Wednesday, November 30, 2011

An intermission puzzle

While we take a brief breather from the awards ceremony and recharge our champagne glasses, here’s a teaser for you.

We don’t have an award for Most Welcome Sight,  but if we did, I would have shortlisted this picture for sure.

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Does anyone know what and where it is and why I was glad to see it?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Ancient Town gets modern award– Best Town Moorings 2011

You have convinced me.  The popular vote gets it*. After miles and miles of Thames cruising seeing NO MOORING, PRIVATE, NO SWIMMING, NO DIVING, NO LANDING etc what a delight it was to arrive somewhere that had good moorings with a sign saying Welcome, you can stay free for 5 days.  So

the Herbie Award 2011 for Best Town Moorings goes to 


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A well deserved and popular win, and I’m sure the pubs and shops in Abingdon reap the benefit of the town’s policy in the cruising season.  Good for them.

A good time to be in Abingdon is the Saturday nearest June 19th when the residents of Ock Street hold an election for Mayor of Ock Street.  By ancient tradition this “mock mayor” then has the job of poking fun at the “official” mayor and council when they make unpopular decisions.  The day itself features a lot of drinking and cheering and morris dancing and general tomfoolery, with guest morris or other traditional dance sides being invited to join the Abingdon men.  After the mayor is elected a four o’clock he is carried along the street on a garlanded chair and the drinking and dancing starts all over again. I took part many years ago in my dancing days and still have the commemorative medal that the guests are given.    I’ve only just got rid of the hangover.  Should you wish to know more, Google will provide loads of links to this event.

*PS sorry Alison.  Skipton sounds wonderful, but as Herbie hasn’t been there this year, they don’t qualify.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Brickbats and Bravos, Herbie Awards Goes to Town

So we come to the Award for Best Town Moorings 2011.  This is an interesting one.  Whilst many towns rejoice in their waterfront, not all of them provide a welcome for visitors arriving by water.  Maybe they feel they don’t need to. 

Take Windsor for example.  You can’t take a boat holiday up the Thames without calling in at Windsor can you?  It’s a tourist hot spot. How come then they have so few places to tie up for the night near the centre?  In the summer season I suspect a lot of boaters get frustrated. We arrived out of season, in March, so we were lucky that we were able to occupy the only good free mooring near the town centre.  Note – room for one narrowboat only. 

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Then let me remind you of the welcome sign at this place!

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So you might have guessed the award is unlikely to go to Windsor on this occasion.  Neither will Warwick ( and Leamington) because although they are fine towns, they seem to have turned their backs on the canal. 

Of the towns we stayed at this year, the ones we liked mooring at were:

Hampton – very good moorings right outside the golden gates of Hampton Court palace. As well as the river and the palace there’s .. er.. not a lot.

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Marlow – We found a quiet spot in a scenic setting below the lock, and there are some more on the other side of the town bridge.  I think we would have liked it more in better weather.  We like Marlow as a town too.

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Wallingford – Good new moorings and a pleasant little town.  You could picnic or  have a barbie here easily. However, you have to pay a modest fee. £3 or £4, I can’t remember exactly.

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Abingdon – A fair amount of free moorings handy for the town and an actual welcome sign!  You can stay for 5 days too!

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Banbury – is a place worth stopping at,  - a good Saturday market - and it embraces its canal front in some style.

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However the long line of moorings on the southern approach is not especially attractive and there were murmurings of oiks nearer the town centre.

Well, there’s an award winner here somewhere, but I’m not sure yet.  Answer tomorrow.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Best Village Moorings

Oooh I don’t know.  In reality my shortlist all have their good and bad points.  I have to separate how much I like the village from how good/convenient there moorings are.

My favourite village I think is Shardlow. However I think I should give the award to the place where I would most like to sit out on the bank at the end of the day and watch the world go by, then pop to a handy village shop and perhaps stop off at the the pub on the way back. Also it’s nice if you can hop on a bus to a nearby town or other attraction.  In that case I think the winner of the Herbie Award for best Village Moorings 2011 has to be . . . (camera pans round tense faces of shortlisted contestants) . .


