Wednesday, 30 October 2013

One out one in!

Well not long now youngest daughter has gone into labour.

GC No 6 on its way

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Well . . . .

. . . . according to the Gulf Times in an article by Anne-Sophie Laing, the Cycling & Running Trust has spent £1.8 million pounds to raise just £900,000.

Currently this leaves the trust £900,000 down on the deal. This is not good. A number of people are employed in paid positions, paid to raise funds. It would seem, if the article is to be believed, they are failing miserably.

It maybe a good thing that the CRT can bang out if they cant make the trust work.

Notably in the same story but not necessarily connected to it, one of the interviewees said, “I wanted to give Niamh (her child) a better chance by letting her grow up on the canal and showing her a better way of life”.  So the baby is sat in front of the TV on a canal. Is that better?


I had a mishap with my keys on Sunday night which involved dropping them in the cut. I spent half an hour in the dark with a magnet and a fishing net to no avail. I tried again Monday morning to take my mind off my bad news, but still I had no luck. I found lots of shackles and bits of chain, nails, a penny, and various other bits of scrap metal but no keys.
After my time with Ron and Mary this afternoon I stopped by a friends boat and borrowed a Keb. The handle was a bit short but down on my hands and knees I was able to rake the bottom. First go a bracelet, rather a nice one. Second go nothing! Third go nothing. Fourth go, BINGO! Maybe I should help people more often?

The end of an era

Today, standing on the stern of my boat, I greeted Ron and Mary Heritage as they passed by on nb HERON. A quick chat established that they were on their way to Stowe Hill to put their boat on brokerage with Dominic Miles. Sadly at 82 the boating life has become to strenuous for Ron after his mini stroke last year.

You may remember Ron and Mary retraced the journey of Tom and Angela Rolt, which was the focus of Rolt’s book Narrowboat, just a few years ago.

I picked up a windlass and set off for the Braunston bottom lock and helped them up to the summit. We didn’t get there until four o’clock and rather than pootle through the tunnel and exit in the dark they moored up above the top lock. Mary made us all a cuppa.

I really like Ron and Mary. Ron can talk for England when it comes to boats.  They have always been staunch supporters of the IWA and long term members of the Thrupp Canal Cruising Club. Sad to see them leaving the cut, but I suspect they will still be around organising this or that for some time to come.

Monday, 28 October 2013


I was at my mother house less than two weeks ago. For that I am grateful. How ever I did not visit often enough and for that I am repentant. Mums memory was not as good as it once was. She asked me a number of times if I was older than Stephen (me). She wanted to keep Molly the Wonder and kept feeding her chocolate biscuits despite my telling her not to. Mothers!  Molly of course wanted to keep her two cats ….in her tummy. Mum didn’t really like the picture I posted before, but as I said to her it was the nicest picture I had seen of her for a long time.

So now the change begins, learning to live without her. My mother lived in her house for 63 years. Shortly after arriving there I was born. . . . in the living room. There was never any way she was ever going to leave, the house had far too many memories for her and for that matter me as well.

I have memories of things that happened there. I actually have memories of sleeping in a drop side cot and sitting in a high chair. I remember both my mother and father teaching me to read (that was before I ever went to school). I recall my father teaching me to ride a bicycle and a warm cuddle form Mum when I fell I cut my knee. Being knocked over by a motor cycle at the end of our road when I was 3/4 years old. I remember Mum’s concern when she said to the dentist ‘I thought you said it wouldn’t hurt him’ and the dentists calm reply, ‘Mother we haven't touched him yet’.

I remember many, many things most of which have enriched my life. I do remember Mum and Dad always did their best for us.

I suppose most of all I remember a mothers love, for which there is no substitute.

Millicent Marjory Russell nee Ulett



Bye Mum

thank you for my life

Friday, 25 October 2013

Les Biggs

I spoke with Jaq today she seemed happier. Decisions have been made which should have been made days ago. Les has been up and about and his general condition has improved a bit. If you want to show your support visit their blog (yesterday they had 1000 hits, I don't even get that). If you want help in a tangible way transport would be useful. If you can help with a lift to the hospital for Jaq (from Tring to Watford) let me know and I will pass it on.

Not being a God bother I don’t do praying but if that is your thing then please try it. Everybody else put your hands together and wish upon a star. Les and Jaq are two lovely people. If there is a God I cannot conceive that he would want all this to be happening to them.

I think Jaq should be commended for producing a 2500 narrative yesterday. I know it wasn’t easy. When I spoke to her last night she was in floods of tears.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

In coming………

I do find it interesting what politicians of the past have said about all sorts of things. This should be an eye-opener.


