Monday 26 March 2007

Shame on them

“We have a dream”
A dream of cruising the beautiful canals and waterways of England in a fabulous bespoke Jason Clarke narrowboat.
Jason (J.M. Clarke Narrowboats Ltd) is a ‘Quality Time Served Craftsman’ Building ‘Inspired Boats for Inspired people….’

Yet another builder down the pan. J M Clarke Narrowboats LTD has ceased trading. But another company has started trading, J&M Clarke Narrowboats LTD, spot the difference. Once more a dreamer has been devastated by incompetence, lies and bullshit. It would appear that the company was in breach of contract. No only did they fail to insure the boat in accordance with the contract, but they failed to ensure the hull was secured properly against corrosion and water damage due to ingress of moisture. If, and I stress if, the new company treat their customer so shabbily then they don't deserve to succeed. However they have disassociated themselves from the former company with an email to Dreamer.

I know that J might say that he has been having personal problem, but that is not a good enough excuse. It doesn't matter what his problems are, he should deal with them. It was not Dreamers problem he shouldn't have to deal with them. I wonder if J considers the Dreamers situation as a problem or just tough tits. Probably neither.

How much longer has this fiasco with boat building companies going to be allowed to continue before someone in authority takes the initiative to investigate this debacle and make builders accountable. Why is the Fraud Squad not getting involved. If I sign a contract with someone it is legally binding. If I then take money from them to produce something and fail to produce the work then I have received money under false pretences. Obviously the BMF can only have any effect on its members. Even then is it statutory? I don't know how that works.

What I do know is that innocent people liker Dreamer are being shafted by people who, however good their boats are, are not good businessmen and should not be allowed to handle money belonging to others. With the regularity that builders are going under you could bet that by May there will be another one.

Sunday 25 March 2007

Banter Day

Today was the boaters banter at Thames Court. About 18 boaters turned up which is quite substantial. Bones of course was there with James in tow and Sean who is building a boat, David and Ann of nb Bullfrog. Alan Jones nb Keeping Up as well as Mike, Lorraine Jen, James and Abbie better known on the forum as Skeets, and Ken and Christine. Stephen and Mrs Suggs bought little Lucy and John on the Wey arrived early with his son Micheal. Many others came who's names I seem to forget at this time but if you get in touch I will ammend accordingly.

What a good day it was. The sun showed its face and stayed most of the afternoon. I made frequent trips to Milly M for guided tours. surprisingly I tookno pics.

It all finished around 8 pm

Saturday 24 March 2007

A picture speaks a thousand words.

Over at Khayamanzi's blog Andy published a picture of the 'best thing' about boating. Take a look, I'm inclined to agree.


I finally got the graphics for the front of the boat. Neat init?

Friday 23 March 2007

This week

I came up to Chertsey to top up with water. Unfortunately there is still work going on at the lock and the water point is not accessible. So up to Penton Hook lock. Would you believe it the water point is roughly half way along the lock chamber and about 40 feet back from it. The lockie said it was for containers only. Well not a lot of good for us steel box boaters.

I was going to spend a couple of days in the marina (Wed/Thu) so I gave them a call and went in early. I very slowly manoeuvred around all the Tupperware, a side current from a weir took me by surprise and I nearly trashed a plastic pig. I reversed on to my mooring which as it happened was only 3 away from Bones.

Walking over to the office to sign in, the snow started and didn't stop until I got into the office looking like the abominable snowman. If you are in the vicinity it is I think value for money. I booked in for three nights, £30 + £15 for utilities. Which was good, I don't need to run the engine for a while.

I was able to order a new drive belt for my 100A alternator, which for some reason had stretched quite a lot beyond adjustment. The belt arrived on Thursday morning.

I talked Bones through installing a car radio and as luck would have it worked! She was quite impressed when I turned two single core cables into a twisted pair with her hand drill. Bones cooked dinner for me and James on Wednesday.

I asked Bones if she wanted sex. She said no, but I gave her some anyway. Muller's Honey and Walnut yoghurt is sex in a pot and she had to agree it was. No, no, no you don't understand real sex wasn't on the menu. She is far too old for me. Bones is a very funny person and I know she will hate me for saying so, but her brain works like it's on another planet.

Thursday we invited Dick from the next boat to join us for dinner and we murdered a couple of bottles of vino and a few cans of Fosters.

I am off, tomorrow, to Laleham then to Shepperton Saturday afternoon. There is a 'boaters banter' at the Thames Court pub on Sunday. I shall be leaving for Oxford on Monday.

