Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Tying by Night

I've found myself with a long quiet night tonight, just me, my cameraphone, and my college tie, so since I had nothing better to do I thought it might be a good opportunity to teach myself how to tie the darn thing like an adult, instead of just subsisting on the old faithful four-hands knot that has gotten me this far in life.

It hardly seems like the kind of interesting reading worth resurrecting the blog for [especially now that I've tried to do it and realised how rubbish the photos are, even if you're somehow capable of ignoring my middle-of-the-night-dead-eyes stare], but history has taught me that my loyal readers are unusually susceptible to neckwear-based content, so here we are.

Thanks to the wonders of the internet, there's a whole host of options available, even if I just limit myself to one site.

Half-Windsor - I used to use this back when I had to have meetings with people that were likely to actually look at my tie, because it's just slightly neater without that much extra work. I'm not sure that it's enough of an improvement on the four-hands knot to overcome the inconvenience of not being able to just rip it off at the end of the night without leaving a knot in my tie, though.

Windsor - Has the advantage of being able to just slide it right off in a very satisfying way, but the three downsides of never being able to remember how to tie it, not being able to tighten it from the front in a satisfying way, and constantly worrying that there's a small creature hanging around my throat waiting to strangle me mean it's not the knot for me.

Simple - It's kinda fun to start out inside-out and just throw that thing straight over and boom: done, but there's no way that I could keep this thing tied. I'd spend the whole day straightening and fixing it, and ain't nobody got time for that. Besides, it just looks kinda flat.

Kelvin - I've never really gotten the hang of any of the knots that basically just get their weight from going around again, as I find that they tend to slide down and start to look a bit messy as time goes on. This one seemed surprisingly okay, but I've been bitten before and I'm a little wary of this style of knot letting me down over time.

Pratt - The Pratt knot feels like an absolute mess from the back, but it's surprisingly satisfying to tie. It has that same disadvantage as the Half-Windsor in that it's a little strange to try and untangle at the end, too, but the fun little shallow shape is honestly tempting enough for me to overlook it. I suspect that it's not the sort of map that's designed for my body type, but I'm honestly tempted.

Price Albert - Here's one of those double loop ones that I was talking about that just never really seem to work for me. They always look like I've accidentally stuffed it up (and in this case I'm pretty sure that I did), but never look quite off-kilter enough to suggest that the effect might have been deliberate. To my mind, if you're going to go weird when it comes to ties, you gotta go a lot weirder than this.

Eldredge - It's one of those party knots that I would never want to attempt without a chart, but if I ever started wearing thin single-colour ties, and going to loud parties with other people that wear thin single-colour ties, and became the kind of guy that tried to assert dominance through my superior tie choices at loud parties, I could imagine wearing this and feeling insufferably smug doing it. Tying this knot was legitimately so enjoyable that I tried to get it right three times despite my limited late-night attention span. Only problem is now that I've done it I'm reluctant to ever undo it again, which is just as well as it's...quite the puzzle.

Van Wijk - So you take the worst part of the Prince Albert and you just double down on it again, and if you somehow manage to tie it right and actually have enough tie left you're still left with something that just looks like you don't know how to tie a tie. Which honestly, by this point, I'm willing to concede.

Trinity - Yeah. Nah. That felt like it was working, it really did, right up until the moment that I stuck it all together and realised that I'd missed something critical. No idea what, though, and the second attempt was even worse than the first, so this is one of the party knots that I'll be leaving for the party people, methinks.

Murrell - I admire someone who managed to sell this as a legitimate way to wear a tie outside of a fashion parade. It's patently ridiculous and yet, somehow, it works. It's fully adjustable from both ends and somehow manages to throw the rules out the window while looking supremely confident doing it. This isn't a knot that you could wear in your work tie, but I feel like it's the sort of thing that I could wear around the house to annoy the wife while still feeling dashing. The only way it could be more excellent is if it had somehow managed to invert the lines so they were going opposite ways on either end of the tie.