I have four copies of this book on my boat and wonder if they (books) are having an effect on me.


Seems I was a bit previous with my last post. Jaq is really worried about Les today.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Good news day

Yesterday going up the locks out of Berkhamstead I met nb Herbie. We had a quick chat as ya do . When Herbie left I was one guitar light. So only two more to go. A genuine Fender Standard American Strat and A Samik Super Strat. Both lovely guitars. Both rarely used. Any takers?

Last night I moored alongside nb Valerie. In due course Jaq arrived from the hospital. She looked done in! I took her out for a bite to eat. Les is progressing.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013


This morning started with a wally. I am coming up the Fishery Lock when another boat comes along wanting to go down. So he stops right in the line I need to go out of the lock. I think he was expecting me to steer around him, I didn’t. Of course then it was my fault, f***ing idiot.

All of the locks I did today were faulty in one way or another. Many had to be left empty when leaving. This is a pain when going up.


When I came this way six years ago only one lock needed to be drained. These locks are hard enough to do on your own without CRT making it harder.

At Lock 55 by the Rising Sun I found this safety hazard.


I called CRT and ask for it to be removed. What was the Landlord thinking!!!

This has been sunk on the 61 lock mooring for nearly a year DSCF9420What are CRT doing about it?

When I went through Winkwell swing bridge this interloper heard the bridge alarm and cast off and waited till I was mooring up to pass through the bridge. I doubt he had a key. Too many on this canal living of the backs of others.


On a happier note I met a guy who had lost his windlass so I sold him a rusty one for a fiver. Re-e-e-sult!

Monday, 21 October 2013


Set of at ten.  Did half the locks with a German family. This made it very easy. Made it to the Fishery at Hemel Hempstead. Moored up in the dark. I am not supposed to be traveling this far each day. I moored up next to nb U GOOSE who visited Thrupp often. I set to cutting the overhanging Willow when a lady and her daughter arrived. I stopped to ask where the owner was. There was I, a stranger on a dark towpath with a pair of open shears, I apologised for the image before them. It transpired that the old boy had serious problems with his legs and sold up.

I dined at the Fishery Inn. The food was excellent but the cleanliness was abysmal. I don’t think my table had been cleaned that day and the bar was awful.

Sunday, 20 October 2013


After the thunder and lightning this morning I thought about setting off but remembered I really should have a quick look in the weed hatch. A whole knot of plastic bags and 6 feet of speaker wire. I thought it was a bit sluggish yesterday.

I got a new jumper today. It was really nice. Dark blue Aran style. I am a bit dis-appointed that it is full of holes, but that’s what happens when they get wound around a propeller. I should have let the water settle after that working boat came out of the lock.

Anyway got it sorted and did the unmentionable, which I wont mention, but suffice to say I was standing on the bank and the boat was in the middle of the canal. Along comes a little tug who totally failed to realise my predicament and went straight into the lock. My boat eventually rested on the other side of the canal. I crossed the bridge to get it back.

When I moored up at Cassiobury, in the dark, someone on the bank trying to be helpful was shining a led torch in my face. This was no fecking use to me at all. I couldn't see the bank that curved around to the left after the bridge and hit it. Given that they knew where the pub was I assume they were a pair of continuous moorers with no smarts. I say this because they said the Essex Arms was 5 mins drive away. I did point out that I had just arrived on a boat and boats were not very good on the road.

Oh God save me from the feeble minded!

Saturday, 19 October 2013

People of dubious parentage!

Two o’clock this morning some ancient plastic cruiser hammered up to Little Venice, not a light to be seen!
It was ten to three in the morning when I first heard this arse.
He moored in front of me and left his engine running while he hammered in three pins, twelve times! When he finished that he stood between his boat and mine talking like it was the middle of the day. Twenty to four he finally shut up. At ten to four along came this pratt.
In all fairness he did turn off his engine as soon as he was alongside, but bloody hell it took him ages to do that. Forward, reverse, forward, reverse. Then for some reason he took six attempts to get his three pins in. Obviously a pair of dodgers trying to avoid getting a ticket.
This morning as I left at nine twenty I made sure they knew I was leaving. They now know what my horn sounds like. I would be surprised if they didn’t wake up. What a pair of totally inconsiderate bastards. They are certainly not boaters.

This weeks haul!


This lot with some of my domestic stuff nearly filled a dumpster. Plus a bag of aluminium cans which I thought I might weigh-in.

All is revealed!