This is a good reason to be a continuous cruiser

Sunday 18 March 2007

Mothers Day

This getting up early is realy begining to piss me of. For forty years I have been the crapiest getter upper ever. Now that I don't have to get up, I am up long before I need to be. I was washed fed and ready to go. I even swept the tree debris off the roof. I drew it out as long as I could and left at 9:20. Although the river was down, the flow was fast. It took 3 hours to cruise the few miles upstream to Walton. Sunbury Lock was unmanned so that took about half an hour.
Mooring up to make a cup of coffee I checked my phone. Why do people call me when the phone is charging and never when it's in my pocket. Brother Ken was bringing my mother over to visit for Mothers day. I went out to the Old Swan and booked a table for dinner. Mum arrived just before 3 dinner at 3:30. This is probably the last time I will see her for a while. Happy Mothers Day mum.
Some people just amaze me. A guy pulled up at the Anglers and parked over the mooring chain across my knot and on my rope. I went into the pub to get him but couldn't find him. Later his wife came out to fetch something from the car. I asked her to get her husband to move his car off the rope. "Sorry," she said, "he probably didn't realise". I don't think he really gave a toss given that he parked in the middle of two parking spaces in a car lot that was otherwise full. It's a wharf and the chain is where boats tie up you Numpty twat!

Saturday 17 March 2007

Look out Kingston, here we come!

We, Bones, Claire(Bones' Friend) and John-on-the-Wey all went to Kingston for the day. We took some Honey and plenty of money all wrapped in a five pound note. On the way we had a passing nod with Timothy Spall who didn't look very happy at all. He should have come with us we had a ball. Bones cooked a curry which was ready for when we moored up. Good curry it was too. I wonder if she can do it twice in succession.

We did the cursory shopping stuff and found the best cake shop ever. Bon Bon next to Accessorize. Trust me they do cakes to die for. I got some bits for the boat (I'm wiring in a horn switch) and went of to look for the moon.

We found the moon in the guise of the Gazebo pub. While all around are charging £3+ a pint. 4 pints here cost less than eight quid. Yes folks the sub £2 pint does still exist and it is good beer.

After spending the rest of the afternoon on the steps down to the water, being suitably watered ourselves, we repaired to the boat, Bones was feeling sleepy. I had planned to return to Walton tonight but due to a minor excess of ale I stayed put. James came over to Kingston to take the others home, bless his little cotton socks.

Milly M at the Anglers

Friday 16 March 2007

Day two on the river

Don't know why, but I was up with the bloody larks again this morning. this is getting to be a habit, one I am not liking!

I upped sticks early and went to fill up wih diesel. This is not easy on a river. Forgetting to make allowances for the flow I was pushed into a nb moored right at the entrance, Ka-boom. That rocked him a bit. No biggie but a few flakes of paint learned to swim. In the marina the sign for fuel is a bit ambiguous. I eventually managed to weedle my way through a whole load of tupperware, make two turns and reverse up to the pump without causing further problems.

I went to see if I could get a mooring down on the Wey. The weir there is a bit feirce and slammed me against the bank. Won't do that again. Came back to the Anglers to wait for Neil. No show.

Bones had planned to take me down the Wey for a few days, but this morning she text me to say the top lock was closed on Monday for the week so maybe we can go back to Kingston for a couple of days.

Thursday 15 March 2007

On to the Thames

Up with the larks this morning, 6 0'clock. The red boards are down, it's time to move off up the Thames. Woo Hooo!
I was chomping at the bit and moved down to the BW office at 8, we were not going 'til 9. Topped up the HIJKLMNO tank for ballast, just in case. I readied the lock Brian and Julie came in (nb Tumbarumba). We did a bit of bizz involving some coal and the level in the lock dropped, the gate opened and I was on my way to the last lock before the open water of the Thames. At Thames Lock I thought it prudent to put my life vest on. Brian was very encouraging, "I wouldn't bovver mate, you'll die of ipafermia before ya drahn". The huge gates of the lock motored open and there was The River. Brian having been up the river a few times before went first and I followed a few hundred yards behind.

A launch came past at speed which made Milly do a roller coaster imitation. She's not designed for that! I wanna go back. Initial trepidation waning I opened up the tap to 2500 revs and took the glazing off the bores. This engine has never worked so hard, but what fun. Having never seen the river this way or this far up I sat back and enjoyed the ride. I couldn't really have picked a nicer day. The sun shone down making everything look crisp and clean like a Technicolour movie. Richmond lock was not needed we just cruised by. At Teddington straight into the lock, I flicked a centreline around a bollard and held fast. Howard the lockie (a CW forum member) told me to moor up along the river and come back when I was ready to get my licence. Apparently Bones had primed him I was coming. Howard has a site detailing good info at Teddington Brian and Julie waved goodbye as they sailed off into the sun on their Gold licence, now that is a clever idea.

