Friday, December 29, 2006

Last post of 2006 possibly!

Well, it's possible that this is my last post of 2006 so a very happy new year to you all if it is! My flue cleared up and left me with a killer of a saw throat, that has now almost gone and it is now sitting firmly on my chest leaving me hacking away night and day. I have a strong feeling the whole Christmas holiday period is going to be like this with it only finally ebbing in time for the start of the next school term - oh joy!

Treated myself to a posh new Ryobi chainsaw the other day, (as pictured above.) My small electric one just wasn't 'man enough' for the logs I was being given so I decided to bite the bullet. Very pleased with it so far as I managed to bag 10 large bags of excellent logs in just around the hour - thanks to my father's neighbour for the donation of these!

Just returned from a very wet and windy walk with Simba along the River Thames at Hampton Court. The river is extremely high and just one sorry narrow boat, (NB Campion) was moored with spring lines firmly attached fore and aft, bobbing up and down in the wind and current.

Spent the day today helping to clear out the loft and take things down to the dump, shopping Kingston and then shampooing the carpet - the joys of holidays!

Monday, December 25, 2006

Thank goodness for day nurse!

Well, I'm dosed up on Day Nurse and that's just about keeping me going. I'm still shivery and achey but I'll survive another day! I did manage to tuck away a healthy Christmas lunch though and then managed a good long walk along the River Wey to blow the cobwebs away.

Got some lovely presents. A fantastic ruc-sac with air flow system that stops your back sweating: ideal for walks and hikes etc. Also got CD's, lots of sweets, a bottle of Bailey's mint, a wind up torch for dog walking and lots more. Now sitting here, typing this watching Harry Potter on the TV!

BTW - here's a great little game - especially for those who hat the traditional Christmas sprouts!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Almost Christmas

Well here I am, sitting in my father's living room, festooned by bricks and mortar decorated with tinsel and lights with the 'big day' looming fast tomorrow!

My journey south was fantastic. Cross country route from Rugby to pick up the M40 at Banbury. M40 fine going south but dreadful north, M25 perfect flow of traffic, A3 no problems and finally arrived home a little under 2 hours from leaving Rugby the Friday before Christmas, dark, 4.00pm and thick fog!

Spent yesterday Christmas shopping and wrapping presents before taking my nieces to see Cinderella at Woking, (fantastic show - the best we've seen with live ponies pulling the carriage etc etc.) Today, delivering presents, preparing for tomorrow, church carol service, walking and shivering! Yes, I think I have a fluey thing coming on as my joints ache and I'm shivery - ah well, wouldn't be Christmas if I wasn't ill now would it?

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Counting the days.

A very happy Christmas and new year to all my readers

I seem to spend half my life counting the days! The number of days till the next holiday, the next big boating adventure, the end of term etc etc. Now I'm counting the number of day till something different - the number of days till my long daily commute is slashed. If the plans go ahead and I move to my new marina just after Christmas, I should have only 5 days left of sitting in traffic queues on the A5 or getting stuck behind old ladies or old farmers at 25 MPH on a de-restricted road!

Spent today with the sun streaming through the windows, Simba barking in an adjacent classroom and me stuck in school hosting the 'Save Our Waterways' de-brief meeting and campaign plan for the future. A good day none-the-less with positive plans made, good discussions had and pleasant contacts formed.

Ah well, one last week left in school. A dress rehearsal/performance tomorrow afternoona nd then again on Tuesday afternoon before the big late night performances on Wednesday and Thursday evening with my father attending on the Wednesday one in order to take Simba and various other bags of bits down south on Thursday leaving me to travel down late after school on Friday to re-join them for Christmas.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Moving house!

