Sunday, 19 November 2017
Last month I headed in to Oxford. I arrived at Hythe Bridge late Friday from Isis Lock the depth of the canal is variable but most of the way I was churning up silt. This is the norm here but I only have a 2 foot draught. The good thing about mooring at Hythe Bridge is the water on the mooring is so shallow if you should be unfortunate enough to sink you will barely get your feet wet. There are many things CRT could be doing on the Oxford dredging being one of them. What they don’t need to be doing is spending good money on inviting people, who’s financial input to the system is minimal, to come and visit the 'hidden treasures' of canal, especially not the bit right in the middle of the city.
At four on Friday workmen arrived. Apparently, so I heard latter, they were supposed to arrive at 11. They set up shop on the foot path to finish a structure that was supposed to invite 'civilians' to explore the towpath/canal. The structure was part built in a workshop somewhere and final assembly/erection was done on site, on the public path. So what did they build? A 10 foot high wooden arch. Oh it was a nice arch if you stood back a bit, but not the best arch. A proscenium arch of box construction with overlays of layered ply and illuminated lettering across the top section powered by solar panels.
Yes it is very nice but there were/are problems. The biggest problem I saw during construction. Nowhere did I see any signs denoting that this was a construction site. Nothing to warn that some fairly dangerous work was going on. Much of the 'finishing work was being done with a nail gun and workers were climbing step ladders around the structure which as I said was on the pathway. Some finishing painting was also being done. I spoke to the foreman about the lack of H&S warnings signs and he told me that CRT had authorised their risk assessment. Now I spent my last couple of years in the RAF as an H&S assessor, I don’t know who authorised this work, but personally, I would fire him.
The Hidden Treasures that people were being invited to visit can look very nice, but currently it is overgrown and untidy. So really nothing exciting to see. The arch entices people to 'explore' and when they get there it is just another dirty old muddy ditch edged with a number of boats some of which float only by the grace of God and haven’t seen a paintbrush or soapy water for a good many years. On the Saturday I saw many people come through the arch on to the towpath and most of them barely walked 50 yards. As you get to the overspill at the end it stinks like a sewer. Come on CRT all the flash signs in the world are wasted if the 'prize’ stinks like the last visit to the dunny!
Added to this, the towpath between the end of the canal and Isis lock is to all intents and purposes a no cycling path. A sign at each end politely asks people to 'dismount past the residential boats'. There have been a number of pedestrians hit on this path by cyclists, me included, which is the reason for the signs, but even the 'residents' ignore the signs claiming that CRT cannot enforce the signs. I contacted CRT last year and asked about the validity of the signs and they said they were valid, but they couldn’t police it. What is needed is proper NO CYCLING signs (red bordered discs white background diagonal red stripe through a cycle graphic). I offered to pay for them, but have, so far, not received a reply or a bill. I am sure the cost of proper signs would have been less than the bespoke signs CRT put up.
So back to the arch how much do you think this arch cost? Well I guessed at £5,000 but the foreman said "One less". So thats £4,000! It will only be on site for one month and then moved to somewhere else (at what cost?) And how many gateways are there that are the same width as the Hythe Bridge Gateway?
This is destined to be yet another waste of money like the £23,000 spent on bunting and balloons for the Grand Opening in 2011! If you are going to advertise the Treasures of the canal you need to send in the Landscapers first, Oh no! That will be another £4,000! I despair!!!!!!
Wednesday, 13 September 2017
Thursday, 22 June 2017
…..if you moor at Aristotle Lane on the South Oxford canal there are those, who live in brick, who think that boaters are the bottom of the pile. They take photos and record mooring times complain to the council about a puff of smoke from your chimney. They worry about the ‘pollution’ affecting their children’s health.
I moored at Aristotle Lane twice in the last few weeks (27/05 and 07/06). On two days I didn’t light my fire. I don’t think I lit the fire on other days until the evening (I might be wrong). However, Whilst I was there I did notice that ‘children’ were smoking dope in the park. I would think this is much more serious than me lighting my fire!
