Day 40 – Black Jack’s Lock

Who likes ghost stories? Well, here’s one to give you shivers.

Black Jack’s Lock is near Rickmansworth. We went through the lock yesterday, but I could report nothing mysterious or supernatural. Soon after we’d passed through, I heard the tale of Black Jack.

Black Jack Lock

Black Jack Lock

He was a servant at an inn by the lock. The landlord despised boat people so he hired Black Jack to stop night time toll evasion.  Black Jack stole windlasses from the boaters and hid them in a hollow tree. Then he threw them, along with stones and clumps of earth, at people who went through the lock.

The boaters were understandably NOT friends with him. In the end they murdered him, that was the consequences of his hostile actions.

But old Black Jack’s ghost still wanders the area, throwing windlasses at trees, cursing the boaters and planning revenge.

Day 38 & 39 – Romeo

IRYS

Today dad met a man called Ray.  Ray’s dog had died two weeks ago and his wife said to him that their boat wasn’t the same without their dog.  So they went to the local Dogs Trust and bought a Staffy called Nas.

Dad said that we could go there and look at the dogs.

In the evening mum showed dad and us three a photo of a dog called Romeo.  Romeo is a dog at the Dogs Trust and he really looks like Minstral.

Romeo

Romeo

ONE DAY LATER.

Dogs Trust Harefield

Dogs Trust Harefield

Today  I am going to the Dogs Trust.   So, we were walking along the towpath and we came to a bridge.  We went over the bridge and into the trees.  After fifteen minutes we came to a golf course and at the top of the golf course was a car park.  There were two people in it and we asked them where the trust was.  They said you go over two stiles and there is a road, you walk along the road until you get to a bridge and it’s a five minute walk from there.

We looked at all the different photos of the dogs, I really liked a dog called Pancake.  Gracie liked a Staffy that was white with a shaved patch on its tummy and it was deaf.

I also liked Romeo.  He was a boy and he had to go to an adult home only so we couldn’t get him.  Dad said that male dogs aren’t as faithful as female dogs.

Once we’d finished looking at the dogs we got to stroke Chestnut.  He was a puppy that was up for adoption.

After that dad asked if they had any young female dogs.  They said that they did have one, it was a Trail Hound. It wasn’t on show because it hadn’t had its assessment yet.  One of the people showed us the dog, visitors weren’t usually allowed there but we were special.

The trail hound was bred for hunting and this one was very energetic.  Dad said that it could smell a sausage a mile away and it would be off and it wouldn’t suit our lifestyle.  It could easily run away because the farm isn’t fenced off.  The lady said they are very greedy and they really like meat.

This is a different Trail Hound but she is up for adoption too

This is a different Trail Hound than the one we saw but she is up for adoption at  Harefield too

 

Day 39 – Denham Deep Lock

EVAN

Denham Lock

Denham Lock

We went through Denham Lock, the deepest lock on the Grand Union Canal.

It’s 11ft 1″ or 3.4m deep.

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It was very rough with white water.  It took about five minutes or less to fill.

Going up in the lock

Going up in the lock

We held the rope whilst the boat was coming up.  There was also a young man with a cruiser in the lock.

Holding the rope

Holding the rope

The lock was built about 200 years ago.

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Looking down

There  was also a cafe at Denham Lock called Fran’s Tea Room.

 

Day 39 – My Very Own Clay Pipe


My Find!

My Find!

GRACIE

Evan, Irys and I went off to build a den in the woods. We snuck along the towpath and found a way in.

We came across a stream which we had to follow for a while until it was shallow and narrow enough to cross. Then Ev and Irys jumped and I pole vaulted it.

Deep in the forest Evan began to build a shelter. He collected leaves and logs and lots of other natural materials. Meanwhile, Irys was trying to build a bridge out of sticks and mud.   I decided to try and forage some food. Evan spotted a puff ball, which unfortunately was not the edible type, but we added it to our emergency store.

I got some nettle leaves that I snacked on as I dug. What was I digging for? Worms! I pretended they were wiggidy grubs, one has got to use their imagination sometimes.

Whilst rooting around in the rich soil, my stick struck something hard. I pulled it out and cleaned it with my hand. It was not a stone and it was an unusual shape, a small cup with a long thin stem. Both the stem and the cup were hollow, but the stem was snapped.