OK, this is the news I've been wanting to share! I'm moving house! The great thing about living on a boat is that moving house is a very simple business. There is a brand new marina opening up in Brinklow, just 8 minutes from my school and right out in the middle of nowhere with nothing but beautiful countryside all round and fields of sheep. It's based on the North Oxford canal and is going to be a very prestigious and sought after marina. I met Adrian, the owner, this morning and had a great chat and got on well. The marina is due to be in water this weekend sometime and I plan to move the boat down there after the Christmas and new year around about the 4-6th of January 2007 so watch this space. The great thing about Brinklow marina is that it is going to be strictly non-residential and cater as a high class, prestigious holiday base. I have managed to get in as one of only 10 residential boats to act as security and caretaker moorings.
Went and told the Trinity marina staff today that I was leaving and the only comments I received was, "We'll need it in writing" and "well, that's your choice innit". A pleasant parting for one of their first boats to support Trinity but extremely indicative of the lack of business sense and personal skills that is the cause of Trinity ending up as it is!
Well this last week of school is hectic with Christmas shows, parties, lunches and then the travel back down to London on Friday evening. The next blog update will be from London and then hopefully, Brinklow!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

General waffle!

Well, although I have a fire going well in the grate this evening, the weather is extremely mild but extremely windy as well! Temperatures have hardly been into single figures this year so far and I haven't once had to scrape ice of the car windows yet. It doesn't seem right for nearly Christmas. Many schools break up tomorrow but I still have another week to go. I am still enjoying my vibrating massage chair and treat myself to a 15 minute back and thigh massage every night before reclining almost horizontal and relaxing into the smell of leather listening to classic FM!

For the last 2 days, T-mobile has not obliged. Being an Orange Premier customer for my phone, I am not used to spending hours in automated queues to get any service. Last night I had to sit for ages before being cut off. Eventually I got through and was informed there was no problem - there clearly was as I have had no internet and now I do! My antenna from the Boaters Phone Company, (which eventually arrived after over a week when 2 arrived!) has made a huge difference. In a marginal signal area, I now get 5 full bars of signal strength.

I hope to have some news regarding a slight change of circumstances posted on this blog over the Christmas period - watch this space!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Chairs and lights!

Well, had a quite a relaxing weekend all in all, except for the usual chores. Did a bit more Christmas shopping, wrote most of my Christmas cards, bought a very cheap set of LED Christmas lights from Focus to go round the outside front of the boat although I'll never compete with some of the boats seen in A and B pontoons. The marina have organised a 'decorate your boat' Christmas competition and certainly some boats are desperate to win the family meal proze at 'The Marina' restaurant or even the 2nd prize bottle of Champagne! We have inflatable snowmen families, flashing lights all over the place being blown around in the increasing wind this evening.
This morning the temperature was a normal winter 2 degrees and struggled to get above 4 degrees but this evening the wind and rain has come in which has had the added effect of raising the temperatures to about 8 or 9 degrees.
Recently I have had my attention drawn to the world of newsfeeds! It has been brought to my attention via a couple of readers that they have newsfeeders that alert them to my latest musings, well, as the saying goes, if you can't beat them - join them! I have now set up feedreader and several new canal feeds have been added which bleep at me whenever new items are posted, (thanks to my neighbour Andy for his help with this!) It does mean that I have to be careful as obviously people actually read this dribble I post! This has also become apparent from some communication I received from Granny Buttons, who has posted a few items and links from my blog with personal repsonses.
The lastest dveelopment is that I have at last finished a slight re-arrange in my saloon on board Khayamanzi! Every so often, I feel like a change around and have now cleared the saloon a little more by moving the pot plant, (I know that sounds silly, but on a narrowboat even a pot plant takes up considerable space!) and purchasing a leather vibrating massage chair similar to the one seen above. This has had the advantage of being able to loose the footstall as this chair has one built in which can be activated by pulling a little lever on the side. An excellent offer on at the moment in Focus DIY stores for these and I can now confirm that they fit easily within the 2 foot width of most narrowboat doors! (although minimal and easy assembly is required.)
Please take note: if you are ever passing my boat and the whole boat is rumbling with a low vibrating sound - do not disturb, (unless re-filling my wine cabinet,) as I'll be in the midst of a massage sitting on my massage chair!
Just had an email from a teacher friend in London saying they hope I have a good last week at school. Well it might be her last week, but for me, I have another 2 weeks to go without even the luxury of an inset day on the last day of term. 2 weeks trying to keep 36 over excited 10 and 11 year olds ON the floor and OFF the ceiling; now take fun of me when I have a long summer holiday, even with the hgolidays it's amazing how many people don't want to be a teacher - it can't be that easy then!
Next Sunday, I'm hosting the Save Our Waterways de-brief meeting at my school. Teaching in Rugby, (which is central in the country,) means that I volunteered to host a meeting next Sunday whereby all the local organisers of the various SOW protests across the country are going to meet to 'de-brief' from the phase one protests and then discuss and plan the next stages of the protest for February.
Anyway, this week my Head at school is away for family reasons for much of the week so I will have to juggle the full time class responsibility with pacifying upset parents - no mean feat as my senior teaching colleagues and friends who read this will understand and sympathise. One wise teacher at my current school once said that if we were able to teacher the children for 4 days a week and the parents for the 5th then we would make some progress - very true when half the problems with the children are as a direct result of the children seeing and hearing parents who blantantly don't support the school so don't see any reason why they should either!! I could retire tomorrow if I got a pound for every time a parent phoned to complain about their darling getting told off and started the phone converstaion with th ewords, " I know they're no saint but......." there then follows a tyrade of anger relating to the fact that their darling was ever dared to be told off, still, I guess fashion accessories can do no wrong whereas children can and do!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Hard to stay put!

