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.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Living Waterway Awards

Village at War
Stoke Bruerne has won a first place in the Recreation and Tourism section of the Living Waterway Awards.

This is well deserved recognition for The Friends of The Canal Museum and their Family Festival/Gala, Village at War and Carols on the Cut events.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

A lovely trip to Byfleet (by car)

Leo outside my house (the one with
the hanging baskets)
Byfleet Boat Club had their open weekend this last weekend so I decided to pay a visit as it's been almost 12 months since I was last there - to bring the boat back up to Stoke Bruerne.

I had a thoroughly enjoyable day topped off by an excellent BBQ and the Croydon Steel Band. It was lovely to meet old friends - as in long standing and not because they are old (well some of them may be!).  Chris and Suzanne - do hope your injuries heal quickly.

Leo is in Stoke Bruerne at the moment courtesy of my friends Mike Partridge and Chris and Roy Sears - it is lovely having it so close as it enables me to do all those little jobs that need doing and to be able to walk home for lunch!

Monday, 8 September 2014

Village at War

Grand Union boats Moon and Southern
moored in the early morning sun
in Stoke Bruerne awaiting Village at War
Just a few days to go now before Stoke Bruerne hosts its annual Village at War event.  Some lovely historic craft are booked and will be moored close to the Museum Green.  The usual entertainers have been booked; there will be military vehicles, historic boats, and a wonderful atmosphere - there only thing we haven't been able to secure yet is a fine weather forecast but that's looking very hopeful.

Saturday, 23 August 2014

A Red letter day for Blisworth Tunnel

L to R Dr Nigel Crowe, James Clifton (CRT)
Lady Judy and Sir William McAlpine
David Laing (LL of Northamptonshire)
Stuart Wilkinson (Chairman of the
Transport Trust) and Peter Stone
(Transport Trust)
The VIPs cutting the cake
Friday 22-August marked the 30th anniversary of the reopening of Blisworth tunnel following the repairs undertaken to fix the centre of the tunnel.  Friday 22-August was also the day (in 2014) when the Transport Trust awarded Blisworth tunnel a 'Red Wheel' in recognition of its historical importance and engineering excellence - it is, apparently only 1 metre out of 'straight'.

VIP guests were collected in Blisworth and brought through the tunnel courtesy of Stoke Bruerne Boat Company, to attended an unveiling presided over by the Lord Lieutenant of Northamptonshire, David Laing, the Hon Sir William McAlpine Bt (President of the Transport Trust) and Dr Nigel Crowe (CRT Head of Heritage).

A worthy recognition of the unbelievable achievements of those who built the tunnel some 209 years ago.  We were privileged to have, as our guests, three of those who were instrumental in rebuilding the tunnel 30 years ago.

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Stoke Bruerne Canal Museum reopened

The CRT owned Stoke Bruerne Canal Museum was officially reopened yesterday after an extensive refit over the winter.  We were blessed with wonderful spring weather and a large crowd of people interested in the future of the museum and that of Stoke Bruerne.

Richard Parry, Chief Executive of the Canal and River Trust, officiated and presented a very well deserved award to Louise Stockwin who managed the entire process following the untimely death of the previous museum manager, David Henderson, in early January.

In the photo taken with CRT's former working boat Sculptor,  left to right - Richard Parry, Louise Stockwin, David Blagrove and Lorna York.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Rain fails to dampen St George's day spirit

Rose and Castle squire Steve Bignall
receives a flag of St George from Rodney
Wardlaw of the Royal Society of St George
Hundreds turned out to watch the flag of St. George raised at a special ceremony at damp Stoke Bruerne despite grey skies and torrential rain - the first time a flag of any kind has flown on the canalside here for over twenty years. The last flag to fly was a a pair of ladies' outsize blue bloomers with a British Waterways logo on them hoisted as an April Fool’s day joke on April 1st 1992. Unsurprisingly, someone took umbrage and the halyards to the flagpole were cut and couldn’t be replaced because telephone lines across the canal prevented the pole from being lowered.

