Thursday, 31 May 2012


It is odd that some times thing seem to connect. Today I was at the charity book shelf in Thrupp and there were several books by the same author, J D ROBB (Nora Roberts). I put them all together on one shelf. 310520101122The book directly to the right (indicated) is a book from 1959 called Gun Town Marshal oddly enough by a John Robb! Coincidence?GTMJROBBThis book is by Collins from the Seagull Library who again oddly enough published my favourite childhood book Silver Chief by Jack O’Brien. Coincidence?


As an aside if anyone has any of this series of books with the original dust jackets; could you please scan the spine and front cover and send them to me.

Love ‘em

Can’t remember putting this up before but I probably did.DSCF5099 (2)


Once upon a time Reg & Sandra saw me from afar and made the effort to come and talk to me. If I remember it was opposite Christchurch Meadow.  They were interested in buying a boat I think Sandra was worried about it being claustrophobic on board. Well we soon fixed that  I invited them on board to see what the inside was like.

Next time I saw them was about 2008 on board their own boat Moonshadow. This pic Aug 2010
DSCF7998And they are still around, last sighting Braunston March this year.

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Not Knots No

It was after a meeting with Keith on Hadar back in 2008 that I stopped tying knots in my ropes and lines. Keith showed me how he did it and I have modified that instruction a bit and now have my own way of tying up my boat, never using a knot. I did need one skill, splicing.

My stern rope is about 25 feet long. There is a loop spliced in each end. This forms the basis of my stern mooring. One loop is placed on the outside dolly and the rope taken off the boat, once around the pin/ring/bollard, then returned to the outside dolly. (Surplus rope is taken up around both dollies) The stern rope is usually then a bit slack.

Moving to the front of the boat, with fenders in place, I put the pin in the ground (if required) and run the bow rope around the pin/ring/bollard and take it back around the t-stud. Using the long end of the rope, coming off the t-stud, I pull the boat forward. This tightens both the bow and stern rope, bringing the  boat properly to the bank. Finally, when the boat is snug, I do a figure of eight wrap on the ‘tee’ of the t-stud then wrap the rope twice around the t-stud stem and pull tight.

My boat never moves.

More important, to any malevolent scrota wanting to get up to mischief, it looks difficult to untie, but takes no time at all for a boater to undo the boat should there be a need. There are no fancy knots that defy understanding.

Of course I never ever moor up using the centre line. Once moored centre lines are coiled neatly on the roof to look pretty. If I am mooring on a river then I would temporarily pin the centre line to hold the boat until I get the the bow tied.

Knots? Nah don’t believe in them. I know there are those who will say “Ah but . . . What if? . . . ..”, there are no ‘ah buts’ and they stopped selling ‘whatifs’ many years ago. I haven’t tied a knot in a rope since 2008.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Problems mooring

I am sure most boaters would know that you do not tie a centreline when on a flooding river in case the rising water rolls the boat on to its side, but where would you find that out assuming that you have spent all your life on canals and are just about to go on to the Thames at Brentford.

I ask because I met a chap tonight, to whom I was not introduced, and he asked me the question. I have always known that this is something that you don’t do. But I don’t know why I know that. Is it just common sense? I possibly learned it from the Canal World Forum, but I cannot say for sure. The chap was quite put out when I suggested it was common sense. He accused me of trying to make him look small and walked out of the Jolly Boatman leaving nearly a pint of beer, but taking his Antipodean accent with him. I think he was lacking in social skills because some how he thought it was my responsibility to tell him.

He was told who I was by a mutual friend with whom he was sharing a beer, but  I don’t think he knew me or about my blog, so I am assuming he may not have internet which would make it difficult to find out anything. He was put out that know one told him and he nearly lost his £42,000 boat.

I have never moored with the centre line except whilst operating locks (ie waiting for the lock to fill or empty whilst outside the lock), but I don’t know where I learned to do that.

Where in official paperwork is it written down that this is not a good idea?

Monday, 28 May 2012

Couple of points

Some contractors came last week to lag the loft over the water point. This is the wrong time of the year to do it. We have Swallows nesting in the roof and later we will have Swifts. They enter the roof space through a hole mad by the foot of a BW worker; no names no pack drill; the hole has not been repaired because of worries about asbestos. I find this rather amusing because I was unaware that plasterboard contained asbestos: and it is clearly plasterboard.

I mentioned to the contractor about the Swallows and he said, with an eastern European accent, “I vill votch for zem”, which he may well have done, but that didn’t stop him from doing this.
280520121120Access for the birds is restricted by a covering of roof insulation, the bad stuff. Our Swallows can now only perch just inside the hole and will probably die because they may line their nest with ‘soft fluffy’ roofing materials. There are days when I do actually despair at what this country is becoming at the hands of our invaders. Once upon a time we fought against all odds to keep Europeans out now our masters don’t give a shit.

