Saturday 31 December 2011

A Dipstick on the boat!

A project that I had been meaning to get on with is a Diesel Tank Dipstick. Rosie does not have any fuel or water level metering installed. The old way was to poke a length brush handle down the filler until it reached the tank bottom. Pull out the handle and then read the amount of fuel remaining. 

Well I say read the fuel level, it was more of a guesstimate of the fuel level, as the broom handle is not calibrated in any way. The occasional dip was also not the best way to keep the tank clean and there is always the risk of contaminating the tank in some way. Rosie has a 206 litre fuel tank. I know the tank capacity and that the tank is made of stainless steel. This information was gleaned from the boat builder supplied boat owners hand book.

My first pass at making a calibrated dipstick was to get a piece of flat brass stock from B and Q and to give it some sort of removable calibration marks. This I did with a china graph pen. It was based on the amount of fuel being added to the tank during our last cruise. I was able to reasonably calibrate the location of the 25, 50, 75, 100, 125 and 150 litre marks.

I marked the different capacity levels on the brass stock with a hammer and chisel. I was later in the cruise able to predict when filling at a chandlers that the tank would hold an extra 50 litres. It actually held 48.6 litres before reaching the top. So the calibration gives a bit more of an idea than the broom handle guesstimate ever could.

Then I had an idea, and I came up with the Rose of Arden Dipstick Mk II.

I thought, why not include a method of checking for water contamination each time I dip the tank to check the actual fuel level. If you drop a hollow straw into a liquid, the liquid will flow up inside the straw to the same level as the liquid is in the container. When you remove the straw the liquid will flow back out of the straw into the container. However if you use your thumb to seal the top of the straw once the liquid has reached the same level inside the straw. Then a vacuum is created above the liquid, thereby stopping the fluid from draining out of the straw.

If you place your thumb on top of the straw and then push the straw to the bottom of the liquid before releasing your thumb. The liquid entering the straw can only come from the bottom of the container. This is the method I use to ensure that I get a sample from the bottom of our fuel tank.

The dipstick requires the sighting tube to be used just like a laboratory pipette. Pipettes work by creating a tube with a closed end at the top and an open end at the bottom. Dropping the pipette into a tank containing a liquid and then opening the top allows liquid to be draw up from the bottom of the tank. Sealing the top of the pipette then creates a vacuum above the liquid. The vacuum holds the liquid in the sighting glass when the dipstick/pipette is removed from the tank.

So I modified the dipstick so that the fuel level in the tank would register in piece of clear plastic tube. I use the type used for pumping air into a fish tank. I ensured that the tube supports would also coincide with the major fuel capacity points. Then the small sample of fuel draw up from the bottom of the tank (this is where any water or other contamination will collect) can be released into a small container and checked for water or any other type of contamination.

This project could be easily modified to make a Water Tank Dipstick.


Friday 30 December 2011

Old Jews Telling Jokes.

The Memsahib was out last night, so I settled down in front of the television. I was entertained by a series of programs. Earthflight, Mastermind, Have I Got News For You, QI, and Great Expectations were amongst the fare available. Just before going to bed for the night I chanced on Old Jews Telling Jokes on BBC 4. Of American origin the programs features a series of old Jews telling their favourite joke. Strong language and reflective of the Jewish community and its sense of humour. The first program was followed by a second helping and so I was much later to bed than normal.  Available for the next seven days check them out on BBCi. Watch out for the Jewish lady and the joke about Broccoli, she is brilliant.

I'm back once more to looking for a 3kw diesel generator for Rosie. We attempted to purchase a brand new one on eBay. I checked out the sellers history, quite a few satisfied customers with sales of similar generator items. Did the usual Paypal payment and sat back waiting for delivery. After a week, I emailed the seller - no reply. Tried a second time - no reply. Then I noticed that bad feedback was starting to pile up on the sellers profile. Cut a long story short, Paypal restored the money into our account. I have just found a similar generator for sale at a business a couple of miles up the road. This time it will be Cash on Collection.

Each year, government papers are released under the 30 year rule, which give some insight into what our political leaders were thinking at the time. Back in 1981 Thatcher 'considered arming police' and  was also urged to abandon Liverpool. Sir Geoffrey Howe argued for a secret policy of 'managed decline' in Liverpool. Secretary of State for the Environment Michael Heseltine the cabinet papers note: "Mr Heseltine considered the behaviour of the police in Liverpool to be quite horrifying. They were not acting in a racialist fashion. They treated all suspects in a brutal and arrogant manner." 

One letter, written by then Chancellor Geoffrey Howe, gloomily predicts the general election will see the Conservatives faced with the prospect of "doing something which has not been done before - winning an election despite not being able to offer the electorate much in the way of material improvement". It is tempting to draw parallels with Cameron's coalition government.

Thatchers attention was also drawn to the Sports Council quango after she received a letter from the Duke of Edinburgh about the unelected make-up of the body. In a memo sent to to No 10, it said  "Apart from his general dislike of bureaucracy and his support for voluntary effort, his particular interest stems from his being President of the Central Council of Physical Recreation, a capacity in which he conducts a running battle with the Sports Council." Later Iain Sproat, the Conservative sports minister, outlined proposals to replace the Sports Council with the UK Sports Council for elite athletes.

A White Paper report in 1980 recommended that 246 quangos should be abolished saving £11.6m and costing 3,700 jobs. The current government announced in October that 192 public bodies would be axed, while a further 118 will be merged. In David Cameron’s plans for the “bonfire of the quangos”, designed to save the taxpayer billions of pounds. British Waterways would be given charitable status.

I have a feeling of Déjà vu, some things never change.


Thursday 29 December 2011

Short Cruise.

We had a short one day cruise yesterday into Sheffield basin. We were in company with WB Tabularassa. The weather was warm and the sun was quite strong as we set out. However, the wind freshened up quite a bit so that by mid morning the wind chill had driven the temperature well down. We did the usual chores including a last of the season pump out and then returned back to the marina once more.

Trip Total
Distance 5.5 miles
Locks 4 locks
Swing / Lift Bridges 2
Tunnels 0
Pump-out 1

Rosie's Running Total
Distance 539.5 miles
Locks 544
Swing / Lift Bridges 91
Tunnels 6
Pump-outs 7

So what do we have to look forward to next year.

Brenda's Diamond Jubilee.
Yes, unfortunately Brenda has been on the throne for 60 years. Chuck and Camela are hoping that Brenda will throw in the towel.

The Olympics and Paralympics.
Yes, in the middle of a recession we throw billions at a two week sport fest. Hungry and homeless people on our streets. Thousand of people to lose their jobs. We have the Olympics.

Olympic Torch.
Olympic Flame will take a 70-day journey round the UK.

The London Mayor Elections.
Ken or Boris - Boris or Ken. Yawn.