(pronounced Ol-re-wos)

loud cheers!!

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Alrewas is in Staffordshire on the Trent and Mersey canal. I took the above picture a few yards behind our mooring spot. We had a comfy spot to sit out under a tree, and the village centre was a few minutes walk away.  It is a pretty village with 3 pubs, a general stores and an unusually good butcher, and well worth an evening stroll.  

Regular buses can take you to nearby Lichfield, or like us, you can go and see the National Memorial Arboretum – a fascinating and moving experience.

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Thursday, November 24, 2011

Winning Ale plus Best Village Moorings Nominations

  … and the winner of the Herbie Award for Best Pint 2011 (experienced on our travels) is 

UBU from Warwickshire’s Purity Brewing Company. 

Pure UBU - 1 of the 50 Top beers in the World

Try it.

PS Kath recalls that at the Greyhound she had a pint called Innocent or Innocence from the Purity Brewery, and I think she might be right although they don’t show it on their web site.  Whatever it was, it was very very good.

On with the Show

Which places on our travels provided the best overnight stopping place for their visitors.  Naturally we can only comment on those we actually stopped at, and sometimes we stopped in the middle of nowhere.  Here’s a map (sort of):

2011 schematicCognoscenti will be able to name the different coloured waterways, but they’re not too important here.  Place names in red are Cities (as if you didn’t know), in Blue are Towns, and in Grey are Villages.  You can’t expect a village to provide as much as a city for moorers, so we’ll have three separate categories.  Today it’s Villages.

Actually villages do pretty well- often better for moorers than towns.  The ideal place would have well tended and attractive bankside, access to good local shops and good pubs, and local items of interest.  Here we go clockwise from the bottom.

Sonning – nice village, poor moorings – tied to a tree, no grass

Pangbourne – lovely riverside meadow, pleasant village

Thrupp – OK moorings, good tea shop, fair pub, not a lot else

Heyford – not much there except a very close railway

Cropredy – Pretty village, good pub, handy shops

Napton – OK moorings, good pub, tiny shop (by pub)

Braunston – good moorings “round the back”, nice views, good shops (inc renowned butcher), pubs nothing special, but loads of interest for boaters

Curdworth – Moorings in tunnel cutting a bit gloomy, nice village, good pub (Beehive), shop

Hopwas – Pleasant moorings, good pubs, long walk to tiny shop

Alrewas – Pleasant moorings (pretty), shops, another renowned butcher, pubs only fair. National Memorial Arboretum nearby

Shardlow – Decent moorings, lots to see if you like canal architecture, fair pubs

Barrow on Soar – pleasant moorings, selection of shops, didn’t try the pub!!!!

Birstall (suburb of Leicester) attractive moorings, handy shops and bus to Leicester

Kilby – fair moorings, quite good pub

Foxton – plenty of mooring space, good pubs and the locks and inclined plane to look at

Welford – Attractive moorings, reasonable pub, a shop a fair walk away

Crick  - disqualified because it’s our home mooring.

My long preliminary shortlist is Pangbourne, Cropredy, Braunston, Alrewas, Shardlow, Birstall and Welford.  What a tough choice to get down to four!

OK let’s do it.


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Braunston, (round the back, not yer usual view)

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and Shardlow.

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At this stage I don’t have the faintest idea which I will pick or why.  Gut feel I suspect.  I will this time accept guidance!

Result tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Awards Ceremony hit by amnesia attack, but we struggle on

We do have a favourite beer from a canalside pub (or two) this year, but compiling a shortlist is a bit of a problem because, but I realise that we had quite a few that I can no longer remember.  No, not because I drank too much of it, but because there are so many lovely ales being brewed by microbreweries these days that it’s hard to keep track.  What’s worse, even the little breweries often have a range of seasonal ales that come and go month by month.  About now we shall start seeing Santa’s Tipple or whatever on the pump clips.  I’m suddenly reminded of a Christmas ale I had in Redditch some years ago that claimed to have Myrrh in it!