Sitting here typing this and I've had to close the curtains due to the sunshine streaming through. It's still a chilly winter day with temperatures struggling to reach above 7 degrees but I guess even that is relativly mild by comparison to the average for this time of year. It's hard to stay put this weekend but I have to write Christmas cards and do my planning for next week at school as well as many other pre-Christmas jobs!

Went up to Ken Warings, (local coal merchant,) in Wyken this morning to buy 4 X 25Kg bags of coal, (Just over 20 quid!)That should keep me going for a while but even he was bemoaning the mild weather as 'bad for business' Arrived back home, opened the boot of the car and an entire bag decided to fall open mouth first out onto the grass! I stood watching them tumbling onto the grass verge as a boater walked past and reminded me that they're supposed to be on the fire, not on the grass!

The Boaters Phone Company contacted me this morning to apologise for the non-delivery of the 3G aerial I ordered. They told me that if it didn't turn up on Monday, they would re-ship a new one. I was also informed via email that they don't recommend T-mobile has the best coverage of 3G nationwide, the problem is, I have to balance the occasional lack of coverage with the cost of a free datacard whereas other companies are charging anything up to 200 pounds just for the card. I have found, however, that when I have to drop down to GPRS the signal is almost as quick as what I'm getting on 3 bars of UMTS service - it's just images that take longer to load.

Ah well, next weekend Simba is off to the grooming parlour for his pre-Christmas beautification treatment! (!) and I have to top to tail the boat ready for leaving it the following weekend as I travel down south for Christmas.

As well, as the 4 berths currently vacant in the marina, (as advertised on the Trinity Marinas website,) there is likely to be another 6 vacant berths soon hopefully - watch this space for details but you do have to ask why this is, given the current and well documented climate of shortage of moorings!?

Just to follow up the story on red diesel, here is the BMF press statement.

OK, Just received a call from the marina staff thanking me for the email and assuring me that words will be said in appropriate places. The staff member who phoned was polite and professional and went a long way in restoring my confidence. Thanks Trinity.

Friday, December 08, 2006

I need to scream!

Now I don't want this blog to develop into nothing more than a grumbling forum but sometimes circumstances dictate that there is much to grumble about! I have contacted the marina here before with a polite request that boaters could be reminded about the BW rule of not running engines after 8.00pm. This request, like most others in the marina was totally ignored. I am now sitting here typing this at 9.20pm and the unserviced engine of an ex hire boat out on the linear moorings adjacent to me has been running since I returned home from work at 6.00. The boat is in darkness and has never moved in the time it has been here - indeed, it would appear that the engine has been left running whilst the owner goes to the pub. On a Friday evening when all I want to do is relax, this unlawful intusion is driving me mad right now. I have felt compelled to email BW and see if they can do anything. I have also sent the following email to the marina:

Considering my previous polite request for a reminder regarding the British Waterways by-law of not running engines after 8.00pm has been completely ignored, I have now had no option but to email an official complaint to British Waterways. It is now past 9.15pm on a Friday evening and the boat owner in question has, by all accounts, (yes - it's not just me who is fed up with this!)left his engine running, locked the boat up in darkness and gone to the pub. Surely it is not too much to ask to be able to sit quietly in the evening listening to classic FM without the unlawful intrusion of unserviced engines running.

