Tuesday 31 January 2012

Social Irresponsibility.

The British were a nation of shopkeepers according to a dismissive comment from Napoleon however he was soon about to have his Waterloo so to speak. These days the British have a new reputation as a nation of animal lovers. Whenever a  generalisation is made, there are the exceptions that come to the forefront. Following on from Social Responsibility and Social Interaction. Today I bring you Social Irresponsibility.

You know me, I'm all for dog walkers clearing up when a dog has to do, what a dog has to doo doo. However, I think that there are limits to what you can do, before whatever you are doing becomes disproportionate and a questionable activity, when practised at night. In a night time activity that would only make a foaming at the mouth "Disgusted of Hyndburn" feel happy. Settle down children and "Watch with Mother Big Brother" if only it was with the wonderful Daphne Oxenford. *

Step forward Hyndburn Council in Lancashire. In a country where spying on the populace apparently knows no bounds. In a country where street cameras are a constant reminder of the late arrival of 1984 by George Orwell. Hyndburn Council has taken night time dogging surveillance techniques to a new level of expertise. Ultra sophisticated night vision equipment has been issued to a small select band of council workers. Covert wardens are now being plotted up in public places in Hyndburn.

I wonder if the wardens get issued with hard hats and body armour.  Can you imagine the furore if a dogging surveillance warden. Kitted up with his night vision equipment should be spotted by a high profile local dignitary, engaged in a bit of, extra curricular Ugandan of an evening.

The equipment it is alleged is being used to catch errant pet owners walking their dogs at night. Add to this the use of plain clothes council officers and surveillance vehicles being used to monitor the public areas. Miles Parkinson, council leader in Hyndburn said "It's difficult at those times because the person has to be caught in the act. However, with night vision, wardens can see much further along footpaths where the problem occurs and catch offenders. We hope that if people know that night vision is available to our wardens, it will serve as a deterrent. Hyndburn's wardens new technology allows them to work at all hours in areas not illuminated by street lighting."

Now, call me an old and cynical pet person if you must, but this is a voyeurs charter. Ask yourself, why would a cash strapped council want to purchase expensive night vision equipment and surveillance vehicles. Then pay wardens to go out on a night shift to monitor popular places where people are out and about doing various activities one of which might also include walking a dog.

Now one of the things I know about night vision equipment (I own some myself for my observing bat activities)  is that it does not perform very well if a flash light is used by people to illuminate an area when out walking. Point the light at the night vision equipment and you can see jack shi nothing! The one night time activity when a flash light is used is when walking a dog. Night time activities where you might not want to use a torch and where night vision equipment might work - I will leave to the readers imagination. In the past three years, a very proactive Hyndburn Council has fined around 50 people during daylight hours for failing to clear up after their pets. This is a very expensive sledge hammer to take to a doggie style walnut whip.

* Listen with Mother on radio and Watch with Mother on television were a great success in the 50's and 60's and are fondly remembered by many.


Weather to go out.

I can't make my mind up "weather" to go out.

Scattered snow showers and freezing temperatures are on the way forecasters have warned. The Met Office has upgraded its cold weather alert to Level 3, stating that there was a 100% probability of "severe" conditions across most of England this week. According to the Met Office temperatures will drop to as low as -6C (21.2F) on Wednesday and on Thursday, when daytime maximums will be no more than 3C (37.4F). Severe weather warnings for ice were also issued for Monday night and Tuesday morning across eastern parts of England and Scotland, and Northern Ireland, south-west England and south Wales.

A high pressure system hanging over Scandinavia and western Russia is pushing raw, easterly winds towards the UK, meaning this will be the longest spell of cold weather so far this winter. The mercury could plummet to as low as -6C in rural parts of south Wales on Tuesday night, and -5C (23F) in Devon.
The minimum temperatures will be -3C (26.6F) and -2C (28.4F) across the country generally.

Another log for the fire me thinks....


