Thursday, December 31, 2009

Ice Road

Second to last day on the water. Opened the hatch and felt right at home. Inch thick ice. Not quite skating quality, but getting there.

Lovely. So long as you are comfortable inside the boat.

The ice makes interesting is reminded of that scene in "Fantasia" where jack frost is skating all over the pond.

Gavin and his crew push off. Crashing through the ice. (I love the angle on this shot....makes it look more dramatic than it is!)

The ice here is easy to deal with. Its only an inch thick, but note that the chunks of ice are piling up. They froze rather quickly into layers two inches thick...then we had something to worry about. The pieces were big enough to need to increase the revs up to ramming speed from time to time. Mostly the problem is that we would end up in a slot in the ice and be unable to turn.

Being Canadian I sort of had to press on and smash through regardless. Most of the resident canal boaters just tied up, and went shopping, wait out this unseasonal ice. They all said "oy, at'll be thicka tomarrara aye, bat at'll be gone ba christmas." My reply... "Roight mate...ta fer now".

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Locking Through

As we come up on the lock, we had to be VERY cautious about the ice. Its not like there are any handrails here! Observe that dangerous cill just at the bottom of the lock gate...if you are not forward enough, it will damage your propeller or rudder as you go down. Its pretty much the worst thing that can happen. The second worst thing would be opening the gate paddles (the valves) when a boat is close to the upper lock gate. You can see one of them, on the right of the picture....something has kept it from closing fully, and it is leaking somewhat. But thats okay since the lock is being filled at this point anyway.
Oh, unlike facebook guys, you can click on the pictures and see them full size.

The Naughty Natalie doing double duty as an ice breaker moving into the lock.

The snow is wasn't just falling and stayed, We didn't get it very bad at least by Canadian standards, but most of the UK that day was under a storm watch, and the country was fair to shut down. When I was locking through, Heathrow airport, an hour's drive south of us, was closed due to weather.

And here you can see the Naughty Natalie leaving the deep Shardlow locks, the icicles on the lock gates look kind of um...cold.


The bulls going horn to horn, in back of the biggest potentilla bush Brenda has ever seen. I kind of like this pic...the conflict amidst the peace. This is a keeper.

Not much space available.

But this bucolic scene is trouble in paradise...thats ice up front. Very thin so far, but a warning nonetheless. A warning I didn't heed of course.

The Tudor Lady above was indicative of the pretty paint jobs on the canal boats.

Me and Grandad tying up beside the water point.

A view from the bridge. The canal boats seem totally to belong here, the cars, not so much.

The little bit of ice seemed to be just a small thing, the residents were not particularly worried. Still, a pleasant way to load up with water, get past the marinas, and out onto the open canal where the short days required us to start early, and tie up early. Not surprisingly, there were hundreds of pubs to choose from every night.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Nice scenery from a canal boat

Please click on these images to enlarge. Above, wild ducks. Below, sheep.

The towpath is not a bicycle path. Those gates keep wheeled vehicles out of it. The bollards in front are to tie up after locking through, you are not supposed to tie up to them overnight.

The mile posts. Let me know how darned far I have to go. There is one every mile. They were removed during the war so that the invaders would not know where they were. Yeah, like invaders will be working their way up a canal at four kilometers per hour.

A stately house..
And if I ever saw a subject for a painting, this would be it up above.

Pesky little guys.
Woke us up one morning nibbling on the weeds hanging off the hull.

And two great bulls locking horns. The people didn't seem to be scared of them. I know I would have been....that was a lot of beef.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Heading out on the Canal

So here am I, setting out in the rain.

It looks miserable. Thats because it really WAS miserable. Here is a section of the river we had to power through before getting into the canal itself.

This would be a lock on the canal.

And me, intrepidly steering a multi thousand dollar piece of machinery into a teensy tiny lock.

The lock is always accompanied by a narrow little footbridge. The opening at the right side is for overflow from above. That creates a sideways current which is calculated to gray a few hairs.

The lock gates seem to have their own eco systems.

How exciting. I didn't know quite HOW exciting it would become.

Stay tuned....

Canal Time.

In between our time time in Leeds and our time in Cyprus, we went on a canal cruise. There were not many bookings for canal cruises in England in December. Funny that.

