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Tuesday 20 December 2016

A tenuous nautical theme.

Last week we went down to London for a couple of nights as it was my daughters graduation. I had missed her 'do' from Durham University as I was still at sea then so it was nice to be able to come along for this one.

Goldsmiths started out as the Counter Hill Academy for boys in 1792 to 1838. The Royal Naval School then bought it and educated the sons of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines. In 1889 it was again sold on to the City Livery Company of Goldsmiths who set up their Technical and Recreative Institute were for 13 years they educated males and females of the area. In 1904 they gifted the site to the University of London, so long as it was always used for education. Goldsmiths College of the University of London opened in 1905 and has always been connected with social science and the arts.

The ceremony was very good and the speeches mainly uplifting for me, never mind the students. There were several glasses of prosecco and canapes and a good chat before been ushered out in to the city.

Just down New Cross Road in Deptford Town Hall. This building was also opened in 1905 and had the Council chamber and three meeting room. It now also belongs to Goldsmith's College. The builders were Lanchester, Strewart and Richards and sculptor was Henry Poole, RA. There is a very nautical theme to the carvings as the area was for 600 years or more a naval dockyard. The figures on the second story, from the left are, Sir Francis Drake, Robert Blake (The Father of the Navy), Lord Nelson, and out of shot to the right a generic Edwardian Admiral.

Atop the clock tower is an ornate galleon weather vane.

In the triangular typanum is a naval battle and below is the bow of a ship with many oars and in the back a focstle with four lamps on it. There are also two fishes and two horns of plenty with the figures of Caryatid and Atlantes to either side.

Over the door way are two Tritons who have long tails with fins and also they have wings. You can also make out seahorses in the iron scroll work above the entrance.

I did chat to the Mayor and his Mace Bearer as they also attended the ceremony but they were representing Greenwich.

In the afternoon we headed over towards Southwark and looked round Borough market before taking a walk. This area just south west of the market is the site of the fabulous Hop Exchange and we went into the basement for a late lunch. Over the road was this lovely building with a beautiful sculpted design at the top. It is a Grade II listed building.

In the evening we went to the Menier Chocolate Factory Theatre to see 'She Loves Me'. It was really very good and a great entertainment. I would recommend it to anybody, before it goes to the West End and become too expensive to see!

We were staying over in Dalston, very close to our daughters school, and the next morning we went for a walk close by and passed this old factory that used to make those little water colour sets you could buy. The builder in 1868 was Sewell and Sons for a cost of £2343. The factory was badly damaged in WWII and closed in 1954. Round the corner was Ridley Road Market that had just about every part of many animals displayed and for sale! There were not just whole plucked chickens hanging up, but every size of trotter and hoof, every bit of intestine, and ears and snouts, along with complete heads. There were many types of fish I had never heard of and a wide selection of vegetables from around the world too. We also found a shop in an old Art Deco building from the 1920's that was a Daks Suiting Factory. It was also used as a Cuban Cigar Factory in the film 'Die Another Day'. It now houses 'Beyond Retro' that is one of those cool brands. They have shops in Sweden and Moscow too. Helen found a Christmas cardigan at a bargain price too.

Helen really loves the Shard so she wouldn't forgive me if I didn't include a shot in daylight. We had a flying visit but it was great to be there for Amy's day and the weather was fine too. The trip on Hull Trains was very comfortable and the hotel was one we will certainly use again. Bring on Christmas now.

Sunday 11 December 2016

Boat dash.

Helen and I managed to dash down to Streethay to check the boat out and chat with Tom and Nick about the repainting, and finalise colours. Very boringly perhaps, we are having just about the same as previously so it made it quite simple really.

The propeller that they would have to wait until January for has already arrived and it is so very obvious that the one we have on at the moment is of very thin scantlings. There is no way that I would be able to bend a blade back into shape with mole grips as I have done with the old one. I will keep the old one and see if it is worth fettling and balancing to keep as a spare.

I got quite a surprise when I saw the needle guns on the roof. I spent many hours with them as an apprentice when I went to see. The ships I was on were beautifully maintained and on a trip to the Far East all the running gear got maintained on the way out, and on the way back everything got painted. Needless to say salt water and steel don't really mix and there was always plenty of chipping of rust to do. It did look smashing when finished, but my elbows are paying for it now I think.

It is all sealed up so we weren't able to pop in to see but there is plenty of dust about as you can see. It wont be too long before they have it all prepared ready for painting.

They have left the windows in until they have the thick off the preparations done and will soon be taking them out to 'do' the areas round the window frames. I hope they come out okay with out losing all the blacking.

The boat has been out and had three coats of Intertuff put on. The bill came to £550 which I think sounds about average for having it done for you. It sounds okay if you say it quickly anyway!

