Category Archives: Rant Time

Why do we love to moan!

Let me start this by saying, I love a good moan, and always have an opinion! However, I do believe there is a time and a place.

A couple of things recently make me think that we are too quick to rubbish our canals and the people who look after them.

How often have you had a conversation which includes the comment “ohh, I would never go down xxx canal, I know people who have had problems going through there!” It is however interesting that it is rarely the person themselves who have had issues, it’s usually happened to someone else.

It must be said that as well as going through some fantastic countryside, canals go through many more urban settings, and often through some rundown areas of towns.  Whilst there are places where I would think twice about mooring overnight, I would like to think that there are none that I would fear to travel.

Maybe we need to stop rubishing these canals and start using them. It is only by using them, that they will improve.

We are currently on the Macclesfield canal in what should be one of the busiest weeks of the year. It is interesting how few hire boats we have seen doing the Cheshire ring, and I suspect this is in part to do with the need to travel through Manchester to complete it.

The Ashton canal has always had a bad reputation, however, I must have done the Cheshire ring half a dozen times in my boating career, and I have ever had an issue!

The most recent of these trips was last year, and I have to say it was very much improved, with good overnight moorings in Manchester, and no sign of trouble whatsoever.

I would even go as far as to say that Castlefield Basin in the centre of Manchester is one of my favorite mooring spots.

The fact is that avoiding these urban canals means that we are missing out on some fascinating canal heritage.

On a positive  note, it was really good to read an upbeat  report of a trip down the Rochdale Canal in Waterways world (August 2017).

More of these please!

But enough of the canals, let me move on to those who run them.

Let me start by acknowledging there are issues with canals, and I don’t agree with everything the CRT do, but on the whole, I think they do a pretty good job. So why do we take every opportunity to moan about them.

Let me give you an example. 2017 is the 5th anniversary of the CRT taking over the running of the canals, and quite understandably, much of their media is currently celebrating the fact.

But why did one Twitter user decide to reply to a tweet from the CRT, which highlighted their successes since taking over, with a moan about the way they had restored a particular bit of towpath.

Whilst they may well be right that this bit of work and the decisions behind it have issues, maybe pouring cold water on the CRT’s birthday celebrations was not the time or place to point them out.

The fact is that as a nation, our canals ore one of greatest assets and generally, they improve year on year. All in all, 5 years on from when the Canal & River Trust took over their management, I would suggest that on balance thy have done a good job.

Let’s start supporting and engaging constructively with those tasked with the challenging job of managing the canals and celebrate the whole network, and not just the bits that travel through green and pleasant countryside.

 

Last Weekend Daan Saarf

  • Trips through the Blisworth Tunnel – 4
  • New music systems installed on the boat – 1
  • Miserable blacksmiths met – 1
  • Continuous Cruisers with engine trouble – 1

Since our epic trip to Crick at the end of May, Blue Rover has been based at Gayton, allowing us a few trips to do a bit of southern boating, before the boat heads back Oop Naarth next weekend.

imageDuring our time down here it has been great to meet up with old friends and make a new one – the Blisworth Tunnel – 3rd longest on the network ( beaten by Stanage and Dudley) and in my opinion – the most boring- it’s wide, and straight, and for the most part concrete! At least the Harecastle has the jeopardy of hitting your head on the roof in the middle!

It seems to be the case that wherever you go from Gayton (South at least) you go through the Blisworth Tunnel – my record so far is 31 mins – I plan to beat that tomorrow on my 4th trip this month! I’m sure I will miss it when we head home.

Friday was an epic evening as we met up with Alpha – a boat belonging to a friend on which we had our first experience of non hireboat boating – it was the first time Blue Rover had met Alpha, but they spent a wonderful evening breasted up in Blisworth &  I am sure they will be the best of buddies. We were planning a cruise together but when we arrived I was shown Alpha’s engine, and could see the pistons – I’m not that mechanical, but I’m pretty sure that is not good – so we had to cruise alone. it made me think that continuous cruising must be bad for engines, as it is amazing how many CCers have “engine trouble”. Alpha having been as reliable as clockwork for 20 years, has major engine trouble within 12 months of being a CC.  Though the lack of a cylinder head definitely removes the “” in this case! – If you want my full opinion on the CC debate, you will find it on the letters page of the latest issue of Waterways world!

3 things I will not miss whe we head home are:

  • Floating caravans – Sorry wide beam boats – we did see one moving though, so the rumours that they don’t have engines are not true!
  • Wide locks – narrow locks always have a queue of boats waiting, so why, when you go through wide locks, where company makes life so much easier, is there never another boat in sight!
  • The lack of village shops – S of the Blisworth Tunnel, non of the villages seem to have shops! – makes catering V difficult. You have to plan, and I hate planning.

Which brings me on to the music system – nothing to do with planning, just seemed a good time to bring it up:

Ever since owning a boat, we have been looking for the perfect sound system – the norm being a very unsatisfactory car stereo with Bluetooth phone connection. I now think I have come up with the ultimate solution. In addition to an inverter (my solution requires 240v) To implement this you will need:

  • 2 – Sonos Play 1s – though on a budget, 1 will do.
  • 1 Raspberry pi
  • USB hard disc

Together this gives a fantastic solution allowing you to play music from a library stored on the USB disc as mp3s, all controllable from your phone or tablet and removing the streaming issues we had previously. – If you are interested in the details leave a comment to the effect, and if there is enough interest I will post more details – I will probably do it anyway at some point, cos I think it is a brilliant solution.

Which only leaves the miserable Blacksmith – the fact is he was so miserable I don’t want to drag you down with the details – so I won’t. But rest assured it was a sorry story.

I can’t finish a blog written during these interesting times when we have decided as a nation to leave the EU without mentioning it. So I thought I would leave you with the up and down sides of the decision as far as I see it:

Downside – It’s  crazy decision made by people who have been conned by the politicians into thinking the grass is greener – A decision that I am sure we will live to regret

Upside – Us boaters  should get cheaper fuel as the tax on propulsion diesel imposed by the EU will be removed – number 1 priority in the discussions from here, I am absolutely sure!

All in all its the reason why referenda are a bad Idea, as they reduce complex issues that few people understand to a simple yes no decisions. In reality, life is never that black & white. That’s why we elect a parliament.

Let’s face it, asking the nation for an opinion never ends well – Did they learn nothing from Boaty McBoatface!