Saturday, 23 August 2014

A Red letter day for Blisworth Tunnel

L to R Dr Nigel Crowe, James Clifton (CRT)
Lady Judy and Sir William McAlpine
David Laing (LL of Northamptonshire)
Stuart Wilkinson (Chairman of the
Transport Trust) and Peter Stone
(Transport Trust)
The VIPs cutting the cake
Friday 22-August marked the 30th anniversary of the reopening of Blisworth tunnel following the repairs undertaken to fix the centre of the tunnel.  Friday 22-August was also the day (in 2014) when the Transport Trust awarded Blisworth tunnel a 'Red Wheel' in recognition of its historical importance and engineering excellence - it is, apparently only 1 metre out of 'straight'.

VIP guests were collected in Blisworth and brought through the tunnel courtesy of Stoke Bruerne Boat Company, to attended an unveiling presided over by the Lord Lieutenant of Northamptonshire, David Laing, the Hon Sir William McAlpine Bt (President of the Transport Trust) and Dr Nigel Crowe (CRT Head of Heritage).

A worthy recognition of the unbelievable achievements of those who built the tunnel some 209 years ago.  We were privileged to have, as our guests, three of those who were instrumental in rebuilding the tunnel 30 years ago.

Saturday, 21 June 2014

The final bit of work

It is just 51 weeks since I moved in and I think things are now complete; today Clive delivered my victorian garden bench which was made to fit over the opening down to the kitchen window.

It wasn't cheap but it is, I think right for the location and will enable me to sit outside with a cup of tea and pontificate on the world and that which passes by!

A few pots of flowers will enhance the area a lot I think.

Life has taken a quiet turn over the last few days.  I have had a mark on my forehead for a number of years which was diagnosed, by my former GP, as a Solar Keritosis.  It started to bleed recently so I saw my GP (appointment within 20 minutes!) who referred me to a colleague of hers.  He told me it was not a Solar Keritosis but a Basal Cell Carcinoma (in simple terms skin cancer). On Friday of this last week I had an appointment with my GP for him to surgically remove the growth.  Not very pleasant but it had to be done. He removed a section of my forehead some 2 inches by ¾ inch in an elliptical form. Done under a local anaesthetic!  I am now waiting for it to heal enough to have the 12 stitches taken out! I find yawning quite difficult as it stretches the forehead muscles and laughing, whilst very good for you, can be a challenge!

Saturday, 24 May 2014

New patio 'finished'

How it was
Dave soldiered on in unforecast rain to 'finish' the patio yesterday.  It has received favourable comments from those walking past which is good news.

I need to 'dress' it now and have discovered a pot in the local Homebase store which, surprisingly, looks as if it may be just the one but I also quite like the look of this one but it is not quite in the right colour.

Some colourful Geraniums and some trailing plants would brighten up the view I think together with a coffee table and a couple of chairs such as this one.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

New Patio

I have finally got around to having my new patio built. The difficulty was finding time in 'TE' Dave's (TE for Traction Engine) busy schedule but it is well on the way now and should be finished by the end of this week.

I can imagine myself sitting outside with a nice coffee pontificating as the world goes by!

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Stoke Bruerne Canal Museum officially reopened

The CRT owned Stoke Bruerne Canal Museum was officially reopened yesterday after an extensive refit over the winter.  We were blessed with wonderful spring weather and a large crowd of people interested in the future of the museum and that of Stoke Bruerne.

Richard Parry, Chief Executive of the Canal and River Trust, officiated and presented a very well deserved award to Louise Stockwin who managed the entire process following the untimely death of the previous museum manager, David Henderson, in early January.

In the photo taken with CRT's former working boat Sculptor,  left to right - Richard Parry, Louise Stockwin, David Blagrove and Lorna York.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Rain fails to dampen St George's day spirit

Rose and Castle squire Steve Bignall
receives a flag of St George from Rodney
Wardlaw of the Royal Society of St George
Hundreds turned out to watch the flag of St. George raised at a special ceremony at damp Stoke Bruerne despite grey skies and torrential rain - the first time a flag of any kind has flown on the canalside here for over twenty years. The last flag to fly was a a pair of ladies' outsize blue bloomers with a British Waterways logo on them hoisted as an April Fool’s day joke on April 1st 1992. Unsurprisingly, someone took umbrage and the halyards to the flagpole were cut and couldn’t be replaced because telephone lines across the canal prevented the pole from being lowered.

Recently local resident Kathryn Dodington contacted BT, Colin Richards and his team at BT’s local network business Openreach swung into action and earlier this month telephone cables were re-routed enabling local volunteers to drop the flagpole and replace the missing halyards under the auspices of the Canal & River Trust, successor to British Waterways.

The colourful St. George's day ceremony which featured local school children from Stoke Bruerne Primary School reciting the story of St. George and the Dragon, as well as dancing on the lockside from Stoke Bruerne based Rose & Castle Morris, saw a formal presentation of the flag by Rodney Wardlaw, member of The Royal Society of St. George before it was hoisted to pole position overlooking the canal. From now on the flag will be always flying in this corner of Northamptonshire!

Image: © James Rudd (About my area NN12)
Words: © Lynda Payton
More images here

Thursday, 3 April 2014

A flag on the flagpole - a bit of a flutter in Stoke Bruerne

The team lowering the
The flag flying proudly from the
flagpole - next project is to rid
Stoke Bruerne of all the cables that
cross the canal
A few weeks after I moved into my new (to me) house in Stoke Bruerne BT rang to ask if everything was OK with my landline and broadband service.  It was, but now, as is the custom, the caller asked if there was anything else BT could help with whilst they were in contact with me.  'Well as it happens' I said 'there's a flagpole opposite my house and the village cannot use it because of your BT cables which are in the way of the villagers maintaining the flagpole and it's got no halyard'.

