Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Rallentando

Yesterday I was paid a surprise visit by The Bullfrogs, Dave & Ann on Rallentando. They are on their way around the Thames ring. Haven’t seen them for ages.

It was nice to see you both again!

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

A man with taste

Someone wrote to me a couple of weeks ago about my blog this is what he said,

Hi I have read your blog from the start (over a period of a few days) 'excellent' is a word I seldom use but..... that’s what I think of your blog! Always entertaining, sometimes eye opening and usually informative ... keep it up.

I want some of what he’s on!

 

 

 

 

 

Cheers mate cheque is in the post.

The Bridge

This is the first public viewing of one of the two control panels that will be used to operate the Thrupp lift bridge from the 5 of July this year. In a word it’s ‘kinhuge! How has this got a low visual impact on the environment? Having seen inside the box this morning I can tell you it is half empty and so doesn’t have to be half that size. Well done BW!DSCF4711

The control panel couldn’t be simpler from an operating point of view but is an engineering clusterfuck. I find it difficult to understand why arrows were placed on the instruction plate and not simply the operating buttons. It is easy to see what to do, there are only two operating buttons, bridge up & bridge down and one panic button, so why is there a screen with instructions. The screen is because BW think we boaters are thick. What I see here is British Waterways trying to make something simple look flash and important. It would have made more sense if they installed a bubble gum machine.DSCF4709

This project will have cost £20,000 maybe as much as £30,000 quite a large lump out of anyone’s meagre budget let alone a cash strapped government department. The last time this bridge had a technical operating upgrade it cost 1 shilling and sixpence, that’s 71/2p, when they changed the pull rope to a pull chain.

This was not a necessary project the cost of this could have been reduced in one of  two different ways, 1. they could have used the same system that was used in Banbury. A manual hydraulic pump which could have been installed in a week at the cost of a couple grand. or 2. the cheapest options 50p for a bullet to shoot the idiot that broke his legs jumping off the raised deck that started all this in the first place.

British Waterways

combo

Engineering excellence since the twelfth of never

Monday, 28 June 2010

Bridge update

At long last things seem to be moving on the bridge front. The control boxes have been installed . The access to the operating panel is now in the wrong place and the route to be taken now involves stepping over a  small wall. According to British Waterways it has taken a long time to get the bridge sorted because they are making sure they get what they want (hence all the rework).

Well all I can say is if this is what British Waterways wanted they have no right being in charge of a bubble gum machine let alone our waterways!

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There is a second panel on the other side of the bridge, it can just be seen in the top left hand corner of the fence in the picture below. I didn't see the point of  a close up as one ridiculously large box wrapped in a tarp looks much like another.

I cannot believe that British  Waterways were able to do this to a listed structure without the Planning Department getting involved.

This box is supposed to have a low impact on the environs of the bridge. It is a travesty! No a tragedy!!!

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Caen Hill Flight

Once again the Caen Hill flight of locks on the Kennet and Avon Canal in Wiltshire is closed. A pair of gates have been damaged, this time irreparably. by a boat. The section of the flight from Lock 22 and 24 will be closed for up to two weeks while the gates are replaced. A £500,000 program is under way to replace 16 of the gates on the flight of 29 locks. The work on the gates at lock 23 Foxhanger will be brought forward. A BW spokesman said ‘The work should take two weeks’.

I cant imagine what was happening that allowed a boat to damage these 2 ton solid oak gates.

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Wild flowers

Down at Annie’s Tea Rooms Tim had a bright idea. Place an old plastic boat on the forecourt and fill it with flowers, wild flowers. I was expecting  dandelions, celandines and daisy’s, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. What has arrived is a spectacular display of fantastic weeds.DSCF4634DSCF4652 DSCF4651DSCF4647DSCF4643DSCF4641DSCF4638

The Pied Wagtail Family

Tucked up in the eaves of the Thrupp water point are a family of Pied wagtails. There seems to be 3 chicks.

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Thursday, 24 June 2010

Pay & Display

The car park at the Jolly Boatman was continually being used by bridge hopping boaters and walkers. Both groups it seemed would never venture in to buy a beer. The owners have now been forced to take action because the car park often appeared full some customers would drive past and go else where.

