Old Friend RV Belgica returns

We had a very large visitor to the Wet Dock today. It looked like a military ship but not quite, if you know what I mean. I dashed to get my camera to take a few shots. By the time I had the camera, and the right lens, to hand, it had moved and I couldn’t see it fully from our balcony. I rushed into our bedroom which is a bit nearer the water’s edge and, through the window, got some great shots of the ship turning before tying up.

I felt that it looked familiar so I went onto my “nerdiest” web site – www.shipspotting.com where it turned out I had already see this one – RV Belgica. If you go there and have a look, you will see that I only have one shot and it is one of the ship alongside the quay. This image is dated 1st September 2012. We only moved to the Waterfront on 26th August that year so it shows that I was keen on the goings on even then!

OK, RV Belgica,  pennant no. A962, is a Belgian research vessel which, although privately owned, is crewed by naval personnel. Check out the web site as it has a live video feed of the Wet Dock. I managed to get it as it was turning. It is a very tight fit across the Wet Dock but it managed it very easily.


For those interested in the nuts and bolts of the ship here are some close ups:

A962-craneA962- radarA962- mast

Lastly, here is the ship in all her glory.


Different Little Boats around the Waterfront

Suddenly, there seemed to be a lot of unusual boats around.

We start with a Police boat. Now, we are used to Border Force cutters but I have never seen a motor boat decked out in police colours before. Obviously, I know of the Metropolitan Police having their Thames division but this is a bit different.


It seems that, on that day, the police and the Border Force caught some illegal immigrants  further up the Orwell towards Felixstowe. More details can be seen on the Ipswich Star website with some further details HERE.

A couple of canal type barges have also arrived (although these look a bit big for most canals).



Lastly, Spirit Yachts have a couple of their builds sitting in the Marina.



(Excuse the quality but these last two are from my phone and considerably enlarged as they are moored on the other side of the Wet Dock).

Lastly, I noticed that the Thames Barge Centaur was moored by The Cult cafe. This is an irregular visitor so it is nice to see it back with us.centaur1

To end up, I was fascinated to hear a saxophone playing when parking the car the other afternoon. Suddenly, Victor was moving past with a lot of passengers on a trip up the river listening to a fine three piece Jazz band. What a great way to spend an afternoon. Here is a short video of them passing whilst listening to a great rendition of “Sweet Sue”. (Sorry about the wind noice but it has been extremely windy along the quayside recently).

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SUf7jzn1UIE?rel=0&w=560&h=315]

Ipswich Maritime Festival 2018 – Fireworks

This year they changed the way that the fireworks were to happen. Firstly, as a new thing, there were to be some fireworks during the day (??) and then the evening firework display moved to Saturday from Sunday.

Firstly, the daytime fireworks were OK. There were, as I understand it, mostly coloured powder. The idea seemed to be to fire it up and let it drift. Anyway, this is what it looked like.


It was OK but I understand that some of the coloured powder fell on some yachts. Nice Try.

The evening fireworks were as dramatic as ever. It is always worth seeing. A lot of money must go into setting it all up. People are starting to gather


Then, the big event starts. Watch the slideshow and then the video.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=of6Ze01REoc?rel=0&w=560&h=315]

Now, we look forward to next year’s festival.

Maritime Weekend – Introduction

This year, the Maritime weekend was organised into areas. These comprised the Market Zone, by the entrance to the Waterfront from Stoke bridge; the Activity Zone which was further down around Isaacs and the University; the Entertainment Zone which stretches from Neptune Marina down to theAurora Restaurant and Bar. I managed to visit all three of the areas on Saturday morning before it all got very busy as, last year I got caught in my wheelchair amongst a solid group of people around the Old Customs House and one person got very difficult will me for “being in the way”. I didn’t go over to the Island as that was the site for the annual Beer Festival and 11am was a bit early for that.


There was a land train from Stoke Bridge down onto the Island. This met up with the “free” foot ferry that was going between the Customs House and the island, making a nice round trip if you were so inclined. My wheelchair was a bit low on power when I started so I wasn’t keen to go on to the Island, in any case so I didn’t follow up on these. I may go out tomorrow and see if I can make the round trip with my wheelchair. Maybe!

Anyway, I took nearly 100 photos and a few movies so I will split these blog posts up into individual posts that cover the areas as described above.

