Saturday 31 May 2008

Twenty Questions

Following Andy Denny's Twenty questions in Canal Boat Mmagazine last month many of my blogging compatriates have done their own "on blog" versions. I had wondered what I would say if I was asked by CB the same questions. The question for me is 'to blog it or not to blog it'. So if you were wondering when I would do it for the time being I have elected not to blog it. People who are interested enough to say hello when they meet me out and about soon learn that I will prattle on for hours without the slightest provocation and get all the answers anyway.

However the list of 20Q's bloggers continues apace.

Fade To Scarlet
No Problem

Water still high but receding

This is the canoe portage point below Abingdon Lock yesterday afternoon at 2 o'clock.


For a long time I have wanted to splice loops on my ropes, but try as I may I have had no success. Early attempts resulted in the most horrific 'knots' at a cost of a few feet of good rope.

My now 'new best friend' Paul, nb Piston Broke, was in a former life involved in making rigging and nets for some movies.

He showed me last night how to make a loop on my Sea Searcher Magnet rope which spurned me on to try something bigger. So this morning I set about my anchor rope. Lo and behold a reasonable level of success.

What I need to know now is can I replicate this on the other end and include a ferrule.


The latest plan from conservationalists to re-introduce Beavers into Scotland and then England and Wales is absolutely preposterous. Have they not seen the damage done to our canal banks by the 'diminuative' water voles?

How much more the damage done by a beaver? It would seem they have as much common sense as the Animal Rights bozos who let lose hundreds of that ferocious american predator the Mink which have probably, in one foul swoop, done more to damage British wildlife than 250 years of industrialisation.

Soon I think 'continuously moored' will mean all boaters as we wont be able to go past a beaver dam without a special pass.

I have to ask myself what conservationalists use for a brain when their arse is on holiday.

Friday 30 May 2008

Picture book

A few minutes after arriving back at the boat yesterday.

About an hour or so after it was paddling time. Three weeks ago when we were working on Bones' engine room at this same spot the plank was horizontal.

Good job the bridge stopped this or it would have ended up at Culham Weir.

Well and truly wedged.

And so to the hospital.

I took a trip out to the hospital in Oxford yesterday where Dr Greenall (Oncology), though not concerned about my lump, had a biopsy done anyway. That was not one of the highlights of my boating career I can tell you. Sticking a needle into a lump that was painful to start with and then wiggling it about to take a sample is bloody painful.

Result is good but will keep an eye on it anyway, back again in two months.

Thursday 29 May 2008

Rising river and dinner.

I moved the boat across from the park side to the meadow and went to stay with a friend for the night. The park is nice but I don't like leaving the boat there overnight if I am not aboard. It was just a case of pushing the bow out into the stream and as the flow took her I steered the stern out to follow the bow. At a slight angle to the flow the river did the rest all I had to do was adjust the revs to arrive at the other side of the river where Paul on Piston Broke helped me to moor up.

I arrived at the boat this morning with the water almost level with the top of the hard edge. Within an hour or two the water had risen a good eight inches and my fenders were clear of the bank with a 3 foot wide strip of water for me to paddle in to get on the boat. It really was a pertinent time for me to get some wellies.

By the time I arrived back from the wellie shop, with two pairs of wellies, I had missed all the fun. A wide beam moored up near the lock had broken free from its mooring and careered down stream to the old bridge where it came to an abrupt halt, being to big to get under. Apparently the police had come a few days before and taken the occupants into custody. Oh dear!

Hurrah! The water started falling, but still an inch or two over the edge.

Bones was going to take me to dinner, at The Broad Face, this evening so I picked her up from her mooring. Parking the car was not difficult but getting the key out of the lock was. The AA was summoned and after an hour wait and an hour accessing the door lock it came out and disintegrated in Mr AA's hand. At least we were able to secure the car.

Dinner, though good, was not a happy experience. We seemed to wait an age to be served. The starter, Mackerel Trout and Salmon had to be returned because it had tomatoes on it despite asking for no tomatoes. the interval between starter and main was very long. The food was excellent, but by the time the main course arrived we were not that hungry. People that came in after us were served before us and that is just not good enough.

Tuesday 27 May 2008

Yummie Dinner

Our friend John bought us some road kill on Saturday in the shape of a Pheasant. John's idea was for Bones to relieve it of it's feathers and soft parts leaving the solid structure to add to her collection. BIG mistake John! Mort's idea was to hang it strip it of it's feathers then cook it for our tea. Personally I wasn't keen on either option. Girls are so gross!

So out with the knives and we set about taking off it's coat which understandably it was reluctant to let us have. Mort would have you believe this was second nature to her but in truth she had seen it done once. After cutting off it's head she opened it up down it's back and said, "Put your hand in there and hold it while I pull this skin off". It stunk awful. Mort moved up wind to stop her from throwing up.

