Monday, 31 January 2011

Wide Sargasso Sea

So this weeks effort is a Jean Rhys book The Wide Sargasso Sea. They’re all bloody MAD! And I probably shall be by the time I get 1500 words down tonight. Best bit so far the metaphor of the burning parrot!51ld5UH8VEL__SL500_

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Wolvercote

This is what constitutes a 48 hour mooring here at Wolvercote. This is as close as I could get. I don’t mind it’s not much of a step really, but what I do mind is the inference that any one would want to stay here for any length of time. Or return any time soon! 2301201107024012011091

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Doncha just love this

Estimates put the UK dog population between 6.5 and 7.4 million, producing 1,000 tonnes of excrement per day.

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Dan Clacher does it again

Dan Clacher is a member of the SCBWI, that’s the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Dan you may remember writes the MUDDY WATERS series of children’s books. Already he has self published 7 books Jolly Boatman's Lesson, Poppy at the Boatshow, Pearly’s Welcome to London, Hamish & The Falkirk Wheel, Ol' One Eye's Revenge, Midsummer Milly, An Ice Surprise For Muddy up to the end of last year. This year has started with the publication of Cedric and the Bomb, an exciting story about a WW2 bomb found in the canal. This of course is a must for Muddy Waters fans to add to their collection.

cedric[1]

Friday, 28 January 2011

Bodgers

In Oxford the gas company has been laying pipes. Three weeks ago they started laying pipes in Little Clarendon Street (LCS) first week was chaos. There was no indication that the street had been closed at the entrance, but there was a sign right down the far end which meant that drivers had to reverse back out. The second week was better they put a sign up but not very clear. Cyclists ignored all signs as cyclist do and the were some fraught moments. However it is nearly finished now and probably by the time this goes up they will have gone.

At each end of LCS is a slightly raised section block paving. To facilitate cutting the pipe in, instead of lifting the paving the workers cut through it with the biggest angle grinder I have seen and the ‘repair’ is abysmal. If the highways department wanted a tarmac strip through the block paving I feel quite sure they would have put one there and not left it to the whim of a bunch of road workers.DSCF9514If this is the quality of work the gas company does I think they are in the wrong business. If this is the standard of work the Council engineer accepts then he really needs to spend some time on a dole queue to understand the importance of spending tax payers money properly.DSCF9513  This is disgraceful

Thursday, 27 January 2011

And the poetry

Fortunately the fruit basket is not required this week. Alleluia!

Isis Lock and that pontoon

The engineers have returned to make good at Isis Lock. Did they repair the bank side appropriately? well see for yourself. It looks quite nice doesn’t it?24012011084Until you look closer and you see that now the cages are not holding the  rocks properly. These units are made so that the cube is complete and all edges are wired together. That will stop this from happening in the picture below24012011083It’s not just one of the ‘rock cages’ that are faulty but several and you will notice that the nice wooden trim along the tops of the poles has gone. The posts are not in a line and the topping shows this up.24012011085Look closely and you will see that the cage under the water has collapsed. The tops of the poles are tied on with wire loops that are not holding.24012011082There is one good thing you could say about this bodge job and that is that despite the bad workmanship the end results look nice. I don’t need to tell you that BW are a clusterfuq they do a fair job of doing that without my help.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

PEMBROKE

This Is Pembroke. It’s from College Cruisers. It was out on a weekend trip along with Baliol (stag do). It has just had a new engine and hydraulic gearbox. They are moored here because they lost forward gear. What they didn’t say to CC was that they had been racing along trying to overtake Baliol when due to the shallowness of the offside they got stuck at an odd angle. Of course if you get stuck in the shallows when doing acceptable speed past moored boats it is an easy task to reverse off. But given that they were racing (there was an independent witness of impeccable character: works for God) they got well and truly wedged and consequently had to use max revs to get unwedged ergo the damaged NEW gearbox. I assume they didn’t offer to pay for the repair.16012011037

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

About an Orange

I had a date last night with my latest squeeze. Me and Bones went out for a pint and Jaffina came with us.
We were given a poetry writing task last week. 1. get an orange. 2. sit quietly with the orange. 3. think about it how it looks, how it feels, how it tastes, blah blah blah. Then write a poem. So I went out and bought an orange, I don’t like oranges!  I wrote one poem the first night before I got the orange and one last night. You will find them in the top menu. It would help if you could read the first one like Richard Harris doing Harry H Corbett as Shakespeare second one like Richard Harris doing Hamlet.23012011072This is me being sad, I think Jaffina is going to chuck me over for a Satsuma.

