Saturday, 4 January 2014

Boating 2013 In Reflection (Apr - June)

2013 has been a year full of unexpected consequences for me. I started to do a bit more writing for Narrowboat World. The previous CEO of BW/CaRT cleared off and a new man was to take charge of the Canal and River Trust. It seems that our paths were destined to cross several times during the year. Looking back over any year there are always high and low points and this year was to be no exception. This is the second in a series of four postings that is intended to reprise the year on the blog.

Easter was one of the coldest for a long time. But the long awaited spring arrived as the protracted winter finally faded away. As the days grew longer the sun made up for its recent history. We made our first cruise onto the Chesterfield canal where we came to the rescue of someone who had fallen into the water.


Recently, I read a bit by John Dodwell "I've been reading with interest the correspondence in WRG’s “Navvies” about whether there is still a need for a “Them” and “Us” approach – and the concern that if the Trust is treated as the new “Them”, that might become a self-fulfilling prophecy." John continued: "But I'm encouraged to see “Navvies” adding the Trust’s volunteer co-ordinators to the contacts list. I remember Robert Aickman writing something like “it is necessary to shout to be heard.” He was right – at a time when no-one was listening. But they are now – and so that critical friend in IWA (and others) will probably achieve their aim more easily by having a quiet word (or many) than by shouting from the rooftops. But, if that doesn't work, then the rooftops are there." Click Here

Bayer has paid for biased research that “proves” its chemical isn’t a problem. But now independent scientists in Europe have discovered that Bayer’s chemical is in reality a high risk to bees. Bayer, is one of the largest global chemical companies in the world. Bayer is now manufacturing a chemical that new evidence shows is killing bees. The global die-off of bees represents an enormous danger to the planet. 30% of our crops and 90% of wild plants rely on bees to thrive. Without bees, our entire global food supply is in serious trouble. Click Here

Back in May 2010 the new coalition government cabinet posed for a picture. Smirks all around as their pay as an MP gets a top up for being appointed as a minister. There is one big change in the line-up I wonder if you can spot-the-change? Click Here

Last night my beloved Manchester United let Manchester City win just to liven up the run in to the end of the season. You might think that I would have been disillusion at the prospect of my team losing a game. But nothing could spoil my day, after all Thatcher was dead. I remember Thatcher passing the comment "let us all rejoice" after the Falklands conflict. A conflict which had cost the lives of thousands. It cost the life of a school friend. Having never felt that war was a worthwhile method of resolving political and ideological difference. There was no way that I would have been rejoicing. Click Here

The nonagenarian head of the worlds richest dysfunctional family was back to his devilish best as he joked with a factory worker about her talent for 'stripping'. Brenda's husband Phil the Greek proved he still has a certain something in his eye as he indulged in a string of double entendres with Audrey Cook, an octogenarian spring chicken young enough to be his daughter. Click Here

I was at a low ebb, I had little or nothing to do. I then made a fundamental mistake of going on the CaRT website. The banner at the top proclaimed: "Our cherished network of 2,000 miles of canals and rivers flows through the most beautiful countryside and vibrant cities that England and Wales have to offer." Talk about a bad case of myopia. 'Twas like a red rag to a bull, I felt like I should be reporting CaRT to trading standards. Click Here


What are the rights of photographers taking photographs of the inland waterways and what are your rights as a boat owner? I have been asked by various people taking photographs if I minded them taking photographs of our boat or even our dogs. Even the Gruffalo has been known to request being given time to brush her hair. Prior to consenting to be photographed on the boat. To be honest, most people, don't ask and just seem to take snaps and we try to act as nonchalant and normal as possible. Click Here

Following on from my initial thoughts in the previous posting titles "what are your rights (1)" about "What are the rights of photographers taking photographs of the inland waterways and what are your rights as a boat owner?" Click Here

Going about our everyday life, in towns and cities we are all subjected to covert surveillance by being photographed and monitored. The use of closed circuit television to monitor everyone has increased enormously. There are video cameras in shops, on the high street. Every person with a mobile telephone has the potential to be a photographer.