Recently local resident Kathryn Dodington contacted BT, Colin Richards and his team at BT’s local network business Openreach swung into action and earlier this month telephone cables were re-routed enabling local volunteers to drop the flagpole and replace the missing halyards under the auspices of the Canal & River Trust, successor to British Waterways.

The colourful St. George's day ceremony which featured local school children from Stoke Bruerne Primary School reciting the story of St. George and the Dragon, as well as dancing on the lockside from Stoke Bruerne based Rose & Castle Morris, saw a formal presentation of the flag by Rodney Wardlaw, member of The Royal Society of St. George before it was hoisted to pole position overlooking the canal. From now on the flag will be always flying in this corner of Northamptonshire!

Image: © James Rudd (About my area NN12)
Words: © Lynda Payton
More images here

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

A flag on the flagpole - a bit of a flutter in Stoke Bruerne

The team lowering the
The flag flying proudly from the
flagpole - next project is to rid
Stoke Bruerne of all the cables that
cross the canal
A few weeks after I moved into my new (to me) house in Stoke Bruerne BT rang to ask if everything was OK with my landline and broadband service.  It was, but now, as is the custom, the caller asked if there was anything else BT could help with whilst they were in contact with me.  'Well as it happens' I said 'there's a flagpole opposite my house and the village cannot use it because of your BT cables which are in the way of the villagers maintaining the flagpole and it's got no halyard'.

The short answer to my statement was they would put me in touch with the right department; they did; and the longer version of the story is that today Openreach (a BT subsidiary company) came along (after all the Risk Assessments and Method Statements were completed) and moved the said cable quite some distance allowing the volunteer team to lower the flagpole, clean it, check it for damage and fit a new halyard.  Tonight we have a Union Flag flying proudly from the top of the flagpole.

A huge vote of thanks to Openreach for doing the work free of charge and to one of the volunteers for having the foresight to bring a bottle of champagne to celebrate the occasion.  For the record the last known item to be raised up the flagpole was a pair of ladies bloomers with the initials BW stamped on them and that was on 01-April-1991 - some 23 years ago.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

The wonderful lunacy of boaters

I was recently directed to this short video of an aeroplane taking off within the confines of the Boat Inn in Stoke Bruerne.  May be when you next ask for diesel or solid fuel you will see the sellers in a different light!

Monday, 24 March 2014

Reminiscence Day in Stoke Bruerne

I think the poster says it all but suffice to say that the Stoke Bruerne Canal Partnership is facilitating a Reminisence Day in Stoke Bruerne on Sunday 13-April.  If you have memories of any kind of Stoke Bruerne please do consider joining us and sharing your memories.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

An opportunity to do the Basingstoke

I have heard from friends at Byfleet Boat Club that there is an opportunity to join experienced Basingstoke boaters on a trip from the Wey to Odiham (King John's Castle) in May.  If you are interested please contact Byfleet Boat Club  via their website. 

Thursday, 6 March 2014

It's only a small thing but.....

A flag will soon be flying from the
flag pole at the top lock (14) at
Stoke Bruerne after 30 or so years
It's an important thing.  A lot of you will have travelled through the little village of Stoke Bruerne and stopped off at either the Spice of Bruerne, The Navigation or The Boat Inn and noticed the flag pole on the 'island' between the two locks at the top of the flight.

There's not been a flag raised up the flag pole for some 30 (ish) years.  Just after I moved to Stoke Bruerne I had occasion to speak to BT about my phone and broadband connection.  As with most organisations the phone call was 'finished' with the now ubiquitous question 'Is there anything else we can help you with today?'. They generally expect a 'No' but in this case I mentioned the flag pole (is it flag pole or flagpole I wonder) and explained that as BT lines were close to both sides of the flag pole it could not be rotated on its hinge and maintained.  It took quite some time but on 2-April there is a stoppage (boats will be held for a maximum of two hours) whilst BT Openreach reposition the offending cable on the south (Cosgrove) side of the flag pole which will then enable us to lower it and attach a new halyard.

