Our local canal artist Michele Field gave me this picture to use here after I took a similar one in Heyford earlier in the year.
Sunday, 28 November 2010
I went for water today, reversing back under Langford Lane Bridge to the tap at the end of the cottages. It was while I was there I noticed that someone had damaged my cratch cover. It was not an accident! A sharp knife was scored across my flexi panel in the cover. It was done twice. Obviously the perpetrator hadn’t realised how tough the material was so the first time the knife skated across it. The second time the knife was stabbed harder then drawn through the light putting a big cut in the see-through fabric. It certainly wasn’t a man because a real man would have confronted me if he had a problem. No this cowardly act was perpetrated by small minded moron, and funnily enough the security camera which I have looking out of the front of the boat shows who did it. I will be going to the police with it tomorrow.
[Edit:] Crime No J D 3723548/10 (if its here I cant lose it)
Saturday, 27 November 2010
Friday, 26 November 2010
It’s dark and a hire boat has just passed. I point out to the crew on ‘Pembroke’ that they should be moored up at this time and not travelling in the dark. “We are looking for a place to moor up”.
I can’t help wondering why it isn’t against the law to hire boats to blind morons. They had just gone past a mooring three boats behind me and another four boats behind that. It must have been dark before they came through Roundham Lock they could have moored below that there is space and probably another twenty spaces between there and Langford Locks Bridge.
What they actually meant to say was “We are looking for a place to moor up outside a pub”. The rules are very clear hire boats are not allowed to travel in the dark it invalidates their insurance.
Obviously College Cruisers handover procedure is sadly lacking. I am not surprised.
There is a published sunset time, today was 16.01 at this location I think this should be used as a basis for hire companies to insist on a time when a boat must have pins in the bank.
OK BW has a problem with licence evasion. This is a problem that needs to be addressed. Putting up the cost of a licence will not help. All that happens is more boaters will fall into the ‘I can’t afford that’ category and so more boaters will not pay. Therefore increasing evasion.
It’s about time BW stopped looking at the boater as a cash cow. It doesn’t matter how long you pull on the teat the cow will only give the milk it has, then it stops. Tipping milk down the drain in the form of an unwarranted £40,000 bridge mechanisation, £200,000 for the reinstatement of Belchers Bridge, a job that could have been done for half that, and £90,000 for the debacle at Isis Lock, is wasteful. Short of getting a bonus top managers should pay back some of their salary for incompetence. Now there’s a good idea every time BW get called out to fix something that has just cost a shed load of money the top execs lose 5% of their salary.
Yes BW does have a problem with licence evasion, but whacking a penalty on those that do pay to make up the short fall is stupidity of the highest order.
I find it incredible that not only do BW pay the top echelon a good salary to do a job but they are paid a phenomenal amount when they have done the job they are paid to do. This actually defies logic. I wonder how much bonus the guy gets that freezes his butt off in this weather fixing locks etc around the system.
Take away the bonus scheme from all top employees, because that’s all they are, and lets see how much they really care for the waterways.
3% pay 13% already THE SYSTEM IS GROSSLY WRONG.
Wednesday, 24 November 2010
There was a crisis meeting last week at Isis Lock about the poor installation of the new mooring pontoon and the booms that are being placed across the Mill stream. Whilst there an EA man stated that all boats using EA water to turn their boats will need a day ticket.
It is somewhat annoying that the winding hole above Isis Lock is only suitable for boats up to 50 foot. Larger boats have to drop down through the lock, which has become a dangerous exercise, to have to pay for the privilege is pure madness. The EA are saying that if you want to wind on Sheepwash Channel it will cost you £15 the price of a day ticket!
So if any one wants a job standing around all day at Isis Lock taking money from from poor boaters, who are not warned at Dukes that they need to reverse down the next three mile to avoid this charge, then contact the EA.
There is no point making a statement like this if you are not prepared to police it. If the EA insist on pushing the issue I can see a lot of boat movements after dark. They could of course chain up the lock and only open it at certain times but that would result in many boats down below the lock in dangerous waters waiting for access and a lot of angle grinder activity.
And another thing! If you have just come down the lock you could argue that having just emptied a lock full of water into the Stream you are technically still on BW water!
