Sunday, 30 April 2006


Now, I know I don't have the fastest up link in the world, but I am really getting pissed of with companies that assume that everyone has. I have a dial up connection to a satellite system so regardless of the Sat system I have a slow up/down link.

HSBC have recently revamped their internet banking system. Each page contains about 40 hyper-links which all appear on every page and need to reload on every page everytime you change pages. This is very time consuming when your best indication of up/download is 33.6 Kbps, often as low 3/4!

Now I don't begrudge HSBC their need to upgrade to improve customer services but not all their customers have hyper-speed up/down link. When every page takes at least 5 minutes to load then simple tasks like moving money and dropping the bank an email become labourious, time consuming and damn bloody annoying. The very reason Im writing this here is because I cannot get to a place where I can tell HSBC what I think without actually logging on and that is just about impossible. I need to tell someone, so lend me your ear.

Why, Oh why, is it not possible to have a two tier system. HSBC have customers all over the world not all of them have the latest internet link that will refresh a page in the blink of an eye.

HSBC and others would do well to remember there is a difference between 'customer service' and 'serving the customer' and this new system is not serving me, ..................... oh yes I am a customer.

Once upon a time programmers were skilled at getting their wares to work within the 1 Meg RAM restriction. These days with most machines having a damn sight more RAM/DRAM than we had Hard drive space a few years ago the programmers/webdesigners of today have lost their skill and just chuck in everything that they can. I have 1 gig OF DRAM on this machine and it is wasted. Oh yes it can process very fast, if it can get stuff to process.

And the reason they do it? Because they can. Their customer service is serving the banks not us. They give their customers what they want even if that 'want' is flawed.

Consistent Incompetence

It is the only thing that DIFA is any good at, being bad. If, one day, things start to go right then we will have to assume that a real company has taken over.

On 11 April I asked DIFA If I could extend my 90 day notice by 25 days because I had 'unfinished business' in the Kingdom. Well I heard nothing and assumed that because the unfinished business was suing their ass for back pay and allowances, that they thought this was a bit cheeky.

Today at around 2 pm (I finish work at 3 pm) on my last day at work I am told that the request was granted and they can't understand why I wasn't told, and that I was able to stay until 25 May. Now I for one really cannot conceive that they would be stupid enough to allow me to stay so I can sue them for offences against Saudi Labour Law which could cost the a small fortune. So you can see from this decision that they do not have many smarts.

Personally I had set my mind to having a vacation. Lounging around the pool, soaking up them free sun rays, down to the gym to get my tiller arm in trim, off shopping etc.

The life that is DIFA is very tiring, not the work, but the constant inability of the company to do the right thing on time, just grinds you down, it is never ending, it is mentally draining. I really don't want to go to work and I don't think I will. Well until they pay me off, they are going to pay me whether or not I go to work, so why go to work.

Friday, 28 April 2006


There in the workshop appeared a girt great yellow monster. Right next to my boat. Well I never!

Oi Pilgrim! Whats the big idea then.

One of my windows appears to have been 'reshaped'. The rear doors and the top hatch have been fitted, and prolly the side hatch and front doors. What else is going to happen I don't know coz somat is blocking the way.

Recent new visitors to the build site:
Swallowfield, Reading/ Guildford Bracknell Forest/ Stretford Trafford/ Leigh Wigan/ Sittingbourne Medway/ Sint-Niklaas Oost-Vlaanderen Belgium/ Cranford Northamptonshire/ Tadcaster York/ Ipswich Suffolk/ Redditch Solihull/ Hindley Wigan/ Winchester Hampshire/ Saint Albans/ Rushden Northamptonshire/ Ilford Redbridge/ Belfast Northern Ireland/ Spring Texas USA/ Ikeja Nigeria/ Sheperds Bush Uk/ Drakelow Derby/ Newham/ Sproughton Suffolk UK/ Folkvang Hedmark Norway/ Tandridge Surrey UK/ Cowes Isle of Wight UK/ Farnworth Bolton UK/

Wednesday, 26 April 2006

I see.....................

