Monday, 30 August 2010

Blisworth Tunnel and the Village of Blisworth

The next stage of the canal boat "Princess" was to the Blisworth Tunnel and the village of Blisworth. The tunnel was completed and opened in 1805 after a disaster during the building of the tunnel when 14 navvies were said to have died in a rock fall. It is said that the candles from the navvies can still be seen in the tunnel haunting the waterways. 

The tunnel is 3.076 yards long ( almost two miles) and is dark, cold and damp. Mention in the book is made of "legging it", the principle of two men lying on two planks held out from the boat and by the use of the legs, walking the boat through the tunnel. The horses were walked over the hill to the other entrance. Recent times have seen the legend of a new ghost. That of Sister Mary Ward, a nurse who was known locally as The Florence Nightingale of the canals. Men get 'pinched' near the entrance and it is said that she was always 'pinching' the males. Hence the reference to Sister Mary..

At the end of the tunnel is the small  friendly village of Blisworth. Only one pub is located in the village itself. The Royal Oak, with it's white facade and thatched roof it blends into the village style. The pub serves six traditional ales along with the other beers. The food is  good and the atmosphere pleasant. A camping site is close by.

The only other hotel The Walnut Tree Hotel is situated about half a mile away from the The Royal Oak on Station Road and is famous for the music evenings. It has individually styled guest rooms which are very popular. Part of the hotel retains it's old charm with bar games. It now produces it's own news letter giving details of the forthcoming musical events. The events are usually free but you need to book a table well in advance, or so I am told.

Both of the hotels are mentioned in the book 'A Time for Living' and if you are ever in the area well worth a visit. I understand that The Royal Oak is now on facebook

Next week we will continue the journey to Warwick.

Remember to make a comment if you like.  Special thanks to Jill of Sydney, Australia who made one last week in the "Narrowboat" article and for the five star review she gave of the book.

If you have a moment to spare, run along my pages to SA  (Struggling Authors) books and read about another SA.

Monday, 23 August 2010

A bit about Canal narrow boats

"A great read and I now know what a narrow boat is" commented an American reader this last week. It's amazing that people should consider narrow boats to be 'Gypsy' type boats with a primitive interior. Nothing could be further from the truth.

In the book 'A Time for Living' rwo authentic narrow boats are written into the story line. The first one is the Queen Elizabeth the  6th from The Black Prince marina on the Llangollen canal. As rhe name implies the QE 6 was a six berth boat with two double beds and two single. As with all Black Prince boats it had hot and cold running water ( A hot shower whenever you wanted)  Flush macerator toilets (Two) Central heating throughout the boat and a fully fitted kitchen, I could go on about the comfortable seating, dining area etc but the best thing for you to do is take at look at one on The Black Prince boats  site 

  I asked for a picture of the QE 6 but Hilary of Black Prince informed me that the boat has been retired. In fact none of their fleet is older that 5 years. At the end of every season they sell off the older boats. This year they have 28 for sale, most of them already reserved and next season will start with another 30 new boats. I soppose a floating holiday flat, chalet, villa, call it what you will, fully furnished and available for a days outing, a week end or a few weeks holiday per year for less than £50,000 is a good buy. Some people obviously think so.
My second reference in the book is to a couple who have taken the canals of England to heart and live on the boat permanently. 'Continuous Cruisers' is the name given to such people who never stop more that two weeks at a free mooring. Fiona and John of the narrowboat Epiphany, last heard of on the river Don, do just that. Check them out on their site and read about their travels and life.  A couple of pictures  from them. one of Fiona and John the other the  57 foot narrowboat 'Epiphany
Tell them you heard about them from me.

Driving a canal boat along at a maximum speed of four miles an hour is a completely stress free and relaxing  pastime. The only family arguments you are likely to get is everyone wanting to be the skipper and drive the boat, which is comparitively easy if you can drive a car. Just take about ten minutes to do what you would normally take one minute to do.

 Black Prince could not supply me with a picture of the QE 6 but they did send me an interesting one of a Black Prince boat driving over the Pontcylite aquaduct on the Llangollen canal. This aquduct is over 1,000 feet long, 5.25 foot deep and is 126 feet above the river..  For the faint hearted there is a footbridge beside the aquaduct. Next week I'll discuss another 'wonder' of the canals.  The Blisworth tunnel.  Keep sending your comments, I don't print them all but I do enjoy reading them and I always reply,

Monday, 16 August 2010

More Authentic Places in 'A Time for Living'

In last week's post I commented on The Malt Shovel at Cowley and The Navigation Inn at Stoke Bruerne  This week I want to introduce you to two other places at Stoke Bruerne,
The Boat Inn, an important place in the book as Geoffrey Summers (James Bond, without the gadgets, as a reviewer of the book described him) the main protagonist, meets up with Sam and Josh, travellers on the narrowboat Princess    The Boat Inn, situated by the top lock and opposite the Canal museum has been in the Woodward Family since 1877. It has four bars, a restaurant and a bistro The restaurant is housed in an extension, and has a timber and stone barn style and overlooks the top lock of the canal.  It was opened in 1976 and has an adjoining cocktail bar.

