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arbutus

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    Stourbridge, West Midlands

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    retired computer engineer

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  1. arbutus

    Brexit 2019

    Sir Ivan Rogers, a former UK ambassador to the EU gave a speech earlier this month at the University of Liverpool. The Guardian has summarised what he said, but the whole ten-thousand word speech is worth reading, or listening to in full. “The lecture by the former UK ambassador to the EU was full of home truths about the failure of our political class” The Guardian article https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/dec/18/ivan-rogers-brexit-bombshell-digested-home-truths The University of Liverpool site https://news.liverpool.ac.uk/2018/12/13/full-speech-sir-ivan-rogers-on-brexit/
  2. arbutus

    A bit of newbie confusion about "headroom"

    I had a Norman 23 with a fixed windscreen. I moored at Ashwood marina on the Staffs & Worcs. It certainly went under the bridges between Autherley junction and the marina.
  3. arbutus

    Canal trip choice

    The Staffordshire & Worcestershire canal is very pretty and most of it is rural. It’s my pick if the system and I had a boat moored there for a few years. It’s one of the earlier contour canals and follows a river valley down to Stourport So the locks come singularly at intervals as the valley drops down to the river Severn rather than in flights as on some later canals. You can take a detour up the Shropshire Union canal which is lock free for many miles from it’s junction with the S & W at Wolverhampton / Autherley Junction. The S & W canal is generally sheltered from the winds that can blow cold on more exposed canals in autumn.
  4. arbutus

    Housing Benefit ending for Canal License.

    If anyone here is in this situation, then this piece in The Guardian could be important to you. Reading the full article is well worth while. https://www.theguardian.com/money/2018/jul/28/beware-forgoing-child-benefit-could-cost-you-your-state-pension Beware: forgoing child benefit could cost you your state pension "Last year approaching half a million women opted out of receiving child benefit. An unknown number never applied in the first place. Why? Almost certainly because their partner was earning more than £60,000 a year, which is the final cut-off point for the payment. But while they save their partner the hassle of having to fill in a self-assessment tax form, the ones who have not applied may also be unwittingly denying themselves a full state pension."
  5. arbutus

    Southern Oxford Summit.

    To quote from C&RTs Drought FAQs https://canalrivertrust.org.uk/specialist-teams/managing-our-water/drought/drought-faqs Do restrictions simply concentrate the same lock usage (and hence water use) into a shorter period? No, our experience shows that where we’ve implemented restrictions of this kind in the past we’ve subsequently seen decreases in lock usage of 20-40%. Why don’t you operate pounds brimming with water as the longer pounds could operate as a reservoir? The loss of water from a canal pound due to leakage and seepage is the largest component of water demand on a canal system. Loss rates are at their highest during the summer, when soil is dry and water tables are low. The leakiest part of the canal lining is the top 15 cm (6 inches), because it is continually wetted and dried. It is also subject to holes or cracks formed by burrowing animals and wave action from boat propellers. So by increasing the operational level of a pound, especially in a drought, would greatly increase loss rates. During a drought, we actually aim to run pounds as low as operationally possible to reduce losses.
  6. arbutus

    Hire Base near(ish) to London

    If you have been happy with Napton narrowboats, they have a second hire base at Autherly Junction, which is a taxi ride away from Wolverhampton train station. It’s just under two hours from Wolverhampton to London Euston by virgin trains. Train fares are reasonable if you book well in advance but can be exorbitant if you purchase on the day of travel. This would mean that you would be cruising a different part of the country using the Staffordshire and Worcestershire canal and the Shropshire Union canal. But it would entail you visiting London before or after the canal part of your holiday and using London hotels. Birmingham airport isn’t too far from the Napton narrowboats base. Qatar airways and Emirates fly out of Birmingham if that helps with your planning.
  7. arbutus

    Brexit 2017 - 2018

    While brexiteers seem to think that whistle a happy tune and everything will be alright, there is a good, long-read article in the independent today that's worth a read. It concerns "Effective industrial strategy requires a clear understanding of Britain’s place in the world economy now, and a clear set of goals for where we want it to be in the future" https://www.independent.co.uk/news/long_reads/brexit-eu-theresa-may-economy-industrial-strategy-finance-labour-a8449041.html
  8. arbutus

    Buying An Electric Car

    An interesting article has just appeared on the Autocar website "Analysis: is the UK ready for an electrified vehicle future" https://www.autocar.co.uk/car-news/industry/analysis-uk-ready-electrified-vehicle-future It covers charging structure, generation capacity, how to replace fuel duty so that the tax take doesn't decrease.
  9. arbutus

    Christopher Chope, what an idiot...

