Short Boats

Some time ago I noticed that our site was receiving hits from an internet forum who were discussing short boats. I have been phographing them for some time so I thought I might as well bring a few photos together in a post.

I hope they create interest.


Crossrail Tunnelling - just like Blisworth

Watching the BBC One Show tonight I was taken by the item on constructing  London's Crossrail. The item included lots of information about the size of the project and the usual comparisons with familiar items. This time it was how much water was drained from the dock near Canary Wharf -  it was compared to Olympic-sized swimming pools.

However, what really caught my eye was the wonderful tunnelling machine, or tunnel boring machine (TBM), called Elizabeth. It was shown in action along with the construction of the concrete rings that followed it. Sound familiar? Well yes, it is just like the reconstruction of the middle section of Blisworth Tunnel in the early 1980s. Those of you who have travelled through Blisworth Tunnel will have probably recognised the similarity with the Crossrail tunnel concrete sections, particularly if you have examined the example ring that is on the bank by the South Portal Blisworth Tunnel at Stoke Bruerne.

Blisworth Tunnel

More details of the Blisworth reconstruction, and some good views of its tunnel boring machine and the concrete sections are given on the Blisworth village site. In 2009 it was the 25th anniversary of the reopening of the tunnel. We attended the celebrations and went to the wonderful talk by the two ex-Mowlem engineers that masterminded the project. (See our post about the event)

Although the principle used for Crossrail is the same as for the rebuilding of Blisworth Tunnel, the level of mechanisation and the size are quite different. Crossrail is, of course, larger and much more complex but the removal of spoil is also very different. Still it's good to be reminded how canals took the lead, even in the 1980s, since both the subsequent Channel Tunnel and Crossrail projects used the same tunnelling technique.

Below is an animated Crossrail video about the project. Viewers should be warned there are comparisons with London buses, taxis and jumbo jets! You may be relieved to know that the size of Wales is not mentioned.

Up go the water levels - again!

Overnight, instead of the expected snow, we got rain. However our village still has plenty of frozen snow around and our local streams are full. It will be interesting when it all melts.

It looks like the rivers are set to rise quickly as the warning below from the Environment Agency email service shows. The current status on their river conditions web site shows even more red!

Likely outlook
Levels on the River Thames are rising in response to the rainfall overnight and associated snowmelt. The forecast for the next few days is for a more unsettled period of weather.  Many locks are still displaying red 'Caution Strong Stream' boards. Some Thames weirs remain fully drawn.

Lechlade to Oxford

Current conditions
Northmoor Lock to Pinkhill Lock
Caution strong stream

Oxford to Henley

Current conditions
Culham Lock to Clifton Lock
Down arrow
Caution stream decreasing

Henley to Teddington

Current conditions
Bray Lock to Boveney Lock
Caution strong stream
Boveney Lock to Romney Lock
Up arrow
Caution stream increasing
Romney Lock to Old Windsor Lock
Up arrow
Caution stream increasing
Old Windsor Lock to Bell Weir Lock
Up arrow
Caution stream increasing
Chertsey Lock to Shepperton Lock
Down arrow
Caution stream decreasing

Kingfisher Marina in the Snow

We visited Albert today (Monday) after the heavy snow of the last few days. Living close to Yardley Gobion we estimate that around 10 inches (250 mm) has fallen since last Thursday evening. The canal was iced over, as you might expect, but as the temperature today only dropped to around -1 deg C the ice wasn't that thick. At least the boats were not frozen "rock" solid as in 2010/11.

Picture post card views of snowy marina

Only the phographer's footprints in the snow

Great patterns on the stern fenders and Turks head ropework

Lost poles and planks - just the exhaust is visible

On the next boat the snow bridged between the staging and the gunwhales

Pretty ice pattern on NB Rangitoto

More pretty patterns on ropes and fenders

Below these deep rectanglar "pillows" of snow are some mats!

Sterns, bows and ropes all with heavy snow deposits

Strictly Pitt-Rivers!

Another week, another museum. We visited Oxford over the weekend with our friends Edward and Anne and showed them the marvellous updated Ashmoleum Museum. We had a short visit to some of the collections and an excellent lunch in the museum restaurant on the top floor. It affords great views from the terrace. On the next table was John Sargeant (ex-BBC Political Correspondent and Strictly Come Dancing star) - must be some sort or recommendation.

After lunch we visited a museum we had failed to visit on our trips through Oxford. This was the Pitt-Rivers Museum which houses the University of Oxford's collection of anthropology and world archaeology. To put it simply it is a Victorian treasure trove.