Today at the workshop I see................... an engine, which could be mine.
I see several panels which could be the doors and hatches.
And at one stage I saw an awfully big peice of machinery that definately wasn't part of my boat.

I didn't see the windows recut to suit the windows I am having fitted but there is still time.

Since I have been 'on the net' in 2000 I have kept contact with Rosie. Rosie is a guitar player, a good one too. She sings at music festivals and various pubs. Rosie recently sold up, as ya do, and bought a boat, she beat me to it.

Sunday, 23 April 2006

Saint George's Day

Today is St George's day.

St George is the patron saint of England.

Most of you from across the sea will associate the Union Jack with England this is a popular misconception.

Surprisingly, England is the only country in the United Kingdom without it's own National Executive.

Support the cause.

This of course is the real English Flag.

Thursday, 20 April 2006

Damn it!

I wonder if you spotted it, in my last post. I swore that I would never do that and now I have gone and done it. What did I do, I called it, 'her'. I promised myself I would not humanise this boat. I can't seem to get my head around the idea that 'we', almost all, call things like boats, cars etc her/she/darlin'.

Fer crissake its a 17 ton box of cold steel. It displays none of the characteristics of a girl, young lady, woman. You can't hug them, you can't get amorous, you can kiss them, but that's sad. They are not soft, certainly not sweet somewhat smelly and make the most gawd awful noise when you bang 'em. (OK I'll give you that one)

They don't complain, they take up all the spare time your wife/girl friend doesn't monopolise. Above all, again very unlike a woman, they don't argue or buy Lois Viton accessories up the ying yang. With all these feminine attributes lacking why, oh why do we call them she/her/darlin'?

Could it be because our boat or car really is our perception of what a woman should be that makes us call them she/her/darlin'. We can lavish all our love on them and not get the cursory "Not tonight Napoleon". A boat is there when we want it. If we ignore it for a few days it doesn't get huffy. It doesn't nag (big bonus). If you let of a fart it doesn't immediately get out the air freshener and make you feel like a sub-human. It looks as good as we want it to and it never asks "does my stern look big in this fender". And whilst it does use your credit card, you make the final decision on what to buy, based on absolute necessity.

You can tinker it's box and it wont sigh with abject boredom and tell you the ceiling needs painting. Sure, it wont cook your dinner but some women I know don't do that. You can lavish love and attention on the boat and it wont leave you for some balding moneybags that has all the personality of a toad.

I find myself getting quite emotional watching it in the build process, seeing it all come together gives me a different kind of buzz, you guys know what I mean. Like today, they cut out the windows, I was chuffed to rocks. Then I felt bereft because they were the wrong shape, my baby had been abused. Fortunately it's an easy fix. They will give it the first coat of paint next week and I know I will be like a proud father seeing his daughter dressed smart for Sunday School.

Yeah sure the 'clothing' is expensive, but that one paint job lasts for years, and never goes out of fashion.
I have been married twice and neither of them married me for who I was, rather who they could make me. My boat will accept me as I am, warts and all.

I suppose in the end I will just have to get used to calling it her/she/darlin'.

Wednesday, 19 April 2006

Ever Closer

Well the hard bit has been done. The hull is complete, bar the little extras that I have asked for and work now is to get the outside prepped for the paint job. The windows are on site and the 'voids' in which to fit them will be cutout this week ready for painting next week.

Work continues to finish the bits and peices prior to painting.

This is, as you may remember, something of a quandry for me in that I simply can not make up my mind what colour to paint her.

Being as my two probable choices are Dark Blue and Dark Green I wonder about the idea of painting one side Dark Blue and the other Dark Green. That way I don't have to make a decision, except which colour to paint which side. Doh!

See what a fickle mind can do to a perfectly good narrowboat.

Sunday, 16 April 2006

Hands across the sea

Just some of the many nations that have viewed this blog.

Woe is me!

Today is Julian date 6105, thats the 105th day of 2006. Would you believe it still no pay. I am just coming to the end of Decembers pay, luckily I found a few hundred Saudi Riyals in the pocket of a pair of trousers, so I will be OK for a week or two yet. Payday was again missed by those that purport to look after our welfare.

