Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Pet Passport

We have a Pet passport that we use every year for EU travel. Our dog Poppy is a seasoned traveller and is now due for her first rabies booster. I thought it might be useful information for anyone else thinking of taking a pet abroad.  So first of all, it's only cats, dogs and ferrets that have to have a EU pet passport and strictly speaking they only apply to travel to and from the rest of the EU.

There are other countries that have accepted the EU pet passports regime. The full up-to-date lists are on the Government's website.
Take your pet to an issuing vet with its existing vaccination and health records. Your pet will need to have already been chipped and then vaccinated against rabies. You must also keep the vaccinations updated

If your pet has any vaccinations or treatment abroad, make sure the vet enters those details into the passport too. This is most likely going to be when treating a dog for tapeworms, which is compulsory when returning to the UK from all countries except Finland, Norway, Ireland or Malta.

It's worth pointing out that all dogs born since April 2016 have to be chipped before they are two months old anyway. So make sure it's right! If something isn't right, your pet could be placed into quarantine when you re-enter the UK, so it's worth double-checking everything.

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Accidents Happen

Accidents happen, how many times have you heard that?

Well I think we are all aware of that little epithet. Usually as someone scrapes their hire-boat along your gunwale. Shouting falsehoods like 'Its a Contact Sport' which it will be if I can get my hands on you. I discovered long ago, that accidents start quite early on in life, usually around the time of conception. Though any memories of that event are thankfully vague.

Then there are also other things that we define almost as being 'Laws of Nature' that help us to reconcile the unwanted outcome. Its oft said that 'Toast always falls buttered side down." In other words and if an accident was not enough - the unintended consequences, also add another unwelcome element to the outcome.  Many years ago, I had this conversation with my then young daughter. She enquired "If toast was not buttered on one side did it spin?" We made extra toast and put it to the test. No, it does not spin, we tested the idea several times. Then we buttered one side, it was dropped to the floor and we discovered a new 'Law of Nature." Buttered toast never even hits the floor. As Paddy Murphy our erstwhile dog dashed in, grabbed it in mid air and then dashed off with the research evidence.

Boaters are no different to other people - just occasionally wetter.  But there are those who seem to want to tempt fate. Quite early on in my boating career I was advised to always empty your pockets when going on deck. In the unlikely event that you might slip and fall into the water. Things like electronic car keys, wallets containing pre-plastic notes and mobile phones have a much better chance of survival. Its such and unlikely an event is falling in, isn't it? Two people we know have actually disproved this theory by falling in within the last month. One claimed that it was for the first time in 25 years as a boater. The other has been known to do this previously - despite all the usual protestations.

I few years ago we were moored up in Thrupp on the Oxford canal. Its a popular place for the nearby cafe and to sit and watch the antics of inexperienced hire boaters. particularly when coming under a lift bridge and making a sharp turn at the same time.  There are also small boats available for hire in the same location. A stunningly attractive and well dressed young lady, accompanied by her boyfriend turned up. They decided to hire one of the small boats. The young fellow got into the boat first, without mishap. Sitting on the side, feet into the boat and then slowly transferring his weight into the boat. He then clung onto the side holding the boat into the edge, while his lady friend (she must have missed the briefing) just stepped straight into the boat.

Well to be more accurate - one leg stepped into the boat and the other remained on the side. The gap between side and boat started to widen as did her legs and with a splash, she was in an instant in the water. A couple of us gentlemen boaters (suppressing our laughter) rushed to her aid. Getting her to turn her back to the side, so that we could hold one arm each and with little effort hoist her from the water. It concluded with us, depositing her sitting on the wharf side. Where she should have been in the first place.

She was a good sport, she was quite good humoured about what had happened. She was chuckling away and shaking her head at her own predicament. Her carefully groomed hair now plastered to her face.  She sat quietly for a few seconds  in a small but growing puddle. Then she started to remove things from her pockets - car keys, and a few other things, then came a rather expensive looking mobile phone. The chuckling stopped with the realisation that her most cherished item - like the Norwegian Blue Parrot was now very much deceased and very much dead. A few boaters gathered round and brought towels to help her dry off. But her face now was filled with bitter disappointment for her much loved (and now angelically heading for mobile phone heaven) Smartphone.

But I digress.

Exposing anything electronic to water is just about the worst thing you can do. Certainly the worst thing that could happen to your smartphone is being given an unexpected bath in canal water. Now some mobile-manufacturers have started to construct water resistant phones. I have never found a true definition to 'water resistance' other than a number of metres and for a period in time. Because its only relative to what you are comparing it to and like the toast, its also subject to external circumstances. I treat such claims with a large shovel of salt. 

