Monthly Archives: September 2019

featured author – autumn 2019

featured author - autumn 2019

david robertson

Dave Robertson with his border collie MistyDavid Robertson lives close to the Staffordshire and Worcester Canal at Hinksford. He is a regular contributor for CanalsOnline Magazine, and writes with a great sense of humour, making his articles highly enjoyable. Dave has also written plays for Radio, short stories and some poetry - quite apart from being an ardent blogger.

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barbecue sauces

cookery chat with david & sandra biddle

10: bbq sauces

In July we took our planned trip and moved the boat to our new CRT mooring at Foxton Locks. The trip would usually take two or maybe three days – but we decided to do it at a leisurely pace of seven days! Stocked up with provisions we headed off early Saturday and purposely boated by our favourite canalside pub in Braunston and through the locks hoping we wouldn’t get held up.

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royal birds

royal birds

A day or two after Phil and I set off on our first narrowboat adventure, we were woken by the sound of tapping on the side of our boat. Leaping out of bed to see what it was, I opened the hatch and found a small gathering of swans waiting expectantly for their breakfast. New to this life on the waterways and very ignorant about wild fowl, I dished out some crusts of bread and, of course, the swans then wouldn’t leave us alone.

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Skip’s Waterway

Basingstoke Canal inspires new children’s book

A science-writer-turned-author is creating a new children’s book inspired by the true story of the Basingstoke Canal.

Jenny Pateman with children Emmy & JoeyIt is called Skip’s Waterway and it’s written and illustrated by Jenny Pateman, who lives near the canal and volunteers with the Basingstoke Canal Society. Ms Pateman originally wrote the book for her two children.

“My children love cycling, canoeing and exploring along the canal – it’s such a beautiful green space where they can experience the kind of freedom that is sadly all too scarce for children of today. I wanted to write a book for them that captured that spirit of adventure, while teaching them something of the fascinating history and engineering of their canal too.” Ms Pateman said. “They really enjoyed it and that made me wonder if other kids would like it too.”

Skip's Waterway by Jenny PatemanThe book is aimed at children aged 5 and up.

Jenny shared a synopsis of the story with us.

Skip from Skip's Waterway by Jenny PatemanWhen the dilapidated but beautiful Basingstoke Canal is threatened with closure, young Emma and her crew embark on an audacious expedition to save it.

The adventurers must navigate Baisey the talking narrowboat to the end of the canal at Basingstoke, but time is running out.

Along the way they uncover fascinating engineering, find an untamed wilderness and Emma even earns herself a new nickname – “Skipper”, or Skip for short.

Skip's Waterway by Jenny PatemanJust a mile from Basingstoke the canal runs dry, leaving the expedition well and truly stuck in the mud. With time almost up, will Skip and her crew find a way out of their sticky situation? How can they save the canal now?

order your copy now

Jenny is now taking advance orders for the book via her Kickstarter page. This will raise the funds to get the first edition printed and published, before it goes on sale more widely in shops and online (backers pay nothing until the book goes to print). A donation will go the Basingstoke Canal Society.

“My hope is to encourage more families to visit and enjoy the Canal as mine does, and to raise money to help preserve this beautiful green space for future generations.”

Ms Pateman says she hopes the book will be the first in a series she writes based on true stories from the Basingstoke and other canals.

About the Canal:

The Basingstoke Canal is a beautiful waterway that runs for 32 miles across Surrey and Hampshire. The canal is both a popular recreational amenity for the community and an important wildlife habitat. It was restored from a derelict state in the 1970s and 80s by hundreds of volunteers. Most of the waterway has been a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) since 1995. The Canal originally continued to Basingstoke (a total distance of 37 miles), but is not been passable beyond Greywell (Hampshire) since the Greywell Tunnel collapsed in 1932.

About the author:

Jenny PatemanJenny Pateman lives in Odiham, Hampshire. She volunteers with the Basingstoke Canal Society as Editor of the Canal Bulletin and social media administrator.

The Skip’s Waterway Kickstarter crowdfunding page is live until Wed, October 16 2019:

You may contact Jenny by email or follow her through her Facebook page.


blowing my own trumpet

old no. 38

blowing my own trumpet (under duress!)