Now don’t think I am complaining about all these beers.  Far from it. It’s just that they come and go and are hard to recall in detail.  Still I know what I like. Apart from old favourites from established brewers – Fullers ESB, Timothy Taylors Landlord etc, I really do like some of the modern brews, especially the way they have introduced newer varieties of hops.  In the old days English brewers used Goldings and Fuggles hops and not too many more.  Differences in beer were more to do with how much light and dark malts etc were used.  Some brewers claimed it was their water that made the difference, and that is indeed why Burton on Trent came to be a big brewing centre.  Now the big Burton Breweries churn out some good and too much bad and the biggest (Coors) belongs to Americans ! It says something for the demise of Burton, that this year when we passed through there on Herbie, we didn’t even bother to stop!

Back to the little breweries – for it is from there that our 2011 winner comes.  These new little breweries have experimented a lot with hop varieties.  Some of the “newer” hop varieties have made a stunning difference to beers, and none more so  (IMHO) than the variety known as Cascade.  This seems to give a lovely elderflowery aroma to the beer and a clean refreshing taste.  Cascade beers tend to be pale in colour and in my experience they are always gorgeous. My favourite favourite beer Tring Sidepocket is a cascade beer, although it can’t win this year because we didn’t see any.

Which brings us to this years favourite.  Brewed in Warwickshire, so available in some pubs on the North Oxford and Coventry canals, and you can get in bottles (not so good as draft but still very nice) in Sainsbury’s. The brewer’s description says

“Using 100% English Maris Otter Malt with Challenger and Cascade hops, creates a balanced full flavoured beer that is a pleasure to drink.”  I’ll drink to that.

The name of the Brewery alludes to the green credentials of their set up.  One thing they do is purify all their waste water through a reed bed system, and all their other by products are recycled.

So the winner of the Herbie Award for  Best Pint  2011 goes to . . .

I’ll tell you next time but you can guess if you like.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Best Pub 2011

Following months of diligent research and hours of deliberation, mentally reliving pints, pies, and barmaids, the judging panel (Kath and I) have come to a decision.  Despite some worthy competition this year there could only be one winner of the Herbie Award for Best Pub 2011 and it is . . .  (annoying ten second pause like they have on Masterchef etc.)

The Greyhound at Hawkesbury Junction
(just north of Coventry)

Whether you sit inside or out, there is plenty of atmosphere and plenty of interest to look at.  Next time we go there I’ll try to photograph the inside, which is comfortable and characterful, albeit fairly densely populated! They have really well kept proper beer, including local ales and the menu is considerably more ambitious than the normal now all too familiar pub menu, and the staff seem to enjoy serving you.

Well done them.
I think it might be time next to consider a favourite pint of the year.  We have worked especially hard on researching that.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Herbie Awards 2011 Best Pub nominations

Now we come to the ever popular Food and Drink section of the awards. And we’ll start with Pubs.  We may well have awards for best pub meal and best pint later!

Just occasionally on our cruises we visit a public house.  All in the spirit of supporting local business you understand.  This year we seem to have supported quite a few of them and while some were better than others we do have a few we can recommend.  In fact we have a longer than usual shortlist.  But which did we like most?

We’ll present them in chronological order of our first visit- all this year of course.  At most of them I was too much of a hurry to get in to stop to take a photo!

1. The Folly Inn at Napton

With his handlebar moustache and occasional bowler hat (or even a pith helmet!) the new landlord has wrought a welcome change in this well situated pub.  It’s cosy, friendly, unpretentious, full of interesting nick nacks, and they try hard to please the customer.  The beer is excellent ( Hook Norton) and the food tasty and reasonably priced.  Following our original visit, when we stayed an extra day because it was so good, we’ve been back twice.  Good moorings a short walk round the corner.