    Here is the MP Jess Phillips view on Mr Chope and his objecting habit. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/jun/16/wrecking-ball-christopher-chope-v-upskirting-bill-alas-no-contest
  10. arbutus

    Brexit 2017 - 2018

    If anyone is interested in spending an hour or so, reading a couple of speeches / lectures by people who understand the EU and the Brexit process these might throw a little light on the general subject. The real post-Brexit options A lecture by Sir Ivan Rogers, who has had experience of dealing with the EU https://policyscotland.gla.ac.uk/blog-sir-ivan-rogers-speech-text-in-full/ A speech by Michel Barnier, the lead negotiator for the EU http://www.mondovisione.com/media-and-resources/news/european-commission-speech-by-michel-barnier-at-the-28th-congress-of-the-intern/
  11. arbutus

    Difficulty in choosing a hire company

    Many years ago I hired from Countrywide Cruisers at Brewood on the Shropshire Union. We did the ring, down the Staffs & Worcs, Down the river Severn to Worcester and back up the Worcs & Birmingham, through Birmingham and Wolverhampton back to base. Looking at the website they have a two berth “Sir Ironside” which has two chairs and a coal stove with a large rear hatch to stand in. I remember when this was a new boat, it looked quite good. There’s also “Sir Meileaus” with two chairs, a dinette and a coal stove. The prices on their own web site show 2014 prices but their bookings page show 2018 prices. They also book through waterways holidays http://www.countrywide-cruisers.co.uk https://www.waterwaysholidays.com
  12. The southern Staffs & Worcs canal is very pretty. It’s one of the earlier canals that was built and so follows the river valley and gently drops down to the river Severn at Stourport. Hence the locks occur individually rather than in flights, except for the three at the Bratch, where there is usually a lock keeper, followed by the staircase locks at Botterham. https://canalrivertrust.org.uk/places-to-visit/the-bratch As said, Wightwick manor is close to the canal https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/wightwick-manor-and-gardens The privately run Severn Valley Railway runs from Kidderminster to Bridgnorth. It’s a real tourist attraction and Bridgnorth is a nick old town with a victorian cliff railway between high town and low town. http://www.svr.co.uk The SVR hosted the Flying Scotsman last year and the operation of the engine was made into a program by the BBC. I though it was a great program that gives a good idea of area the Severn Valley Railway travels through. A DVD can be bought here https://www.amazon.co.uk/Flying-Scotsman-Footplate-DVD/dp/B01NBR08W8 There are two supermarkets by the canal in Kidderminster. If you want to moor in Stourport, the visitor moorings are just before descending York Street lock which drops you down into the canal basins. If you think you might want to venture onto the river Severn, ask the hire boat company to put an anchor on board. It’s an interesting little maze to find your way through the Stourport canal basins to the two sets of narrow staircase locks that narrowboats use to access the river. Narrowboats don’t use the large barge locks.
  13. arbutus

    Thoughts on this tug

    Ian Kemp has a Facebook page "Ian Kemp Restoration Services" There are 11 photos of "GAZELLE" on a post dated May 25 2014. Scroll down his page a short way to find them. https://www.facebook.com/ifkemprestorationservices/ https://www.facebook.com/pg/ifkemprestorationservices/photos/?ref=page_internal
  14. arbutus

    Middlewich Branch breach - Shropshire Union

    The female engineer who used polystyrene blocks to support the on & off ramps to a seven lane highway in Boston USA was interviewed in the BBC Radio 4 program The Life Scientific. Well worth a listen to the half hour program http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b09sn7yk
  15. I’m sure you will have a great time. Here’s some random thoughts. Try to load a week’s provisions onto the boat before you start off, especially heavy and bulky items as there will not be many places to stop and stock up. Carrying stuff back to the boat on foot can literally be a pain in the neck. Here’s a list for starters beer, wine, milk, bottled water (if you use it), potatoes, fruit, toilet rolls. Ellesmere is the easiest place to stock up mid-trip. You can go up the canal arm and try to find a mooring. The town, and Tesco supermarket are at the end of the canal arm. There is a good delicatessen in the town Vermeulen & son. Make sure you can make a couple of evening meals, just in case you decide to moor overnight in the countryside or you find that you are running late and can’t get to a pub in time. You may like actually cruising along the canal and decide to go further than your original plan. If you decide to get back to the boatyard a day to two early and explore the other end of the canal then as the boat is longer than the canal is wide, make sure you know where to turn the boat when you decide to head back to base. Turning points or winding holes are marked on the canal guides but are not always easy to spot. I’ve met a few hire boats that have missed their turning point and have had to continue to the next point. This added a few hours to their journey and really threw their plans into disarray. Early morning and late evening can be the best times of day to cruise. Do start off early at least one morning when the mist is still on the canal. It’s best to fill the water tank every day. Water points are marked on the canal guides. It can take an hour a day to queue and fill the tank, especially if you like your showers. When you take over the boat, loading the boat takes time. Space on the boat will be at a premium. For your luggage, either try to use soft bags that can fold and stow, or if you have a car, empty your bags and suitcases and leave the empty suitcases in the car. If you moor in Llangollen there is a ruined castle on a hill that is a pleasant walk and gives good views, Castell Dinas Bran http://www.castlewales.com/dinas.html In Llangollen, I’ve had some nice food at the Corn Mill. This is just over the bridge, overlooking the river. http://www.brunningandprice.co.uk/cornmill/
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