Monday, 30 April 2012

Wettest Drought?

April 2012 has been the wettest April since records began with  4.8" of rain on average with more forecast tonight. On Sunday we climbed the seven locks at Stoke Bruerne in a howling gale.  It was like someone shooting icicles at us - horizontal and cold. When we reached to the top the rain eased up a bit so we decided to go to Weedon Bec as originally planned rather than stop short at Blisworth. Not a good decision. We spent the afternoon and evening drying clothes although we did get out in the evening  to see friends from Northampton who drove over to share a drink with us. Monday weather was glorious and we went about our chores at our leisure.  At lunchtime friends from Twickenham drove up to have lunch with us at The Narrowboat Inn at Stowe Hill Wharf.  Very good food and very good company.
In the evening we walked down into the village to attend the local history group's monthly meeting. The talk was about Northampton from Stone Age to Great Fire illustrated with slides from the speaker's time working for English Heritage.

Friday, 27 April 2012

Reservoir Watch

Bw has issued the reseervoir figures for April which are tabulated below.
The canals we plan to travel this year are highlighted in blue.
Inevitably a met officer on the radio this afternoon said htat we are getting the wrong kind of rain
His point was that we need rain in the winter months to fill the water table. At this time of the year most of what falls from the sky evaporates or gets consumed by springtimeplant growth.

Reservoir Watch 2012

Reservoir group
March 2012 holding
Change in Mar - Apr period
Minimum historical* April
holding (Year)
Monkland Canal
Forth & Clyde Canal
Union Canal
Kennet & Avon Canal
Oxford & GU
GU South
GU North
Lancaster Canal
Leeds & Liverpool Canal
Peak Forest & Macclesfield Canal
Caldon Canal
Huddersfield Narrow Canal
Chesterfield Canal
Grantham Canal
Birmingham Canal Navigations
Staffs & Worcs, Shropshire Union
* for the purposes of this analysis, historical holdings cover 1998-2012 reservoir holding data, inclusive.

March was an exceptionally mild month and the driest for the UK since 1953. Most of the country reported less than half the average rainfall, further intensifying the drought and extending its spatial extent. According to the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, much of the drought-affected region recorded only 30-40% of the March average rainfall. The winter recovery in groundwater levels has been extremely weak, river flows in March were more typical of late summer. Total river flow for the October-March period was the 2nd lowest (after 1975/6) in a record starting in 1961.

Preident going to see Queen Elizabeth II

 The first working boats on the English canals were drawn by horses but by the 19th century steam power was being used.  President is one of the last working examples of these craft.

On 3rd June there will be pageant of 1000 boats on the River Thames in London to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II's reign  and President will be participating.


Today, whilst we sat out the rain in Milton Keynes,   President came past us en route to London towing the unpowered butty Kildare

 I hope the Queen does not notice the prang in President's bow

Water Day!

Set off rather later this morning which must have been a subconscious reluctance to get wet. After travelling about 10 minutes we encountered a slight obstruction.  

This boat had been washed loose from its stern mooning, probably by the lady who went past yesterday afternoon as if she was pulling a water skier.  M took our rope onto his stern and we pulled him back into place.

It rained fairly incessantly until we stopped at Gifford Park to collect something from the Rohan shop which I had ordered on line. (No P&P if you collect form store)
Had lunch and gave up for the day as rain has not stopped. First time we have moored here so conforms to our new regime of finding new places to moor.

Fenny Thing

When we came up from Leighton Buzzard we had planned to stop at Willowtree to visit some friends who live on their boat with three children.  When we arrived there the Wat level was so low we could not get into the bank to moor so continued to Fenny Stratford.  We have been trying over the past year or so to moor in places we have not stopped  before but Fenny Stratford is compulsory for us as we enjoy visiting Bletchley Park so much.  We spent most of Thursday looking round exhibits, some new to us, some to refresh ourselves.  The ticket for Bletchley Park  covers all visits for a year and this if the fifth time we have visited since may 2011.  We won't be back this way for 18 months.
Heading South at Fenny Stratford 2007
On our return we met Elizabeth from nb Helen Loouise who we last met in Banbury last June.  She and John are heading south to London and then back up the Thames to Oxford.  Just as we sat down to eat tea a little boat pulled in to moor and we recognised Robin and Carole who used to live aboard nb Inanda. When they moved ashore a couple of years ago they lasted almost a year before they were looking for another boat.  they found this 45' in a sad state and have gutted and refitted it over the past year and have started  cruising  again.  So the six of us spent a convivial evening in the local hostelry by the stop lock.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Taking Advantage

