Monday, 31 March 2008

Fenny Compton

Sue & Vic winded at Napton I sailed on by. Stopping at the shop for sugar and washing powder. Unfortunatley while there three boats came by and set off up the flight. All the locks should have been set against me but the other boaters back set the locks for me which was nice, even though one by one the moored for the night the locks were still set.

On the sumit pound half way to Fenny Compton I noticed that even from this distance I could still see the windmill at Napton and at that moment I rounded a bend to come across nb HADAR moored for the night. They had planned to get to the bottom of Napton locks before mooring up. At bridge 137 just south of Fenny Compton a hire boat, nb Monaco, who couldnt work out how to stop or go backwards, collided with HADAR and got them firmly stuck in the bridge hole. It was over two hours before they were freed.

I moored at Fenny Compton in the twilight.

And finally I get to Braunston

After yesterday today was was a change for the good. I set of for Braunston in bright sunshine and fortunately returned the same way.

The trip was a bit pointless in that I didn't get what I wanted. I went in to the marina shop where I show the man what I wanted and e said, "No you should have come yesterday". What a stupid thing to say! how do you answer that. " Oh sorry mate I'll just pop out to the TARDIS and come back yesterday". Friggin' idiot!

I met Andrew Crosby (magnetman CWF) in Braunston he was fast running out of fuel and the Chandlery at the bottom lock didn't have any. Midland Swindlers were closed, ON A SUNDAY. FFS!!!

A chap who definately wasn't of this century was moving a breasted pair and trying to turn at the marina. He will win no prizes for tact. He was shouting at his wife/girlfriend like she was an idiot or something just because she couldnt pole 30+ tones of boats round. There being no wind he should have been able to get the pair round on his own!


nb LUCY and nb USK sat in the water in a sorroful state as seen here in one of Sues photos from a few days ago. Carl must be heart broken.


Back at the same mooring I had last night Sue cooked me dinner and we. Sue Vic and me, sank 5 bottles of white wine and flapped our gums for what seemed like allnight. She'll have a sore head in the morning. Ho hum! as Sue would say I would say!



Nite Puddles XXXXX

Monday and it's away time

I was right Sue had a bad head this morning and she blamed me! After a suitable interval to clear her head she came to view Milly M with Ann & Chas.

Anns dog Molly thought it would be a good idea to heave her dinner on the back deck. Thanks Molly.

All three boat went their separate ways just before lunch.

Sunday, 30 March 2008

That bloody petition

The APCO by the very existence of their petition are trying to create division and an underclass in the boating world.

Let me say the APCO can't even get the terminology right. We are not Continual Cruisers we are Continuous Cruisers as mentioned in the Notes for Mooring Guidance and those notes leave no one, but the nit-pickers, in doubt of their responsibility as a CCer.

They are relying on mis-information and what appears to be out and out twisting of the facts.

They use two different sets of conflicting stats to make an invalid point.

In one paragraph they claim that house holders pay £2000 council tax and £2000 pa for their mooring and in the next paragraph say moorings cost on average £1500 p.a. Council tax has no bearing on this discussion whatsoever.

They insist on saying that most boaters want CCers to pay without giving proof. What they fail to say is that most boaters would expect their annual boating fees to be reduced if 'CCers' pay more than their fair share. Yeah rite, like that will happen. I have never met anyone who has signed the petition so who are 'most boaters'?

They complain that CCers stay moored up for long periods of time in prime locations. Well I am sorry, but to me they really mean Continuous Moorers and that is a whole different discussion.

They then go on to say that CCers use the system more than other boaters. What they do not say is that all licensed boaters have exactly the same options for using the whole system when they buy a licence. It is not my fault, nor any other CCers that some boaters cannot make full use of their licence. The going rate for 'doing' the system is fixed. The going rate for mooring up in a marina is what ever the market will pay. Two totally different things. If I paid £10,000 pa to license my boat, moorings would still cost a lot and rise year on year.

We all pay the same fee for the same access to the system. If some boaters need to park their boats in horizontal blocks of 'flats' then that is for them to deal with not me. Mooring and licence fees are not the same thing.