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I studied it closely, it looked a bit like a smoking pipe. It was made of pottery and had a black smear on one side of the cup. I thought it was a burn mark. I put it to one side, not overly excited, then resumed my search for grubs.

When I returned home I showed it to dad, he said that I’d found the bowl and part of the stem of a Victorian clay pipe. I was amazed. I did some research and found out all of this info about clay pipes.

Clay Pipes

Clay pipes originated from the Native American tribes. When the first English pioneers went over to colonise America, they soon got into smoking these long, delicate pipes.

They took the pipes back to Europe and the craze soon spread. At first the bowls of the pipes were small and short, because tobacco was so rare and expensive. As smoking became more popular, the size of the bowls grew and the demand for tobacco got stronger.

The size of the bowl helps archaeologists find out how old the pipe is. The smaller the older.

In the 1640s the pipes had flat heels ( the little stubs at the base of the bowl). They had these up until the 1690s, then the flat heels were replaced by longer, pointier ones. Mine is an older one because the heel is completely flat.

Fact: It is very rare to find the bowl of a clay pipe so I was very lucky, but it is even rarer to find a complete pipe.

Did you know that many potters became clay pipe makers after Sir Walter Raleigh and other mariners returned from America,  bringing smoking with them?

The burn mark

The burn mark

To learn more about the history of clay pipes visit this website that I found really helpful and informative:

http://www.dawnmist.org/gallery.htm

I am not quite sure how old my pipe is or who would have smoked it, but I would be really interested to find out. Does anyone happen to have any useful knowledge regarding clay pipes or Victorian archeology? If so, please leave a comment.

Day 37 – Battle of Britain Bunker

 

No. 11 Group Operations Room

No. 11 Group Operations Room

EVAN

We went to the Battle of Britain Bunker in Uxbridge.

In  World War 2 the bunker was responsible for co-ordinating the air defence of London and the South East.  It was called No. 11 Group Operations Room.

There were three others in the country, this is the last remaining one.

73 Steps down into the bunker

73 Steps down into the bunker

The Plotting Room was the most important room.  Britain used radar  to spot incoming German planes.

In the Plotting Room was a big table with a map on it of the coast of France and the South East of England.

Operations table

Operations table

Women worked in pairs around the table.  One would find out where the enemy was and mark it on the table with blocks and arrows. The other one would put blocks on to show which squadron had been called up to defend Britain.

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At the back of the room was a big board called the Black Board.  It had lights on it to show what squadrons were fighting.

The Black Board

The Black Board

On September 15th 1940 Winston Churchill visited.  Whilst he was there all the lights on the board were turned red.  Churchill asked if we had any planes not fighting, the answer was no, every pilot and every plane were involved in battle.

As Churchill stepped out of the bunker he said “Never in the field of human conflict has so much been owed by so many to so few”.

That was the most significant day of the battle.

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The Hurricane

The Hurricane

Spitfire

Spitfire

Treasure Island Part 2

The pirates!

The pirates!

After watching ye olde pirate film, Treasure Island on Irys’ birthday, we decided that the story wasn’t quite complete. Seeing as Disney never made a sequel, we did it for them.

With a supply of sticks as swords and guns, knives with blades made of tin foil, a bit of spare change as doubloons and gold, some leather belts and a whole lot of enthusiasm, we set of to make Treasure Island Part 2.

Evan took the role of Long John Silver, the notorious pirate, Irys was Jim Hawkins, the young lad who aids him in his mischief and I, I was Ben Gun. Ben Gun is the mad pirate who Long John marooned on treasure island. I was also Evan’s imaginary parrot, Captain Flint.

We performed it on the towpath with Loon as our pirate ship.

The cast

The cast

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It’s Great To Be Eight

It's Great To Be 8

It’s Great To Be 8

IRYS

(Irys started off writing a song, then turned it into a poem and ended it more like a diary entry!)

IT’S GREAT TO BE 8

It’s great to be 8,

taking more opportunities and responsibilities ,

Oh yeah, it’s great to be 8.

I woke up in the morning and realised this moment won’t come again.

So I wanted to make the most of my time.

My mum told me I don’t look the same, I soon realised I was in a new stage of life.

So you see what I mean when I say, when you’re 8 it’s great.

