Thursday 31 March 2011

That sinking feeling!

I did not sleep very well last night.

I am one of those people who know that they have dreams. Don't we all?  However, I can only remember the vaguest of details afterwards.  For me, to have the most vague recollection  it also needs to be a real heavy duty nightmare.

In the small hours of this morning, I was awake in an instant. I was sitting up in bed with a feeling of terror. It was a few seconds before I realised that I was actually in my safe, comfortable, kingsize plus, warm bed! The feelings of terror then subside and turn into to feelings of relief. Feelings which come with the realisation that it was only a nightmare after all.


As is usual with me, I have only the dim recollection of the actual details. But it seems that I was on Rosie and in one of the bottom pair of locks at Hillmorton. For some reason Rosie was stuck on the cill and the lock paddles would not close. Now it has been well over a year since we last passed through Hillmorton. Why I should sub-consciously choose Hillmorton I have no idea.

However, the last time we went on the North Oxford through Hillmorton  there was a sunken boat in one of the pounds. I remember looking in through the windows and seeing the owners belongings floating around inside. There was nothing we could do to rescue the boat or the owners belongings, it was far to late. The dream slow motion picture in my head look something like what happened to narrow-boat "Abigale" in a lock at Worcester some years ago.

The sinking of a much cherished boat must be dreadful. Everyone covers themselves with the protective blanket of insurance. However, all the insurance in the world could never replace Rosie in our lives.

So as I now have more free time on my hands I have started to do a bit of background reading about dreams.  Sleep researchers believe that certain people have a genetic disposition to forget their dreams as they come out of their sleep. So that is something of a relief.

There is no scientific proof that dreams can predict and foretell the future. People have had dreams that eventually came true afterwards. This can be explained because their dreams were mere coincidences. So that is also something of a relief.

Do we dream in colour, according to the research it seems that we do. But to the best of my awareness I don't remember if the dream was in colour or monochrome. Which makes me think about feelings of Déjà vu being some remnant of a dream.  Déjà vu is a French phrase meaning "already seen" is the experience of feeling one has already experienced the current situation. Even though the exact circumstances of the previous encounter are uncertain and were perhaps imagined.

The human mind is a complex thing, mine obviously is quite simple!


Tuesday 29 March 2011

Trains boats or planes.

Do you have a need to travel to other parts of the UK?

The Memsahib likes to have the odd visit to see the daughter (Dr Steph) who is living and working in Birmingham. So now we have retired, we have been looking at the most economical and cost effective forms of travel.

We first looked at the Railways and after calculating that if we re-mortgaged "Wits End" we might just be able to afford the 3rd class standing room on the early morning milk train.  It galls me to see what's left of our once world leading railway system.    Our recent experience of the railways in Spain have done much to highlight the - crap service - poor rolling stock and the rip-off prices that we are enduring in the UK. Maybe its time for the government to turn the railways into a free standing charity. The huge payments that the tax payers is expected to make year on year to the various rail franchises so that their profits can be boosted is a national disgrace.

So then we thought using the car was a much cheaper option. Even in this time of almost daily price rise hikes in the cost of fuel.  We estimated that about 8 liters of £1.36 a litre diesel would do the trick. Add to this a bit extra on-costs and it would be about £20ish quid. Which is about 15% of the single rail fare and we could carry up to 5 people in the car.

Then the Memsahib had a look on the various intercity "coach" travel sites. Wow! what an eye opener that was. A return ticket booked in advance to Birmingham from Sheffield - a round trip of 200 miles @ £9.99  !!
What's more the comfort and their time keeping have proved to be very good. Daughter picks up and drops off in Birmingham - I pick up and drop off in Sheffield. The Memsahib also likes to meet people on the coach and as they are a captive audience - She can bore the pants off them until they get to their destination.

We even looked at some air flights for our next mini break holiday. - We were looking at a long weekend in Prague or Budapest. Booked in advance £19.99 each way with a no frills airline.
Do you remember the British Railways adverts with Jimmy Saville - He said "Let the train take the strain" - Today it would be more like Jim Royle (Ricky Tomlinson) would say "Strain my horse"

Now this starts me to ask myself the rhetorical question "If the road and rail freight costs continue to rise. Is there a chance that some part of the canals could ever come back into play as a cheap form of bulk freight movement again?" 


