Thursday, 25 May 2017

3 Tunnels; 1 Stop Lock; 1 Salvage

On our way from Dunham Massey, where we spent last night, to Anderton  we did indeed negotiate three tunnels - Preston Brook (1239 yards), Saltersford (424), Barnton (572 )
-and the peculiar stop lock at Dunton which forms the border between the Bridgewater  and the Trent & Mersey Canals.

 I am not sure whether the maritime law of salvage applies to canals, certainly boarding a canal boat without permission is technically piracy .

As we approached bridge 204 on our way to Saltersford Tunnel we encountered two boats performing some kind of dance. We soon realised that the couple on a hire boat were trying to re-moor a boat which had lost its moorings.

Putting M ashore with a lump hammer to assist, I tried not to get  in the way.

Until it was my turn to assist by pushing the loose boat to the bank

Job done, the hirers proceeded to return their boat and I tried to unstick myself from the mud .

22 miles / 1 lock / 3 tunnels

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Opening Time

Not much to say today because I have just deleted all the photos I took today and am gutted.
We set off just before 9am intending to arrive at Vicars Hall Bridge  on the Bridgewater Canal around noon when it was due to be opened. After three months closure we expected there to be a queue of boats waiting to go north to Liverpool or to escape south. As it happened the canal was opened yesterday afternoon so when we arrived spot on noon there were no boats. In fact we saw only four boats in four hours this morning. I know that those  of you south of Anderton don't believe this but since Sunday we have seen no other boats traveling. The custom of waiting in a broad lock for another boat to share it would result in boaters starving to death up here. 
So there you have it. The lovely picture of Gecko cruising through the (unfinished) bridge portals on the stroke of noon is not to see the light of day. And I can't start to tell you about the other more wonderful photographs I took.  
We have moored this evening near Dunham Masseyr with Anderton our target for tomorrow. 

23 miles / 0 locks

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Welcoming New Readers

Today we were overrun by a lovely crowd of youngsters with enquiring minds.
We don't know their names but are sure they will become regular readers of this blog
Best wishes guys with your end-of-year exams

The Road to Wigan Pier

Up early today.  Filled up with water and emptied the toilet and set off on the dot of 7am.

Soon after setting off we passed the entrance to the Rufford Arm which links the L&L main line to the River Ribble. This has become popular since the millennium  link near Preston  made it possible to cross the River and travel up the Lancaster Canal.

At Glovers swing bridge a C&RT working boat was hogging the bridge landing so M had to cross their boat to  get to the tow path.

The old lock at Appley Bridge

Long before the L&L was built the Wigan coalfields were already using water transport to move their product.
The Little River Douglas was  partly canalised through to the River Ribble at Preston .

Along this stretch  we passed three of the old locks dating from the early 17th century
The Little River Douglas flows to the right of the L&L lock

From Preston, coal was  taken along the coast to Fleetwood, Lancaster and Liverpool .

When the L&L was finally finished over a hundred years later the Douglas link became redundant.

Pillbox near Parbold

During the second World War the strategic importance of the L&L was recognised as was its vulnerability. Along its route pillboxes were built and manned by the Home Guard (aka Dad's Army) much as the Kennet & Avon Canal was defended

And we must not forget that coal was not the only commodity carried along this canal.

Grain, and, of course, flour were regularly moved.
This old windmill near Parbold is right alongside the canal.

On arriving at Wigan we made two attempts to moor. Our first choice was too shallow and  so we moved over to the ex BW bollards. Here we were more successful until a pair of boats went down the lock we developed a significant list.

So we left Wigan centre and found a lovely spot alongside Scotman's Flash.

13.5miles / 8 locks / 2 swing bridges

Monday, 22 May 2017

Dale Street

Today I had to go into both Southport and Manchester by train so I was able to not use the transport interchange at Burscough Bridge. With no ticket office at the station I endeavoured to buy the tickets for this excursion  on the train but by the time the ticket man reached me the train had reached Southport so I bought them at that station.
My meeting in Manchester was in Dale Street. Some of you might remember stopping here on the Cheshire Ring to buy the license to descend the Rochdale Nine from a little hut  in the car park.
After my meeting, therefore, I walked down to the bottom of the street, where it meets Dulcie St.

My train had brought me into Victoria Station and as I made my way I spied this pub with he odd name:

The Lower Turk's Head

I wonder how that name came about.
What indeed is a lower Turk's head?