The US presidential elections.

Pseudo experts talking rubbish.
"Experts fear that major events such as the Olympics and the Queen's Diamond Jubilee will lead to a 'significant drop' in blood donations. NHS Blood and Transplant warned that a 'perfect storm' could be created in 2012 by special events, extra bank holidays and a bumper sporting calendar."

Its time to seriously plan our cruise for next year. All of the above reasons are so inspirational, I can't wait to start the engine and push off down the cut. 


Tuesday 27 December 2011

A Plod along the tow path.

I was stopped by a nosy police officer around 2 a.m this morning. Just as I was walking back to the boat minding my own business. I was asked by the officer "where are you going at this time of night." I replied, "I am on my way to a lecture about alcohol abuse and the effects it has on the human body, especially when staying out late."

The officer who was taken aback then said, "Oh yes, and who is giving that sort of lecture at this time of night?" I replied with a smirk of satisfaction, "You mean who is giving that sort of lecture at this time in the morning. That officer, would be the Memsahib"

With a puzzled expression he enquired "What is a Memsahib?" I replied "That is my wife and in answer to your next question the lecture happens most nights." I wished him "good consternoon aftnable" and toddled unsteadily on my way.

Gaddafi seized power in a military coup in 1969. In 2011, the Libyan state he established was overthrown in a civil war which consisted of an uprising aided by a NATO intervention.

Rising oil prices and extraction in Libya led to increasing revenues. By exporting as much oil per capita as Saudi Arabia and through various welfare programs, Libya achieved the highest living standards in Africa; though not as high as several similarly oil-rich Gulf countries.

The history of the United States traditionally starts with the Declaration of Independence in the year 1776, although its territory was inhabited by Native Americans since prehistoric times and then by European colonists who followed the voyages of Christopher Columbus starting in 1492. The largest settlements were by the English on the East Coast, starting in 1607.

The British government's threat to American self-government led to war in 1775 and the Declaration of Independence in 1776. With major military and financial support from France, the patriots won the American Revolution. The 1860 election of Abraham Lincoln calling for no more expansion of slavery triggered a crisis as eleven slave states seceded to found the Confederate States of America in 1861. The bloody American Civil War (1861–65) redefined the nation and remains the central iconic event.


Should CaRT volunteers also be members!

There are over 100 waterway stakeholder organisations that operate in the sphere of charitable trusts and societies on the UK's Inland Waterways. Many of the stakeholder groups are small in scale. For some, a significant part of their income is via the membership route. Most of their output is driven by volunteers, the majority of the volunteers are also members.

"The Coalition Government’s agenda of severe public spending cuts and building the ‘Big Society’ demand a greater role for volunteers in public service delivery. Confidence that this demand can be satisfied is in part driven by a misguided assumption that volunteering rates have risen during the economic downturn." Matthew Hill, Institute for Volunteering Research, 2011.

Look at most of the existing charities that are at work in the UK such as English Heritage.  Where membership is open to anyone and is currently set at £46 per year. Membership of English Heritage is an important part of drawing in the volunteers and for raising funding toward their activities. Membership benefits also draw the public to visit and to leave donations.

* English Heritage is the place to find our about listed buildings and scheduled monuments such as Stonehenge. Membership brings with it access to special events and other benefits.

Minister, Richard Benyon MP reporting on the progress on the Canal and River Trust. Told  the All Party Parliamentary Waterways Group hearing on 8th December. "On membership, the Trustees had decided that the charity should not have a membership for fund-raising purposes, believing that other means of raising funds and stimulating voluntary giving were more effective for fund raising than a formal membership."

Now, you may be wondering like me, why the Canals and Rivers Trust trustees would want to abandon any idea of having a formal membership. Irrespective of whether the membership is a paid one or a freebie.  Other than paying members might feel that they have a right to question how their money and donations are managed. The additional burden of managing a members year on year subscription service should be able to dovetail into the old BW financial systems that CaRT will inherit. Curiously I'm not sure how infrequent and random small public donations will fit into the existing financial systems.

Standard issue volunteers toolkit.
Membership to CaRT would help to create a sense of belonging and something that gives people a way of demonstrating their support for and commitment to the Inland Waterways. You don't have to own a boat or be into canal fishing to demonstrate a commitment. If nothing else, group membership would help to create a focus point for the much heralded vanguard of a volunteer army that we will see in place by next April.

According to the Institute for Volunteering Research. The top five benefits from volunteering as given by volunteers are:-
  1. A sense of satisfaction from seeing the results. (97%)
  2. I really enjoy it. (96%)
  3. It gives me a sense of personal achievement. (88%)
  4. To meet people and make friends (86%)
  5. Gives me the chance to do things that I am good at. (83%)

The top five reasons for not getting involved were:-
  1. Not enough spare time. (82%)
  2. Put off by bureaucracy. (49%)
  3. Worried about risk / liability. (47%)
  4. Don’t know how to find out about getting involved. (39%)
  5. Not got the right skills/ experience. (39%)

The full list of volunteering stats can be found Here.

Call me "Old and Cynical" but the idea of not needing or encouraging a paid membership does not hold water. Not un-like most of the locks. The IWAC (Inland Waterways Advisory Council) have produced an excellent document on Volunteering and Inland Waterways: How to Attract, Integrate and Retain Volunteers. The benefits to the Inland Waterways of not having a paid or freebie membership is not addressed in this document. Because not having a membership was a no brainer from the start.

So it looks like CaRT are hoisting their petard. CaRT will carry forward the usual standard of British Waterways management into the foreseeable future. More of the same old BW.

The Inland Waterways Advisory Council have also come up with the idea of continuing their work for the next two years. Working as a sort of watchdog on the way that CaRT performs. The Government says that closing down the IWAC will save £200,000 a year. However,  because the IWAC is almost totaly run by unpaid volunteers the actual amount saved is £10,000 these are the IWAC's own figures.

I wonder if CaRT will have the eagle eye of IWAC keeping watch on them. Or will the CaRT trustees want the IWAC to be shot at dawn on the 1st of April.


Monday 26 December 2011

The RoA awards for 2011.

The winter season officially began in the northern hemisphere on Dec. 22 with the annual celestial event known as the winter solstice The southern hemisphere, on the other hand, will kick off the start of summer at the same time. The nice bit is that the days will now get longer, if not warmer for the next few months. The winter solstice, is also confusingly known as midwinter.

Soon we will all be able to start planning our boat cruise for 2012. But first of all there is the small matter of the Rose of Arden awards for 2011.

Nike is this years winner of the RoA Gold Medal in "ripping off their thick and stupid customers."

One of our old colony's seems to have gone into the realms of the surreal once more. These are the folk in the USA. The ones with a huge nuclear arsenal and the spare time to go round the world forcing their values at the point of a gun to other cultures. Oh, yes I admit we Brits have helped them in this endeavour.