Saturday, 20 November 2010
[Edit] this is not about staff at the Jolly Boatman I wouldn’t want you to think I made a career of ‘allegedly’ abusing bar staff [/edit]
Picture this, two people walking towards each other down a country lane. One says, “Hello”, the other, a grunt, says nothing. They have known each other for a year or so, but every time they meet along a path or a road the same thing happens. The grunt does not even make eye contact. The Hello man thinks there is something amiss, but there is no medical reason why he, the grunt, should not speak. Indeed the grunt’s job involves dealing with the public. It’s a major part of his job.
Now imagine this has been going on for over a year. The Hello man does not know what the problem is and because the grunt will not speak to him he will probably never know. Odd isn’t it? Yes very Odd.
What is even odder is that the two men have contact in other ways. The grunt passes the Hello man’s house. On occasion grunt crosses Hello man’s property to get to and from his place of work, grunt never speaks. The two men are opposites. Hello man is a customer and the grunt a barman. The grunt served the Hello man two three four times a week until recently, but even then, would you believe, he says nothing! He just serves the beer and holds his hand out for the money. He never says what can I get you? Never says please, never says thank you, never makes eye contact if it can be avoided and usually puts any change onto the bar, never in to Hello mans hand. Hello man did once mention the silence to the bar manager who, as it happens is also grunt’s cousin, but nothing was said. I suppose family ties are greater than business ties.
Today they met once again along the road the Hello man said, “Hello”. The grunt said nothing. The Hello man being a bit pissed off with this unwarranted treatment turned and said “Why don’t you talk to me?” He wasn’t pleading, just asking. Such people are just not worthy of a pleading. The grunt just kept walking. Hello man made one further comment then resolved to give up on grunt ,a man who obviously has a small penis. “You’re a TOSSER!”
There are those that would say the Hello man should not have lowered himself to grunt’s level. In truth it gave Hello man no pleasure whatsoever and he felt that he had let himself down. Of course being an educated person the Hello man would agree there are other alternatives, but a whack in the back of the head with a 4 x 2 would only exacerbate the problem not necessarily producing the required result.
He, the grunt, is just a small man he will always be a small man. His behaviour, not just towards Hello man, is rude and ignorant. A course in customer relations might possibly help to improve his poor attitude towards people who spend their hard earned money at his place of work, thus paying his salary. There are no courses to stop Hello man saying hello. The Hello man will probably continue to say hello because that’s the way he is, he says hello to everyone even scrota he doesn’t like.
Friday, 19 November 2010
Life occasionally throws us a swerve ball or three. Telelnet are currently doing works along the Banbury Road installing fibre-optics. There seems to be quite a large number of vehicles considering the small spaces they have to work in. A ten ton truck with trailer parked in front of the wharf blocking it. In order to get Bones off the wharf we asked him to move forward. So there is Bones behind him waiting for the traffic. I am putting up the chain with my back to Bones. I turned round to see the truck very close to Bones and in reverse! Bones was unable to do anything and as the truck carried on moving she laid the motorbike gently down but not before the trailer had bumped into her leg. I had this vision of the truck squishing her completely all I could do was shout at the top of my voice to get the truck to stop, which fortunately he did.
It could have been a very nasty incident. Bones was hurt but not seriously. She has been limping all day but seemingly it is getting better. I was shocked and have been nervy all day. Just a normal morning that could have turned out disastrous.
I only just made my bus and then after one stop the brakes locked on and we had to change buses. These things come in threes so what next. Well I didn’t have to wait long to find that out. Milly M failed her BSC, bloody gas leak! Diesel leak! And chaffing pipes and cables caused by poor installation by the builders.
What a day!!!
Wednesday, 17 November 2010
This following press release from BW is a carefully crafted piece of work of which the bard himself would be proud. I don’t think it is to be taken as an accurate record of any facts. The highlighted italics are areas which I think are solely designed to put BW in a good light following some serious errors of judgement and put boaters who have raised the complaint in a bad light. I have to ask if those who are making the decisions in BW are competent.
16th Nov 2010
The recent installation of a lock landing stage at Isis Lock has been carried out by British Waterways to protect the waterway wall from damage by boat impact and improve safety. The landing stage was constructed and installed with Environment Agency consent, and in consultation with local boaters.