Saturday, 26 May 2012


What you see here is prop wash. There is absolutely no need to run your engine so fast that prop wash comes comes over the bank. Apart from the damage done to the towpath, there is the inconsiderate soaking of unsuspecting passers by. Once again this is avoidable, hire boat companies need to up their game

Friday, 25 May 2012

Thrupp and its Lift Bridge

The lift bridge at Thrupp is unlike any other I have seen. It is the only electrified lift bridge on the Oxford Canal. Here at Thrupp the towpath changes sides across the bridge. For this reason there is duplication in the controls. In the picture below you can see one pedestal in the fore ground and on the other side of the canal  you can make out the second one. DSCF4254Both of these pedestals will operate the bridge. Whichever one you use the opposite one is disabled while the key is in the lock all the time the bridge is raising. Once the bridge is fully open according to the LCD screen, not the balance beam, then the opposite pedestal becomes active again. It doesn’t matter which pedestal you use, to open the bridge, if you are single-handed you can use one to raise it and the other to lower it. Your key will stay in which ever one you use to raise the bridge. It is perfectly feasible to use the mooring on both sides as long as the screen says the bridge is up. If the screen doesn’t say the bridge is up and you bring your boat through then the pedestal that doesn’t have your key in will still be disabled and your key will be on the wrong side of the canal you will have to wait for someone to come and lower the bridge. You cannot remove your ‘BW’ key whilst the bridge is in the up position'.

When you arrive at Thrupp heading south what you will see is more or less this.
The bridge is under the tree on the right. Most people not knowing what to do just keep going ignoring the concrete edge and usually only slam into reverse when they simply cannot avoid giving it a good whack. This is, as I am sure you will understand, detrimental to both the boat and the concrete: the concrete is falling away in big lumps. Hitting the hard edge seems to bring hoots of derision form the crews of most hire boats who, it would seem, do not really care about any damage they do to the boat, the concrete, or the bridge for that matter (those of you who are of a mind to notice things grammatical will have spotted my correct use of the ‘Oxford’ comma).

That aside when you approach the bridge start slowing down as soon as it hoves into view; about the time you come past the finger moorings; past which you were probably travelling to fast anyway. Stay in the middle of the channel and you should be able to turn broadside onto the mooring to let your crew off (you will of course have already briefed them about the bridge and ensure that they have a BW key). Arrival at the bridge should always be under control and at a speed that does not require 3000 revs of reverse to stop you putting another divot in the concrete. This has two benefits. 1. it doesn’t kill the fish. 2. It doesn’t wake up those of us that don't have to be awake.

This side of the bridge also doubles as a winding hole  it is well over 120 feet. It is easy to turn three big boats breasted together here through 360I have done it. Please don’t tell me it is difficult to turn your 60 footer, I just won’t believe you. Yes I know many of you are novices, but it just takes a bit of thought and easy on the alcohol. You don’t drive your car with that much alcohol in your blood so why drive a 20 ton boat while the only thing holding you up on your feet is the tiller.


If you use the water point or if your crew walks up, be sure you have told them not to lift the bridge until the boat is ready to go under and by that I mean in close proximity, untied, engine running, and the boat roughly in line with the bridge hole (not pointing the other way). The bridge really needs to be raised for no more than two minutes. Lifting the bridge whilst your boat is still tied at the water point or away in the distance inconveniences those people that need to cross the canal to earn a living (there are three businesses on the far side of the canal; three domestic dwellings; a working stable on the village side whose horses are put to paddock on the far side).


Thrupp is a beautiful place I hope you enjoy it whether you are staying a few days or just passing through. Please remember if you moor outside the cottages it is not nice to run your engine all night. Try to do it during the day. If you are away during the day then please stick to the 8 to 8 rule. That’s 8 to 8 not 7:30 till 9. Yes I know people should expect boats when they buy a house by a canal but you may only be there two days but they are there every day. Some of them help out with keeping the village and towpath tidy we like to keep them sweet.

If you should need help reversing through the lift bridge I am only too willing to give you a hand. You will find me opposite the water point or around Annie’s. Just ask everyone knows me.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

National Bargee Travellers Association

National Bargee Travellers Association

‘Representing the interests of all itinerant live-aboard boat dwellers’

Once upon a time life was sweet. Play the game by the rules and you would be left alone. Then along came the NBTA. and now they have screwed it up for everyone because the rules have changed.

Their opening description of their site,
“Representing the interests of all itinerant live-aboard boat dwellers”
is presumptuous to say the least. They do not represent me, I never asked them to, and apparently after the recent judgement did little to represent other boaters.

You know from my writing that I do not represent anyone on this blog but me, yes I often use the royal ‘we’ but everyone does that. For them to set up and say that they represent anyone without asking is in my mind a bloody cheek.

What has happened now is the Gestapo, that is BW, have been given carte blanche to f**k with us all. Well thank you Nick Brown you would make a good politician. Talk bollox and f**k the little guy.

Please, please, please don’t represent me again, I like my life and I don't want you to  f**k it up anymore than you already have done.

