Saturday, 31 January 2015

Are you ready for the Tarmac Canal?

My thanks to the BBC for this most intereesting report- read it all

Work on a £29m cycle superhighway linking Bradford and Leeds has officially begun.
Cycle superhighway route

The 14-mile (23km) route will run from Bradford city centre to Seacroft, in east Leeds.
The CityConnect project, which is expected to be completed by the end of the year, has been funded by an £18m cash award from the Department for Transport and £11m of local funding.
The scheme also includes resurfacing parts of the Leeds Liverpool canal.
Coordinators say they hope the cycle way will encourage more people to make short journeys by bike and improve access to employment, skills and education.
The project is jointly managed by West Yorkshire Combined Authority, Leeds City Council and Bradford Council.

 Some are ahead of the game.. .....

Tuesday, 20 January 2015


For the first time this winter we are frozen in this morning.

The sun is shining so it will clear soon

However it is too dangerous for me to cope so we are moving into a house until my hip is replaced and healed.

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Off with his head

In the days when British Waterways ran the canals little notice was taken of public opinion. In the early days they just got on with the jobs:in  later years they seemed bent on   profligacy, incompetence and playing monopoly with developers.  But what the public thought was ignored: they allegedly hid the truth, disguised the numbers and told porkies whilst the top management were paid ever larger "performance" bonuses despite the performance criteria not being achieved.
Two years ago BW morphed into C&RT - the Canal & Rivers Trust, and they do care about public opinion.  some would argue that they are casting their net too wide, concerned at impressing everyone in the country at the expense of those who use the waterways most and contribute the most financially - the boaters and boating businesses. However we have seen changes in the management with several high-level people leaving including Sally Ash who was particularly reviled by the boating world. Other dissenters have been moved aside in structural reorganisation.The latest announcement of this kind is that Phil Spencer, Head of Business Boating, is leaving and the post advertised.

You may recall the national news picking up a story two months ago about the floating book shop in Paddington......

The Guardian

Save Word on the Water, the wonderful floating bookshop

What could be better than a fabulous canal-boat bookshop, with poetry and live music on its roof? Not another coffee shop courtesy of a gigantic corporation, that’s for sure
 Fielding was limping along the canal towpath last week to visit his favourite boat, the floating bookshop Word on the Water. It is stuffed with reasonably priced books, his favourite music drifts out, poetry and live acoustic music performances are staged on its roof. Fabulous. He often shops there. But probably not for much longer. Our rivers and canals are getting a bit crowded. Now that there’s barely an affordable shack to live in on land, people are taking to the water, run by the Canal and River Trust. Worse luck.
CaRT is tightening things up. Costs are rising and at some moorings you can now only stay for seven days, which is tricky for a bookshop, and after three years of cruising, the owners were struggling, so they asked if they could stay permanently in the Paddington Basin. CaRT invited them to hand in a bid and proposal for a trading mooring. They’d be up against other small businesses, thought Jon Privett, co-owner of Word on the Water. Wrong. Guess who won? Another gigantic corporation – British Land, “Creating places people prefer”, owners of 32.8 million sq ft and £12bn of property, including most of the Paddington Central development. They plan to have a floating coffee shop. To go with the other 13 coffee shops in the area.
Fielding is enraged. “I don’t want more sodding coffee. I want books. Yet again, something I like is being taken away. Is there no bloody legal apparatus to deal with this sort of thing? A man selling books on a boat, people love it, along comes a mega-rich toad …”

The man responsible for this public relations fiasco was the Head of Business Boating - Phil Spencer. He is not the only one to leave following the floating bookshop scandal. His direct report, senior business boating manager, Suzie Mercer, whose responsibilities include the London area has already left.
The point about coffee shops is interesting as just behind Word on the Water, when I visited, was a floating coffee shopTo get a fuller picture  of provisions for latte junkies this link will take you to a map where all the red dots are cafes 
(These trading boats are located where Paddington Underground is marked on this map).

There is a more fundamental point to be considered in this story.  These boats have Roving Trading Licences .  This means they are required to adhere to the mooring restrictions as any other boat, which involves moving on in accordance with the general or specific regulations.  Due to the overcrowding in London caused by the constant arrival of people bringing boats into the city to live on, in contravention of the mooring  regulations, Word on the Water has found it difficult to  find anywhere to sell their books. C&RT granted them temporary permission to remain on this mooring whilst they sought a permanent tenant.  Inadvertently the bookshop has connived with C&RT to remove two visitor mooring from Paddington Basin and convert them to commercial use.
Whilst I think C&RT has not been fair with Word on the Water  we have to question whether C&RT should be reducing the available visitor moorings in London.