Watch this space for any reply I might get, but on their past record of unprofessionalism - I wouldn't hold your breath! As for me now, I'm forced to get out of my own boat and go for a walk as this constant 'hum' is sending me insane!

Boater's Phone Company

Some years ago I had a chance conversation with the Boater's Phone Company at the Crick show. I wanted some advice on using my mobile as a modem. I remember coming away thinking they were very unhelpful and rather 'brash' with me. I have had no communication since then until last week when I phoned for some advice regarding the 3G aerials they sell for laptop datacards. They told me what I needed and I duely placed an order and was told it would be with me by Wednesday 6th December. Wednesday came and went and a phone call confirmed that one part of the order wasn't in stock and that it had now arrived and would be despatched immediately to arrive in time for the weekend. It is now Friday evening and still no aerial! I phoned today at lunchtime and a somewhat apathetic gentleman told me that it had been sent on Wednesday and should be with me by now. I was told to ring back again if it hadn't arrived by Monday. I phoned back in the afternoon several times to ask if they could chase it and noone answered the phone. A voicemail message was left but to date noone has bothered to reply.

This confirms my first experience with the Boater's Phone Company and my advice to anyone who wishes to order is to look around and don't just go straight to the BPC!

I will, of course, post details of if and when it finally arrives. I notice that the money was debited from my account early in the week.

A weekend ahead of me writing Christmas cards and relaxing ready for the final 2 hectic weeks at school and then the Christmas break.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Feeling got at!

Never before has boating in the UK undergone such a dramatic increase in growth and yet never before has boating in the UK been so dramatically got at - except for the times when the railway killed it off and this is now seriously likely to happen again.....SOON!

Quoted from the Canalworld forum and submitted by Richard Fairhurst, (who should know what he's talking about being Waterways World editor!)

Press Release - Immediate releaseRed Diesel – Derogation is not renewedThe Treasury Minister, John Healey, confirmed today that the European Commission has rejected the UK Government’s application to renew the UK’s derogation on red diesel for private recreational boaters.“This decision is naturally very disappointing. Despite the best efforts of the campaign leaders, RYA and British Marine Federation (BMF), and the efforts of the UK Government, it appears that the Commission was intent on removing the derogation at any cost and has dismissed the consequences to the UK marine industry and the private recreational boater” says Neil Northmore, RYA Government Affairs Advisor.“Boaters could face a substantial increase in the price of marine diesel” warned Howard Pridding BMF Executive Director, “which will have a huge adverse impact on the UK marine industry. It is profoundly disappointing that the EU has not listened to the UK Government”.The RYA and BMF welcomed the Minister’s acknowledgement of the problems that will flow from this decision, and has confirmed that the UK Government will consult with boating organisations to develop and implement a sensible timetable for transitional measures to alleviate the effects on the boater and the industry.The RYA and BMF will continue to work closely with Government and their respective members to ensure that key issues of cost, availability and safety are addressed by the transitional measures.Ends

So now what? Not only are we facing dramatic price hikes as a result of the DEFRA cuts, we now face serious fuel hikes too. OK, I'll pin my colours on the post - I'm not a great fan of the EU; never have been, but this just confirms my opinions. How can the rest of Europe understand the peculiarities of our british canal heritage, after all, for most of them, history only stretches back 50-100 years!

This looks serious and should be taken so or else the whole future of the canals is looking desperately bleak and the years of 'stinking ditches' is almost certain to return. We need many more 'Rolts' and 'Aikmans' of modern times to resist this at the highest level possible.

Sunday, December 03, 2006


Went to bed last night with the boat rocking and banging in extremely high winds! Found it very hard to get to sleep but just about dropped off at 3.00am to be woken by banging and crashing. My 'Save Our Waterways banner ont he side of the boat had broken free and was flying in the wind on the end of a piece of string! I braved the weather and went out to cut it free and haul it inside for safe keeping. Also found that my satellite dish was perilously close to the edge of the boat about to drop in - Idutifully disconnected that and pulled it in also.

Finally woke up again this morning to find that 2 buckets I had on the pontoon had vanished! A white plastic one, I used to wash the car and a green metal one had vanished and presumably sunk having been liberated by the wind. More high winds forecast this evening so watch this space! I have now attached bungee straps to said satellite dish to keep it in place and placed large logs on everything that looks as if it might move.

