consumables   .........     257-22             454-58
Total for year               5338-99           4794-01

To find out what each category includes you will have to read my previous posts but it is pretty comprehensive. Of course it doesn't include food and drink and other stuff like at you would be eating and drinking where ever you were and how much you spend is entirely down to the individual. I haven't included travel to and from the boat as that is all a matter of choice. I have put in those things that a person will need to keep the boat up to scratch and liveable.

The only thing that could be included in the total amount is depreciation. When we were thinking of buying a boat we looked at this and the price of boats etc. I thought it would be fair to factor in a 50% depreciation in 10 years as we had a nearly new boat. In that case we should add another £3200 each year for ten years. For us we live on the boat for at least six months of the year so it is getting generous use. If you thought that if we hired a boat for only three months of the year then you would be looking at double that costs so  six months would be horrendous. Obviously hiring for that length of time is not practicable and so I haven't added in depreciation as really it is a life style choice for the time we have the boat.

The big difference this year are the lower fuel costs due to the price of diesel being much lower this year. Although we only bought 100 litres less this year the average price last year was 92.8p and this year 75.7p!
Fixed costs were higher this year due to the costs incurred by transiting the Bristol Channel, pilot, insurance and dock dues.
Repair costs are less as last year we relocated the batteries, tiled the bathroom, fitted a locking system to the diesel filler and had a dry dock. (Mind you after insurance paid out that only cost £100).
Last years equipment costs were high due to us need to purchase 4 life jackets and a VHF radio but we have them for the future now.
Consumables were high this year due to buying new batteries.

The grand average is therefore £4566-50 over the two years. Not bad for six months holiday to my mind.

The Humber Princess passing into the mist on the New Junction Canal near Sykehouse Lock this April. The cargo of lubricating oil to Rotherham has since then stopped and no more commercial traffic is running. Lets hope somebody gives them a cargo soon.

Beautiful May weather with the bluebells out in Hopwas Wood.

June found us in the deep south having passed down the Severn Estuary and up the Avon to Bristol. We had a great stay in Bristol and loved the city. Mind you I wouldn't trade my boat in for this one!

We had some beautiful walks in the countryside around the Kennet and Avon Canal in July. We found this windmill near Wilton and the Crofton Pumping Station during a walk from Great Bedwyn.

It was great to see these mink cubs who showed no fear at Slats Mill Lock on the South Oxford in August. I know that they are vermin and killers of our native fauna but they were so cute and it was a privileged to get so close to them.

We had a first visit up the Ashby Canal in September, but it wont be our last. Again we had some lovely walks in mixed weather and seeing a visit to Shakerstone was capped with a steam train on the Battlefield Line.

Friday, 20 November 2015

Consumables for 2015

Consumables are much harder to keep track off but I have included all the main items so as to be able to compare with previous years.

Stern gland grease..........................   3-50
Engine oil 3 x 5ltr........................... 45-00
Filters 2 x oil .................................  25-20
Engine antifreeze ........................... 11-99
Heating antifreeze .......................... 21-59
Paint etc ........................................   35-55
Distilled water ..............................     5-35
Tools .............................................    6-69
Batteries 5 x 110Ah ......................410-00
Refund on 1 battery ......................  75-00
Payment for scrap batteries .........   35-35
Total for 2015 ...............................454-58

The river section just before Alrewas. We passed this way and waited at Alrewas to have out Hurricane repaired and then turned round to head back to Mercia Marina to buy the new batteries.

We carried on fromWigram's Turn up to Braunston to hand our duff battery in but had a nice day there. The crane is just in the Braunston Marina with the steeple of the church and the top of the windmill showing.

A Macy Cat selfie in Walsall Basin. We shall have to go and spend a little more time in the area as there are loads of good pubs with good beer here abouts.