The British Waterways team worked closely with a local boating business, College Cruisers, and other boaters including representatives from the Oxford IWA Branch to gather feedback to help assist in the decisions to construct the final structure. Following feedback generated by local boaters, the length of the landing stage was increased.
Since installation, British Waterways has agreed to make some alterations to the design of the structure. These will enable boats to ‘nose into’ the pontoon structure to aid with specific boaters turning preferences, and a gate and hand rail will also be installed to further improve safety for users of the new lock landing.
A second stage of the works around Isis Lock has seen the installation of a number of piles near the entrance to Castle Mill Stream. These piles will be linked by a ‘string’ of booms. The purpose of these piles is to prevent access by illegal overstaying boats, prevalent in this area, as well as preventing larger craft from being swept down the stream and towards the weir. Again practical testing on-site was undertaken with local boaters, and the location of the piles was amended following their suggestions to the project team.
Jeff Whyatt, British Waterways’ senior manager, said: “The safety improvements at the area around Isis Lock have been delivered in partnership with the Environment Agency, and with input from local boaters. The installation of the piles has caused some concern to a small number of boaters and their complaint is being investigated via British Waterways’ formal complaints procedure.
“Some of the comments and complaints we have received have made us aware that sometimes boats may be using this water at a time when there are high flow or flood warnings – at a time when the Environment Agency advises against navigation. We recommend all river users to follow the Environment Agency’s important safety advice. British Waterways will continue to work with the Agency to alert river users to changing conditions.”
Gail Bradstock, a Waterways Manager at the Environment Agency, said: “Any planned structures on Environment Agency designated waters require our consent. The alterations proposed will not impact on the consent granted to British Waterways.”
For recorded information on Thames River Conditions and strong stream warnings please telephone 0845 988 1188 and when prompted press 1 on your keypad followed by quick dial number 011131. Information on river conditions can also be found at www.riverconditions.visitthames.co.uk.
Sunday, 14 November 2010
Yesterday we moved back up to Gunpowder Wharf. I did as I now normally do and cut back some of the overhanging trees with a pair of shears that, funnily enough, I found in the middle of a field. There are far too many trees along the domestic edge of the canal that have been allowed to get out of hand to the point of being dangerous. Owners of the dwellings have no thought for the canal and care little if their tree(s) is causing a problem. There are far too many trees along the canal full stop!
Canals were never designed to be tree lined. Trees grow to block the canal, trees get struck by lightning and block the canal and some trees by their very nature collapse and block the canal. There are many examples along the canal.
Trees at the edge of a canal damage both the bottom and sides of the canal. Trees take vast amounts of water from the canal. Sometimes trees fall and kill people. A woman died this year after a tree collapsed on her whilst out boating. During a 4 month period this last boating season Dukes Cut was blocked 3 times by fallen trees. So why are there so many trees along the canals?
I would like to think we cannot keep up with nature, but of course we never will if we don’t start. Trees on canals these days have a purpose, they tend to make a canal look like a river and less like the cold scar across the land that it was originally. They are aesthetically pleasing to those who walk along them and they are wild life havens. They are all there by natural accident rarely, if ever, by design.
What are BW doing to ensure that these trees are not a danger to the boating public or for that matter the walking public. Well they are monitoring the situation. Oh well done! Monitoring would implying regular checks. I am at a loss to work out who is going to do regular checks. Staffing levels are being cut, moreover the staffing levels at the outdoor levels are being cut. OK lets just assume they have the manpower to do this, what are they going to monitor? I can see some tree faults are easy to locate a lightning strike or a fallen bough but what of the Crack Willow which by its own nature it just gives way. How is this to be monitored? What signs are there that a branch or tree is about to fall . . . . .none! Willow can just break. No warning.
Yesterday I was on my way back to the Wharf. After working Perry’s Lift Bridge I came across what looked like some small branches in the water and indeed they were. Unfortunately they were attached to a 6 inch diameter bough about 20 foot long and lay submerged across the canal. Had I been on my own I would have been stuck. Good fortune would have it that I had two companions brining up the rear and between us we managed to get it out of the water. Yes these things can be monitored but staff are needed and the level of staffing required across the system means that someone else will be killed before the problem is solved. Surely this is one for the HSE.