APCO again The average mooring now costing around £1500 per year the direct loss in moorings revenue to BW of 6,000 boats could be as much as £9m.
Two points here

1. There is no direct loss to BW. We pay our dues that is what BW ask for. The CCer was created by an Act of Parliament simply because they didn't need a mooring. To now charge us a mooring fee would need a change to that Act.

2. It does depend who you listen to but I have never heard 6000 most estimates put it around 1500 so £9 million is stretching it a bit, no a lot. However there may be that many continuous moorers I don’t know.

APCO suggest that CCers have a large letter C on their licence so other boaters can regulate them. A bit like the Jews who had to wear a yellow star on their jackets during the reign of Nazi Germany.

I am not a second class citizen and if the APCO would care to come down to the tow path I will stand toe to toe with them and explain why they are in contravention of many of the laws of this country that forbid treating any one person or group of people differently from the rest of the population.

They claim that continual cruisers use the canal the most and cost BW the most pay the least. We all pay the same. Maybe they would be happy if I billed BW each time I reported a downed tree or a broken gate problem with the system or billed them (the APCO) each time I had to teach a hire boater how to operate a lock or not to bash the gates with the bows, don’t drop the paddles without a windlass etc etc etc.

Again they say It is estimated that 75% of working time taken by Patrol Officers, Moorings Administrators and moorings wardens is taken up by the moving on of continual cruisers. Continuous Cruisers don’t need moving on we do that ourselves because we like to move. It is estimated by who?

I cannot for the life of me understand how a CCer costs BW the most. It is in our own interest to treat the system with respect. Hire boaters do not necessarily have the best interests of the canal at heart. It may be the only time they ever go boating. I once watched a 'hen night' party go down the canal bouncing off every boat shouting "Full steam ahead" like it was some kind of joke.

I can tell you of one company who send hirers out on their boats with full black water tanks and empty fresh water tanks and precious little fuel or gas. I dare say they are not the only ones. Holier than thou don’t cut it with me.

In one cleverly worded sentence they say In a majority of cases these boats are lived on and some may be of a low standard of appearance. …… Ah so is that the point? They want to get rid of the scruffy boats., but my boat isn't scruffy. Correct me if I am wrong but surely the provision of a licence requires a boat to be safe. Nowhere does it say it should be pretty.

I wonder if they ever stop to consider the effect on CCers, or any private boaters, of their members having boats moored 2, 3 or 4 deep restricting navigation of the canals (at the end of the season when they have finished milking the public). Forcing boaters to scrape their very expensive paintwork along the bushes on the offside of the canal? (in some places they leave barely enough room to pass by) No probably not, but then they are a self seeking bunch of, for want of a better word, entrepenuers who don’t care for other boaters. They would rather all boats were hire boats which would make more money for the operators.

What they should be fighting against is those boats that do not pay their licence fee at all! Those who claim to be a CCer, but have no intention of doing that. And even BW themselves who, because some boaters go to them with a sob story about not being able to find a mooring, have been known to suggest they ''CC'' until such time as they find one.

They further say Under present BW license and mooring fees a wide beam boat pays the same mooring fee and license fee as a narrow boat. This has resulted in a large increase in wide beam boats many of which are continual cruisers as in practice they get up to a 50% reduction on both mooring and license fees. I don’t know about you but I can't see a marina owner charging a wide beam for one mooring when it could put two narrow boats in the same space for twice the fee. Get real!!!

It would seem that the main reason for the 'petition' is to stop itinerant moorers from hogging all the best stopping places. I can sort of understand this but that is BW's problem not the APCO.

The APCO have a solution (well I saw that coming) All boats that do not have a permanent mooring should pay a higher rate license equal to the cost of combining the average linear mooring fee with the private boat license fee.

This means that I, and every genuine CCer, would pay (assuming 60 ft boat) £650 for a license plus £1500 (a total £2150) for a mooring we wont don’t have, for facilities we won’t get, in a place that doesn’t exist except in the heads of the APCO.

I have a few things to say on this 'solution' "Listen bucko! If I have to pay for a mooring then the 48 hour 7 day and 14 day notices will become invisible. I will moor where I like for as long as I like. I will if I choose winter moor where I like for the whole of the winter and pay nothing extra.

