Monday, 31 May 2010

Canal characters

This is Mark Paris Boat engineer and the local BSS chap. Mark is also an amateur bee-keeper. Here he can be seen with a frame from a beehive inserting a sheet of wax which is used to encourage the bees to build honeycomb. The young chap is taking a lot of interest in what is happening and asking lots of questions.DSCF4222 The finished article.DSCF4223

Sunday, 30 May 2010


Its been a while since my last Boots post, no not the dog proper boots, but now the boots I bought to replace the worn out ones have worn out as well. So now I am back to where we started, it's cheaper to buy new than repair. Ho-hum!DSCF4208

Friday, 28 May 2010

Progress Report

DSCF3425There has been no progress report of late because there has been no progress to report.

This was the last work done a few weeks ago, early April. It is the top of the pit for the hydraulics. The bridge is at the top of the picture.I was quite impressed as were others in the village. It’s very neat.

DSCF4123From what I understand this is what BW wanted and, as you can see, this is what they got, however it was not to last and some remodelling was done this week.

It doesn’t look quite a good as the previous attempt, but comes complete with a built-in trip hazard. Never mind BW are professionals and will get it put right. Won’t they?

The wooden panel on the bridge deck covers the cover that covers the aperture for the Hydraulic end mount. The aperture is 580 mm wide. The Hydraulic ram end mount assembly is 581 mm. IT DOESN’T FIT!DSCF4120 Nothing could go wrong with the cutting of the hole in the deck except . . . . . .DSCF4115 . . . . the cover was made with counter-sunk holes and they only had hex bolts to hold it in place hence the sheet of wood over the bolts. I am sure its not permanent least I hope notDSCF4121

Joinery on the rickety safety fence is atrocious.



Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Turn around day Pt 1

The vast majority of the work at Lower Heyford with regard to boats is done on Friday or Monday. On these days services are closed for passing boats and all OXNB’s on the dock are prepped for the clients coming in the afternoon. First we have to wait for them to arrive back from a previous hire. A member of staff will board if necessary to assist customers to moor the boats where we want them. Then we have to allow time for the returning incumbents to disembark (it is surprising how much stuff people take away with them for three days), before we can get onboard and check the boat hasn’t been destroyed, On a good day (for the workers) only one or two boats need prepping on a bad day up to eight are required. all boats need to be stripped of all bedding and towels etc before any preparation work can start. Some of these boats have been at the dock for several days and are prepped on the days leading up to the hire out day.

DSCF3971All sparkling and ready for the off

On a boat like OXFORD 47 ft 2/4 berth, the time taken is less  than a couple of hours, starting at the front and cleaning all the windows then the toilets followed by the kitchen, this includes an inventory check. Ceilings are wiped down, paying particular attention to the kitchen ceiling followed by making up the beds. If 4 berths are required pillows, duvet etc are made up and placed on the fixed double. A 69 ft 12 berth takes a sight longer than a 2/4 berth. Putting one duvet cover on in a narrow boat is not easy, putting 10 on is a right pain. Of course 10 covers means 24 pillow cases. A neatly folded bath towel is placed on each pair of pillows. Clean shower curtains are put up in the bathrooms hand towels, soaps, toilet rolls etc. In the kitchen clean tea towels, dishcloth, bin liners etc. After the beds are made all surfaces are dusted and then the whole boat is vacuumed from bow to stern. What takes extra time is if any sheets, duvets, pillow cases or towels are marked or torn. These have to be changed and you never notice this until the cover/sheet is on the bed. While all this is going on two guys are outside filling with water pumping out poo tanks, all the larger boats have two tanks, wiping down the roofs and sides and cleaning the outsides of the windows. Even the tunnel bands are cleaned. If there is time deck boards are lifted and the guttering cleaned out and we finish with polishing the tiller arms. While all this is going on the engineers are checking oil/water levels and fill each boat to the brim with fuel, other yard staff are fixing anything that is bought to their attention.

This is a young persons game, it is not for the feint hearted

Whatever size boat you do the customers start arriving about 12 sometimes earlier.


Friday, 21 May 2010

Canal Maintenance

British Waterways spends £100 million per year on its maintenance programme of Britain’s 2,200-mile inland waterway network. For every £1.00 that British Waterways spends on the waterways, 33p comes from Government grants, 16p from third party funders, 13p from boaters and 38p from the organisation’s other commercial activities such as property and utilities.