Don’t make me larf

I have received yet another email extolling the virtues of boycotting ESSO BP for a whole year to force them to drop their prices. This is a tactic that simply cannot work to bring down the price of petrol.

The last paragraph says

 PLEASE HOLD OUT UNTIL THEY LOWER THEIR PRICES It's easy to make this happen. Just forward this email, and buy your petrol at Shell, Asda,Tesco, Sainsburys, Morrisons, Jet etc. i.e. Boycott BP and Esso

Of course what these muppets have failed to realise is that 30 million motorists will still buy petrol and who has the petrol all these stations are gonna need to keep up with their new demand? ESSO BP will have some to spare I should think?

Unlike other products it is not illegal to put a different brand in the tin and sell say BP from a Q8 or Total garage etc it happens all the time.

Seems to me like an email harvesting scam. Doh!

Litter Bins

A while ago I spoke about the new bins in Oxford and recently I mentioned the state of Oxford and the ‘kicked in’ litter bins. Well this is one. Although to be fair this was hit by a bus.24012011088You will notice that this bin is closer to the road than the old one.. There is a good reason the old one is set back. This is at a bus stop and the front of the bus comes over the curb by as much as 2 feet. I think some borough engineer needs to be fired.
I spoke to one of the street cleaners last week and asked him what he thought of the new bins. Even I don’t talk like that on here, but in prĂ©cis he thought they were a waste of money and they made his job harder. He said they were difficult to close because the ‘slam shut’ locks were of poor quality. The welds were not up to spec and were parting company. All in all he gave them a big thumbs down stating that ‘the old ones were far better, easier to empty and lasted a very long time’. That can be seen in the bottom picture picture where one is still in use.
24012011090 But of course council employees are paid a lot of tax payers money to make decisions which they plainly are not competent to make. And if they can't even buy a decent litter bin what else are they messin up.

Monday, 24 January 2011

Trip hazard

This piece of bad engineering is yet another BW gem. As you wind down a paddle at Kidlington Green Lock it is right by your left foot. I tripped over it today. Lock are dangerous enough without British Waterways introducing  trip hazards. Surely BW are not that hard up that they cant afford the right size nut ,bolt, washer or a hacksaw to cut it off.

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Sunday, 23 January 2011

A trip down the canal

We took a trip out this weekend. Bones went south on Saturday. I went to my mothers. Then I came down the canal Sunday. We are moored at the bridge by the Plough in Wolvercote.  I managed all of the lift bridges on my own but it wasn’t easy. Two of these bridges, that have now been locked down but balanced up, are, as before, not being attended to by BW. You simply cannot leave a lift bridge to it’s own devices. There has to be an input throughout the year to account for rain.

In all fairness Drinkwater’s Lift Bridge and Perry’s were not too difficult to open i.e. sit on the lock, bounce up and down while turning the key, as I have said here some months back. It only lifts 6 inches over the abutments but is then relatively easy to lift by hand and insert a boat hook. Locking it back down again is a bit of a trial but going back to my link is an explanation of how to do it. Perry’s is the harder of the two today.

However bridge 233, that’s the little bridge tucked under the A34, is notorious for being difficult and so it was today. The main problem is that the balance beams are not long enough and so do not ‘balance’ the weight of the deck. It took me three attempts to get the beam down and chained. This bridge doesn’t have a new down lock.

So now my boat can pass through the bridge, but of course I am on the wrong side of the canal. I was a bit crafty. I wedged my boat across the canal walked across the bridge, opened it then got on the front of the boat which was firm on the offside shallows, and walked along the gunnels. Job done? Not quite!

23012011068 I then had to moor under the A34 so I could lower the bridge. This means you have to negotiate this three wire fence and all the new planting. There is irony to. I tied off on the new balance beam which is just laying on the floor under the bridge. It has been there 4 months!

I am thinking BW will still have a problem after it has been fitted. They will of course paint it. This means that when it rains the deck gets heavy but the paint will stop the beam from absorbing water to counter the rain in the deck. BW will slap on a couple of plates of steel, to balance it open, install a down lock and we are back to where we started.23012011069 So BW spent £40,000 electrifying Thrupp lift bridge which really didn’t need doing and this the most difficult bridge on the Oxford is still a pain in the arse.

I love British Waterways! Their high level of supreme incompetence make me look quite good.