I had painted the interior of the semi trad stern black and Helen liked it so we are going to keep that with the new paint scheme.

The sign writing will get done later and we will be having something very similar to what we had before as we really liked it. Boring again I suppose.

Next year I will have to set to and paint out the lockers and engine hole. I reckon that is a very good reason to go on a diet so as to be able to fit in the engine hole better.

Before we left the boat at the end of September we had Kim at the Little Chimney Company put a new flue in for the stove as the one we had was not fitted to take a double skinned chimney. The last thing we wanted was to pay out for  a new paint job and then get it ruined with the first fire. We had the chimney fabricated at the same time but it wasn't finished until we had gone home. Tracey and Kim held on to it for us and as we were in the area we went over to see them and pick it up. Kim says they are very busy and we just missed Tracey unfortunately.

The double skin means that any tar coming up the chimney will not condense so quickly and drip down as the inner flue will remain hotter. Any that does condense will drip back down the flue where it can be burnt up again as it will be hotter down there. Fingers crossed anyway.

Just the quick visit to the boat made us both realise how much we miss it and has pushed us into thinking about plans for next year so that we can schedule in time away on the boat as well as the volunteering work for the City of Culture year in Hull. That's getting very close now, and excitement is growing.

Saturday 26 November 2016

Catch up.

Still very busy with everything here in Hull. More training, more volunteering slots and more History and Ghost walks. Fortunately not the enormous numbers of the  first Ghost walks, but much more manageable and fun with smaller numbers.

Helen and I volunteer at the City of Culture Pod at the Travel Interchange, (bus and train station to normal folk) and it  is always fun. You get the 'nay sayers' who tell that City of Culture' is a waste of money etc. and I then like to play the 'What did the Romans do for us' Game. I may not always convert them but it is nice to try. There are lots  of folk who just want a natter, and they are lovely too. My favourite is when somebody comes and says they have several hours to kill and they don't know Hull, so you can help plan their day and send them off to the best places to make sure they come back. The most strange  question I have been asked is 'why are there two tides every day?'

Hull City of Culture 2017 Information Pod at the Travel Interchange.

Helen has discovered she enjoys jazz after a couple of trips out to the Hull Jazz festival and we have both addressed schools full of kids as every school in Hull is getting visit from volunteers and the outreach have got City of Culture activity packs into every school to get them involved. It is somewhat daunting standing up in front of over 200 small children.

On the boat front I think I have already said that we passed the MOT and so could get the licence with no problem, and with the discount. The next thing was the blacking. We still haven't been able to fit in a trip to the boat yet, but Streethay (and it is pronounced Street Hay, not Streath Hay, as I was told it was on the cut, a couple of times), have kept me well informed. They recommended that we fit a few low profile anodes along the middle length of the boat as there was evidence of pitting the further we got from the anodes at bow and stern. I had seen this for my self in clear water through the year. As we knew that we were having the boat painted this year I didn't get the blacking carried out last year so it has gone three between coatings. I thought the galvanic isolator wasn't working or something but then realised that  it will only be active when the boat is on shore power, or at least I think that is how it works. We had a very battered propeller with two very bent blades for the full years cruising so it will be interesting to see how the fuel consumption works out when I calculate it for the end of the year. Mind you we have been on the rivers quite a bit so may not show to much. I felt that the prop must be the thinnest scantlings as not only have we bent the blades every year, but I have been able to partly straighten them with just a mole wrench and whilst in the water. I asked them to source one for me and they reckon that they wont be able to find me one until January. They said also that they could get me one made for £950!!. I think we can wait. Whilst they were down there they have replaced the rudder cup bearing and the top bearing too. I am assuming that they have started on the repaint job now so we will have to pop down and see her with her skirts lifted.

Friday 28 October 2016

Not stood still.

Well it is over three weeks since we left the boat and arrived back 'up north', and it doesn't seem like my feet have touched the ground at all. It makes me realise why I enjoy the boat so much when we are away. After arriving home I decided to head back the very next day to collect all the rest of the stuff as we were unsure when we would be able to go down next, so 'rather be safe than sorry'. The trip down was in torrential rain for a while but it soon brightened up and I arrived back at Streethay quite quickly. I soon had the jobs done and the car loaded and heading back to Hull after checking that the yard had the keys. When we left they were very busy and I was just checking that the keys got put in a safe place and labelled! I had left Helen cleaning the house as we had very important visitors on the Monday.

Yes it is David and Marilyn bloggers from 'Wakahuia' who are over from new Zealand for a flying visit to family and managed to fit us into their schedule for a night and a bit of a catch up. David and I talked politics late into the night, which is something you can't say happens too often. Their visit was too short and they were off again on their circumnavigation of the country, or so it seemed.