Friday, 16 January 2015

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

No Awards

Everything one buys nowadays from yoghurt to hairspray carries the claim  
Award Winning....
I would like to make it clear that I do not accept awards of any kind

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Jean Jaures

A footnote to yesterday's post:-
The avenue crossing here and the Metro station are named after the socialist and anti-militarist Jean Jaures who was assassinated just before the outbreak of WWI for his beliefs.

Monday, 12 January 2015

People & Places

Paris is a city we enjoy visiting and have enjoyed visiting many times. When you get away from the tourists the people and places are fascinating. One area we have frequently stayed in is the 19th, north east of Gare du Nord. Apart from the obvious attractions of la Villette where three canals meet,we enjoy the peace of parc Buttes-Chaumont. Although the fences are concrete impersonating timber and the topography is artificial, the atmosphere is always peaceful.

This is not the usual city park - acres of mown grass criss-crossed  with jogging tracks.

From the top of the cliff are wonderful views across Paris

Our habitual evening meal is taken at Le Cadran Bleu on the junction of two metro lines and about seven roads. Here we people-watch. Returning from work, they collect fresh bread and maybe cakes,  or milk and juice for the evening. They congregate at the crossing and chat to the newsvendor.

And when the lights change they surge across the road braving the mad scooter riders.

Sometimes they don't wait for the green light which adds spice to this activity.

We usually stay in a small hotel close by from which we can vicariously enjoy the friendly frenzy.

This week we have seen the most dreadful example of evil in Paris, perpetrated by people who lived in this area Who even planned their pointless mayhem in par Buttes-Chaumont!

And I am at a loss to understand how it came about: how an area so full of life could spawn such monsters

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Torbay or Not Torbay ?

Torbay, in Devon, comprises three towns:

The picturesque fishing port of Brixham, that has changed very little over the 40 years that I have been visiting it

At the other side of the bay is the once elegant and affluent Torquay

The Pavilion is now boarded up and its future is in doubt
Torquay goes for tacky

The parts of the town centre which have not yet been overrun by tacky arcades are boarded up awaiting redevelopment.

Paignton has never harboured pretentions above its status and can be quite attractive at night
If you want to get away from Grockledom and meet real people, it is possible within Torbay.

Head for Torquay and take the road out to Babbacombe and before you get there look for this monument on your right.Turn right just before it and you are in Wellswood

The memorial commemorates John Snelgrove who lived here for about 20 years after retiring from Marshall & Snelgrove, the department store group which formed the basis of Debenhams Stores today.

Around the base of this drinking fountain are commemorated seventeen luminaries connected to the area.
Oscar Wilde completed A Woman of No Importance whilst supervising rehearsals for an amateur production of Lady Windermere's Fan at Torquay's Royal Theatre.
Mike Sangster - the man with the 150mph serve - lived here and set up a sports business in Torquay when he retired. He died of a heart attack whilst playing golf aged 44.
Bishop Henry Phillpotts was a PR disaster zone throughout the first half of the nineteenth century. After opposing the enlargement of the electorate, he fled his parish of Exeter (with his 18 children) during a cholera epidemic and settled in the safety of Wellswood . Here he built an Italianate palace overlooking Ansty's Cove and continued to make himself unpleasant until his death there aged 91.
Isambard Kingdom Brunel, during the building of the South Devon Railway from Exeter to Plymouth,   purchased land along the coast here and built a house. He lived there with his wife for the last ten years of his life
Peter Cook  the comedian and founder of Private Eye was born  in Torbay and married his third wife there. They lived in Wellswood until his death in 1995
Others include: 
Herbert Minton- fine china manufacturer
Beverley Nichols - actor and writer
Arthur Harrison VC
Percival Fawcett -the inspiration for Arthur Conan Doyle's hero in The Lost World and possibly also for Indiana Jones
Oliver Heaviside  - bitter at the lack of recognition for his scientific work, he was eventually immortalised by Andrew Lloyd Webber in the penultimate song of the show Cats - Journey to the Heaviside Layer
Of course the reason for visiting Wellswood is not the past glories but its present ones. This is a village within a town with all the shops necessary for a comfortable life - butcher, baker, coffee shop....
and all independent.

Perhaps there may even be the odd item of interest not included in the Thomas Cook tour

There is a local identify which is quite apparent whenever you get talking to a local resident.

The flower shop is a good example.  It has been here for years and when the owners retired it was bought by another local who already had three shops around Torbay. Unlike the other shops, the name here has not been changed.

