Friday, 31 October 2008

Autumn . . . .

. . . . advancing at a pace.

Visiting friends

As age creeps up I tend to forget things even things that are/were nice. We often meet up with passing boaters who through the inet have become mates then later friends and I simply forget to post about the meetings. I helped Tony Little bring his boat down the river from Lechlade to Enysham and completely forgot to blog it and that was now several momths ago. Tony and Mo have been around quite a lot of canals since and I met them again at the Anchor just off Aristotle Lane Bridge a few weeks ago where he reminded me that no blog post was in evidence of our trip. Sorry Tony my brain seems to be ageing faster than yours.

Two weeks ago we recieved a call from nb BOBCAT. Can we meet up? It was arranged that we would join them for dinner at the Brasenose Arms in Cropredy that Sunday evening. So we grabbed Proper Job (henceforth called PJ) and set off for Cropredy arriving fashionably late following Bones' attempt to make the car fly . . . . she bottled out!

Dinner was fab. I had the Salmon followed by Apple Strudel. A good night was had by all and we are looking forward to our invite to the launch of the new boat.

Rob and Kath were joined on their holiday with their friends Yvonne and Bryan. Bryan will be fitting out Kaths boat when the hull builders are finished with it.

It was finding this pic on my computer that reminded me of that meeting so consequently producing this post. The old grey stuff aint what it used to be.
From l-to-r Yvonne Rob Bryan Kath

Thursday, 30 October 2008


Well there I was minding my own business. Morts engine needed attention and I dont like the cold. A flutter of eyelashes and I was ensnared. Fix the great ship Bones it was then.

Tapping holes is not difficult especially as I used to teach people how to do it. what is difficult is adjusting the alternator after. There have been two great loves in my life, computers and the guitar. Both take a toll on fingers wrists and arms. I am left with little arm strength. Oh I can grab a rope and pull a boat but that is using body weight in the main. Other stuff is more difficult. I tapped out the holes (3 - one still had a bit of bolt in it) and bolted the pulley to the engine. Trying to finagle the alternator so that I could put the fan belt on was more spannering than I could muster. So her ladyship had to finish the job when she came home from work. I was able to help by heaving on a rope to pull the alternator back into place while she did the bolts up.

On trying the key the engine ran a short period-Verrrrooooommmm- then-kersplat- and died. This was only a temporary kersplat- after trying a few more starts it eventually roared into life. The great ship Bones can now charge batteries and heat water. Life for Mort has been dragged back from the cold and dark ages into the modern world once again.

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Kidlington Green

Not far from Thrupp we moored up for lunch. Just outside the Sheriff of Kidlingtons house as it happens. This is a 14 day mooring, but one would never believe that. The grass cutters had been this far but, as you can see from the pictures they only managed to trim down the side of the track and not the by the water. This means that walkers who do not pay a licence have the path trimmed and boaters who do pay a licence have to hack their way through a jungle to get off their boat. Walkers also allow their dogs to s**t in the jungle making life for the hapless boater unpleasant.

The sad thing is that there is Armco piling here and it is a nice place to moor if the vegetation could be cut back. It would be interesting to find out if the local inhabitants on the other side of the canal have anything to do with this. I know of at least one who complains regularly about boats mooring there.

Mindless morons

We moved up from Wolvercote last Friday to Thrupp. I set off for the lock to set it for Bones and after seeing her through I hauled my boat into the lock. It was as my boat was sitting in the lock that I noticed the bicycle was missing. Doh! I had left it chained to the fence.

Leaving the boat in the lock I trotted the 100 yards or so back to where the cycle was. I tilted the machine away from the fence to get at the lock. Imagine my surprise when the cycle came away from the fence lock an' all.

Some joker had cut through the cable. This reminded me that earlier in the morning another boater had asked me if I had heard anything in the early hours as she had had two cycles stolen in the night. This I found curious as she was moored up about a mile away why would I hear anything.

However I can only assume that the tealeaf had spotted my bike and decided to 'prep' it for collection later. So we are short of a bike lock. What I don't understand is that it not the sort of bike anyone with half a brain would want to nick. It rusty as hell and looks like it was just dragged out of the canal. Still I suppose it was dark. The mind boggles.

Friday, 24 October 2008

Of Aardvarks and stuff

Trawling through the site meter I see someone was searching Google for 'Aardvark trimming machine'. The mind boggles untill you click on the link.

