Thursday 12 August 2010

East is east and west is west

Freshly returned from holidaying afloat on NB Dalriada (NB = narrowboat - official designation for a 6'9" wide canal craft!) with a good, relaxing time had by all.

The journey started at Kirkintilloch, Dalriada's home base, nicely situated at the mid-pointish of the top pound of the Forth and Clyde canal (pound is the bit between locks - top pound is the flat on the top!) The top pound goes as far as Spiers Wharf and Maryhill Locks in Glasgow, so we basically started a few miles from Glasgow.

Destination: Falkirk Wheel - which is a spectacular feat of engineering, and, on a windy day, a fantastic opportunity to get your boat blown embarrassingly off course in a busy basin with hundreds of Japanese tourists photographing it. We avoided the embarrassment this time - not too windy, and wriggled into the wheel!

The view from the top!

We then journeyed the 32 miles to Edinburgh - right into the heart of the city. Plenty of braid weed (which ties up your propeller and stops the boat going or steering), and fun and games having diesel pumped into the boat and certain waste fluid products pumped out of the boat - these things can never be done quite when and where you want. Plenty of interest in Dalriada - she still says that she comes from Gloucester, which is quite a haul at 3mph from the Union Canal.

Now Edinburgh - where do we start...? Mary and I met here as students nearly 25 years ago. We know the place pretty well. Even some of the more 'interesting' bits that we sailed through have strong memories (Wester Hailes...)
asically, we love Edinburgh a lot, and it was wonderful to be there. But after the boat passes through and we disturb the water, or we visit the castle, or have a pizza at Mamma's in the Grassmarket, a little later there's no trace of our visit. We are all transient visitors.

So I loved this permanent footprint that the Union Canal builders left behind them in 1821, on the sides of bridge 61, just before you go back into the Falkirk Tunnel.

The left hand face is looking towards Edinburgh - smiling! The right hand face is looking towards Glasgow - grimace. Or is it that you pass the grimace as you go towards Edinburgh, but are greeted by a smile as you return to Glasgow. Hmmm. Take your pick of the preference for east and west.

But I still tend to read the Scotsman rather than the Herald. A dangerous admission for a clergyman in Argyll???


  1. Just so long as you read the Dunoon Observer as well.

  2. I do indeed - some fine ecclesiastical reporting in that fine paper! Also the Buteman, of course - a slimmer read!

  3. And you'll continue on good terms with your organist if you maintain that Edinburgh bias - tho' I'm not sure about his wife!