Sunday, 28 February 2010

Inside Out
Spent a few days in Bath last week. We stayed in a B&B in Weston as our house in Bathwick was let. I am not really familiar with Weston - it's quite rural. Our walk down to the city centre took about 35 mins via Royal Victoria Park. According to legend, the princess Victoria refused to revisit Bath after she heard a bystander remark about her fat ankles on her first visit to the city. It's surprising the park still bears her name and retains its royal appellation . Passing the botanical gardens i noticed this sign which seems to expect visitors to anticipate the misfortune of being locked in as the warning is on the outside of the gate.

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Stepping Stone Raised
After four weeks sitting on the bottom of the canal, nb Stepping Stone was re-floated today.

A crane with 100 ton capacity arrived at 8 am

Nigel & Tom came alongside and did the hard work attaching the chain

The stern was then lifted ....

...and swung round to rest on the bank.

The water then drained out of the bow doors

and later through the drain holes with a pump removing the remainder.

By lunch time the owner and loss adjuster were able to take a look at the re-floated boat.

Monday, 22 February 2010

Reedley Marina Phase 2
Few details are available yet, but Reedley Marina is planning to add about 80 mooring slots to the Leeds and Liverpool Canal near Burnley. The current marina is between bridges 134 and 135 and located behind Barden Mill Outlet Store. The outline plans shown here indicate a lay-by style extension north of bridge 135 with much needed dry and wet docks capable of handling broad-beam boats. (The canal skirts the top of this plan)

The current marina has proved popular and is fully occupied but it is believed the extension will provide a higher proportion of broad to narrow berths.

The view from the veranda of the Kingfisher Cafe looking north towards bridge 135 and the site of the extension. Pendle Hill is in the background.

Site of marina extension from bridge 135

Looking back from bridge 135

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Happy New Year
Today - Sunday 14th February, 2010 - is the first day of the Lunar New Year Festival for the year of the Metal (or White or Gold) Tiger

I wish you all a Happy, Healthy and Prosperours year.
Those of you who do not espouse Budhism or Taoism may need a few pointers regarding the 15 days of celebration which you are about to undertake.
First it may be helpful (or just confusing) to understand why the lunar new year is starting so late this year. Like the Gregorian calendar which we use in the west, it is not exact. Every four years we insert a day into February annd every century we ommit it. The lunar/solar calendar , as it is more correctly called, has a similar adjustment to make because the solar and lunar months are not equal in length. In 19 years there are 228 solar months and 235 lunar ones. So every 19 years there has to be an an adjustment of 7 months. This is done by inserting a leap month every three years. 2009 was on of those leap years with an extra month five.
To confuse you further - the new year actually started on February 4 but the festival by tradition starts on the first New Moon of the first month and runs for 15 days.

Day 1 - Feb 14

It is unlucky for women to use knives today so no food preparation. Meals must therefore consist of leftovers.
Married women should not visit their family as this will make them poorer.
Wealth and luck of the household will diminish if sweeping or rubbish disposal takes place.
Washing your hair will wash away your luck
Don't eat congee (rice porridge) for breakfast as this is paupers' fare andyou may tempt fate.
Washing clothes today will offend the God of Water whose birthday it is.
Eating meat before noon will offend the gods who visit as many of them are vegetarian.
Fire crackers and making a noise by other means are recommended for warding off the less savoury deities.
To wish others well try Gong xi fa chai which is Congratulations and make a fortune in Mandarin or Kung hey fat choy which is the Cantonese version and more common in UK.

Day 2 - Feb 15

Married women should visit their parents today and husbands must accompany them.
It is customary to take a red envelope containing new money for the parents and other relations who will assemble for lunch.
Day 3 - Feb 16
Red Dog Day (might be calle
Hair of the Dog Day by some!)
After two days of eating, drinking and playing games today it is a good day to rest .
This is also the Mice's Wedding Day so you should retire to bed early . Turning out the light early also slown down their breeding according to old Chinese farmers.
Taking out the rubbins is thought to remove some of the bad spirits which lurk around this time.
Day 4 - Feb 17
Welcome the God of the Stove back with fireworks and an animal sacrifice in the kitchen.
As heaven is a long way off the God of the Stove usually arrives in the afternoon.
Day 5 - Feb 18
God of Wealth Day - so back to work and expect the Lion Dancers to pay you a visit.
Setting off fire crackers will attract customers.
Day 6 - Feb 19
If you live in Taiwan you will know this as Good Pig Day and will go to see the big pig competition. In 2007 the winner weighed 2000lb and was sold for 1 million Taiwan dollars (£20,000). It is also customary to have the cess pit cleared today. (Not really relevant if you have Elsan)
Day 7 - Feb 20
According to Chinese scriptures, the goddess with the snake body (size zero?) created humans on day seven from yellow mud. On the previous days she had created Chickens (dday 1) dogs (2) sheep (3) pigs (4) cows (5) and horses (6).
She also gave humans sex education on that day so that they might procreate.
Celebrate this in your own way
Day 8 - Feb 21
Back to work day for those who did not go back on day five
Day 9 - Feb 22
The Jade Emporer who rules all 33 heavans celebrates his birthday today and we must join in by preparing three bundles of long noodles, three cups of green tea, five differnt kinds of fruit (so that's whre five-a-day originated) and six diffeernt dry vegetables. For his guardian, who is not vegetarian, we must prepare five animal sacrifices and turtle cakes.
Remember not to offend the Jade Emporer by putting this food on his vegetarian table.
Day 10 - Feb 23
Eating Day - or left-overs day one
Day 11 - Feb 24
Rest Day - or left-overs day two
Day 12 - Feb 25
Diahorrea Day !!!
Day 13 - Feb 26
Some celebrate the death of General Kuan Yu but you may wish to recover from day 12
Day 14 - Feb 27 Prepare for the Lantern Festival which concludes the Lunar New Year Fecstival. Check that the electric lanterns work
Day 15 - Feb 28
Lantern Festival - in China this is called Yuan-Xiao after the soup which is eaten.
The story behind this festival -