Starting the Rochdale Nine in 2017

There is still a car park at the junction of Dale St and Dulcie St but the area does not have the aura it had in the 1970s. I always found it a little foreboding, like buying a ticket for hell.
The start of the Rochdale Nine always  seemed to be cloaked in dark mists and shadows but perhaps my memory is playing tricks on me.
Entrance to the Ashton & Peak Forest Canals in 2017

 And the Ashton Canal seemed never seemed any  more inviting.

Sunday, 21 May 2017

We're Off !

After two years of neglect, Gecko is off again.
At 2.30pm on the dot we slipped our moorings and battled our way out of Scarisbrick Marina . The wind direction prevented us heading directly for the exit so we reversed to the point where we could spin round and dash for the exit bridge.

We are only going three miles to Burscough Bridge as I have to take a train to Southport and to Manchester tomorrow . It took us an  hour and forty minutes to cover this short stretch of the L&L canal as we had two swing bridges to operate. 

The first, at the Farmers' Arms was a busy road which is always fun to see the queue of cars building up as we make our sedate passage. It might have been easier had there not been a plastic boat moored on the bridge landing.

Guess why it's called The Slipway
The second is also by a pub. When we passed this way relocating Gecko from Anderton to Scarisbrick last May, the bridge mechanism failed and we had to wait for the engineer to come out and fix it.  No such problems today but the Slipway pub is now all boarded up.

We moored just before the long term moorings so that we can call at the water point and Elsan on Tuesday as we head off towards Wigan.

Just to be sure the station had not closed down in the past year or so, I walked down to the railway bridge.

A few years ago a lovely transport interchange was built here with a cafe and ticket office. 

And it's right behind the Bridge Inn. How convenient.

Well, there USED to be a cafe and ticket office, also a toilet and bike store.

At least the trains still call here 

4 miles / 0 locks

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Josephine Baker Day

In 1963 the NAACP (The oldest and boldest civil rights movement in the USA)
 designated May 20
Josephine Baker Day

Very soon after I started writing this post I ran into a problem I often have - how do I do justice to the subject without boring everyone.  So much has been written by so many people and so much better than I could achieve that I  have decided to direct you to some of that material rather than trying to distill it for your consumption.

I first became aware of Josephine Baker and the place she has in the hearts of the French when I worked in Paris. Our office was in Neuilly and we often (too often by British standards) repaired to the local cafĂ©  which was named after one of her most famous songs - J'ai Deux Amours
See her perform it here  - J'ai deux amours

Baker is most widely known for her erotic and humourous dancing and singing and, in particular, for her Banana Dance where she wore nothing but a skirt comprising sixteen (artificial) bananas. The film clips of this all come from performances in USA where she wore more garments for local taste.

But this clip will give you an idea of her humour - Don't Touch Me Tomatoes
La Baker, as the French called her, was more than  just a singer and dancer.
This article entitled Dancer, Singer, Activist, Spy    goes a long way to explaining this.

But Josephine Baker was more than  just a Dancer, Singer, Activist & Spy
Growing up in USA she encountered ingrained racial prejudice which contrasted to her reception in France. Here the public took her into their hearts - granted her citizenship and awarded her gallantry medals for her resistance work. When she died in 1975 she was buried with full military honours - 21 gun salute included - by her adopted homeland, France.
Throughout her life she fought against prejudice which came from her belief that all people should, and could, live in harmony . She did not agree with the Melting Pot philosophy of racial integration. She believed all cultures must be celebrated for their diversity and by living by this doctrine the world would be a more peaceful and happier place. 
Her approach to demonstrating this was revolutionary : initially lauded but later considered an unfortunate mistake. 
In 1953 she embarked on a programme which resulted in her adopting, sometimes under dubious circumstances, twelve children from diverse cultures and raising them as cultural stereotypes. She is quoted as saying:
I will make every effort so that each shows the utmost respect for the opinion and beliefs of the other. I want to show people of colour  that not all whites are cruel and mean. I will prove that human beings can respect each other if given the chance.
Her adoptees included Akio (Korean), Teruya (Japanese), Jarry (Norwegian) and Luis (Colombian). Unable to obtain a child from Israel she adopted a French boy and brought him us as a Jew. Marianne and Brahim from Algeria she decided were Catholic and Muslim respectively. Others were brought from Ivory Coast, Venezuela and Morrocco. All were brought to her Chateau des Milandes in Perigord which was developed as a theme park featuring the children as hosts. 

