Saturday, 3 December 2016

Whitechapel Bell Foundry to close

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.

Friday, 2 December 2016

Boat Accidents - I blame TV

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

This happens every year

There are other accidents too.....


 But most are down to human error

Like not fastening the weed hatch properly...

Sometimes accidents are just waiting to happen...

Saturday, 19 November 2016

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Earthquake in New Zealand

If you are following the news of the earthquakes in New Zealand here are a couple of links you may find interesting

TV footage

Maps and aerial photos

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Boat Fires

Our roving photographer, Erica, who usually covers stories further afield, was on hand to snap this spectacular fire at Barton Turns Marina recently.
No cause has been identified to date
C&RT closed the Trent & Mersey Canal to avoid pollution
Apparently four cruisers were destroyed 
The fire service was well represented
Although Air Ambulance attended there were no injuries

Monday, 14 November 2016

Trash Puppies

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.

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Good Morning America !

I seem to have picked up considerable interest form USA over the past couple of weeks.
If you would like to say hello and let me know what brought to Gecko's Progress please leave a comment on this post.  I shall not publish it unless you ask me to.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Slide Show to go

Google has just informed me that they are withdrawing the programme which I use to present the slide show in the right hand panel of this blog. apparently it will disappear on Sept 29.
So if you have nothing better to do why not sit and watch it for a while.

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Someone IS Listening

A few days ago I wrote a piece entitled Preston Lesson in Wasting Money     where I suggested some  attention could be directed at clearing up the detritus in New Hall Lane instead of erecting signs saying that the council was improving the local area.
Well, Preston Council may be deaf, but Friends of Fishwick and St Matthews have announced they will make funds available for local businesses to smarten their shopfronts. See this report in the local paper.  
Grotty Shops in New Hall Lane
I don't suppose I was the only person to entertain this idea but  this is not the first such coincidence.

Sunday, 10 July 2016

Beer for Breakfast

There are parts of London which live in different time zones from you and I and the wholesale markets are some of them. Back in the 1980s I worked in Goswell Road, London which is close to The Barbican and, more relevant to this story, Smithfield Meat Market Through the night lorries arrive from all over the UK with carcasses of beef, lamb, pork and more exotic fare. And in due course this meat is shipped out again to butchers and meat processors all over the country.  This is tiring and thirsty work which is recognised by the local licensing laws  which allow the pubs in Smithfield to open at 3am. From time to time colleagues of mine would arrive a couple of hours early for work and go to the pub for (a very meaty) breakfast. This usually included several pints of Guinness.  Work output on these days was always rather suspect both in quantity and quality.  I was reminded of this by two events: Farnborough Air Show which opened to the trade this week (our work in Goswell Road was defence electronics) and the line-up for the Saturday night ceilidh at Scarisbrick Marina Festival was a band called Beer for Breakfast.  To accompany this Irish group there was a hog roast. There was not much dancing but I guess that was because most of us had had a busy day around the marina.
In addition to the usual bouncy castle the army had brought their assault course version for the larger kids. Unfortunately they said I was ineligible.After being rejected by the army I made my way to the marquee where I could hear music emanating.. This turned out to be a troupe of Morris dancers (is that the correct collective noun?) Very entertaining but a little too  stressful for my artificial hips.
This was not an issue for some of the audience who were encouraged to join in.

Even er indoors was tempted to trip the light fantastic.

I think she was attracted by wielding a stick.

The vigour and enthusiasm she put into whacking the staves had me worried.


So I withdrew and went to admire the 1915 Ford parked up by the craft marquee.