Balthus - So, this is a dumb way to wear a tie, with all the drawbacks of the Windsor and none of the advantages. I'm sure there's a way to make it look good if you have an enormous neck or something, but it's not doing anything for me.

Bow - Do not attempt without professional training and appropriate safety equipment.

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Tuesday Formal in the Kingdom

One of the joys of college at the moment is being part of the small but active chapel community. Being part of an Anglican chapel has been an eye-opening experience for me in a lot of ways, and our Tuesday night Eucharist services are regularly one of the highlights of my week. I wouldn't say that I'm entirely in my element, many little things continue to grate on me as a life-long protestant (and I still haven't managed to memorise a bunch of the prayers), but it's a familiar, homely group to be a part of (and of course, the chapel itself is a beautiful space)

Back in November, I had a chance to preach the homily in one of the services, and I thought that I may as well share it here as well to break my long drought of posting, you never know, it might spark my being a little more active on the internet for a while. The homily seemed well received, but I note with amusement that the preaching slots were all taken up before I had a chance to sign up this term, so there won't be a follow-up any time soon.

I've long maintained that I'm not much of a preacher, not only has it been over a decade since I even tried, but I also get too easily distracted by minutiae and my shallow scriptural knowledge tends to lead to, well, shallow preaching, but it's nice to share in an intimate, encouraging environment, and I greatly enjoyed dwelling for a while on a particular text and trying to pull out a couple of little bits and pieces out of it suitable for our little college family on a cold evening for a short homily, in the sort of environment where there's not the time to dive deeply anyway. I'm not completely convinced that it was a sermon that was going to change anyone's life but I'm at least proud enough of it to share it here.

For the uninitiated, the Anglican church calendar revolves around a common lectionary, so Anglicans everywhere are reading from and hearing sermons on the same passages each day. As a preacher, you can choose to talk from one of the two passages (or the psalm of the day), to try and relate them somehow, or just to talk about something else entirely (although I don't think the last option is encouraged). I tried in this homily to find some common threads between my texts of Romans 12:9-21 and Luke 14: 1-14, but I'll leave it to you to decide how that went.


"Blessed is the one who will eat at the feast in the Kingdom of God."

In the gospel we encounter lots of parables, we're probably all familiar with most of them. The Kingdom of God is like a mustard seed or a lost coin, or grain strewn all over the place or two brothers and an inheritance law case waiting to happen, and sometimes the analogies that they draw can feel pretty obscure or irrelevant to us; but here's one that you and I, living here in Brasenose in 2018, can really understand. Here's one that resonates with us just like it resonated with the Pharisees sitting around the table with Jesus.

A Feast in the Kingdom of God. We can all understand that, can't we?

Imagine. Tuesday Formal in the Kingdom of God. Cured salmon with a rocket and avocado salad. Oven roasted guinea fowl with a green peppercorn sauce or Field mushroom and polenta steak with tarragon dressing. Plates piled high with crushed new potatoes and seasonal vegetables, followed by lemon tart with Chantilly Cream.

Sounds pretty good, doesn't it? Can you taste it already?

Unfortunately for me, I'm not booked in for formal tonight. I'm not sure what I'm having for dinner tonight yet, but I'm pretty sure it doesn't come with lemon tart and Chantilly cream.

I don't always feel like I'm living a life that I could compare to a feast. I'm always tired. I'm cranky. I'm sarcastic, particularly if I don't have a cup of coffee with me. I all too easily look at other people's lives and feel inadequate and sorry for myself. This isn't living a life of feasting.

But Paul says in Colossians 3 that when we became Christians, when we devoted ourselves to Christ because of what he's done for us, we were born into a new life with him in heaven: "For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory."

Friends, this means that this feast in the kingdom IS ALREADY OURS, (and it didn't even cost us £5.51p on uPay). Through the Father's mercy and the son's sacrifice, we have a place at the table. More than that, though, through the indwelling of the spirit, we ARE equipped to live as if we're feasting right now.