But I digress.

Apparently, battles have broken out in shops across the United States as Christmas shoppers jostled to lay their hands on Nike's new shoe. There was widespread public disorder as shoppers vied to buy a retro version of a classic Air Jordan shoe.

The original shoes became popular targets for thieves. Police reported having to use pepper spray on customers who started fighting at a store in Seattle. There was an attempted robbery in the street on a victim who was mistakenly believed to have just bought a pair of the shoes. The original Air Jordan created a subculture of collectors. Who rarely wore the shoes but were willing to wait hours to buy the latest pair. A new pair retails at about £115, but they are already being listed on eBay for as much as £350. The shoes are estimated to cost about £1.50 a pair in materials and labour in Asia to make.

The Society of Sports Therapists is this years joint winner along with RoSPA of the RoA Silver Medal for "stating the bleeding obvious."

With temporary ice rinks appearing in towns and cities across the UK, the Society of Sports Therapists is reminding people that ice skating can be a dangerous sport. It warned of a risk of serious injury and advised people take precautions. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents said falling over and the risk of bumping into people required safety precautions to be taken.

This years winner of the RoA Bronze Medal for "Despots."

I'm a little despot short and stout
Is the new North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Kim has been hailed by North Korean state media as the new "supreme commander" of the country's powerful armed forces for the first time.

The ruling party newspaper Rodong Shinmun also called on Kim Jong-un to lead North Korea to "eternal victory". State media had been calling Mr Kim "the great successor" after the death of his father Kim Jong-il. While some hope his death will herald the fall of the dictatorship in North Korea. Some question whether his son, Kim Jong-Un, posed to take his place, will have the weight to assume the reins of the country. I'll never ever forget that time when Kim Jong-Il sent the world a picture of himself lighting a fart on the train.  Kim Jong-il the old leader is now known as Kim Jong-ded.

The Towpath Dog Turd award for 2011 goes to Mark Bradford.

Dog Turd Award Winner
In Plymouth, a middle aged man decided to take a break from real life to play a computer game called "Call of Duty." Unfortunately, being an adult and up against a kid, Bradford proved that he wasn't that good!

Mark Bradford aged 46 and a father of 3, has been taken to court for attacking a 13 year old kid, when the kid "killed him" on Call of Duty Black Ops. Bradford carried out the real-life revenge attack on the teenager who killed his character in an online video game.

Bradford, saw red when the boy gloated after gunning him down while playing the game. Because he was such a sore looser, the kid also called him a name. Little did the 13 year old know that Bradford knew where he lived! He grabbed the boy by the throat and forced him to make and apology. That was until his mother came in and rescued him. The childs mother said “It’s pathetic that a grown man would attack a defenceless child like this. If you can’t handle losing to a child then you shouldn’t be playing games."

Bradford said  “I’d been playing the whole day and he was baiting me and just would not shut up. I just lost it. In a moment of madness I went round to the house. I didn’t know what I was going to do. I just grabbed him.” In mitigation John Haythorne said Bradford expressed remorse and was in receipt of incapacity benefit and suffered from "mental health problems".

District Judge Morgan-Jones told Bradford: "It is of great concern that you, as an adult who is expected to be able to control yourself, managed to blur the lines of fantasy online gaming and the real world you actually live in." He added that it was not acceptable behaviour. He accepted the instance was "out of character" and Bradford suffered "very real personal difficulties" but said the offence was "so serious" it merited a custodial sentence."

Mark Bradfords Facebook Page.

The Inland Waterways Slime Ball award for 2011 goes to Ben Harp of Harp Narrowboats.

The story of commissioning a boat build and the very real threat that such a prospect offers is very apparent at the moment. The recent débâcle with NB Waiouru and the treatment metered out by Ben Harp of Harp Narrowboats is beyond belief. This has set back the boat shell building and fit out industry decades.

And finally.... The Rose of Arden fluffy gong for the best shaggy dog story of 2011.

Scamp the Champ
If Scamp the dog was living up to his name by playing a trick on his owners, a grandmother in Washington USA isn't laughing. Reta McKinlay thought her grand children's puppy died after it escaped through a fence at her Yelm home and was hit by a car. The cross Yorkshire Terrier-Shih Tzu mix was bleeding, his eyes fixed. He wasn't breathing.  Reta said that her husband wrapped him in a blanket and left him under a wheelbarrow to keep animals away. They prepared to bury him the next morning. She told her 6-year-old twin grandchildren that Scamp had gone to heaven. But when her husband returned, Scamp was sitting up.  Reta says Scamp's return is the family's Christmas present. "We just said miracles happen, and maybe we were wrong and maybe because everyone was sad and praying, maybe God decided to let him live."

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to my reader.


Saturday 24 December 2011

Passing Time

One way that I have for passing on time in between the essential maintenance work on Rosie, is playing on the Internet. I have this thing at the moment for creating graphics and messing around generally with pictures. I recently came across a site that happens to host many applications including one that will let you create your own pictures and messages with a flower motif.

Here as they say is one that I did earlier.

This is the experimental site.

Quote: Chrome Experiments is a showcase for creative web experiments, the vast majority of which are built with the latest open technologies, including HTML5, Canvas, SV, and WebGL. We hope the projects on this site provide inspiration for anyone interested in experimenting creatively with the web. And we hope they show how the web has become faster, more fun, and more open – the same spirit in which we built Google Chrome.

I have been asked about how I create the little motto style graphics panels that I add to postings from time to time. I use a few different on-line tools for creating them. A web search on "Logo Creator" will bring up several on line applications that you can use.  Cool Text is a good one to use as a starter, it has many ready configured styles to choose from. There are other applications that will give you much more control and allow you to embed your own pictures into the panel.

But often a simple picture can convey much more that words alone ever can.

Here is a photograph © Ibrahim AlRabeh that one could write a thesis on and still not cover the whole subject. Simple in concept and yet very provocative in content. At the same time there is a stereotypical slant about the picture.

Politics and religion both are puported to be for the benefit of all mankind. Yet it is the athiest who lives in peace with himself and everyone else around him.


Sad Day at RoA

I attended the funeral of my friend Harry yesterday.

Harry was a self made man. A mechanical magician who could take apart any piece of mechanical apparatus. Whats more he would know how to put it all back together again. Harry was from the old school of engineers and was at his happiest when up to his elbows in muck. Trained at Rolls Royce, with engineering time served in many parts of the world. Large strong hands and yet deft enough of touch to play the organ. I once went to see him to borrow a pair of his circlip pliers after rebuilding a prop shaft bearing. He took the circlips and popped each one into the bearing using just his thumbs.

