Browsed by
Author: Michael Tyler

Owner and main contributor to the michaeltyler.co.uk, a site about my travels and day to day life on the canal.
Dodford -> Brockhall

Dodford -> Brockhall

I used to call it ‘Muscott’, but it’s much closer to ‘Brockhall’ than the deserted village of Muscott.

One of the residents, or I assume it was one of the residents, accosted me whilst walking through the hamlet of Brockhall 2 nights ago.

Brockhall busy body

The road across from Brockhall to Long Buckby is what’s known as a ‘gated road’. It’s a rural kind of road with free roaming cattle and two gates or cattle grids at either end.

This road takes in the lost village of Muscott, skirts across a couple of hill tops, then goes through the hamlet of Brockhall.

Brockhall itself used to be home to a large manor house, Brockhall Hall, which due to lack of an heir, was sold off in 1969 and re-developed over the course of time into a set of self contained flats.

This large manor is set opposite Brockhall Manor, a large and still functioning farm operation, with a few thatched crofters cottages set in between.

Brockhall Northamptonshire
Brockhall Northamptonshire

Just prior to these cottages is the gate leading toward Buckby and the canal.

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Covid on the socially distanced cut – Dodford Meadows

Covid on the socially distanced cut – Dodford Meadows

Continuous cruising rules are back in operation, meaning I have to move. The boat, not my personage.

I’ve moved 2 stops down, skipping my usual stop in Weedon Bec.

I decided that the excess of pedestrian traffic around that area was probably best avoided at this time.

I’ve moved a little further to this spot which is closest to a village called Dodford. I call it Dodford Meadows.

I’m moored opposite Canna Mead Wharf‘s boat crane. Sometimes they lift the odd boat out here to do a bit of work on.

They have a day boat for hire nowadays, but no website.

There used to be more boats moored up here. Some of them appear to have moved off.

From 2017

I took this picture at the end of 2017. Actually, I’ve been here a few times.

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Covid on the Cut – The 5th degree

Covid on the Cut – The 5th degree

Living the lie.

Watling Street is a route in England that began as an ancient trackway first used by the Britons, mainly between the areas of modern Canterbury and St Albans using a natural ford near Westminster. The Romans later paved the route, which then connected the Kentish ports of Dubris (Dover), Rutupiae (Richborough), Lemanis (Lympne), and Regulbium (Reculver) to their bridge over the Thames at Londinium (London). The route continued northwest through Verulamium (St Albans) on its way to Viroconium (Wroxeter). The Romans considered the continuation on to Blatobulgium (Birrens) beyond Hadrian’s Wall to be part of the same route, leading some scholars to call this Watling Street as well, although others restrict it to the southern leg.

This is a picture of Watling Street today. As you can see, it’s one of the UK’s busiest trunk roads, and it’s almost completely empty.

The embankment you can see on the left is the Grand Union canal is it snakes it’s way around the Nene Valley.

Back to work

As a key worker….

This time I’m working in conjunction with a testing program for willing participants who wish to know if they are, or have been infected with Covid.

This is one of the largest and most important studies underway into the COVID-19 virus and will transform our understanding of the infection. The University of Oxford is delighted to be the Study Sponsor.”

Professor Sarah Walker, University of Oxford

“Understanding more about the rate of COVID-19 infection in the general population, and the longer-term prevalence of antibodies, is a vital part of our ongoing response to this virus.
“This survey will help to track the current extent of transmission and infection in the UK, while also answering crucial questions about immunity as we continue to build up our understanding of this new virus.
“Together, these results will help us better understand the spread of the virus to date, predict the future trajectory and inform future action we take, including crucially the development of ground-breaking new tests and treatments.”

Health Secretary Matt Hancock

It’s an invitation only program, run by one of the Government agencies, the ONS.

If you want to read more about this testing program you can read about it on the Office of National Statistics website.

My job is to submit completed test kits to the lab in Oxford.

I drive in my car and talk to participants, do a swab with them. I have to record some details on my phone about them and their symptoms, if any, in the last 2 weeks.

I then have to return completed swab samples to a courier who drives them to a lab in Oxford.

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Covid on the Cut – May the 4th be with you

Covid on the Cut – May the 4th be with you

Now into my forth edition. 8 Weeks of solid lock down.

I’ve grown tired of the whisky….

The thoughts of it’s aftertaste are no longer a comfort.

Fresh brood of signets. Grand Union - Stowehill.
Fresh brood of signets. Grand Union – Stowehill.
View across Nene Valley toward Flore from the Grand Union Canal
Freshly ploughed field. Nene Valley toward Flore from the Grand Union Canal.

Increase in wildlife on the canal during lockdown

Other areas of the UK urban and city are increasing in terms of returning wildlife, the following area’s of the cut are seeing a re-surgence.

