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  1. If anyone is interested in where we go from here on Brexit, can I suggest watching or reading the transcript of a recent lecture by Sir Ivan Rogers “Where did Brexit come from and where is it going to take the UK?” The YouTube video is just over an hour long, or the transcript will take half an hour to read. Use this link to get to the introductory page and then click on either Full video of the lecture or Full Transcript of the lecture https://www.ucl.ac.uk/european-institute/news/2019/jan/sir-ivan-rogers-brexit-lecture-text-and-video Sir Ivan Rogers (KCMG) is a former senior British civil servant who was the UK's Permanent Representative to the European Union from November 2013 to January 2017. Prior to holding this position, he served as Prime Minister’s adviser for Europe and Global Issues (2012-2013) to PM David Cameron and as Principal Private Secretary to the Prime Minister (2003-2006) for PM Tony Blair. He is singularly well placed to comment on the causes and consequences of Brexit.
  2. You will probably want to refill the water tank every day. This can take over half an hour per boat, especially if you like to have long showers, so the point already made about thinking of yourselves as four individual boats is very valid, otherwise you will be hanging around water points for at least two hours a day, with four boats having to fill up.
  3. The discussion so far seems to be about pension entitlement for people who are close to retirement. However, for people, predominantly women, who are currently raising children under twelve and have a partner who earns over £50,000 per year it can be important to claim child benefit, even though the payment is later clawed back by the government, as claiming the benefit protects the woman’s NI contribution record. Some forum members may have adult children in this position. This article in the guardian explains the current position 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
  4. 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/
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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."
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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
  11. 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.
  12. 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
  13. 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/
  14. 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
  15. 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.
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