Housed in a restored Corn Mill by the canal The National Waterways Museum is a must for visitors and canal enthusiasts. The museum shows the amazing feats of engineering that created the waterways of England. Working models, videos, pictorial  and three dimensional displays bring the 200 year old history of the waterways to life.  There is a cafe where visitors can have a cup of coffee and watch the canal narrowboats pass by and a shop where canal books and souvenirs of all types can be bought. The museum also has it's own school and runs a number  of craft courses associated with the waterways.

Mention of the these two places is on Pages 143/144 of the book A Time for Living. As with all the places referred to in these articles, comments and opinions are eagerly sought. Left click on comments below and make your comment. If you wish for a reply give your E mail address. (Note;- This will not be included in your comment and is purely for the purpose  of replying)    have a good week and please come back next week for more Authentic canal places mentioned in the book A Time for Living by Colt
 A Copy of this book can be purchased through this site. Just click on Buy the Book at the top and follow the instructions. Reviews can be seen on the Time for Living page

Friday, 6 August 2010

Authentic places in 'A Time for Living'

Since the book 'A Time for Living ' was launched just over one month ago I have had a few comments regarding the places mentioned in the book. Particularly those that line the banks of the Grand Union canal.
Accordingly I have decided that a picture of the establishments, for those people who have read or are reading the book, or are even contemplating buying the book (please) may help them to put that little bit of reallity into it's place.
The first restaurant/ pub mentioned in the book is The Malt Shovel, at Cowley. (Page 134)  A 19th century building, where two of the main characters enjoy an evening meal. You will have to read the book to find our more about the place, but a picture may help.(Opposite)
There are many such places along the canal where you may visit and be sure of a warm welcome. Whether travelling by boat on the canal or just a visitor to the area. In summer the tranquility and sight of the pleasure boats moored or passing the The Malt Shovel will be a memory you can treasure.
The next place mentioned in the book is Stoke Bruerne, a small village with a big following. Here there are two public houses and a Canal Museum. This a very popular place for visitors of both the canal variety or tourists. The first public house The Navigation Inn is mentioned on pages 143 and 152. A picture of the Inn is opposite.
More pictures and details of the many establishments mentioned in the book will be posted during the next few weeks.
If you would like to make a comment on these places or on any other aspect of the book then please don't hesitate. Left click on the word comment at the bottom left of this page and you can make a comment in the place provided. All comments will be approved before posting.
Now let's have lots of them.

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Women Today

From the title of this weeks blog you may think I am going to be disparaging about women. Far from the truth, I love all women, including my wife, amend that last line, especially my wife  Looking through the TV times today I noticed yet again that Films, TV shows and sitcoms reflect the asttitudes and opinions of the day. Let me explain . Being as old as I am I can remember a time when women ruled the world. Not officially of course, but they were the power behind the leaders of the world and were revered, adored, admired and respected by all the male population ( there were minor exceptions of course, but then there always was) Remember, men walked on the outside of the pavement so that the ladies dresses wouldn't get muddy from the passing carts. Holywood films always showed the car stopping, the man getting out and going round to the passenger door, opening it for the lady and assisting her out of the car. Women were showered with diamonds, furs and the latest dresses(When we could afford it of course) and in the home, women were the bosses.My mother, God bless her. was the model for the character of Norah Batty in 'Last of the Summer Wine' My aunt was the person they based 'Mrs Bucket' of 'Keeping up appearances'
My other aunt was the mother in 'Bread' These sit coms were true to life and reflected women's role in society and the attitudes of that generation. Look at a TV show today. You have a quiz where two people  work together to amass a large sum of money and then cheat like mad so that the other person doesn't get any.  See what I mean. No, women were the rulers and then came "Equality",  burn the bra brigade,.and women gained a new freedom and lost all the ones that made them great   'Sex in the City' another example of the attitudes today. Such a shame. Men stopped proposing and started propositioning. The terms 'wives and husbands' became politically incorrect and the word 'partner' was substituted.
I am pleased to say that in my house, I am the boss. I make all the major decisions like should we bring back capital punishment, should we pull out ofAfghanistan whereas I allow my wife to make the minor ones, like, what should we spend our money on? where are we going for our holidays and where are we going to live? Yesterday, for example I allowed my wife to take me to the last day of the sales to buy some much needed clothes. We came back with two summer dresses. No, I am the boss in my house and now I'll have to leave this blog to get back to my writing. I just have to wash the dishes first and iron a couple of shirts.

Incidentally, due to popular demand,  'A Time for Living' is now available on Kindle