Chateau des Milandes during restoration
Inevitably, the dream of a Rainbow Tribe became untenable and, penniless, Josephine moved to Monaco where she was provided with accommodation by her friend Princess Grace.

Chateau des Milandes as restored in 2016

Chateau des Milandes restored
Josephine Baker may have been misguided in the exercise of her quest for mutual respect across all cultures but I respect her for the strength of her belief and the commitment to try to achieve it.
And I enjoy her singing


Monday, 15 May 2017

How Nestle Hides Price Rises

NEW RECIPE - 8 sachets to a box

Nestle have been advertising their 
 "New Recipe"
Instant Cappuccino recently
(When was anything not 
NEW and/or IMPROVED??) 

10 Sachets but no sprinkles

Last week there were 
10 sachets in a box.
Now there are  8, 

That's 20% less


Originally each carton included a little plastic tube of chocolate sprinkles
Where did they go?

Sneaky , aren't they?  

Friday, 21 April 2017

How the EU complicates life

How many beans?
What do you expect the contents of this can of beans to weigh?
Don't be silly - we're still in the EU!
Before we joined the Common Market/EEC/EU every can of beans had to contain at lest the declared weight.  Manufactures would aim for 16oz but declare 15.5oz.
Consumers knew that if they tipped the beans out and they weighed less than 15.5oz   they had been cheated.
Trading Standards knew that if they tipped  the beans out and they weighed less than 15.5oz the consumer had been cheated
Manufacturers knew that if they checked a sample from each production batch they could be sure they were not cheating anyone. 
Life  was simple wasn't it?

Then we joined the Common Market and the introduction of this symbol.
With this came: 
Processing variations, 
standard deviations,
negative tolerances, 
sampling allowances, 
wandering averages, 
storage allowances, 
fill temperature allowances 
and action limits 
The situation now is:
Consumers have no way of knowing whether they are being cheated or not
Trading Standards have a monumental task if they want to check whether a manufacturer is complying with weights and measures regulations. 
Manufacturers have to maintain extensive and complicated records for Trading Standards to audit.

If you are interested in the details then peruse the example given below in the guide to the legislation. (This is for sweets and may be a little more complicated than for canned beans)

An example on setting target quantities and action limits
A packer produces 200 g bags of sweets; the variation due to the packing process is dependent on the size of sweet.
The process variation, stated as a standard deviation, is either 4 g, 5 g or 6 g.
The packing line produces 4,000 bags an hour and the packer monitors the average
weight of the product by taking samples of five bags from the line every 30 minutes.
The average of each sample is calculated and used to determine when action is needed.
What should be the lowest target quantity the packer should aim for, and what should
the minimum action limit (1 in 1,000) for the sample mean be, for each of the three processes?

Lowest Target Quantity
1.1. Process variation

1.1.1. The average range or standard deviation can be used to consider this parameter.
The standard deviation (SD) is more robust, as it is based on all the data available. In either case, the following assumes that the distribution of the contents of the packages is ‘normal’. If this assumption is incorrect the variation from normality also has to be considered.

1.1.2. In the scenario the variability of the filling process is given as a standard deviation. In order to ensure all three packers’ rules are met, the highest of the following has to be used to address this variability:

Qn T1+2s T2+3.72s
Qn is the nominal (labelled) quantity
s is the standard deviation of the filling process,
T1    is Qn TNE
T2    is Qn 2 TNE
TNE is the tolerable negative error for the nominal quantity
WELMEC document 6.4 at paragraph E2.5 deals with this matter as above. It is treated differently in the Packers Code at paragraph C15, but the result is the same.

For the various process variations the results are:-

variation     Qn     T1+2s     T2+3.72s     Largest
   4            200      199          196.88         200
   5            200      201          200.6           201
   6            200      203          204.32         204.32

As can be seen from this table that which of the packers’ rules is critical depends on the variability of the filling process. In this exercise the critical rule is:-

For s=4 g the first rule, ensuring the average is correct,
For s=5 g the second rule, ensuring that the number of packages having a greater negative error than the tolerable negative error isacceptable, and
For s=6 g the third rule, ensuring that there are no packages with a negative error greater than twice the tolerable negative error produced.

1.1.3. The above ‘largest’ quantities would be acceptable as a target quantity if there were no other issues that needed addressing. The scenario gave information about the sampling plan the packer is using and so the adequacy of this needs to be considered.