Oil platforms and rigging the cranes were among his last big engineering jobs, before starting his own business. He also held a private pilots licence and part owned a Tiger Moth at one time. One day many years ago we were on the motorway when we were pulled over by plod. Plod says "You were going a bit there sir, I don't know if I should report you for speeding or low flying." Harry retorts "Make your mind up which one then, both my licences are here." Plod has a chuckle to himself and after admonishing Harry about his excessive speed, Plod then lets him off with a warning.

Later I and others encouraged him to became a radio amateur. Ultimately in the UK he became G0JMU, and as he spent six months in Africa each year, he was also a popular contact as 7Q7HB One of a very few amateurs operating out of Malawi.

Harry was also a Les Dawson type joker, A deadpan face that could without the slightest flicker set anyone up for the fall. He has suckered me in so many times. The annoying thing is that I was always wary and half expecting it! Today, I half expected him to pop his head round the chapel door and shout "surprise." When its standing room only at any funeral, you know that the person was exceptional.

Yesterday, we were joined by other radio amateur friends from home and abroad. We knew of others that were unable to attend because they could not get flights into the UK at this time of year. When an amateur radio operator passes away, he is referred to as going "silent key" (no more Morse).  Harry was a gentleman and a very close friend, who I shall miss.

RIP Harry.  di di dit   da di dar

We have also been to see the new Sherlock Holmes film. (A game of Shadows) Homes has been played by many people over the years. I am a Basil Rathbone man when it comes down selecting my favourite actor. Robert Downey Jr has however done a passable attempt at playing the part.

The plot:- When the Crown Prince of Austria is found dead, the evidence, as construed by Inspector Lestrade, points to suicide. But Sherlock Holmes deduces that the prince has been the victim of murder that is only one piece of a larger and much more portentous puzzle, designed by Professor Moriarty. The cunning Moriarty is always one step ahead of Holmes as he spins a web of death and destruction.

With something of a nod to "Enter the Dragon" and "The Matrix" by way of special effects. Its worth a viewing if you get a chance.


Friday 23 December 2011

Why I am never depressed.

Ah, its that time of the year, Christmas. A time for drinking when you don't feel like it. Eating when you feel stuffed to the gills and having to visit family who are all hungover and distended fit to burst. This is quickly followed by the New Year celebration. Another time for drinking when you don't feel like it. Eating when you feel stuffed to the gills and having to visit family who are all hungover and distended like a barrage balloon from Christmas.

This is called a celebration and a time of enjoyment!

Just had a sneaky peek at one of my presents under the Christmas tree..... A bag of roast potatoes!!!! I can only think that it must be from Aunt Bessie. It makes for a real surprise from my expectations I suppose. Well it's better than that bag of rice I got last year from Uncle Ben now that was a surprise.

The Crazy Gang we call the Government says it is going to do something about the nations "Happiness".  So they asked 4,200 people how happy they are. After spending £2million on an official enquiry to discover whether we are happy, the enquiry has concluded that most of us are. The investigation ordered by David Cameron found that three quarters of us place ourselves at seven out of ten or higher on a scale of well being. At a price of £476.19 per person interviewed. The outcome could have been 100% happy if they had given the 4200 people the £476.19 each instead.  I consider that money well spent.

I believe that men are just a naturally happier people (if the Memsahib is right) what more could you expect - from such simple creatures. Its all down to our outlook on life. Plus the male of the species having an indomitable spirit in the face of adversity.

Post puberty and before marriage a chocolate bar is just another snack. No matter what you do, you can never get yourself pregnant. Farting is a man game and not to be confused with a social taboo. Sex is for fun and not intended to be accompanied by a life altering commitment. Car mechanics will always tell you the truth. The world is your urinal. Same work, more pay. You don't have to stop and think of which way to turn a nut on a bolt.

When you do get married, your last name stays put. Wedding just seem to take care of themselves. When you buy your home, the garage is all yours.   People never stare at your chest when you're talking to them. The occasional well-rendered belch is practically expected. New shoes don't cut, blister, or mangle your feet. Even your most "stylish" of shoes have flat heels.

You are in one mood all the time. Phone conversations are over in 30 seconds flat. You know lots of stuff about boats.  You can open all your own jars. You get credit for the slightest act of thoughtfulness. If someone forgets to invite you, he or she can still be your friend. Your underwear is £1.95 for a three-pack. You are unable to see wrinkles in your clothes. Everything on your face stays its original colour. A three week holiday requires only one small suitcase. With the limited leg room on package flights, its the only time you expect to see the wife's ankles around her ears.

The same hairstyle lasts for years, however the parting may get wider. Three pairs of shoes are more than enough. You only have to shave your face and neck. You can play with toys all your life. One wallet and one colour for all seasons. You can wear shorts no matter how your legs look. You can "do" your nails with a pocket knife. You have freedom of choice concerning growing a moustache.

Ladies, the men folk are not mind readers. Learn to work the toilet seat. You're a big girl. If it's up, put it down. We need it up, you need it down. You don't hear us complaining about you leaving it down. Ask for what you want. Let us be clear on this one: Subtle hints do not work! Strong hints do not work! Obvious hints do not work! Just say it! Yes and No are perfectly acceptable answers to almost every question.

Come to us with a problem only if you want help solving it. That's what we do. Anything we said 6 months ago is inadmissible in an argument. In fact, all comments become Null and void after 7 Days. If you think you're fat, you probably are, don't ask us. If something we said can be interpreted two ways and one of the ways makes you sad or angry, we meant the other one. You can either ask us to do something or tell us how you want it done, not both. If you already know best and how to do it, just do it yourself.

Whenever possible,  please say whatever you have to say during the commercials. If it itches, it will be scratched, we do that. If we ask what is wrong and you say "nothing" we will act like nothings wrong. If you ask a question you don't want an answer to, then expect an answer you don't want to hear. When we have to go somewhere, absolutely anything you wear is fine. Don't ask us what we're thinking about unless you are prepared to discuss boats and pump out v cassette toilets. I am in shape, round for me and pear for you is a shape!

Men hold no opinion about curtains. Women have the "if you need to be told I am not going to tell you

When men want something they ask for it. When women want something they make a point distantly related to the subject and wait for a response. Men use I or me, why should use we or us. Women use we or us when they should use I or me. Its not only women who have the we must name our car gene. Some men look good with moustaches. There are no women who look good with moustaches. Women always have the last word in an argument. Anything a man adds after that is the beginning of a new argument.

Women eat curry if they like it. Men eat curry to prove they can. Women go to pee together. Men do not acknowledge, let alone speak, to each other when peeing. Men can write their names clearly in the snow. A man has at most six items in the bathroom - a toothbrush, toothpaste, shaving cream, razor, a bar of soap, and a towel from the Holiday Inn. The average number of items in a typical woman's bathroom is 437. A man would not be able to identify most of these items.

No wonder men are the happier gender.

Thursday 22 December 2011

Aunt Sally!

