I took advantage of the lack of traffic on the main road up the Lune Valley from Lancaster today for a cycle ride to Kirkby Lonsdale and to take some photos of this set of milestones along the way that have been meticulously restored, although I know not by whom.
Monday 19 September 2022
Tuesday 31 May 2022
|Back on the buses - Around the County Towns.|
Since selling Starcross, which I now realise was eight years ago (!), I've been spending more time pursuing my other interests, principally buses. Between 2015 and 2017 I undertook a bus tour Around the Edge of England, using my free bus pass and I followed that up in 2018 by beginning a similar exercise, this time visiting every English county and every county town, in what I called my "Around the County Towns" tour.
In September 2019, having reached Huntingdonshire, I had reason to pause the exercise, fully expecting to be able to recommence in the Spring. We all know what happened next.
Buses and trains were recognised as a potential problem as far as the virus was concerned early-on and the government went into overdrive on its "avoid public transport at all costs" messaging. So effective was this that almost immediately bus use fell to 10% of pre-pandemic levels (train use fell to 5%). Even now, with all restrictions lifted and life pretty much back to normal for most people, the buses are still missing about 20% of the passengers they once had. With the last of the "emergency support package" funding due to run out in October, and service cuts expected to follow, I thought it was high time to get back on the buses and do my bit by resuming my journey.
Not all the issues that led to the original suspension of the project in 2019 have been resolved, so I had to start slowly and see how things went, but last week I was able to restart, visiting the Isle of Ely and Cambridgeshire on a two-day trip "Around the County Towns". I have a separate blog for the trip and anyone interested can read all about it here.
Wednesday 27 October 2021
Thursday 7th October 2021
Day 7 Atherstone to Newbold
There is not a lot to say about today's boating. After we got away from Atherstone we settled down to enjoy the long, lock-free stretch of the Coventry Canal, passing a very run-down Hartshill yard shortly after setting off.
Ken was at the helm for the 180 degree turn at Hawkesbury Junction. He realised straight away that he had started his turn too late, but then - like many occasional steerers - failed to put any "welly" on, meaning that he had to have a few shunts to get round. He didn't actually hit anything - even the badly moored boat just above the stop lock - so I gave him a B+. The "watchers-on-the-bridge" may have thought differently!
In 1971 we had found the time to go all the way down the arm into Coventry and back, which in those days was considered quite an adventure, but there was no enthusiasm for it today, so after I'd penned us through the stop lock that really was it for the day, with the only other feature of note being the footbridge across the cut at Brinklow, which was mildly amusing I suppose.
|"Grebe" at Coventry Basin in 1971. It's changed a bit since then!|
|Ken opening the footbridge at Brinklow|
|and hurrying to catch up with boat afterwards!|
Wilow Wren had told us that the boat needed to be back at their base for 08.30 on Friday, but when we asked whether we could bring it back the night before, to save us a rushed start in the morning,we were told this wasn't possible. The obvious stopping place for the night was therefore Newbold, where we were pleased to see a mooring space outside the Barley Mow. It was only after we had struggled to tie up there and complained about the state of what we assumed was a visitor mooring that we realised we were on the well-hidden and badly signed water point! By now it was not far off dusk and as we would be away very early in the morning we decided to play the "ignorant hire boaters" card and stay where we were.
Like many pubs these days the Barlow Mow looks inviting from the outside...
|The Barley Mow|
Hire Boating v. Ownership
Having owned a boat for ten years, this was the first hire-boating I'd done for over twenty. It does have certain advantages:
- Cost. The week, including the daytime food kitty, cost us £175 each. Boat owners will recognise that sum as small change when it comes to boating.
- Lack of worry. The broken alternator - and anything else that might have gone wrong - was fixed by a simple phone call to the boatyard. A more serious failure would presumably have resulted in a replacement boat and/or a refund.
But also some disadvantages:
- When hiring you commit yourself to a route and a timetable which, especially if you do a "ring", can be difficult to change. We had a couple of days when the weather was such that on Starcross I would have declared a "cabin day" and not bothered untying.
- As part of a crew, especially an all-male crew, there is an expectation that every night will be spent in the pub! Much as I like pubs that wasn't the way things were on Starcross (believe it or not).