Sunday 27 March 2011

Other Books

Whilst I sometimes (frequently) have difficulty keeping to the main thrust of the blog (narrow-boating) and I do get side tracked from time to time. So I ask you to forebear with me - whilst I have the occasional senior-moment and my fingers embrace the odd non boating topic from time to time.

So today's topic is one that I have covered a number of times - books! However, this time with a view to identifying birds that you might see from your boat. I have acquired a very large number of books over the years. I had thought about setting up an account on Amazon to dispose of them. However, I don't want to go into the book selling business. So I have started taking some to the local charity shops.  As we are down sizing our home and we have now got an Amazon Kindle each. I try to buy my latest purchases in electronic format.

Some of you will know that I have an interest in bird watching (feathered) and I like to share with you any unusual sightings. A blog follower as asked what sort of bird books she should purchase to help with identification. Now for me - books come in two different types - pocket sized field guide and the large reference sized. So I shall give one of each. However, the reference book is a bit special and is not much bigger than a standard field guide.

So the first one I would recommend is a Collins Nature Guide: Birds of Britain and Europe. Originally written by three German authors J. Nicolai, D. Singer and K. Wothe in 1993 The book has been translated by Ian Dawson. ISBN 978-0-26-167402-8 size 17 x 10 x 1 cm

This book covers 310 species and has excellent photographs, habitat descriptions, distribution maps and silhouettes. It is small enough to fit comfortably in a pocket. A quick look on Amazon and there are new copies starting at 55p and used copies for sale, starting at 1p - Yes that's a whole 1p plus any postage.

The second book, is also published by Collins. So I would recommend the Collins Bird Guide: The Most Complete Guide to the Birds of Britain and Europe available in hardcover and paperback, written by Lars Svensson, Peter J. Grant, Killian Mullarney and Dan Zetterström. translated by David Christie ISBN 0-00-219728-6 Siz 19.4 x 14.4 x 3 cm

This book is sold into a highly competitive market full of various publishers birding field guides. However, this book is without doubt - the very best reference and field guide available - for Europe. The authors are experts in the field of ornithology and have previously published much on the subject. This guide is full of useful information that has been condensed into a reference book the same size as many existing field guides. You cannot purchase a better reference book than this. I purchased mine when it was first published back in 1999. It looks a bit battered now because it is the first reference book I normally pick up.

You can expect to pay upwards of 15 pounds or more for a decent used copy and around 25 pounds for a new copy.


Saturday 26 March 2011

Oxford & Cambridge Goat Race

There are people who can make even an old curmudgeon like me smile. I smile because in the main they do a send-up parody of a popular event. Alternatively they debunk or give a slanted view on life just to remove any last vestiges of normality or conformity. One such event is the "The Oxford and Cambridge Goat Race."

Now for those not in the know - the occasional running of the Oxford and Cambridge boat race is also timed to coincide with this goat racing event. So today Saturday March 26th 2011 at Spitalfields City Farm, London you can enjoy the "The Oxford & Cambridge Goat Race." By the way, the other Oxford and Cambridge event is being held on a near-by river.

I have noticed that the weather has improved dramatically, however this may be because I am writing this whilst sat in the airport in Girona. We are waiting for our "Fly by Dire" return flight with rip-off Ryanair. On our flight out I asked for a bottle of water "Bottle of water sir - that's 3 euro's."  Later, I noticed on the price list that a bottle of beer was only 2.5 euro's!! However, the physical size of bottles and mineral water cans would not be out of place in a dolls house.

Yes, we are just returning from a short holiday in Spain. We went to Calella on the Costa Brava. The Memsahib is currently busy doing the rounds of the airport shops to dispose of the last few Euro's that we have left over.

The highlight of the holiday was catching the train into Barcelona. At a cost of 15 Euro's for two return tickets for the one hour journey, it proved to be good value when compared to the cost of a similar length of rail-journey in the UK. We did all the usual tourist things like a visit to the marina and we even managed to find a Subway sandwich shop where we both had a meal for about 3.5 Euro's each.