And just so you know, BARGEES are traders, coal, lumber, cocoa, bricks etc. There is an honour in being a genuine Bargee and I would not presume to call my self one for a minute. I am a boater like most of the continuous cruisers. I have the greatest respect for those who are Bargees, but, I don’t ever aspire to be that which is above me.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Continuous cruising rules are lawful

A judgement in the High Court of Justice was passed down on 9th May 2012 stating that the 14 day rule made by BW for continuous cruisers was lawful and enforceable.

Nick Brown of the National Bargee Travellers Association applied for judicial review saying that British Waterways' ‘Guidance for Boaters without a Home Mooring', an up date of the ‘Mooring Guidance for Continuous Cruisers’, issued in 2011, was not in keeping with the waterways law and tried to make his point by invoking ‘breach of the Human Rights Act and Equality Act’.

The Judge, Mr Justice Eder, refused permission for the review saying that the request, ‘does not give rise to any properly arguable basis for judicial review'. Plus it was out of time.

Mr Justice Eder, after considering the application said that, ‘British Waterways guidance is consistent with the Waterways Act 1995’, and went on to say that the suggestions within the application that the guidance represents a breach of both the Human Rights Act and Equality Act are ‘misconceived'.

A British Waterways spokesman said::

"We welcome the Order of The Honourable Mr Justice Eder in the High Court of Justice dated 9th May 2012 in refusing permission for a Judicial Review of British Waterways' guidance for boaters without a home mooring."

Mr Justice Eder ordered Mr Brown to cough up British Waterways costs of £15,000.

About writing.

Lin Oliver writes childrens books. Her recent projects include working with Henry Winkler. In all thing dyslexic this pair are a force to be reckoned with.

In a recent tweet Lin said:- YA (I think that’s Young Adult) book covers for 2011: 90% featured a white character, 1.4% a Latin character, 1.4% Asian, & 1.2% black. What's wrong with this picture? (I assume the other 6% had no people on at all).

My first thoughts were that Black, Asian and Latino were reasonably equally represented, but what Lin was getting at was why 90% of covers had white characters, this being disproportionate to the make up of the world.

The subject of the cover is normally relative to the content of the book, you don’t find a picture of a car engine on the cover of a book about heart surgery, so if a book is not about Black, Asian and Latino people  then why should they feature on the cover.

There is a rule in writing; Write about what you know, know about what you write. I think if all us ‘white’ writers started writing about Black, Asian and Latino people two thing would happen 1. We would get it wrong. As ’white’ people/writers we cannot possibly write about it because we simply cannot know what it is to be Black, Asian or Latino living in a white world. 2. Black, Asian and Latino writers would be up in arms that we had the temerity to poach their work base.

White writers write about white people because they know about white people, there are a few exceptions, but our experience of Black, Asian and Latino people, is in the main coloured by the few Black, Asian and Latino people we know. Just as my experience of Arabs is coloured by the fact that Arabs I worked for are responsible for  the deaths of several of the ethnic minorities I worked with and not a few a Americans, and as been said on this blog many times before, they owe me a lot of money. That said, I remember with great fondness a Nigerian boy who came to High school, who with the exception of our Asian doctor and Elaine Ferguson at primary school, was the only non-white person that I knew. I loved his black skin, I loved his smell, I loved his accent. After school I never saw Roy Miller, again.

It is sad that the book world is not more representative of the population, but I suspect that the publishers are more than a little responsible for this imbalance. Black, Asian and Latino publishers are what is needed, but even then I suspect that that commercial interests will be the driving force of the business so much so that Black, Asian and Latino writers will still be marginalised and stories about Black, Asian and Latino people will still have to take second place to white based money spinners, sad though that is.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012


Todays story is about a man who doesn’t have a boat will probably never have a boat but wants his ‘right’ to moor his ‘boat’  outside his own building to be kept sacrosanct. Francis Looney lives at Quebec Wharf (see profile). He doesn’t know the difference between a barge and a narrowboat.

Luxury flat owner’s horror as
Regents Canal boats
moor up outside their homes

The Looneytics are taking over the asylum on the Regents canal. They are up in arms because while one part of the basin is being dredged the boats there have been moved to another part of the basin.

Fashion photographer and chair of the residents’ association Francis Looney is disappointed his privacy has been invaded and the tranquil view of the water he enjoyed has been obliterated by three lines of boats.

Didn’t ya just know he was going to be the ‘chair’ of something. It seems to me from the pictures in the article that he is the one that is invading peoples privacy. (Just like the Sheriff of Kidlington) He may  have bought his home because it had a nice view but he didn’t buy the view, tranquil or otherwise. When will these people learn you do not buy a house next to the motorway and then complain about the noise. Or next to a church and then complain about the bells. Or a house next to water and complain about the boats! Duh!

Mr Looney says:- “It is the equivalent of a camper van parked on your front lawn complete with family, except we have several of them,”

Well actually it nothing of the sort because he doesn’t own the water as he would his lawn. The water is owned by L&Q so Looney is talking out of his rectal department.

Mr Looney is a bigot and an exaggerator, “We just don’t want them here, because of the noise, overcrowding, proximity, they are a matter of inches away and we see them quite often, especially when they are hammering away.

