An excerpt from Wind in the Willows

Nice? It's the ONLY thing, said the Water Rat solemnly, as he leant forward for his stroke. Believe me, my young friend, there is NOTHING - absolute nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. Simply messing, he went on dreamily: messing - about - in - boats; messing----'
From 'Wind in the Willows' by Kenneth Grahame.

Sunday, 30 December 2012

Back on the Wey

Here we are back on the Wey having had a most enjoyable 4 days of adventure up the Basingstoke. It was so much easier coming back today than it was going up which just proves that a small amount of boat movement can have a huge effect.

Our thanks to SHCS, the IWA, the BCA, Hampshire and Surrey County Councils for their support and assistance.

We'll do it all again at Easter but hopefully this time there will be an opportunity to go as far as King John's Castle at Odiham.

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Return from Brookwood

Phil with some of the duck weed we
pulled from Lock 14
It was only an overnight in Brookwood - we had a lovely evening at the Fox (Fox Corner, Worplesdon) but it did seem very strange to be moored outside my house and not sleeping inside!

It was a bit of a struggle getting to the first lock this morning because the canal was so full of leaf mould but the thing that really held us up (and amazed us) was the duck weed which jammed the first two boats (Aqua Vitae and Hazell Nut a 'short' boat at 50' and Aqua Vitae a longer boat at 60' in case we had issues with stuff behind the gates) between the lock walls. The duck weed was about 18 inches to 2 feet deep and was like concrete when squeezed between the side of a boat and the wall of the lock. It took us about an hour to free them up and send them on their way. We took the second two (Leo No2 and Winter Lilly) down singly although the duck weed had dispersed by then. It's been a bad year for duck weed but I think a lot of the issues we faced were just down to lack of use of a lovely canal.

We stopped in St Johns for a Cornish pastie (yummy) and then made short work of the St. Johns flight before making ourselves comfortable in the Bridge Barn hotel in Woking.

Many thanks to Ben Scott from the IWA who kindly came over from Farnham and did some lock-wheeling for us.

Friday, 28 December 2012

To Brookwood

Well we've made it to Brookwood (that's Sheets Heath Bridge and not Brookwood Country Park). A few issues today but nothing that a sense of adventure, a few more boats, some dredging and a bit of TLC won't fix.

I am delighted that we've got boats back to Brookwood again after, I think, four years or so - far too long in my view.

I'll post some pictures when I can but at the moment I can't get a gangplank across to my house so I'll try and do that in the morning if I can.

In the picture left to right - Leo No2, Hazell Nut, Aqua Vitae, Winter Lilly (all from Byfleet Boat Club)

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Up the Basingstoke

Well here we are again trying to keep the Basingstoke open to boating.  

We left Lock1 at 09:00 and are now outside the Bridge Barn hotel in Woking ready to have a feast inside tonight.  

It was much easier this morning than it was at Easter.  There's plenty of water around (in fact is is spilling over the by wash above Lock 6) and the Locks were not too much trouble; just a couple of gates that had too much silt behind them - lack of use I should think.

Tomorrow we are off up St Johns and Brookwood flights.  Apart from a work boat I should think it is a couple of years (maybe four even) since 'proper' boats have used the Brookwood flight.

I think it is imperative that all boaters flight for the right to navigate the Basingstoke for fear that it could become the first restored canal to slip back into dereliction.  Certainly the Canal Society won't stand by and watch that happen but may be the time is nigh when we need to roll out some more support.

Monday, 24 December 2012

Season's Greetings

I'd like to wish everyone who is game enough to read this a very happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year.

The image is Stoke Bruerne in winter and next winter I hope (if things go according to plan) to be living there.

Picture from an IWA Christmas Card of 2011. 

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Stoke Bruerne - a picture

I was at a Christmas 'do' this week when a friend (thank you Jan - hope things go well with Havoc) gave me a lovely chalk pastel drawing of Stoke Bruerne which includes my new house.  How very kind. There are many pictures of the houses above the top lock at Stoke Bruerne but to given an original is quite something.