The short answer to my statement was they would put me in touch with the right department; they did; and the longer version of the story is that on 2-April Openreach (a BT subsidiary company) came along (after all the Risk Assessments and Method Statements were completed) and moved the said cable quite some distance allowing the volunteer team to lower the flagpole, clean it, check it for damage and fit a new halyard.  Tonight we have a Union Flag flying proudly from the top of the flagpole.

A huge vote of thanks to Openreach for doing the work free of charge and to one of the volunteers for having the foresight to bring a bottle of champagne to celebrate the occasion.  For the record the last known item to be raised up the flagpole was a pair of ladies bloomers with the initials BW stamped on them and that was on 01-April-1991 - some 23 years ago.

Sunday, 2 March 2014


Sculptor being winded at the A508
5 Locks down from Stoke Bruerne
Since moving to Stoke Bruerne I have become quite involved with the Canal Museum (it's next door but one) and also with the Museum's working exhibit, the former Grand Union Canal Carrying Company (GUCCC) Motor Boat Sculptor. The Friends of The Canal Museum (of which I am a member) help to look after Sculptor; I have started keeping a blog about the history of Sculptor and the work that is undertaken to keep her looking good.

Monday, 24 February 2014

Museum Repairs

The museum (next door but one) is being repaired at the moment.  Lighting, floors and some repairs to the outside.  The photo shows the contractors erecting the scaffolding.

It is planned that the museum will reopen on Saturday 12-April-14.

Sunday, 23 February 2014

The Flag Pole

A flag on the flagpole soon?
Stoke Bruerne has a flagpole on the island between the top lock and the old dry lock; right outside the Boat Inn

The very brief history of the flagpole is that it was erected in time for the opening of the Canal Museum (Easter 1963).  It was replaced in about 1984 by a more modern fibreglass pole.  At some stage BT (may be even the Post Office!) put telephone cables across the canal which route very close to the flagpole; so close that it is not possible to lower the flag pole to maintain it.  It needs maintenance because the halyard is missing; the top of the flagpole is 8m above the ground!

Openreach (the BT subsidiary company) have kindly come to the party and have agreed to cover the cost of re-routing the offending cable.  All that remains now is for a Risk Assessment to be agreed between Openreach and the Canal & River Trust. The happy band of volunteers will then be able to lower the flagpole, undertake the required maintenance and then raise it again.

To celebrate this occasion - there's not been a flag raised on the flagpole for a number of decades - we plan to have a 'bit of a do' on Wednesday 23rd April by raising a flag of St George in honour of the day and to celebrate the Morris Sides who will be dancing on the lockside that evening.

The photo on the right shows why we need assistance from BT Openreach. The flagpole folds towards the left of the photo.

Monday, 27 January 2014

Stoke Bruerne in the 1970s

My friend Phil has kindly sent me a scanned image (from a 35mm slide) which he took in the early 1970s of the museum (now a listed building), the four cottages and Sister Mary Ward's house (now an Indian restaurant - the Spice of Bruerne).

The sign hanging outside the museum is now an artefact within the museum,  the four cottages now all have porches of the design of the one at No3 (3rd from the left) - No3 was Jack James' home - Jack started the canal museum.  Sister Mary Ward's house was probably still in her family's ownership as she died in 1972 and it still looks well cared for; sadly that cannot be said about it now.

One of the aspects of the cottages that interested me was the different windows - I have always noticed that the windows (especially the ones on the top floors) were different but made an assumption that this was a fairly recent change from the original but the image shows the different window design at the time of Phil's photo which are still apparent today - most interesting.  I hope Phil doesn't mind me posting his image on here - I do think it adds to the known history of the buildings.

Sunday, 26 January 2014

'New' car

I have had Citroen 2CVs since about 1980 and have not only enjoyed them but made very good, life-long, friends through the Citroen 2CV Club - 2CVGB. I moved from 2CVs to the more modern Citroen equivalent which was the Berlingo in about 2003 - I have had two Berlingos and they have been very reliable and comfortable cars but I really don't need such a large vehicle any more or the £175 road tax each year so recently I sold the Berlingo I had (of course not worth very much these days) and have bought a Smart car (road tax £30 a year) - the same 2CV type ethos in my view.  It's like a rocket ship to Mars - goes very fast when you want it to, it has 'paddle shift' gear change, a glass 'panoramic' roof and to cap it all off heated leather seats - my friend Rodney will like last bit! It is a bit bumpy on some roads, as you would expect from the very short wheelbase, but is surprisingly good on the motorway.  It is an '08' (2008) model with just 18,000 recorded miles.  So far I think it is lovely.

Sunday, 19 January 2014

A few final bits done

The new furniture in the
spare bedroom
I have been doing a little bit of work on the house - tidying up the last little bits and pieces.

Yesterday (Saturday) I replaced the small bookcase in my spare bedroom with Ikea furniture which matches that in the main bedroom.  I am trying to get the same look and feel to each room.

I think it looks so much better than the previous bookcase which is now by the front door and doing temporary service as a place for visitors to put their shoes/boots/hats when visiting.

The clothes rack in the kitchen
At the same time my friend Richard who owns the butty Moon, which is moored opposite my house kindly came for a cup of tea and to drill two holes in the roof my my kitchen ceiling to take a Victorian style clothes rack to dry my washing. It's better, I think than hanging my clothes from hangers (even if the hangers are colour coordinated).

There is just one more thing to do (apart from picking up the 'new to me' car on Wednesday) which is to lay the front garden with Northamptonshire stone to match the house.