The loyalty card issued by Boots the Chemist is one of the best available: The Advantage Card as it is styled gives the shopper 4% discount which can be used to purchase products in store.  There has also been an additional advantage for shoppers aged over 60: they have been entitled to a 10% discount off the price of  Boots branded products which when combined with the Advantage points equals 13.6% discount on these products. They call this the Health Club

Yesterday we received this letter telling us we would
"Get more treats than ever with 10 points per £1"

So the 13.6% discount is being replaced by 10% which is more treats (?)

Will the Oxford English Dictionary report this redefinition of the word More?
I think they are taking the*****

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Dog in the Manger

I have been asked by one of my overseas readers to explain the expression Dog in the Manger  which I used in my post  yesterday.
A dog lying in a manger, or hay feeder for cattle, cannot eat the hay but prevents the cattle eating it.  It is being selfish by preventing others from using something it cannot use itself.  In the example yesterday  BW did not want to use the mooring itself and has, indeed opened up the yard as a public car park during the water crisis.  However the enforcement officer did not want us to moor there. BW, as personified in the enforcement officer, was acting like a dog in  a manger.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Buzzard or Linslade?

After being moved on by an officious enforcement officer who did not like us mooring on a vacant piece of the redundant Marsworth yard because "this is BW's" we drove down to Bath by car to carry out one or two chores.  This dog in a manger did not explain why a no fishing sign might also indicate a ban on mooring. I would swear that she clicked her heals as she turned to leave.
Today we were promised rain and cold: we got sunny intervals and a cold wind developing into unbroken sunshine by4pm.  Now that is the kind of weather forecasting I like. We shared the eleven broad locks and eight miles Andy and Sue on their hotel boat, Earlswood. Our six hour journey was the more pleasant in the company of experienced boaters. Apart from a pair of boats which preceded us to Leighton Buzzard, sorry, Leighton Linslade, we saw very little traffic. I am not really sure how to address this town.  I have always know it as Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire: Linslade was the other side of the river and in the county of Buckingham. All the signs around here seem to refer to this agglomeration Leighton Linslade.  Anyway this is where we are for the night.  Launderette in the morning as we missed it this evening and then on to Fenny Stratford tomorrow. With luck we will get to visit Bletchley Park for the fifth time in a year.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Happy St. George's Day

St. George is the patron saint of England and so today the English  can celebrate their nationality.  It often goes uncelebrated and certainly does not bear comparison to the national days in Scotland, Ireland or Wales.  It is a shame that the flag is often appropriated by extremist elements of society as their standard.Therefore it is more important  for the moderate majority to display  St. George's Cross as often as possible and to reclaimthe this flag which has been used since 11900 when it was raised on English ships entering the Mediterranean.
City Arms of Moscow
England is not unique in celebrating St. George, or indeed, in perpetuating the legend of him slaying  a dragon to rescue a damsel in distress.

He was a Roman soldier  and is venerated in many countries including Egypt,  Palestine, Iraq, India and Russia.

The city arms of Moscow depict St. George slaying the dragon although the damsel is missing.


St. George slaying the dragon by Bernat Martorell

Most Christian churches honour St. George and it seems that the legend involving the dragon may have been originated by the Eastern Orthodox Church. 

Unusually for Christian saints, St. George is also venerated by Muslims.

He was beheaded on 23rd April 303AD for refusing to worship the Roman gods and was buried in his home town of Lydda in Palestine. which is now Lod 15 miles south of Tel Aviv.