A Generation Gap

I expected to run out of data this morning, so simply scanned a handful of photographs from the Little Venice Canal Cavalcade of May 2009. This is an annual event taking place in the canal basin within sight of Beauchamp Lodge, where I rented my counselling room.

This couple of women I found intriguing. The older lady carefully concentrating, swathed in black robes, a ring on her wedding finger; the younger in colourful T-shirt and skirt, wrists sporting a variety of bangles, a ring on her thumb. It was the younger person whose face was concealed from my view. Was this a generation gap? Were they related? How did they respond to each other’s appearance?

The two sides of the bank are spanned by an arched blue bridge, under which I have run many a time on a trip of several miles into west London along the towpath and back. Narrowboats are crammed into all the available mooring space.

The level bridge spans Warwick Crescent. Teeming crowds line both sides of the basin;

many souvenirs are on sale; someone has been busy with helium.

As they do at the nearby Notting Hill Carnival in August, drafted police officers enter into the spirit of the event as the Waterways Recovery service give them a ride.

For good measure I have added a Streets of London image of Powis Square W11 which had found its way into the same box of slides. This street is one of those accommodating the aforementioned Notting Hill Carnival.

I did, of course, run out of data, and am posting this in The Royal Oak. This is unfortunate because it means I have had to drink a pint of Razor Back. It would have been rude not to. I am now waiting to be joined by Jackie and Elizabeth for dinner here. Jacqueline will arrive a little later and stay for a couple of nights.

On The Turn


Anyone who had imagined that the long-running saga of the British Gas electricity bill had reached its conclusion will have been under the same misapprehension as me. Here is a brief recap. I had paid the delayed bill over the phone on 11th January. On 21st I received the next bill, including the paid amount. I was told the payment hadn’t gone through because of a problem in their system. I paid it again. Today I received a reminder for the first amount. I telephoned once more; said I knew my views would make no difference, but that they would make me feel better; then gave my views.

Afterwards I continued my scanning of the colour negatives from Henley to Newark trip of July 2003.

Grasses and wild flowers still covered the footpaths, and I was treated to what I believe was my first sight of a damselfly.

Sheep and fields of grass occupied the landscape on the opposite bank of the Oxford Canal,

Garden with 4X4 and phone box 7.03

which seemed an unlikely resting place for an iconic red telephone box.


I caught up with Pacific Pete at the Braunston Turn Bridges. theoxfordcanal.co.uk website informs me that this section of the waterway, which shares its route with the Grand Union Canal Main Line as far as Napton Junction, is ‘one of the few places on the entire stretch of the Oxford Canal where there is narrow boat access to another river or canal. It is worth noting from the point of view of use by cyclists and walkers that the towpath really deteriorates very soon after Braunston Turn Bridges. In fact this section of the canal has hardly any towpath in some places and is a real mess suffering from collapse, potholes, mud, nettles and brambles. It can be all but impassable in places if there has been any sort of recent wet weather.’

Unfortunately, I didn’t know this.

According to Wikipedia, ‘The Horseley Ironworks (sometimes spelled Horsley and Iron Works) was a major ironworks in the Tipton area in the county of Staffordshire, now the West Midlands, England.

Founded by Aaron Manby,[1] it is most famous for constructing the first iron steamer, The Aaron Manby, in 1821.[2][3] The boat was assembled at Rotherhithe. She was only the first of a number of steamboats built on the “knock-down” principle. The ironworks have also been responsible for the manufacture of numerous canal and railway bridges of the 19th century.

The ironworks were built near the Toll End Communication Canal[4] on the Horseley estate, which had been sold by their owner at the turn of the 19th century[5] due to demand from engineers wishing to profit on the construction of the BCN Main Line through the estate. The date when the ironworks were constructed is unknown but is believed to have been by 1815.[5] Industry in the area prospered and the location retained the name of the Horseley estate as shown in an 1822 survey of the area.[6]

With the increasing popularity of canals, the ironworks quickly became popular for manufacturing canal bridges, mainly in the local vicinity.[7]Canal bridges made by the ironworks include the Engine Arm Aqueduct (1825), two roving bridges at Smethwick Junction (1828),[8][9] Galton Bridge (1829), and Braunston Towpath Bridges (1830).[10][11] By the end of the canal construction era, Horseley Ironworks had emerged as one of the most prolific manufacturers of canal bridges in the West Midlands region,[5] especially in Birmingham.[12] This was a result of their signature bridge design which had become popular amongst canal constructors. The design has been replicated more recently, for example in Birmingham during the regeneration of Gas Street Basin where Worcester Bar is linked to Gas Street.[13]

