A Fresh View

Sat in my mental folder marked ‘things to blog about’ is my day at the National Waterways Museum at Ellesmere Port.

There were plenty of colourful, photogenic boats and much more besides, but as usual it was ‘the stuff round the back’ that caught my eye.   A dilapidated wide beam boat awaiting restoration,

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My friend Mrs Ogg thinks it is a watercress barge.

What is it about peeling/fading paint that I find so appealing?

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The reason for my visit was a photography course, I thought after five years it was time I found out what some of the knobs and buttons on my camera do. I think my camera enjoyed have its brain taken out for a walk.

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It was good to get away from things for a while, and on that subject; I’ve just spent a sublime half an hour looking at the blog of Steve McCurry, oh my, what a joy his photographs are,  his reasons for blogging are interesting too. I may have to pour myself a glass of wine and drift back for another look.

Going Down

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Going down the Bingley Five Rise, if that isn’t a contradiction

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The Bingley Five Rise, is a set of locks, five of them, no surprises there then; they are in ‘staircase’ formation, with each lock opening into the next rather than being separated by ponds of ‘neutral’ water.

Here are the  names and the figures

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For me, apart from marvelling at this amazing feat of engineering, 1774, for goodness sake, to put that into context, that’s two years before the American Declaration of Independence.  The locks contained all that I do not like about boaty things,  that is deep sheer sided drops

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in to broiling black waters ( the things I do for this blog)

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Mr Uhdd sensed my unease ‘You really don’t like this do you?’ It’s OK there is nothing to worry about’  he said, I pointed out that this was about as helpful as me standing with him at the top of a cliff and saying ‘don’t worry you won’t fall off’. (Mr Uhdd doesn’t like heights, which can, on occasion, be inconvenient for a fellrunner.)

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Wisely British Waterways lock keepers are on hand to guide novices through the locks. I went and stood at the bottom, and waited for our narrow boat and a photo to emerge

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British Waterways, will be handed over as part of government reform, from government control, to a ‘civil society’ next year. I’m not sure if that is good or bad, idea, the locals are thinking about.


Graffiti Gaffe

In total contrast to my previous post, to bemuse, if not entertain you; whilst I scramble together a couple of more photogenic posts, about our canal holiday. Here is some graffiti we came across,

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it is spray painted on the wall of the Damart mill, that flanks the Leeds Liverpool Canal, just below the ‘Bingley five rise’ locks.

Tom and I discussed the question posed: it’s a democracy that people gave their lives for.

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I took this shot on the 21st of October as we cruised eastwards towards Saltaire. When we returned along the same route the following day, some additions had been made

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He/she goes on

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‘What kind of democracy is this? Labour giveth The Tory/Wigg taketh away.’

At the time we  pondered what sort of person might have done this act of vandalism, we daubed it ‘graduate graffiti’ as the words ‘Wigg’ and ‘taketh’ aren’t your usual graffiti phrases (although we should point out that it is Whigg, not Wigg, so he/she, the vandal, is evidently  not an ‘A grade’ student).

At the time we were joking, about the graduate bit, but given the events of this week, its not so funny now.

Lest We Forget

I’m rather late in the day posting, but at 11am, I was thinking about this memorial, we came across it on our canal holiday on the Leeds Liverpool Canal; it was erected in memory of seven Polish airmen who lost their lives when their plane crashed.

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The full story is here

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The photos were faded, but clear enough to tell their story,

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This bride became a widow, after only three weeks of marriage.

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In 2007 she unveiled the memorial.

I can’t believe all of this,” said Mrs Stebbing. “I am so very emotional. I had a job to control myself during the service and my legs were shaking. I am so proud of those boys they were very brave and this memorial is a wonderful tribute to them. When Peter came to see me I didn’t imagine a service on such a grand scale.”

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Flocking to Skipton

Now then, where were we, I seem to remember leaving off somewhere near the North Yorkshire market town of Skipton

A town that owes a lot to sheep ( this is the tiled doorstep of a shop in Sheep Street).

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Sheep  are everywhere at the moment; this one is part of a community art event, ‘Flock to Skipton’ it’s entitled ‘flowers for ewe’ and there are another 24 dotted around the town (but is you want to run with the flock, you’ll have to be quick, I think they are off to market on the 14th on November (oh look, it says here it has been extended ‘until 19th of December’

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Skipton  has a thriving market (and there aren’t many of those left around the country these days) You can buy proper, traditional stuff,

Hats, my dad would have stopped  at this stall ( or more likely, sent my mum).

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And for the ladies, a nightie for every night of the week.

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Tom on the other hand headed for here, he liked the bikes, I liked the building.

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We mustn’t leave the canal out of the scene setting


(I mustn’t forget to tell you that I saw a Kingfisher, by the river in the centre of Skipton, it was flashed past far too fast for a photo opportunity though.)