The opportunities are like a conveyor belt coming past and you should take them all and learn from them all.

Museums, zoos, anything you can think of.

When you’re 8, you have more freedom.

It’s great to be 8.

McDonalds


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EVAN

The time had come, we went to McDonalds for dinner.

We're looking forward to this.....

We’re looking forward to this…..

I thought it would be nicer than it was.  I definitely could not eat it every day like lots of other people do.

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Mum’s food is way better and nicer.

I do not see why lots of kids rave on about it.

I had a cheese burger, chips and a milkshake.  If you know me personally one thing I was not impressed about was the amount of food!

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I give McDonalds 0 out of 5.

Not so impressed

Not so impressed

This is what GRACIE had to say:

I was excited about going to McDonalds, it was something I’d really wanted to try for ages.

The food was not that great though.

Tucking In

Tucking In

IRYS  said that she didn’t particularly like it and wouldn’t go there again.

I'm NOT Loving it

I’m NOT Loving it

Day 31 – Birthday Celebrations

We went to my Grannies to celebrate my birthday.

Arriving at Grannies

Arriving at Grannies

When we got to Grannies I saw that Granny had put up Happy Birthday banners with a photo of me underneath and lots of balloons.

After lunch Nanny and Geoff came and we played some games.  My favourite was Pictionary.

Then we played Beetle.

Me playing Beetle

Me playing Beetle

We played in two teams. I was in a team with Granny, uncle Sean, dad and mum.

You had to roll a dice to get different parts of your beetles body.  The first person to make their beetle shouts “BEETLE” and everyone has to stop.

The other team playing Beetle

The other team playing Beetle

You then have to add up your scores.

Mum's Beetle card

Mum’s Beetle card

After we’d finished the game we had my birthday cake. It was a chocolate cake and around the edge were pink, blue and yellow icing dogs.  On the top was a black French pug!  Nanny made my cake and Geoff moulded the icing.

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The icing pug

The icing pug

Blowing out my candles

Blowing out my candles

I got stuck in and ate my cake really quickly.  It was delicious. Thank you Nanny.

I thoroughly enjoyed my birthday celebrations.  Everyone made me feel really special.

Day 30 – Waterstones


Late in the afternoon, just as the sun was setting, we headed into town. We trudged along the Edgware Rd, turned left onto Oxford Street, onto Regents Street and finally entered Piccadilly Circus.

Piccadilly Circus

Piccadilly Circus

Here we spent a couple of pleasurable hours,pleasurable for me anyhow, in Waterstones. I went through stacks and shelves of books and more stacks and more shelves of books. Typical me, I acquired quite a large pile. Alas, I could only have one book.

Books galore! Books books and more books!

Books galore! Books books and more
books!

After many minutes of dilemma, I took a thick book that went by the name of ‘Picts and Martyrs’.

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For those who have never had the pleasure of being acquainted with the  wonderful series of which this book is part, well, it shall be a great joy to introduce you.

Swallows and Amazons: children having adventures. No magic, no fantasy, just real life, normal children, no supernatural powers. A group of friends and allies who all share a love for two things: boats and adventure!

They sail out to deserted islands and camp there without any adults. They catch fish and cook it over fires. Then they climb mountains in the Lake District and plant their flags on the summit. These are children just like me.

My favourite ever book character is their leader, Captain Nancy Blackett. You see there are many groups of children all who meet up year after year. The Swallows: Sailors. The Amazons: Fierce pirates and wild warriors. The D’s or Picts: A scientist and a writer.

Nancy is captain of the Amazons. A smart and cunning young girl . It is she who comes up with all the battle plans and adventures .

If you have read Swallows and Amazons or seen the film, let me know who your favourite character is. If you haven’t read or watched it, be sure to. For those who haven’t, who is your fave book character?

Waterstones is a great bookshop. They create a really fun colourful atmosphere that encourages people to read. I don't need any encouraging, but my brother does. He really doesn't like reading. Even he found something he's now really enjoying!

Waterstones is a great bookshop. They create a really fun colourful atmosphere that encourages people to read. I don’t need any encouraging. Evan found something he’s now really enjoying!  Irys liked all the nature and animal books.

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Irys liked the look of this one. She's put it on her wish list!

Irys liked the look of this one. She’s put it on her wish list!

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Family selfie