I like Barcelona but I must admit Barcelona is a real tourist rip-off. Do not even try and have anything to eat near the attractions. We went into one of those "Pizza Shed" places where they tried to charge us the equivalent of £18 for a medium sized pizza! Not only that, but tea or coffee was an extra!! Need less to say we made our excuses “no way Jose” and left.

The Memsahib did a lot of window shopping just off the Plaza Catalonia where all of the international fashion houses are located. They are the ones with clothes made out of what looked like recycled sacking and spray-on glitter. We were able to compare the prices of the glittery recycled item's to what the total outlay had been for our all inclusive holiday. So we saw quite a few three and four holiday recycled glitter coats and a large number of two holiday flimsy glitter shoes.

When it comes to the bare faced cheek in asking folk to  pay out such sums of hard earned money – I am minded that Dick Turpin the highway man at least wore a mask. Yes, the grumpy old curmudgeon is still alive and well.


Friday 25 March 2011

Observations on life.

Sometimes you read a post on someone else's blog and it strikes a chord. Being that I am admittedly a grumpy curmudgeon  of long standing. Therefore at the same time being old, means that I qualify to be one of Grumpy Old Ken's band of followers. I see so many of Ken's star qualities lurking hidden away within myself. Qualities that are suppressed by the Memsahib's sharpness of tongue and the evil look of the eye. (When you get that look - your surrender is unconditional) Ken is my hero!

Some recent words on the subject of blogging from Grumpy Old Ken. "This 'post' in a way is for all the 'little people' out there. The bloggers who seek neither fame nor fortune; but who nevertheless entertain, inform, educate; some of you are awesome, astonishing. All take a bow."  
Talking of the suppression inflicted upon me by the Memsahib, reminded me that I have an interesting tale to recount.

Recently I learned that an ex-work colleague has been escorted off the campus premises. Apparently this was for "bringing the institution into disrepute". Now, I know that this "disrepute statement" is pure conjecture on the institutions part. How can someone "bring" disrepute to the institution like its something new. When some would be able to argue that its already been there in good measure and has been around for some time. (see the reference to war memorials a bit later)

So how did this heinous and disreputable crime happen?

Apparently my colleague passed a comment on Twitter that their line manager was "talking the usual load of bollocks". I was at that time this persons direct line-manager. No one asked me about the comment or its veracity or if I thought the comment was true or false. My ex-colleague apparently "according to the institution" was guilty as charged.

Now anyone who reads this blog occasionally will know far more about the likelihood of me "talking a load of bollocks" than the institution ever would. So, I am sure that you will agree with me, that it comes as something of  a surprise that "gross misconduct" now includes being factually correct and speaking the truth!

My oh my! How values have changed in academia in the last few weeks since my retirement.

Now, its my turn to feel aggrieved and I do feel that way. The institution has undermined the pride I have long held in my ability to talk a load of old bollocks. This is a skill that has been lovingly nurtured. This is a skill, specially honed and shaped to achieve perfection over many years. Talking bollocks at this level is an art form. Also at the same time I look upon it as a competitive sport. So many times have I heard with pride people say, "he's talking a bigger load of bollocks than before."  Look, we are talking about huge bollocks here, not the usual run of the mill stuff.  Not only can I talk bollocks, it should be noted that I frequently drop them as well. I could be an Olympic medalist at talking a load of - or dropping bollocks of all shapes and sizes.

Wikipedia says :- Bollocks is a word of Anglo-Saxon origin, meaning "testicles". The word is often used figuratively in English, as a noun to mean "nonsense", an expletive following a minor accident or misfortune, or an adjective to mean "poor quality" or "useless". Similarly, the common phrases "Bollocks to this!" or "That's a load of old bollocks " generally indicate contempt for a certain task, subject or opinion.