They are surveyors datums. Between the two groups of these they are building a monster of a building which was four stories high before it got to ground level and has gone up a further 20/30 levels. The surveyor on the job checks regularly, with his theodolite, to see if the ground is sinking.DSCF9292

This little building just to the left almost out of shot. It is being built next to that little building in front of the nice silver one. The datums are set up on either side of it. So not a light show at all, Poo!

Friday, 18 October 2013

Oh look!

I won a prize again. Aren’t I a lucky boy.award

And it even comes with insurance!


Thursday, 17 October 2013

Dear Customer

Have you had any of the CRT emails from Daniel trying to tell you what you can do on the water or asking what you thought about a video you never received?

I have and I really don’t want CRT to use my email address to spam me with crap emails so I wrote to Daniel.

I don't do this smaltzy advertising gig. It may surprise you to know that I am a grown-up. I know what I want from boating and I do not need you or anyone else at CRT to 'suggest' things I might like to do. The CRT has my email address to inform me of important things like when I can expect the universe to collapse. Using it in this way is an invasion of my privacy. Might I suggest that if you want me to pay my licence this year you delete my email address from your database. In all seriousness if the universe is about to collapse I wont really care. I don’t think I can make that any clearer, do you?

Of course my mistake was to end with a rhetorical question because I don't really think he under stood hence I received this the next day.

Dear Maffi

I’m sorry to hear you have not found my emails of use or interest. I am glad to hear though that you know what you do enjoy and wish to get from boating and hope that this continues.

I will ensure that you no longer receive future emails of this type from the Trust.

Best wishes


Some people are just asking for a slap.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

To the family home

Today I took the bus to see my mother. She seemed well for 90 but her memory is not good. She asked me several times if I was older than Stephen. This might seem like a reasonable sort of question until you understand I am Stephen.Mum%20@%2090

Its all her own hair. My father also had a lot of hair. This is probably why I too have great quantities of hair.

The bus cost £2.40 from Paddington to Streatham about 8 miles. The second bus from Streatham to Mitcham cost £2.40 for a distance of about two miles. Is it so difficult to have a sliding scale?

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

That roll up bridge

I am reliably informed that the roll  up bridge in Paddington Basin cost £700,000. That is a lot of money for a bridge that only reduces the walking distance by 120 feet. It would have been cheaper to fill in that little off shoot as no one is allowed to use it anyway.

Today they unrolled it and rolled it up again and then rolled it down and left it. I had intended to put a video here but those returds at YouTube don't want to let me in so F*** ‘em!DSCF9263

I found this old cemetery converted into a park which was a nice place to walk Molly. All the old head stones were lined up against the perimeter.

These two were fascinating. Mort Bones will like these.DSCF9268DSCF9269

There are a lot of these prisms mounted on poles with one at the top and one at the bottom. They are not illuminated, you cant see right through. and they all seemed to be angled to the same spot on the other side of the water. No idea what they are for.


I am moored behind nb Chance this evening having moved up from M&S earlier.


Tomorrow I will visit my mother in south London the bus goes from just behind the building I am moored by.

No interest

How come my credit card (which I don’t use) would have me paying to the bank 16.9% APR yet they have not paid me one penny interest whilst it has been in credit, probably about 5 years.

Bit of a lopsided system we have here methinks.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Old friend.

Yesterday I saw a post card that I had found amongst some old pictures. It contained an old friends phone number. This card was posted to an address I had in the early nineties. The landline number was 07. Now I used to write to her when I was in Saudi but lost her address when I sat on my electronic organiser so we have not been in contact for nearly ten years. I looked at the card several times since I found it last week and I finally decided to call placing a 1 between the 0 &7 017. I didn’t know what to expect. We chatted for a while about the intervening years. She was very pleased to hear from me. I was pleased she was pleased. I think we will have a textual relationship.

This morning I collected three more bags of rubbish from the towpath. I think I am now up to eleven. A local contractor gave me a pile of bags. After a visit to Sainsbury’s we left. I moored up in Paddington Basin.



wemblyIt rained most of the day.

When it finally stopped I walked Molly and noticed the amount of rubbish. I spent an hour or more collecting four bags of it including one sack full of aluminium cans weighing several kilos.

I moved the boat to Alperton where there was a convenient Sainsbury’s. Though closed it would be handy for the morning.

Near Greenford moorings there is a basin, Line Wharf. It is not used and though it needs dredging it would hold probably 50 boats. Why is it being wasted?

This is a panoramic view the right side and the left side are normally at right angles to each other. I am standing on the bridge.