Helen and I have been pretty busy with training and volunteering for the Hull, City of Culture 2017. I must say always after the training we are geed up once more. We have done a couple of sessions volunteering at the 'Pod', and information centre at the travel interchange (read bus and train station). It is quite good fun, despite the regular doom mongers, and I think folk are really getting interested more and more now.
Image result for hull city of culture
I have been attending two choirs a week since being home and with one of them I have already appeared on stage at the New Adelphi in Hull. It is a club where my kids would hang out, and I had never been before, but I have now sung on stage where the best rock acts in the country have sung. Mind you it is only a couple of semis knocked through in a residential street, but it is iconic!!

I have also carried out my normal History Walks around Hedon where we live and have spent ages compiling a Ghost Walk for the season. It took me lots of research etc but it was great when 36 turned up at the first one last Wednesday. The next is Halloween Night, this Monday.

It has also been my birthday and Helen took me out for the day. We left the car at the foot of the Yorkshire Wolds, at Market Weighton and walked up to the village of Goodmanham. These must be the first lambs of the year, or more likely the last of the year! The pub in the village has their own brewery All Hallows. I had a couple of pints of their liquorice stout 'No Notion' that at 5.2% went down a real treat. After the meal, as it was my birthday I had another pint of their lovely dark mild 'Peg Fyfe' at 3.8%, just to wash the lovely meal down you know. Good job there are plenty of  hedges on the walk back to the car. That evening we went to the Hull Truck Theatre in Hull to see a new play by Janet Plater (daughter of Alan) called 'The Gaul' about the sinking of the freezer trawler from Hull in 1974. I wondered how on earth they would stage it, but it was a really great play, excellently acted and staged that had us laughing and crying in equal measure. A great end to a birthday.

We decided to have a walk by the Humber today. You used to be able to walk right past Alexandra Dock but as they have built a new Siemens plant for building off shore wind turbines there they have diverted part of it round the land side. It was beautifully still today and you got the full effect of the big skies today, with a view of the ferry terminal too.

As part of the permission for diverting the footpath they had to place several pieces of public art on the new path. The first is this 'The Rebar Goodwit' by Jason Heppenstall. It is largely made out of chains by the look of it.

The next one is 'Packing the Gaps' by Luke Beech. Not quite so lovable!

A little more user friendly perhaps is 'Sheepshank' by Holly Lawson. I'm sure that you knotters out there will recognise the sheepshank knot used to shorten a rope!

There was a ship in discharging the towers for the offshore turbines. At the right hand end of the suspended lift, on the deck, is a crew man for scale.

This one reminded me of the poems on the lock beams around the system. It is by Debi Kebble and is titled 'Ebb and Flow'.

This one is 'Past and Present' by Peter Ronald Coates and appears to be made up of the arms that were attached to bucket grabs used suspended form cranes to discharge bulk grains.

There was a lonely curlew having a nice paddle in the low water mud  just off the dock.

Another big sky and the remains of an old wooden keel off Victoria Dock that is now a 'village' but retains alot of the features of the old dock.

Believe it or not this is the River Hull, and I used to take ships up here! Looks a bit better when there is a little more water in it though, plus it is easier to get the ships in!

The fences around the port, and almost the first thing that passengers on the car ferry will see have been disguised by a complete run of banners like these that promote the City of Culture year. It is all set to go off with a bang on New Years Night when we will have a firework display that has been promised to be better than the London one the day before. Not long now. Book your train for hull as it is going to be great, something happening everyday of the year.

Sunday 2 October 2016

Left all alone.

We set off on Saturday in rather dull weather but it wasn't cold as there was no wind.

This is the external part of our new flue. The proud lining will fit into the new stainless steel chimney that Kym is providing soon. They are so busy that they are a little behind but as we wont be on the boat there is no rush for it. We lit the fire to 'cook' the new flue. It didn't make much smoke at all and I was able to black it whilst we were waiting to go home. It has all been done to try and prevent the tar that can be seen on the collar and roof doing the same once we have been repainted.

It was a heavy heart that we set off and we went along almost at tick over to prolong the agony as much as possible. The dull weather was matching our gloomy moods at having to 'abandon ship'.

There is little autumn clour in the hedges and trees but the farmers have been converting green and gold fields to brown ones so that the cycle can restart.

Approaching Streethay it appears to be a very busy yard. So it proved  as there was lots of work going on on boats, engines etc.

It was great to 'Starling' and butty 'Ethel' moored up looking really tiddley in Cowburn and Cowpar colours. 

We went alongside and filled up with fuel so as to minimise the air in the tank so hoping to prevent the diesel bug taking hold by allowing water from condensation occurring over the winter. It was 59p/litre too. We were directed to the berth we were to occupy for now. No sooner had we lashed her to the pontoon than the rain started and it didn't relent until we left, further adding to our dour mood. Our son and his partner finally arrived and we were able to fill up the space left in the car once four people, a budgie and a cat and accompanying paraphernalia were loaded.