Bravo Susan.!

Saturday, 10 January 2015


We are experiencing high winds  and Gecko is rocking around like a fairground ride.
Take a look at the world wind pattern, live, at
If you click on the map you can read the spee and direction at that spot

Another Petition for you

I am quoting here verbatim the words of a lifetime resident of Birmingham:
When I first read this I couldn't believe what I had read & had a second look. Birmingham Council have built an incredible library that we could be proud of nationally.  Now I'm afraid I don't think I am proud of it. The Council not only want to reduce the opening hours of this "amazing library" but want to remove the staff responsible for the photographic collection, so it will not be catalogued or made available to the public.
If we had kept the old library they would have afforded such a facility - I don't want the old library back - I want better facilities in this "better" library!! If you do too, then sign this petition - it might help but at least it's better than doing nothing about it.

Friday, 9 January 2015

Underneath the Arches

Bud Flanagan wrote he song Underneath the Arches in 1927 and first performed it with Chesney Allen a week later at the Pier Pavilion in Southport.            But where are the arches?
In a TV programme thirty years later Flanagan said he wrote the song about Friargate Railway Bridge in Ashbourne Road, Derby whilst performing at the Hippodrome in Green Lane (currently at risk of demolition)

Click her to watch this Pathe News film from 1941  

Built in 1876 by a local firm Andrew Handyside & Co for the Great Northern Railway, it was closed to all rail traffic 100 years later.  The  underside of the two arches are ornate and this may have influenced Bud in writing the song.

After its closure British Railways transferred it to Derby Council on the understanding they would maintain it in perpetuity.   The interpretation of this expression by politicians appears to be until we forget about it.   It is currently in a poor state of repair and a petition has been established asking Derby Council to honour its commitment:

Thursday, 8 January 2015


Planning  a holiday in New Zealand?
Dunedin, on the east coast of the South Island has to be on your itinerary (particularly if your have Scottish blood)
And the place to stay is
The Birches Bed & Breakfast

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

An Appartment in Bath?

Looking to buy an appartment in Bath?
Why not consider this mews house?
Full details are available

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

The Silly Season

When parliament is in recess over the summer the newspapers feel the dearth of political stories  renders them devoid of any news and in response dredge up anything they can. Typically - Phew! What a scorcher is the quality of their output.
During our stationary location during the winter we have no cruising related stories to report and are in our silly season.  This is exacerbated this year by our elongated winter, starting, as it did, in late August. It is also likely to extend beyond the end of March as I am due to have a hip replacement.
Of course, when we are cruising I am often too busy to complete and publish all my thoughts and I have a pile of part-completed works gathering virtual dust .
To address both these problems I am dusting off these uncompleted works with the intention of getting them out onto the blog.  I hope you enjoy this rag-bag as it unfolds.

Friday, 2 January 2015

Elizabeth Jane Howard

The BBC is broadcasting the short stories of Elizabeth Jane Howard over the next few weeks from her collection entitled Mr Wrong.

Recently I posted a photograph of a street in Te Anau, New Zealand called Wong Way.

These two items were rattling around in my head before they finally coalesced when I recalled that the author died one year ago today at the age of 90.

Elizabeth was married three times. Her first marriage to Peter Scott, the naturalist, lasted three years and produced a daughter whom she abandoned when she walked out in 1946. Her second marriage was also brief, lasting five years ended by her walking out once more.

Her last marriage, to Kingsley Amis, lasted 18 years. Although she again walked out of the marriage Amis had made it clear he no longer liked her.  During her marriage Amis had dominated the literary output of the couple but with the break-up came liberation.
Jane, as she was commonly known, became a prolific writer - of novels, short stories, screenplays and magazine articles. The first two volumes of her tetrology of the Cazelet family were serialised by the BBC last year.I am not a great fan of her novels but she holds another interest.
EJH with RA
In the 1940s she became involved with Robert Aickman, the co-founder of the Inland Waterways Association In the early days the IWA office was in Aickman's house and Jane became a permanent fixture. Aickman's wife, Ray, seems to have accepted the liaison but was quoted as saying that she drew the line at taking them tea in bed.
The early IWA bulletins were a joint effort by Jane and Robert and she accompanied him on a six-week tour of the northern waterways in Ailsa May. Along the way various IWA  activists joined them for parts of the journey. Their passage of Standedge Tunnel has become legendary. She was also heavily involved in the 1950 Market Harborough rally which really kick-started the waterways recovery movement.After her break up with Robert she left the waterways scene but went on to have affairs with Cecil Day Lewis and Laurie Lee.