Monday, 29 June 2015

Big Hole in Lancaster Canal - CRT Looking into it!

The Lancaster Canal is currently closed either side of the Lune Aqueduct, north of Lancaster, after a hole (actually two holes and possibly a third) appeared in the canal bed and the water leaked out!

As a mooring ranger, I've not received any guidance as to whether I should continue checking the 48 hour moorings in the area, although given that the options for moving are limited it would seem a little unfair to report people for overstaying.

The local continuous moorers will be pleased but it's bad news  for visitors from over the Ribble, who won't be able to make full use of their time-limited visit to the canal and even worse news for anyone with a booking for a return passage before the end of July who's currently trapped north of the stoppage.

Here are a few photos of the drained section.

The stoppage is expected to continue until at least 31 July according to this CRT Stoppage Notice

Friday, 26 June 2015

Two Hours of my Life I'll Never Get Back

Earlier this week I attended a meeting of an organisation - which had better remain nameless - but which has a waterways focus and of which I am a member.
It was the AGM.  Not always the most exciting of meetings of any group but in this case it did promise a potentially interesting speaker after the formalities and in any case it's the only meeting of the year that this organisation actually holds that is open to the general membership. And just to complete the attraction, although it was being held in a little village someway out of Lancaster and in the evening I could get there on the bus.

The first blow was that the speaker had brought his presentation in a version of the software than the organisation's PC couldn't handle - and he felt unable to speak without being able to show it! That left just the formal business, although in the event I doubt that there would have been time for the talk anyway!

Despite the formal officers' reports having been circulated in advance and hard copies being available on the night, each of the multi-page documents was read out, slowly, in full. As ever it  was the Treasurer's report that excited the most interest: not the thousands of pounds raised and spent on various worthwhile projects of course, but the  matter of a few hundred quid's worth of "expenses".  Why had they paid and who had authorised them?  Did this not conflict with Policy and why had that policy not been adhered to? From an outsider's point of view and from the explanation given by the committee, it was clear that although the letter of the constitution may not have been followed, the spirit certainly was and no harm had been done. The committee's case however was not exactly helped by the recipient of the expenses then complaining that he hadn't been told exactly what he could claim for or how much he was entitled to!

When eventually the Chairman got the meeting to agree to move on, more problems appeared. For the "election of officers" it was apparent that there were a number of important posts to be filled, with no candidates (I wonder why!).  The Secretary's post was one, but the Chairman was pleased to announce that someone had come forward. Said person, however, then indicated that she could only do the work as a "job share".  After a while, someone else offered to be the "share", but when the chairman suggested that the two also share the related role of Membership Secretary the "sharer" made it quite clear that under no circumstances would he have anything to do with that role!

There was even a discussion as to whether it was technically possible to share, with the retiring incumbent saying definitely not, at which someone else reminded the meeting that two named individuals had shared the role in the past.

The Chairman persevered and was just on the point of announcing that the two individuals would be appointed to the committee when someone pointed out that the meeting had not agreed to a job-share and that a vote would have to be taken, followed by another vote to elect the two people concerned. Both passed unanimously, but by this point I had to decide whether to spend the next half-hour before my bus was due listening to more of the same or whether to go across the road to the pub.

It was a very fine pint of Black Sheep Bitter - and the bus was bang on time.

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Middlewich Folk and Boat Festival

We weren't planning on going to the Middlewich Folk and Boat Festival this year, which was just as well because my nephew chose this weekend to get married in rural Carmarthenshire in deepest West Wales. That involved us in a 600 mile round trip for an all too short family reunion. Actually I would have liked a bit more time to speak to some of the bride's family, especially her father who apparently works on the pilot boats on the Mersey. We could have shared our boating tales (or not.....)

The journey there turned into a marathon with Friday night traffic jams in Cheshire and a succession of caravans and other slow vehicles on the long and winding roads through mid-Wales.  Not as bad a journey as one of the guests though: After leaving Margate at 10.30am (fortunately the day before the wedding) poor Brian endured five hours of hold-ups on the M25, another 3 hrs of delays on the M4 and after arriving at the outskirts of Carmarthen at 10 O'Clock at Night found his SatNav had stopped working. Not knowing which way to go he made three circuits of the giant roundabout on the A40 outside town before being stopped by the police. Asked where he was going he could only reply "My mate's wedding" after which he was breathalysed. Having survived that he was promptly told that the police computer said his insurance had run out and they would have to impound his vehicle!  Undaunted, he walked into Carmarthen and arranged a taxi to cover the last 25 miles to the village. Unfortunately, the taxi driver was Polish and had about as much idea of where he was going as Brian did - they eventually arrived at 2.25 in the morning!

Although not expecting anything as bad as that we knew we had another lengthy journey ahead of us to get home today, but Middlewich is not far off the "direct" route (not that there is a "direct" route) so we thought that if we had a chance to do so, we'd call in at the Festival.  More winding roads and more slow vehicles as well as a road closure and poorly-signed diversion around the back streets of Crewe meant it was well after 4pm by the time we got to Middlewich and half-an-hour later by the time we found somewhere to park. After all that though, just about the first person we saw on the towpath was Sandra of AreandAre (aka the Home Brew Boat) who had set up her Facepainting stall
and was busy with a queue of young customers.  And just along the cut was Barry who seemed just as busy

Despite being busy we found time for a chat - and Barry even made us a cup of tea - after which we walked a short distance along the towapth and met up with Andy and Helen on Wand'ring Bark - and of course the famous Jam Butty.  It made the journey much more bearable, although I could help wishing just a little that I was staying in Middlewich for a while - on a boat naturally!