If the APCO thinks CCers are a pain now just wait for the fall out if their totally biased petition should be accepted, they ain't seen nothing yet.

And with that I would suggest the APCO moors their petition in that well known canal where the sun fails to lock through.

Saturday, 29 March 2008

SealSkinz

On the subject of my SealSkinz I have to write something because that was part of the deal when they gave them to me, yes gave!

As gloves go I can't fault them they do as it says on the box. It is easy to pick wet ropes out of the canal without getting your hands wet due to the layered construction. The fingers and palms are covered in little rubber dots which help you grip and when you use them to wind the paddles up and down they don’t get caught on the windlass like other 'rubberised' gloves. My only complaint is they don’t keep your hands warm, but then I don’t think they claim to do that. Once the gloves are wet your hands will be dry but cold, depending on the temperature of the water of course. Having said that, if they are dry then they are warm!

When I put gloves on in this weather I don’t expect to have to take them off to warm my hands up. However in warmer days they will keep canal water off your hands especially if like me you are a klutz and keep dropping ropes in the water.

My thanks to the manufacturers of 'SealSkinz' for letting me try their product and if they are reading this, did you notice I have lost one in the marina and another pair would be nice? Or if you happen to have an odd right hand one laying around. . . . . . . .

To Braunston

I was awake early and after coffee set off about 7.30. Most of the locks at Napton were set for me or aided by other boaters. One lady on a hire boat said, "I saved the lock for you". Apparently some Captain Birdseye type wanted to take the lock and come up after her instead of waiting for me to make the short distance from the lock I was coming out of to the lock which was then in my favour.

I wonder why when coming down the Napton flight the wind gets stronger. I have now been down twice and up once in the last week and it was the same each time.

As Wigrams Turn approached I was looking for fuel. Napton Narrow Boats had fuel but the fuelling point was blocked by hire boats. Onwards towards Wigrams I called the marina to ask if I could come in for fuel. "Wait, I'll just ask" said the voice on the other end of the line. Well by this time the wind was up and I was fighting a loosing battle trying to hold station and was blown across to the far bank where I promptly got stuck. When I got the nod I had one hell of a difficult time getting in the marina and then an even more difficult time getting on to the refuelling point. This resulted in me getting wedged stern against one boat and bow against a jetty. My bicycle was blown off the roof which had to be retrieved. Fortunately it was hanging on a centre line. My rear button resting against another boat broke a chain and nearly ended up in the water. And to top it all I lost one of my swanky "Sealskinz" gloves so now I was really pissed.

It took me some time to negotiate my way out of the marina hitting another boat on the way. Not a very pleasant visit and not an inexpensive one either. On the way in one sign said 56p another said 69p, Guess what I was charged. I would have been better off waiting till I got to Braunston it would have been cheaper.

Anyway, continuing on my way I was surprised to see nb More2Life along the towpath and even more surprised to see No Problem, Sue and Vic were, I thought, on their way up the Nene.

With the wind being a problem I decided to stop till it got better. Sue was pleased to see me. We had the opportunity to meet some while ago but it was missed. We chatted about various things including Continuous Cruisers which I am but of late I have been a bit of a bridge hopper. Coffee and cake on No Problem, then we watched the Boat Race. I will stay the night though it might be less windy in Braunston.



Nite Puddles XXXXX

And onward

We went for coffee this morning while waiting for Steve S who was going to aid Mort down to Oxford. When SS arrived more coffee was drunk and they set off dahn sauf. It was hard to say goodbye to Mort.

I on the other hand set off north hoping to reach Fenny Compton. Which, by the grace of Big G, I achieved in 6 hours. I had sunshine, sleet, rain and snow during that trip and arrived in the twilight freezing cold. Silly me for wearing shorts all day. After dinner I went to the pub, got a beer and promptly fell asleep. Doh! Long day.




Nite Puddles XXXXX

Banbury

I went up the canal this morning to meet up with Mort who was on her way down, but it was not to be, I met Keith and Jo (nb HADAR) so stopped for a chat. Lo and behold the Queen of the waterways came chugging down the canal.

Jo told Mort that there was still cake to be had if she cared to visit. We pootled down after the requisite amount of shopping was done. Mort got her cake.

