Sunday 5 April 2020

Gone But Not Forgotten

It is almost a year since Gecko was sold and even longer since  Gecko's Progress was active but neither the boat nor the blog has completely disappeared.
Gecko now lives in Crick Marina, apparently, but we have not been there to visit. If the Crick Boat Show had gone ahead we had planned to make a flying visit but now we will have to wait.

This morning I was reminded of the blog by this photograph arriving from a loyal reader which realy brings the blog up to date.

We really miss the canal life and hope all our friends and passing acquaintances  are managing to keep safe and supplied with the necesseties of life.

Now the blog has been awakened, perhaps more words and pictures will flow.....

Sunday 31 March 2019

nb Gecko has flown

Yes, we have finally hung up our windlasses 
and moved ashore to live.
Our home for the past 12 years is now 

Monday 4 June 2018

Northern Rail 100% Performance

Since reducing their service to one train per day on each route, Northern Rail claim they are the most reliable rail franchise operator in UK. Customers'  prime concern, they say, is about reliability which this new simple-to-follow timetable has addressed so successfully. On the back of this success Northern Rail has applied to take over the East Coast route recently relinquished by Virgin and Stagecoach.

Friday 1 June 2018

Canal Festival at Scarisbrick Marina

The last one in 2016 was great fun and this year the Southport Air Show is taking place over the same weekend so there will be plenty to see in the sky as well as on land and in the water

Wednesday 18 October 2017

Canal & Rivers DISTRUST

Canal and Rivers Trust (C&RT)  have recently been 'consulting' with interested parties on a review of how boats are licenced for using the waterways under its control.
National Association of Boat Owners (NABO) which is the most broadly representative of all the boating pressure groups has been involved in this and has become disillusioned by C&RT's approach.  The 'consultation' seems to be a sham. C&RT appear to have decided how licensing is going to change and are going through the motions and massaging the results to support this decision.
NABO issued the following message to all members and I urge ALL boaters, whether members of NABO or not, to make their views know to C&RT as soon as possible.

Your Council met recently and felt that we should urgently communicate our 
views and recommendations with regard to CRT's latest consultation.
Canal and River Trust have spent considerable time and expense getting to 
this stage yet in our view have now effectively ignored the majority view.
CRT have in this consultation posed questions intimating that these have 
the support of the two earlier stages and of the Navigation Advisory Group
(NAG L&M) where boaters views were requested. This is not the case.

At the specially convened meeting of NAG and the boaters representatives 
Mark Tizard and Alison Tuck from NABO attended) we were advised that after
getting the views of the boating organisations (stage 1) and the boaters 
workshops (stage 2) the only common themes emerging were the approval  to
change the way licensing was charged from length to area and to review 
discounts generally (keeping the prompt payment discount). We understood
that this basically was likely to form the core of the questions to be asked.
There was a majority view that there should just be one license charge
regardless of whether a boater had a home mooring or not) and it was agreed
that licensing cost should not be used to address congestion but that this
was the function of enforcement. 
Despite being rejected at stage 1&2 this was brought up again at the special 
NAG meeting and again rejected unanimously.

Despite this we note with dismay that CRT have chosen to be divisive and have 
included questions that suggest that the boaters should pay a different fee 
dependent upon whether they have a home mooring or not, see questions 24,25 
and 26. NABO's view is that there should be one license fee for use of the
waterways under CRT's control and would urge members to vote accordingly. 
In addition we note that CRT in question 24  is suggesting a new license with 
increased fee  (in our view potentially  illegal unless there is a new act of 
Parliament) for boats that wish to remain in one area. This is in our view a 
function of creating a sustainable mix of towpath, short and long term 
moorings supported by enforcement.

Members can read a pdf of the consultation here. 

We would URGE all members to respond to the consultation, 
if you have not received a copy contact customer services who will email 
or post one out to you.

NABO is planning to launch a wider campaign shortly whose aims are to ensure
that CRT and EA put boating and boaters at the forefront of their
thinking and actions when promoting the waterways. 
This will have the tag of ' As a boater are you feeling marginalised ?' 

NABO Council 
With highlighting and italicizing by Peter Lloyd 

Monday 16 October 2017

Never Had It So Good ?

On BBC Radio Four's consumer programme this morning You  & Yours Winifred Robinson was discussing the report from the debt help group, Step Change.  This reported a rise in the number of  people with debt problems and highlighted the following from callers to their help line:
  • Six out of ten callers were under 40
  • Four out of ten were single with no children
  • Eight out of ten were renting their home
Their representative made the following statement in support of  the third point here:
"more people are renting than ever before"  
The population of UK is greater than ever before and so his statement might be true. However to make the claim meaningful it should be based on the proportion of households renting, not the  number of people in the population.
And on that basis it is not true according to the Office of National Statistics.
The chart below clearly shows that the proportion of rented households in UK was greater  than it is today prior to 1981 - one generation ago.


The second contributor on this topic was Katie Morley, the Consumer Editor of the Daily Telegraph.
I hazard a guess that Ms Morley is in the age group under discussion because of her unbelievable stance.  For a person in her position on a national newspaper to say that the young are in debt through no fault of their own is naive if not immature.
"Look who created the system - the old people. They are to blame"
Does she believe this drivel?
Part of this system, according to Ms Morley,  is the growth in channels to buy goods on deferred payment. This is not new. When I was her age every other household had a catalogue which allowed them to purchase on tick. Is this ancient (irrelevant) history to the the under 40s?
There has always been credit available but what has changed is society's attitude to it. We were always told . Never a borrower or lender be.
An incentive to heading this advise  was the rate of interest and inflation.   The interest rate on our first mortgage reached 25% at one time which is a far cry from today's rates.
There seems to be growing support  for the view that the baby boomers have "never had it so good", to borrow from Harold Macmillan.
This may be the case but I doubt that many of the current  under 40's  have ever had to cope with the financial problems that the baby boomers did at their age. If I had voiced Ms Morley's statement at her age it would have elicited the response
 Stop blaming others and  cut your coat according to your cloth.

