The Journey -
Aaarrgghhhh!! This is from an internet caff. It will be in bits as I've just spent half an hour typing an e-mail to you that got trashed at the last moment!!
I'm here in Eisenhuttenstadt, as planned, for the winter. However, due to canal stoppages on the Dutch/German border, we have not yet been to Poland. This we plan to do earlyish next year, getting back to Holland/Belgium/France for next winter.
The journey to here was very good. The Mittleland not nearly as bad as we had been promised. The Mecklenburg lakes better than promised. The waterways and lakes around Berlin MOST surprising - there is oodles of them!!
I have a good piccie of the Elbe aqueduct which will be with you shortly.
My effing computer system is still down. It does everything right until the Demon computer replies, when the line gets dropped. Is it me or them? I've spent a fortune on international telephone calls to the Demon help lines but have got nowhere. It is sooooooo frustrating. I also have the horrible feeling that I'm letting folks down - disappearing just as things get exciting.
I'm doing this from an internet caff, but I only have a terminal. The server is locked away, so I cant get at it, so I can't copy stuff from a floppy disk to an e-mail. I have lots of photos and slides off at the developers, but they should all come back on a CD ROMs, so hopefully I'll have some really good photos for the web site. The slides should arrive in the next week or two. I'd hoped that the photos would have been here by now.
Fanny continues to be a delight to be with. She has a doggy friend here.
I've already started on a piece about life in East Germany, and I'll have the last few months cruising to catch up on. Hope you got the newspaper cutting.
And this is the newspaper cutting mentioned:
(The following is a rough translation of the piece that appeared in the "Oder-Spree Journal" section of the "Markische Oderzeitung" daily paper on 20th October 2004. It was translated into English by a German English teacher, and Bill tweaked it into better (hopefully) English. The bits in italics correct mistakes in the original and enable the piece to read properly.)
Two so-called "narrowboats" have moored in the Mielenzhafen harbour, and will also overwinter here. One boat belongs to the Scot Bill Davies and the other to Mike and June Brockway from England. They were transported piggyback across the sea (across the Channel) on bigger ships. Narrowboats are special boats. They are between 5 and 20 metres long and only 2.10 metres wide. Small boats such as this have worked on the English canals for more than 150 years, carrying coal and other cargoes. Today, (they are used) mostly by pleasure craft and holiday makers who cruise the extensive English canal system. Built for transporting goods, they are now rarely used for this, although some potteries in Stoke-on-Trent for moving porcelain from one warehouse to another. There are still some transport companies that use narrowboats.
The decline of the narrowboats started with the expansion of the British railway system. The canals deteriorated because of the reducing volume of cargoes and reduced maintenance. Private organisations worked on the restoration of the neglected system.
The narrowboats are narrow because the English locks are only 2.20 metres wide, reports Bill Davies. Narrowboats were the homes of the boatmen and their families - for them, their boat was their house. Parents and their children lived in a tiny cabin about 2 metres by 2 metres in size (about 2 metres by 3 metres, actually). They were small in order to leave plenty of room for the cargo. These cabins were kitchen, livingroom and bedroom in one. The table and the parents' bed folded away into cupboards. There was a (coal) stove for heating and cooking. Due to the cramped conditions the British Government (eventually) decreed that only three children could live with the parents in the cabin. The children slept together on a wooden bench - big enough (just!) for two adults to sit on. To prevent the fathers from sleeping too close to their daughters there had to be a folding door between the sleeping spaces of the parents and the children. (This "door" is more like a flap and is only some 20cm by 30cm.) Bill Davies called this the British Government anti-incest door. (He most certainly did NOT!!! He called it "The British Government Modesty Door".) It is there on the "Cambridge". (The reporter mistook the town of registration - Cambridge - for the name of the boat - Rosy.)
Bill Davies has more space on the boat for he travels along with his dog "Funny". (She is NOT called "Funny" and never has been called "Funny", though it is a good name as she is, often extremely funny.) But he says that he is still looking for a woman. (I don't know that I would put it quite like that.)