2. The Greyhound at Hawkesbury Junction

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People told us we should stop there and they were right.  Immediately alongside the junction bridge, you can sit outside pint in hand and watch the longer boats fail to make the turn in one go. Splendid entertainment.  Inside it gets better.  Bags of character, an unusual and impressive menu and staff who all seem to be able to describe the character of the ales on offer.  The beer itself is kept to perfection and features the best of local brews.  Just down the canal bank there is a good visitor mooring area.

3. The Foxton Locks Inn

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This made the shortlist on a number of accounts although at first glance it’s not our sort of pub.  Right alongside the bottom of the famous locks, this is a big pub catering for tourists.  We decide to eat there and apart from the good beer (with a discount for card carrying CAMRA members), the food service was excellent despite it being very busy.  Afterwards we sat in comfy sofas for another pint, and Kath managed to lose her mobile phone.  On reporting this the staff took great concern and made huge efforts to try and find it. Phoning it was no good as the signal there is terrible.  Kath called in next day and they had found it for her underneath the sofa!  Nice to find a big busy pub with such friendly and personal service.

4.  The Blue Bell Cider House on the Stratford Canal north of Lapworth.

This large and somewhat plain pub was extra friendly and so helpful in helping us get fed when we arrived after the kitchen closed.  They ordered a Chinese takeaway for us and supplied the plates and cutlery when it came.  The locals were very friendly and the real draft cider scrump(y)tious. They have their own small landing stage and more mooring opposite over the adjacent bridge.

5.  The Tom o’ the Wood – Rowington Grand Union Canal (north of Hatton)

Sadly we only popped in for a quickie at lunchtime as we passed, but we really want to go back.  Only recently reopened, this pub is smarter than the average, a bit up market, but didn’t turn a hair at our less than sartorial appearance.  Comfy armchairs, very friendly and helpful staff and Old Rosie cider.  The menu looked very inviting.  Visitor moorings opposite.

Honourable mentions for foody pubs go to a couple of Otters, both from the Vintage Inns chain – the Otter in Kegworth on the River Soar where we moored two feet from the door, and the Tame Otter  canalside in Hopwas on the Birmingham and Fazeley not far from Lichfield.  Both eateries really and not very pubby but they sell good beer too.  Rather too much of it at the Tame Otter where we were led astray by the Indigo Dreamers!  Lastly the Beehive in Curdworth on the B&F, too far from the canal to qualify but good food, beer and service at low low prices.

We did visit a fair few more and the standard these days is often better than of yore, although we didn’t hit upon a proper little local boozer to recommend.  I’m sure we missed a few.  The only place to really disappoint us was a very well known canalside pub in, of all places,  Braunston.  I know we’re not the only ones in this respect.

Results tomorrow.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Intermission - a little known island

And now for something completely different, but educational.

While we have an intermission in the Herbie Awards Ceremony, let me pass on a couple of facts you didn't need to know.

After a comment from Adam I had to edit my last two posts to change "Bull Creek" to "Bow Creek"  - Bow Creek being the mouth of the river Lea where it meets the Thames.  How did I come to mistakenly write "Bull Creek"?

It took me a few minutes to work out why, then I remembered where Bull Creek is.  Long time readers of the blog may recall that I make periodic sorties to Portsmouth - mainly because I love it.  I was a student there in the late 1960s.  Anyway, to get into Portsmouth one is forced to cross Bull Creek, because Portsmouth is in fact  . . . .an island!  Not a lot of people know that, but it is shown wonderfully if you go to Google maps and turn on satellite view an zoom in at the north end of the city.  (Google Maps's rather scary Terms of Use seem to prohibit me from showing you a copy here).

Interestingly, people in Portsmouth routinely refer to The Mainland  when talking of anything to the north of the city, and the whole area is officially known as Portsea Island.

Portsea island of course includes Southsea which is the southern part of the island facing the sea.  No idea how it got its name.

Portsmouth has a plethora of wonderful old pubs some of which I have photographed and put in a web album here.

A couple of samples:

Back to normal next time.