He simply doesn’t want boaters in his vicinity. And what’s that about inches? Tosh! A mile is a matter of inches, just lots of them. “We see them quite often” so what’s the problem with that? Are they not in his social class? Do they smell? I would guess he wouldn’t have dared open his mouth had the boaters been of an ethnic minority. He is a ‘clicky’, a working class stiff like the rest of us.

‘He also complained the boats are obstructing his ‘right’ to moor outside his home.’

So where’s his boat then? Why wasn’t it moored there? Simple, he doesn’t have one! He will probably never have one! If any boat was to moor there permanently it is up to the landlord, L&Q, who has that space. Does he have any ‘right’ to it? I doubt it.

Apparently residents were informed, in writing, about the dredging programme and that the boats would be temporarily moored for about a month at the wharf.

I don’t see why the council has to ‘investigate’ a breech of planning regs. This is a temporary fix which I am thinking did not need planning permission anyway given that L&Q own the water in the basin. To use Mr Looney’s simile its like him and his fellow residence having to park in the boaters car park on the other side of the basin while their car park was being resurfaced. What is the problem?

In all fairness the boaters are not doing themselves any favours. They have seemingly turned the place into a fly tip. But as long as they are working on the boats and the place is left tidy I think Mr Looney should back off. In all seriousness I don’t see why he is so snobby he lives in a refurbed factory, Buck House it isn’t.

Monday, 21 May 2012

Bad reporting

I always thought news in the Newspapers was meant to be relevant if a little untruthful. But this story The brother-in-law of Oscar-winning actress Jennifer Hudson found guilty of murder  whilst it contains all the pertinent facts it also contains in the headline and the first paragraph information that is hardly anything to do with the story at all. The fact that this murderer is married to Hudson’s sister or husbands sister has no legal bearing on the case yet Hudson’s name appears in the first paragraph and before the name of the murderer or victim. What a crappy way to write a story. By all means mention Hudson’s connection but some where that is NOT the first paragraph. Its almost like they are saying she is somehow to blame in this, or because she is related this happened.

Maybe the Telegraph is hiring reporters of my meagre calibre these days.


Today I held a Swallow.
The poor bird inadvertently flew into the Tearooms and could not find its way out. My assistance was needed. Three small children in the tearooms had the opportunity to see this lovely bird close up before I let it go.

Muddy Waters

This weekend we had a Muddy Waters event at Thrupp. The idea is to promote the Muddy Waters family boat. There are family rides in Jolly Boatman and another day boat, from Annie’s down to near Shipton bridge. A small charge of £1.50 helps to pay for the fuel. The boats are donated by OXNB’s own David Dare.

There are a few stalls, Fender making, painting Roses & Castles, face painting, pirate tee-shirts etc. I am commandeered to read the Muddy Water’s stories to groups of children. These usually start with about six young ‘uns and dwindle to one or two by the time the story is finished. On the hour from 11.00 till 15.00.

Today, as I was reading, a small boy came and stood next to me; then he put his arms around me and gave me a hug. I don’t know whether he need to hug someone or thought I need a hug, but very humbling either way.

I have the best job!

Sunday, 20 May 2012

We have a knitting fairy.

Our knitting fairy has been leaving samples of their wares for a while now. We had Toadstools and a worm. A water tap and socks for the road sign at the top od Canal Road. This latest one is the business. A cup of tea a cheese and tomato sandwich and a cup cake all laid out on one of the picnic tables. Yes it’s graffiti but is not permanent/fixed and can be taken away at any time leaving no damage.200520121104This was also added this morning.I have visions of hoards of radical grannies knitting all over the country, to brighten up our lives. 200520121105

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Oh dear Alfie

You tell me I have a personality disorder then blame me for it. Now you have lost my vote. I cant possibly vote for someone who doesn’t like me. And you don’t even know me. Pah!

Friday, 18 May 2012

Now there’s a surprise.

According to Narrowboatworld the ‘Guillotine’ RSJ that has been erroneously added to the lock tail at Falling Sands, causing incipient danger to boaters, is to be moved. Not ‘gone’ moved but ‘raised’ moved to the level of the bridge. Now one would think this is a good move and it is at least going in the right direction, but my understanding of this debacle is that BW got it wrong again. One accident in two hundred years is not a reason to carry out such work.

Says Kevin McNiff

For any risk assessment, the hazard and probability are combined to produce a score from which any actions are taken. In the case of unguarded walkways across lock tails, just how many falls have occurred resulting in injury or death in over 200 years of the canals?

Not enough to trigger a re-design of the structures I think.

It is enough for an organisation to have proved they carried out risk assessments and document their findings with adequate reviews. In this case the assessment has produced a stupid outcome with increased hazards for boaters.

Having worked in H&S Risk management/assessment, whilst serving in the military, I agree with him wholeheartedly. BW’s response was totally out of proportion to the problem. As I showed in my post about this situation there was a simpler solution if indeed a solution was necessary which, I am guessing, most Health & Safety professionals would say wasn’t.