Friday, 21 January 2011

Sainsbury’s

I fail to see how Sainsbury’s can put the same product on the shelf at two different prices. The pack at the top contains two of the packs at the bottom. Yet two of the bottom packs cost £2 (25p per 100g) and the top pack cost £2.83 (35.4p per 100g) despite the double pack saying BIG VALUE twin pack.21012011062Even had the single pack been on sale at the crossed out price two packs would have cost £2.84. I don’t see how the the double pack is BIG VALUE when the saving is only 1p cheaper.21012011063Supermarkets are discriminating against single people. A meal I was going to buy was priced at £1 for 300g. This would have been more than I would want to eat after I had added veg etc. The smaller pack 150g  was priced at 99p. Yes I could eat the other half  the next day but who wants two consecutive meals the same.21012011064BOGOF offers are also discriminatory. I have limited space I don't want to buy more than I need I don't have the space to store it. The latest fashion is 3 for a fiver. I don't need three. And how come one bottle of wine cost £8.99 two cost 12 quid and 3 cost £7.50. Its OK having these deals but only families/couples benefit. We single people especially those of us that live on boats are mostly out of pocket.

My monthly income is a quarter of that of some benefit claimants yet I have to pay more for the same food as they do. This is somewhat annoying especially as my minor income is taxed and pays people benefit. Benefit claimants who my tax supports don’t pay tax on their quadruple income. And we live in a fair society?

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Portrait of a writer

Somewhere under this grey thatch there is a great piece of literature waiting to be spewed out into the virgin pages of a book. Maybe I should get the hair trimmed to lighten the load. After all a brain can’t work under such a thermal layer boiling away those precious cells which are, by design, dying faster now  than ever they grew.MaffiMy first effort ‘Puddles’ is almost finished. it is currently awaiting a more dynamic chapter four and the concluding chapter.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Dear Daddy

You should be able to notice when I get miffed with the brown dog. Its easy to tell, Open your eyes! This is my ‘really angry bitch’ face. Geddit?15012011033

Amusing

I have lost friends, some by death... others through sheer inability to cross the street.

The Waves (1931)

Mort is not too well

My friend and your is not too well at the moment. That makes me  very sad. She is just a bit exhausted and her leg muscles hurt. I once told her that she would not win any beauty contests. We have a strange idea of beauty in this modern world, if it hasn’t been corrected by paint or surgery it isn’t beautiful. And that was the kind of beauty contest I suppose I was thinking of at that time. We often forget that real beauty cant be made, you cant paint it or cut it. Real beauty is simply there. Beauty is often inside. Despite the pain she is in she is still very funny and is still thinking of others. She always sees problems from the other persons point of view. Most annoyingly always puts others first. If you know her you know she is a beautiful person, if you don’t know her you have that pleasure to come.

Night Puddles

Monday, 17 January 2011

Rename British Waterways

British Waterways are carrying out a survey to find a new name for the Charitable trust. Well I think They have it right already,with the initials anyway, given that the trust will be staffed by the same people as before they could continue to use the same initials, BW, only now call it.

Bunch of Wankers

How difficult can it be?

 

What else did you expect from me?

It’s no joke

In an effort to raise funds British Waterways wanted to sell of some family silver. No problem with that but should they be selling  the homes of boat clubs who are the very people BW is supposed to be working for. More evidence. Fortunately Banbury Canoe Club have raised the necessary funds to purchase their Club house.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Oooo Look

Considering that BW said the bank was not a problem they are doing an awful lot of corrective work to the bank. They are not going to do any other work which is contrary to what was said at the Lock meeting. Liars!DSCF9484 DSCF9485

Some other boots

Sad as I am to let boots go, they become like good buddies, these most certainly have to go. Though they still have a good tread on they are stressing the Achilles tendon on my right leg so much so that at times I can only place my foot flat on the ground. The rolling movement, as in walking, is very painful. So with that and given that they also let water in there is no other option. Au revior, mon ami.

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(yes I know but I don’t want them to know  schhhhhhh!)

Friday, 14 January 2011

Dredging for water voles on the canal

I picked this story up from Waterscape. Once again proving that BW are not fit to be in charge of our waterways. They have no concept of waterways and customer service. They are looking back to the canals creator for ideas. Well here’s an idea, John Rennie built the canals for the efficient movement of boats. I would put money on the fact that Rennie never once considered the Water Vole or any other creature that was going to undermine the bank. If BW must spend £600.000 they could try fixing all the lock gates. There is no point having good banks to moor against if the locks are broken unless it is BW’s desire to turn the K&A into an 87 mile linear mooring. What surprises me most is that these people are getting paid for this. 

6th Jan 2011

British Waterways is looking to the past to help preserve the future for one of the canals’ most loved, but secretive species, the protected water vole.