The more I read about the sequel to BW, CaRT. The more I have come to realise that the changes to the Inland Waterways are going to need to be very profound. Few would or could make the argument that British Waterways and its board has on reflection done a good job. A passable job would require some very serious argument, but certainly not a good job. Some would argue that we have suffered a poor performance that could have been done much better. The problem is that we can all pontificate the issue from a position given to us by the clarity of 20:20 vision that comes with hindsight.

The top brass at British Waterways could have been better business orientated. They could equally have been better at planning and logistics.  The commercial decisions that they have made have sometimes been questionable and bordering on suicidal. The problem is that we can now all pontificate until the cows come home, each issue from a position given to us by the 20:20 vision of hindsight.

The terms and conditions, the perks of the boards employment, we all know could have paid for real business nounce. The problem was the Inland Waterways were placed in quango country. Successive Governments abrogated their responsibilities under various political ideals and mantras. Now that we are in a time of austerity, the failing quango must go. The problem is that we can now all pontificate the issues once again. But with a change of name, I don't expect much if any change from a position given to us by the 20:20 vision of hindsight of the outgoing BW setup.

We are here and now - there is a chance to make a real change in the future of the Inland Waterways. First we need to know what we have got, then we need to know how best to maintain it. Then we need to understand how to improve it. Then we need to know how to encourage people to use it. If people see the Inland Waterways as a cheap theme park attraction or somewhere to take the dog for a shit. It will remain in limbo. If the general public see the Inland Waterways as a National Water Park.  If the general public see the Inland Waterways for what it is, a very significant part of our heritage. Then possibly over time, we will see a positive change. Now would be the time to preparer the pigs for take-off.

The biggest problem of all is going to be - how do we fund it. For me its going to require a radical re-think. This is the real crux of the problem, the economics. The people who are going to be doing this rethink - are going to base their ideas on their previous knowledge and experience. We already know that the individuals from British Waterways have a poor track record. The board are easy targets and few people have any confidence in them. The lack of confidence in the old guard will continue to create discord, it will continue to be a distraction, it will continue to create divisions, it will continue to anger those who see the process as more of the same old gravy train. Its time for a top to bottom clear out, no lifeboats are fitted to this sinking ship.

We are back at the beginning of another cycle of boom and bust - austerity and affluence. The problem this time is that our austerity is going to be with us for a long time. The climb to affluence once more is going to be a very shallow one.

Whenever this country has been in austerity measures. We have succeeded in recovering over time and then going on to become quite affluent for a while. The country in austerity always needed new leadership to get us back on our collective feet. This was usually done by bringing a new government into power. The new incoming government would be driven by young people with ideas not coloured by the mistakes made in the past. Determined individuals who brought new ideals and sought to make positive change. The old government was seen as being long past its usefulness.

For once we can see the seriousness of our current situation, but this time from a position given to us by the 20:20 vision of foresight. In other words its time for a radical rethink, the future does not lie in the hands of the old guard.

I don't think we have amongst those round the pensions trough anyone with the courage to look at what they have achieved and put themselves to the sword. I'm sure that the new board of trustees will inherit, the lack of confidence we have in the old guard. It will continue to create discord and division. It will continue to be a distraction from the real issues. It will continue to anger those who see the process as more of the same old gravy train. It will continue to anger those who see the process as more of the same old, prevarication, silo mentality, hostility to the users and world class arse covering. We will have the same figures of derision in place and like the aunt sally, they will all remain a target for the foreseeable future.


Tuesday 20 December 2011

Lost for words.

Damn, I had a message this afternoon that a biker friend has passed away. Primo, would be best described as a gentleman. A Big Man with a big heart. Quiet and unassuming but always up for a chuckle. There are many bikers who will miss the friendship, camaraderie and good spirit of Primo.

Now, I have had another message to say that Harry a very good and close friend of more years than I care to remember has passed away. I am absolutely devastated.

I just don't feel like writing any more today.


Alice in Sunderland.

I have had a few days observing and participating in the perpetual - playground bun-fight - that is the CharnalWorld Forum. A macabre twilight world, populated by peculiar and anthropomorphic water creatures. An English country village of floating voters, just downwind from reality. A place of potatoes and turnips and garnished with a chamber pot of evil sprouts. Unfortunately through a series of unsavoury and unhygienic encounters with one or two of the vegetables denizens. I have been tempted once more Jonathan Aitken like, to wield the sword of truth and honesty. Once more exposing the ways of the proletariat rule bending few. It's been the predictable experience, I expected it to be and it was, just so.

So what heated up the conversation to defcon 5. What dire deed did your scribe do that riled and rattled the bars of the the soiled sprouts cage. What was it that the sprouts found to be so evil and fiendish?

(Start Quote)
I posted this:-

I just came across this link...
But it only goes to waterscape so far....
And this on facebook
Change from BW to CaRT is going on a pace.

It started ignominiously with the predictable hostile outpouring of sprout flatulence:-
So where exactly do you expect it to go, other than Waterscape? Isn't this just like your thread criticising them for not making themselves known to the Charities Commission, even though they did not exist and, as the CC pointed out to you, they didn't need to know about them until they are ready to become a charity? Perhaps you should keep your powder dry until the launch, next April, rather than jump the gun, 4 months before the organisation is even created.

I replied with this:-
The sprout replied:-
Oh stop it. It was a valid point and a genuine attempt at discussion. If you can't have an adult discussion, without your repetitive childishness, why bother trying to start one?

I replied:-
The OP reminds me of someone...

The sprout replied:-
So now you are hijacking your own thread for the sole purpose of attacking me. Pathetic! You are the person you seem to despise so much...I pity you.
I replied :-
Another predictable outcome but then the truth always hurts.
The sprout replied :-
What truth? You are the one attempting to stalk me with your incessant "predictables". You are just being pathetic and I shall no longer respond to your ridiculous sniping. I have reported your incessant attempts to bait me into an argument, then tell everyone what a troll or bully I am. If you don't like me then put me on your ignore list. You are deliberately trying to disrupt the forum then lay the blame at me.That fits your definition of internet bullying quite nicely.

I replied :-
I started the thread and you joined me - and in your mind I'm the stalker? Saying that things are predictable when I have already predicted the outcome is sniping?

A sweet potato replied:-
Frankly I am gob-smacked at some of the replies to this post. It contains a few lines of information stating that a website and a FB site has been set up in the name of CaRT. As might be expected, the website still links to Waterscape. I am quite interested in this info., and am grateful to the OP. Why are numerous members getting their knickers in a knot?

End Quote

I also posted exactly the same comment on several other forums, including Narrowboat World. I did this so that I could get a measure of balance and to replicate the reactions of the users on a different forums. In the same time period there was just a single reply:-

Narrowboat World user:-
I expect most people already know this, but the Canal and River Trust have also registered at Companies House - Company Number 07807276. They registered on 12/10/11.