In Romans 12:1, just before our passage today, Paul reminds us "In view of God's mercy, offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God - This is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind."

The spirit is renewing our minds, making us more like Jesus. But what does living like we're feasting at God's table look like?

Paul gives us a model:

"Love must be sincere." We are called to love and care for all those around us unconditionally, our brothers and sisters in this room, those we just see down the bar or out in the town, that person we intensely dislike, whatever the reason.

"Hate what is evil and cling to what is good." We are called to see the positive in people and situations, even awful situations and people that we don't understand.

"Be devoted to one another in love. Honour one another above yourselves." We are called to serve others even to our own detriment, to go the extra mile in order to serve our neighbours.

"Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervour, serving the Lord." We are called to humbly and quietly witness our faith to those we meet at every opportunity.

"Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer." We are called to face adversity and difficulty by taking our needs to God.

"Share with the Lord’s people who are in need." We are called to support those in difficulty who can't support themselves, with our monetary resources, but also with our time and our abilities.

"Practice hospitality." We are called to welcome people into our space and into our lives, to make room for them to be comfortable and open up to us, and to be open in return.

"Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse." We are called to work even harder when faced with opposition, and to rise above it and to love those who detest us.

"Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn." We are called to sympathise with those around us and to join in with them in their suffering and their joy.

"Live in harmony with one another." We are called to coexist and to foster an environment in which those around us can flourish.

"Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position." We are called to build bridges that reach all the people in our society, to move out of our comfort zones and not to fear the consequences or the judgement of others.

"Do not be conceited." We are called to acknowledge our many shortcomings, to quiet humility.
What a list! And that's just this one passage!

How do you think you've gone with those today? Or this week?
On any given day at any given moment, it seems impossible. I look at myself: imperfect, crude, proud, often cruel, tired. How am I supposed to do all or even any of these?

The answer, of course, is that we CAN'T measure up to God's standards on our own. He's setting a great banquet, and we're not good enough, it’s not like we’re his fellows, or wealthy, philanthropic donors to his College, we're not on the guest list. Even if we could somehow manage to do most of the things on that list most of the time, we're imperfect, we're human.

We fall short of getting into the banquet. We're the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame on the streets of the town. The wonderful good nws, though, is that despite ourselves and our constant and repeated rebellion against him, through Christ we ARE invited in, and the house will be full.
You and I need to remember that truth. We're already in the feast, despite our poverty.

That's great news. The best news we've ever heard. That's enough for us.

But...feasting isn't everything. We're still called by Paul to offer our bodies in a living sacrifice. Thankfully, that's not something that we have to do in our own power. Remember Jesus' words in the first book of Acts:
“you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
and from our passage today "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be TRANSFORMED, by the RENEWING of your mind"

Friends, all these impossible things lists are possible through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, that our Lord promised to the apostles and promises to us.

Let this be our challenge this week. To take notice when we fall into our old habits, the actions of the old body that we have left behind through grace. when we're serving ourselves instead of others, when we are heartless and petty, and to humbly ask our Lord in prayer for his forgiveness and for the strength of his Spirit to go beyond ourselves and to offer our bodies in a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God.


Well, that was a thing. I have some stuff I'd like to work on for next time, if there's going to be one, but mostly I was just pleased to be able to deliver something vaguely gospel-ish. Especially since that meant getting up in front of people and actually speaking, which is a skill that seems to have utterly deserted me over the years, but I didn't completely make a hash of that part of the operation, and it felt liberating to be able to overcome that crippling fear for a little while.

