Peel Holdings, who own the Bridgewater Canal and thus our link with the canals of the Midlands and south, have announced that they will be closing the canal for four months from mid February to repair a bridge. So we will not be heading down to Stratford very early in the season. We should, however, be able to get into Liverpool so all is not lost.
In the meantime we are going away for a while and will try to keep you informed of our progress through the blog.
We learned this morning that Whitechapel Bell Foundry is to close. This I find very sad and hope that as much of the foundry as possible can be preserved as a historic monument. If you are unfamiliar with the oldest manufacturing company in the country I urge you to spend some time reading their website whilst it exists. Below is my post from June 2007 Loughborough boasts the largest bell foundry in the world - Taylors -
where Great Paul, the 17ton bell at St. Paul's Cathedral in London, was
cast. Local residents may also tell you that Big Ben was cast here but
this is another of the many stories which surround this bell. It was
actually cast in Stockton-on-Tees and weighed 16tons. As the tower was
unready Big Ben was first hung in Palace Yard but it cracked in use.
The metal was recast at the only other bell foundry now existing in
England - Whitechapel Bell Foundry in the east end of London. In this
process it appears to have lost 2.5 tons. Along with most natives of
this country and all tourists - I have never seen Big Ben but I am very familiar with its sound and with The Elizabeth Tower which houses it.
Since our enforced (but temporary) absence from the canals we have been sampling the novelty call Television. This is amazing! I did not realise until I watched John Sargeant that it never rains on the canals. Nor did I understand that bashing every bridge and boat in sight was the main aim of canal boating. It took Timothy West and wife Pru to show me this. When we get back on the cut next year I shall have to modify my cruising mode from Dodg'm to Bumper..
Last time we cruised down into London we shared a couple of locks with a bridge-hopper relocating for his next 14 days half a mile further up the Regent's Canal. He employed a novel method of stopping his boat which did not involve reversing the engine. What a great fuel saving we have been missing: I must try jumping off with a rope in future. Stopping 18tons of steel can't be all that hard, can it?
So, with all these educational canal programmes on the TV (that's the short name for television apparently) why have boating accidents more than doubled in the last year? River and Canal Rescue(the AA of the waterways) reported that within the 4331 call-outs they attended in the 12 months to 1st November 2016 there were 179 major and 31 minor accidents compared with 65 major and 16 minor ones the year before. It can't be lack of instruction, can it?
Top of the list for major accidents is still boats getting caught on lock cills or gates
A few years ago I bought two pairs of Hush Puppies - one brown and one black. These I kept for special occasions, which don't occur very often on the canals. So they lived at the bottom of a locker until we emptied the boat for the winter. Last Monday we went into London for a number of events - the V&A exhibition of Medieval embroidery, a talk on Charles Voysey and to meet Margaret's sister. That seemed special enough to warrant wearing my smart shoes. When we left the tube at Charring Cross station (which used to be more appropriately called Trafalgar Square) I found myself hobbling like walking on cobbles. It transpired that Hush Puppies have an affinity for tube trains and my right shoe had been reluctant to leave the train despite being laced up. That which could - the sole - stayed continued its journey to the Elephant & Castle whilst the uppers came with me. I do not recall seeing a Best Before or Use By date on the box when purchasing these shoes and I have never considered shoes as perishable but obviously Hush Puppies are. I have to admit to ignoring the adage Never wear brown in town and acknowledge its sagacity in regards to such footwear.
I seem to have picked up considerable interest form USA over the past couple of weeks.
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