We had dinner at some pub that Cromwell was supposed to have stayed at. On the way back we stopped in the Olde Reindeer for a pint of the black stuff, but it took so long to get served we left.

Friday, 28 March 2008

Wednesday

Well today it's time to move from Thrupp. I was up with the larks and cast off at eight. The two and a bit miles to Enslow took 2 hours. There was me expecting to get as far as Banbury today. There are so many moored boats progress is slow.

It was some eleven hours after leaving Thrupp that I moored at Banbury in the dark. The weather had been fair overall. Having misplaced my Nicholoson I was not sure of of exactly what was where or how far I had to go. At Nell Bridge I approached the bridge and only noticed at the last minute that there was a lock gate at the otherside. Lots of reverse power helped me avoid crashing into the gate. Seems these eyes are not so good as they once were.

Mort was moored up at Cropredy so I wouldn't see her till the morning. I settled down for a long night.

Sunday, 23 March 2008

Saturday

I rose this morning early. I was on a mission. Mort was at Marston Doles and not feeling too happy. I thought I would surprise her and help her down to Napton. I parked the car at the bottom of the Flight an walked up the towpath. A hirer on the long pound had moored up using three ropes. Two of which he had pinned in the middle of the towpath, the third he had thoughtfully tied to a tree, about neck height for me. Stupidity knows no bounds.

Its a lot further than I remember to Marston Doles. Mort was pleased to see me. After breakfast we set off down the flight. It was chilly at first then the sun came out then it snowed. Luckily people were coming up so we didn't have to do all the lock work.

At the bottom of the locks Mort disappeared to the shop at the Folly Inn while I filled nb Bones with water. On her return she dismembers the remains of the deer and the Heron. This girl is weird.

We moved to the Bridge Inn, one mile away the snow was horizontal. We had a drink in the pub and it was time for me to head home. We had a lovely day. I was sorry to leave. Ho hum!

Nite Puddles XXXXXXXX

Thursday, 20 March 2008

Mort has gone north

I was at Banbury this morning. Mort's boat was all fixed and ready to go. It was a real heartbreaker for me. I shall miss her, even though I will see her again on Monday at Napton. We cast off and she dropped me on the opposite bank. I waved as she disappeared up the canal. Maffi was sad.

I love her dearly. She is the best!

Night Puddles. XXXXXXXXX

Tuesday

I have made a few visits north to Banbury this week, well I would wouldn't I. During my visits I met up again with Tom Leary. We had tea on the good ship Bones. He suggested I do a bit of busking and said I should record the songs I have written and sell them off the boat. He even suggested that he would come and play on the recording, what a decent chap. So I will spend the next few weeks/months getting practiced and next time I go near Kim's place will record them with her b/f Jim. What have I got to loose, nowt. What have I got to gain, well I could be responsible for exercising everyone's tickle muscle.

Sunday, 16 March 2008

Sunday

Today I went to Banbury to collect Steve Sugg who had been on a trip with Mort to get her boat to Tooley's Yard for repairs before embarking on her epic voyage to Napton on the Hill.

Yesterday when I waved goodbye I thought I would not see her again for along time. According to Steve she was very 'chirpy' this morning because I was going to be there. I parked up and walked down the towpath to meet them. My heart skipped a beat as, after about a mile of walking, nb Bones hove into view. I boarded the boat at a lift bridge. I was so glad to see her and I think she me.

I don't mind admitting that I am a very sad Maffi not knowing if we will ever be the way we were.

Saturday, 15 March 2008

Ten Bob Note

Ten Bob Note passed last week on their way down the Oxford and posted this picture of nb Bones, a fine boat it is to!


Clickable

Ooops!

So excited was I about HADAR I forgot to mention Steve who came to look t HADAR's engine and was also in the pub last night and present this morning for the cake tasting. Steve is rebuilding a National 3D and writing a blog about his efforts.

The tale of his first 'almost' acquisition needs a blog entry of its own. Are you going to write it up Steve?

And there she was .... gone

Mort is finally off on her hols. I waved goodbye to her shortly after 10 this morning. She spent the first hour behind a"painfully slow couple" and only got as far as the first lock.