Only 2 weeks till the end of term when I travel down south for Christmas with my father. He plans to come up at the end of term to see our Christmas show that we are busy rehearsing at school. He will aslo then take Simba down with him as he travels better in dads van than my car and it will also leave one one less thing to hassle with when I load my car up for the journey down.

I plan to take my laptop down with me as with this 3G card, I can use it in London to keep the blog up to date and work on things more usefully.

Be warned of any marina who has to advertise that they have available moorings! In this current climate where mooring are highly sought after, it is ironic to notice that Trinity Marina has splashed across their front page of the website, 'available 4 X 50ft. non residential moorings' There will probably be about 6 more soon! When are they going to realise their reputation on the cut is now tarnished. I was speaking to someone the other day and they asked where I was based. When I told them, they asked me how I found it -to which I told them. Their reply was, 'yes, I've heard a lot of people saying that about it out on the canal.' How tragic that a fantastic facility on a fantastic canal can become such a non boating facility. It's not far off Charity Dock' already!
Well, I'm off to try and relax - if possible over the loud drum of the unserviced engine from a cheap ex-hire boat that has just started up at five to eight to charge its batteries for the next few hours; a boat that has never moved since it arrived a couple of years ago.

If proof was needed as to many of the 'boaters' who live on this estate, here's just a few of the true stories of the local residents.
  1. The person who bought a 24V water pump to replace their 12V one thinking it was more powerful and not realising that 12V and 24V were totally different systems!
  2. The person who complained they couldn't keep a fire in. Someone went to help and found that they had laid the throat plate on the grate and were trying to light the fire on that.
  3. The person who stripped the paint from their roof prior to a re-paint before realising it was a fibre glass roof and they had melted it all.
  4. The person who dropped an entire can of red paint in the marina resulting in us all cruising around with red striped round the bow for months on end, (not to mention the swans!)
  5. The person who drilled a hole in the hull in order to drain their bilge which had a bit of water in. This had been advised as a joke and the person took it literally!
  6. The person, (still unknown,) who keeps stealing the toilet rolls from the wash block, (not that this bothers me as I don't use it!)
  7. The person who has just started stealing the shower heads from the shower block!
  8. The person who had a drunken party where the guests couldn't get out as you need a key fob to exit so they simply smashed the emergency glass open.
  9. The person whose mooring lines resemble tinsel draped over a Christmas tree.
  10. The person who allowed their dog to constantly foul the pontoon as they were too drunk to take the dog for regular walks.
  11. The person who has no idea as to BW regulations and constantly runs their engine well after 8.00pm to charge batteries, (they have to - they're down the pub getting drunk every night until at least 8.00!)

Watch this space for more hilarious and true recounts. Moorings available - take my advice, they're best left empty!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Christmas is coming!

With just over 3 weeks to Christmas, I decided to put some decorations,lights and my tree up today! Having spent the day Christmas shopping and doing lots of work and tidying jobs on board whilst listening to the radio, (who have now started playing a sprinkling of Christmas songs,) I decided if you can't beat them - join them!

Now only 5 jobs left on my list for tomorrow. That's enough for today though, and I'm now going to sit and vegetate in fron tof the TV for the evening with a beer in one hand, a box of chocolates in the other, all very unhealthy but you know what - I feel I deserve it tonight!


Friday, December 01, 2006

Weekend at last!

What a hectic week - at last the weekend has arrived, now time to relax but before then I have 3 loads of washing to do, hoovering, cleaning, water to take on board etc. etc. Just spent 2 tokens on the 'commercial' washing machines the marina provides only to find that they did nothing - it took over an hour to complete a cycle that had 35 minutes ont he screen and then the washing came out dirty but sodden: it appeared not to clean or spin dry. Just another sign of general lack of maintenance or care from the marina over recent years. I am now sitting here havign to put it all through half a dozen loads in my small on-board washing machine before daring to try the drier machines in the wash block, I can see this taking all night!

I plan to spend the weekend in the marina sorting out the boat, tidying up lockers, cleaning etc in readiness for the next hectic few weeks leading up to Christmas. Watch this space!