Tuesday, 28 July 2015


A boat one can pick up and carry, the ultimate in portable transportation.  We passed the time of day with this man carrying his coracle down to the River Severn in preparation for the annual Ironbridge Regatta in August which always includes a coracle race.  Despite the fact that Wales is the first place I think of  in association with coracles Shropshire seems to be a coracle hot spot with world championships and coracle making courses put on by the Small Woods Association.

This simple design of a flat bottomed boat made of willow and a waterproof skin has been used for thousands of years but they differ in style from place to place to accommodate different river conditions.  The Rogers family made coracles here by the River Severn for generations, the last of them, Eustace Rogers, died in 2003 and the shed where they were created lay empty and decaying, however the sum of money required to restore and repair the shed to tell the story of the Rogers family and coracle making was recently raised by the Ironbridge Coracle Society.  Until the volunteers put in the hours of work there is a website to browse called - the coracle shed.

These craft are notoriously difficult to control for the amateur as they sit on the water rather than in it and are known for being unstable, however a fisherman can row one of these with one hand while the other hand manages the net with ease.

Here is an old postcard of a rather full looking River Towy over the border in Wales and its coracle men in and out of the water.
An entry to ABC Wednesday, a journey through the alphabet, this week mooring up at C here

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Buccleuch Dock

Living on a peninsula surrounded by sea there is usually a breeze or wind  coming from some direction of the compass. Unusually the photograph shows a sultry still day on the 1st July when it was just like walking into an overheated room, the cloud strata adding to the effect. This is Buccleuch Dock which is part of a small dock complex.  Another exceptional aspect is that there was not one ship or boat in sight, although there was one behind me. For the past ten years you could guarantee at least one in the dock
which was the Princess Selandia, once a nightclub and restaurant until it closed in 2010 due to a fire, since then it has been gently rusting by the dockside. 

Princess Selandia berthed in Buccleuch Dock, Barrow-in-Furness
Here it is in lit up for the revellers in 2007 when you could dance the night away on the freight deck which had been converted into "The Blue Lagoon"  After the fire this Danish passenger vessel's next destination had been due to be part of a dockland attraction at Korsør but the scheme collapsed.  The project has now been revived and on 14th July she set off for Danish shores to be a museum.  Once owned by the Danish State Railroad I believe she is the last ship of its type.  I wonder if she will be promoted and go back to her old name of Queen Ingrid?   You can see there is a walkway next to the ship which can be accessed by a gate from the supermarket car park and I like to keep an eye and a camera ready for any visiting ships as I load my shopping into the car boot.  Today the gate was locked so I was thwarted in having a nosey at a Swedish yacht on the other side.  The pathway can be accessed further down but I'm temporarily not very mobile at the moment so I gave it a miss,
although once you are on the pathway there are plenty of seats.  This photo of  Buccleuch Dock is with a ripple of a slight breeze but as you can see I can never resist a reflection.  The dock opened in 1873 and is named after one of the original investors of the port and docks.  The picture was taken in late afternoon light, November 2012, and in the distance can be seen three corvettes which also, like the Princess Selandia,  became local landmarks after the Brunei Navy refused to take delivery of them. The dispute eventually went to arbitration in 2007 and BAE Systems won the case, resulting in Brunei eventually finding another buyer for them in 2012, the Indonesian Navy.   I've been trying to remember when they eventually sailed away
Jebat Frigates
 and think it must have been last year as I took this photo in July 2013 plus some of these corvettes were involved in the search for the Indonesia Air Asia plane which went missing at sea.

An entry to ABC Wednesday, a journey through the alphabet, this week sojourning at B here

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Accordion and A Vowel

If anyone thought I had mined my two day visit to the Tour de France in Yorkshire last year for various ABC Wednesday letters to the maximum here is my last hurrah, possibly.  I had this in mind for the letter A and then forgot, but it is now making a belated appearance for the start of  Round 17 and playing a happy tune - on the Accordion.  I would never have the coordination to play this instrument but here it is being played on the move and sat in a British registered 1939 Citroen 15 Roadster.  The French theme completed by the flag and both driver and passenger wearing berets. The accordion is an instrument loved by radio and film sound editors for indicating "hey folks we are in Paris"  the only other sound I can think of so overused is the kookaburra's 'laugh' for signposting the Australian outback;  unless you can think of some more.

From the joy of music to the drudge of housework
which today with labour saving devices is a breeze compared to when this Victress Vowel Washing Machine was in use.  As can be seen on the side this is -  The Vowel "A" model used in the late 19th and early 20th century and manufactured by Thomas Bradford of Salford.. (They went up in size with different vowel indicators)  The company started out as makers of butter churns and dairy appliances so I suppose the agitation of water to wash clothes would have been a natural development from butter churns. The Vowel "A" machine was one of the cheapest they produced and their advertising said "equal to 12 shirts".  I'm not sure if that means you could get 12 shirts into it or if the cost was equal to buying 12 shirts, whatever, its price was £3 10s 0d.  The auctioneers Christies were selling what is now an antique a few years ago with an estimated price of £400 to £600 and at auction it actually sold for £1,315.  You could buy about five modern ones for that price, but would they last as long? 
If I turn down the colour and the wear marks it could be new!  Its location is the backyard of a recreated Victorian workman's house, in particular a foreman's house who would be earning enough to be able to afford it. Unfortunately I omitted to take a photo of the turning handle on the other side because my butterfly mind was distracted by this
adorable little dog which was scampering in and out of the house.

An entry to ABC Wednesday, a journey through the alphabet this week starting anew again here 


Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Zig Zag

The crazy paving and zigzag appearance of this limestone pavement are the result of thousands of years of water dissolving the limestone.  The deep fissures are called grykes (or grikes choose your spelling). The moist and shaded conditions are ideal for ferns and tree roots and also rare plants can live in the nooks and crannies. In Victorian times limestone was a popular cheap substitute for marble and the top of some of the pavements were removed in the area and for this reason it retains its name of Marble Quarry. These unique habitats are more protected nowadays.  This is a walk through the woods near Slackhead, Beetham, Cumbria and after walking on narrow paths through trees and then suddenly come out to the wide open spaces of dazzling limestone pavements is an amazing sight.  No need to zigzag around to find the path as there are    
way-marks leading through the wood and across the many limestone pavements. 

An entry to ABC |Wednesday, a journey through the alphabet, this week coming to the end of Round 16 at Z here.  Are you ready to go around the alphabet again in Round 17?