Once upon a time in a land very far from here a beautiful heavenly bird flew down to a village and was killed. The God of Heaven was very displeased and decided to burn the village on day 15 of the first lunar month. However, a bright spark in the village persuaded all the villagers to make candle lanterns and to put them in all their windows. They also paraded in the street with lanterns and set off fireworks. The God of Heaven looked down and thought that the village was already burning and left it alone.

This is what your Lantern Festival should look like

Traditionally there is a quiz night held in the temple (not the pub)

Friday, 5 February 2010

Cut price!
Even before she who must be obeyed broke her wrist falling on the snow I would not let her near my hair with anything sharper than a banana. (No I'm not telling you that story)
As we cruise around the country, therefore, I am always on the lookout for a barber who understands I want a haircut not a makeover and the price should reflect this. Regular readers will recall my tow-path haircut at the Canalway Cavalcade last May ( blog May 4th - Cut on the Cut) I was a little perturbed when we last visited Banbury that the barber by the bridge was closed and that my £4.50 haircut was unavailable. Touring the other establishments did not improve my mood as I was quoted prices from £14 upwards.

Last week we took the bus over to Skipton during a break in the snow and rain to visit Tony & Noeline on nb Mary Russell with whom we climbed the Wigan flight back in October . After coffee with them we enjoyed fish and chips at Bizzy Lizzies and then crossed the road to......

a hair cut at proper prices

If some can do it why can't more manage it?

PS: The wrist has healed sufficiently to resume dish washing duties. She is already making inroads into the backlog!

Thursday, 4 February 2010

No Challenge This Year
The BCNS has announced that the BCN Marathon Challenge due to take place on May 29/30 has been cancelled due to the water supply problems which will result from the repair work being carried out to Chasewater dam.
The Explorer Cruise will go ahead but the route may be revised in the light of these problems.
Such is the speed of news nowadays that I have an addition to my previous blog.
BCNS has announced that the Pelsall Gathering will be Postponed. This is to conserve the water supply which is being interrupted by the repairs to Chasewater - the reservoir which supplies water to about 70% of the BCN
As present the Explorer Cruise and Marathon Challenge are not affected but watch this space.
An Old Chestnut
In the early days of pub quizzes the following question occurred rather frequently: Which city has the most miles of canal - Amsterdam, Birmingham or Venice?
The acceptable answer,of course, was Birmingham with over 100miles. I am not convinced that Venice has any canals - isn't it a series of islands in a lagoon? If you experience of the Birmingham Canal Navigations is restricted to a mad dash along one or other main line to Gas Street and its environs then there are two opportunities in May & June for you to broaden your horizons courtesey of the BCNS
2010 BCN Explorer Cruise
Join Brenda and Brian and about 20 other boats for a week of accompanied cruising around some of those 100 miles and glimpse some of the other 100 miles which have vanished. Read my blog entries from August 10 last year when we joined it to get a feeling for what this is like. This year the cruise is taking place in June. Assembling at Merry Hill on the evening of June 4, it will conclude at Pelsall on June 11 to coincide with the BCN Pelsall Gathering over the weekend of June 12/13. More information and entry forms are available from the intrepid leaders at
If you are not the gregarious type or if joining the BCNS crocodile seems a little tame then what you need is:
2010BCN Marathon Challenge
Here you cruise the BCN for 24 hours over the weekend of 29/30 May with no leader and no help. You design your our route and points are awarded for the length and difficulty of your trek. To borrow a slightly more PC version of the Yorkie strap-line - this is not for wimps.
For more information on this ring Roy Kenn on 01922 428644. We participated in a previous incarnation of this challenge in 1994-6 and have not had some much fun (or rubbish on the prop)

Why not make 2010 the year you improve your Birmingham Canal Nowledge (!)

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Water Gypsies - It's Official
Narrowboat World are reporting that the Department for Communities and Local Government has ruled that 'barge travellers' are covered by section 225 of the Housing Act 2004 which defines who is a traveller.
This means that Continuous Cruisers like us are classified as travellers - as gypsies are - and therefore the local authorities have a statutory obligation to ascertain our needs and to provide for them.
I am starting on my list of needs......