The structural survey on my house was done 2 or so weeks ago and I have heard no adverse reports so I assume all is well.  I am off to Stoke Bruerne on Tuesday to meet with South Northamptonshire Council (what a mouthful), a sash window expert (an 'ex' is a 'has been' and a 'spert' is a drip under pressure in my book!) at 11:00, at 11:30 the man from Howdens is coming to discuss kitchens and doors and then at 12:00 someone called Dave is coming to talk about the fire and replacing it with a woodburning stove.  I am very lucky in that my friend Rodney is riding sidesaddle to see all the technical stuff is done properly (and then we may be going to get some Gardner 2LW engine spares for Hazell Nut from Daventry for him!). Daventry is nice and close and of course we may fit in a bite to eat at the Boat Inn.

I see the Cheese Boat will be in Stoke Bruerne on Tuesday - lead me not into temptation, I can find my own way!

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Structural Survey

The barrel roofed kitchen
Well, considering the house is really quite old (yes there is something older than me!), the structural survey doesn't look too bad to me - I am going to review it with friends this week to ensure I understand what it says and that I haven't glossed over things that are important or thought things were important that really aren't.

One of the things that impressed me was that the Surveyor refused to do it himself as he had previously owned the house (small world) and therefore knew the vendor.  It's what we used to call a 'conflict of interest' and I am very grateful to the surveyor for being so honest with me.

There's a definite need for a new kitchen so I've had fun looking at the kind of kitchens John Lewis have - just for ideas you understand - their kitchens are quite expensive in my view.  I have other ideas for the house all of which will need to comply with the Article 4(2) designation the house has and the fact that it is in a conservation area.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Big Decision moves on

I have had my offer accepted on a property in Stoke Bruerne alongside the lock waiting area above Stoke Bruerne top lock. It's the second cottage along from the left. My name is down for a mooring with CaRT.  As always there's always many a slip twixt cup and lip but I am hopeful that there will be as few issues as possible and I can move to Stoke Bruerne without too much delay.  I would like to think I could volunteer at the Canal Museum during the colder times (days with less daylight) and perhaps with CaRT during the summer.  Time will tell. Click for full details.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Big Decision

I have made a big decision recently having put my house on the market and, this week, accepted an offer on it.

I am interested in a house that fronts onto the Grand Union in the Northants area - that will move me to a more dynamic canalside location (a bit like moving from an unadopted road to the M1 I suppose).

There's lots of things to consider, a very close involvement with Surrey and Hampshire Canal Society over 25 years, a more recent close involvement with Byfleet Boat Club (great new website), volunteer work for the National Trust on the River Wey and occasionally for the Basingstoke Canal Authority on the Basingstoke.

But the house I have is as near complete as I can make it for me, I still have the energy to want (need?) a project, and the house I have been looking at, whilst seeming to be structurally sound, needs a fair bit of TLC.

Of course in these days there's many a slip twixt the cup and lip but I am hopeful things will proceed if planned.  If not, then I have a lovely house and varied interests where I live. Once the offer I have made on the new house is accepted I'll post details but not until I have had the offer accepted.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Thames Cruising web site

My friends Richard and Sue (Indigo Dream) and I have been working on a new website (it's really a portal to other information) to pull together all the disparate information about cruising the tidal Thames from Waterscape, the PLA, CaRT, EA etc (still very much work in progress but in a state now where it is quite usable).

Rather than me rewrite things may I suggest that, if you are interested in looking at the site (and providing us with feedback) that you look at the information Richard and Sue have provided about the new site.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Byfleet Boat Club Illuminated Boats

Byfleet Boat Club will be hosting an Illuminated Boats evening from Town Lock (River Wey) to the Pelican Pub and afterwards in the Pelican Pub for an evening meal and a few drinks.

The River Wey and Godalming Navigations Manager, John Gibson and his wife, are kindly attending; you will have an opportunity to meet John.

Well known 'personalities' Mick and Suzanne Wilson (Aquarius Narrow Boats) and Dick and Alison Snell will form part of the judging panel for the best three boats.

Everyone welcome to attend.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Fireworks at Send

Leo No2 approaching Walsham Gates
in the rain this morning - taken by my
friend Suzanne on Aqua Vitae.
Some members of Byfleet Boat Club braved the weather this weekend to go to Send (in Surrey) to see the fireworks and to enjoy an evening in the pub.