A pay and display machine has appeared. It costs £1 to park for three hours, however if you go into the pub with the tear off portion of the parking ticket that £1 is taken off the bill. Personally I think it should be £3 which is about the price of a pint here in the south.DSCF4562

It still doesn’t stop non-customers parking there, and as long as they don’t over stay the three hours they will avoid the ‘Denver Boot’ but what about someone who sits at the bar all night, his ticket is still only valid for three hours. Does he get a ‘Denver Boot’? Will he be allowed to get a Taxi home because he is too drunk to drive himself.

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That yellow bit in the middle what does it say?

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Creature from the deep?

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Far from it this little chap was hatched just yesterday under the hedgerow outside my boat.DSCF4582

Norwegian grads

This group of Oxford grads from Norway decided to celebrate the end of exams by taking a boat out. They were all dressed pseudo sailor (haven’t seen that before well not in the last hour anyway) for the event. A couple of them came and chatted and asked sensible questions like “What is a good thing to do so we don’t upset the locals?” “Well no sp***ing is a good thing” “We didn’t do that, it has taken 7 hours to get here” Well you cant argue with that its about 4 hours normally.

I took photographs  on their cameras and this one on mine. All in all they seemed a very nice bunch of guys.DSCF4551

Then the beer kicked in about 10 ish. There have been reports of drunken  yobs dancing naked in the pub garden at the ‘Highway Man’. Just about every village resident was later awoken by drunken yobs, young children woke up crying. It was suggested that they should go away and sleep it off. Well that only meant they moved back to their boat, where on the way they were banging on boats, rocking them on the gunnels and being very noisy dancing naked on the towpath! In general being very disrespectful to their host country. The mêlée (?) continued well into the night.

The waterway system needs hire boaters. Hire boaters such as these need to let off steam but they should also know where to draw the line!

Many resident sent emails of complaint to the hire Company and all received this ‘well crafted’ reply from College Cruisers:-

“ apologes for the disturbance we will continue to try to do our best to maintain harmony”

What’s an apologes?

The reply went on to say

Thank you for your enquiry
regards Charlie and Carys (www.collegecruisers.com) 01865 554343
if you wish to confirm a booking  blah … blah … blah …blah … blah … blah

So no personal touch then? Am I surprised? Not one bit!

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Smoke anyone?

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No more

I am going to stop talking about speeding boaters. I am going to stop asking speeding boaters to slow down. I will stop asking private boaters if the need mechanic to fix the throttle that seems to be stuck in ‘bloody fast’, and I am going to stop asking hire boaters if they missed the bit where they said, “ slow down past moored boats”. The truth of the matter is you have to be here to see what is happening. No amount of writing is going to paint the right picture.

From now on I am going to store up my ‘distemper’ for the day when the Oxford Canal is all but impassable then I will say, to the likes of Granny Buttons when they come this way and complain about the state of the banks,” I told you so”, and you can bet I will say it more than once.DSCF4536

This mooring pin, not far from here, is actually in the towpath because the bank is crumbing away.

Bad mooring?

The Anglo Welsh boat PALLADIUM was moored outside the Jolly Boatman on Saturday night. PALLADIUM had earlier given an amazing demonstration of how not to drive a boat following a very high revving turnabout at Aubrey’s Lift Bridge and an audio exercise in paint scraping down the side of SANITY AGAIN (Bruce and Sheila were not happy).DSCF4509 On Sunday morning Chris from Wren’s Nest came down the canal heading for Dukes Cut. We thought this was strange given that the plan was to reverse up to the lift bridge and turn to head north. “There is someone moored on each side of the  canal at the bridge and I can’t get through'”, he said. “I’ll get through”, says Bones, “you just have to push him out of the way”. JUNIE MOON was on a fourteen day spot and PALLADIUM it would seem had moored opposite. On closed inspection PALLADIUM’s ropes had been untied and he had just drifted through the bridge hole. One of JM’s pins had been pulled and ROWAN’s rear pin had been taken out of the ground. Bones skilfully aided Chris to manoeuvre back along the canal and squeeze through the narrow gap.DSCF4515

And pop out of the other side of the bridge like a cork.

Monday, 21 June 2010

SCARY

This is a great forum. I don't think I would want to work with some of these guys.