The major item of expenditure was replacement batteries. I felt it was time to replace them as we thought that we were limiting ourselves too much on use of power as they discharged regularly overnight to below 50%SOC. I'm not really on the ball with electricity and batteries etc, but when I saw that Midland Chandlers had some at £75-01 each I thought it was as good as time as any. However a couple of months later I found that the same thing was happening and on checking I found that one of the cells was almost dry where as all the others were fine. I filled it up and checked again a few days later and the same happened. I disconnected that battery and  bought another battery. I called up Midland Chandlers to tell them and they said no problem just bring it and and we will replace or refund. We were on the Kennet and Avon and I got them from Midland Chandlers at Mercia Marina! They said hold on to it until you get to a branch of Midland Chandlers then. I bought a replacement battery and all was well. At some stage we hired a car as we both had to be home and I took the old batteries to our scrap man and got the £35 for them. The price varies according to metal prices at the time but seems to me to be worth having the money if you can get them to a scrap man.
We finally got to Midland Chandlers at Braunston. It seems that it wasn't quite as they said as they would neither replace or refund until they had sent the battery away to check whether it had a fault. It did and a few weeks later I got the refund. Therefore, although the last battery bought was £110 I actually covered the extra with the refund and the scarp price.

The Kennet and Avon Canal near to Frouds Bridge Marina where we bought our last battery.

Only two oil and filter changes this year and the bag of cocoa shell from last year for the compost loo lasted to a couple of days before the end of our years cruise so no cost there. I get my oil from Wilco at £15 for 5 litres. It used to be £12!

Monday, 16 November 2015

New Equipment for 2015.

Helen has sworn that she wouldn't come away this year unless we had a television. I knew she was joking but I know when not to push her after 30 years and we bought a television. That turned out to be our main expense of the year. The other items that we have bought that will stay on the boat are two plastic cans for diesel and charts and maps.

Our TV. I'm pleased to say that we don't watch too much of it and have just a few select 'must see' things that it comes on for. The aerial is quick and easy to erect using a painters pole and a couple of spring claps.

The plastic cans are to have to get emergency fuel. I don't think it is worth keeping them full at the moment. I had considered filling them when we got to a really cheap outlet but the time and trouble to save the extra on  10 litres of fuel just isn't worth it. When tipping it down into the tank there is also a chance of a spill so the less times it is done the better.

When we were in Goole I saw the chart for the Yorkshire Ouse from Trent Falls to Naburn lock by the Boating Association, and as we are definitely going that way at some stage, maybe 2017, we bought to be ready. Later in the cruise we saw the Pearson's guide for the Kennet and Avon and as we were going that way we got that one too. I do love a map anyway. We usually use both the Nicholson and Pearson Guides as they each give you a different picture of the area you are in. For actual route viewing though I do prefer the Pearson's. I don't think I will ever go electronic as I love a map and with an electronic one you never seem to get the whole picture as you have to zoom in and out all the time. Call me old fashioned, but I wont be getting a Sat Nav either (unless I become a delivery driver or something similar) as I would much rather look at a map. Following the arrow and been directed by a disbodied voice means you travel with blinkers on in my opinion. We called into to Tewksbury for a couple of days on the way to Gloucester and Bristol and we bought yet another guide. This time it was to the Upper and Lower Avon. Once again we will definitely be passing the that way in the future so it will be handy to have for planning etc.

Our big brother on the approach to Goole. Battlestone only recently laid up from the Lafarge sand and gravel trade. She was built as a tank barge in 1968 by Harkers at Knottingly and was converted for aggregate in 2003. She is 175' long and over 18' beam so would make a very good size houseboat?!

Our mooring in Teweksbury, right next to the stone bridge. We wondered why boats going the through the arches were skidding all over and it was only when we crossed the bridge that we realised the arch is at an angle to the river.

The highlight of the trip on the Kennet and Avon? There are plenty of other high lights that don't involve quite so much effort but it is a fantastic sight when you are stood at the bottom. It is even better once you have negotiated the Caen Hill Flight and get to a pub in Devizes after mooring up at the top.

Oh yes I nearly forget I did also purchase a gas soldering iron that was needed to try to fix the motorised valve for the heating. As it turned out it didn't help but I'm sure it will be called upon at a later date.