Well I was none too keen, dead and me, I had rather hoped to keep apart for some time to come.

I apologised to the Pheasant telling him it was not a personal thing that we were doing, but that he had started the ball rolling by getting dead in the first place.

Eventually with most of the feathers in a bag Mort popped in to 'read' what to do next (isn't the Internet wonderful). "Listen", she said shouting through the window, " I will read it out to you".

By this time my stomach was trying hard to empty it's contents on to the floor.

"Cut the skin above the bum to the breastbone. Insert your hand and pull the innards out of the chest cavity".

"No," says I.

"Come on its easy," says she.

"Hughieeeeeeeeeeeeee, " says I.

Using a carrier bag as a glove I set about evicting the internal organs from this once proud bird. Mort came to supervise. As the heart plopped on to the bag we were using to store the 'internal goodies' we looked at each other and she said, "Do we really want to do this".

"No," says I, with which we placed the remains of the bird in the plastic bag and laid it to rest in a litter bin.


…..don't you just hate it when people start a sentence with, "Well obviously ……."? Why do people assume that the minor detail they are expounding is so obvious? It never is to me. Sports personalities are particularly guilty of this. 'Obviously' they are too full of their own very minor celebrity and think we all spend our lives following their lives.

UN----believable is yet another of those expressions that have become commonly used, clipped from celebrity speak, the language of vacuous over paid prima donnas.

I know every generation has its own culture/language, but purrrrlees it is so false and sooooo annoying. See even I am doing it. Oh for a time when proper English was spoken , not posh, but normal.

Another Bank Holiday Weekend

Well we did have a good weekend. John and Jan Halford came to visit all the way from Norfolk. John's blog is HALFIE.

I was going to blog about what a wonderful time we had but Bones seems to have covered many of the salient points on her blog.

She did miss one point of interest that in itself is quite amazing. John has an unusual talent. He can whistle a tune and hum the bass line at one and the same time, though not while he is laughing! He also plays the recorder which he bought along in case a 'jammin' session should arise which it did sort of.

It was lovely to have them down for the weekend and I certainly look forward to their next visit.

I do of course promise to have the anchor chain attached to a suitable rope!

Thursday 22 May 2008

NBW tsk! tsk!

I was going to comment on Victor's tirade about Andy Denny on Granny Buttons, however I have more important things to do.
Now where are my nail clippers.

Monday 19 May 2008


I was amused to find this afternoon that someone from Bulacan in the Philippines had googled "Maffi the Great".

Sunday 18 May 2008

Back again.

A very lazy morning. Breakfast at G&D's andd then a slow cruise down the river to Abingdon stopping above Sandford lock for a cuppa. Bones of course did some more tidying.

Above Abingdon Lock another boater was surprised to see me at the tiller of nb Bones. "Your Maffi", he said. Can't think why he would think I would need reminding, but people often do. On arrival in Abingdon we went for a late lunch then took nb Bones back to base.

Bones had a great idea this evening, I was not so sure. The living room and dinning room have now changed places which had the effect of undoing all the tidying up she had done over the last two days. And now she doesn't like the results. Women!!!

Saturday 17 May 2008

To Oxord

Last night I moored up on the new start of the Wilts & Berks. It is a lovely spot, very quiet and far from the madding crowd. I put my hand to drawing and failed to do anything of any note. Ho hum!

This morning I just lazed about for a few hours before setting off. I untied the ropes and only as I stepped on the boat did I notice Bones going up the river. She had sounded her horn as she went down but it's not the best of horns so I didn't hear it. We moored together opposite the marina and she did some tidying.

We went for a walk across a bridge that is 600 years old and was the site of a Civil War skirmish.

Bones had an appointment in Oxford this evening so we moored up Milly M in Abingdon and I took her boat to Oxford while she did some heron stripping. IT STANK! There I was at the tiller with Bones in the well deck heaving handfulls of feathers and other associated bits of decaying heron over the side. Of course the pics are on her boat this morning and I am not. Doh! By the time she had finished she needed a shower and I am glad she did coz I really didn't want her on the stern with me while we were locking through Sandford and Iffley.

Bones went off to her concert and I spent a couple of hours visiting Allie and Ellie onboard his boat at Folly Bridge.


Granny Buttons got a mention in Narrow Boat World last week which was later updated with information he put on his blog. I can understand that he may be a bit miffed. Victor does seem to spend too much time checking licences and counting boats and not checking his facts. What he really should be doing is enjoying his holiday!