PS Clock still ticking.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Herbie Awards 2011 - Best Day’s Cruise on Someone Else’s Boat.

Despite the shortlist all being great days ou,t this is a unanimous decision between me and Kath.  For wide open spaces, sights rarely seen, and good company.  The Herbie Award for BDCOSEB has to go to

 The Eastenders Cruise.  
(SPCC Tideway Cruise aboard Indigo Dream)

Why?  Bow Creek - seldom navigated by narrowboats, the O2 arena, Greenwich,  the Thames barrier, the HUGE docks, the aircraft, just brilliant.   And of course the company.  Thanks again Sue and Richard. Oh and I almost forgot, the free whiskey* at the end.  Perfect day or what?

I bet you wish you'd been there.

PS. (complete non sequitur) I just got my new old clock going.  Very exciting.

*No I didn't spell it wrong, it was Irish Whiskey

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Herbie Awards 2011 - Nominations for Best Day’s Cruise on Someone Else’s Boat.

This year we’ve been lucky enough to tag along for the ride on the boats of friends on three very special occasions.  They should all win an award, but there is only one to spare.  Which will it be?

1. January aboard Indigo Dream as guests of the ever generous Sue and Richard and other boats from the St Pancras Cruising Club on their tideway cruise to the Royal Docks.  Up the Lea from Limehouse, out through Bow Lock onto Bow Creek to Greenwich and down the Thames, through the Thames barrier, dodge the Woolwich ferry and into the giant Royal Docks with the City Airport jets landing along side us.  A cruise which very few narrowboats ever make.  After the big winter freeze, the weather was kind to us and once we got over being terrified, it was great.

I had a rather neat idea for showing the route on the blog!  I think we should call it the EastEnders Cruise

and took a million photographs.  here are just a few.

Narrowboats look very small
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and the Woolwich ferry looks very big
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and as for the Royal Docks – blimey!- this is inside the dock
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2. Next, in June,  came the Braunston Historic Boat Rally where we blagged a lift with Sarah and Jim on the mighty Chertsey as part of the Saturday parade of boats. I think it would be fair to say that progress was rather slow as we took about four hours to travel a mile, but a lot of fun was had by all.  Suffice it to say that there were a lot of boats in a small space.

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It wouldn’t have been so difficult if boats hadn’t been coming in both directions and if that wasn’t alongside a row of moored boats.  Sarah did brilliantly (including a perfect three point turn) and we didn’t sink a single other boat.

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No-one expected it to take quite so long and I think it’s the only time I have been on a boat where the skipper went ashore for a pee without stopping the boat or handing over the tiller!  With all the banter between boats, the passengers,  and the gongoozlers, (not to mention the lovely weather) it was a day to remember. 

3. Finally in September the first rehearsal of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Thames Flotilla (narrowboat section). Once again we were hosted by Sue and Richard aboard Indigo Dream (we are indeed honoured) for another spectacular.   In terms of chaos this rivalled the Braunston Rally, although we did manage to cover a good number of miles.  This was our first trip past Westminster and all that and everyone’s first trip as a flotilla.  As ever Richard was the epitome of calmness and Sue the perfect hostess. 

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Of course the event was special and the scenery legendaryIMG_0455 (1024x507)
The cruise was memorable in so many ways, but perhaps most of all for the scariness of the force of the tide in some parts, as demonstrated by Nb Leo
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What lucky people Kath and I are.  Three brilliant and special cruises in one year, all hosted by fellow bloggers.  many thanks to Sue, Richard, Sarah and Jim.  But which was the best?  Which will win the award for Best Day’s Cruise on Someone Else’s Boat?

I feel another sleepless night coming on.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Best Day’s Cruise result

What a difficult one.  If I go on like this I’ll suffer from sleep deprivation. The problem is that the three cruises were so different from each other that it’s like comparing apples with oranges.  Those kind enough to send in comments can’t agree either.  Well i have made up my mind – for now at any rate.

Pause while presenter rips open golden envelope . . .