As part of a £600,000 project on the Kennet & Avon Canal, which celebrated turning 200 in December 2010, a 2.5km stretch of waterway embankment near Hungerford, Wiltshire, will be rebuilt. The modern day canal builders are looking back to the ideas of the canal’s original creator, famous civil engineer, John Rennie, to help them come up with solutions to modern day problems. One big issue is how to create natural looking, stable canal banks that are also water vole friendly.

British Waterways’ senior project engineer, Antonia Zotali explains: “This winter British Waterways in partnership with Natural England and the Trustees of the Town and Manor of Hungerford, is rebuilding stretches of the waterway banks near Hungerford as part of its continued work to maintain the nation’s historic waterways.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Oxford city of dreary dires

Though I get the impression that Oxford is a dirty city I doubt that it is any worse than any other English city. It is an unhelpful city and a city of numpties who take money for doing a job and then consistently fail to deliver. Our is not the only dog poo bin that is not emptied on a regular basis. 

Oxfords streets are paved with gum despite there being an enforceable fine. It is littered with cigarette ends despite there being an enforceable fine. You cannot walk through the city centre with out being smothered in smoke from smokers.

There are bicycles chained to every thing that can be used to chain a bicycle to. last week there was even a bicycle chained to a city centre busy bus stop! This of course stopped people from having proper access to buses. Bus shelters are the dirtiest I have seen.

The new stainless steel bins around the city are slowly being kicked to death. No one gives a shit.

Buses are regularly late but for the first time last week a driver actually apologised for being late, never heard of before. Some buses are in such poor condition that the vibrations make one feel sick. Many drivers are so bad at driving that, even if their engines are well maintained, their driving makes one feel sick and some buses are so dirty that one feels sick just stepping onboard. Today after calling at least once a week since I started college in October I actually got through to customer services.

There is nowhere to sit in public spaces that doesn’t involve perching on a sloped something or other which is far from comfortable.

There is litter everywhere not just on the pavements but in the fabric. Everywhere you can screw up a sweet wrapper and lodge it somewhere it will be done.  Everywhere you can force a cigarette butt it will be done.

One man stands in a doorway and spouts off at the top of his voice about the bible, No one is listening! He is just verbal litter.  I told him today, “Hey no one is listening”.  He said.”You are.” I said, “No it’s just unnecessary noise, go home.” He carried on.

Today I was walking across the road and a Post Office van aimed right at me. I could have been crossing the road in the wrong place or at the wrong time but he came at me from a standing start and nearly hit me.

I don’t suppose Oxford is any different from other cities. Despite it history of education it is a spastic city. It is diseased and deformed and no one is trying to fix it. It is a city of dreary dires.

Meet the Beatles Issue 12

I have had this for many years, but love it though I do, it is just now something else taking up space. Make me a decent offer and its yours. When I have time I have a pile of Beatles books and vinyl including two copies of ‘The Beatles’  (The White Album) each with different sleeve styles.

MTB

Friday, 7 January 2011

Neat trick!

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Well done BW

I say look what we got for Christmas. Its very special. Totally over the top when all that was needed was a hole to tip sh*t down, but at least now the cleaner will not be able to complain that his working environment is not safe. He will be able to take his hols there its so nice.DSCF9477 The tap bothers me its a bit single function don’t you think? How is one supposed to get a hose on there to rinse out their sh*t box. Toilets and elsan points are by their very nature, of necessity, basic facilities and as such are constructed with basic materials and fittings, that makes them very adaptable. Chic taps are not very adaptable and are as much good as a box of wet matches in a hurricane. DSCF9479I suppose the hierarchy in their ivory tower know all about boating and consequently know all about what boaters need. Which is probably why there is no longer a rinse hose for pump/out boats. The supply has been removed. NO BW you cannot put it next to the new drinking water taps and no we cannot use our drinking water hose to rinse out.

Still at least if you get caught short while you are working it all out there is a toilet. So far I don’t think BW have Fuqt this up, but you never know.DSCF9478 Dear BW

When will you learn? Those that know what we want are those that are here using the system each and every day. It doesn’t matter how big your salary is you have proved you JUST DONT KNOW. Please ask us! Or do the sex and travel thing. Foxtrot Oscar.

Maffi

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Long-tailed tits

Long-tailed tits on a feeder set up on the offside by Ken aboard nb Carpe Diem. If you stop along this section of the canal you will see both Blue and Great Tits Dunnocks, Robins, Tree Creepers, and a dozen others during the season.