Licence, now there's a funny thing. 4 days 79 quid, 5 days £106, 15 days £88.50. Der! The mind boggles. So I am on the river for 15 days and wouldn't ya know it Bones has it all organised already.

While I was making coffee I was asked 'how far are you going?' "As far as the day is long", was my smiled reply. It don't get much better than this.

Next stop Kingston. I once came to Kingston fishing, but that was when hemlines were still rising and John Paul George and Ringo were the new 'in-thing'. It is so different from how I remember it. Kingston, in the sun, is a great place. I only stopped for lunch but it had a real cosmopolitan feel to it. I moored up outside the Gazebo, nearly sucking a swan in the BT, only to find the kitchen was closed, bummer! I had lunch in the 'Bishop-in-waiting' or some such name. Over three pound a pint!!! Tumbarumba was moored on the opposite bank. You can just see her on the left bank in this pic taken leaving Kingston.

I put this pic in for Jeff

The journey from there was uneventful other than my rope snagged on the bollard at Sunbury Lock and nearly pulled the boat over. I was on the phone not paying attention, good job the lockie was.

I was hoping to overnight at Weybridge, but thought better of it. I turned around at Desbourgh and skipped back to The Anglers to moor. I say skipped because downstream is a lot quicker than upstream. As I was mooring 'John on the Wey' appeared, again having been primed by Bones. If you should need a social organiser she's ya girl. I had just made John a cuppa when a text from Bones announced that John would be down later. Bones and James arrived about 15 minutes later. More tea!

After reliving the trip with Bones we eventually repaired/repared to the bar just before 6. Don't ask what time we left. James had things to do so left. The three of us entered the quiz we were to say the least BAD!

I had two calls today with which I was pleased. One from Jeff in Saudi and one from Melit, also in Saudi, who used to work for me in my house. Melit is now working for a Saudi family I do so hope they treat her well. She is a nice girl from Eritrea and would not deserve the treatment that some Saudis give their maids.

Tuesday 13 March 2007


Does anyone know the web addres for nb SIRIUS I seem to have it wrong?

Saturday 10 March 2007

The time looms

Wednesday 07 Mar

It is surprising who and why you meet people on the canal. Today two Asian girls walked past the boat. There was I busy polishing my boat and whistling as I worked and one of the girls said, "It is nice to see someone so happy".

To which I countered, "What's not to be happy about". Let's face I have a good life.

Minor interaction you might think, but later as I walked to the shop the girls were returning to work. We met on the foot swing bridge on the route along the towpath. I was still whistling and smiling … I do…. the girl again commented that it was so nice to see such a happy person.

My response consisted of, "It's all about what's important. To me it was having enough to stop working",

"I would like to hug you", she said. Maybe she hoped some of whatever it is I have would rub off on her. We hugged, she went on her way. Who's next? Form a queue.

Thursday 08 Mar

Today I met Mr Stanley Prince. Stanley had been married for 60 years. Quite a feat you might think, but Stanley's claim to fame was not being married for longer than I have been alive but for the fact that he had been struck by lightning on the football field in late 1938. How do I know this? Well he carried a copy of the news paper report of the day that his friend had died and he had survived. Given hours to live at the hospital he is now 86. His recovery took 9 month at which point Heir Hitler had the audacity to take the world into war. He spent his war years making parts for MTB's. Sadly Mrs Prince died 8 years ago.

I chatted to a chap yesterday who, as it happens, lives in Reading and works in Brentford. We were talking about the scratches on the boat and he suggested that I use a restorative wax polish which might help remove some of the many small scuffs I have acquired in the last four months. This lunchtime I was replenishing my water tank when he approached me and gave me two bottles of Turtle wax restorative polish (Dark Green). How cool is that? What a nice man.

Dr Bones called to ask if she and James could come over for a visit. It was timely that she called as I had dozed off and the fire was blazing in the hearth with the top door open sucking all the O2 out of the boat, she may well have saved my life. Thank you Dr Bones. Oh and nice to meet you James. And now I know Bones' proper name. Err no I aint telling.

Friday 09 Mar

Bought some paint at Homebase today and realised I left my loyalty card there. Bugger!

Saturday 10 Mar

The chap in the boat behind me phoned the Thames people today and they said it should be good for Monday or Tuesday so he booked the both of us through for Tuesday. Woo hoooo!

What is it with these reality TV shows. I know Fame Achamedy is for charity, but please its not very inspiring. There is only one 'contestsant that can sing and she only just scrapped through tonight. That Tara Palmer Thompkinson is totally flat never mind a half tone off key as Lesley Garret says she is FLAT and has the personality of a fish........battered. Get her off.