Wednesday 23 August 2017

A conspiracy?

Our plan today was to make sufficient progress along the Bridgewater Canal to get us through Wigan tomorrow. As some stretches of the Bridgewater Canal can be quite boring M agreed to take a turn on the tiller in one hour shifts.

Towards the end of her first shift this obstruction necessitated a stop and then a squeeze past.

Once past, she could not get under  way again as there was no response from the throttle.  All we could do was drift until we managed to reach the bank where we bow-hauled Gecko into a safe mooring position.
Once again our itinerary went out of the window as we sought an engineer who could come out and fit a new cable.
In less time than I expected we had an offer from the engineer at Clyamore Navigation at Preston Brook. First on the scene, however, was Ken Wheeler who had us up and running again in less than an hour.  Our demeanor passed from desolation to elation in 60 minutes as we resumed our journey.
Events like this reinforce my preference for canals over rivers. Had this happened on the Thames the outcome might have been quite different.

Tuesday 22 August 2017

Tegu or Not Tegu

Quite an eventful day. We set off from Middlewich  at 7am in order to descend the five locks before other boats were on the move.. In fact this worked well as we passed through the fourth narrow lock at 7.30  and then picked up another boat to share the Big Lock with.  Our aim was to make as much distance as possible which we hoped would get us onto the Bridgewater Canal.  Two attempts were made to prevent us achieving our target.
As we approached Lion Salt Works  and realised we would have to forego a visit to this site which we first visited 30 years ago when it was derelict, a boat pulled out ahead of us heading in the same direction. It then proceeded as such a slow pace we could not keep our engine in gear but had to keep idling it. This went on for over two miles by which time we had decided to hail him to let us pass.
We also met a novice boater who was (apparently) trying to turn her boat around. We only know that because she told us. Her maneuvering gave no clue to that intention.  Her technique, which remained unsuccessful for the time we were around, involved getting off and on the boat  and then steering the stern into the centre of the canal before returning to the bank and repeating the whole process. All this was being carried out ten yards past a winding hole.
Eleven years ago, on our very first trip down the Grand Union to our old stamping grounds in the Chilterns we were looking for a mooring in Bulborne. By the time we reached the Wendover Arm we realised there were no spaces long enough for our 58ft.  As we debated what to do a guy with a Gecko tattoo on his shaved pate emerged from a small boat having guessed our problem. He and I then moved the boat moored in front of him and made a suitable mooring for Gecko. 
During our  week there we had a number of conversations with Martin, who was a master baker. His boat was named Tegu which is a rather large gecko from South America. Over the past ten years we have seen him from time to time around the country in various boats as he has changed them. We have also seen Tegu with its new owner. We last saw Martin on the Macclesfield canal when we were diverted from Middlewich to Manchester when the breach occurred at Dutton a few years back.
This morning as we pottered along behind the snail boat we were accosted by  a guy carrying his shopping. He doffed his cap to reveal the gecko tattoo and we caught up with our life histories in the few minutes available. This is feeling more like a farewell tour each day.

22 miles / 6 locks / 3 tunnels / 2 obstacles

Monday 21 August 2017

Name Check

We have been dogged with communication problems this trip. When we have cellular coverage we have been too busy with other activities to write on the blog and when we have a free evening we seem to be in the cellular wilderness. Cellular operators claim to cover 97% of the population but they seem capable of achieving this in 65% of the land mass. Where do you suppose the canals are?
As this is likely to be our last trip in Gecko it seems appropriate that we have seen so many boats we know.
The sister boat to Hampshire Rose, which we saw twice on the Oxford Canal,  is Autumn Venture and we passed them on the Coventry Canal. Neither has their original owners.
Inanda, which used to belong to Carole and Robin in Cosgrove we saw at Fradley. This is another Severn Valley boat and was originally named John Barleycorn.
A few years ago we shared some locks  at Stoke Bruerne with The Antidote.  That we passed at Fradle, too, but was not occupied so we could not say hello to Paul and Julia
Early the same morning we passed Brian and Brenda asleep on Colehurst at Whittington.
At Fazeley where we had a new mattress and seat cushions made we met and chatted to  Tony and Pauline on Iberia. They, too, are considering selling their boat and retiring from the canals. Whilst we were mooring up there the newest member of Cutweb - Cousin Jack passed us.
It doesn't make leaving the canals any easier to see all these boats knowing we may never see them again.


Tuesday 15 August 2017

Postman stole our stamp

Last Saturday we posted  a birthday card to our ten year old grandson. 
We handed it in to the post office near Barleston Station at 7am. as there is no pillar box thee.
When it arrived at the destination in Lancashire the stamp had been removed. 
The envelope was franked on the back where it could not cancel the stamp.
Why does this matter?
The stamp we used was very special: it was one of the fruit and veg range to which we could add facial features and clothes.  
This one was an orange with beady eyes, a bow tie,  a moustache and a viking hat. 
Our grandson was looking forward to receiving it.
But some unmentionable person in the postal network stole it 
How despicable can people get?