Just before leaving home we received news that the Wey was in flood - it seems a regular occurrence this year, I imagine because the ground is so thoroughly soaked after such an awful summer.  We decided to go as far as Byfleet Boat Club on the Friday and see what the morning brought.

Saturday 09:15 and we received the news we had hoped for, the river sections were open so off we went. We dragged the bottom between Papercourt Lock and the winding hole above Worsfold Gates.  Very odd we thought with such a lot of water around.  It turned out, after a phone call to Thames Lock, that the weir had jammed on a tree on its way down.  As soon as that was fixed the water levels came up.

We enjoyed a pleasant evening at the fireworks followed by an equally enjoyable evening in the New Inn at Send.

At about 04:00 I could hear the rain pounding on the roof - such a snug feeling inside the warmth of the boat.  I poked my nose out (still in my jimmy jams) just after 07:00 - we all had a quick chat and decided to get ready to go quickly to avoid the certainty of more red boards on the river sections.  We were off in less than 20 mins and made it through Walsham Gates as the relief weir-keeper made his way up to put the red boards on.

A lovely weekend with good friends - what more can you ask for - good weather - not this year I fear!

I have been obliged to turn on my spam prevention as this post got me a number of E-mails from Bradford encouraging me to have a new aluminium shop front - on your bike mate!

Monday, 22 October 2012

Byfleet Boat Club Working Weekend

The boarding over the slipway
needed attention 
We always need a cup of tea
Thank you Val, Betty and Jackie
We have a 'working weekend' twice a year, in the autumn (to get the grounds and building prepared for the winter and the hire boats out of the water) and again in the spring (to get things in order for the warmer months and the hire boats back in the water).

Not only is it a good opportunity to get all those little jobs done that the combined expertise of the membership can do but it also provides an excellent way of members working together for a common good.

All-in-all an excellent weekend with all jobs completed.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Brookwood Pound being cleared

Well done BCA.  The Brookwood pound is today being cleared; more than a day's work BUT excellent progress seems to be being made.  I must say the process the BCA use with a workboat, woodchipper and three experienced people who know what they are doing and work as a team seems very efficient.

House move by boat?

NBT boats Nuneaton and
I have seen the house (of my dreams?) and been to see it. It's alongside a canal about an hour or so away from where I live.  I have put my house on the market.  It occurred to me that as my house is canalside and the new one (if the sale and purchase is successful) is also canalside that I should consider moving my house contents by boat.

I asked the Narrow Boat Trust if, in principle, they would be interested in such an undertaking. I was delighted when the reply from the Trust said that they would love to do it! I think all my 'stuff' would fit on one boat so it looks, if the sale and purchase is successful it will be Nuneaton.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Another good Basingstoke update

The BCA workboat right outside my
 house having cleared some trees in the pound
The BCA workboat appeared in the Brookwood pound yesterday - that means it has come up the Brookwood 3 so they must work.  That's great news as is the news (late on Friday) that Byfleet Boat Club may use Woodham, St John's and Brookwood flights for their Christmas / New Year cruise.  Things really are looking up.

Update @ 16:00 - A knock on the door.  An Irishman was there asking if I wanted a new drive.  No thank says I, at any price.  His eye was, however on the BCA workboat with its outboard motor and covered wood chipper.  Who owns the boat he asked.  Nothing to do with you was my answer - would you now please leave.  It was very clear to me that he was here to suss out the boat with a view to relieving it of an outboard motor and wood chipper.  The boat is locked to a tree of mine, the outboard is locked on and the wood chipper has had a wheel removed on purpose but I suspect that will only delay them should they choose to take these two items.  I have informed the Police that I had an uninvited guest at my front door. 

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Brass Tunnel Light

For quite some time I have had a chrome Francis tunnel light on the boat which originally came from the Fire Service Benevolent Fund in Aberdeen.  As most of the metal items on the outside of the boat are brass I looked into getting the light de-chromed.  Quite a cost at £175 plus VAT (£210) plus 28 days (ish) to do the work.

I nosed around in E-Bay and found one that had already been de-chromed that still had the, in my view, all-important foot.  I knew how much the de-chroming would cost and had a fair idea how much the old light would sell for so knew how much I could safely bid.  The chromed one (brass under the chrome) has gone to a good home and the brass one is in place on my boat and I think it looks great.