Continuing on from my initial thoughts in the previous two posting titles "what are your rights (1) and (2)" Which was about, what are the rights of photographers taking photographs of the inland waterways and what are your rights as a boat owner. Click Here

Heritage refers to something inherited from the past. The word has several different senses, including: Natural heritage, an inheritance of fauna and flora, geology, landscape and landforms, and other natural resources. Cultural heritage: the legacy of physical artefacts and intangible attributes of a group or society or man-made heritage. Industrial heritage: monuments from our industrial culture. Click Here

I have a pair of jeans that need a replacement zip. There is a small tag that lodges into the zip to stop the fastener from sliding down. Mine has broken off and at odd times, I have found myself flying low so to speak. A zipper costs relatively little, but if it fails, the garment may be unusable until the zipper is repaired or replaced, which can be quite expensive. Problems often lie with the zipper slider; when it becomes worn, it can either jam or partially break off. Click Here

The Gruffalo wanted to go from Sheffield to Birmingham to visit number one daughter, Dr Steph. Her normal mode of transport is by National Express. The cost of the journey from Sheffield to Birmingham with National Express was £15.50. So as an alternative, we decided to look at the cost of travel from Sheffield to Birmingham by train. Click Here

In a perfect world all would be well, the rivers would run - the canals would have plenty of water, the silting up would be a thing of the past. Visitor moorings would be plentiful and lock gates would have no leaks. However, in the real world on the inland waterways, things are not idyllic. Vince Moran wrote in Narrowboat World in "Condition of the waterways" about CaRT's corporate view and methods of counting, assessing the condition and then prioritising maintenance issues. I found this article gave some interesting insight and some idea of the methodology being used. Click Here


In view of the successful transition from the old British Waterways Board into the Canal and River Trust it would be fitting if one or more of the transitional team were to be recognised for their outstanding achievements. It's well known that anybody can recommend a British national for an honour, which could consist of an appointment to the Order of the British Empire. Nominations, can be sent either by government ministers or by members of the public. The recommendations are divided into subject areas and assessed by eight other committees comprising both senior civil servants and independent experts. Click Here

You might remember that when the Con-a-Lib coalition came to power. There was a sort of knee jerk reaction by the government to save money to offset the financial meltdown in the banking industry. It was characterised by what became known as the 'Bonfire of the Quango's' basically the treasury took a pragmatic view and did a cost-benefit analysis of the quality of service provided by the large list of quangos. Click Here

The towpath telegraph reports that the CaRT management are going to do their bit to clean up the shit. They are now working in conjunction with Keep Britain Tidy and the Dogs Trust to organise 'The Big Scoop campaign.' And like Oliver Hardy said to Stan Laurel 'that's another fine mess you got me into.' Click Here

There are a few public relations items piling up on the desk, awaiting the arrival of CaRT's new CEO. CaRT would certainly not win a popularity contest with many boaters at this time. Which is in a way an unsurprising carry over from the previous BWB administration. I understand Richard Parry is due to arrive for his first day at ivory towers on the 6th of July. It will be interesting to see how well the new CEO fits in. Will it be more of the same old same old. Or will their be a genuine new ethos. He might not realise it yet, but there is a great deal resting on his shoulders. He will certainly have to address the direction and the boating public's concerns as items high on his agenda. Click Here

Good morning, here is the news. 'The high street retailing giant 'MegaStores Inc' has gone into receivership.' How many times have you listened to a news program, that started out with those sort of prophetic words. Our high streets are visibly starting to resemble the ill-fated 'Marie Celeste' which it would seem characterises the rows and rows of empty shops. Empty properties are interspersed with the odd charity shop in a vain attempt to roll back time. All of this town centre desolation has been created mainly for the white goods outlets by the Internet based on-line shopping phenomenon. Click Here

Providing what I see as an indifferent service for the many and varied groups of users on the inland waterways. Or alternatively providing a good service for one group is the real way forward. This is where the niche associations will succeed. The rivers and canals have a very wide following including volunteers, restoration groups, cyclists, walkers, fishermen, conservationists, boaters and many others. For the all encompassing associations, trying to represent every interested party is no longer appropriate. There are now far too many different agendas to be set, far too many different agendas to be represented and far too many different agendas to be managed. There has been a significant change in users requirements and the old 'one size no longer fits all.' Walkers have their own representative associations and its the same with cyclists. The angling fraternity are very vociferous in representing their one issue. Conservation groups abound almost on a species by species basis. Click Here

I had a long conversation about this very topic with a very knowledgeable friend. With donkeys years of boating under his belt. I wanted to get a different perspective to my own. He said that he personally thought there was still a place for the larger associations. Click Here

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