1.2. Sampling Allowance

1.2.1. Generally the packer’s sampling plan is considered to be equivalent to the
reference test if at least 50 items are sample d during the time that 10,000 packs
are filled (with a minimum time of 1 hour and a maximum time of 1 day or shift).
See the Packers Code, paragraph C22, or WELMEC 6.4, paragraph E.3

1.2.2. The scenario is that the packing line produces 4,000 bags an hour and
the packer monitors the average weight of the product by taking samples of five bags
from the line every 30 minutes. The average of each sample is calculated and
used to determine when action is needed.

From this information, the time taken to fill 10,000 packs, referred to as the
Production Period, is equal to 10,000/4,000 hr = 2.5 hr.

The number of samples (of size 5, i.e. n = 5) taken during this period, sampling
every half hour, is k = 2.5/0.5 = 5.

Therefore the number of items sampled during the
production period (time taken to produce 10,000 packs) is kn = 5x5 = 25. As this is less than 50 a sampling
allowance is needed to ensure that the packers system is as efficient as the
reference test in detecting non-compliance.

1.2.3. The appropriate allowance, which is used to enhance the target quantities
established in 1.1.2 above, is obtained by looking up the tables in the Packers
Code, Table C1, or WELMEC 6.4, Table E.3.
The allowances are based on 3 control system:-
using Shewhart Control with Action
Limit only (1 in 1,000),
-using Shewhart Control with Warning Limit (1 in 40) & Action Limit (1 in 1,000), and
-using Cusum control with h=5, f=0.5 (as per BS 5703)

The exercise indicates that only an Action Limit is used which is referred to as
Procedure A in the tables.

1.2.4. Looking at n=5 and k=5 for procedure A gives a sampling allowance
factor, z = 0.20. This factor is multiplied with the standard deviation of the
packing process to produce an allowance, which is added to the targets
determined in 1.1.2 above.

1.2.5. The minimum target quantity taking into account process variability and
sampling becomes:

SD    Qn    T1+2s    T2+3.72s    Largest    zs=0.20s   Min Qt
4    200     199        196.88         200            0.8          200.8
5    200     201        200.6           201           1              202
6    200     203         204.32        204.32       1.2          205.52

1.3. Other Allowances

1.3.1. The scenario does not give any indications that other allowances are
necessary but other issues that need to be considered include:-
-a ‘wandering average’,
-storage allowance, particularly for desiccating products,
-tare variability, where the quantity determination assumes a constant tare
-temperature, if the product is filled hot or cold and the volume changes when
determined at 200C

Theses are considered in the Packers Code in paragraphs C21 to C25 and
WELMEC 6.4 in paragraphs E.5.1 to E.5.4.
2. Action Limits

1.4. The scenario asks for the ‘minimum action limit (1 in 1,000) for the
sample mean’. The distribution of the sample mean (of samples of size n) is
related to the distribution of the individual items (the process variability).

1.5. If the process variability (standard deviation) is s
and the number of items in a sample is n
then the standard deviation of the distribution of the means, sometimes referred to as the standard error of the means, is s/n

1.6. The action limit, with a chance of 1 in 1,000 of exceeding, as with the
normal distribution comes at three times the standard error away from the target
quantity. Only the lower action limit is needed for legal metrology, although
upper limits may be set, for example for safety reasons (aerosols), or economic
reasons (duty on alcohol) but the corresponding limit must be no nearer the
target quantity than the lower one.

So for legal metrology the Action Limit should be no lower than Qt -3 s/n
(If there was a warning limit of 1 in 40 being used this would be at 2 times the
standard error.).

An example is given in the Packers’ Code at paragraph C34, it is also covered in
WELMEC 6.4 at paragraph E.7.2.

Using the data from the exercise this gives:


Process Variation,s      Minimum Target Quantity (g)       Minimum Action Limit forthe Mean (g)
         4 g                                     200.8                                                195.4
         5 g                                     202.0                                                195.3
         6 g                                     205.5                                                197.5

 So that's all clear now!


Thursday, 20 April 2017

Eco Hull

I received an enquiry recently from an anonymous reader  who was trying to contact the owner of the Eco Boat which I reported on in April 2011.
Unfortunately no return address was left so a direct reply was not possible.
If you are reading this I would direct you to a website called  where someone called Richard has made contact with the owner following my blog post.
If you do make contact with Richard perhaps you could remind him to acknowledge me and my blog whence he borrowed the photos .