The biggest problem seems to be that once the bosses at BW have made a decision, how ever wrong it may be, they simply will not back down. This is a middle eastern trait, afraid to lose face. Well let me tell you BW a bad decision looses more face if it is not recanted than if it is. BW it just will not do. A more honest and open organisation was what you promised with this charity malarkey and that is exactly what we want. Now are you going to keep to your promise or are we going to have to resort to non violent action to force you to comply?

You choose, but  please make it quick because we are running out of patience.


I don’t know who Alfie is but he gets my vote.

Canoe and Kayak Hire Oxford

Have you ever thought you might like to take out a canoe or kayak on to Oxfords waterways for the afternoon now the hot weather is here?

Where would you go to languish on the calm waters of the Oxford Canal or paddle along the more challenging river?

Where would you go in Oxford to hire a canoe or kayak?

Canoe & Kayak Hire
Thrupp Oxford


In Thrupp, 7 miles north of Oxford, at the old BW yard on the OXFORD CANAL you can hire a canoe or kayak by the hour or by the day/half day. You can set off in tree lined shade along the canal and then on to the river for an enjoyable paddle ‘up the creek’ so to speak.

If you can’t be bothered to make lunch we can provide a picnic lunch for £8 pp. Or you could have your lunch in Annie’s Tearoom before you set off and tea and cake when you return.

North from Thrupp will take you by way of Shipton Weir Lock onto the River Cherwell where you can go north again to Bakers lock and The Rock of Gibraltar or south down towards the old paper mill at Hampton Gaye, remembering to take the boat out before you get to the weir.

South from Thrupp to the Jolly Boatman then onward you will pass the outskirts of Kidlington and if you are fit down to the River Thames.

Phone 01865 842708

The phone will be answered by a garden landscaping company but it is all the same people so leave a message. If you want to turn up on spec ask in the tea rooms for me, Maffi, and we will get your boat out onto the water.

Set your Tom Tom to OX5 1JZ Look forward to seeing you soon.



At approximately 20:45 yesterday evening this bog was visited for the 250,000th time. That’s like a whole quarter of a million visits. I would like to think that it was because I had something to say that people wanted to know about, but I rather suspect people come here to see what a pratt I am being today. Please do not think I am under any illusion as to the importance of what I write even if BW think otherwise. They seem to be of the opinion that this is an influential blog. I, of course, am not.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Falling Sands addendum

Of course there is always an alternative. Even for clever people like me.

Winking smile

alt bridge

Falling Sands Lock S&W

Last year a young lad fell off a Lock access bridge whilst riding his bicycle across it. I very much doubt there was a sign to say that he shouldn’t, but one has to ask the question ‘Should there have been?’ Me? I don’t think so. Sign or no sign the lad would have still tried to make the crossing. I don’t think that a sign would have made the slightest difference to the eventual outcome. I haven’t seen the coroner’s report but I am thinking it would have said something like ‘Death by misadventure’ and if it doesn’t it should do. I don’t suppose he could have come to a much different conclusion.

BW, in their capacity as the ‘responsible person’ as far as H&S is concerned, have reacted to the incident by erecting a handrail. BW’s solution will not stop this from happening again, but from what I can see of the pictures, posted here at NBW   it adds a serious danger for boaters legitimately using the lock. Do BW have no idea how boats are operated? Did they ever think to go and sit at the lock for a week or two and see how boaters negotiated the lock? If they had done so they would have given proper consideration for those that pay to use the canal and less to people who trespass upon it. The bridge is for aiding those that are using the lock to operate it easily. It is not a short cut for people who have no business at the lock. What has happened is that the bridge is very slightly safer for cyclist (someone who is not authorised to use the bridge) to cross it and far more dangerous for the legitimate user. A more effective solution would have been to place the rails across the ends of the bridge leaving enough room for boaters who need access to get on to the bridge but making it difficult if not impossible to get a cycle on it. The eventual length of the rails would make it an unattractive venture for errant youths.

foot bridge

It is possible that my solution wont work, however it will be more effective than BW’s solution simply because no youth worth his nuts will hold the hand rail whilst riding across the bridge. It’s just not cool. But if he can’t get onto the bridge problem solved

Now if I was a member of the HSE I would call in the BW H&S practioner and demand he resign.Not because their solution wasn’t correct but simply because the implementation of their solution has added quite a severe danger to those who have a legal right to be there by paying their licence fee.

The RSJ under the bridge across the exit from the lock at head height is an example of idiocy I am yet to see bettered. Whilst I don’t think there will ever be a garrotting, hitting an RSJ square on across the forehead could almost certainly cause brain damage even at the relatively slow speed of a narrow boat. Who ever signed this off should be on his way to the Job Centre.

BW meanwhile need to post a man full time at the lock to aid boaters in the hope that they don’t get sued for this abysmal engineering solution.RSJ BRIDGE

My solution to the hand rail would mean this RSJ could be taken away and boaters, those people who pay to be there, would be safer. And lets not forget the single hander because he can now no longer flick his rope under the bridge. Another skill lost!

Wednesday, 9 May 2012


Just to add insult to injury the shredded remains have been left on site piled high on a flower bed.