The canal is not going away. Move the park!
Saturday, 20 May 2017
After reading this article in the Mail Online about Bridget Bardot I made an entry in the comments page, “So lets see if I understand this a French woman get vilified in the courts for telling the truth.” or words to that effect.
Two people who read my comment ‘liked’ it (see below).
I clicked on the link again to see if there were any other comments in the pipeline. I was confronted by this (see below) on the comments page. I don’t mind that they are no longer taking comments, but I do mind that they deleted the two comments that were there.
Friday, 19 May 2017
Thursday, 18 May 2017
Wednesday, 17 May 2017
Several times over the last couple of years I have complained to the council about the rubbish bins at Hythe Bridge and the rats in the garden behind. Finally the garden has gone and the rubbish disposal has been rebuilt. Well done OCC.
Unfortunately only the residential boaters have keys. So now with the locked elsan disposal point the only people who can use the facilities are the 13 boats that are residential and those who live on the mill stream. The Mill stream dwellers are privy to keys for the elsan, probably the rubbish point too. Whilst this might not seem fair, at least the Mill Stream dwellers are not tempted to dump shit in the stream.
Monday, 15 May 2017
Friday, 12 May 2017
These two pictures tell a story. A story of futility. It was necessary to remove a railing along the river to cut back some bushes. Simple job just undo the nut and bolt at each end of the railing and lift it out. NO! Too simple. You will notice there is a rusty section. In order to remove the railing the ‘tradesman’ took an angle grinder to the rail. For some time it was wired back together, then this time I saw it it had been welded into this, this bodge.
What is amazing is this job, for a pair of spanners, was done with an angle grinder and a welding kit and took six months to finish.
Tuesday, 9 May 2017
Friday, 28 April 2017
This girl on the left end of the second row is Diane Cook. I wrote this a year or two ago and this picture turned up this year.
Has it really been fifty years (56 years now) since I last saw Diane Cook? She was a lovely girl. My memories are quite clear. We were eleven. She had bobbed hair and the cutest smile. I was in love. She lived at No 2 Oxford Close, which was a cul-de-sac just off Cambridge Road. We were in the same class at Sherwood Park Primary. I don’t know when she came there but I was always at that school. The girl’s school uniform was a green jumper and grey pleated skirt she looked good in that. I kissed her as often as I could, which means while no one else was there to watch. She said she didn’t mind me kissing her but not to be too rough. I would hold her hand and carry her school bag to the crossroads where I went left and she straight on.
I was once invited to tea at her house. I was overjoyed. As you turn into Oxford Close, it was the first house on the right hand side. It was a very nice house, with leaded bay windows. Her parents were middle class. I remember there was a garage at the bottom of the garden. I was invited to help with a nature project, Diane had found an abandoned nest, that of a blackbird, in a bush in the back alley. She wanted me to blow the eggs. She would then have this nest and eggs in her room with other exhibits. I don’t really remember tea.
I don’t remember how much I saw of her after that, but at the end of the school term we never saw each other again. She went to the Girls Grammar and I to the Secondary modern. I did speak to her on the phone once, I was about fifteen, but nothing came of it. I bet she would have made a great ‘dolly bird’ in the sixties. A few years ago I made contact with an old secondary school chum, John Challis. He remembers her in her late teens. She was a friend of his now wife.
Despite the life I have had I long for those days when I had no cares in the world and my idea of sexual excess was stolen kisses. Diane was my first love. I probably don’t remember all the details but the images in my head never fail to excite the eleven-year-old boy in me when I recall those early days. Good times!
I would love to see who she became, what she achieved.
Tuesday, 25 April 2017
Saturday, 1 April 2017
Friday, 24 March 2017
Monday, 20 March 2017
This is just some of the crap I picked up on Monday during my trip from Fradley to Fazeley a distance of about 10 miles. The bottom pic shows how much rubbish I collected.
This is a red Dumpster. I don’t know how much it holds but suffice to say its a lot. Well I filled one on Monday and I didn’t even really try. I could probably have filled two!