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

The Directors Bonus

I found this link on the Canal Forum It was taken from NBW

It is a must read for all boaters. The Directors Bonus

Yet another fine idea

One can always rely on Bones (the woman) to come up with some wonderful ideas. Thursday Dusty came and delivered Coal, fuel and two rather long boat poles she had purchased from the chandler up near Dusty's home base. This left her with a dilemma, what to do with the old pole.

Saturday saw her franticly sawing oblong sections of ply and Steve (nb OCELOT), who had just innocently sauntered down hoping the kettle might be on, ended up nailing them to the old pole.

So now Bones has a paddle of sorts and is wanting to try it out. What surprises me the most is that Steve actually got in the 'Banana' and let her take him to the lock while standing up!

I used to think Steve was alright but now I wonder about his sanity as I am sure he does.

Her ladyship now encouraged buy the success of this venture is planning her next experiment venture in the Banana this time with a sail which somehow she thinks we will assist her with, time to visit my mother in London methinks. I wonder if Steve might like to come along?

Monday, 20 October 2008

Veg Pledge PAH!

Last week the contractors came to trim the edges of the towpath. I should have done it myself.

Just north of Edwards lift bridge are the remains of another bridge. Even if you ignore the tables it is difficult to understand why the rest is so . . . . . CRAP!!!

I think I just may know what the problem is. Those who are employed to do the grass are CRAP at doing their job, but then again who do they have as a role model?

This is a mooring. Note the neatly trimmed something or other. The overhanging willow is almost blocking the canal. The contractors started at the bottom end and as far as I know continued on up the canal. We are at Wolvercote and they certainly came this far.

At last!

OK so it took a while but I finally got a new phone 200 minutes and 500 texts £18. That should save me a few shekels.

I am a Nokia phone fan, they seem to me to be much stronger/hard wearing than all other phones I have had, but this time I went for an LG. I may live to regret this but I do live in hope.

My phone package included the hand set for free, which is quite amazing really Especially as it has a built in 5 Mega pixel camera. I had been looking to get a new camera but won't have to now.

I wonder if it floats?

I knicked the pic

Friday, 17 October 2008

Real boaters do it with a rope!

Any boater worth his salt knows there are somethings that are 'gospel'. Such as no matter how long a rope is it will at some point be just that little bit too short. Or no matter how slow you are going someone will tell you to slow down. Or even if there is smoke pouring out of your windows someone will always ask if there is a fire. One more:- in any group of non boaters comprising of 2 or more people someone will ask if it's cold in the winter.

Likewise any boater worth his salt knows you don't get off a boat single handed without a rope. Well most boaters know. Last night I did a short run in the dark. The tunnel light was pointing too high so at a convenient rail bridge I placed the bows on the bank and stepped off to adjust the lamp. Not realising that the contrast between the bright lamp and the dark behind it would stop me from judging distance at the front of the boat and I couldn't see to step on to the boat.

The front of the boat drifted away across the other side of the canal following the stern and laid itself neatly against the wall. Oh dear what to do?

Well I cursed a bit then I cursed a bit more and if that wasn't enough I cursed louder like that was going to elicit help from above. There was no way to get across the canal unless I shimmied up the bridge and climbed across then jumped down in the dark . . . er I don't think so.

After about ten minutes the boat started to move very slowly backwards not a lot of good because even a suicide mission off the bridge would soon be out of the question, but lo and behold (do people say that anymore) as the boat drifted back the bow came away from the wall. Using all my 'mental power' I willed the boat to come to me.

It took about 20 minutes all told to from when I stepped off until I stepped back on again which given the stupidity of the situation wasn't bad.

In Abingdon . . .

. . . a few weeks ago I took a tumble on a protruding access cover in the street. I broke my wristwatch strap in the fall, the spring pin that holds the strap on. No problem take it to a friendly jeweller and he will fix it, which he did for £1. Cool!

I must have damaged the other pin because shortly after that broke too. Yesterday I went to get it fixed. Not being in Abingdon (who were now known for their strap fixing) I paid a visit to the metropolis of Oxford. The first shop Samuels were very helpful. "No problem Sir that will be £1". Unfortunately he couldn't find the correct one but did apologise and tightened up the one that had already been repaired. Thank you.