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Covid on the Cut – Grade 3

Covid on the Cut – Grade 3

Now into the third fortnight, sixth week of official lockdown figures.

Whisky

I have taken up drinking whisky. Under the circumstances, it seems like the only sensible thing to do…

Over the last 3 weeks I’ve bought the following single malt whiskies.

Cardhu Gold Reserve – £25 (Tesco)

Cardhu Single - Gold Reserve
Cardhu Single – Gold Reserve

After checking online reviews, I bought this one whilst in Tesco.
It’s a single malt, Speyside, 12 years matured.
The reviews seemed mostly positive at a quick scan whilst in the aisles…
Getting it home, I felt the packaging a bit bulky maybe even a bit tacky. Overstated may be a better word…
After a few sips, I found it a bit sweet, less smokey, complex flavors, a bit more up-front. Made it a bit more-ish, but I don’t think I’d buy it again.
Bit of a novelty perhaps. Not sure why it got all the good reviews. Glad I got it on offer. Not something I’d pay full price for.

Marks and Spencer Speyside Single Malt – £30

Marks and Spencer Speyside Single Malt

Got this one from the Independent’s top 10 Single Malt Whiskys Guide.

Initially, I was quite impressed with the strong flavor. It’s quite strong and heady and it does have that lingering smokiness and smoothness which seems to be the hallmark of most of the Speyside whiskies out there.

I’ve not finished this one yet. It is quite strong, flavor and alcohol wise, it’s not something you’d drink in a rush. So it’s still around.

Aldi – Glen Marnoch Highland – £17.98

Aldi - Glen Marnoch Highland

This one is one of three single malts sourced exclusively by Aldi.

Like many Aldi items, the quality is surprisingly good, better even than higher priced similar products.

In fact, having tasted all three single malts that Aldi currently sell in store, I would say that they are a better, more satisfying whisky.

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Covid on the cut – Part 2 – Moored in Flore

Covid on the cut – Part 2 – Moored in Flore

The day after I arrived at the last village, Nether Heyford, I received an email from Canal and River Trust informing me; ‘due to Covid, you won’t be required to move your boat until 14th April at the earliest‘.

All leisure boaters have been instructed not to visit marinas, or take their boats out.

All in all, that makes for a pretty quite canal….

Moored in Flore

I moved the boat down to somewhere called Flore. With it’s views across the valley, magnanimous phone and TV signals, and ample parking, it’s truly a boaters delight.

When I get down there, I’m shocked to find just one other boat moored! The rest are at Weedon waterpoint 1/2 mile down the road, between the sewage farm, A5 and railway. Ideal really. Silly me…

Their loss is my gain…

View across the valley

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Covid on the Cut – part 1.

Covid on the Cut – part 1.

Time for the next edition of my bi-weekly journal.

Effects of Covid virus

  1. No more work: Yep, work is cancelled. Walking around different parts of the East Midlands knocking on doors…. bit of a no-no.
  2. Panic buying: Lot’s of products have sold out in the stores. Both big and small stores. At different times, I’ve not been able to buy; milk, biscuits, nan-bread, toilet roll, hand wash, porridge oats. Porridge oats are like gold dust.
  3. My plans have all been cancelled. I was planning on moving the boat to a new area, which would require the help of a crew, (to make it less boring, easier and fun). As a direct result of the virus, many of my crew members I can’t expect to attend.

Apart from that. Life is continuing pretty normally.

On my last day of work. I met about 2 ppl who claimed to be self-isolating out of about 100 addresses. Around the 2% mark.

They’ve been very slow to roll-out the tests in the UK. I heard on the radio today, tests take 48 hours to come back from the lab.

Slow to act

In China, they had those hand-held scanners and the HAZMAT suit clad medics trying to analyse the spread of the virus. It the UK we have nothing, at least that doesn’t involve a laboratory.

Perhaps if Donald Trump had been less belligerent toward the Chinese, they would be more willing to share their expertise and knowledge in reducing their domestic cases to 0.

Those days are gone I guess.

Western governments seem to be doing their own thing. Mostly due to the relative sizes of the health sectors and the power of the governments in motivating policy decisions.

Breaking the rules

Apparently, the Parisians were still frolicking on the banks of the Seine, and the Italians deliberating over the wordings of terms like ‘exercise‘ and ‘essential‘ when the public place bans were brought in in those countries.

Today, on the first day of the spring equinox, marking the first day of spring, UK residents were packing out the UK parks and markets, and taking trips to the Scottish Highlands with campers full of supermarket horded goods to self isolate.

The Yellow Jackets of France are still holding their demonstrations on the streets of the capital.

All in all, it seems like a much more unruly mob to control than in China, where a) the government wields real power b) people are genuinely scared of those powers.

In the UK, they’re even talking about mounting a legal case against the government for late action against the virus.

I don’t think you’d see that happening in China.

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