Pitt-Rivers with totem pole in background
Although updated through the years, the museum has stayed true to its original 19th century style of glass cabinets and small hand-written labels. The exhibits are packed in. The collections are diverse and sometime bizarre. For example, there is a section on body adornments and tattooing alongside shields, bows, lace making and coins. There are even shrunken heads.
Cases and drawers of artefacts

Because of the sensitive nature of the exhibits, light levels are kept low but visitors are encouraged to use torches. This makes it great fun for curious children. Viewed from the balcony the sight lots of lights from torches making their way through a maze of cabinets is fun.
Model Ships of the Line

For the marine enthusiast there is a superb collection of model boats (the models are of a great age) and several full-size canoes suspended from the ceiling. If you are boating through Oxford or visiting by other means (like us), we can thoroughly recommend the Pitt-Rivers. It is accessible through the Natural History Museum which is being refurbished at the moment.

Tate to Tate

Paternoster Square and St Pauls
Yesterday was my birthday so Maggie and I spent a day out in London as a way of celebration. We booked to see the Pre-Raphaelite Exhibition at Tate Britain. Our slot was in the afternoon so our plan was to take a table for lunch at the Tate Modern museum restaurant, which is on the top floor at  Bankside and affords wonderful views of the City of London, and then travel to Tate Britain at Millbank via boat.

Blackfriars Bridge ornamentation
To get to Tate Modern we thought it would be a good idea to catch the tube to St Pauls and then walk across the Millennium Bridge. Our plan went a little awry at this point because the bridge was closed for four days of maintenance. This meant a circuitous walk via Blackfriars Bridge (which was also under repair). Still we made it and had a great lunch followed by coffee watching the ferries ply up and down the river.

Coffee looking down onto St Pauls and the Millennium Bridge; from Tate Modern museum

We caught our own ferry from outside Tate Modern using the Tate boat service. The trip brought back memories of our last trip along the tideway in Albert. This time it was far less exciting, although low tide and recent heavy rains made the stream strong.

Ferries on the Thames at Low Water
London Eye under maintenance

Passing Westminster Pier

A high & dry houseboat

The Pre-Raphaelite Exhibition was just wonderful. The range of exhibits was great with not only famous paintings from around the world but also some sculpture, furniture, decorative artwork and photographs.  It was a brilliant way to enjoy a birthday.

We had visited the last Pre-Raphaelite exhibition staged by the Tate back in 1984 and thoroughly enjoyed it then, but this exhibition appeared larger and with better quality exhibits. We were particularly taken with Holman Hunt's The Lady of Shalott which is normally kept in the USA. It is quite stunning. We hadn't seen it before so it hadn't appeared on our "radar". It is considered to be the last major Pre-Raphaelite work.

Unfortunately the exhibition finishes this weekend.

Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 'The Beloved ('The Bride')' 1865-6
The Beloved ('The Bride') by Dante Gabriel Rossetti,1865-6
Oil on canvas
Peacock and bird carpet c.1800s
Peacock and bird carpet c.1800
William Morris Gallery, London Borough of Waltham Forest
Edward Coley Burne-Jones Maria Zambaco 1870
Maria Zambaco by Edward Coley Burne-Jones, 1870
 Clemens-Sels Museum, Neuss
File:Holman-Hunt, William, and Hughes, Edward Robert - The Lady of Shalott - 1905.jpg
Lady of Shalott by William Holman Hunt & Edward Robert Hughes, 1905
Image from Wikipedia

New Year's Day 2013 at Stoke Bruerne

Long Pound, Stoke Bruerne
After so much rain it was a delight to find that the first day of 2013 was clear, dry and bright. We went over to Stoke Bruerne on New Year's Day and walked up the locks to watch the Morris dancing at the top lock. The  Rose and Castle men' side and the Queen's Oak women's side were performing. With the fine weather, the crowds were out in force. We bumped into Colin and Sheila from NB Milan, boating friends for over fifteen years, and had a good chat.

Rose and Castle Morris outside The Boat Inn
Queen's Oak Morris

Fast Stream at Hurley Lock, River Thames


Red boards on the Thames - again!

We visited Hurley on Saturday for a wedding - not by boat. With all the extensive flooding along the Thames Valley I was interested to see how the lock and weir were coping, so just after lunch I took a walk from The Olde Bell down to the river.

Old Bell Hurley

We know Hurley quite well since Maggie and I were stuck here during a boating holiday with my parents  in the late 1960s. My family had hired a cabin cruiser from Maid Line in Thames Ditton but the river was in spate and we spent most of the week moored up just below the lock at Hurley unable to proceed any further. I remember that a trip to Marlow by bus was one of the excitements of the holiday!

On Saturday the small side streams leading up to the lock were running fiercely but the river had not yet burst its banks.

Hurley Lock - looking deceptively calm

Hurley Lock landing underwater
The water levels at the lock during our stay in the 1960s were nowhere near those I found on Saturday. The water level below the lock was very high and the lock landing where we moored for several days during our enforced stay was completely underwater.
However, the most impressive flows on Saturday were by the weir stream. The channel was full to bursting and the levels up and downstream of the weir looked similar!

Hurley weir under pressure!
I couldn't resist making a video of the flow. As you will see the speed of the water is dramatic.