The next shop said, "No problem Sir that will be £1". Unfortunately he couldn't find the correct one either but did point me to the kiosk in Debenhams where I duly went (its tough being a boater).

It took me a while to find said kiosk, but when I did I asked, holding out my watch, "Can you fix this".

"Oh yes," said the girl, "that will be £6!.

"No just the strap pin".

Yes Sir, that will be £6".

"Are you serious?"

"Yes sir".

"Don't you know there is a credit crunch on", I said rather pointlessly, "that is 500% more than anyone else is charging"

Yes sir but we use special pins not like the other people do".

"What you mean high grade titanium with built in GPS tracker", I said, "are you serious?

"It wont take long", she said, failing to understand that I thought she was robbing me.

"I would rather keep it in my pocket than pay that extortionate price", with which I took back my watch and left.

I eventually had it done in the market but even they charged me 3 quid and I had to go back in half an hour. On arrival I was told "Sorry I'll do it now". It took 2 minutes. So if anyone wants a good paying job you could do worse than watch strap fixer they make £90 and hour in some places £180 in others (supply your own pins).

I missed this . . . .

. . . . from my post last Sunday:-

Increasing the cost of continuous cruising (which includes continuous mooring)by a significant sum—so as to provide an incentive for people to seek permanent moorings elsewhere, and to raise income which could partly be used for enforcement of continuous mooring.

Tell me if I am right. This possible proposal is suggesting that CCers have their licence fee hiked to raise funds to deal with continuous moorers. Why is that something CCers should sort out.

The number of itinerant moorers has steadily increased over the last 5 years. BW has had the temerity to take their licence fees and do nothing to stop them. This problem is mis-management. The funding for this should come out of the fund put aside for senior execs bonuses, who often by their own addmissions have failed to do what they are paid for. When I failed in my job the only thing I got was my cards.

It would seem that we live in a society where screwing up is OK if you sit in a big fancy chair because you can shaft some other poor bugger to correct your blunders. Well its about time boaters stood together. All (all boaters) make a point this weekend of writing to at least three government officials including your MP.

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Medoc or Mobile

It may come as a surprise to some that I, the Maffster, have a pay-as-you-go phone. It cost me about 40/50 quid a month. I ask myself whats the point? What I need is a £15 a month phone deal with hundreds of minutes and texts absolutely free!

Today I went out to find the deal I could ive with. I went to 3 I went to Virgin I went to phones4you even O2 and the carphone warehouse in fact I went everywhere I could with the exception of Vodaphone (who once tried to charge me 13 payments for a 12 month contract I did suggest that they were welcome to come and get their money but they declined when I told them I lived in Al Qaeda central Riyadh).

The trouble with mobile phones is there is so much choice. So after a day in the Oxford metropolis I came back with a nice bottle of wine. Good choice methinks.

Bloody email pirates

In the last few months I have been having problems with internet pirates stealing my email address and sending my contacts junk mail purporting to be from me. This is really pi55ing me off and no doubt the people I know who receive these posts.

Many of those who were on my contact list now have me blocked this means each time my email is used by these bastards I get a hundred or more 'DELIVERY FAILURE' emails back. It would seem that I cannot redirect these to my junk box.

I did go to one site which had nothing to do with what the email was selling and emailed all the directors with copies of the email I was getting and the perps name and I never heard from him again, hopefully he got sacked.

I do every once in a while return an offencive reply. One chap replied "I am only doing my job". "Strange job", said I, "pi55ing people off".

I have changed my password on several occasions but still they use my email address. Changing my password usually results in losing my contact list which is a bit like losing your mobile phone . . . . . devastating!

As I understand it it is illegal to use other peoples email address for this purpose, but that doesn't seem to apply to the Pharmaceutical trade or the Chinese for that matter. Maybe what is needed is a space station that can pin-point these jerks and zapp them to dust, perhaps a few public hangings might do the trick.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

The trouble with computers is. .

. . . . . . you have to take what 'they' want you to have. My old computer was a Fujitsu Siemans. I bought it in Riyadh. It had an Arabic keyboard and was set for Arabic language. I insisted that the chappie at the compstore should remove all traces of Arabic (except the keyboard) which he duly did, but not it would seem 'all'. Eventually the licence collapsed and I was left with an invalid copy of XP. I have always liked 98 and had the system set as 98.