Aaaah. In the end it all boils down to sheer exhilaration.  The excitement of treading new ground, of overcoming obstacles and, well, just fun.    So the winner is not exactly the most restful cruise or the most scenic, but the one which felt like an adventure. 

The Herbie Award for Best day’s Cruise 2011 goes to

The ascent of the Birmingham and Fazeley canal into Farmers Bridge.
Here we are moored up at the end of the climb

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Now I feel disappointed for the other two nomineesSad smile

Rick suggests I have a reader voted category for the best picture on the Herbie Blog this year.  Fine by me but, dear reader,  are you prepared to trawl back and look for a  favourite?   Or I could post a selection for you to choose from?  Rick also suggests I could have a premium rate phone line for the vote.  Now there’s an idea!

Tomorrow I’ll post the short list for Best Cruise on Someone Else’s Boat.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Herbie Awards 2011 - Best Day’s Cruise Nominations

So we start our 2011 Awards with three nominations for Best Day’s Cruise, which in chronological order are

1. March 28th. River Thames- Brentford to Hampton Court


It was an unseasonally warm and sunny day when in the company of Rick, Marilyn, Simon and Carrie we cruised out onto the tideway at breakfast time and Herbie took us effortlessly up towards the big lock at Teddington while we were entertained by views of the posh bits of Richmond and all that.  Down this end of the Thames there is plenty to see, and on the rising tide the river is calm and the going is easy. This was a first go on the tideway for R,M &C who soon overcame any fears and settled down to enjoy the day. Then after a shopping stop at Waitrose on to Kingston for a truly scrummy lunch at Riverside Vegetaria  followed by tea and cakes on the river bank.  Simon and Carrie had to go but the rest of us cruised gently upstream round the big bend at Hampton Court to moor up right beside the Golden Gates of the palace where we disembarked for a tour of the beautiful gardens in full spring bloom.


Good weather, good cruising, the best company, excellent lunch, a superb mooring spot at the end.  A strong contender.

2. April 8th.  South Oxford canal -  Heyford to Banbury

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A special day.  The first ever visit to Herbie by my big brother Graham and sister in law Jackie and we could hardly have picked a better spot.  This is arguably the prettiest stretch of this canal and there are plenty of locks including the strange lozenge shaped ones on the river stretches.  Lift bridges too of course. Graham was taken with the scenery and asked “Are all canals like this?”  “Oh yes” I lied.  I think we did 14 locks that day so there was plenty to do, but the weather was gorgeous and we had a lovely picnic at lunchtime.

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3. October 6th – Birmingham and Fazeley canal – Curdworth to Farmers Bridge

A daunting prospect beforehand, especially since I had been in A&E in Sutton Coldfield in the early hours of the morning!  A mere 9 miles, but 27 locks.

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Would we be molested by bandits in Aston? Would we arrive before dark? Well, I’m here to tell you it was brilliant. Rick was with us to help out as crew and we flew up the lock flights grinning from ear to ear.  This trip is mostly urban and industrial but endlessly fascinating.

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Coming up the Farmers Bridge flight under roads and office blocks was a great experience, plenty of gloom, but no doom. Then arriving at the top in probably the swankiest bit of Birmingham was the icing on the cake.

Three superb cruising routes, all very different.  Which would you choose?  The winner announced tomorrow.

Monday, November 14, 2011

The 2011 Herbie Awards begin

As the narrowboat of destiny catches its rudder on the cill of misfortune and the windlass of fate raps the knuckles of the hand of carelessness I notice it’s time to address the issue of the Annual Herbie Awards.  Yes its time to set out the ballroom for the year’s most glittering occasion and get a packet of spangled envelopes to conceal the names of the winners and snag the fingernails of the hapless presenters. 

last year’s thrilling award logo

Which places, pubs, waterways, gadgets and events have most pleased the crew of Herbie in 2011 and which items have most appalled, frightened and amused us over the year?