It does not get any better on CharnalWorld Forum. In fact it goes down hill fast. There was a great deal more, but I will spare you the full tiresome diatribe.  The sprout who said I had hi-jacked my own thread. Then engaged in a conversation about teapots. 

I did a snapshot of the whole debacle before the thread was removed. It seems to me that the sprout inmate might have been drinking a little to much of the brew in the teapot. The sprout has taken charge of CharnalWorld Forum and with some of the other veggies has created their own madhouse.

The people who should be enforcing decorum and acceptable behaviour on CharnalWorld Forum have obviously abrogated their responsibilities. Rather than lance the carbuncle for once and for all. The forum bully's are now encouraged to run riot and to escalate their actions to ever higher levels. Apparently with total impunity or are they being egged on and encouraged from above?

Is it because the team of moderators are out of their depth or running scared of the bullies. I do hope its not through the friendship of the perpetrators or through fear of reprisals. Courage in life is after all, a gift granted to few.

But I digress.

It's grim up't norf, so before we move on.

Theatre staff were left red faced after the letter T was missed out from Widow Twankey's name in their Christmas pantomime programme. The mistake at the Whitley Bay Playhouse in North Tyneside was blamed on human error and has now been corrected. The misprinted programme was withdrawn and an apology made to theatre goers. I somehow think the Widdow Wankey name is a bit more catchy then the original. Now who would not want to watch - Cat Wittington and his Dick!

A date for your calendar.

An extra UK Bank Holiday date in 2012 means smart people are already marking their calendars and booking the time off with their employers. Following the success of 2011's extra bank holiday for the Royal Wedding, 2012 sees an extra day added for the country to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee on Tuesday 5 June. It follows immediately after the Spring Bank Holiday on Monday 4 June - which means for many a week-long boating break will only involve taking three days off work.

With a nod to boating.

A judge has ordered an urgent hearing of a High Court challenge over Government plans to cut financial incentives for solar electricity. Environmental campaign group Friends of the Earth and two solar companies Solarcentury and HomeSun won the go-ahead to seek a ruling that the proposals are unlawful. The case centres on Government plans to cut feed-in tariff subsidies - payments made to households and communities that generate green electricity through solar panels - on any installations completed after Monday this week. Mr Justice Mitting, sitting in London, said the proposals had given rise to "economic risk" for those engaged in the solar industry. I'm trying to figure a way to get some feed-in tariff for the panels on the boat. Suggestions on a £10 note to the usual address.

In memorium.

This time last year our friend and neighbour Ken passed away. Somehow Christmas this year seems quite hollow. We are still missing his cheery smile and dry wit. The Christmas period can never be the same for Ken's family. Through the actions of fate, Christmas has been stolen from his family for ever

I wrote about Dennis Richie who recently passed away in my blog a few days ago. Maybe its as we get older that our mortality comes to the fore. That we are surprised and saddened when frends and notables who have a place in our life, pass away.

For many years I thought of Christopher Hitchens as a man of weired ideas and attention grabbing, self publicising attitude. I had read what others had written about "and what I thought at the time"  his outlandish statements on all sorts of things. Because I did not tend to read the publications that he wrote for. Then I started to read the man directly rather than the pastiches written about him by others. In a very strange way for a devout dyed-in-the-wool cynic, I actually grew to like and even admire the man.

I read his book "God Is Not Great" subtitled "The case against religion." Hitchens wrote that organised religion is "violent, irrational, intolerant, allied to racism, tribalism, and bigotry, invested in ignorance and hostile to free inquiry, contemptuous of women and coercive toward children." Furthermore it was "sectarian, and that accordingly, it ought to have a great deal on its conscience." Not a man to mince his thoughts and words.

Hitchens was known (even notorious) for his condemnation of Mother Teresa of Calcutta. His outspoken style of talking about any subject made him a controversial figure. He was also a fierce critic of the Bible, the Tora and in particular the Koran. Which he likened as being "fascism with an Islamic face".

Being an atheist myself, you might have thought there was some common ground between us. After reading the book, I realised that my atheism was based on a poor understanding of the whole gamut of problems brought about by religious beliefs. I was converted to the Hitchens view. Christopher has just died and I feel the world has lost a good advocate for calling into question religion and the intolerance between different beliefs.


Sunday 18 December 2011

Update on forum characters.

Way back in 2010  I wrote a few postings about people you might chance upon on the cut. I also wrote about people you might find on a particular boating forum. I wrote about the Naysayers, Bullshitters and Nitpickers, there were a few other characters included.  17th of May 2010,  22nd of May 2010, and 17th of October 2010 as well.

Today, I bring a belated update to the blog. I have identified a few other characters to add to the list of players.

Lick Spittle Award
Lick-spittle is a good description for the next character you will come across on a boating forum. This type of person did not get a good start in life. It was a toss up which would arrive first, potty training or puberty. As a serial bed wetter it was often puberty that won. At school they would enter into the “my dad can fight your dad argument” with their peers. However, it was with a wry twist. For the lick-spittle, the playground claim was always “my mother can fight your dad.” Because in a single parent family, the various siblings dads were only around for a short time.

Lacking in confidence and social skills the lick-spittle is like a lamprey that likes to form attachments to the nearest fish in the river. The lick-spittle is a fawning sycophant who likes to practise giving empty flattery, for personal gain. A brown noser by trade. The problem for the lick-spittle is that there are few forum types who are prepared to accept them. But, there is the one exception. The exception is the forum bully.

Forum bully who like all bully’s is full of venom and angst in equal measure. An annoying and yet persistent blow fly, arriving refreshed, straight off the dung pile each day. Characterised by feelings of acute anxiety, often accompanied by depression and full of emotional turmoil. Always spoiling for an argument irrespective of reason. A bully who would only dare to belittle the opinions and observations of others, because they are at a distance. Predictably, the bully who has nothing to offer other than the “puffed up toady” based opinion of their own worth. The forum bully is to be found accompanied by and encouraged by the odd, fawning lick-spittle supporter.

Unsurprisingly and predictably the bully feels under constant threat of admonition. They do not like people to stand up to their tactics. Whenever that happens, the bully then tries to defend their position with claims such as. You are picking on me, you're trying to start and argument. I shall report you and other such futile threats but everyone knows that they are all empty gestures anyway.

Forum Lurker this is a type of forum observer. Someone who says little but also at the same time misses very little. In the main a once or twice a month fly by visitor. Who plays catch-up on the latest bun-fight, personal disagreement, engineered argument and other fall out detritus. A persistent sort who works his way through the predictable Naysayers, Bullshitters and Nitpickers innuendo, their untruths and other such drivel. In an attempt to get to the interesting stuff. Stuff which sometimes is mixed in with the outpourings of the predictable Naysayers, Bullshitters and Nitpickers. The forum lurker has on a few notable, albeit rare, occasions actually discovered items of general interest to boaters.