I am also in NBW this week in the email pages. Unfortunately Tom wont sign my emails 'Maffi' as every one knows me so you will find it bottom left a comment about CCers or more to the point CMers

Friday 16 May 2008

Alms Houses, Abingdon

Here in Abingdon the are many historical features. Nestled between the St Helens Church and the Old Anchor are some Alms Houses dating back to 1543.

I stopped to speak to one of the residents a Mr XXXXXX who informed me that, yes the houses were still in use after all this time, and to get one you just have to apply to the Church commissioners and hope for the best.

There are 13 houses in the long house (seen above) and a further 7 across the cemetery (seen below) providing accommodation originally for 6 men 6 women and one nurse in one building an 3 + 3 + nurse the other.

The older building is adorned with scripture passages and frescoes on the walls in the passageway. Of the 13 houses the ones at either end and the centre one have upstairs.

Thursday 15 May 2008

Landmark on the blog

Today at 09:08:14 I had my 50,000th visitor. He only stayed for 9 seconds prolly found me by accident.

Domain Name (Unknown)
IP Address (deleted).# (Carphone Warehouse Broadband Services)
ISP Opal Telecom
Location Continent : Europe
Country : United Kingdom (Facts)
State/Region : Manchester
City : Manchester
Lat/Long : 53.5, -2.2167 (Map)

Language English (U.K.)en-gb
Operating System Microsoft WinXP
Browser Internet Explorer 7.0
Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 7.0; Windows NT 5.1; .NET CLR 1.1.4322)
Javascript version 1.3
Monitor Resolution : 1280 x 800
Color Depth : 32 bits

Time of Visit May 15 2008 9:08:14 am
Last Page View May 15 2008 9:08:23 am
Visit Length 9 seconds
Page Views 1
Referring URL
Visit Entry Page
Visit Exit Page
Out Click DR BONES *
Time Zone UTC+0:00
Visitor's Time May 15 2008 9:08:14 am
Visit Number 50,000

Wednesday 14 May 2008

Busybodies pt3

I went to a planning meeting Monday night. The main topic of discussion was the planning infringements of the marina. In all honesty I have never heard such a load of BS in all my life, with the exception of a seconded RAF Officer in Oman who had a degree in talking bollix.

The main thrust of the discussion, which was why we were there, was the live aboard narrow boaters, who don't live aboard! The Enforcement Officer reported that he could not find any evidence of people living on their boats. Gail Varney who seems to do all the complaining thought it was not right for boaters to 'overnight' on their boats. Like it was something to do with her what people did on their boats.

Another topic was the pilings that enable narrow boats to tie up both ends of the boat. In order to see the posts on a 5 foot wide picture they had to be pointed out and even then couldn't be clearly seen. These new posts were smaller than the post that allow the decking to rise up with the flood waters, and as was said in the agenda didn't need planning permission anyway.

Some new finger moorings that were installed to allow overnight visitors which had planning permission for the installation apparently needed PP to allow them to be used. What?

Gail pointed out that wildlife was being destroyed. Last night I saw a coot on her nest and a Great Crested Grebe carrying her young on her back. The only destruction was from dogs that were allowed to run wild in the park and chase the ducks not, I might add, boaters dogs!

PP allows for X amount of moorings Gail said this should say 'boats'. She thinks there are too many boats, but she did not include the boats moored out side peoples houses. They are exempt from her vitriolic attack, I counted 40 last night.

A caravan which shouldn't have been parked in the 'trailer' park was removed a few days before. However a box trailer that was the in the 'trailer' park was not masquerading as anything other than what it was ie a trailer, but Gail didn't like the colour so they might have to paint it green.

Some marker buoys which were supposed to protect the reed beds were too close to the reeds so she says. But to place them exactly 8 metres from the bank as PP stipulates would mean the new finger pontoons could not be used. They were viewed by the EA who were quite happy with them.

One boat was supposed to be moored past the demarcation line of the marina, but although the boat may have been past the line the mooring wasn't and that is the crux of the matter.

Letters read out in support of the marina claim harassment, breach of human rights and surprisingly from local residents some had no idea what this was all about and wanted to distance themselves from the whole fiasco.

As good fortune would have it most of her petty complaints were put aside and no further action will be taken. Ergo Gail was trounced. I get the feeling that this whole costly fiasco was to put her in her place. She ain't royalty and never will be.

Her house enjoys increased value because it backs onto the marina and I suppose at some time she will make a lot of money from the sale when she gets fed up trying to make peoples lives difficult.

I can't help but wonder why Gail doesn't channel her efforts to some of the more important issues facing Abingdon.


Bones gets another crack on the head Monday night. Doh!

Will she ever learn! Open the hatch all the way.

Saturday 10 May 2008

Fun init?

There is nowt so much fun as messing about on boats. This picture taken in front of the bridge over the River OCK where it meets the Thames.