She will be well miffed when she finds out I spent the rest of the morning aboard Hadar eating cake.

Friday, 14 March 2008

HADAR, sinks.

There seems to be nowt easy about boats. Today I was tasked with reinstalling Morts kitchen sink. Measure twice cut once is a good watch word, but it never works for me. Even after all the cutting was done the damned sink didn't fit and when I did finally get it sealed and clamped down I did it the wrong way round. It did get finished in the end and now looks square with the edge of the surface which is something Mort didn't manage to do when she installed originally. Girls!


Late in the afternoon nb HADAR came chugging by. Mort and I spent a pleasant evening in the Jolly Boatman chatting with Keith and Jo, oh do they have some tales to tell!

Keith and Jo at the engineroom side hatch

Saturday, 8 March 2008

Too fast!

I would like to thank Oxford Narrowboats for failing in their duty to ensure that hirers understand that going fast past moored boats in not acceptable. And more to the point why it is unacceptable.

If they are in any doubt then these pictures might help!

Puling peoples pins out is a no no, but if the pins are bent when pulled out of the ground then it is or should be a crime.

Clickable

Stern pin pulled and bent.

Bow pin pulled

It's all in the family

It would seem that my propensity to banging my head is in the family. Brother Robert has been at it too!

Friday, 7 March 2008

Kangaroo Surprise!

I have been trying Mort's method of "chuck it in and cook it". I am now so proficient that I invented my own recipe 'the Kangaroo Surprise'. If you can't get hold of Kangaroo meat in your area then you can do as I do and use any meat, which is of course the surprise.

This picture uses lamb and even if I do say so myself dinner was absolutely fabulous. Mort thought so too.

clickable

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

Kim's Pics

Spring is on it's way



Reflections.



Empty Side pond in the Caen Hill Flight




Full side pond.


Work on the Flight

Monday, 3 March 2008

Picture Book

The Ice Breaker Man Cometh...


...so the pied wagtail flew.

Snowdrops at Shipton

Sparrowgap Bridge in the early morning


All pics clickable

Mini Meltdown

One night last week we went to the local hostelry for dinner as we often do. Silly me left the ash pan door slightly ajar. when we returned an hour or two later the squirrel stove was warming up a treat. Well, when I said warming up a treat what I meant was it was melting. The fire had quite aglow on the inside and it wasnt doing too bad on the outside either!

The griddle certainly needs attention.

Time methinks to get a new one!

Mail on the Move

Mail on the Move

I thought this might be a good idea, after all it says
"The service we provide is aimed at . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Canal boat owners who are away for the summer or live aboard all year round and have no permanent address".

but on its application form (which is in PDF format so is only returnable by snail mail) it asks for a contact address. Might as well stick with Post Restante, it is free init?

Sunday, 2 March 2008

In which Mort gets her trousers off

Today we went off to Redhill to a christening. Steve & Angie SUGG were having their baby, Lucy, dipped for Jesus.

The morning started off with Mort asking if I could map read. Well I am a bloke of course I can map read, I mean is the Pope a Catholic. Well apparently not, he may have been but not today. We did however arrive on time.

The service was good, a bit noisy coz it was Mothering Sunday (OK who forgot?) there were lots of kids there, but it was enjoyable despite a Kendrick song. Then we all repaired to a village hall some distance down the way in Bones Road for for some eats and drinks. And then it happened! Me and Mort sat in the corner away from everyone, mainly because we didn't want the children to get caught in the fallout if something untoward should happen to us as it normally seems to.

We were sat on a pew in what must have been an old converted meeting house when Mort let out a yelp and grimaced in pain. Something had bitten or stung her just above the outside of her knee. Off came her trousers so she could inspect the damage. While this is happening I see a wasp land on the window behind, which I assume is the culprit.

When we inspected the 'wound' something had definitely got her. "While you are there", she said, "can you take that splinter out".

A tiny little smidgen of wood is sticking out of her leg not far from the sting. I gave it a tug and out came a 2 inch splinter of which she had made no complaint. Apparently it had been in there since early this morning. (truth is if it measured 1/2 an inch I would be surprised, but she insisted it was bigger).

Mort put her trousers back on!

It could only happen to one of us. DOH!