In other news: I intend to get back on the blogging bandwagon in the near future, as Mrs. Owl is getting to a bit of a crunch time in her thesis and it's probably going to be useful to be encouraging her by also actually creating something, so do let me know if you have anything in particular that you'd like me to talk about. If not, It'll presumably be business as usual around here. Except, you know, with actual business rather than just a perpetual 'closed' sign.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

I swear by Apollo the Physician

For a 'week' that was not only double the length of a regular week and that only theoretically involved plenty of spare time away from the internet with which to read, it sure feels like Tuesday has come unreasonably quickly, and I found myself desperately trying to squeeze my last pieces of reading into the last couple of busy days. I honestly have to wonder sometimes why I thought that reading 90,000 words a week would be a reasonable addition to my week.

This 'Week':

Confessions of Augustine of Hippo
#gbww #autobiography #latin
Book XI - XII

What a dramatic change in content we have here, away from the autobiographical and straight into theological arguments about Genesis, which feel like they're tacked on rather than any kind of meaningful addition to the document, though I suspect that Augustine felt just the opposite. I admit that I found myself skimming here rather than really diving in, partly due to time constraints and partly due to Augustine's annoying refusal to get to the point of anything, a habit that somewhat undermines the strength of his reasoning and the attractiveness of his emotive style.

Augustine has used the phrase 'through a glass darkly' more times than I'm comfortable with in the last few chapters. I am normally fine with him borrowing phrases from scripture left, right and centre, but somehow each time I read that one it rips me straight out of my line of thought. I suspect that if I were to devise a Great Conversation drinking game, that phrase would be in it.

Elements by Euclid
#gbww #mathematics #greek
Book IX

I was utterly, utterly not in the mood for mathematical proofs this week, and my lack of logical rigour when it comes to these seemingly endless propositions was really coming back to bit me. Thankfully, the usage of modern algebra helped me make good sense of a lot of this stuff, particularly in the first half, but I am utterly out of my depth. I guess Maths just isn't for me.

The Oath of Hippocrates
#gbww #philosophy #greek #oneshot

I find it interesting to compare and contrast those sections of the oath that have changed, and those that have remained the same over the years, even though I'm aware that modernised versions such as the one linked are rarely actually used these days. I also find it fascinating that 2500 years ago, it was necessary to suggest that doctors not perform abortions or euthanise, which just goes to show that when it comes to some things, humans really haven't changed a whole lot in the intervening time.

Turns out 'first, do no harm' is not really a thing in the oath, although the acknowledgement that all treatment should be for the good of the patient gives the gist, I suppose.

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
#not_gbww #fiction #french

I was expecting some slow introspective chapters and boiling inner turmoil in these chapters, but Hugo continues to surprise. The introduction of Javert here is utterly, stunningly poetic (and a wonderful passage to have chosen to read out loud to Mrs. Owl during a walk home on a balmy evening).

Let me share a phrase or two with you: 'Javert was a complete character, who never had a wrinkle in his duty or in his uniform; methodical with malefactors, rigid with the buttons of his coat.' and 'Javert’s content shone forth in his sovereign attitude. The deformity of triumph overspread that narrow brow. All the demonstrations of horror which a satisfied face can afford were there.' and 'Javert in his formidable happiness was to be pitied, as is every ignorant man who triumphs. Nothing could be so poignant and so terrible as this face, wherein was displayed all that may be designated as the evil of the good.'


On this reading I felt very sorry for Fantine. She really ought to have gotten a proper send-off instead of just fantine away at the sight of Javert in order to spur Valjean to action. She deserves better from me that being the butt of a weak pun, too, but I, like Hugo, am not above heaping further indignities upon the poor girl. #punacheived

The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens
#not_gbww #fiction #english #new
Chapters I - II

I don't know why I was worried that Pickwick might be a bit ho-hum, because so far is that has been the case, then I mean it only in the strictly Pickwickian sense. It has all the hallmarks of the best bits of Dickens: silly accents, outrageous characters, unlikely coincidences, flagrant misunderstandings and absurd situations, and as long as he can hold the whole thing together long enough to make an actual story happen, I think we're in for a fun ride, as long as we're not hoping to get anything deep and meaningful out of it in the long-term.

Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
#ggb #fiction #english #new
Chapters I - IV

Well, I didn't exactly find Crusoe difficult reading at any point so far, but I admit to failing to see a whole lot here to recommend it at first. Then I realised that this book is 300 years old, which means that I was looking at it through entirely different lenses than I needed to, as I'd naively assumed it belonged to a similar vintage to Bronte and Austen etc. Now that I've realised this important fact, I'm honestly impressed by how well the story is rolling along, and considerably less upset by the depiction of other races and the way that it deals with slavery than I had been. Understanding the context of these books makes a big difference!

The Stats:

A big week for milestones as we crash through the 1000 pages marks both in the novels and the non-ggww books categories, but it's not all that surprising since those two groups overlap almost entirely. More exciting is passing 2000 pages in the project so far. That's a lot of words!

Pages last week: 115
Pages so far: 2090


It looked at first like a big ole week of prescribed reading from Dr. J this time around, so we're going to leave off Dickens and Hugo and return to them later on. Instead, after the build-up from Lucian a while back, it's time for Herodotus and the main event, and a little more Lamb.

Confessions of Augustine of Hippo
#gbww #autobiography #latin
Book XIII (20 pages)

And so we come at last to our final week with Augustine, and I have to say that though he's been hard work at times, I'll miss his companionship on the bus on the way to work each week, as he's consistently put me in a good mindset for the day's work, even if reading on the bus has the tendency to make me just a little bit motion-sick, which probably doesn't contribute to my productivity.

Dream Children by Charles Lamb
#ggb #fiction #english #oneshot
(3 pages)

So far, our experience with Lamb has been a little up and down, but everything has been a little too brief to really make a call on that. Hopefully this slightly longer text will give us a better idea of what he's all about.

Elements by Euclid
#gbww #mathematics #greek
Book X(i) (38 pages)

In order to somehow manage to make it through the monstrosity that is Book X of the elements, we're going to split it into three hopefully more approachable sections. This week we're reading Propositions 1-47, just to get us started. This is the last chance for the Elements; if I can't make it work for me this week, I'm giving up.

The History of Herodotus
#ggb #fiction #english #new
Book I (55 pages)

48 pages seems like a big mouthful to chew, but I'm hopeful that Herodotus will prove to be a fun read. If he doesn't, this could turn out to be quite the difficult week of reading.

Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
#ggb #fiction #english #new
Chapters V - VII (15 pages)

A shorter excerpt from Robinson Crusoe has been set for this week. I hope for some good old-fashioned Tom Hanks alone on a tropical island crazy, but I suppose that I'll be hoping in vain.

I hope you've gotten a chance to engage with one of our little texts in the last week, but even if you haven't, why not take this chance to let me know what you've been reading?

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Day 5. Blake Mere - Queen's Head

I could wake up on a narrow boat moored next to Blakesmere every day for the rest of my life and we a very happy boy indeed, but I guess it's only fair to move on and give someone else a chance to enjoy the best spot on the canal for a while. The morning's travel was in stark contrast to yesterday, and we seemed to manage to collide with nearly every obstacle that we came into contact with in the first part of the day, but thankfully we'd more or less got that out of out system by the time we made it back to the thriving waterside metropolis that is Ellesmere and needed to really be on our toes in order to navigate the busy canal.

Today was the only day during the trip in which we had to keep to any kind of schedule, as we'd booked ahead to arrange our place at the Frankston Locks on the entrance to the Montgomery branch, as the locks are limited to twelve boats a day in a bid to keep canal traffic from degrading the banks of this section of the route, only recently (work started in the '80s, recent in the scale of the life of the canal, anyways) being reclaimed for narrowboat usage after having become a sanctuary for many aquatic plants since it was decommissioned in 1936. As usual with anything on the canal, we underestimated the time that it would take to get there, but (even despite some difficulties with the water point in Ellesmere slowing to a trickle) we comfortably managed our 12-2pm slot and began the fun of descending through the five locks into the quiet stillness that is the Montgomery.