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Article in Tillergraph

There's an article in the October issue of Tillergraph about Dave Moore - Guild of Waterway Artists about his work which is illustrated with him working on Leo No2.  What a surprise.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

An update on the bridge repairs

We have ascertained that the bridge (as are a number on the Basingstoke) is a Grade II listed structure.  We have been in contact with Rushmore and Hart district councils and Hampshire County Council who have been somewhat dismissive of our concern.  However we have made contact with English Heritage who, through a person connected with the waterway movement, are seemingly less than impressed with the repairs (the bridge is owned by Hampshire County Council and not the Canal Authority).  We are working with English Heritage to see what can be done to have appropriate repairs undertaken.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Industrial Vandalism?

Poulters bridge as was
Poulters Bridge on the Basingstoke Canal has been repaired recently.  This structure is at least 220 years old (although it's clearly been through a number of reincarnations and/or repairs over that time).

When the Canal Society were repairing Slades Bridge at the western end of the canal the late Pete Redway spent weeks (if not months) ensuring he had the correct bricks and the correct mix of lime mortar to ensure the repair was as invisible as possible and that repairs were undertaken in conjunction with, and to the standards of, the County (Hampshire) and District (Hart) conservation officers.

I have pointed out a number of things that have happened on the canal recently that have not been undertaken to what I would describe as usual waterway standards (e.g. the stop plank grooves at Lock 12).

The modern repair
The repair (as shown in the photographs taken by David Jackson) can only be described as industrial vandalism in my view - how this type of repair could either be authorised or approved is quite beyond my comprehension. I think those responsible should should hang their heads in abject shame for standing by and watching our heritage being defaced in such an appalling way. I suspect their answer will be that it was cheaper to do it this way - cheaper in the short-term may be but more expensive in the longer term and an absolute disgrace to our industrial heritage.  Any thoughts or comments to Hart District Council.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Basingstoke Canal Boating Club rally

Victoria  M - built by the
current owner
The Basingstoke Canal Boating Club holds a rally annually at the Fox and Hounds public house in Fleet.  This year is was put back 3 weeks or so on the 'hopeful' understanding that Deepcut would be open - it's not but it won't be too long we hope.

Meanwhile here's some picture of some of the boats who are based above Deepcut who came along and enhanced the day for all.

Steam boat Lady Selsey
Steam boat Lizzzeee

Friday, 5 October 2012

Lock 12 finished

Well so nearly.  The coffer dam is being 'deflated' over the weekend - it's made of a very strong rubber/canvas type material which is being emptied of water over the weekend.  All the silt has been removed (you can see the mark on the lock wall where it came up to) and I expect by Monday morning it will have been handed back to the BCA in order for them to recommission it along with the other two locks of the Brookwood three.  This will enable the BCA workboat to be brought up from Woking and  put to work so that the off-side bank can be cut back.  No excuses for not delivering now in my view.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Lock 12 almost complete

The stop planks in place
for a test
The huge pile of silt ready
to be removed on Friday
We're getting near the end now, you will be pleased to hear.  The new stop planks have been approved and seem to be holding the water back so the contractors have spent a lot of the day getting prepared to lift the silt out of the bottom of the lock tomorrow. It's made challenging by there being no access from the non-towpath side and the towpath side having a petrol station just a couple of metres from the lock.

I asked the contractors to measure the distance between the new stop plank grooves - its 13' 8", which is, according to my elementary maths twice 6' 10" so you wouldn't want to try and use the lock cut alongside another narrowboat or try and get a breasted up pair into (or out of) the lock. It isn't as if the stop plank grooves are pleasing to eye, they most certainly are not but now they restrict access; I wonder if they have thought about the BCA dredger or their work boats?  I expect not.  It's doubly frustrating because the boaters have offered help and advice all the way.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Basingstoke update (10)

The Leonard Leigh wooden tug
Christopher James at the top of
The pound between 28 and 27
is full to overflowing (almost)
 I decided to go to the volunteer day in Deepcut today as the work on Brookwood bottom lock was coming to  close and the contractor's Health and Safety man was visiting this morning and the last thing they would have needed was an 'old' girl walking round with a camera!

Deepcut is filling with water very fast now and at long last it looks like a flight of locks again although the upper gates are still to be fitted to Locks 25 and 24 - one gate, I understand, was sent back to the manufacturers due to a knot in the heel post.