This Sycamore tree has the kiss of death. DSCF3997

The devil came and marked it for removal.


The tree in the middle of the picture . . . .


. . . . has  been reduced to this, and will be taken down to the ground by the end of the week.DSCF4044

This was purely a money decision.

Murdering this beautiful tree was the cheapest option.



The irony of it all is this tree was growing towards a set of overhead power lines, yet the safety tape was saying something else.


Monday, 7 May 2012

Do you have a favourite pen?

Some bastard nicked my pen the other day and I was miffed. I got to thinking about all the pens that are nicked by those with no consideration for what that pen might mean to others. What happens to those pens? What life do they lead? How may hands do they pass through? Whose hands? What happens when they die (empty)? Every pen must have a story to tell if they could only talk. Well, I thought that maybe there was a few hundred words in it. Up to 800 max, one sheet of A4. I was wrong, I was so wrong.

I have now exceeded the 5,000 word mark (that’s 7 A4 pages) and I am still going. My story pen has been through many hands. Musicians, students, mothers, fathers, a delivery man, a teacher, children, a nurse and many others, but still there is more to come. Every time I think of an ending it is simply a new beginning. The story also includes parts of  two of my lyrics from my singer/song writer days twenty years ago..

I want to stop the story, but it has a life of its own. I tried to kill the pen by having it run out of ink in a hospital, but the nurse gave it a transplant (new refill) and so the story continues. I have no idea how to end it, I am all woed. I didn’t want to write this story, this long. I still don’t want to write the story. I had thought of deleting the whole thing, but I would just go to the bin and take it out.

Recently I have been working on what was to be a novel about Thrupp, this is evolving into a six part TV serial. This pen story has halted that. Why cant I just concentrate on one thing, instead of deviating? What is it about this story that is so compelling?

I have done some nice writing. I have done some crap writing. I have even done some exceptional writing. My church lyrics have moved people to tears and changed opinions (about church music), but I cannot categorise this story. The only thing I can say is, it’s like the horror movie The Hand where the main protagonist has no control over a severed hand.  I have absolutely no control over this story. Every time I sit at the computer I add to the story. It’s almost like something bad will befall me if I don’t continue to write  it. I write this to the exclusion of all else.

Where my story will end I have no idea, but when it does I will put it up online, unless it is worthy of a place in a  book of short stories.

Saturday, 5 May 2012


Today I got a call from the office saying my day boat would be late back because there was a boat stuck in the lock. Of course, I have never heard that one before. Ha! So I jumped in the car and drove down to the lock and sure enough there was a boat stuck in the lock.050520121090
The gate had something behind it and the wooden boat possibly a bit wider due to age was firmly wedged, half in half out. What is a body to do. Well the boater called BW who could not turn up for an couple of hours, but the boater had to be somewhere else. So he left a note and buggered off saying he would be back tomorrow at 4.30. By the time I got there, two boats were waiting to go down and two were waiting to go up, a third one came along presently.
I sorry but I do not accept that any boater should leave his boat with a note on it saying:-

Sorry – boat stuck in lock
BW not answering calls
Need to go now to look after
my friend who needs 24 hour care
Pease feel free to have a go at getting it out
– I’m free to come back on Sunday 4,30
sorry for any inconvenience

Dave 07743334453 Sat 4 pm

I am sorry for his friends circumstances but this is not our problem. To block the canal and walk away is totally inconsiderate. Unacceptable behaviour. If his friend needed 24 hour care there was obviously someone with him at the time the boat got stuck. You cant just walk off and leave a boat stuck in a lock. It just aint cricket! What he has done is to steal time from people, time that he cant ever return.050520121093

This all goes back to something I was saying earlier in the day. People who are short term visitors on a booze cruise or those who come to to the water for cheap accommodation do not have any affinity as other boaters for the system and the life on the water.

I don’t have a problem with people coming to the water for cheap accommodation, but lets put them in a marina out of harms way.

This is Mike from College cruisers clearing behind the gate.050520121094

This is the offending boat which is now stuck on the lock mooring.

It is plain to see . . . .

Of course you are all quite right I AM bigger than this. I apologise for being an arse.



Thursday, 3 May 2012

Shipton Lock

The water leaking through this top gate
DSCF3909 is not as fast as the water leaking out of this bottom gateDSCF3893 hence the lock empties in about 15 minutes. You may think that this is not the case but looking from behind the bottom gate we can see more of the problem
DSCF3895This isn’t as wasteful as one might think. Certainly at this time of the year we have a surplus of water and down here we have nowhere to store it. Even in the summer it is not a problem in fact it is a necessity.