Skipton is a town that still manages to retain some character, the only teenagers I found lurking in dark alleyways were my own

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Here are some more sheep.

This is my favourite, Baa bones

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(although, I thought its horns should also have been painted in white.)

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Joe liked this one, because it looked like something he grew in a petri dish at school.

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and this was always going to be a hit with overseas visitors

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In case you get lost, this is for you.

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A View on Time

There were plenty of old buildings to catch my eye on our holiday, you know the sort of thing I’m drawn to, workaday, vernacular farms and homesteads that have changed only a little over the centuries or that wear their histories on their faces.I may struggle to convince you of the fact that  I struggled to capture them with the camera, they just whizzed by it seemed.

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I mean, canal boat holidays are supposed to be slow languid sort of affairs aren’t they? But somehow we always seemed to be on a mission!

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The plus side of that is that we got as far west as the Foulridge Tunnel and as far east as Saltair and I have the photos to prove it!  The fact is I could have spent longer mooching around such places.

These windows all come from buildings that had date stones over the door from the 1690’s

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All is not what it seems

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Smooth Sailing

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Just out of interest, how deep is the canal?

Asked Fee in the previous post: not very, is the answer, when Joe took his dip he could touch the bottom, but said (having lost his Crocs) ‘It was gross, mud, hundreds of years old mud, I wasn’t putting my feet in that!’

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We weren’t overly concerned about the boys (or Spud) falling in (I’m the least competent swimmer in the family) except for the risk of them getting crushed between boat and bank and the inherent danger around the locks, with lock gates, paddles and strong currents to worry about, along with being aware of the small, but very real risk of Weil’s disease the quote below is from last weeks press.

Weil’s disease, believed to have caused the death this week of Olympic gold medal-winning rower Andy Holmes, is the acute human form of a bacterial infection with a raft of different names: mud fever, swamp fever, haemorrhagic jaundice, swineherd’s disease, sewerman’s flu. All are known as Leptospirosis, mild cases of which affect millions of people every year worldwide.

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There are some beautiful bridges on the Leeds-Liverpool canal, the white bar on the painted arch is where you should aim your boat, it indicates the deepest point of the canal, not necessarily the centre; many of the bridges are on bends in the canal, it’s important to get the line of approach right.

Bridge 161 the double arch bridge at East Marton is  an especially elegant solution to an engineering problem.

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It looks like the original bridge wasn’t high enough, when the road was improved, so they built another arch on top and more recently it has been widened further.

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Going With the Flow

The Leeds and Liverpool Canal is the longest canal in Northern England at 127 miles long. It passes through 91 locks with a summit level of 487 feet.

It originates from a proposal  to build a canal from Leeds to Preston in 1765

So a little about canal boats, on the Leeds-Liverpool canal you are likely to see two widths of boat (also know as the  ‘beam’) narrow and broad, can you guess which is which?

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The Leeds-Liverpool is a broad  beam canal the locks will take two narrow boats at a time, but only one broad beam. We shared our accent of the Bank Newton Flight of locks with another narrow boat. Joe tells me that sharing locks like this  saves over 1,000 baths full of water at each lock, more than a lifetimes worth of baths as far as he is concerned.

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Each lock and bridge is numbered, for the locks the numbers run from Leeds to Liverpool and for the bridges the numbers run from Liverpool to Leeds, it strikes me that this must have been a committee decision, centuries may pass but committees ( and local politics) remain the same.

Lock are quite hard work, they are used to lift or lower a boat from one level to another.


Tom suggested it might have been a good idea to have chosen a canal boat holiday in an area that was flat not hilly.

The boys were particularly fond of the swing bridges,

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where they got to stop the traffic.

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The Final Score

We are back home safe and sound from our adventure on the Leeds-Liverpool Canal.


For the record:

Spud fell in twice

Joe fell in once, emerging with his glasses still in situ, his Crocs took a little longer to retrieve.

Tom fell in once, but managed to keep sufficient grip on the side of the boat to keep his mobile phone dry. (Phew, who’d have wanted to share the confines of a narrow boat with  a teenager with no text facility, for a week eh?)

Spud has adored being in such close confines with his ‘pack’ and was a total babe; he was, however, less enamoured with hissy swans.

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He had to be kept under close supervision, as feathery wildlife was abundant

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and on a short leash!


And when it came to locks, kept out of the way for everyone’s safety (I’ll come back to locks in another post.)


Where do I begin?

There was I thinking I’d have plenty of time to poke around editing my photographs and write leisurely blog posts, whilst we were pootling along the Leeds-Liverpool Canal; but it seems life on a narrow boat is not like that, but I’m not sure I can tell you where the time has gone,

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it’s just gone. But I’ve plenty of blog fodder for the next few weeks, promise.