Monday 24 December 2018

Captain Ahab goes to the movies

Introducing "Life at 2.3 miles an hour"
An experiment in the world of Vlogdom.

December 2018

The Captain Ahab Blog has been unusually quiet in the last few weeks, but that isn't for lack of activity on and around the canals. 

In between the manufacture of next season's chutneys I have been busy revisiting lots of lost canals attached to the original Birmingham Canal, which ran from central Birmingham to Balls Hill near West Brom.

You will all know of my passion for the BCN and a particular interest on the lost 60 miles.  I previously made an abortive start on a walking guide as a follow up to Richard Chester - Browne's book of the same name. However, none of these plans really inspired me till I got to talking with Kath and Anna who run the "Narrowboat Experience" Vlog channel on YouTube. They explained the mechanics behind the project and I realised that it could be a way of presenting The Other 60 miles in an entertaining and informative manner, showing what remains exist and at the same time cutting in archive pictures of how things used to look like plus maps of the old layouts.

The big issue was that the best software for the task is i-movie, and that meant moving to the dark side from PC to Mac. My trusty old laptop was dying so the moment was right for the change.

I have been on a bit  of a journey over the last 10 weeks, getting to grips with the Mac, learning to use Apple's "Photos" rather than Photoshop Elements and of course, getting to grips with shooting and producing DIY videos. The top tip offered by Kath and Anna was that if I was planning a series, to get then all completed before I start to upload them. 

I have now completed the first series of seven YouTube videos which range from 12 to 25 minutes and I will be uploading one episode each weekend for the next seven weeks. I attach a link to the first episode, which is an Introduction to the series of Canal Hunter. The Canal Hunter series will be one strand of a wider collection of waterway related videos under the banner of "Life at 2.3 miles and hour", which is our average speed of travel with the butty on the back.

I have to concede that making videos is a whole lot harder than I imagined so please overlook the fluffed lines and less than perfect edits, it is a learning process....

On a technical point I filmed almost all of the episodes on my i-phone 5, which is probably less than ideal, but it is good enough to test peoples appetite for the subject matter.

If I get positive feedback I plan to start work on season two which will cover the lost section attached to the rest of the old Brindley line from Spon Lane Junction to Wolverhampton.

If you like it please click the subscribe button and let me know what you think.

Friday 7 December 2018

A blast from the past

Llangollen trip - probably 1983

I was recently sorting through some old prints of a canal trip I shared with three friends back in (I think) 1983. I think I was 22 at the time and we hired a boat from Meastermyn Cruisers sharing the week with John, who later was to be my best man, and Rod and Rita, mutual friends from Norwich.

It was an Easter trip and we had predictably mixed weather including snow on the Middlewich Branch.

The purpose of this post is mostly an act of self humiliation to show a very young me with a deplorable dress sense!

Cords and home made jumper - not a good look!

The odd thing is the image of me outside the shower. I look so thin but I distinctly remember feeling fat all through my adolescence and onwards..... youth is wasted on the young.

I am told that at the age of 57 I still adopt the same chest out pose!

It's interesting to note that at the time the lift bridges on the Llangollen were still made of wood and activated by hanging on a chain. I even found a photo of me reliving my childhood climbing up the counterbalance beams using the twin metal braces as handholds. 

As a teenager I often used to climb to the bridges, and shut them by running on the inclined deck, and then jumping off just before it slammed into the ground. In know, I know, very hard on the infrastructure and bad form to treat BW property in such a cavalier manner- but things seemed different back then.

It's funny which episodes stick in the mind. The boat must have had a TV because we watched Woody Allen's "The Sleeper" and if you have ever seen it you will realise why the very small loo was christened the Orgasmatron. Miss World must have been showing at the time as well because Rita, being a forward thinking lady, described it as a "meat market" and John and I spent the whole week winding her up by enthusing about its delights and merits.

Seeing these old photos from 35 years ago makes me realise what an enduring role the canals have played in my life.