Am I bitter? You bet I am. I am losing a lot of interest on money that should be in my account. My lawyer is on the case and is my company in for a shock!

What really irks me is when a manager says, "Payday won't be this week, adjust your circumstances accordingly".

When you haven't been paid this YEAR it is very difficult to 'adjust' anything except your belt to stop them trousers fallin' off your hips. ;)

Some of my co-workers have children who can't go to school, some are about to lose their houses. It is reported that 5 have died because the company haven't paid their Medical Insurance. It would be hard to prove that the company is to blame.

This is a peaceful caring country.

Saturday, 15 April 2006

This week in the workshop

Even though it is Saturday and I should be at work I am having a day off today because I spent the night running back and forward to the John, that's American you know. Our restaurant serves up some super meals but sometimes I have to wonder about the hygiene. Last night I hadn't even finished eating before I had to excuse myself from the table.
Video Capture courtesy of Gary Peacock
Well the boat is moving on at speed. Recent advances include the rear bulkhead and doorway, the top sliding hatch runners and the rubbing strakes. I am still waiting for them to cut off the surplus counter, but at this time it appears to be being used as a very handy step.

We did have a discussion over the net about the angle of the side sheet at the rear of the boat. I wanted it to be angled slightly, Gary didn't think it would be a good idea. The angle would have gone from zero at the top to be in line with the bulkhead and gently angle back 3/4 inches to the width of the drain. On the surface I can't see why not, that right angle between the side sheet and the deck looks to stark. However it took me some time to realise that the trim that I proposed would actually interfere with the doors opening, so I have given up on that idea. Ho hum!
Photo Gary Peacock (click)
It is not the norm to have these windows on a narrow boat or so I have been told, but this is not a normal boat. There will be 7 of these in black and two portholes. I am waiting to hear if I can have a split porthole across the front door.
The windows have hopefully been delivered this week.

I must be one on my own as far as coughing up the ante is concerned. I was not asked for any dosh until the baseplate was well on its way and despite my asking when the next payment is due, Gary tells me, "not yet". I feel I should be paying something, ain't that a turn up for the books. Still it's earning 5% at the mo so I can only win.
The most recent new visitors to the build site: Allgreave Stoke-on-Trent UK/ Gosport Portsmouth UK/ Wolverhampton UK/ Thornton Heath Surrey/ Kew Bridge London UK/ Kingston-on-Soar Nottingham UK/ Carshalton Surrey UK/ Belbroughton Dudley UK/ Ha Mie San Tsuen HK/ Ingrave Havering UK/ Redbridge Ilford UK/ Ruislip UK/ St Johns Wood UK/ Herbourne Birmingham UK/ Bromley Reigate UK

Wednesday, 12 April 2006

... when they are down.

Those of you who are regulars on waterways forums will have noticed that a very popular forum has been out of action for the last few days.

Not one to miss an opportunity, if you are suffering from withdrawal symptoms might I be so bold as to offer Canal Interactive as a suitable alternative.

Though the intention is to serve Live Aboards and CCer's all are welcome. 'Tis but a small venture at this time but "Great Oaks from little acorns grow"

Please stop by, slake your craving.

Friday, 7 April 2006

How much!

Jimmy Jesus from Cargo Services arrived about 6 pm. I cannot send the chair as ordinary freight. It would have to go as 'bullion' because of its size.

Just how much would you pay to ship home something that you bought abroad. Well the chair I mentioned yesterday is a particularly comfortable one. Not to mention nice to look at (subjective) and not available in UK.

3 X the price of the chair.

Try getting that in a overhead locker.


Well the man from Cargo Services came today. All my boxes were packed, labeled and ready to go.

The courier was a very chatty Filipino 61 named Jesus and born at midnight on the 25 December, 13 children , big I said very chatty.

Well he did the paperwork, loaded the truck with my six boxes; we shook hands, as you do, and I bade him farewell.

It was as I walked back into the house that I saw it. There staring me in the face the chair that I bought last year for my new office. Not packed, not even labeled.