Television LED 22"   ..................................109-00
Soldering iron   ............................................ 20-27
Yorkshire Ouse chart   ................................ 12-00
Pearson's Guide to the Kennet and Avon   ..  8-95
Upper and Lower Avon Guide   ..................  4-00
TOTAL                                                       164-22

2014 this was £678-39 so a big saving. Last year we had the expense of life jackets and a VHF Radio plus other things that obviously now we have them we shouldn't need to buy them again.

Friday, 13 November 2015

2015 repair costs.

The repairs include improvements to the boat too. The first item was that over last winter I installed secondary double glazing to all windows except the galley one that is a slider. This involved cutting perspex sheet to the right size and then building the upper edge, that butts up to the bottom of the hopper window, with neoprene tape to make up the difference in depth. On top of this I then used magnetic strip A and B once stuck to the neoprene and one to the window frame. This then has made an almost perfect seal with about an 18mm gap between the glass and perspex. It works very well as we have had very little condensation and the boat is definitely warmer. It also leaves the hopper windows at the top free to be opened for ventilation if required. I also used perspex and a couple of door bolts to make a window in the side hatch. Until then the side hatch was closed or open to the elements. With the window in we can have the light even with winds and showers. This winter I will be fixing a perspex inner to prevent drafts when the steel doors are shut over the hatch.

 One of the windows showing the 4mm perspex and two widths of neoprene seal then the magnetic tape. You can see that the hopper window can still open too.

Over the winter the motorised valve on the central heating stopped working. This directs the water from the Hurricane heater round the radiators when the thermostat indicates a requirement or round into the calorifier. It took a little sorting out but with my friend Richard we managed it. I think there is a very tiny drip on one of the connections still but I am scared to tighten it it up in case I make it worse!

The motorised valve that is the replacement. Not an exact replacement so took a little fixing.

Just thought I would add a boaty picture to the blog. This was the River Aire last April as we were travelling towards Goole from Dewsbury. It was a beautiful day and as you can see it was very still with hardly any flow. I can't remember seeing another moving boat either. I miss the northern canals and rivers. We stopped the night at Ferry Bridge.

The Hurricane heater itself packed up soon after we had started on our journey south. As the call out fee for over 100 miles was exorbitant we lived with it until we got to Alrewas at the end of April when Chris the mechanic from Calcutt Boats came to fix it. It turned out to be the fuel solenoid had failed and was quickly replaced and we were functioning again. Not cheap but much quicker than me trying to take things to bits with no knowledge. I have a bit more now though.

Double glazing
neoprene seal ..................  £37-33
Magnetis A/B tape  ............37-80
Perspex  .............................55-00
Motorised valve  ................56-99
Hurricane repair  ..............184-51
TOTAL                           £371-63

Last year it was £790-84 but included moving the batteries, tiling the shower and a dry dock for a bent prop., largely paid for by the insurance company. We again have a bit of a bent prop and it is two years since we had a blacking so really should be doing that but as we have booked to have the boat painted at the back end of next year it can wait.

Monday, 9 November 2015

Lazing at Lichfield.

We traveled down to the boat at King's Orchard on Saturday to check it out and to get away from all the stuff that always needs doing when you are at home. It is a great thing that you can just go to the boat and all those things that bug you at home, nagging away at you, seem to be forgotten. It is a shame they are still there when you get back though.

The boat was fine and we soon had it warmed through with the stove lit. We really just mooched about in the afternoon. I did my checks and everything seemed okay. The engine started first time with just 5 seconds of preheat and with no smoke. The heating and hot water started up too. The lowest recorded temperature in the boat had been 6.7 degrees so it didn't feel damp at all.

Of course there was the compulsory 'Strictly' viewing but with a bottle of wine too hand it wasn't too bad at all. We both slept very well too, other than Macy cat meowing a little as she has no got back into the routine of being out every night at home, but we have to keep her in at night when on the boat.

