Monday, 6 January 2014

Boating 2013 In Reflection (July - Sept)

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 went 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 third in a series of four postings that is intended to reprise the year on the blog.

The summer when compared to other recent summers has been glorious.  The wildlife has certainly taken advantage and the numbers of dragonflies has exceeded previous years.  The water birds seem to have had multiple broods of chicks.


The summer has arrived, the weather is hot and about to get even hotter. There is just one thing missing. You may not have noticed - but when I tell you - you will say 'oh yes'. I bet like me you have spent time lazing in the garden - well if you were like me, you will have been catching up on a backlog of overgrowth. Cutting the grass, trimming the hedges, trees pruned and only the patio left to de-weed because I don't like using chemicals. I bet you have had a few barbecues, which now seem to be one of the markers to the arrival of summer. But there is also another marker of summer - No not the Swallows who seem to be around in good numbers. Its a very special one and have you noticed its missing yet? Click Here

What is the status of the 'independent' Canal and River Trust council members that were elected by boat licence payers. Furthermore just how independent are the individuals. Ivor Caplan, Vaughan Welch, Clive Henderson and Anne Farrell were directly endorsed and supported by the IWA who urged their membership to vote for them. I ask myself this rhetorical question because, the four independents have now been in place for a while. Yet I seem to have heard very little from them in the usual boating media. In some cases I have read more about their activities in the usual boating media.  Click Here

We are according to Napoleon supposed to be a nation of shop keepers and animal lovers. Well to be honest he did not say animals lovers but that's the current popular description of us Brits. We care a great deal for our animals and in our case they are treated as if they were our children. Click Here

Are you like me, do find that certain things in life grate and irritate you. One that irritates me are the things that do not resemble the description they are given. Things which everyone knows also go some way towards winding up others. All this deliberate deception leaving you wondering if anything can be done about them. It all started in the 1930's with railway posters advertising the 'Cornish Riviera' with scantily clad ladies cavorting on a sun drenched almost empty beach.  The reality was well rounded ladies wearing industrial strength swimming costumes and chilblain cream. Click Here

Walter arrived as something of an unexpected visitor who dropped in to our mooring. He seemed to be quite friendly and outgoing. Even the dogs thought he was acceptable, though Walter did keep a wary eye on them. We were never sure where he went to of an evening, other than we knew he would return around lunch time for a drink and a bite to eat. The Gruffalo is a bit of a soft touch and Walter realised this. It came as no surprise to me that she took him under her wing so to speak. So for the last couple of weeks we have been sharing at least one meal a day with him.  After a while, he started to make himself at home and would quite happily enjoy a bath most days. Click Here

I recently read an article that said that almost half the population admit to keeping a household item to hand for use as a deterrent to fend off burglars. Should we be prepared to protect ourselves against a boat burglary using a household item as a weapon. Apparently the most popular item for self-defence is the traditional 'baseball bat' (rounders with a bigger bat)  or for the wisden purist a cricket bat. Now I know and you know we all have baseball bats and cricket bats to hand, because they are an everyday household item. However, when on our boat and because we have a log burner stove I thought I should keep the chainsaw to hand. Click Here


There is quite a furore going on at the moment. No, not the old chestnut about the pros and cons of cassette over pump-out toilet system. That argument was settled a long time ago. The overwhelming evidence points to a maceration pump out as being the best option. The updated version of 'bucket and chuck it' that is a cassette is so old school and has been consigned to canal history.  Click Here

The weather had been well behaved all day, so we carried on for a bit longer than normal. After a very relaxing day long cruise on the Leeds to Liverpool canal, we arrived at Bank Newton Locks. The flight of six locks are closed and secured overnight because of the need for water conservation. We decided to stop for the day as we would not clear the flight before closing time. We knew from previous trips, its a bit noisy at Bank Newton. Especially with the occasional aircraft passing overhead on low level training flights. But by evening we knew that the sounds of the countryside would be the only distraction. I enjoy mooring the boat away from conurbations because I find the sounds of the countryside to be very soporific. Or that’s what we would have hoped for. As the evening drew near and the countryside seems to enter that clear sky period of indigo velvet nightfall – and it was slowly growing quieter and quieter. Click Here

Early this afternoon we went through Foulridge Tunnel on the Leeds Liverpool canal. Just over the border into Lancashire. Foulridge is almost a mile long with several ventilation shafts. Just after entering the portal, we became aware of bats. Because we have a bow light to illuminate our way through the tunnel. Shining upwards to give an arc over the roof that we can aim the bow at. Click Here