Wikipedia also says :- Conversely, the word also figures in idiomatic phrases such as "the dog's bollocks", "top bollock(s)", or more simply "the bollocks" as opposed to just "bollocks", which will refer to something which is admired, approved of or well-respected.
So, rather than "talking the usual load of bollocks" being seen as a derogatory statement as supposed by the institution. My colleague could well have been praising my skills both as an orator and as a purveyor of skill and knowledge. Skills and knowledge that I picked up whilst working in academia for the last twenty five years. Skills and knowledge that has been tested and rewarded in my various interviews and annual appraisal.

A have from time to time during my period of employment issued or received "a right good bollocking" this was usually a verbal chastisement for something which one had or had not done. The phrase "a good bollocking" was in common parlance amongst the employees. No one saw it as a derogatory phrase. Most saw it as a dismissive way of acknowledging that they had received a telling-off of some kind. I remember my old Dean of Faculty using the word bollocks in a meeting to describe his thoughts on what was being talked about. This comment was met with a chuckle by everyone.

There is also the phrase that someone has "worked his bollocks off" or has "sweaty bollocks" which was used to indicate that someone has spent some time doing some difficult piece of work. If you asked me, if using the the word "Bollock(s)"would bring anyone or anything into disrepute. I would advise the culprit to get out more or to wake up and smell the coffee.

There are far more ways to bring any educational institution into disrepute. Instances such as the "carnage drink fest" where a large number of institutions turn a blind eye when new students go out and drink as much as possible in one session.  At a recent carnage fest in Sheffield a member of the student body Philip Laing went out to get "rat arsed" and ended up famously "pissing" on a city centre war memorial. Now, the student was suspended for a while. The courts gave him a get out of jail card.  However, Philip has now been forgiven by the powers that be. Philip is now back at the institution, quietly working towards his degree in sports science.

From the seventeenth to the nineteenth century, bollocks or ballocks was allegedly used as a slang term for a clergyman. For example, in 1864, the Commanding Officer of the Straits Fleet regularly referred to his chaplain as "Ballocks". It has been suggested that bollocks came to have its modern meaning of nonsense because clergymen were notorious for talking nonsense during their sermons.

I don't claim to have any quasi religious background to account for my ability to "talk bollocks" - but I do look upon it as a god given gift. I also look forward with anticipation to attending at some time in the near future an Industrial Tribunal to give an opinion. If you asked me - this is a bit of "trumped up bollocks" about "gross misconduct" and is a spherical load of rubbish.


Wednesday 16 March 2011

The books that changed my life.

I seem to have cornered the Amazon market in canal genre books of late. However, if you were to ask me if there was a book that changed some aspect of my life. Then for me, it happened when I was given two books to read. Whilst I know for some it might be the Bible or maybe even the Koran that would change their life.  However, by change I don't mean a whole physical change of direction in life. For me it was more of a modification in my way of thinking.

The first book was Robert Tressells "The Ragged Trousered Philanthropist". The second book was Joseph Arch's "From Plough to Parliament". Both of the books have provided inspiration and both have been read several times.  I have always been a light weight political animal, not wanting to become too involved. I'm not the sort what would want to build barricades in the street and bring about a class revolution. Those days for me are long gone, to be honest I am not sure that they ever existed. But Joseph Arch inspired in me the thought that there is nothing that is beyond my ability. Robert Tressell inspired the need for total fairness at any price. Yes, even an old crusty curmudgeon like me was once upon a time a dewy eyed political perfectionist. That notion was however soon to be beaten out of me!

The biggest problem for me today would be choosing the right political group. I now have a well founded and deep seated mistrust for them all. The main problem being, that the one sized political parties do not actualy fit all. I often thought that a coalition of political parties in Britain would bring about a more balanced change. How wrong can you be, it seems that I had underestimated the willingness to lie to massage a political ego. generally speaking our voting choices are made on factors that directly affect us in some way or other. Whether that be local issues at the council elections or national issues at a general election. I still feel that proportional representation (one man one vote) is the way forward into the next phase of political reform. I always say that you know that it is a good idea when every politician tries to discredit proportional representation, it's ethos and implementation.

