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Month: June 2016

The Origins of Modern Geology

The Origins of Modern Geology

After a rainy morning where we stayed home, we made our way down a short but fascinating stretch of canal from Kinver to Wolverly. The local rock is red sandstone, and in some places the navvies who cut the canal with pick and shovel left it overhanging the water. Through this section we were chasing a party of schoolkids paddling outriggers, but they pulled over to let us go by. Then they got to chase us through a tunnel with…

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Danger: Low Bridge

Danger: Low Bridge

About a mile out of Stourbridge, we hit countryside again. There were fields on either side of the canal rather than brick walls or housing estates, and the bridges were free of graffiti. You could tell that there were towns nearby, though, as there were fields of ponies for the gymkhana crowd rather than sheep, cows, or sugar beet. The canals are full with all the rain we have had, which makes the low bridges seem extra low. We were…

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Yeah! We had insurance

Yeah! We had insurance

It turns out that our management contract for the boat included contents insurance, so assuming the deductible is not that big we should be able to get some money for the stuff that was stolen. Alex and Clive are also working on a way to improve the security of the locking system, so we will soon have that sorted. Today was a monster day for locks. First the Delph locks, a flight of nine. Here Paula demonstrates the technique for…

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Escape from Birmingham

Escape from Birmingham

In more than fifty years of James Bond movies there have been all sorts of chase scenes: cars, fire engines, speedboats, space rockets, scuba gear, helicopters. However, I don’t recall there ever being a James Bond movie with a canal boat case scene. That’s possibly because their average speed is a brisk walk, and you can outrun one without difficulty. However, there ought to be some sort of warped Bondian logic that would make a canal boat chase make sense,…

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A True Story

A True Story

A man was traveling the world. In Africa his camera and equipment was stolen, which upset him a lot. In Tibet he managed to get an audience with the Dalai Lama. They talked about his trip and he mentioned the theft, among other things. He was still upset about it. At the end of the audience, he asked for a blessing from the Dalai Lama, and the Dalai Lama smiled and said, “Get over it.” We’re trying to accept that…

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A Screw Loose

A Screw Loose

This morning we visited Winterbourne House and garden, and this afternoon we headed into Birmingham. First Winterbourne. It’s an Arts and Crafts house built in the early 20th Century for the Nettlefolds family, who made their money in the screw business, and went on to become the “N” of GKN. The uneven roofline was deliberate, to echo old houses with sagging roofs. Inside it is very light and airy, and had all sorts of modern conveniences like a dumb waiter…

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A Trip to the Barber

A Trip to the Barber

It’s been raining almost all day. There is a low pressure area covering North West Europe which is centered over the Midlands, and the rain had been circling round Birmingham all day like dirty bathwater round a plughole. Really dirty bathwater, like you’ve been cleaning out a sewer all day, and you need to take a second bath just to wash off the water from the first bath. (My brother says I have not been complaining about the weather enough….

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Approaching Brum

Approaching Brum

I mentioned lift bridges yesterday, but did not get around to taking a picture of one as we were too busy getting the boat through. Here’s one we went through today. This was on a busy road, so it had been electrified to go up and down faster. All Paula had to do was unlock it with the magic Canal and River Trust key and press a button. While most locks have gates that swing open and closed when you…

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C’mon, England….really?! (Paula)

C’mon, England….really?! (Paula)

In so many ways, you have enriched the world: The Magna Carta, the Industrial Revolution, Thomas The Tank Engine. ¬†So, what is so difficult about having both hot and cold water coming out of the same spigot? I know, I know. Historically hot and cold water systems came through unrelated plumbing parts in old buildings. But that was generations ago. And to this day, some people install separate hot and cold taps in new buildings. So, there you are in…

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The Taste of Home

The Taste of Home

I know we’re getting close to the Black Country. I just bought a packet of scratchings. Scratchings are pork rinds, similar to the Hispanic chicharr√≥n, but tougher and greasier, and still with the occasional bristle attached. As the pork scratching fan site HairyBarSnacks.com says, they are only for people with strong healthy teeth. They are a common pub food in the West Midlands. My favorite brand when I was a kid was Ernie Round’s, but they seem to have gone…

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