Friday 9 May 2008

Wilts and Berks

Today I went for a trip down the Wilts & Berks canal, well what there is of it.

The proposed 'new' cut starts here almost opposite the the Culham lock cut.

It finishes here in a little basin after about 300 yards.

This is the old junction closer to town.

Maffi becomes a Park Attendant

Last night I collected a bin liner full of rubbish after all the mums/kids/yobs went home. Tonight I did the same. Beer bottles cans, most of which were not empty, food wrappers etc.

Four northern visitors called out to three girls to tell them they had left their rubish and they should clear it up. The girls said they had more important things to worry about. So says I, "That'll be a £75 fine," they of course ignored me.

All over Abingdon there are litter bins and on the litter bins is this poster.

It's a bit pointless really not only because those that drop litter dont go close enough to read the poster (if they can read at all), but there is no enforcement.

What is the point of having rules if you are not going to enforce them.

Thursday 8 May 2008

Dragon Boat Racing

Abingdon is hosting a Dragon Boat Race this Sunday. Some information can be found here on last years site.

Any one wanting to meet up I will be moored on the parkside north of Abingdon Bridge.

Wednesday 7 May 2008

Busybodies pt2

It is not for me to comment about things that don't concern me, but there are time when it is difficult not to say something when people you know are being screwed over.

Not far from where I am there is a marina with 100 boat moorings. This has recently increased by 16. There are a few narrow boats as well as Plastics and a Dutch Barge. It really is a nice place to moor a boat and a nice place to live in the surrounding houses. Wildlife abounds and there is a beautiful park along one edge.

The local 'royalty', the leader of which doesn't want boats in the marina AT ALL, are complaining to the local council about people staying on their boats. This is mainly narrow boats. They complain about recently installed pilings which are necessary to moor a narrow boat safely they complain about buoys which are the demarcation between the boat manoeuvring area and the reed beds.

It has become so bad that they are photographing owners coming and going and it is said that even the Royal Mail is not safe.

I can appreciate that people are concerned about the area, but the boat owners are a part of the area and add to the overall security.

I have to wonder why the 'royalty' have nothing better to do.

Tuesday 6 May 2008


I have to wonder why it is that some people have nothing in their lives but bitter twisted anger. So B&T are some that they sit and watch others and then complain about the way they live.

When I bought my house in Wiltshire it had had a number of 'extras' built on to it by the previous owner. He was a builder by trade and so understood planning law, or the basic need for it so he was sure to get all the correct permits before commencing.

Once I moved in I was talking to a neighbour who said that he had been to the council to view all the PP's applied for by the previous owner as is his right, fair do's cant argue. What I can argue is that this degenerate moron who lived at someone else's expense, council house and the benefits he could wangle despite being fit and able to work, failed in his duty to look after the property he was living in with his wife and three brats. His house and garden were a pig sty. As bad as anything you may have seen on the TV reality shows, yet he had the nerve to go checking on other citizens who were paying for his life!

I can also argue against those who buy a property next to a factory/airfield/sewage depot etc at a vastly reduced price then campaign to have it closed down.

When you live on a river/canal only the most stupid would not expect to see boats. These 'most stupid' fail to see in the survey that a waterway exists. Like the tussle I had with the 'Sheriff of Kidlington' who thought that we shouldn't moor behind his house. Such people always claim their rights yet fail to allow others theirs.

What is so dire about their lives that they have to complain about the lives of others?

If your life is crap the solution is to make it better not make others worse. Pull yourself up to a higher level not drag others down with you. It makes no sense to be an arse!

Friday 2 May 2008


Today was taken with working and expecting. Mort was working and Mort was expecting. No hush your mouth! She was expecting to collect her new motor cycle. Well she did lots of work and sadly was not rewarded with a shiney new M/C. It wasn't ready. Never mind there is always tomorrow.

Tonight we measured up Morts engine bay for a new fitout. Following that we moved the boats up to the meadow to BBQ with Phillip and Trish. We were well looked after by them and had a spiffing evening.

Phillip has a 'Sea Otter' narrowboat that has some very nice features on it, apart from the aluminium shell.

Thursday 1 May 2008

Phillip & Trish

After a few emails we finally managed to meet up with Phillip & Trish Hanson who I met last year. Phillip complete with a couple of bottles came down to the Old Anchor in Abindon and moored up in front. A pleasant evening was spent before we went our separate ways to dine. Phillip invited us to a BBQ tomorrow evening. When we returned they had returned to their mooring on the meadow.

Bones does the retail therapy thing.

I spent the morning helping Bones :-) with her retail therapy. I can't say I approve, but then I can't say I disapprove. It's her choice. Given it does 120 mpg it will definately be a saving on fuel.

Personally I rather liked this one, but Bones went for the rather sedate ECO. Ho hum!