For some time now the Canal and River Trust has earned the occasional, less than honourable mention in 'Private Eye' magazine. Now the usual fare for Private Eye are the fiddling Politicians and the Corporate Tax Dodgers who with a nod and a wink of the government are bilking the country of billions in unpaid taxes. Even before he took up office Richard Parry managed to get a mention in the Eye's despatches after being appointed as the replacement for 'Reliant Robin'. Click Here

No matter the season of the year, there is always a reason to look forward to the next one. Even those cold, crispy, frosty and fresh snow days in the middle of winter, can be very enjoyable. Being wrapped up warm and returning with cold earlobes and a bright red nose helps to highlight the deep warmth of the boat stove. Its when the season begins to change and it turns to the wet, slippery slush that I don't enjoy. But it is nature giving notice of the change into the next season.  Click Here

Yes I know, 'compare the meerkat' has some tenuous link to this blog. In the main because the writer has a passing resemblance to Alexandr Orlov. But we have no connection to 'compare the market' but I thought it would be interesting to do a 'inland waterways -v- highways comparison' of my own. 

Are boaters fools? 
Ask that question around a group of boaters and I am sure that most people would answer with a guarded 'no'. I expect it would also gather a few trite 'only when I'm drunk' type of retorts. However if I qualified the question with a few observations first. Then maybe in a way we are fools to ourselves.  Click Here


Following on from yesterdays water gypsy posting. I thought I would explore where we are today in the canal 'class war.' I find it such a juxtaposition that for the majority of people on the bank. The word 'canal' holds a connotation of being a dirty, dank and rubbish strewn place. To a point that perception is correct. As a charity seeking public funds, you might think that CaRT would want to change that perception. There are no better ambassadors for the canal, that could have a significant impact upon changing that perception that the boaters. The problem is that there seems to be just one class of boater that holds any sway with the Trust. So rather than be ambassadors the majority of boaters are disenfranchised by exclusion. Click Here
I am always interested in things that can improve propulsion power. A recent innovation comes from a group of Swiss researchers. They have developed a natural gas-and diesel-powered hybrid engine that they claim emits half the CO2 of equivalent conventional systems. The Engineers at ETH Zurich redesigned a VW Golf diesel engine to run on 90 per cent natural gas. But unlike traditional gas engines, the new design is ignited by a small amount of diesel injected directly into the cylinder rather than a spark plug. Click Here
Well for the past few months there has been a great deal of speculation on Canal World Forum about the best way for boaters who are not aligned with any particular group or association. Initial euphoria turned to despondency and reverted into a heated debate with even managers within the Canal and River Trust joining in the melee. Canal World Forum I have found to my cost is not the place to find a concise opinion. Predictably, the way forward has been seen by those leading the debate to be the formation of yet another association. However, the revelation of the new association has been the match used to light another small scale conflagration. But eventually the smoke and flames will disappear and common sense will prevail once again. Click Here

So  go on then, how long do you think your current boat will last? There are plenty of old working narrowboats around that are around a hundred years old and a smaller number that are almost half as much again. But a six hundred year old boat has been found in Norfolk, and its in remarkably good condition. Considering it's been buried in peaty soil alongside the River Chet, near Loddon, for much of that time. It was found earlier this summer when an alert driver of an excavator spotted the timbers and called a halt to flood defence works being carried out as part of the Broadland Flood Alleviation Project. Click Here

Well yesterday was an interesting day. It started off when we booked an appointment to take the older of our two dogs to the vet for a check up and repeat prescription. Unfortunately as she is stone deaf and getting her attention can sometimes be a bit difficult. However, this time its another deteriorating condition that she needed checking up. The old girl continues to slowly lose her eyesight due to cataracts. Other than seeing and hearing she is in otherwise good health. Her appetite is good and her nose is as good as it ever was. Chocolate can be detected whilst still in its paper wrapper and still in the fridge. Click Here

Well, we have reached yet another milestone of 150,000 page views and still counting. I am pleased to say that things are still on the up for visitors coming to view the blog. I don't claim to have any special talents other than having the odd rant at CaRT, twiddling with android apps and observing and giving comment upon other things that interest me. Such as politics, conservation and sometimes even the inland waterways. Click Here

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