Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Black Pearl
Returning to Marylebone station after meeting someone for coffee in Bayswater the other day our perambulation inevitably drifted towards the Regents Canal where we recognised a few boats we have seen out and about.
One of these was The Black Pearl 


Last spring we were in Limehosue Basin, when they followed Xilion Rose up the Thames, and we snapped this picture  of the intrepid crew.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Solution to the Water Shortage
Yesterday we met friends (who also know Michael who commented on yesterdays post) at the Anglers' Retreat at Marsworth for another wonderful lunch. I had Kate & Sydney Pie which arrived with eight vegetables - one less than last time. Mrs Gecko had lamb Hotpot which was also delicious apparently.  We arrived a little early intending to take a walk up the lock flight but took a short (in distance) diversion around the Aylesbury Arm junction first.  Here we bumped into the guy (Nigel?) from Carianne who we had not seen for a few years and when we had finished gossipping with him it was time for lunch.

The water level here has been dropped to reduce the leakage and some of the deep-draughted boats like Larah are not able to bring the stern in to the bank. Even eight feet out she is resting on the bottom!

After lunch we did take a stroll up the flight with out friends. Whilst the channel is dry, the the reservoirs seem to have recovered a little over the past month or so, presumably due to the conservation measures BW has taken.


The low water level has given BW the opportunity to carry out some work which would be more difficult with a full reservoir.

In the mud we were puzzled by  these wiggly tracks but eventually saw the Mudskippers which were responsible.

British Waterways have announced the arrangements for boat passage over the next few months which they hope will prevent the Grand Union coming to a complete stop but we are taking no chances.

If we run out of water we will still keep going with this arrangement.

Monday, 27 February 2012

The Railways of Cyprus (for Dick and for Terry)
During our nine days in Cyprus we saw no evidence of railways and were quite ready to accept that there had never been a railway system on the island.
However on the day we spent touring some of the villages  our last port of call was Kalvasos.  The area around the town had been the centre of copper mining and the ore was carried down the valley on a narrow gauge railway. In a park on the edge of the village one train has been preserved crossing a river bridge.
On further enquiry we found that a railway system did exist on the island from 1905-1951 during which time it carried 7,343,643 passengers and 3,199,934 tons of freight.  I don't know who collated these figures but they seem very precise.
The network was 76 miles long with 39 stations and halts and operated on a 2'6" gauge. Rolling stock comprised 12 locos, 17 coaches and 100 waggons.
Is it a co-incidence that The Fat Controller  stopped numbering his locos around 11 or 12?

The freight was mostly timber from the Troodos mountains but also carried mail and, during WWII, most of the 50,000 Jewish internees held on the island.
Although Famagusta and Nicosia were on the network it never extended to Limassol.
For the anoraks amongst you there are photographs available at-
Photo Archive of Cyprus Government Railway

  Compare the Google map 
of Cyprus and the Wiki map of Sodor which I have inverted. Is there a resemblance or am I clutching at straws?

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Leaving Aylesbury
It seems that due to the shortage of water we shall have only one opportunity in March and another in April to leave Aylesbury. On 24th March BW  will let water down the Aylesbury arm so that boats may navigate up to the main line at Marsworth. Crossing the Tring summit will be negotiated  on March 26 when boats have been assembled at either side.
A similar operation will take place a month later which is when we will set off.

Friday, 24 February 2012

 Lleaky Bank Group
Down the Drain   
Llydso Bank announced their performance figures for 2011 this morning.
£3,542,000,000 Loss
As we own 41% of this bank it has cost us each (man, woman and child to put it in tabloidese)  just over £24. 
The vast majority of this was compensation  for those to whom Lloyds had sold Payment Protection Insurance which was inappropriate or utterly useless.
Part of our contribution was to the bonus scheme - yes, we gave £2.56 each to reward this performance.
To put this into my own personal distorted perspective - that's five times what the Queen costs me last year.   
In terms of the contribution to my well-being there is no contest here.
Opposite the canal basin where we are spending the winter Lloyds Bank Group occupy a couple of office blocks. 

One, known locally as the Blue Leany, was previously  the headquarters of Equitable Life. And we all know what happened to them. 



For at least a week there has been water pouring from this pipe in their grounds.

Perhaps this should replace the prancing horse as their corporate logo.
Lonely Letter A
It has been brought to my attention that some of my readers are fretting about the plight of the Larger Letter A at Waterside theatre in Aylesbury.

To put your mind at rest
- it is back home with its friends.

Monday, 20 February 2012

8th Reservoir Overflows!

When we left Aylesbury for a few days in Cyprus the overnight temperature had been down to -10C  


and the reservoirs were only one third full.