On Sunday we were up to hear The Archers that was early as the Remembrance Sunday service on the radio. When ever I was away at sea at this time I always tuned into the World Service to listen to the service from London's Cenotaph. I always find it very moving and it always made me feel close to Helen and the family. We then went out into Lichfield to do some Christmas shopping and to have a look round. The weather wasn't that inspiring but it actually didn't rain, but was quite windy. I was able to suggest a few things for Helen to consider for gifts for others and I thinks she was impressed. I will take brownie points from where ever I can. So much so that I was allowed into the Angel pub for a pint of Joules Pale ale. We also saw that there was another Joules pub in Lichfield, along with two Weatherspoons pubs. Did any of you see that woman whose ambition was to visit every Weatherspoon's outlet in the country. She will be kept busy as they are opening hundreds each year. Mind you it is good to have an ambition in life!

We stopped for a coffee and a sandwich before heading to the Cathedral. The afternoon service was just about to start so we visited the shop and then looked round the Erasmus Darwin House. This was where the grandfather of Charles Darwin lived and worked as a doctor. He had been born in 1731 and moved to Lichfield in 1756. He was a successful doctor, and accomplished scientist, a noted inventor, a celebrated poet and a family man with 14 children that includes 2 daughters with his governess after his first wife had died. He invented a horizontal windmill, a device for steering carriages, a speaking machine, a copying machine, a canal boat lift etc. He didn't take any patents as he felt this would undermine his work as a Doctor. He studies fossils and plants and wrote a poetry book about the reproduction of plants as if they were human that became a best seller. He was very much ahead of the times as he also thought that the world had developed along the lines that his grandson would postulate in the 'Origin of Species'. He deserves to be much better known as he was also a founder member of the Lunar Society that where at the heart of the Industrial Revolution as ideas and inventions were bandied about. The group included Wedgewood, Boulton and Watt and the name came from the fact that they met at the time of the full moon. Not out of anything other than the practicality of being able to see their way home afterwards.

Erasmus invented the silhouette 'machine' that projected the image on a screen that could then be drawn round. Here is Helen in image and silhoutte in the modern design of the apparatus. 

The cathedral has the famous three spires. The front of the nave of the church is adorned with the carvings of bishops and saints and the three spires and towers make it very distinctive as it is the only cathedral with three. They are known as the 'Ladies of the Vale'.

 Lichfield suffered during the Civil War as it was besieged three times. The most easily defend part of the town was the hill and close where the church stood as it had water and a defensive mounds around it. The third seige by the Parliamentarians saw much damage to the church and the loss of the central tower and spire. It wasn't until the Victorian age that the grandeur of the church was restored.

The door to the north transept looks as though it may well have been from the original church. The Cathedral is dedicated to St Chad and St Mary.

We will make a few visits to the town as there are some lovely buildings, with plenty of shops, museums and pubs, so what is not to like. Before we left the boat today, Monday, we popped into the Arthur Price Factory shop to see if there were any Christmas present ideas. It states it is the largest cutlery factory shop in the world. I'm not convinced that there are that many of them vying for the accolade but there was plenty of canteens and stuff. A great place if you have a wedding coming up I would say. Helen managed to find a few bargains that will be gifts in a few weeks and soon we were back to the boat and packing up everything and going through the list of turning off the water, gas, Hurricane and the 12v system. I emptied the rubbish and ash, topped up the compost loo with cocoa shell and we were on our way. We didn't forget Macy cat either. It was 2 hours door to door and there are extensive road works on the M1 at the moment. We are both well rested and ready for another week. I'm not sure when we will both be able to get down  again before Christmas.

Saturday, 7 November 2015

Even more of London.

On Monday we were on our own. Our train was at about 1330 so we had a morning to fill. We left our bag in the care of the hotel and ventured forth on another walking tour of the capital. I can't recommend getting out and about, away from the normal sights, enough as you get a very different picture of London, and largely escape the crowds.

 This little gem was just down a pedestrian lane and was a Turkish bath. It was built in 1895 and was said to be modeled on a shrine in Jerusalem. It had been a pizza restaurant lately but was now being remodeled.

