Monday, June 26, 2017

NABO News Ch'man's Col

In the Chair, June 2017

In the Chair

Don’t rush - explore the places where you moor

NABO Chair, Stella Ridgway says make the most of your overnight stays

This is a shortened column this month and I have not been able to attend many meetings, so others have stepped into my place. We are still well-represented within CRT and I am due in Birmingham next month for a meeting with the Trust. I will let you know the outcomes in due course. If you have any issues you would like me to raise, please let me know.

My illness means that we cannot cruise as we would like, but the compensation is that we are moored on, in my opinion, one of the prettiest canals in England on the edge of the Peak District. The Cheshire Ring is closed at present, with the Bridgewater Canal being out of action until May. This means that we had the first flurry of hire-boats and summer cruisers going past us over the last month, with the school holidays and longer days. However, it amazes me that we see them go up towards Whaley Bridge and Bugsworth Basin and come back about three hours later – enough time to wind. It is such a shame that boaters don’t factor in at least one or even two nights in this amazing place. It is Britain’s largest inland port, recovered by volunteers for use by boaters; I think they miss its fascinating history. So my advice to everyone is to plan overnight stays in different places. Manchester, for instance, is a brilliant place and, if you stop in Castlefield Basin, it is only a short walk to the Roman Fort and to the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry, which offer a fascinating glance into Manchester’s past and to the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution. So my advice is to plan your cruising with lengthened stays, and if you come to Manchester, I can recommend the afternoon teas at various places, although ‘Cloud 23’ edges it for the fantastic views of Manchester and its surrounds.

The Bridgewater Canal was built to bring coal into Manchester, halving the price of coal and enabling the huge mills to process the cotton, wool and other raw materials. The canals enabled all that in their day and they now provide a green corridor and a sense of wellbeing to all those who use them. So I urge everyone to take the time to explore the area around where you moor, and especially those canals that run through cities, as it offers a chance to step back in time and imagine the noise, the boats, the horses, and the blacksmiths and other trades that relied (and still do rely) on canals for a living.

The nights are lighter and it isn’t dark until 9.30pm up here. Although we have had some bright days, the ever-present icy wind is still with us, making boating a lovely experience. I travelled by train down to the Council meeting, and I love to see how the railways followed the canals, knowing it was the canals that enabled those railways to be built. We use these same canals today predominantly for pleasure rather than trading, although trade is increasing as companies discover that having goods travel by boat saves warehouse space.


In the Chair April 2017

‘Bring Out Another Thousand’

NABO Chair Stella Ridgway gets ready for some springtime maintenance

Spring has finally sprung here in the Peak District: the birds are busy building nests; the wild garlic is sprouting; lambs are being born and the ducks and geese are mating loudly. My daffodils opened this week, the sun shone, and for the first time this year we didn’t need to put the engine on to charge the batteries as the solar panels had enough sunlight to charge them. We have noticed an increase in boats passing as folks take their boats out for a weekend cruise or start a spring journey. This is the time of year that the boat gets a good spring clean, although I am still waiting for the mud to dissipate before clearing the floor and scrubbing it. Muddy towpaths and dogs equal a constantly muddy floor and I have been pushing the mud around the floor all winter. We have two Labradors who love swimming, so towels to dry them off are constantly drying, no matter what the weather.

In the Chair February 2017

Home comforts

NABO Chair Stella Ridgway offers some tips for liveaboards

I hope everyone had a lovely Christmas. We certainly did, as my eldest daughter surprised me by arriving from New Zealand for an extended visit on Christmas Eve. As you can imagine when you are surprised like that, there were many tears, hugs and laughter plus lots of catching up; online is good, but nothing like physically seeing someone.

In the Chair - Stella Ridgway looks forward

We are all ‘customers’ now

Stella Ridgway looks forward to a better service

As this is my first column as Chair of NABO, I’ll begin with a short background: I live on a narrowboat on the Upper Peak Forest Canal with my husband Chris and two Labradors. My disability prevents us moving at present and we are now on a home mooring. I may not have lived on a boat all my life, but my family spent six weeks on one after they emigrated to New Zealand in the early 1960s, and I spent my teens crewing for friends who had yachts. I didn’t know about my great grandfather until after we had moved aboard, when my Mum told me that he was born on a narrowboat in Middlewich and was a flyboatman with his brothers and father. So, in a sense I have come home to my roots and, even with my illness, we have never once thought about moving back into bricks and mortar. We love this life and the strong community we have among boaters; something that escapes you outside of the towpath and certainly one that CRT still struggles to understand.

Chairman's Column NABO News 5 November 2016

The (mostly) ups and (a few) downs of chairing NABO

Mike Rodd looks back over the last three years.

With our AGM looming, this will – sadly – be my last column as your chairman. When David (gently?) twisted my arm as he held me out over the K&A from the balcony of the pub where the Council had been meeting at Bradford-on-Avon, I (willingly?) agreed to do a three-year stint. I firmly believe that organisations like ours should be continually refreshed, and I am delighted that we have been able to find someone like Stella Ridgway to take over the reins, if she is elected at the AGM. I have so much enjoyed my time in office and it has always been a great privilege to be associated with NABO in this way. Council meetings are a sheer joy to chair, and I could not have wished for more dedicated and thoroughly pleasant and professional colleagues.