Sometimes in life you tend to feel like a right prawn, this was one of those times for me. DOH!

Thursday, 6 April 2006

Plans? God forbid.

Are you serious! I have survived for the last 50 years without planning anything. I am not about to start now. I must say I probably wont have a very long life at the tiller. The last few lock gates I opened on the K&A last year nearly killed me, so I may be lucky to get away from LB to do a bit of cruising and a few locks before I turn up me toes.
Would you like me to visit? I was coming your way coz I can't see my geordie lass hauling her ass any further than she has to.
I have a Russian girl, Miska, set up to spend the summer on the boat, but I don't suppose she will be too bothered which way I go. I can't seem to get it into her head that the boat wont be ready till end of May at the earliest, she thinks she will arrive in late April, of course I will still be here.
And I promised my GK's time afloat, they live near the Llangollan.
Then I have to stop off and see a cousin or two in Brum and there's Nigel and Colin, and a brother in Milton Keynes.
Some of my family live dahn sauf, but I can't see them being too bothered one way or the other. Brother Allan spends more time watching the build than I do. He's real keen.
Then there's a couple of boat shows I want to go to. And of course the K&A for winter.
I think I might have to save the 'Cressy' run till next year.
Have I missed anything?
Well of course I have its called training. Whilst it is possible and legal to operate a narrowboat with out anymore training than I received at the tiller last year, one would be a fool to take out a boat this value with such rudimentary 'skills' on ones own.
Many times in my life I have done some very silly things this is not going to be one of them.
Recent new visitors to the build site: Rotherham UK/ Kennilworth Warickshire UK/ Moorthorpe Barnsley UK/ Belmont Bolton UK/ West Rockport Main USA/ Erkelenz Germany/ Hickman California USA/ Hanworth Surrey UK/ Redbridge Upper Clapton UK/ St Helens Stafford UK/ Rainham Grenwich UK/ Belbroughton Dudley UK/ Reigate Surrey UK/ Stockbury Kent UK/ Redditch Solihull UK/ Barrow-upon-Humber UK/ Wigan Abram

Last of the shopping....

Todays little foray to Batha realised my Micro wave and bathroom scales and the second pair of speakers for the office. Last week I paid SR250 for the speakers, this week I paid SR100 for the same make and model, go figure.
On the boat front the roof is now being put in place. Some how it looks smaller, but I am sure that it is just because its in the workshop.

Tuesday, 4 April 2006

When I said......

When I said I enjoyed the rain I meant nice gentle April showers type rain.

This is not what I had in mind. Just goes to show you have to be careful what you wish.

Tropical downpours are not really my bag, though I must admit that when this happened whilst in Oman I went on the roof naked and was rained on good an' proper. Oh sorry you are eating, I didn't mean to put that image in your head.

Saturday, 1 April 2006

April fool

I can't help but wonder what is happening in the UK today. It is the first of April and even though Snowdrops are probably past, Crocuses and Daffodils should be well on their way, well at least I think they should; my not being in the UK for a few years at this time of the year. For this old April fool being away is nice, but being home is better.

The temperature here is somewhere around 20°C at 6 o'clock in the morning and at this time of the year one gets to thinking about being home. It's the rain I miss most. Rain has a cleansing effect, it washes down all the old dirt and dust and leaves the place smelling sweet and clean.

Today on our way home it started raining, first time in over a year. Well needless to say, when I got out of the car instead of scurrying to my house to 'get out of the rain' I took a slow amble. It's not far from the dropping off point to my house, but I took my time wallowing in the joy of being rained on. Despite being in a desert region there are a lot of trees, grass and greenery in the 'village' (see pics)and for a change it smelled good, fresh.

These small things, that at home we take for granted and often fail to see, mean a lot to an expat yearning for the time when he will be home and once again enjoy our 'green and pleasant land'. People here think I am a camel short of a desert story, but just walking slowly in the rain really lifted my spirits.

Now if only I can get paid!

My house, the trees at the back now sadly gone.

Canna Lilys