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Tuesday, 4 January 2011

What's this?

Of course never wanting to miss the opportunity to make a penny or two Charlie has his hire boats out. Two came up today.DSCF9463

Dusty

This is our man Dusty icebreaking. He travelled up yesterday from Dukes cut, a 2 1/2 hour trip which took him 5 hours. He moored up next to us here at the wharf for the night then pressed on after filling his bulk tank this morning. Dusty is one of life’s unsung heroes. Despite being iced in at St  Edwards lift bridge, he still delivered coal to those who needed it, by car! We here on the Southern Oxford canal really appreciate the effort he puts in to ensure we all get that which we need to continue living comfortably on our boats. I am sure with out him life here would be very different.

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Thrupp’s new bog

The work being done at the water point looks to be coming along fine. This is a good thing because after the crap that came out of Westminster today  about the VAT increase it is just possible that the government will be wanting somewhere to empty a very large pile of poo. How our vaulted leaders can possibly think that this will not affect the lower wage earners beggars belief. The incompetence of this present bunch of clowns seemingly knows no bounds. Lie after lie after lie. Do these morons really believe that we cant see through the BS?

This brings me to an old joke

Q: How do you know when a politician is lying.

A: His lips move.

But you have to admit the bog does look good

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Well it will when it is finished!

Ahhhhhh

It was so cold even the tits were blue.DSCF9453

Sunday, 2 January 2011

Now the snow has gone

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Hoses galore!

We had a visit yesterday from Andy Cannon landlord of the Jolly Boatman. He said if we could get hoses from the bridge we were welcome to use his water supply to top us all up. Well that was a very decent offer.

At 4 o’clock we collected 4 long hoses from Tim at the Tearooms. Andy’s hose reached to within 15 ft of the bridge. We borrowed John  Slee’s hose to get us through the bridge to nb Columbia The four hose borrowed from Tim reached from Columbia to not far from Richards boat which is overwintering near me. My hose Bones’ hose and PJ’s got to me so we filled up my boat while we were sorting out a hose to get to Bones. Columbia finally provided this one. With 10 hoses we filled all three boats. With all the leaks along the way we could probably have filled three more. It was at least three hundred yards probably more. The out flow from the business end was not much more than a trickle but it did the job. With me and Bones full I put Bones’ hose in Richards boat then wound up PJ and Columbia’s hoses returning them to their owners. Once Richard was full we set to winding up the other eight hoses. By 10.30 pm we had filled the boats and wound up all the hoses. Mort even went out to dinner  with Kate in the middle returning to help with the winding up.

Its not just us but John Slee on nb Epiphany has been filling up from Andy’s tap for the last six weeks. Columbia as well gets a top up.

We cannot express our gratitude enough to Andy other than to ensure through the blog you know that The Jolly Boatman is a real boaters pub and Andy puts himself out for the boating community. He certainly deserves our patronage and I hope you all will ,when down this way, pop  in for a beer or two, or even an excellent meal.

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Happy New Year

Last year I asked that every one should try to make a difference. I am wondering what we have all achieved.

I have had some success but not as much as I would have liked. I have sent 85 emails relating to things I have brought up with the council and other agencies. There are still a few outstanding jobs in the community that I would have liked to have seen fixed, but hey maybe this year.

I have a constant battle with the poo bin emptying people. They are supposed to empty it every Tuesday. They manage to keep up the momentum for a month or so then forget.

I am still trying to get the council to fix a drain cover in the village that has been broken for some time.I reported it over a year ago. I suppose they will fix it after someone breaks a leg.

The trucks parking on the grass verge outside the Co-op have been stopped by erecting a fence. It used to be a mud bath. After I complained a guy at the council called and ask me about a solution.

I still haven’t managed to get a solution to parking on the verge outside the wharf and consequently it is an ugly mud bath again this year. I started to build a soil bund at one end to stop parking but then along came a fibre optic company and levelled it so they could park their truck.

The grass along the 48 hour moorings I have mostly cleared of rubbish and BW have taken it away.

Once a month I take a bin liner along the canal to the bridge and then back along the road and collect all the rubbish deposited by walkers and motorists. Occasionally I do it all the way to the lift bridge. I cant believe the amount of rubbish collected.

Well maybe its not such a great achievement, but I tried. Did anyone else have any success? If not we can all try again this year, please! It is our country and we need to help look after it. It really doesn’t take a lot of effort even if it is only picking up litter in your street once a week, or reporting things that need repair to the local council it all helps. Council fixes can be done on line at this location FIX MY STREET