Shipton Wier Lock is one of several locks (two on the Oxford) which though only designed to take one boat (72 ft) will quite happily take 3/4 smaller boats.They are wide because the step from the river is small so it is built wide to ensure a more or less standard lock full of water is used to keep the pound full. Placing more than one boat in the lock uses more water at the next lock than this lock puts into the pound eg 3 boats here going south use 1 lock of water however when those boats exit the pound at Roundham Lock (being a single) it will use three locks full of water and the pound will be deficient two locks of water. If this happens all day as it does in the summer the pound eventually empties. You might argue that boats going the other way would replace the lost water. This is not the case. For three boats coming up the canal they will use three locks of water to get into Thrupp pound. If they all exit at Shipton together they will only put in 1 lock of water. So this lock and the other at Aynho should only ever have one boat in. In the days of the 72 footers you could only get one boat in. The odd maintenance boats travelling through would not make any significant difference. This is most important at Aynho because the next lock down is 12 feet deep, so two boat using one lock at Aynho will require 4 locks of normal size water to exit the pound.

Had Shipton been built to the same dimensions as normal locks then each boat going through would only put two feet of water in the pound but it would still take 6+ feet of water to leave the pound. So the leaks are a good thing.

These thing are not always as simple as one might think!

It might seem selfish using these locks on your own but the reverse is true.


It is surprising how some people who come here think it is OK to take a pop at me and not leave a name. I have noticed on Twitter people do the same thing to the celebs. Mindlessly insulting them simply because of who they are. If that's what they want to do that's fine with me. They get to get their jollies without any commitment to the ‘cause’.

Here where I am very transparent, everybody knows where I am everybody knows what boat I live on a lot of my life is here within these electronic pages it is odd, very odd indeed, that those who seek to take a pop at me do so anonymously. It hurts when someone identifiable doesn't like you but when it is a nameless moron it really doesn't matter. You can’t have respect for such a person so as you have said to me before I am better off ignoring them. I always find that difficult.

Some while ago I made a decision to no longer put peoples anonymous comments up on the blog. Up untill then I always posted every comment unless it was as often happens advertising porn, or advertising anything else for that matter, nasty, vitriolic comments are also excluded my mother wouldn’t like them. (Yes I know my mother would also read my words but mum understands me, she knows who I am) I might comment on peoples content but I will not give them air time. This is not denying them their freedom of speech,  it is simply making a stand for something important to me. I do not make anonymous comments on other blogs so I don’t see why, here, I should change the rule for others.

Here when all said and done it is my space. If you come on to my boat you would not wear a mask to hide so why should you wear one on here. So can we all please remember :

When you post a comment on this blog ANONYMOUS is not an option if you want your comment posted. If you can write a post you can write your name at the bottom. I do not post ANOYMOUS comments on other blogs I think it is only fair that I apply that rule here.

This appears above the box where you write your comment. You can ignore it but remember you will NOT be accepted and if you want to tell lies about me, your comments won’t be accepted here either.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Until death do us part - and beyond

This snippet was in the METRO

Until death do us part – and beyond

Egyptian men could soon have the right to have sex with their wives – (are you ready for this its a cracker. M) – up to 6 hours after they have died. The proposed law has been dubbed the ‘farewell intercourse’ bill. A second law would see the the minimum age for girls to marry lowered to 14 according to Arab Media. The legislation would also scrap the rights of women to an education and employment. Egypt’s National Council for Women has appealed to the newly elected, Islamist-dominated parliament to reject the daft laws.

Why would the new parliament made up of fundamentalists, who think sex with a dead woman’s body (necrophilia) is a good thing and sex with children (paedophilia) is the way forward following the Arab Spring, bother to listen to the NCW. The whole point of these laws is to drive women rights back 500 years.

EGYPT your women fought alongside you in overthrowing Hosni Mubarak and this is how you want to treat them. You should be ashamed. Don’t let this happen.


Every once in a while . . . .(polite)

. . . . one of a handful of boaters who pay mooring fees, raise the issue of Continuous Cruisers and why can’t the CCers pay more. Canal Boat Magazine May Issue has David spouting off about how CCers should be paying more because they use the system more. Its the same old story, just a different writer. I have written hundreds of thousands of word on this subject (this is yet another 1325+) and now I really am sick and tired of this old diatribe.

If you chose to buy a boat and have to leave it in a marina most of the year that is your decision, it is nothing to do with me. I paid £748 for my 58-foot boat licence this year, as did all boats of that length. Every single 58 ft boat has exactly the same access to all of the canal system as I do, so can someone explain to me why I, and all other Ccers, should pay more than others for a boat licence? Oh wait a minute I don’t have a permanent mooring! But then why would I pay for a mooring that I will never use? And the marina owner can make extra money out of it all the time I am not there. No car driver would pay for secure parking all year round then park out on the road and pay extra on their car tax for the privilege

I get nothing more for my £748 than any one else. You might argue that I get to moor up for free. Well it may have escaped your notice, but when you leave your safe mooring with all the facilities, you too moor for free out on the towpath. Yes I know you pay to moor in the marina but you pay no extra charges over your licence fee to moor outside the marina so why I ask do you expect others to do so. When I need a longer term mooring I buy one or borrow one (all perfectly legal).