Blackbird

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Boating aristocracy.

We had a visit from the boating aristocracy this weekend. Sue and Vic arrived after a tortuous journey down from Banbnury, no not tortuous for them but for us. We have waited a whole week for the arrival of these esteemed folk, who seemed to travel one lock a day. After over-nighting at the Rock Of Gibraltar moved only a few hundred yards to Bakers Lock keeping us in suspense for yet another day.DSCF4500 When they finally did arrive on Saturday SANITY AGAIN appeared at the same time.DSCF4519DSCF4502L-R Vic & Sue NO PROBLEM and Sheila & Bruce SANITY AGAIN

We had quite a gathering in the Boat Inn Saturday night which while sporting England pennants across the bar doesn’t have a TV Hoorah! Martin and Anne on BLACK BESS also showed up during the day and joined us in the pub.DSCF4507L-R Bones, 8ch, Moi, Anne & Martin, Vic & Sue Bruce & Sheila.

We accepted an invite to Sunday lunch with V&S aboard No Problem in the evening.DSCF4532

And of course the Arisdogracy DSCF4529Lucy & DSCF4522Meg

Saturday, 19 June 2010

In response to Granny B

Well said, Andrew!

Andrew you are welcome to come here and check out how I tie my boat up, it is so tight it only moves a few inches. If the ropes slacken off I retie them. However I am on a hard edge with rings and don't expect to move much but when my boat lurches hard and plates fall off the table you can bet your ass bank damage will be done along the way. Damage BW doesn’t have the money to fix!

This is not about how fast boats pass me, its about if they are passing me at that speed what damage are they doing to the soft bank further up? They will almost certainly be ripping out pins.

The vast majority of speeding boats passing here have just come off the Thames, they are probably out on their annual two week punt and are trying to do the 'ring' in record time or have not allowed enough time for the journey they planned; or they are going on to the Thames and are rushing because they have decided to include Lechlade on an already packed itinerary, all of which are damaging to a very fragile narrow canal.

There are many places along the Oxford Canal where the bank is eroding. The original edging has mostly collapsed into the canal (some because people will insist on running engines in gear whilst moored). This has the effect of keeping boats from mooring at the edge (often 3-4 feet away), this plus the collapsing bank means that fast boats have a greater effect as they pass along this very fragile narrow canal.

We often see visitors boats across the canal because their pins have been ripped out by speeding boaters, in fact we generally recover the boats and secure them again. There are dead water fowl and fish probably due to speeding boaters. Are you saying, Andrew, it is OK to kill ducks and fish and to damage the banks to a point where it is getting dangerous to walk along this very fragile narrow canal? I certainly hope not!

If you talk to 'The Considerate Boater' you will find that he was with me in Aynho Weir Lock last year when a boater behind complained that I was going too slow, so it is not like I am asking people to do that which I don't do myself.

My friends idea is that maybe these people just don't know the rules, that being the case they should be informed, its a helpful thing to do.

Summer Run's point was that because people passed him at speed it was OK for him to go speeding past us. What he was doing was punishing us for the faults of others. Not fair is it? I wonder what his excuse was for running his engine at 07:30 on a Sunday morning.

Whether people like online moorings or not is not a deciding factor on how fast they should go. There is a limit, there is a reason for the limit, if the reason no longer exists then the limit should be changed. In the absence of BW having the staff to 'police' the canals properly then we should all put in our two pen'orth. If no one says anything before you know it the canal will become a race way.

Boaters that destroy the bank and kill wild life are simply not nice people. We live in different times the canal has a different use and at nearly 250 years old we need too look after this very fragile narrow canal. As for the return of traditional cargo boats, Andrew, in your heart of hearts you know that just ain’t gonna happen!

Friday, 18 June 2010

DOH!!!

This is from Waterscape the BW site exactly as they wrote it.

British Waterways are currently working on improving the way bridge 211 operated by installing an automated push button system.   From July 2010 you will require a BWB watermate key to operate this bridge.  There will be keys available to purchase from Annie's Tea Roomat Thrupp, however this will only be during normal opening hours.  Instructions on how to operate the bridge willbe on the operating pedestals at the bridge.