The pound between 26 and 25 is
also full
Almost all of Deepcut now has at least some water in it and I suppose now is the time the BCA will be looking at the infrastructure to see if there are any areas of concern.

I feel that boaters have a moral responsibility to use the canal and as such Byfleet Boat Club are intending to visit Brookwood (proper and not Brookwood Country Park) between Christmas and New Year (2012!) and to use Deepcut at Easter 2013 (29/30/31-March and 01-April). That should give the BCA adequate time to review and resolve any issues found in Deepcut.  I hope and expect any issues found can be dealt with on the basis of a short (hopefully) stoppage period rather than reverting to closing the entire flight again.

Monday, 1 October 2012

Basingstoke update (9)

The new cill.  The small gap
was filled with something very
quick setting
A bit of 'fire and lightning'
as some bolts are 'cut to size'

A hive of activity in the rain this morning. The final fitting of the lower cill (they are also going to fit rubber edges to the cill as an experiment to see if it stops (slows) any leakage).  There's a couple more day's work I understand.

Meanwhile the re-watering of Deepcut continues.

The rubber seal on the mitre
and the cill are both visible

Both paddles are in place
but the paddle gear is still
to be fitted
I went back to Brookwood bottom lock this afternoon to look at the rubber seals that have been 'the experiment' with this lock.  I think the seals on the cill will work but I fear the seals on the mitres of the gates may well get knocked off by boats trying to 'single gate' their way in to or out of the lock. Time will tell - I hope the process works as someone has put a lot of time and effort into the design of this in order to retain the one thing the Basingstoke doesn't have - water.

Friday, 28 September 2012

Basingstoke update (8)

The new stop plank grooves have been almost completely fitted to Lock 12 They extend 2 inches out from the Lock 'cut' wall on each side and finish at normal water level - you can see the water level mark in the pciture.  They do have oak timber to 'chamfer' the edges but in my view they could have been done with 'U' section steel, been set into the wall of the lock 'cut' and should have extended well above water level.

They way they are currently leaves me to believe they will not be easily seen by a boater and have the potential to cause damage to a boat.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

A new tiller tassel for Leo No2

I have had a new tiller tassel made for Leo No2 in much the same colours of the boat.  I met David Edwards (who made it) on the Stratford Canal and he has kindly made this one for me - I think it looks lovely.

Basingstoke update (7)

The post in question
The lower cill has been re-cast
Well a lot of work going on today - my cup runneth over with excitement.  A lock 12 there is a post being put in mid-channel (only to be used when the stop planks need to go in) - no one I have spoken to today is happy with the design which I think came form BW / CaRT so it must be proven but it's just not obvious how it all goes together. The lower cill for Lock 12 has been recast to take account of the odd sized gates!

Work progresses well and the contractors seem happy.

Water streaming through Lock 20
Clearing out above the upper
wing wall of Lock 20
Deepcut - probably one of the most beautiful parts of the whole canal system (IMHO) is being re-watered at the moment - this is the first time some of it has been in water since 2009.  Some photos below of work in progress today.

A bit of a leak but the lock has not
had water near it since 2009
Byfleet Boat Club (who have been such huge supporters of the canal despite being resident on the Wey) are planning to go to Brookwood (proper)  between Christmas and New Year and to King John's castle at Easter.  Hopefully we can get the Basingstoke up and running again.

I feel the local boaters, to begin with, have a moral responsibility to show faith in the counties and use the canal as regularly as time permits.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Site Update

I have added the old BW Upstream, Downstream and Estuary guides to the left hand side under Thames Downstream Guide, Thames Estuary Guide and Thames Upstream Guide in case these valuable documents get lost in the move of the IT estate to CaRT.

Basingstoke update (6)

Where the stop planks will go
The original bases were Elm
The gates just don't fit - yet

Well the cill is a bit 'the wrong size' (or maybe it's the gates).  The picture shows the 'fit' without the elm cills in place but even so it's a bit wrong.  Probably because the gates were measured incorrectly some two years ago.  The contractors are going to recast the cills and mitre the gates and hopefully measure everything so when the gates are eventually replaced the correct size can be ordered.

The traffic cone shows just how deep the silt really is!