Having negotiated the difficulties of the locks, I managed to sprain my ankle somewhat dramatically on returning to the boat after the last one, leaving me feeling sorry for myself for the rest of the day, but extremely thankful that it was a relatively minor injury, especially considering the difficulty of attempting to somehow return to medical services if they'd been required. I put myself to bed and missed most of the rest of the days travel once I'd got my foot out of the waterbath, which was a pity, as the placid Montgomery is a very different place to the main canal and I was sad to miss it. Thankfully we'll be returning along the same route tomorrow, so I'll get another chance to take a look around then.

My father-in-law successfully managed to turn the boat at Queen's Head (again overshooting, but getting away with it), so in celebration we adjourned to the eponymous pub for an early pizza dinner before making a little progress back down the canal again to a suitable mooring point away from the road, with just us, the cows, some empty chairs in the back of someone's yard and another litre or so of freshly picked blackberries to spend the night in. I honestly think that we could have got away with not mooring overnight at all, as the canal was still as glass and there was no other traffic at all. Life of a narrowboat is a very different beast out here; for a day or two I imagine it would be a nice change, but I think I'd miss the people if I were to spend any extended period of time out in lesser-travelled waters.

Safe voyages. (Watch your footing!)

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Day 4. Fenn's Wood - Blake Mere

A day of turning back on our tracks gave us second tries at a number of bridges and twisty stretches that had proved difficult to us on a first attempt, and I don't think that we hit anything that we didn't mean to hit during the whole day's travel, which on a busy stretch of narrow canal is quite the achievement. Evidence left behind from other travellers seemed to indicate that not everyone has quite mastered controlling the narrowboat by this point, but I have to admit that we were feeling pretty good about our efforts, even if the waters that we were traversing are definitely not the most challenging section by any measure, except possibly the likelyhood of being distracted by the scenery.

We only travelled about eight miles on the canal all day, as after passing back through the Quob and past Cole Mere we found a lovely mooring point overlooking Blake Mere, and decided to stop at the conveniently placed picnic table for lunch, and then decided to just stay there overnight, since the view was pretty much unparalleled along the way (even if my panorama shots were a little underwhelming!) and this section of the canal was surprisingly quiet.

We used the afternoon to wander back into Ellesmere and visit the Mere itself, as well as the town gardens (and of course the inevitable stop for a little bit more for the larder). The skies threatened to open up over us the whole time but never did, so once again we carted our rainjackets around to no avail. We also left ourselves plenty of time for a hand or nine of Mahjong before having to think about dinner and the day ahead.

Safe voyages.

Monday, 7 August 2017

Day 3. Tetchill - Fenn's Wood

This holiday has been very different from our last weekend jaunt up to the Lake District in the Spring. Then, we took any and every opportunity to eat in pubs and teahouses along the way, but this trip has been very self-sufficient. We began the day with eggs and bacon cooked in shifts in the boat's galley kitchen, even though there was a perfectly serviceable Full English breakfast waiting for us just two miles up the canal!

After a leisurely breakfast and a pot of tea or two we did eventually make it into nearby Ellesmere, where my boatmates restocked the kitchen while I lazed in the sun, after wandering into the town to sample the pork pies, which definitely didn't disappoint. Pork Pies are one of the few British recipes that I intend to add to my repertoire. I was so excited munching away that I forgot to take a photo.

Setting off from Ellesmere again after a hearty chicken soup, we negotiated the traffic and the tunnel and drifted down the canal amongst the meres (so called because they are fed only by rainwater and have no overt in or out-flowing water. Despite having less than a hour we decided to moor ourselves by bridge 42 and go for a wander around Cole Mere, which is large enough to have its own sailing club. This path was extremely popular with the dogwalkers, we must have run into at least 20 dogs of various breeds on the short walk. Dogs are pretty common on the canal, many a boat has one, but I think most of these were just locals out enjoying the sunshine before the projected days of heavy rain to come.