Ipswich Maritime Festival 2018 – Activity Zone

Ipswich Maritime Festival 2018 – Market Zone

Ipswich Maritime Festival 2018 – Entertainment Zone

Lastly, there are a few images that don’t fit into the above so here they are:

Firstly, one of the entertainments down at the Stoke Quay end. Pemberton and Hague – a vaudevillian circus act (it says in the guide book).


Secondly, a couple to show how the boats in the Marina have been decorated up for the occassion.


Lastly, a couple to show that there is still some way to go in the regeneration. These are part of the Paul Building.IMG_4478IMG_4477

I am going out again tomorrow so I may get some different views of things.

Ipswich Maritime Festival 2018 – Entertainment Zone

Entering from our apartment block, the first thing that you notice is the level of security. The guards are checking all bags and rucksacks. This is good, except they missed putting someone on the end of the slope from the Podium! Never mind, they are very much in evidence everywhere else.

The Entertainment Zone is that part dedicated to fairground rides and food.  First off you come to the rides. (As there are so many images, I have done them is small slide show blocks.

My wife still talks about the Waltzer at the fairground – before she met me. She always talks about Del Shannon and the boys on the ride pushing the pedals and making the girls scream. Well, here is a short video showing that not much has changed!

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=96OlaYQAw64?rel=0&w=560&h=315]

The rest of the zone was pretty much like the Food Weekend earlier in the year. Lots of different types of food available. At the early time that I was there, there weren’t many takers but it got very busy later on.

The themes through the festival was “Pirates” so there was much dressing up and “ooo” “arrr”  going on – remember “Talk Like a Pirate Day“? (Still time to join in – 19th September, this year!). here is Ipswich’s own Jack Sparrow:


He was suitably “drunk” even at this time of day – although not much was slopping out of his mug – boo. The usual amenities were, of course, available.


Radio Suffolk were managing the stage. At this time of day, the audience were sparse but the singer did a good job.


It will probably get rowdier as the day goes on.

Ipswich Maritime Festival 2018 – Activity Zone

All long from Coprolite Street down to the Customs House was marked as the Activity Zone. The majority of the presentations here were demonstrations of old crafts carried out by people if appropriate dress. I think that it was a brave attempt and very well executed. As I was gong round, I found many children engrossed in the topics. I had a couple of conversations as well.

First off was a lady demonstrating how to make wool and to drill holes without power.


The following stalls were all of a similar ilk so I have put them into a slide show.

I had an interesting discussion with a chap making rope (all set up for children to have a go). We got onto discussing making aerial runways in the Scouts (and bemoaning the fact that they can’t do the things that we did all those years ago). I also had a nice little demonstration of some interesting mugs which had secret feeds so that you could persuade your drinking partner that they were drinking less than they thought (presumably so that you could cheat them out of something).

Getting round to the Customs House, there was a very pretty girl making very large soap balloons.


In fact, she was so good at it, I took a video. (This video includes footage (hah) of the hand lathe from earlier).

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IGwlj-aqAwM?rel=0&w=560&h=315]

One really nice find was a chap playing a concertina on one of the ship theme stands. As I play one myself I had a conversation with him. He had a very nice 1925 Jeffries 48 button instrument, on which he played “Danny Boy” for me. I bemoaned the fact that my 1878 Lachenal had only 20 buttons so was more limited than his. Oh well – sigh.



On the way back, I found some areas that I had missed.




Ipswich Maritime Festival 2018 – Market Zone

The Market Zone is the place where you will find all of the charity stalls and the little booths selling this and that. Cushions, t-shorts, Turkish delight, sticky face glitter and so on. Before I put the slide show together, I would like to highlight a few stalls that I thought were special. Firstly, there was the very pretty girl selling face glitter.


I asked her how long it would stay on. She told me until the evening but she hatted taking it off as it was stuck on very hard.

Sometimes you regret asking people to smile for the camera! Everybody does but some have to be a bit… well, you know – grin.  These were definitely into the spirit of the day!


At the entrance to the Waterfront, at Stoke Bridge, there was a very impressive balloon sculpture – that is the only word for it.


The pinkish stand behind is that of VIP Balloons, a Suffolk based balloon company. He was busy making creatures out of balloons – more in a minute – but he told me that he had made the sculpture. Nearly 1,000 balloons went into its making. He was a bit worried that it might be damaged overnight but, evidently, there was a security guard posted there all night. Good job, too! When I got to his stand, he was busy making an animal for a young lad so I got the video going.