I am sure there will be more characters along later, its such a rich seam.


Floating Voters.

As a floating voter in more ways than one. I have been looking around and I have found some individuals who have already thrown their hats into the ring. The problem is that so few of the known participants so far are actually prominent even in boating circles.

Well, do you know who are you going to vote for?

A 150 word manifesto is going to be as much use as an empty toilet roll holder.  There is so little information about how the election is to be organised and what the method of voting is going to be. So little time and yet I still have so many unanswered questions.
  • Where and how will the individual manifesto be published?
  • Will it be on-line so that we can all peruse the candidates at our leisure?
  • Will any additional information besides the manifesto be provided, like links to any candidates blogs?
  • What are the candidates current affiliations and what of their previous experience?
  • Will the list of nominees be published for each candidate?
  • If there is a large candidates list, will there be a pre-election short listing process?
  • Will I be able to vote for more than one candidate as there are four positions up for election?
  • If I can vote for more than one candidate, whats the maximum number I can vote for?
  • If I can vote for more than one candidate, can I prioritise the voting order?
  • Is there anyone representing all canal users with disabilities?
  • We own our boat in joint names, we share the cost of the boat licence, will both owners be able to vote?
I have the feeling that in this British Waterways organised event, much of the real information will be missing. The lack of an identified cohesive BW team providing additional information on any candidates. This makes me feel that there is a real chance that the process could end in tears. We can already see conflicting information being published on Waterscape by different people. Other information requests on Waterscape are seemingly just being ignored.

So I feel that many bloggers like myself will take the opportunity to support and promote on-line one or more candidates of their choice.


Saturday 17 December 2011

A chequered past.

As a nation the Brits have had a chequered past. There are some things that we as a nation have been good at and others in which we have been appallingly crass. We dug out thousands of miles of canals. Which helped to bring about the industrial revolution but before that we were responsible for much of the world trade in slaves. Our engineers invented the steam engine which we put on wheels to create the worlds first powered railway. Then at the point of a bayonet we went on to subjugate nations and build the British Empire. British Imperial policy tried to completely rearrange the religion and morality of cultures because they were different to ours.

Although the British Empire is something that we were taught to marvel (the red bits on the world map). In reality Military Conquest is a despicable thing and brings out some of the very worst traits in humanity. I don’t think we should blame ourselves now but we sure as hell shouldn’t be proud of our past. Proud of the enslavement of millions of Africans or proud of the brutal oppression of any of the people our British Empire controlled. There are no circumstances when an outside body should intervene in the affairs of Independant Nations.

When I was a young man, we had a manufacturing based economy. People were expected to develop skills over many years through trade apprenticeships. Today our manufacturing industry is a shadow of its former self. Yet my generation were brought up and taught in an educational system that was built around a vocation. We were not expected to have any form of academic aspirations. Academia was for the rich and titled few. We were taught and were expected to know our place.

I bucked that trend - surprising everyone, including myself by getting the highest eleven plus marks in the area. My mother was fit to burst with pride. Proud because like me, she had been placed into an educational system that kept her, despite her talent in her place. I found out as I grew up that she had so much hidden talent. Like the day she just started playing a piano. No one else including me knew that she could play. Because there was a large gap between me and my siblings. I could read and write long before I went to school.  I had the luxury of her undivided attention. I think she enjoyed the challenge that I presented. If ever there was a "mothers boy" in this world - then that accolade is mine. I'm very proud to wear it.

I can remember her when I was a child, reading items in the newspaper out loud and then explaining to me what the subject was about. She would ask me what I thought about the item. She would then guide me through the good points and the bad points. As I grew, so did the challenges and the nurture. She was proud when I went off to University. She was proud when I graduated. I was taught by her to have challenging thoughts, to listen and to understand a differing viewpoint. Then to reflect before doing what I thought was the right thing. The first two paragraphs at the top of this posting reflect the way my mother nurtured me and made me into a thinker. They are almost certainly what her thoughts would be.

Today, most of our children are not encouraged to take on a traditional vocation. It almost seems to be a - right of passage - to have a university education. Yet a university education can be a millstone around your neck today. I'm not talking about the student loans. Our young graduates now find that they are "over qualified" for jobs or "lacking in appropriate experience" for even the most menial of work. The University educational system is now a bums on seats conveyer belt. There has been a role reversal between an academic and vocational education. Try to find a tradesman like a plumber or electrician today, you will have to pay a high premium. Need an IT graduate - they are now two a penny! I have been there, I have done that, I have the scars and tee shirt.

My mother was involved in local politics and through that with the local education authority. I remember going to collect her from an LEA meeting one day. As she came out of the room she was in deep discussion with one of he LEA heads. She said "We may educate our children, but we certainly don't nurture them into being proactive thinkers." Later, I asked her what she meant by the remark. We had a long discussion on the way home about different methodologies used in teaching. She said "We teach our children to write their names - but we don't teach them to enquire and to question what they are being taught. We teach times tables by rote and at the same time we teach the value of nothing. There is a subtle difference between good or bad rather than good and bad." Recently, I was told about an example of what she was saying to me 40 years ago.

A friend of mine wanted to purchase a ceramic heater for the engine room of his boat. He picks up a suppliers catalogue and selects the wanted item. Only to be told that "the item is currently out of stock." "When will you have any in stock" he asks - the sales person says "I don't know." So my friend asks if the sales person can find out when they will have some in stock. "Nobody will know when the item will be in stock again" says the sales person.

So my friend whilst he is stood at the sales counter, rings up the customer service department and asks them. The answer was "they are out of stock" - "when will the heaters be in stock again" he asks. "I don't know" is the answer. My friend is a bit persistent and says "can I speak to your manager then please." Again he is told by the manager that the items are "out of stock" "when will they be in stock" he asks. "One moment please - the stock is due in for delivery on Monday the 12th, they should be in store on Wednesday the 14th by the afternoon."

So he places an order for the item with the salesroom assistant, pays and says "I will collect them on Wednesday afternoon." - he is greeted by a round of spontaneous applause from others waiting to be served. Today he went to ScrewFix to collect his order, tomorrow he intends to install the heater.

For some reason I'm humming Land of Hope and Glory the traditional Patriotic song of the Brits to my cynical old self. I wonder what words Benson would put to the music of  Elgar today?


Friday 16 December 2011

Who will you vote for?

This posing may seem like déjà vu however I have made sufficient change to the content of the posting to reflect the ever changing position. BW once more has not filled itself in glory by confusing everyone about the number that are supposed to be provided for the nominations. I still do not have a definitive answer yet. So at this time of confusion it could be your boat index number, your boat licence number, your BW customer number.

