1. Heavy rain and hail showers followed by blue sky as dusk approaches.
2. Rooks braving the wind and rain high in the treetops overlooking the canal.
You can always rely on rooks to show off their mastery of flight in the best and worst of the weather. I can sit beneath a rookery for ages, watching them come and go. They're intelligent too. Last night the wind must have been gusting close to 30 knots at times. It amazes me how their nests withstand all that the weather throws at them, exposed as they are to the elements. I've even seen trees blown to the ground with youngsters still in the nests coming to no harm.
16th Mar 2013, 20:27
1. High-tide fast approaches.
2. The totem to their 'Final Resting Place'.
3-6. Abandoned to the elements.
On Monday last we began a leisurely return to Gloucester to join the River Severn and make our way upstream to join the River Avon at Tewkesbury. We plan to leave the G&S; Canal in the last week of March, so we're in no rush.
With the weather forecast hinting at a return to freezing temperatures and snow we decided to stop at Slimbridge and see what transpires.
This gave me the opportunity to walk back to Purton and take a last look at the 'hulks'. There was something drawing me back to these river workhorses, which was kind of heartening in a way. Don't ask me why.
10th Mar 2013, 20:01
1. The swing-bridge stone pedestal and support either side of the canal.
2. The pedestal can be seen in the distance on the canal towpath above the river.
3. A model of the swing-bridge and an information panel on the towpath below the pedestal.
4. A photo of the canal swing-bridge connecting the railway bridge traversing the river.
5. The commemorative plaque in honour of those who died in the disaster.
Opened in 1879, all that remains of a magnificent three-quarter mile, twenty-one span iron railway bridge, that once crossed the Gloucestershire & Sharpness canal and River Severn, is the round stone pedestal that housed a steam engine to operate a swing-bridge section atop it, connecting the seventy-foot high river crossing to the main line on the east bank of the canal. The bridge brought coal for export to Sharpness Docks as the commercial viability of the canal and river as a means of transporting goods had become virtually non existent.
Tragically, in October 1960, two barges carrying petrol and oil were carried upstream on a strong tide having missed the Sharpness lock entrance in thick fog and struck the bridge, causing two spans to collapse as the second barge was forced over the first by the strength of the incoming tide. This resulted in a gas main and electricity cable carried by the bridge to rupture resulting in an explosion caused by the fuel cargo aboard the barges igniting. Being uneconomical to repair, the remains of the bridge were later demolished.
Tragically that night, five of the eight crew-members died despite heroic efforts to save them. At low tide the remains of the barges can still be seen lying in the mud fifty three years later.
It's rather sad at how uninterested people are today in appreciating our industrial heritage as they walk past these iconic testaments, blinkered, to the ingenuity of our industrial heritage and the engineers who put the 'Great' into Great Britain. Nowadays most people below the age of fifty couldn't care less.
6th Mar 2013, 20:14
This was the view across the Severn from the disused lock at Sharpness as I made my back to the boat with Gunner this evening.
2nd Mar 2013, 18:59
1. Tied-up above Purton.
2. The 'Mary' and her commemorative plaque (she is beached in the old lock basin of the Sharpness Marina).
It's as I feared, gout has returned with a vengeance, causing me to be unable to walk properly for over three weeks due to excruciating pain in my left leg and foot. I've now had to go back to taking medication as gout is just too painful and debilitating to ignore. Oh well. Poor old Gunner has been sat with his head on my lap as if to say 'I can wait'. Ginny says he would much rather go for a walk with me but only because we spend a lot of time 'off-piste' as it were.
Over the past week I have stubbornly refused to let a limp stop me from enjoying my daily walk and have thoroughly enjoyed looking at the local history of the canal and River Severn between Sharpness and Purton.
2nd Mar 2013, 16:16
Today we headed for Sharpness to finally complete the whole of the Gloucester & Sharpness Canal before making our way back to Gloucester and the River Severn.
On turning at Sharpness Marina we filled the water tank and tied up a short distance back where the Severn, at high tide, runs up to the 'hulks' beached just below the towpath at Purton.
We'll be here a few days while we explore and get a feel for the local area and its history. I just hope the sun returns to show us the foreshore and river estuary in all their glory; fingers crossed.
25th Feb 2013, 19:02
The views from wilvir late this afternoon.
The skyscapes that have greeted us here as the sun sinks to the west over the last week have been breathtaking. Stippled with flocks of birds swooping and wheeling in the dying embers of the sun, the horizon blazes with colour as the last of the sunlight appears to burst along the horizon.
22nd Feb 2013, 00:00
1. This is the western sky the ISS came out of this evening.
2. And the darker sky to the east of the previous shot, with the setting sun reflecting off the ISS as it passed 200 miles overhead at 17500mph.
We've been fortunate to see the International Space Station pass overhead here this evening. I say fortunate because although we watched her transit across the sky just a few evenings ago too, these two occasions have been the first we have seen of her for months due to the vagaries of cloud cover. Our futures are tied up in the work that continues above our heads, in more ways than one.
With two asteroids making considerable news since yesterday, it's a shame that we weren't taught a much tougher lesson on how we should all put our differences aside and work together to bring change to planet earth that would benefit us all. The cause of Armageddon mustn't be man.
16th Feb 2013, 20:07