If you check your maps it is bridge 221 not 211. Would I buy a used car from these people?  NAH!!!!!!!

We here at Thrupp are at a loss to find anyone who wants to have this bridge desecrated except of course BW who seemingly have little respect for the waterways they are charged with looking after.

Flora

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Oh so bright!

If you cant see this one coming you must be blind.DSCF4473

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Nicely hidden

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Another victim to speeding?

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Had to share this!

A man died and went to heaven. As he stood in front of St. Peter at the Pearly Gates, he saw a huge wall of clocks behind him.
He asked, 'What are all those clocks?'
St. Peter answered, 'Those are Lie-Clocks. Everyone on Earth has a Lie-Clock.
Every time you lie the hands on your clock will move.'
'Oh,' said the man, 'whose clock is that?'
'That's Mother Teresa's. The hands have never moved, indicating that she never told a lie.'
'Incredible,' said the man. 'And whose clock is that one?'
St. Peter responded, 'That's Abraham Lincoln's clock. The hands have moved twice, entire life.'
'Where's President Obama's clock?' asked the man.
Obama's clock is in Jesus' office.
He's using  it as a ceiling fan.

Oh dear!

The most annoying thing is that the speeding boater doesn’t know that he is causing this damage to the bank or just doesn’t care!

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Wednesday, 16 June 2010

St Edwards Lift Bridge

This is St Edwards Lift Bridge, 238, it is normally chained and locked in the up position.

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This is the first time I have ever seen it down. St Edwards School have a key so they can take pupils across the canal to teach them to shoot guns in a field. This whole scenario begs several questions.

1. Why are children being taken to an open field and taught to shoot guns? I was always under the impression that owning a hand gun was illegal in this country so what is the point of teaching potential Taxi drivers to shoot!

2. If this bridge is to be used to cross the canal then shouldn’t BW ensure that the bridge moorings are kept free? I was on a 36 ft Day boat and couldn’t moor up properly to operate the bridge.

3. Given that this is a locked up bridge shouldn’t the school provide someone to operate the bridge when they deem it appropriate to leave it down?

4. If I use my boat pole to hold the bridge open, and the bridge stays open when I remove it, should I pull it down or leave it up (it is very easy to reach)?

One final question:-

5. When you are in the country you should leave farm gates etc how you found them, should this rule apply to this bridge?

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

English anyone?

I have been accepted to start my English degree at Ruskin College Oxford this year (you may remember I put it off last year). While my medical and course interview are valid from last year my obvious literacy skills (why else would I have been accepted last year) are subject to a test.

Ok, I can do a test, but the company who provide the test is called bksb (not my lowercase); they can't even manage to capitalise properly, so who are they to judge?

Given that colleges are populated by well respected experts in their field, why do they have to go to an outside agency for this kind of test? Are these people not among the best educators in the country and, by default, among the best testers?

My problem now is it doesn’t matter if I understand a question, if I do not understand why it is being asked, I cannot formulate an answer.

Monday, 14 June 2010

Hurrrummmmppppphhhhhhh

It becomes so annoying when the bins half a mile either side of this one are emptied every week. I am beginning to get fed up of telling the council that the bin men are failing to get this bin.

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Two wrongs don’t make a right.

At Heyford on Friday I was chatting to Chris Wren on his boat. SUMMER RUN passed, me thinking it was a bit fast, but I didn’t say anything. Half a boats length past us we heard his engine speed increase as he sped up, still passing moored boats. So I now I THINK he is an arrogant git. I left Chris and walked along the towpath back to the boatyard, even with my gait it took me sometime to even come level with him. So passing him at his excess speed I thought I would mention it, after all maybe he didn’t know he should slow down past moored boats. The conversation went like this:

Me: Excuse me Sir but you are going a bit too fast for passing moored boats.

Him: I don’t think I am my friend.

Me: I am not your friend and you are going way to fast.

By this time he was speeding through the basin.  Only God knows what happened to his water skier.

He moored up in Thrupp on Saturday. I passed his boat at 07:30 Sunday morning his engine was running. I still think I have reasonable cause to THINK he is an arrogant git.DSCF4409 Today he came past the wharf, our wharf, like a bullet!

Me: Excuse me Sir you are travelling way too fast.