There are at the time of writing two and possibly three potential candidates for the elected positions as Boat Owners representatives on the CaRT council. The individuals are also members of the  CanalWorld Discussion Forum. There may be others standing for election as the time to vote draws ever closer. As a boat owner I will get to vote for one or possibly more. (the voting process is not clear at this time) As an occasional user of CWDF I am looking on the forum to find a candidate that I can ask the occasional questions of and to be able to request the occasional clarification.

Using a modern communication medium such as the CanalWorld forum should be good for the election of a boater to the council process. The problem I find is that other peoples vitriolic opinion are colouring what those trying to stand for election are fighting to say. So I have just the one caveat. There are some people on CWDF who can be very disruptive and very in your face. I suggest you have a handy sack of salt and a large spoon available when reading postings on the CanalWorld forum from individuals who are not standing in the election.

Of the two people I know for certain who are standing each has their own boating blog. I expect that a great deal of additional information on the knowledge and aspirations of the individuals can be gleaned from there. I would suggest the those standing with a blog can use their blog to convince, cajole and win over opinion to aid their election. The school playground bun fight that is the CanalWorld forum is not the place to do your hustings.

I would prefer to elect this type of proactive candidate, rather than say - a member of the old boys network - put up by a waterways user group. The old boys will be someone who I don't know and therefore can't easily ask a question. As the election to the CaRT council requires only a 150 word Boaters Manifesto address to be provided. I would have little information within that document to build my judgement upon.

I don't know about you but I would would not be able to choose anyone based solely on a published 150 word statement. The position on council is a much more important role than can ever be described in a 150 word puff piece.

I have certain criteria that I would want my elected representative to uphold. That would be total transparency and a feedback mechanism, say in the form of the occasional communication published on-line. What I don't expect is a personal one-to-one service. Because the candidate has a life outside of CaRT to lead. The person elected to council will not be paid a wage or fee. They will get nothing other than out of pocket expenses.

Getting the right people in place is going to be very important. It is also very important for those individuals we elect to know that they have the backing and trust of a good number of boat owners. I don't want a "tub thumper" who as “issues” to settle with BW or the fledgling CaRT. At the same time I don't want my representative to be a "yes man" or "yes woman" for that matter. It will be interesting to see the gender balance in the make-up of the CaRT council.

There are a well known set of problems on our canals and rivers that need urgent attention. Such as poor maintenance and the ever present financial issues. The situation on both of the issues has stagnated over the last few years. There is a deep mistrust in the management skill set of the existing board of BW. The new CaRT council will have to address these issues as a matter of urgency. The old ways will have to under go significant change.

Some individuals within BW management structure will be "surplus to requirements" within CaRT. In a recent Poll on NarrowboatWorld asking if Evans, Hales and company should remain in office when BW becomes Canal & River Trust which ran for just 2 days. Out of a total of 3825 votes cast. 3742 votes (97.8%) said No. Only 83 votes (2.2%) said Yes.

We need someone who has a depth of knowledge of the Inland Waterways to bring to the table. Preferably someone who has some experience (track record) of working as part of a management committee function. Someone who is both articulate and hard working. However, we all have to start somewhere and the experience has to be gained at some point. I am sure that the first year or so will be quite a daunting period for anyone.

Looking at the wider picture the four elected representatives will need to be able to work as a team within a team. There will be no room for working in isolation. They will all have to build a quick rapport and provide mutual support to each other. Their first allegiance will be to the boat owners (their electorate) their second allegiance will be to ensure as far as practicable that the Boaters representatives have a collective voice within CaRT.

This is going to be a two way street. Because at the same time, we will all need to be supportive of our elected representative(s). There will be time when they will want the wise council of others on issues that they may not fully understand. If the people elected as our representatives are to be able to function effectively – they will need our support and our backing all the way. There is an old saying – “without fear or favour” that’s exactly what I will be looking for in the person(s) I vote for, as a representative to CaRT of the Inland Waterways boat owners.

The boaters manifesto is worth a read.

Andy Tidy who is one such volunteer to council has written his first posting (on his personal boating blog) on the subject. You will find it here.

Alan Fincher is a second volunteer to council. Alan also has a personal boating blog which you will find just here. Alan has also prepared his 150 word election manifesto which I reprint below.

"Just four elected council positions must represent the disparate needs of all boaters. I am independent, love boats and boating, and am already well networked with many boaters countrywide. My first boats were forty years ago, and I now boat at every opportunity, covering large distances and regularly attend boating events. 
Although deeply protective of the history and heritage of the waterways, I am fully realistic that people own boats for many reasons, often with very different ideas of what is important. Categorising boaters into particular groupings is unhelpful and divisive, and I would aim to fairly represent everybody whatever their reasons for boat ownership.
In my role within a large multinational I was particularly recognised as someone able to broker the best solutions to complex problems that had eluded others. Early retirement allows me to commit the necessary time, and to be easily contacted by those I represent."


Thursday 15 December 2011

Who does it for you?

Butter Fingers.
As the Christmas holiday approaches we all get ready to enjoy the feast and to join in with the booze driven frolics. Christmas like my birthday is a time for fun. First of all I should say, "I prefer breasts to legs."  For as long as I can remember, I have always been that way.

We each have our preferences, for some its large and for others its small. This year, I have to admit I have been confronted by a bird with the biggest pair I've ever seen. I started by smothering the breasts all over with butter and then gently kneading the butter into the flesh. Once I have finished with the butter,  its usually time to gently prick the skin and to lightly score the breast and leg skin in a criss-cross pattern.

One plum or two?

Now its time to get down to the stuffing. Some people prefer more than one stuffing, I'm in the double stuffing school myself. I find it best if I stuff it up between the thighs as far as it will go.

At this point its also time to choose whether to introduce a couple of plums, which can be removed later.  I have also found that tying the legs together helps to keep the inside much more moist. Later you can loosen the string and ease out the legs a little.  

Drizzle Fingers.
Sometimes you may wish to drizzle a little through your fingers onto the skin. At the end, leave to rest for at least 30 mins. When kept loosely covered whilst giving time to rest, the bird will not go cold to soon. All birds will have the same sort of conformation it’s just down to what size they are.

I have my own little indicator at the ready for when the preparations are complete, when it pops up I'm ready to start. So if you're wondering how long will it take after you first put it in?

For Chicken. I calculate a cooking time of 40 minutes per kilo gram of meat at 375ºF (190ºC) Gas Mark 5.

For Turkey. I calculate a cooking time of 20 minutes per kg then add another 70 minutes cooking time at the end at 375ºF (190ºC) Gas Mark 5.

For Goose. Cook for 10 mins at 240C Gas Mark 9, then reduce to 375ºF (190ºC) Gas Mark 5. Then cook for 30 mins per kg plus 30 mins resting.

When it comes down to Fanny, Nigella or Delia - who does it for you?