Monday 30 January 2012

On Manoeuvres (5)

This is one of an occasional series of tips about manoeuvring a narrow-boat on the canals and rivers. There may be other ways to achieve the same result. However, this method has been devised by me and trial and error. (Trial and Error are two of my regular boating companions) Our boat is 50 feet long and has a keel depth of twenty five inches and weighs in at a tad over eighteen tons. The techniques described are intended to help new comers to boating.

If the steering becomes difficult and the tiller is wobbling and shaking much more than normal you may have something wrapped around the propeller or tiller. You may need to take steps to clear the blockage. First flick the propeller into reverse for two or three seconds at low power. Then go into forward again at low power. Do this forward and reverse change a few times. If the problem persists you may need to go down the weed hatch to remove the debris.

Going Down The Weed Hatch or Weed Box.

  • Remember its safety first everytime.
  • When going down the weed hatch you must always stop the engine.
  • You must always remove the key from the ignition.
  • Wherever possible moor up the boat.
  • Wash your hands and arms when you finish.

One of the unsung joys of boating is going down into the weed hatch. You will need to stand in the engine room to remove the weed hatch cover and to reach down into the water to feel around the propeller. Items that I have found wrapped round the propeller include jogging bottoms, a coat, a car tyre inner-tube, fishing line, rope, thick and thin wire, carrier bags, plastic sacks, a wet suit, a single wellington, a cushion, an overcoat and a balaclava (sometimes I have even found weed as well). You will always get several different items of debris whenever you pay a visit to the weed hatch. If you have the time, then try and clear all the debris. However if you are drifting along, just clear enough debris to let you restore power and control to the boat. Then move to a place where you can moor up and complete the task.

Pen knives and scissors are as much use as a chocolate fireguard and are no good for clearing debris from a propeller. You will need a good strong folding pruning saw, a good patio knife, hacksaw, pair of strong side cutter pliers and a short strong tapered steel bar (fire poker) in your armoury. You will also need a pair of fabric gloves which can be washed after use.

Folding Pruning Saw with clog free teeth which are sharpened on 3 sides. A comfortable ergonomically designed rubber grip and the blade folds into the handle for easy storage and blade protection. Blade Length: 6 to 8inches. If the blade is to small you will still struggle, if it is to large it will be hard to position correctly.

Patio Knife intended for removing moss and weeds from paved areas and patios will allow you to cut by pulling and twisting rather than sawing.

Side  cutter pliers are essential for cutting through wire and heavy duty fishing line. Old mattresses can create havock when they get entangled round the prop and tiller. When it comes to cutting metal side cutters are an essential tool in your armoury.

Low profile hacksaw can come in handy for cutting through items like shopping trolley baskets and bed springs. A hacksaw with a pointed profile is easier to manoeuvre around when working in the weed hatch.

A short steel bar with a pointed end, a bit like a poker used with a stove is useful for being able to leaver strong items into a position wher you can get your pliers or saw.

The last item is a Neodymium recovery magnet so that any metalic objects such as your weed hatch tools can be recovered from the canal. Last year when we were on the leeds liverpool canal we dropped our handcuff key into a lock. With the aid of the recovery magnet we recovered three keys including our own.  Cost is about £6 on eBay. A Neodymium recovery magnet will pick up objects -  up to around 20kgs in weight.

Tip: 1 Where possible add a small lanyard to your tools that you can pass around your wrist in case you should drop them.

After replacing the weed hatch cover and tightening back in place. You must check that it is seated and sealed properly. So before putting the engine covers back over the engine room. Stand clear of any moving parts. Start the engine, put the propeller into forward and give a short burst of speed, do the same in reverse. If everything looks to be watertight then you can set off again. After a quarter of an hour check again to see if there are any small leaks developing. If you run long enough with a leaking weed hatch you can soon flood the engine room.

Previous On Manoeuvres (1) (2) (3) (4)


The Boaters Alphabet (K)

This is one of an occasional series of entries into my blog. The "Boaters Alphabet" today's letter is K and is a costal and inland trading boat, the Humber Keel.

