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Virtual BCN Challenge 2020: Day 1

Posted by alexgrehyauthor on 13 May, 2020

The Virtual Adventures of Augmented Reality Indigo Dream (ARID)

Day 1 Monday 4th May:

Every morning, Andy Tidy, one of the esteemed judges, issued a brief video about current canal conditions – today we were faced with bad weather…

Around the same time, our Team email inbox received the first quiz (Film/cinema) and the day’s challenge was to post photos of the crew in their foul weather gear – if only the challenges had stayed that simple… He also told us that Virtual Volunteer Lockies would be helping so we could go through locks twice as fast, nothing like changing a plan first thing in the morning.

1. Outline Crusing Log: Day 1




Time in

Time out


Huddlesford Junction to Ogley Junction






Ogley Junction to Anglesey Basin & Return






Ogley Junction to Catshill Junction via…






Sandhills Arm (return)




Catshill Junction to Gilpin’s Junction via…






Slough Arm (return)*

Note: we found a lock on this arm that was not on the scoresheet!




Overnight mooring at Gilpin’s Junction






2. Detailed Cruising Log

Today we visited the following waterways:

Lichfield Canal (Historic) 

Huddlesford Junction

Our starting point at Huddlesford Junction


Ogley Lock

One of the Ogley Locks – it was in better condition when we travelled through it this morning using the time machine, though we were pleased that our horsepower was in the engine bay and we didn’t have to manouvre a rope through that footbridge!

We had several opportunities to use the time machine to compare the canal in 1920 to its state today, and also to look forward to 2030 when it was fully restored. As the restored route will be different to the original route, this had to be done with care, otherwise we could find ourselves in the middle of a road or railway embankment, or in someone’s living room.

Sadly we were not able to transit the aqueduct over the M6 toll road, but we did briefly step off the boat and time travel to inspect it as it is today. We also took special care with our time settings at pipehill bridge, where the route of the canal was altered when the Birmingham to Lichfield railway was built.  We paused for a swift pint at the Duke of Wellington in Lichfield,  as the restored route will no longer pass it.

Wyrley and Essington

We made our best attempts to follow the original Wyrley and Essington Bylaws “No boat shall go more slowly than 2mph or faster than 3mph, that each boat should have only one horse, and that boats going the same way shall follow in regular order without any attempt to pass or injure one another”. Sadly we were woefully over-horsed and ARID’s engine has 42!

Ref. The Canals of the West Midlands, Charles Hadfield 1966

Slough Railway Bridge

The railway bridge near the entrance to the historic Slough Arm


Slough Arm

The entrance to the old Slough Arm is at the far left of this photo…

Gilpin's Junction 2

Google Earth image of our overnight mooring spot – Gilpin’s Junction:

Anglesey Basin

Anglesey Basin

3. Daily Challenge – dressing for foul weather

As advised, today’s weather was unseasonably brisk, but ARID’s crew are followers of Fell walker, Alfred Wainwright who famously stated “There‘s no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing” therefore we were all equipped for the conditions.

The crew are very grateful to the volunteers who helped at each of today’s locks, which meant that they could keep their hands warm in their pockets instead of clutching frozen windlasses.  The Ogley lock system uses 25,000 gallons of water each time a boat passes through so lucky for us that we’ve had a lot of rain recently so the Cannock Resevoir which feeds the Anglesey Branch and Wyrley and Essington is reasonably full!

Sue & Harmony




Breaking ice is a noisy business…

4. From the Galley

Recipe of the Day: Welsh Rarebit

Welsh RarebitHeathens refer to Welsh Rarebit as “posh cheese on toast” – pah, what an insult. This version is rich and delicious, making use of the boater’s favourite ingredient – beer!

Bread – preferably doorstop thickness

25g butter

200g Grated cheese – strong cheddar is a must, but I added some Swiss Gruyere (the king of cheeses)

1 teaspoon of mild mustard

1 teaspoon of Worcestershire Sauce (or use a small dollop of brown sauce)

4 tablespoons of beer

1 teaspoon of flour (if needed to thicken)

Toast the bread on one side – while that’s happening, melt the butter in a saucepan (gentle heat), add the mustard, sauce and beer; mix thoroughly, add the cheese and stir until melted.

Smear the melted cheese mixture over the untoasted side of the bread and grin until golden brown and bubbling.

A bracing lunch for a cold, hungry crew!

tanqueray-flor-de-sevilla-ginGin of the Day: Tanqueray Flor de Sevilla

In honour of Candied Orange Peel Day today’s gin is Tanqueray Flor de Sevilla, a spiced citrus gin inspired by Charles Tanqerary’s visit to Seville, and its famous oranges.

5. Tales from the Geistersammler (Ghost Collector)

Our unique gadget, the Geistersammler (Ghost Collector) brought us a few luminous guests this afternoon…

“My name is Elias, may I warm my hands by your fire?”

“Well, we don’t have a fire, but these radiators are warm.”

“What strange device is a ra-dia-tor?”

“These metal panels, they give off heat. But can you feel heat, being of a ghostly nature?”

“Ah, I cannot, in truth I could not when I was more vital, the leprosy made my hands numb, then my fingers withered most horribly.”

“Oh, are you not from these parts? I thought leprosy was only found in far lands.”

“Nay, leprosy blighted the fair town of Lichfield many years before my birth. Your fine boat just passed by the leper hospital, which abided there for a hundred years or more. Though the poor souls who resided there rarely lived for more than ten years. So it was when my soul left this earth in the year of our lord 1263.”

“Oh, how awful.”

“Aye, ‘twas as awful as awful may be, but I take comfort that I paid for my sins by enduring purgatory on earth. I now dwell in heaven.”

“But you’re a ghost! You were caught in our Geistersammler!”

“Nay, I was drawn to the souls in your strange device. I am an angel.”

“That’s lovely, but we’d hoped to talk to ghosts, find out more about the canal and its history.”

Ah’ll tell you some history of this blasted canal and its thrice-cursed owners!” A harsh voice emerged from the Geistersammler.

“Welcome, friend, please tell us your story…”

“Thomas Johnson I be, ropemaker. Ye’d think I’d be a rich man, yet here I dwell with the ghosts of the workhouse.”

“But the canal must have needed your ropes,”

“Need, yes, pay, no! Tight-fisted misers that they are. I’ll tell you who does pay though! The hangman! The Lichfield gallows be busy enough, I would like as not have been hung by my own rope if the consumption hadn’t choked me first.”

“Oh, that’s a terrible story, but wait a moment, there’s another ghost arriving…”

“Chewie, let’s get this bucket hooked up to the hyperdrive…”

“Han Solo! What are you doing here, you’re not from Lichfield!”

“I don’t ask questions kid. Hey you, tall guy, beard, you got Wookie skills?”


“Never mind, I never seen a diesel hyperdrive before but here we go…”

“May the fourth be with you” I muttered as I cut the link to the Geistersammler – that was more than enough ghosts for one day! 


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