With so many boaters claiming there is nowhere to moor it seems incongruous that this basin is left vacant. Yes I know it is not in the middle of London but many people commute from further out than this.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Oh dear!

It was a funny day on Saturday. I was told to be at the lock at 7 so I go up early. At one minute to 7 I was outside the lock waiting…. and waiting…. and waiting. At twenty past I phoned the lock office. The lockie sounded as if she had just woken up. She said she didn’t know I was coming. Ho hum!

Going down the river I was ‘abused’ by members of the Richmond Rowing Club. Not physically or verbally but by their incompetence, no knowing the river rules. They were all over the place  stopping where they pleased, cutting across my bows, passing on the inside (both directions). I was amused as one girl, rowing her heart out, just crashed into a moored boat. They are all absolutely barking mad.

Approaching the Thames Lock I called to tell them I was going to be late, engaged. I rang them continuously  and they were continuously engaged as I approached the lock I could see the lockie on the phone still!!! He told me he was discussing rosters. I don’t care! If I was in trouble that was the number I would ring.

Anyway I met Pierre when I was past the gauging lock. That surprised him. I had trouble with a 15 foot log in Lock 97. Lock 96 had a bottom paddle partly open and the lock wouldn’t fill. Lock 94 had a bent plate at the bottom of the gate risking damage.

At Lock 90 I grounded on the lock mooring. It was at this point I stopped taking notes.

I made my way to Bulls Bridge where I went to Tescos after which I collected two bags of rubbish.then moved on to Greenford for the night.

What is going on!!!

It comes to something when the rape, torture and murder of a five year old child receives a lesser sentence than dancing naked in the street, but that is the pull some fathers have when they kill their own children. See here.

Friday, 11 October 2013

Teddington and friends

I stayed up late last night and didn’t rise till about 9.30. Me and the bitch set off about 10ish to head for Teddington. Would you believe the office at Teddington could not change a tenner for my £8.50 overnight stay.

I met up with my friends Phil and Trish for lunch at the Angler which is on the other side of the river. Jolly nice to see them again. Phil has a 50 ft Sea Otter called Chota Mem Sahib. We met down at Abingdon several years ago, him being a fan of the Maffi/Bones duo.

I have to be up at 6 to catch the rising tide at 7. I think it is still dark then. Thames Lock tell me they will be on duty from 6 until 10. Last time I came here in June they were late, here’s hoping! I should be arriving with them about 8.30.

I really need to clean my office. I have so much useful stuff here that I cannot find printer, scanner,USB ports etc. Its all wasted if it just sits there and idles under a pile of papers. Especially as some of those papers have my best work on.

Thursday, 10 October 2013


Well Windsor did not hold me. We were up and gone well before nine. In fact when we arrived at the next lock (Boveney) I went and made a cuppa and a sandwich while I waited for it to open at 9.

Molly refuses to go inside the boat while I am on the tiller. It doesn’t matter how cold it gets if I say go inside she puts on her ‘no I don't want to go in I am staying with you ‘ look. Silly girl!!!

I have lost count of the number of herons I have seen on this trip, but I can count the seven kingfishers easily.

This is a pair of Archimedes’ screws. To get this picture you have to be grounded, yes on the bottom, but where?



I moored in Kingston on the town side 24s. Spent the next half hour talking to the local bobby.

Tomorrow I am going to meet up with an old friend for lunch in Teddington.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013


I spread out the remaining embers this morning to ensure they were out before I left the island. The boat that had been moored up a hundred yards away, that I thought was empty, started up and buggered off.

I took a slow meander down the river. This afternoon I nearly got another rowing boat who decided to come up my inside as I was passing a moored boat. Are these people really so stupid? I passed the Maidenhead Rowing Club. They have lots of boats there so I don’t feel so bad about breaking one on my last trip down the river.

I arrived at the public mooring by Windsor racecourse and this big boat moved so I could get in. A nice gesture but he wouldn't have had to move if he moored considerately in the first place instead of in the middle of the ‘available’ space.

Of course on a canal I would have been told to Feck Off!!!

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

The Intrepid Explorer

I woke this morning early. After brekkers we, me and Molly, went for a walk. We found the new footbridge over the railway. To say it was designed in a hurry would be an understatement. It is absolutely abysmal. There are odd bits of scaffold used as trunking for 6 amp 3 core domestic cable where the proper duct has run out. The mounting for the proper ducting is over engineered and poorly put together. Who ever did that job should be fired.