Again, there was so much going on that I have to make a slide show to get everything in.

On the way back, I picked up on some of the things that I had missed earlier in the day. Evidentaly, the skeleton was a “guess the names of the Bones” competition!


The Maritime Weekend is nigh -Thames Barge Kitty

With the Maritime Weekend starting on Friday night, the attractions are starting to arrive. Mostly, they are the mobile beer and food outlets. However, one recent arrival is one that we don’t see very often in the Wet Dock – the Thames Barge – Kitty. Dating from 1895, she is painted a bright green, which separates her from the other barges that are based in Ipswich.

There isn’t much to say so I will just give you some images of her as she sailed out today with a group of passengers enjoying a day out in the sunshine.


Each Thames barge has its own special flag – or Bob as it is known. This is Kitty’s.


Thames barges are Victorian technology so they always have lots of cast iron about them.



There is always lots of rope around as well.


We should see lots more boats of interest as the days go on and I will try and capture the best.

Crafted Classique

I didn’t get up for the 7am start (although I was actually up and out by 7.30 – unusually for me – as I had to take my grandson to Ipswich station – he has an 8 1/2 hour journey via Ely and Birmingham to get to his family holiday in North Wales!). As I left at 7.30 there were a few hardy bikers setting off. I went out later, around 12 o’clock for my trip along the Waterfront – stopping off for a nice coffee in the Aurora Bar.

By then there were a few cyclists coming back after the shorter runs, I expect.  To do the 100 mile course by 12 would be an average of 20mph which is hard to do over the Suffolk countryside. Unfortunately, unlike a race, where they all start together and the majority finish together (think peloton), the start of this is a casual affair so people leave as they wish and arrive back as and when. This means that I can’t get the shots that I like of a group of cyclists all going for the finish. Few of the participants here are time watching so very few actually power to the line.


In any case, it was more interesting checking out the facilities around The Cult Cafe. There was a small fun fair and a refreshment van selling candy floss and other fun things (I couldn’t use any close up photos as there were always children around and I try to avoid that). Here is the finish line so you can see what was around.


There was a goodly crown sitting eating and drinking.


Elmy Cycles had a support van in evidence.

bike maintenance

There was even physio available!


I wandered off to have a look at a boat that was moored up. I have seen this catamaran before but not recently.  The Humber Guardian is a coastal survey vessel – download a PDF about it Here.

humber guardian

Lastly, reporting on the work being done to the area between The Cult and Orwell Quay, they have started work in earnest now. Pity that it is to be a car park!

car park

That’s it for now. I am looking forward to the Maritime Weekend next. There will be lots of photos there, I am sure. I will have to make sure that my wheelchair battery is fully charged so that I can go all the way round the Wet Dock onto the Island to get some good shots.

Ever-changing weather – and a correction

It’s been a day of relief after the constant run of 28 – 31c days that we have been getting. Last night was even comfortable. Today, of course, it has rained. Being English we have complained for the last few weeks about how hot is was and now we are moaning about the rain!

Here are two shots from today 11.51 am and 17.16pm.



You may note that the cladding on the Winerack has increased and the scaffolding is in higher up. Also, there are lights on inside the cladding at night!


Now for the correction. I have recently got in touch with the local councillor for Holywells ward and am getting a flow of information from that quarter. She has sent me the weekly advice of planning applications so I can include anything of interest to the waterfront. This week seems to be mostly tree related so not much to do with us! However, she has corrected me on one thing. The area down from us that I thought was to be the Heritage Centre is actually going to be a new car park for the University staff and students – Boo Hiss. Just what the Waterfront needs is another car park. I know that they are necessary but that site would have been great for an attraction. The new building, which will be situated near the junction of Fore Street and Grimwade Street, will be part of the University of Suffolk campus and will be run by the county and the university together. I was thrown by the comment on the press release saying”Located within Ipswich’s unique and regenerating Waterfront,” I am not sure that Grimwade Street quite qualifies for “within”. Anyway, full details are available from the Suffolk Archives Web Site.

Tomorrow is the Crafted Classique, which starts on the Waterfront and provides three routes of 55k, 100k and 100m. Start time is from 7am tomorrow and bacon rolls are provided for the riders! I will be there to take some photos so if you see me on my wheelchair, say hallo.