When you buy a boat you should go into it with your eyes wide open having researched all the financial aspects of boat owning, so that you know (at the outset) what it is going to cost you. Then you accept that and go out and enjoy your boat. This is what I did and every other sensible boat owner does the same. You do not buy a boat thinking, “When I have my boat I wont be able to CC and I don’t see why people that do shouldn’t pay to moor up”. You accept what it will cost you and enjoy your boat. If you don’t want to do that then go away and get a camper van, you are not suited to the water.

I know exactly what my boat is costing me. It cost me my vote at the last general election because I don’t have a post code. It costs me a fortune in bus fares because I cannot get a bus pass, I don’t have a post code. My heating bill is higher than others of my age, I don’t get heating allowance because I don’t have a post code. These are just three examples of what it cost me. And of course there is the $12,500 VAT that I paid on my home that you didn’t pay on your brick home.

Why is it that some of you who buy boats, that you cannot get full use of, feel it is necessary for me to pay extra in the hope that your mooring fee will be reduced. Mooring fees and licence fees are two entirely separate issues.

I have an income of less than £500 a month which I receive for serving my country for over 25 years. I made my plan and I can live on that. Any plan to increase licences for CCers will actually see me, and others like me, living on the streets sleeping in a cardboard box, is that what you really want?

Whereas most of you have a house and your boat is a hobby, my boat is my home. If you can’t afford to keep your boat on the water it really is no big deal, you can sell it and cut your losses but you will still have a home. If I cannot afford to keep my boat on the water it is a big deal because it is all I have got. I can sell it but at what loss? Then what? As a single, white, male with a small military pension I qualify for nothing. Whilst £500 a month is not to be sneezed at I would have to live in a hostel. Thank you very much for your support!

I feel sure there is an element of jealousy in this preposterous proposal. Are you jealous that some of us can have a fulltime life on the canal? Are you like spoiled children who want someone else’s toys to play with? Are you going to scream until you get your way? I have paid my dues and earned the right. When you have paid your dues you to can have a life like mine. You will of course have to accept the bad bits, trudging down a muddy towpath in a storm, the lack of security, the spasms in your fingers from handling wet ropes nearly every day, the cramps in your legs that would fell a Marine, the spine that is only pain free in one position and you don’t know where that is. This can all be yours but until such time will you please shut up.

What you should be saying is ‘I only come out of the marina for two weeks of the year so I want a discount’. Or you could argue that boats in marinas should only pay a licence fee when they come out on to the system. Don’t mess around with the CCer because you made a bad-purchasing decision. I made a good purchasing decision I get the maximum benefit out of my licence, as do many others, the same benefit as you are entitled to if you plan it right. But what you really mean is you have a job and a family and cannot make best use of your boat and you don’t want to pay as much as I do. I had a job and a family! I waited until they had all flown the coup before I bought my boat. In fact I sold the coup to one of them.

Please leave us alone. I feel quite sure if I am expected to pay extra on my licence to moor up then I will moor up where I please . . . . wherever I please . . . . and in prime spots. You of course will complain about this, but will only have yourselves to blame. After all, if I am paying extra to moor and you are not I am hardly likely to move aside for you am I?

The rank and file boater will not benefit from CCer’s paying any exrtra. Your licence fee will still increase by inflation + 2% year on year. It makes no sense to take this to it conclusion. When you are sixty plus and the bottom has fallen out of your pension pot and you cannot afford to live on your boat because the licence fee for Ccers is to high you are going to be one sick puppy and where ever I am, in heaven or hell, I will come back to remind you whose fault it is. I can think of nothing worse than to have a grumpy old git like me come back from the dead to remind me how foolish I was.

Give it up all you Davids out there, its a no win situation. You will NOT gain, but everyone WILL lose.

Now my question: Does this post tell you how angry I am at this man?

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Yahoodie! Thanks for waiting.

Well what can I say? I could say all sorts of things but that would not change anything. That is the problem I want to change this blog but of all the options I see I don’t like most and cant decide on the others.

This is only a blog there are hundreds of them out there that are far better. There is one that is, ashamedly, bad. Worse than this one. Why people come here as often as they do, to read the whinging of a grumpy old git, I will never cease to wonder at. It certainly is not the best grammatically, stylistically or even informationally. In short I don’t think you people know what is good for you, however, I have had hundreds, well dozens of request to bring it back asap OK there was only a few, but they did say nice things about me and some not so nice things about my enemy.

I am well known here for calling a spade a shovel and all variations between a hand trowel and a JCB, I will continue to do so, if a bit less aggressively.

During my absence I have been very busy and have not spent as much time as normal here but I have written most days so there is something to read, to top you up'.

Tomorrows blog you will have read before, however, it will be the first copy I wrote, the copy you could read to your children. Please read it all the way through and answer the question at the end. It might help you to understand my writing.

Well . . . .

. . . .  look who’s on the front cover of  The Tillergraph this month.


Welcome Mo

I am intrigued.  Mo on nb Blamaha has managed to join my list of followers. This is indeed very odd. I don’t mind we like Mo, but would love to know the secret.

It appears that I have joined my own friends list and, despite several attempts, am unable to remove me. It is after all very bad form to follow yourself. You may end up disappearing up your own erm, er, ah, where the sun don’t shine.