Christians in particular have had a pretty appalling record on atrocities through out the ages. Mainly based around a lack of real christian values (whatever they are) and in the unshakable belief that god is on their side and so they will prevail. The Arab states in North Africa are in turmoil with the current wave of political unrest and the need that they perceive for a change of regime. Politics like religion can motivate individuals to do some terrible things all in the name of political progress. But when politic dogma and religion ethos are mixed together, there is a potential for a very explosive mixture.

As I get older, my natural cynicism wains and I start to believe that my old political values will one day prevail. That our politicians will collectively  make choices for the good of everyone. That the cabinet or inner circle will be replaced by a method that reflects the aspirations of everyone and not a minority who are lobbying and/or "sponsoring" in some way the parties in power. Notwithstanding  a stuttering start has been made in that direction after the MP's expenses scandal. Though not enough of them (of all political persuasions) were turfed out of office by the ballot count. A few token miscreants have been incarcerated just to appease the public perception. But we all know that the snouts in the trough will continue, this time their attitude will not be cavalier. This time they will take care to cover their tracks and to have a scapegoat at the ready.

Whilst I think that Utopia is still some light years off in the distance, there are other "political" people who I do enjoy reading. Politicians such as Tony Benn as well as some political writers such as the late Paul Foot. Individuals with real political integrity and an unbridled sense of fairness. Now that I have retired and my ex-employer has no sanction that it can apply to me. I start to feel that growing sense of  freedom from another form of oppression.  But more about that later.


Friday 11 March 2011

Have you been watching Guy Martin on TV?

The apparent "northern character" replacement by the BBC for the late Fred Dibnah is a guy called Guy Martin. Guy Martin's major claim to fame is his ability to ride a motorcycle round the TT course on the Isle of Man at a flatulance inducing speed. When it comes to riding a high power motorcycle Guy Martin has few peers.

A simple description of Guy is that he his a very personable young man, He has some very large "mutton chop" sideburns and is endowed with a soft Lincolnshire accent. The average Jill Public female will find him to be something of an endearing boyish character.
The narrow-boating program is called "The Boat That Guy Built". The problem is that if we take the title literally, then Guy is not building a boat - more almost renovating a boat. Reckless the boat was burned out in the past and has been part restored to a lined sailaway condition already. Guy who is a truck mechanic by trade, starts to renovate the narrowboat. Whilst at the same time travelling along some disjointed sections of the canal network.

The BBC said "Guy will be using and illustrating some of the inventions of the Industrial Revolution. The programme involves reconstruction of some early industrial processes such as the smelting of iron."
Program number one: Was very light weight and I think it was intended to set the plot for the later episodes. In the episode Guy and his oppo Mave attempt their first faltering steps in narrow boat control. They also learn about making tea as well as throwing a pot and casting a small cast iron cauldron.

There are a few errors in the filming continuity, as well as large canal distances being covered in a short time space. There are also glaring errors in some safety aspects, such as lighting a barbecue to brew tea on the roof of a boat.  Especially a narrow boat that has been burned out on a previous occasion.

What does come across is that Guy finds the whole experience enjoyable, his enthusiasm shines through and his very dry almost droll sense of humour will be lost on some people.
In most biker forums, Guy's first exploit into the world of television has been well received. Yet at the same time, on some inland waterway forums the program content and Guy have been panned. On a scale of one to ten - I would give the program a six. Plus a school report of "Guy could do better". I shall await the next five episodes with some interest.

The late Fred Dibnah shoes will take some filling. Mark Williams presented a number of similar industrial revolution and Victorian engineering programs. Whilst Williams was portrayed acting the part of a tough brash northerner. His character did not have the same natural down to earth quality of Fred Dibnah.

Fred Dibnah was filmed in 1978, making repairs to a Lancashire Town Hall by a regional BBC news crew. The BBC later commissioned an award-winning documentary of Fred Dibnah at work as a "northern" steeplejack. Dibnah's rough and no nonsense manner, plus his gentle Lancashire accent and philosophical look on life, proved very popular. Dibnah was commissioned later to present a programme on Britain's industrial history which also proved to be very popular. Later Fred went on to present a further series, largely concerned with the Industrial Revolution and its mechanical and architectural legacy.