Horseley Ironworks were also responsible for manufacturing in the railway industry. Railway bridges constructed included that of the viaduct for the London and Birmingham to Holyhead railway at Shifnal, Shropshire which was cast in 1848.[14] As well as manufacturing bridges, they also produced locomotives.[15]

The company also manufactued construction steelwork for the pier of Ryde, the Palace Theatre in London, Rugby railway station, a seaplane hangar in Las Palmas and the Dome of Discovery at the 1951 Festival of Britain.[16]

People who have worked for the iron foundry include Charles Manby, the son of Aaron Manby, James Thomson,[17] William Johnson[18]and Richard Roberts.[19]

The firm moved in 1865 to a site on the now defunct Dixon’s Branch, off the BCN New Main Line (Island Line), near the South Staffordshire Railway line. The factory survived under a succession of owners until 1991, when it was closed down and subsequently redeveloped as a housing estate.[4]

I managed to keep up with Sam and James in the boat whilst, having passed under the elegant bridge from the time of Queen Victoria’s predecessor, King William IV, they negotiated their way through a narrowboat-congested area to the next flight of locks. As can be seen, there was barely room for the lengthy ocean-going oars.

Sam rowing

Eventually the rower was once more under way.

After this, I had to find my way up and down various hilly areas, where I was surprised in the darkness by the only badger I have ever seen alive. I was amazed at how fast it could run. It was fortunate that the creature took off in the opposite direction, because running anywhere, by that time, was quite beyond me.

This evening we dined on Mr Pink’s perky cod, parsley flavoured fish cakes and crisp chips plated up with pickled Freshona gherkins and Garner’s onions. We both drank Pedro Jimenez Coquimbo 2016.


The Foxton Flight


It rained all day today. Aaron, who could not work in such weather, came for a pleasant chat over a mug of tea.

I will not bore either my readers or myself with full details of today’s BT episode. But it does warrant a brief mention. Yesterday, as you know, I had been promised a phone call from a manager about the charge of £50 to change the name on my account. The young lady who telephoned me from India this morning was certainly no manager. When we came to an impasse she transferred me to someone in England. The best I could glean from her, after she had consulted with her manager, was that this could only be done free of charge was by changing the phone number then transferring it back. There was no guarantee that our existing number would be accurately returned. I told her, for the recording, precisely what I thought of her company, stated that it was only my reluctance to change our number and my e-mail address, that kept me with them; and that I wouldn’t bother to take her up on her kind offer.

Then I scanned another set of colour negatives from my longest walk.

I don’t usually tinker with the colours in my photographs, but I did have a play with these three landscape shots.

Sam in Pacific Pete 7.03

Beyond Oxford, Sam took to the Grand Union Canal

alongside which the footpaths were often completely overgrown, albeit

with pleasant wild flowers, such as meadowsweet and willow herb.

Of the many butterflies flitting about, I only recognised the red admirals. (See John Knifton’s comment below)

Oak leaves 7.03

The shade from trees like this oak was often welcome in the heat of the day.

About the Foxton Flight of Locks, built between 1810 and 1814, Wikipedia informs us:

‘Foxton Locks (grid reference SP691895) are ten canal locks consisting of two “staircases” each of five locks, located on the Leicester line of the Grand Union Canal about 5 km west of the Leicestershire town of Market Harborough and are named after the nearby village of Foxton.

They form the northern terminus of a 20-mile summit level that passes Husbands Bosworth, Crick and ends with the Watford flight

Staircase locks are used where a canal needs to climb a steep hill, and consist of a group of locks where each lock opens directly into the next, that is, where the bottom gates of one lock form the top gates of the next. Foxton Locks are the largest flight of such staircase locks on the English canal system.

The Grade II* listed locks are a popular tourist attraction and the county council has created a country park at the top. At the bottom, where the junction with the arm to Market Harborough is located, there are two public houses, a shop, trip boat and other facilities.’

On the day Sam guided Pacific Pete down this staircase, family visitors were out in force. For once I was ahead of my son, and reached the locks in time to learn that the canal-side telegraph was buzzing with the news that a large rowing boat was on its way through.

The audience gathered to watch Sam use his giant oar to steer and propel the boat through the locks because there was no room to row.

Asian family leaving Foxton Flight 7.03

Did you notice the Asian man gesturing to his family in the first picture, and shepherding them over the bridge in the last, in order to lead them down the slope to see the rower on his way?

Child helping at the locks 7.03

There had been no shortage of helpers to push the long balance beams operating the gates.

There were plenty of narrow boats on the waters, but no other ocean-going rowing boats.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s glorious sausage casserole; crisp carrots, cauliflower and red cabbage, and creamy mashed potatoes. She drank Hoegaarden and I finished Helen and Bill’s Malbec.