Of the millions of people that access the canal system boaters represent only 3% but we pay 13% of the cost hardly fair. C’est la vie!

Recycling gates

It would seem that some of the gates removed from the Caen Hill flight of locks, during a recent repair programme, have been used to build a bridge as a memorial to Arabella Churchill  who died after a short illness in 2007. The bridge has been erected at Glastonbury, thousands of festival goers will cross the bridge this year many of whom will probably have no Idea who Arabella was let alone the contribution she made to  the event in its early days.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Grass cutting

Following a complaint about contractor’s strimmers throwing grass and stones at boats and people, BW said that the machinery used was fitted with guards to stop that happening. Well BW are wrong again. DSCF3880The same complainant high lighted the fact that contractors staff were continuing to strim while members of the public (licence payers) were in close proximity ie continuing to work around locks while boats were being locked through. This of course is a very dangerous practice with heads, at the tiller, rising above the lockside being particularly at risk. It seem to me that BW say all the right things without knowing what’s actually going on. Statements like “every effort is made” and “the safety of the public is our primary concern” are of no importance whatsoever if someone doesn’t get off their arse and check what is actually happening.

I remember years ago there used to be a mnemonic in some management schools, GOYA, which simply means if you want to know what is happening on the shop floor Get Off Your Arse and look. BW need to go back to school.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010


Love ‘em or loathe ‘em the bollards are here to stay. Three bollards placed down the off side of the locks, at great expense (I had heard a claimed £3,000 per lock).

They will not go away, however much you ignore them. Why has this boater, who has obviously a need for them, tied his rope to the ladder.DSCF3810 This bollard seems not 6 feet away from the ladder.DSCF3811

This bollard at Aynho Weir Lock however much it cost has not been installed properly. I feel sure it should be mounted in the block and not on it. It would have been better if the ‘bollard installation engineer’ (Ok yes I am taking the piss) could have bothered to put all the nuts on!

DSCF3816DSCF3815 Certainly no quality assurance checks at BW.

Saturday, 15 May 2010

PORT Felix

Port Felix in Banbury. A boat with interesting graphics.DSCF3797Dontcha just love the cat. DSCF3798

Friday, 14 May 2010

Abusing the rules

BOAT NAME has been moored in London for most of the summer continuously cruising along the Regents canal, staying at places like Little Venice, Camden Town and Victory Park to mention just a few :)

This is a quote from a blog. It is glaringly inaccurate. Given that to ‘continuously cruise’ you must be on a “progressive journey” around a “significant part of the system” All this chap is doing is continuously mooring (CM) or to use a more descriptive term of his activities Bridge Hopping.

Moving around just a few miles of a 2200 mile system is neither progressive nor significant and certainly isn't continuous cruising (CC). Not only that but he is taking the piss and the smiley says that he knows he is. If people want to continuously moor that is up to them and their conscience, but to hide under the guise of continuously cruising is a blatant abuse of the rules and an affront to those who genuinely do continuously cruise the system. It can be likened to wearing a military uniform to get free beer when you enter a pub.

It is no wonder that the ‘powers that be’ see both the CCer and the CMer as parts of the same group. They most certainly are not! The Genuine CCer knows the rules and abides by them. The CMer knows the rules and sets out to abuse them.

It is because of this abuse of the rules that the skies are rumbling again. The rumblings are saying those on a CCers licence should pay more for their licence to make up for the fact that they moor for as long as they like and don’t pay. So once again those that obey the rules will be ‘hunted’ because some refuse to.


I didn’t see this until I was past it.

DSCF3689 (2)

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Lift Bridge 193

Who ever rammed this bridge . . .

DSCF3687 . . . hit it so hard it shifted sideways half an inch.

DSCF3686Shame on them!

Wednesday, 12 May 2010


I know boat names are individual choices, but this name is so wrong. It should be GnT43 at least. As it stands I cant be invited for Gin! Selfish that’s what I call it.DSCF3878

Sleeping on the job

Molly loves the boat she will spend all day on the roof when the boat is moving. So much so that even when she is tired she will stay on the roof. Here she is actually asleep. She refuses to go inside even though she is cold. Some dogs are dumb.DSCF3832

Flora: Wild Arum . . .