Guy Martin is from the same north of England background as Fred Dibnah and has many of his northern qualities. Including a quick wit, a natural inquisitiveness and a willingness to state the obvious. I hope that in time Guy Martin's natural charm and pragmatic outlook will be seen in a similar light. There are close parallels between them both. I could easily imagine Fred and Guy over a beer and a cup of tea, having long conversations about all kinds of industrial and mechanical engineering issues. They would both be at ease with each other.

Since I started writing this, part II has now been viewed. In the words of Paul Daniels "I liked it, a little bit, not a lot" its not what I would have described as compelling viewing. I still can't make up my mind if it is the subject matter or alternatively building up and fleshing out of the two main characters which this series is directed at. As in the previous episode there are certain canal safety worries. Normally I would not promote the "Safety Taliban" mindset. However climbing off the roof onto a bridge, crossing the road and climbing down again onto the boat is a stupid prank. It sends a very poor safety message about what can be a deadly hobby. But when you are used to racing a motorcycle on the track this narrow-boating will seem quite tame by comparison.

Maybe I need to try and adapt my tastes, a bit like when we were presented a few years back with the "alternative comedy" of Alexi Sayle. Which in all honesty I found to be as funny as sore piles. I admit that I am a bit more of a Ben Elton and Mark Thomas fan. Which I like to postulate as being the "Thinking Man's Comedy". Observational comedy has always been my first choice, from people such as Billy Connolly and John Bishop. That's not to say that I don't like what is served up as alternative, its just that some alternative comedy is more alternative than others.


Wednesday 9 March 2011

More canal books.

More books for the Rosie bookshelf.

The credit card has taken a big hit and the bookshelf will soon be creaking even more under the weight of my latest purchase. Sticking to the theme, they are all canal orientated. So my reading matter is assured for the next few weeks.

Troubled Waters, author Margaret Cornish. ISBN 0947712259

The story of a scheme hatched by the government during the dark days of the second world war. by way of recruiting young girls to crew canal carrying boats whilst the menfolk were away fighting at the front. Troubled Waters chronicles the wartime experiences of Margaret Cornish as she became one of a select group of ladies known as "Idle Women".

The Quiet Waters By, author David Blagrove. ISBN 0947712356

Autobiography of a Boat Carrying Company operator in the 1960's. The book describes how the author left what might have been seen as an office bound job for the uncertain future as a member of a canal boat crew. Day to day descriptions of other boat people he met along the way. At the same time chronicling the changes he experienced in what was a significant downturn in the canal carrying business.

Bread upon the Waters, author David Blagrove. ISBN 097712275

The continuing autobiography of a Boat Carrying Company operator now turned Company Lock Keeper. The author gives some insight into the latter part of the commercial operations on the inland waterways. Recounting his experience of working as a lock keeper on the upper reaches of the River Thames.

Idle Women, author Susan Woolfitt. ISBN 0905366340

Another wartime adventure of working the canal boats along the inland waterways. The author recounts her experiences of the hard work experienced by the female boat crews. Whilst the menfolk referred to these volunteers as "Idle Women" the term carried some endearment and a grudging respect for the essential wartime work these hard working women were doing.

Maidens Trip, author Emma Smith. 9780747598961

A wartime adventure told by the author of her experiences of working on the canal boats. Emma as one of a select band of ladies who would be fondly known forever as the "Idle Women".

London's Lost Route to Portsmouth, author P.A.L. Vine. ISBN 1860772838

The story of the rise and rapid failure of the Portsmouth and Arundel Canal. Constructed between London and Portsmouth, the canal was a financial and management disaster in the making. Chronicling with hindsight the highs and lows of a project that was overtaken by the changing political and trading circumstances of London in the mid 1800's.


Monday 7 March 2011

Like Baldric I have a cunning plan.