Life on a boat has a particular rhythm to it. Left to our own devices we'd happily have stopped there for the day, but the boat has to be run for five hours each day in order to provide enough power to run the electrics all night, and we had to reach a water point in order to make our daily resupply, so we continued East, passing back into Wales again for a little bit before returning to Shropshire in the point on the canal known as 'the Quob' after the noise the mud makes as you sink into it! Along the way, we managed to spray right along the side of a parked canalboat with the greywater being pumped out the side of the boat from the shower as we went along, which is really the worst some of canal faux-pas that one can commit.

As this point we reached the intended furthest extent of our canal journey, but before we found a private enough place to turn around (we expected to make a fool of ourselves trying such a tricky manoeuvre and were hoping for a secluded winding hole) we had to negotiate a swing bridge that needed to be lifted out of the path. When we eventually did find a turning point by another lift bridge (number 42), I managed to fulfil expectations by dramatically overshooting on the first attempt before successfully completing the turn on the second attempt (yes, believe it or not, you really are supposed to just poke your nose into the bank and then spin on that!).

That little spurt of excitement over with, we stopped just out of sight of the bridge, ready for starting our return journey tomorrow, and we've all gone to bed hoping that the locals that we've met along the way have been wrong about their weather predictions for tomorrow, as there's not a lot of shelter at the tiller.

Safe voyages.

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Day 2. Chirk - Tetchill

What follows will be mostly a lot of photos of bridges. There's not much to look like on the river and I guess I just like bridges or something. For now it's just text, as I have extremely limited internet access here on the boat.

Any hopes that we had of having been magically transformed into early-rising nautical types were swiftly dashed as it turned out that the curtains kept out the light (and the noise from other more enthusiastic boaters) pretty well. I didn't even think about getting out of bed before 9AM, and it wasn't until 10:15 that we set off.

With Captain Dad at the tiller, we passed through the tunnel and over the aquaduct that marks the border, and there was much excitement to be passing into Wales, only stilled when we got to the other side and remembered that we'd already been in Wales, and that meant that we had just made the journey back into Shropshire.

We stopped for morning tea an hour or so later in order to take on water and to prepare ourselves mentally for our first locks. We needn't have been concerned, not only was the process exactly as simple as advertised, the friendly folks from nearby boats lurking about the lock were very encouraging. We should have been more concerned about accidentally dropping one of our mooring pins into the canal, something that would have been vexing if the water was more than about two feet deep, but instead was an amusing opportunity to send Mrs. Owl for a swim while I ineffectually poked about with a boathook.

We pulled in by an old broken railway bridge (it would have been bridge 10W) for a late lunch and then immediately set off after the rumours of afternoon tea at nearby Whittington Castle. The rumours turned out to be true, so we availed ourselves of fresh cherry scones and a decent pot of tea before a quick peek about the ruins and a ramble back to the boat.

Up until this point I'd managed to cleverly avoid steering duties by virtue of hiding at the front of the boat, but after having foolishly wandered to the rear I found myself dragooned and ended up neglecting my photographical duties in favour of manning the tiller. Some folks were trying to sleep, but I quickly fixed that by endeavouring to hit any and every obstacle that the canal-side presented me, so I doubt that I'll be asked to drive again and time soon.

We pulled in for the night after bridge 64 (the numbers reverted back at the Frankton Junction, an arm of the river that we hope to take on the return journey if things go to plan) just before it started to bucket down rain, yet another of the close escapes from the English weather that we've becoming used to on the journey. After a hearty dinner and a short worship service led by Phil on guitar, we've decided not to play a game (there is a first time for everything!). Though internet and phone access is extremely limited, the TV reception is apparently uninterrupted, so my cabin-mates are spending the evening watching Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince while I type away to you.

Safe voyages.