. . . often known as Cuckoo Pint abounds at this time of year in woodlands, meadows and along towpaths. The protrusion in the centre is known as the Spadix. It smells of rotting meat and attracts flies and other insects which get trapped in the bulbous bit at the bottom where the flowers are until they are dusted with pollen at which point that are freed to pollinate spadices of other lilies.

DSCF3675 Other names for the lily include Lords and Ladies, Jack in the Pulpit, Devils and Angels, Cows and Bulls, Adam and Eve, Bobbins, Naked Boys, Starch-Root and Wake Robin


Tuesday, 11 May 2010

There be Dragons

Part of what I do at the yard involves instruction in safe boating and taking customers to Allen’s Lock and demonstrating the safe operation of the lock. Of course this in no way prepares them for Somerton Deep Lock which probably comes as a bit of a shock. Allen’s Lock is over a mile away from the yard. So rather than walk back I try to cadge a lift.

There are two Matilda Roses on the system and I have now been on them both. Dave and Jackie are very nice people. They were surprised however to find out that I had spent 3 hours with my charges, who exited the lock as they arrived. I had met Mr & Mrs Hirer (a sweet couple from NZ~) at 1 o’clock and waved them good bye just after 4.DSCF3672 Dave had a wonderful carved Komodo Dragon on the roof of his boat.DSCF3674

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Dangerous Boating

I know there are those who do not see the problem but I still think that ‘wearing’ your child whilst operating a narrow boat is a totally preposterous venture. Any parent doing this can have no concept of their child’s safety.

You may remember last year I snapped an Achilles tendon just stepping off my boat. If that should happen to this chap I can tell you from that experience that he will go down and go down hard. If he experiences the same pain as I did he will pray to die. The child will be the last thing on his mind in that instant.DSCF3660Quite apart from the safety of the child what about the safe operation of the boat with such a lump hanging on your front. Some people have trouble on a cruiser stern reaching the throttle while steering the boat to the left, this would be made even harder carrying a baby. This chap seem to be a live aboard so at least may have some boating skills but the first couple I saw doing this, last August, were first time hirers. How daft can people be. ‘New Man’ or not this is in my opinion damned stupid. Would you be allowed to drive a car like this, even as a passenger? I think not.

Saturday, 8 May 2010

A small anomaly

I was surprised to see that the Thrupp Canal Cruising Club has issued a mooring permit to a boat that doesn't even have a current permit to be on the water. It is not for me to query this, I am just an ordinary boater, the TCCC are their own masters. I just thought it was an interesting picture for this blog which is often, to say the least, not always conventional.DSCF3561a There is the possibility that BW are being very slow in issuing their licence, but 9 months! It is just possible that the owners haven't visited their boat recently, but the boat has only been here a few weeks. It is just possible that the licence is on the boat in a drawer, but given that the owners placed the mooring permit in the window it would have been easy to put the licence in the window at the same time especially as it is a legal requirement to do so even on a disabled moorings as this is.DSCF3564

I don’t know why the licence is out of date but there is an anomaly and I know from the experience of winter mooring here at Thrupp that displaying a current licence is part of the deal. I supposed it has just been overlooked. This surprises me because a friend of mine who moored legally with licence displayed, but in the front door instead of a side window, was questioned about their lack of licence the very next day.

I suppose in a society where our parliamentarians are allowed to steal from the public purse then apologise when they get caught while Joe Public goes to gaol we have to accept double standards as the norm. Hey ho!

Thursday, 6 May 2010


This is Banbury’s pay-as-you-go. Surprisingly it closes at seven o’clock. Why?DSCF3747 Art Deco in appearance, it looks to be made of reconstituted granite blocks which of course in the 20’s and 30’s it may have been, but in fact it is made of steel boxes that look like granite . . . a bit.DSCF3746 There is a door at each end so I am curious as to why this door appears in the side near one end.


I have three days off this week so I ventured into Banbury for new boots. Boating really is the only way to go shopping.

This sculpture of a pirate I mentioned last time I was here is still loitering about.DSCF3723

I noticed this one at the back of the mill centre which I seemed to have missed last time.



I have a signal.