We have had a couple of short one-day-trips along the canal returning back to the mooring. This is to check that all is well on Rosie after the winter layup. Today, I topped up the diesel tank with fifty litres purchased at my local petrol station who also sell red diesel. The price was 89.9p per litre. There is no diesel available for canal side purchase along this stretch. So I suppose beggars can't be choosers. Last time I topped up the tank in September last year at the same station it was around 74.1p per litre. However, looking back I am glad that we avoided the option of a diesel stove. I so much prefer the solid fuel stove where we burn a bit of coal and the odd log or two.  The gas Alde central heating boiler on Rosie is not very fuel efficient. Therefore we don't use it if we can avoid it. Two 13kg gas bottles don't last long and at at £51 a pair its a consideration to make.

I am starting to plan for a possible two part cruise this year.

The Memsahib is still working (until July) and her annual leave entitlement is at a premium this year. So we will be a bit late in starting out. Easter, seems to be start of the traditional boating year. However, we will be at a family wedding on Good Friday which would have been our expected starting point. But with the usual weekend to follow plus Easter Monday and Tuesday as holidays. Then the royal wedding the following Friday, plus the second weekend. For two days of annual leave the Memsahib gets a week off. Then there is May Day, the following Monday which is another public holiday so for a further four annual leave days we get another full week.

So where to go and what to do.

We don't intend to go chasing the boating miles, but we do intend to have a very relaxing time. So we have been studying the canal maps and we thought we would do a return trip as far as York. However, we plan to have a number of stops along the way just to explore the countryside and canal side hostelries. So I would not be surprised to find that we don't actually make it all the way. One further option is to do whatever we do. Then if we run out of available time me and the dog can single hand the boat back to our home moorings

Part two will be later in the year.

In late July early August we intend to have two or three months out and about before mooring up once again until spring 2012. Our cruise will depend on the unpredictable typical British summer weather, because if the main river systems such as the Trent are in flood our choices of cruising route will be restricted.


Tuesday 1 March 2011

I want to break free!

In the words of the immortal Freddy Mercury "I want to break free", has come to be.

Yes it's official - as of the 28th of February 2011, I am now one of those scroungers on the dole. So at dinner time, I presented myself in the local pub for the ritual leaving drink. It was nice to see a few old friendly faces. There was the usual leaving card with various snippets telling me to "go away" and to "go now". Best of all, I was presented with a watch - made of titanium - to which I said in my acceptance mumble, "thanks and now I will have even more time on my hands."

Then returning to my office, just to say goodbye to my close colleagues and to set my out of office email message to "Elvis has left the building". As well as sending the usual goodbye email message round the faculty. The Memsahib came to collect me and we walked out of the university together. Down the steps, pausing on the last step into the street. I said "I am now retired" as we stepped onto the pavement. It was a poignant moment and the Memsahib had a tear in her eye. I had a spring in my step. Mag's sees this as the end of and era, I see it as a new challenge for the future. We are like chalk and cheese, and that's exactly why it works so well.

The University and myself parted company amicably with the exchange of a large pile of shekels pushed in my direction. This morning I awoke at my customary 6:10 am as usual. The Memsahib was also stirring  so I got up and brewed a cup of "Chai" tea for us both. If you are a tea drinker and you want something good in a morning to get you up and going, you could do a lot worse than a good cup of Twinings Chai. The trick is to let it brew well as the full taste takes a while to develop.

It was then that I realised I would be staying at chateau "Wits End" and only the Memsahib would be going to work today. I awoke her with a quick peck on the cheek saying "Tea Up" followed by "It's good to know that I'm now a kept man" The memsahib has a way of speaking with her eyes, as one eye slowly opened and the malevolence shone out bright. I thought - time for a strategic withdrawal - and set off to make some porridge and toast. The calming influence of the Chai seemed to have worked and the Memsahib was her usual self by the time the morning ablution ritual finished.

So today, I start the task of unburdening ourselves of much of the chattel we have accumulated over the years. So I shall be putting various books up on Amazon as my first task. Then me and the dog will be spending a bit of time going for a good leisurely walk for a couple of hours. Wash the car and wash a couple of the motorcycles in the garage. I need to pressure wash the patio and then clean out the log burner stove as it has not been out for over three months. Then I need to... err, a sudden thought struck me "I have so much on - however did I have time to work." 

Just what is it that I have retired from exactly?