This was the "Naughty Natalie", a fine fourty foot narrow boat. Narrow boats have a long and honourable history on the canals in England...the boats are only eight feet wide. Narrow indeed!

Inside, they are only as wide as a king sized bed. Well, what more could you want?

Me with a lovely little galley in behind, and an L shaped couch here in front. They tell me that the couch folds out into a bed for two people. Two adventurous kids maybe....

A remarkably well equiped galley. It was all powered by propane, as was the central heating. Not that we could take much advantage of the central heating when we were standing out on the poop deck, steering!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Cyprus Nicosea

Bill on the wall built by the Venetians. (of all people) Down there are the foundations laid down by the hospitaler knights.

A fairly standard round city, with arrowheaded ditch defences. The top half is controlled by the Turks, the bottom half is controlled by the Greek Cypriots.

A great church which is now a mosque.

The subtle modifications in the portico. Like the Lebanese trees...

It lights up really pretty at night.

Bill and Lorne enjoying their Christmas eve here in the Greek side. It was very busy here.

On the Turkish side, there are many medieval buildings. This looks like a caravan serai, but in fact, it is a little a caravan serai, it provides rooms for the night, and shelter, with a great well in the centre, but what it actually does (or did) is provide water for the city and close outlying districts. Well it did, now it is a cool place where craftsmen rent space to sell their products. I expect to spend some more time in the days to come in this little place. It was late in the day when I arrived, and most of the craftspeople were packing up.

The well is that cute little building at the right in the above picture. In the background you can see some of the large "Ali Baba" water jars which are scattered about the courtyard.
The two inch iron bars across the middle of all the arches are a later addition...they keep the thing from collapsing in earthquakes. Good thing...

Monday, December 14, 2009

Leeds armoury still....

Me and my sexy love o m' life, Brown Bess.

I will be doing a lot of postings regarding the Royal Armoury museum on my armouring blog.

This blog will be about the city and the fun times I have in the cities I am staying in.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Leeds, England

Even walking to the armouries in Leeds is an adventure. Above is the world famous Dhalek building. I am sure it has a different name, but the locals all know it as that. Now I be looking for Dr. Who.
This canal apparently makes it as far South as Liverpool. They were dug by navvies. The name "navvy" is a diminutive of the word "navigator", specifically a person who creates a navigatable canal. Later on, they became the special group who built rail roads. Remarkable sub group...some were nearly pagan, many did not speak the language. They had their own churches, schools, and other forms of a viable society because they were always outsiders everywhere they went.
Local boy who made good. That would be the, um...the Black Prince.

Here in Yorkshire, the roads are "gates" (from the scandanavian word "gatta", a thoroughfare, the gates are "bars", (they bar the way), the bars of course are pubs. Squares are numbered around the square, however they often infil the public square with buildings, with alleyways called snicketts (from the sound of the hobnails on the paving stones) and ginnels (you ginnel around in behind the pub to find the lav, mate.) They call this the English language without so much as batting an eye. There are some streets you find everywhere....Water street, wharf street, market square, and there always seems to be a "Boar Street".
A random street scape in Leeds.
And a pretty building on Boar street.
The Dhalek building can be seen from half the city.
as we walk up to "Brewer's Wharf". I think the pile of stuff in the distance is a statue of pile of barley stalks.
though your guess is as good as mine.
The walk along the canal is very pretty, and occasionally there is a lovely little footbridge.
The signs tell you where to go. The top sign makes one think.
So you walk past the lovely little canal boats. These are "narrow boats".
And a pretty coal fire on board seems to imply a coziness which is quite at odds with the damp +2 degrees outside.
At last we get to the museum. It all used to be in London, but hey, they have enough stuff down south, its time the north gets a piece of the pie. This museum of course is the whole reason I am here in Leeds at all. Well, that and the fish and chips....
Benches with the trade skills and armour names on them. And a luverly bronze 6 pounder in back.
And we have made it. The most magical place in the city. Maybe even in the riding. I decided to just start at the top and work my way down. Went through two complete sets of batteries today....expect the same tomorrow. The Royal Armoury Tower of London Exhibit in Leeds, England! Oh my!