Him: People pass us at speed all the time, my friend.

Me: That doesn’t make it right. Please slow down and I told you last week you are not my friend.

He turned his nose in the air waved his hand like he was batting away a fly and continued. Now I KNOW he is an arrogant git and an arse to boot.

That bloody bridge

After writing an email of despair to BW about that bloody bridge I received this diatribe that is ‘supposedly’ from the designer.

The technical solution is a departure to how we would normally automate bridges. We have tried very hard to minimise the visual impact.

And design a system which will be user friendly, quick to use, and relatively cheap and easy to maintain. I appreciate that the system appears overkill compared to how the bridge is currently operated, however, because the system involves an external power source and a PLC controller, it has to comply with various statutory regulations under UK and EU law. Normally, bridge automation under BW current standards would require far more disruption and cost i.e. a 3 phase supply, a large kiosk with control panel and HPU in addition to the user pedestals. Due to the bridge being classed as an accommodation bridge BW are not required by law to install wigwags and barriers.

The bridge control system is confined to two pedestals which are relatively unobtrusive, and a hydraulic ram which is installed in a pit below ground and hidden from view. The mechanised scheme is considered to be the most efficient means of providing safe operation and is an inexpensive solution in the scheme of things.

The time period for a boat passing through the bridge should be little more than the current manual operation in time (perhaps another minute or two). However, the benefit is that a single boater can pass through in safety by being able to operate the bridge from either side of the canal using the available moorings on either side of the canal. Currently, boaters rely on helpful bystanders because the moorings either side of the bridge are on opposite sides of the canal and this could take more time if the area happens to be quiet or people are busy. If they use home made bridge operating sticks, ropes etc, these are neither safe nor good for the bridge which suffers deterioration each time the deck is dropped causing damage to the abutment and the bridge.

Single boat users will find the mechanised operation useful since they will not need to look for people to operate the bridge for them, although social interaction is not necessarily excluded from the operation. Whilst many boat users will enjoy using the manual bridge, the manual effort may be too much for some and these people will probably enjoy operating the new mechanised bridge. By removing the manual handling aspect of bridge operation, the risk to the public and boat users of associated injury is reduced. BW are trying to upgrade all assets to ensure they meet minimum safety standards and assets which have a record of injury are top of the list.

What a load of sphericals! A poorly written, ill informed, full of ‘flim flam’ justification for spending a shed load of money that would be better spent elsewhere.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Oopsie!

Ok so I got it wrong. I simply saw the top section of the blog which is the readable bit. Blogger has some new features some of which I like some I don’t. Unfortunately its not the sort of thing you can hurry as I did. Its sorted for now but I think I will review it a bit later.

Ciao

Vicky’s post

Vicky and her family hired out nb UPTON from Oxfordshire Narrowboats a month or so back. We met back in April when I was taking my boat to Heyford for a week or two. I did get to ask her about the holiday which they thoroughly enjoyed. They are still enjoying the holiday as can be seen by this picture below. They live not far from Bradford on Avon which is where our K&A base is located. She sent me an email last Thursday.She says

Hi Maffi I hope you are keeping well. I am still really enjoying reading your blog (even my husband is an avid reader now)! :) I love the pic of the owl.

We visit Bradford on Avon often as it is only just over half an hours drive away and it is brilliant fun sitting on the bench at the lock by the wharf.

BOA10 She also took some pictures of our new arrivals being craned in at the Bradford wharf which I shall post later.

PS it was July, Vicky

Friday, 11 June 2010

Woe is Bones!

Last night found us in the hospital. A small cut on her hand 10 days ago started to itch this week and yesterday morning her wrist went red and as the day progressed the redness progressed, up her arm. During a visit to her doctor she was told if it gets any worse go to A&E. After some umming and ahing it was decided that it was worse and we set of for an on call doctor in Cowley and then to the JR A&E where it was decided that they would keep her in. Nothing to worry about just a precaution. Woe is Bones!

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Another progress report

The Ram end box has arrived back. . .

DSCF4300 . . . nicely machined to fit. . .

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. . . inside the bridge. . .

DSCF4335They have even done the steel plate with the proper screws and non slip.DSCF4336 The Ram had to go back to day because it was wrong. We are no closer getting the job finished.