We have a very nice flag of St George (paid for by The Friends of the Canal Museum) which we intend to raise on the evening of 23-April (St George's day) to 'reopen' the flag pole.  Please do come and join us if you are in the area.

Well done to BT Openreach for covering the cost of the work and to Canal & River Trust for arranging all the permits, the Risk Assessment and the Method Statement for the work to be carried out.

Lock 14, Top Lock

Wednesday 2 April 2014 09:00 until Wednesday 2 April 2014 16:00

Type: Navigation Restriction
Reason: 3rd Party Works

Original message:

In order to allow works to the overhead telecommunications cabling it will be necessary to restrict navigation on Wednesday 2nd April 2014.

The works will be ongoing throughout the day and at certain points it will be necessary to close the lock to navigation and divert towing path users.  No boats will be held for more than two hours and if necessary the works will be suspended to allow traffic to pass.

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Lovely boats in Stoke Bruerne this afternoon

Thanks to my friend Mike Partridge of Stoke Bruerne Boat Company I managed to get a photo of four lovely boats in Stoke Bruerne this afternoon.  Left to right are Towcester, Moon (butty), Bideford (butty) and Lactodorum (the latin for Towcester!)

Saturday, 1 March 2014

First day of Spring

Well according to the meteorologists it is!  Very cold but quite beautiful.  A lot more boats mooring in Stoke Bruerne despite the 2-day restriction still in force.  A working party on the former GUCCC working boat Sculptor today to try and get the ballasting correct.  We are going to add two 1,000 litre containers just in front of the bulkhead between the engine room and hold.  We also intend to remove the temporary ballast that was placed on the uxter plate some time ago and move some of the water barrels forward to the area of the mast.  That should make Sculptor sit in the water in a more appropriate way.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

IWA Calendar Competition

My photo which has been shortlisted
I was very surprised yesterday to receive an e-Mail from the IWA to say that one of my pictures has been short-listed for the 2015 IWA calendar in their autumn category.  There's a link to all the photos here.  I would love anyone reading this to vote for it, not because it is mine, but because it is Stoke Bruerne.  Stoke Bruerne is a quintessential canal-side village which, despite its attraction to the boaters and canal enthusiasts of the world, still needs to publicise itself in this modern world.  Of course the Canal & River Trust, The Canal Museum, IWA, Stoke Bruerne Canal Partnership, The Friends of The Canal Museum, South Northants Council and others do a wonderful job but having Stoke Bruerne on your calendar for a month will also help. It would be remiss of me not to point out that Adam Porter (of this parish) also has a photo short-listed in the Summer category of Briar Rose passing through a lift bridge on the Northampton Arm.

Anyway please do take a look at all the pictures and vote for the ones you think are worthy of the calendar.

Friday, 14 February 2014

Ebb Tide Flag Warning

The Port of London Authority (PLA) have come up with a great warning sign which I have put on my blog which warns when the Tidal Fluvial Flow is dangerous - as it is now.  See right hand side of my blog.

Well done the PLA in helping us boat more safely.

Saturday, 1 February 2014

A bit of history

Alton and Moon © Rob Westlake
I have become a little bit involved with Sculptor - the former Grand Union working boat which is owned by the Canal & River Trust but lovingly maintained by the Friends of the Canal Museum; we are working up a program of maintenance and training to ensure Sculptor lives on for many years - she will be 80 in 2015.

It was suggested, as most things are, over a drink in the Boat Inn that we might consider taking Sculptor and Moon (a now converted butty moored in Stoke Bruerne) to the Braunston Historic gathering which is in June. That idea has met with a lot of enthusiasm - we now of course have to ask the Trust if we may use Sculptor as the motor to take Moon to Braunston (and back).  This prompted my friend Rob Westlake to send in the attached image of Moon (© Rob Westlake), taken in 1984, of Moon with an unidentified Motor.  My friend Ray, who volunteers with the Narrowboat Trust, was very helpful in identifying the motor as Alton which is, in turn, owned by friends of mine of some 20 years, Brian and Ann-Marie McGuigan.  What a small world.