I am something of a sceptic when it comes to devices and the protection from external elements. I had a wristwatch that was supposed to be Static-proof, Waterproof, Anit-magnetic and Shockproof. All of which are good selling points. However, in my case the watch caught fire. Apparently it was not described in the manufacturers literature as being fireproof.

But I digress again.

I had a trawl of Google the "Internet Know-It-All" and the worlds most popular place to drop a phone into water, is apparently the toilet. Though it did not state whether that was pre or post flush. But it seems that there is now an IPR (Ingress Protection Rating) to give some idea of how waterproof your phone is. IP ratings start at IP11 all the way through to IP69. The first number tells you the protection offered against dust and dirt while the second number indicates its protection from water ingress.

Look, no matter the claims of the manufacturer. Its not a general invitation to take your phone into the sea, bath or shower with you. Its like those cork balls for your keyrings. We all have them and quite often we then ensure that there are sufficient keys attached to sink the ball with ease. So some people apply belts and braces technique and have a key float with two balls attached. However, if one ball is hard enough to accommodate in your pocket, two is practically impossible. Then there are those one-use-self-inflating key rings that are supposed to inflate like a life vest if you drop your keys in the water. Unlike one ball or two, you can't actually test them for working - without testing to destruction.

You could get a waterproof case for your phone, but the case will then add weight and size. No manufacturer so far supplies their phone with self inflating mini life vests or one or more cork balls. Smartphone waterproofing has its limits. Your waterproof seal can wear away and speakers can still sound muffled after everything dries out. Nothing in life is ever guaranteed only death and taxes.

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Samuel Langhorne Clemens

Samuel Langhorne Clemens, is better known by his pen name of Mark Twain. The name taken from the sounding line used when testing the depth of water under a vessels keel. He was an American writer and humorist. Mark Twain wrote the classic American novels 'The Adventures of Tom Sawyer' and 'Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.'

I read them and 'Pudding Head Wilson' several times as a child. I have gone on to read much more as an adult. He honed in his writing a distinctive narrative style, friendly, funny, irreverent, often satirical and always eager to deflate the pretentious. He would certainly be on my bucket list of dinner guests for a convivial evening.

Well known for his one-line-quotes such as: 'I don't like to commit myself about heaven and hell - you see, I have friends in both places.' He was also know for his short pithy comments such as: 'Go to Heaven for the climate. Go to Hell for the company.' He was revered in his lifetime for his political observations such as: 'Suppose you were an idiot, and suppose you were a member of Congress; but I repeat myself.' 
Not forgetting a quote that seems so true today: 'The very ink with which history is written is merely fluid prejudice.'

Before turning his attention to writing for various newspapers. He was a boater of sorts and in real life for a time a river boat pilot on the Mississippi. Often his writing would have a waterways influence in it.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Fisher Folk

While we are out cruising we generally slowdown for fishermen. For some reason the well worn fishing spots are also where rubbish on the bank or in the water margins often accumulates. Sweetcorn tins, crisp packets, soft drink bottles and beer cans. About three or four times a year we go out on well advertised canal clean ups and litter picking. By some coincidence we never ever get any fishermen joining us for a litter clean up. 

Monday, 14 August 2017

Summer Cruise 2017 Report ❷⓿

Summer Cruise 2017 Report

Our short but sweet summer cruise to Liverpool proved to be quite entertaining in more ways than one. It was our first organised trip which made a significant change to our usual canal and river cruising style. 

Working a group of boats through locks rather than just our own was one major  change. Normally if bad weather comes about, we usually moor up and sit it out. Whereas in a group and working to a schedule meant at times boating into the rain.

Would we do it again - yes, but with a couple of changes. Not working to a schedule other than a point of arrival time and date would be one. Departing earlier to have more time to enjoy the journey and no fixed arrival back time. The real enjoyment came from the leisure time barbecues when sharing food drink and the usual conviviality.

Cruise Total:
319.2  Miles:
152     Locks:
40       Swing / Lift Bridges:
22       Tunnels: 
145.2  Engine Hours

Elapsed Days:
24    Days Total:
19     Moving Days: 
16.8 Average Miles Per Day:
2.1   Miles Per Lock:

Accumulated Total:
Miles: 3019 .5
Locks: 1888
Swing / Lift Bridges: 402
Tunnels: 82
Pump Outs: 28
Engine Hours: 3955.9