My new computer is also a Fujitsu Seimens (stick with what you know). The spec is just about the same as the old one which was designed for XP, however, this machine has Vista Basic installed. It does nothing I ask it to do straight away. Whereas things should happen in the click of a button it seems intent on showing me its little "wait I'm getting to it" sign. It does loads of things I don't want it to do, but most important it does them slowly which is not what one would expect from the latest 'sh!t off a shovel' system.

Getting to my hotmail should be easy but Vista no longer supports web based HTTP email. And for some reason when I installed Live Mail, as it says I should to get hotmail, it didn't bring my contact list with it. MSM Messenger also lost it contact list so I have a list now with only Bones on it.

Of course it could be that Vista was not meant for this spec computer, but all the computer sheds seem to insist on giving you what you don't want or need. Free with the computer is a disk 'worth' £12.49. it is in essence a taster disc which will let you have a service for a short while then charge you to use it after the expiry time (which is probably about the time you have uploaded all your pics onto their system for 'safe' keeping). So its an advert and not a freebie at all.

I wonder why when a company says, "WE HAVE WHAT YOU WANT" they don't add "AS LONG AS YOU WANT WHAT WE HAVE" it would make life so much easier. It would also help if they stopped box shifting and offered a bit of flexibility.

I think I will install my legal copy of XP if I can get Vista off completely. Life was so much easier then, but I seem to remember saying that about 97, 98 and even 3.1.1

A leafy Oxford towpath

So here we are again in autumn.

Sunday, 12 October 2008

Continuous Cruising again

Once again the Continuous Cruiser is likey to get an unwelcome bashing. According to one report just out from the BWAF.

Increasing the cost of continuous cruising (which includes continuous mooring) by a significant sum—so as to provide an incentive for people to seek permanent moorings elsewhere, and to raise income which could partly be used for enforcement of continuous mooring.

We had this two years ago where a 'significant' sum was deemed to be 247% increase.

Agreed this is only one suggestion but of the five listed this is the one that will most likely be accepted, the others in the text already say they are not really an option.

The BWAF is not representing the Continuous Cruiser. If they were they would not include CCer in the same sentence as CMer. And they would most certainly not suggest that a CCer should seek permanent moorings elsewhere. CCers do not need a permanent mooring that is the whole bloody point. Are these people stupid or just incapable of understanding simple English. A Continuous Cruiser cruises continuously what good would a permanent mooring be.

Sure if BW want to penalise someone the penalise the right people, err that would be the ones in the brackets.

I have said it before and I will say it again charge a CCer a mooring fee and he will not see time limits. Then the BWAF (which includes the APCO and many other commercial bodies) will have lost their argument completely by making the problem worse.

In the same report it says:
In the absence of agreement about a workable strategy for differentiating continuous cruisers and continuous moorers, British Waterways must continue to treat both groups in the same way.

I would suggest that if BW cant find a way of diferentiating then resign and let someone in that can. One stays put the other moves. It aint rocket science.

Lieutenant Pigeon

Let's get this sorted. The said Lieutenant was, when bought to me, rather sad and dishevelled. I could not however wring its neck without trying to give it succour and comfort. This I did with sweet words, water and oatmeal (ok readybrek). It seemed to be doing OK as you will see in the pic below. He even flew off the boat a couple of times.

Bones didn't think my 'oatmeal' was suitable and gave it something sweet and sticky. It was after this that the Lieutenant started to go down hill. He collapse in exhaustion unable to stand, breathing heavy and eyes rolling. It was when his heart stopped beating I decided it was not snoozing.

The Lieutenant, now bereft of life, lay in my hand completely motionless. It was at this point I thought that now might be a good time to practice wringing a birds neck in case I should ever have to do it again.

The bird was definitely dead. It was an ex-pigeon. It had ceased to exist. And just in case it hadn't, with a wrung neck it wasn't going to cooing classes anymore. End of.

Which reminds me, Why is a pigeon superior to a Merchant Banker. Because he can still put a deposit on a Ferrari.

Apologies to the boys of Monty Python

Saturday, 11 October 2008

BOO! Back again.

My computer went tits up last week hence no posts. It had been promising me it would fail eversince it fell off the shelf in the kitchen. I should have backed up all my files as I used to tell every one when I worked in IT. I now have a new one. I promise when it tells me 'You can't do that' for the umpteenth time I will not punch the keyboard.