Far More Insulting Than Two

Raindrops on bottle brush budsRaindrops on poppy budRaindrops on geraniums

This morning more drops of precipitation bestowed magnifying lenses upon the burgeoning bottle brush plants and poppies; and upon the fully grown pink geraniums.

After lunch we drove to Milford Sand & Ballast to buy three more bags of cement for Aaron’s work on Sunday.

When, yesterday, I embarked on yet another series of photographs with which to prod my memory and illustrate my posts, I thought I would have a recap.

First, we have Elizabeth’s ‘Through the ages’ portraits of me.

Becky, Derrick, Sam, Matthew, Louisa, and Michael

Number 60 is dated 5th October 1991. It is easy to remember because it represents my contribution to the gathering of the clans at Tanfield Road, South Croydon, on the occasion of Michael and Heidi’s wedding. I have an arm round each of Becky and Sam. My eldest son has made an early start on the wine. Louisa, who would say that she always looked forward to Matthew’s visits so that she could climb all over him, is already on his lap.

I am also working my way through my early colour slides. Today I scanned a set of Jackie taken in December 1972, when I spent Christmas with her and the children. Here are three of the portraits:

Jackie 12.72 003 - Version 2Jackie 12.72 005 - Version 2 Jackie 12.72 006 - Version 2

This was a very painful time, but we did our best.

After this came the identification and scanning of unsorted negatives, including

Sam at Carole and Brian's wedding  1982

 Sam and Snoopy at Carole and Brian’s wedding meal in 1982;

Louisa 1983 002

Louisa, delighted to be on her feet, flashing her new choppers in 1983;

Sam and Louisa 1983 001

Sam, passing on the benefits of his wisdom;

Jessica and Sam 1983 002

And Jessica singing to him from a song sheet that same year.

Another set is the Streets of London, begun yesterday. Today’s selection from those scanned today were photographed in April 2004.

Streets of London 4. 04 014

Yesterday we saw the point where Maida Avenue joins Warwick Avenue. Here we see Regents canal and its narrow boats running alongside it. There really is a slope in the road. This area is known as Little Venice, and the boats you see are residential. Mooring fees are now pretty prohibitive, but there is a keen community living afloat.

Streets of London 4. 04 015

Just around the corner from there, is Warwick Crescent, W2. The view here is from one of the counselling rooms I rented during the ’80s and ’90s.

Streets of London 4. 04 016

The elegant, I think Georgian, dwellings of Park Place Villas W2, are overlooked by the red-haired tower block soaring further up Edgware Road. It dominated the skyline of the vicinity.

Streets of London 4. 04 018

Another shot from my counselling room window looks down to Harrow Road, W2. The scene features a very large roundabout, in the centre of which is a building that was unoccupied for about forty years. It is now used commercially following the huge canalside development visible in the background. When I first knew Beauchamp Lodge in the early 1970s, this was waste ground occupied by travellers, their families, and their pets. The building on the right won an award, I think around 1960, for the use of concrete in construction. The London taxi cab would have been aiming to go down the road alongside the concrete building, at the bottom of which was a taxi centre.

One evening, when I was leaving my building for home, a car came screeching round the roundabout, stopped, and reversed towards a following vehicle. Both cars came to a halt within inches of each other. I noticed that the car in front was occupied by two young men; the other by a lone young female driver. The driver of the leading vehicle left his car to remonstrate with the young lady. There was nothing for it but to get involved. I ambled across, with as much nonchalance as I could muster, advised the woman to close her window, – I ask you, she had to be advised to do that – and leant against the railings with my hands in my pockets. Just observing, you understand. The remonstrations became more vociferous, probably because the window was closed. The passenger then emerged and menaced me. Keeping my hands out of sight, I politely explained that I was simply a spectator.

It was only after the aggressors had sped off out of sight that I realised a taxi and a lorry had stopped on the roundabout. The drivers were both ready to get involved had it turned more nasty. Apparently the reversing driver had overtaken the young woman who had stuck one finger up to him out of her window. That, of course, is far more insulting than two.

Streets of London 4. 04 020

This evening’s final offering from the Streets of London is Preston Gardens, NW10, Neasden. This corner building changed its occupancy, its facade, and its usage on a regular basis during the ten years or so I passed it when visiting Norman. Each new wave of immigrants has imposed its own stamp. If I remember rightly, the Chinese Takeaway in Church Road is now a Somali taxi cab service.

Other series include various sets of prints for which I have not yet traced the negatives. I had planned to feature just one picture from each series. But I got rather carried away, and having spent most of the day on this, I don’t have the energy for going on to the reflective scanning, so I will close in the normal manner.

We dined on chicken Kiev roasted in the oven with peppers, onions, and mushrooms; green beans, leaks, and boiled potatoes. I finished the Madiran, and Jackie drank Hoegaarden.