The cultivar Salix fragilis 'Russelliana' is by far the commonest clone of Crack Willow in Great Britain and Ireland, very easily propagated. It is a vigorous tree commonly reaching 20–25 m tall, with leaves up to 15 cm long. It is a female clone.
S. fragilis is an invasive species in New Zealand and is listed on the National Pest Plant Accord, which means that it cannot be sold or distributed. S. fragilis is also an invasive species in South Africa.
I would hazard a guess it is an invasive species here but not on any register but willow looks ‘pretty’ so is acceptable.
Friday, 12 November 2010
We had an exercise a few weeks ago in which we had to make a vertical list of ten nouns. Then three vertical lists of verbs relative to various jobs people have (for some unknown reason our group chose burger slingers, an astronaut and a mortician). Following that we took one word from the first and along with any other word from the other columns and constructed sentences.
One I came up with:-
‘The dog undressed, he didn’t like wearing clothes.’
Homework for the next class was to expand on that. Doh!
This gave rise to a piece of work that is to be my term project. Its all about a dog. Now I can bore everyone with tales of my dog story as it expands nicely.
Oh did I tell you about my book?
I find that the AD SENSE ribbon across the top of this blog is sending ads for Thongs, Bikinis etc. I don’t want this. It detracts from the high quality moaning that people expect from this blog. So I set about contacting AD SENSE to complain. On their site there isn’t an email address. Lots of questions none of the right ones. Even where it says contact us there isn’t an email. It cant be right that a company that makes its money from the internet doesn’t have an email contact. One would have thought there was a law against that.
So I have no choice but to take the ribbon off.
Wednesday, 10 November 2010
St Edmunds the oldest academic society for the education of undergraduates in any university in the UK.
Like the University of Oxford itself, the exact date of establishment of St Edmund Hall is unknown; it has been estimated at 1278.
Oxford is a University City. It’s quaint, mostly old and if the rumours are true not to be trifled with.
So why oh why did they let this happen. This is a litter bin it is not the most Grande of designs but its unobtrusive as litter bins should be it blends in. These or similar can be seen all over the country. Then the council who seem to have no care for the city decided to take them out and replace them with these stainless steel abominations. The aperture to put the rubbish in isn’t even at the front. They are ghastly. Where were the real ‘powers that be’ in Oxford when this happened? Surely someone in academia could have vetoed this. This is totally out of keeping with the feel of this ancient city.
Even the traffic light control box, to the left, has a stippled surface in an attempt to blend it in. These are the sort of things you put in Milton Keynes not an ancient city like Oxford. Boo Boo Boo Oxford City Council.
Tuesday, 9 November 2010
This afternoon we were walking along the canal with the mutts. We noticed a chap on the floating pontoon, walking up and down an generally looking around. I asked what he thought of it. He said there had been complaints and now the complaint had been elevated he had been asked to come and have a look. He was, as far as I can work out, from a central group of safety engineers. We spent a while chatting to him, offered a few points, said why it appeared to be dangerous. After we had talked for a time we carried on our way. When we came back he was gone.
Somewhere near the middle of this picture is a mooring bollard, yes I know you cant see it . . . . . . . . . .so I got my torch out and now you can see it better . . . .. . . . .with the flash on it is clearer. The top picture is how people see this bollard at night. all but invisible. There is no lighting down here at all. By the time you walk this far from the street lights on the bridge it is next to pitch black. Someone could trip over this and get hurt. A tin of white paint is about £20, but it seems other things are more important, like Thrupp Lift Bridge £40,000 pounds to replace a chain that has never failed in service. ISIS landing wildly over engineered for £200,000? If BW gave me the paint I would do the job. Trouble is they would need to train me and do a risk assessment. And get the goblins involved or is that Elfin Safety.
I have a theory. My theory is that all this safety stuff BW are doing is less about the safety of the public directly and more about saving a corporate arse and bonuses. You see on the ladder of life we at the bottom of the ladder get shat on from on high. When the bosses look down at us they see shitheads. What they need to remember that when we look up we see arseholes.
Sunday, 7 November 2010
A couple of weeks ago as I was walking up the canal with Molly the Wonder Dog, my own MWD, I espied some firemen removing a body from the water. Me being me thought a photo-opportunity had arisen. If nothing else it gave me some useful thoughts and feelings that I might be able to use sometime in the future.