Monday 5 March 2007

Through the side hatch

Waiting for old Father Thames

Saturday 17 Feb

Up with the larks, well the lazy ones anyway, and away. The canal to Brentford is nice in places, not so nice in others. Passing the Paddington arm I saw a boat having problems with a fouled prop, difficult enough with a weed hatch, but more so without one. They caught me up at the top of Hanwell. It was a community boat on a training run to Brentford. Lucky me, "Sit back and enjoy the ride", they said. So I did.

One of the locks before Brentford had obviously not been opened for some time a collection of plastic bottles, logs, sweet wrappers and other assorted rubbish. I counted 37 tennis balls.

Coming into Brentford it is awkward. Should you go left or right into the Marina? Left looks like the right thing to do, but that only goes to a weir on the river Brent. The marina is actually the canal down to the lock. I moored up in totally the wrong place. I was greeted by a forum member.

Sunday 18 Feb

Well despite mooring in the wrong place I did enjoy a decent connection, but it was not to last. I moved back up past the BW office where the signal was non existent.

The Gauging locks at Brentford are very interesting. To calculate the load carrying capacity of a boat it was necessary to load the boat until the top of the gunnels were only a few millimetres above the water. This was a very dangerous thing to do. On numerous occasions a small ripple on the water would cause the boats to sink and with them the loss of the homes of the boater and his family along with all their possessions. This at a time when there was no social services support system.

Monday 19 Feb

I collected a list of maintenance being carried out on the Thames from the BW office. They were very helpful but did not respond to my "milk and two" request. Ho hum!

Tuesday 20 Feb

I cleaned the boat up on the outside. Got rid of the wood I had been storing on the roof. All in all Milly M looks quite good. Brentford has a good model shop so I was able to get a few tins of Humbrol to touch up some of the smaller chips in the paintwork. In the early days placing the windlass on the roof by the hatch caused tiny chips in the surface. It didn't take me long to buy a few Dri Deck panels to place beside the rear hatch which has reduced this problem. I could of course have bought some rubber car mats to the same effect. I really need to improve my lateral thinking skills. Parts of the name are peeling and beginning to look tatty, but a few minutes with a paint brush tidied it up nicely.

Wednesday 21 Feb

Mother is not so well. It would appear that her water pills are causing her kidneys behave erratically, but at least the problem was highlighted and now has now been corrected.

The chap two boats down from me nb Beetleguse set fire to his bed today, Doh! Not his year really, he broke his leg just before Crimbo and is still limping around. One of the reasons I was able to dispose of my store of wood so easily.

Friday 23 Feb

Brother Allan arrived to visit.

Saturday 24 Feb

Allan thought the boat and the area she was moored in was good. Anything to do with boats and water and Allan is sold.

Sunday 25 Feb

Daughter Kim arrived with Jim.

Monday 26 Feb

Lunch at The Fox and dinner at Prezzo

Tuesday 27 Feb

Kim and Jim went home.

I went to visit Mother.

Wednesday 28 Feb. 07

I didn't stay with my mother very long, mainly because I don't like leaving the boat especially given the strong wind warning. Since mum has altered her medication her kidney function has improved. She seems happier in herself now, but how much longer she will be able to look after herself I don't know.

I have had the pleasure of travelling on the London Underground this week. What a fiasco. It is assumed you know what to do, where to go. It is not as easy as one would first think. I am an old hand at the Underground. I used to travel on it every day to work in the city, but many, many years ago. It is not so easy these days.

Years ago the bus fare from mums house to the town centre was 4d today it was £2. That is some inflation. If I had had an Oyster card the journey would have only cost me £1. It seems that the system as it is, is a rip off of the tourists that come to the city.

Meanwhile back at the boat……….

Thursday 01 Mar

Is it that time already? Tempus fugit!

I spoke with the Thames river people today and was advised not to go on the Thames for the time being. So I am stuck here. I may just go the long way round down the Oxford.

BW assure me that the unplanned stoppage on the K&A near Devizes will be complete by April. Which end of April I am not sure but that is better than the six months I had heard around and about on the cut..

Friday 02 Mar

I painted two flashes on the bow today. First coat a bit patchy second coat nice. Then the rain poured down. Funny thing though the right panel no problem, the left panel went all rough.

Saturday 03 Mar

Lunar eclipse tonight, I missed it. Doh!

Sunday 04 Mar

I have been busy with the brass work today, It takes an age doing all that polishing after leaving it for a while. Of course now the tunnel light and horn are looking all shiney and new they are more likely to go missing.

Monday 05 Mar

Dr Bones came today. Always nice to see a friendly face.