All will be revealed over the run up to Christmas and culminate in the granting of the premier prize The Herbie Special Award for something or other.  So send your gowns and tuxedos to Sketchleys and get spruced up for the big event.  The final list of categories is still in preparation, but I can announce that the opening category will be   . . . .

Best Day’s Cruise on Herbie.

This year we have spent 100 days aboard Herbie (not all on the move) travelling 580 miles and passing through 352 locks, so we have plenty to choose from. 

Q. What makes a good day’s cruise? 

A. We need to have had a Great Time – that’s all really.  I suppose I ought to add that the company must be good, the waterway attractive or stimulating, and there needs to be a sense of achievement at the end of it.  Also it helps a lot if the weather was nice!

Presentations for the  3 nominations are in preparation and should will appear in the next post.  There, I’ve committed myself.  Now I’ll have to be decisive and get on with it.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Stories and confessions

You might have noticed that I have revamped the blog and put some new links on the left hand side.  Well I hope you have, because I slaved over them for a few hours last night! Just old posts I thought might be useful for reference.  In an act of bravery I also included confessions about things I did wrong (or didn’t do when I should have).  Just to remind you how useless I sometimes am. Cautionary tales are often more instructive than success stories.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Gunsmith provides a deadly finish

Yesterday for the first, and probably only time in my life, I visited a gunsmith’s shop and came out with something potentially lethal.  You may however be relieved to know that it was not a gun, but a small tube of cream bearing the words MAYBE FATAL IF SWALLOWED.  So I decided on this occasion not to swallow any, but to squirt some onto a cloth and rub it onto the newly rubbed down pendulum rod on the clock I have been restoring.

Why a gunsmith?  Because this stuff is called Gun Blue and it is principally sold for people to restore that blue black finish on their gun barrels.  Of course you can use it for any ferrous metal object and maybe there’s something on a boat that would look nice done this way, although at this moment I can’t think of anything. The colour produced is rather lovely, and the advantage over paint is that the coating is microscopically thin so it looks like the metal itself is blue black. 

I can well believe the health warnings on the tube.  After using the stuff for half an hour in our airy conservatory, (it needed about four coats to turn an even colour, although each coat dries in a couple of minutes),  I had significant irritation in my nose, although I didn’t notice any fumes at the time.  I wore latex gloves which I think are strongly advisable.

The clock is nearly ready to go now and is looking quite good although not nearly as pristine as Rick’s.  I wouldn’t like to think how many hours I have spent with the wet & dry paper and the metal polish.

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Keen observers of horology might notice that the clock has something missing.  A clock face.  A minor detail.  I’ll get one presently.  I didn’t buy the clock to tell the time, but to watch the lovely mechanism doing it's stuff.

I tried to get a good photo of the blue black finish, but so far this is the best I can do (it’s on the rod only).

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Anyway, it’s been a fun thing to do while we can’t go boating.  Herbie is currently sandwiched between two canal stoppages, so we won’t be cruising for a while.  I’m itching for Foxton locks to re open because I want to go to Market Harborough.  I can’t see that happening any time soon.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Answer revealed and reasons to take your boat to Coventry.

I was a bit surprised not to get a correct answer to the puzzle in the last post as it is from one of Coventry's most iconic works of mid 20th century art.  I thought you might spot it was engraved glass and then work out the rest for yourself.  What in Coventry is world renowned for mid 20th century art?  Why, the cathedral of course – ten minutes walk from the canal basin.

Our picture was a close up of part of one of the Saints and Angels engraved in the Great West Window by artist John Hutton.
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Looking out through the window you see a part of the ruin of the old cathedral destroyed by incendiary bombs in WWII.  As usual Kath asked me to take close ups as inspiration for her textile work.

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If you have no other reason to take your boat to Coventry, the cathedral alone is worth the trip.

Add to that the truly superb transport museum (even closer to the basin) and Coventry is a must.

Add to that the chance to stop at the absolutely splendid Greyhound pub at Hawkesbury junction on the way in to Coventry and a visit to this city becomes virtually compulsory.