Life down here by bridge number 38 on the Staffs and Worcester Canal is rarely very exciting. Therefore, when someone I know from Faceboat, but have never met, text me (is it text or texted - answers on a postcard please) to say, ‘We will be chugging past your place in a day or so - we’ll give you a wave as we pass,’ the temptation to invite them over for a cuppa and a digestive biscuit is too hard to resist. In fact our local, The Hinksford Arms has just been refurbished - and very nice it is too - so it would be rude not to really, wouldn’t it? Put the tea bags and Mcvities back in the cupboard Kate, we’re off to the pub.

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walking the cheshire ring

a canal wanderer

walking the cheshire ring

Over the past three years, I have walked on or off The Cheshire Ring with an intention of doing it either in a clockwise or anti clockwise direction starting at the Ashton Canal. It turned out that I walked the ring in no intended order as friends and family wanted to join me. I had opportunities to enjoy a number of return visits to the Ashton, Peak Forest and Macclesfield Canals. We didn’t literally follow the “ring” either way due to logistics i.e. transportation and in some cases we had to park the car at a nearest town and get the bus/train to the canal.

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piesse of piddle

waterside pub of the season - autumn 2019

piesse of piddle, wyre piddle, river avon

Editor's Note: We are sad to say that the Piesse of Piddle has now been permanently closed. The building will be up for sale, and may well re-open as a public house. But it will never be the same as it was under Graeme's management. Graeme, and the Piesse of Piddle will be missed by customers and villagers. And I'm sure everyone wishes Graeme all the best in his new venture in Dartmouth. We have left this article up as a memento!

graeme piesseThe Piesse of Piddle, hotel, bar and restaurant, is managed by Graeme Piesse, and it is he who is the heart and soul of the place.

Graeme is a connoseur of fine wines, a lover of fine cars and cricket, and a very fine singer and guitarist (especially when it comes to Donovan and Leonard Cohen).

Piesse of Piddle wine barThe bar area is unique and interesting, with statues and enormous plants, and giant beer barrels supporting the bar itself.

The walls display original paintings - mainly of musicians, all adding to the bohemian feel of the place. The atmosphere is relaxed, the locals very friendly and Graeme always has a small but very good selection of real ales on offer. There are guitars dotted about and with a piano in the hall, and many musicians amongst the regular customers, there is often the opportunity for a jamming session.

There is another small room off the bar, and this leads to a much bigger room which serves as a function room.

There is always plenty going on. There is a very well attended quiz night on the last Sunday of the month, a folk night on the 4th Monday of each month, and an open mic night on the last Wednesday of each month.

Live music acts are usually booked for the weekends, and Graeme has a knack of selecting varied acts of the highest quality.

Add to this the occasional live band practice and regular jamming sessions, and you can be pretty certain that you will find something to entertain you.

The hotel offers rooms with unrivalled views of the river, and the establishment has on occasion been the venue for weddings.

The outdoor space is wonderful, with a large top terrace, then a couple of smaller terraces with wild gardens leading down to the river. A brand new pontoon offers spacious moorings - perhaps in one of the loveliest spots in the country.



The Piesse of Piddle is, and will hopefully remain, a delightfully quirky, unique establishment and a wonderful place to spend a few hours or to stay for a few days - ask for the room with the four poster bed! Dogs are welcomed, as are children. And if you are musically inclined, take a guitar, a penny whistle, a mouth organ - or even a saxophone with you - we're sure it will go down well!

Graeme offers everyone a very friendly welcome to his hotel and pub. He is always ready to chat or to entertain. At the moment the pub is open from 4.30 every day except Sundays when it opens at 12.00. Food is available 12pm to 6pm on Sunday, and from 5pm Tuesday to Saturday. Sunday roasts are particularly recommended, though all the food is excellent. Rooms are available for short or long term rental, and there is a large private dining room which can be made available for special occasions - anything from Christenings to Wakes.

charging batteries

how and when should I charge my lead acid batteries?

cheap lead acid battery

be it a cheap lead acid battery 

or an expensive lead acid battery

...this article applies to them

expensive lead acid battery

Time after time I hear people say I charge my batteries for an hour or two in the morning and the same in the evening and I cringe knowing people are damaging and shortening the life of their batteries.

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David Robertson

David RobertsonDavid Robertson lives close to the Staffordshire and Worcester Canal at Hinksford. He is a regular contributor for CanalsOnline Magazine, and writes with a great sense of humour, making his articles highly enjoyable. Dave has also written plays for Radio, short stories and some poetry – quite apart from being an ardent blogger.
Dave is most famous, however, for his series of books for children. The Misty books are about the adventures of Dave’s border collie Misty and her doggie friends.
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