It was a test session of a new training aid that is to simulate a body for rescue exercises. They had to wait ages for it to take on enough water to sit right in the water then they complained it was to heavy to lift out. I dare say the dummy will re-appear when the ice returns next year.
Saturday, 6 November 2010
To all concerned boaters. Please note we have been moved up in the complaints order and soon will be listened to by a director. It will not help, however, until they consult Boatmen know how a boat works. Send your comments quoting 33176 to British Waterways (address below) Make sure you get an email or written answer or acknowledgement or your complaint will be as good as a f*rt on a windy day.
Your ever hopeful continuous purveyor of quality carbon products.
There is a sign that says the pontoon is for the sole use of using the lock and there will be a charge for overstaying. To my certain knowledge this boat stayed here for a bout 4 hours. He never used the lock, nor did he intend to. That is obvious because he hasn’t got a BW licence.
So where was the BW man to enforce this overstay and charge the guy 25 quid for doing so? Simple he only comes about once every two weeks and then only during the week. So what is the point of having a regulation of this nature if you cant police it? I don’t think BW thought this one out either but then, that’s par for the course!
Friday, 5 November 2010
I do so love these con posts. So far this year I have gained about 500 trillion dollars enough to pay everyone’s tax bill for years to come. This one I got today puzzled me I cant understand why anyone would want to give me money to elevate poverty. Perhaps its a Catholic thing keep ‘em poor keep ‘em happy.
This once in a year voluntary FDF program is structured solely for the purpose of elevating poverty and bringing peace around the Globe. As such, it is worthwhile to emulate this act of generosity by contributing a reasonable part of your FDF Grant/ Donation to Health, Medical and Scientific Research within your community.
I think I will give the whole 5.8 million away. Who wants it?
Isis lock is not only the gateway to the Thames, it is also where those who do not wish to go onto the Thames ‘wind’ to return back up the canal. (It is possible to wind above the lock if you are 50 foot or less.) There was a trick to winding here below the lock that I would tell everyone that was coming in this direction. ALWAYS wind anti-clockwise. Doing this would put your back end out into the Mill Stream and the flow would help you round. At the right moment you reverse the boat off the bank and still rotating A/c-w finish turning and head for the lock more or less out of the flow. This is simple, safe and by boating standards the norm, some say it has been done this way for 130 years. Even if there was no floating pontoon the posts that are situated mid stream will stop anyone from doing that anymore.
This is how I understand the river will be when finished. At the moment there are only the four black posts sticking out of the water 7/8 feet (they are the current problem), but planking is to be applied to stop boats going down the Mill Stream.
Now as you turn with or without the planking in place any flow will force you against the poles. We are not talking about a RED BOARD situation just a couple of days of winter rain. You can see the posts to the left of my boat as you look at the picture. There are two of them.
You can see the posts to the left of my boat as you look at the picture. There are two of them.
Turning a boat to the right to go up Sheepwash Channel is equally as difficult. A boat pivots about 2/3 of the way forward. So in the case of my boat about 38 foot is behind the turning point going the opposite way to the bow, 38 foot, there is only 3 feet of space to put this 38 foot in, ergo no room to properly turn a boat.
At this point I really need to be hard over with the tiller. Remember the Mill Stream will be pushing my bow to the left. And if there were a boat on the pontoon waiting to come in I wouldn’t be able to have this much tiller on.
I tried this on Sunday, yes OK I got round but there is no flow at this time of year and even so it was tight. I would not want to do it later in the year. The floating pontoon is about three foot back but at a slight angle with the lock wall. So assuming a boat is moored on the pontoon the outside edge of the front of the boat is just about on the centre line of the lock this means you simply cannot drive straight out, but you need to to get clear of the lock. So now as you start to turn there is nowhere for your stern to go. What happens is that in effect you make a much wider arc than necessary and by the time you are 30o or so into the turn you are being forced onto the mid stream poles by the Mill Stream flow. In a heavy flow it will not be possible to get off. I have seen many a hirer come unstuck here without the poles and with the very limited training that some companies give they will likely lose a life. Here you can see that the poles present a problem for those turning to go back up the canal. I have just gone into reverse to pull the bow off the bank, (normally I would be much further to the right with my stern and coming off the bank the bow will be in still-ish water the stream flow will continue to turn the boat). This is still water. Now imagine a four to eight knot flow coming from the left wanting to go straight through those poles. I ‘might’ get away with it as will many experienced boaters but what about the hirers?