In Cyprus they know about water shortages.  Most years they have restrictions such as shutting off the water supply on alternate days and often have to import shiploads of water from Greece.

This year the winter rainfall has been more substantial and Germasogia Dam which was just up the road from our hotel was almost ful when we arrived and a constant topic of local conversation.

The day before we left it became the eighth dam on the island to overflow this year.
When we took this picture there were six ice-cream vans and a snack wagon to cater for the  crowds viewing this phenomenon before returning to the local Tabernas to celebrate.

Due to the restrictions at the airport  we could only bring back 100ml each but we have added it all to the canal.

We are in this together according to Mr. Cameron so I hope you are doing your bit too
Pictures of Missing Unicorn

There has been a reported sighting of nb Unicorn at the Worcester end of W&B canal but date is uncertain.
However here are some pictures of  the missing boat.
Colou, of course, can be changed quite quickly but window arrangement is not so easy to make a permanent change to.  Temporary changes to windows may be made with wood, however

Good hunting!
A Ring for Rosie
Thank you for your message
More response on original blog posting

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Missing Boat

The follwoing needs no explanation so I reproduce it verbatim.
If you have any news of nb Unicorn or think you may have seen her please contact Alasdair directly.
  I wonder if I could ask you to help locate a boat?  Jeremy Scanlon's  "Unicorn" has disappeared -  the usual story, (which I have to say I warned against), of stage payments starting and then ceasing. It was believed to be off down to dry dock on the Avon (Harvington?), but nobody now knows.  If you or any of your contacts can help, I'd be grateful - and it would lift Jeremy's tendency to the depressive!  It's full length, a 'Barney' boat out of Braunston probably 25 - 30 years old, was blue could be any colour now.  The number is 68945.

Alasdair Lawrance
I'm Worried About Jim
As a child the radio was always on. It was always the Light Programme which later morphed into BBC Radio 2
Part of the audio diet of the station each morning was the soap opera Mrs Dale's Dairy. This story of middle class England  centred around Dr. Jim Dale and his family.  Each episode started with Mrs. Dale - Mary - writing in her diary.  And every entry seemed to start with I'm worried about Jim.
The series started in 1948 and ran for over 5000 episodes - broadcast every weekday afternoon and repeated the next morning when we heard it. The original actress who played the part of Mrs Dale left the series in a bit of a controversy and died soon after. She was followed by Jessie Matthews who continued to the end of the series in 1969.
Mary & Jim Matthews had a son and daughter. Bob was in the motor trade and his business partner was named Hill so the firm was Hill & Dale Motors.  There was a long running story line about an invention by Bob called Sidepark. . This device was a retro-fitment to enable cars to drive sideways into a parking space. It was never destined to come to fruition for the obvious reason that unless every car was so equipped it would be unworkable. Bob was played, I remember, by Nicolas Parsons and another character - a rather bohemian guy called Jago was played by Derek Nimmo.  A couple of decades later I saw these two gentlemen together with Peter Jones and Kenneth Williams at recordings of Just a Minute at the Drill Hall in Lower Regent Street, London.
I was reminded recently of the Sidepark device  when I came across this advert from 1951.  Was this the inspiration for Bob Dale?

Sunday, 5 February 2012


We had to take some things down to Bath on Thursday and followed our usual route from Aylesbury via Oxford-Burford-Tetbury-Cirencester.  This drive over the Cotswolds is very relaxing apart form the traffic around Oxford and the inevitable tourists coaches at Bibury.  We are of an age when we do not relish sitting in a car for two hours at a stretch and so we  break the journey somewhere for refreshment and leg-stretching.  Rather surprisingly, when we came into Bibury the village was deserted - not a coach in sight, no camera-toting Japanese or vociferous Americans to be seen. 
Taking this unexpected opportunity we stopped at The Swan for a cup of tea.  The setting is charming, as was the service. Very restful and really hit the spot.

After a cold night, the fountain in the courtyard was picturesque.

On our return to Aylesbury I was dismayed by the lack of pride displayed by  Aylesbury Vale Council in doing nothing about the shortcomings of the Waterside Theatre. Back in January 2011 I highlighted these in some detail. 

A year later the roof is still dripping water on the public who financed this ego trip.


As predicted, the woodwork is starting to look tatty.

And on Jan 4 this year the deciduous lettering finally demonstrated its disgust for the tatty woodwork by starting to jump to its death. As is the custom amongst such letters seniority is given to the largest A.
Five weeks later it is still missing.

The attempt at simulating Cotswold  dry stone walling to evoke the rolling Chiltern Hills has become a linear waste bin.This was not foreseen by the experienced planners at AVDC.