Every where you go there are churches in the City of London. Unless you look up and realise they have steeples, towers and domes you may not realiose that they are churches. In fact there are 48 churches and 10 others that just have towers remaining due to bombing etc. We came across St Helen's on Bishopgate and as it was open we went in. It dated from 1210 and had a Priory built next to it. After Henry VIII the Priory wall was removed and the church then had two naves. It was the warmest church I have ever been in and was littered with some beautiful tombs and memorials, some of which had been brought here from a nearby church when it had been demolished.

This tomb is for Sir John Spencer, his wife and daughter from 1609. He had been a cloth worker and became Lord Mayor in 1594. It is alleged that his daughter eloped to marry Lord Compton hidden in a bread basket! The family later became reconciled due to the antecedence of  Queen Elizabeth I.

Just by St Helen's is this installation by Damien Hirst called Charity with the Gherkin behind. It is a bronze made in 2002/03 and is made to look like those charity boxes that were/are found outside of shops. However this one has the back prised open by a standing crowbar and the money spilled over the base.

It is part of a trail of artworks around the Square Mile made up of 14 works, Called art in the City.

Just round the corner, at the foot of the Gherkin is this work by Ai Weiwei. It is called forever and is amass of stainless steal bikes that make up repeating shapes. It is thought that it represents the 'Forever' brand of bike that were made in Shanghai and were the main source of transport in the cities of China. These are now being replaced by cars.

The Lloyd's Building was quite shocking when it was erected in 1986. The design by Richard Rodgers maybe set the tone for the next few years that have given us many more iconic buildings in London.

The original Leadenhall Market started in 1445 and the walls of the market helped to stop the spread of the Fire of London. This market building was opened in 1881 and is very opulent in appearance. It is now home to restaurants etc. It will look very special in the dark evenings when it is lit for Christmas

It was strange to find a water pump On Cornhill, and I'm not sure how long it had been there but it says that it marks the site of a well opened in 1282 on the site of  a House of Correction by the Mayor of the time.

There is a warren of back alleys in the area and down can be found Simpson's Tavern which is an old chop house where meat is the main item on the menu. It didn't look too expensive and you are served on benches. It is another place we will have to come back to. It is closed at the weekends though.

Lombard Street is where the original banks were based. It is named after the district in Italy where the merchants came from how moved in as money lenders when the Jews were expelled from the City in the 12th Century. The street is adorned with hanging trade signs that are now gone from most of London. The word bank originates from  'banco' or bench in Italian, on which the Lombardy merchants conducted business. They don't adorn door ways like this anymore do they.

We passed several churches but saw that St Mary Abchurch was open so went in. Once again a very different church with a dome. There was a Church Watcher from the Friends of the City Churches there. They are a group that ensure that the City churches are open for visitors at least once a week and are very knowledgeable guides too. The dome was said to be a trial by Wren for the dome of St. Paul's. They publish the list of services held in the churches and there are many free concerts given at lunch and in the evening in many of the churches. It is well worth looking on and

We were soon at The Monument. It was completed in 1677 to commemorate the Great Fire of London that started close by in Pudding Lane on 2nd September 1666. It  destroyed 13200 house, 87 out of 109 churches in the City and made homeless 70000 people. Only 51 churches and 9000 homes were rebuilt afterwards. On one face of the base is this bas relief that shows the distress of the City during the fire on the left and the hope and reconstruction on the right with Charles II directing operations. We didn't have time today but it could be worth the £4 to climb to the top to get views over London. Robert Hooke helped Wren design it to be used as a telescope to help calculate the annual orbit round the sun but it proved to be to shaky for accurate measurements.

We made our way to Bank Station and to our hotel to pick up our bag and were soon at the New Kings Cross  Station for our train. We had been going to the canal close by but it is closed on Monday's. Something else to do on a later visit.

The station lit up red with a giant poppy for Remembrance Sunday.

The train was on time at just over 2 and a half hours. There was a bus leaving in a short while so we saved money on the taxi and jumped aboard for home. A wonderful weekend in London was over with worn out feet but some great sites seen and so good to see Amy and Joe. We will be back in the New Year.