Here you can see that the poles present a problem for those turning to go back up the canal. I have just gone into reverse to pull the bow off the bank, (normally I would be much further to the right with my stern and coming off the bank the bow will be in still-ish water the stream flow will continue to turn the boat). This is still water. Now imagine a four to eight knot flow coming from the left wanting to go straight through those poles. I ‘might’ get away with it as will many experienced boaters but what about the hirers?
This situation is also a problem for hotel boats working in pairs or indeed any pseudo working boats working in pairs. These poles just do not give them enough space to turn out of the lock. And if someone is on the mooring waiting to use the lock where will the motor moor while he is waiting to bring his butty through? Mayhem!
Think for a moment of a 70 footish boat coming down Sheepwash. the river doesn't have to be on REDS or even YELLOWS for there to be a fast flow along this channel. Anglo-Welsh, College Cruisers and Oxfordshire Narrowboats all, I believe, have 69 foot boats. They will not have much idea of what to expect. The first thing they are confronted with will be a pontoon across their bows. There are no signs to say go left or right so they will slow down. By the time they realise what has happened the flow will have caught them and it will be too late to rectify. They will not be able to avoid being bounced on to the mid stream poles. I would think that at this point they will be scared and calling for help. Once they have assessed the futility of their situation they may try to swim to the bank. This of course could be fatal and could lead the way to a case of Corporate Manslaughter for BW.
For a working pair they simply will not be able to use the channel. Even with a 71’6” boat towing a butty on short straps the butty will end up on the poles. A pair are 143ft long the river across the poles is only 90/100 feet across. It may be 150 feet from the far bank to the tail of the lock but that still leaves the butty buggered.
British Waterways have put the boating public in danger by failing to consult the proper people before installing this pontoon and poles. I cannot believe that any thinking person would have done anything so utterly stupid.
The minimum requirement now is for BW to remove the poles. No arguments just get rid of them, then everyone can all sit down to look at this ‘improvement’ and see what can be salvaged.
Wednesday, 3 November 2010
Why when I have spent days doing some homework does it disappear from the universe at bedtime the night before it is due in on the tutors desk?
This computer has one more chance if it sinks to the bottom of the river we will assume it is innocent, however if it should float it is going on the bonfire Friday.
Monday, 1 November 2010
I am not sure what these boxes do but I think it is to do with counting the number of times the lock is used. I like it that it is self powered, very green. I am very surprised the local yoof haven’t sprayed it over yet.
If you lay the camera on the top and take a picture upwards this is what you get. Now the trees are losing all their leaves at this time of year, but in the summer the tree is thick with leaves. Maybe I am just to stupid to understand.
It is only in the cold light of day that what seemed like a good idea at the time suddenly becomes a nightmare. The lock mooring at ISIS LOCK is a needed facility. Given time it may work but now I have come down the lock and and tried turning (both left and right) I have to say it is an accident waiting to happen. Listening to others who have tried to use it and now having done the turn round out of the lock myself, on Sunday I say it is probably the singularly most ill conceived ‘improvement’ I have yet to see on the canal.
First it never occurred to me that a few weeks ago when I first saw it the ramp to get off the pontoon on to the towpath is actually at the wrong end. Whether you are going on to the river or coming off it you have to walk away from the lock to get to the towpath when you should be walking towards it. If you walk towards the lock there is an unhindered fall into the water. I think a lot of people will do as I am doing in this next picture in preference to walking all the way to the far end. The second bad point is as you can just see behind my raised arm the piling, a bit difficult to see, but how about this pic.
There is only a month between these two pictures and already it was failing in the left hand picture. It was starting to fail before the capping was put on.
A third point is, if ever a floating platform is needed here the whole of West Oxford will be under water no one will give a toss about the boaters on the river. Ergo floating pontoon excessive and OTT. A total waste of money.
What this project needed was a good edge with bollards. what we got was a bad edge no bollards and a pointless floating pontoon. So in fact BW spent hundreds of thousands of pounds on a white elephant.
What I haven’t mentioned are the real boating dangers that this project has created. Tomorrow’s topic!