We arrived home and had to go for fish and chips as there was nothing else in the house. Helen has a bit of a rule that we don't have fish and chips, well fish at least, south of Stoke, as we have had some horrendous experiences. She will also not buy them from anywhere that also sells pizzas, kebabs etc. 

We will not have much time to feel sad as we have a very busy few months coming up and I need to get into the habit of making a weekly and daily lists so that I don't waste time and get through the long lists. As we will be busy I got up early'ish and went to get the paper and then jumped in the car and headed back to the boat. I filled it up with everything else we were bringing home, which was most as the boat will be having the windows etc taken out when it goes for it's repaint. I also had a few little jobs to do before leaving her.

We will be going back nearer the time and take down the curtains etc but for now the dust sheets are up.

I brought everything off the roof inside and covered the pullman with a n old blanket

I pulled all the soft furnishings away from the bulkheads and set a couple of green house heaters to come on at 2C just in case there is a cold snap.

I cleared the roof but looking at the photo I have remembered that I didn't take the rope tails of the plank rack.

We will be going down to the yard prior to the job to finalise the colours we want etc. I thought I would take a picture of the sign writing as we want something similar to this when the new writing is completed. When we told some people we were coming to this yard Streethay ( as in a road and cut grass) they looked at us puzzled and then came up with 'Oh, you mean Stre th ay', with a 'th'in the middle. How on earth they managed to be convinced that that was the pronunciation is beyond me. Then again I am a PATH, BATH bloke rather that PAFF and BAFF type. By the way the Streethay is pronounced as the road and mown grass way.

There will be occasional blogs from now on so keep looking out for them.

Friday 30 September 2016

Nice and bright last day.

The day started cold but the sun was nice and bright. I am pleased to say the Hurricane worked extremely well and he got up toasty warm. Minimum temp outside last night was 8.3C. We were soon ready for the off putting fenders away and got everything else ready.

We popped over to see Tracey and Kym of the Little Chimney Co. moored ahead of us to thank them for their service and had another great chat about this and that. We will see them before too long I'm sure. They were on the move later today too.

The buttery yellow autumnal light was filtering through the still green leaves. You get the impression though that as soon as the first frost comes it will be a veritable blizzard of leaves. Maybe it wont only be the railways that are brought to a stand still due to leaves!

I'm afraid my photo doesn't do credit to the lovely scene as we passed through the wood.

We were soon passing Fisherwick and the asparagus farm. I noticed that there were more distant fields planted up and ferns showing nice and busy but a a large part of the field near the canal appeared to have been dug up. This photo was from the first day of our cruise this year. It seems the asparagus farm is part of the New Farm at Elmhurst, north of Lichfield. They grow soft fruit and have been supplying Sainsbury's with strawberries and raspberries since 1987 after doing pick your own from 1970's. There are 50 acres put to asparagus largely at Fisherwick and this was started in 1985. The normal season is from the end of April, beginning of May to 21st June as the asparagus will only grow when the soil temperature at 15 to 20cm is 20 to 22C. They invested in poly tunnels that they erect in January, also covering the soil with extra plastic. They have also invested in underground heating by running water pipes under the poly tunnels through which they pump water that is heated by an air sourced heat pump. This means that they can extend the season by six to eight weeks. They supply around 80 tonnes to Sainsbury's and about 300 are employed to process it all at the height of the season. Maybe they have grubbed up some of the ferns to lay more underground pipes?

I noticed this well maintained weather vane on the farm just past the asparagus. Not much wind today, so far!

We went past fields with cattle grazing and this one taking advantage of the canal. Do the farmers get charged for the use of the canal? I also noticed that the animals had 'brands' on their rumps as well as ear tags. I wondered how they did it these days. Apparently it is now done by freeze branding where the branding iron is cooled to -160C to -200C. When applied to the cow it changes the pigmentation of the hair so it grows back white. On white animals they leave it on a little longer and the hair drops out and doesn't grow back.

Just in case you don't know what a cows backside looks like here is one supplied by Wikipedia. It is apparently less painful that hot branding with a slight inflammation going down in a few days, it is clearly visible at any time of the year and the figures are usually much clearer. It does take more specialized equipment and takes a few days to show properly. Who would have thought!!

I love these windows in the club house of the Lichfield Cruising Club at Huddlesford Junction.

Looking on the Lichfield Canal restoration website they aim to have the canal open from Huddlesford to Ogley by 2026. With a little luck I'll still be able to go and take a look on a boat. My own worry is that it will open up the W&E and Walsall Canals and they wont be the lovely quite and secret place they are at the moment.

We moored up not far from the Plough at the junction as we are going to treat ourselves tonight to 'celebrate', commiserate, our last day this year.