And relax . . . . we set off for Reading with my first bag of rubbish on the roof. We got waylaid by an island that needed investigating there are several but we have time constraints. I filled up with diesel at Caversham. At Tesco's I watched a 40 footer with a 70 foot brain moored right in the middle of a big space. I was OK but the Dutch Barge that was following him was not a happy bunny.

I moved on to the K&A and moored at Blake’s Wharf to visit Homebase. Not sure about wood for the book case so left without it. Onward we go!

Back on to the Thames and headed for Sonning Lock. A few miles past Sonning I came to an Ait (The Lynch) that needed a moorer for the night so I volunteered. I had my dinner and set a camp fire and played my guitar. This is riveting stuff isn't it. Then I tried to set fire to the boat. There are many things you do not do with a boat. One of them, as I found out, is do not fill your bucket with the embers of your camp fire and take the bucket on board to put the embers in the Squirrel. 1. It’s very smoky. 2. It sets the smoke alarm off at a time when you really need to concentrate on putting the embers in the Squirrel. 3. The bucket gets very hot.

Molly looked at me like I was some kind of idiot and I don't blame her. If you know me you will know I was not wearing my fire fighting suit or anything else for that matter, but let’s not dwell on that.

It’s very quiet here apart from the knocking on the roof. Silly place to park really, under a conker tree. I never learn. Nite!

Monday, 7 October 2013

Enjoying the ride

This is my fifth day. Last time I went to London it took four and a half days to Brentford. Currently I am beside Tilehurst Station which is a couple of miles short of Reading. You can see from this I am not rushing.




Sunday, 6 October 2013

Sunday: What a fab day

I managed to drag me out of bed at seven today. Bones wants a picture of a chimney (not mine) so I walked back up to Hythe Bridge.


I took a lot of pictures mostly of spider webs covered in early morning dew. Like this one


I headed off to Sanford Lock to meet Kim & Jim for Sunday lunch at the Kings Arms. We followed that with a cruise to Abingdon. The weather was, as you know, first class. What a fab day we had.


I think we both got a picture of this boy

I ended up moored next to an arse who ran his generator all night. It would have gone in the river if he hadn’t chained it down.


Have you ever notice these morons never put the generator outside their own window. It’s always 60 feet away at the other end of their boat and they always claim they cant hear it.

If you cant live with out TV get your system fixed!!! At night generators should be for emergencies only. If you are watching TV there is no emergency?

Saturday, 5 October 2013

I went back. . . . .

. . . . to Thrupp to pick up something I left. Some parcels had finally arrived from Midland Chandlers. New fire bricks and a chimney collar that was to be fitted before I left. I am crap at organising things.

I returned to the boat and moved to Osney Lock. Alex was going to deliver the said items but it would be too difficult to park near Hythe Bridge and carry the stuff so he came to East Street instead.

Nigel Carton came by on his way to Newbury. I locked him through Osney.

The Guinness at the Punter was £4.25 I went to the Holly Bush and paid £2.50

Kim and Jim are coming tomorrow.

Friday, 4 October 2013

Day Two

I went shopping replacing a drawer full of holey socks with Primark specials and the fountain pen I lost in the canal a few weeks ago. There were three pens of the type I lost Red/Black/Blue for some strange reason the Red and the Black were £12. The Blue was only £10. Three identical pens (except for colour) two prices. The mind boggles.

If anyone is interested there is a phenomenal music shop in Oxford on the Cowley Road called PMT. They had four 12 string guitars in stock. I was looking to swap my Fender Strat  But the chap said I would be better off selling private then buying the 12 str. So if you know any one who wants a Fender Stratocaster for Christmas let me know. It’s in near new condition (one small dink). I doubt it has been played more than twenty times. Comes with a hard case and original manufacturers labels.

looks like this

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Bother! Bother!

It took some time to get myself sorted this morning. I needed a pump out and to say a few good byes, as well as checking up on my Midland Chandlers order. By eleven o’clock I was off on my way to Oxford. The plan was to stay for two days until my glasses were ready, pick up some important shopping and then onto the Thames heading for the metropolis. Best laid plans and all that, I had just come out of Kidlington Green Lock when the phone rang, Boots the Opticians’ My glasses are in when would I like to collect them? They said they had a space at 3.00. I said I would try to get there. Bother! I hate having a schedule!

I made it to Hythe Bridge by 3.35 after following nb Lotus down the ‘arm’, and moored in the last spot.I didn't get to Boots until 4.00.

My glasses are FAB and I can now see noses. A recheck of the pressure in my eyes revealed a problem. The pressure was 28-30 as opposed to 19-20 four years ago. This may be some cause for concern and may need a trip to the Oxford Eye Hospital. Bother!