The Keel was a common vessel trading along the east coast and on the Humber during the 9th and 10th Centuries. The Keel is unique in this country for preserving the working square rig into the 20th Century. Sailed over a trading ground that was usually along the Humber waterways with the occasional, coastal passage. The Sheffield sized keel being able to travel as far along the navigation the canal basin. The main features of the hull are exceedingly bluff bows, massive lee boards and arched hatch covers.

is  for Kiss (Keep It Simple Stupid) a well known principle for keeping life uncomplicated and relaxed. I always try to adhere to the KISS principle. Anything for the quiet life. Now the quiet life has to be earned and so someone has it to do. This time it would seem its my turn.

Now where did I put my book on pipe dreams?

Keel - the center line of a boat running fore and aft, the backbone of a vessel.
Keel - a type of boat.
Knot - a measure of speed equal to one nautical mile or 6076 feet per hour.
Knot - a fastening made to tie a small rope to an object.
Knot - a magnificent wading water bird.
Ketch - a sailboat with a tall main mast and a shorter mizzen mast.
Kill switch - a switch that automatically shuts off a boat engine.


Sunday 29 January 2012

Assault and Battery (7)

Continued from Assault and Battery (6)

One Item that I missed was the effect on the boats power budget from small battery chargers. Most people have small battery pack chargers used for mobile phones. Often left sat in a socket waiting for the next charge. I was surprised to find that such devices consume power even when disconnected from the phone and in standby mode. It was the same with the television set. Remember to turn such items off. Otherwise whatever power is consumed on standby is a continuous draw on the battery bank.

Another question....

Q1) Why do some battery monitors have to be reset from time to time?

The voltage measured at the battery terminals can be used as a rough indication of the battery’s state of charge. However, if a more accurate figure is required then we need to monitor the battery much more carefully.

A battery monitoring system is the most accurate way to monitor a battery’s condition with regard to charge and available capacity. Some battery monitoring systems are quite simple and just measure the terminal voltage and any current (amps) flowing out of the battery. This only gives a reading for a specific moment in time. Other more expensive systems are capable of monitoring the number of amps flowing in (charging) and out (discharging) over time. In other words we are monitoring and recording the battery ampere hour performance.

So over time the battery monitor measures the charging and discharging cycle. Keeping a running total of what has gone in during the charge and what has been removed at discharge. The problem is that a battery's capacity to deliver amps changes with how much current is being drawn from the battery over time. If we have a fully charged 100ah battery and we draw 10 amps for four hours we should have in theory have a reserve of 60ah left. However if we discharge 40 amps for one hour we should have the same 60ah left in reserve. The reality is that at a higher discharge rate the capacity left will be much less and maybe as low as 30ah. Whilst after discharging at the lower 10 amp rate. The remaining capacity might be as much as 50ah. Another problem is that as batteries age, their capacity diminishes. So our 100ah battery when new, a year later may only hold 90ah when fully charged.

The reason for the reduced capacity at a high discharge rate is the rate of change of the chemical process inside the battery cannot keep up with the demand. This is highlighted when the terminal voltage goes low. A battery discharged at a very high rate which is then subjected to a lower rate of discharge can recover some of its lost capacity again over time. This is as the chemical process catches up again (called reforming) and can only occur where a reduced amount of power is being discharged. Conversely, a battery that is discharged at a slower rate of discharge will be able to convert over time much more of the chemical process into available capacity.

Now the monitoring problem becomes even more complex because we are unlikely to maintain a steady flow of amps out of a battery. As items switch on and off - such as a fridge, a water pump or any other intermittent  electrical item. The amount of discharge is going to vary over time. As we run the engine the rate of charge is going to change over time. A lead acid battery charging efficiency is poor. As the battery ages the efficiency will diminish even further. Our battery monitoring system will become more and more out of synchronisation over time.

When a battery is charged or discharged efficiency losses occur. We have to put more in, say as much as 30% and we get less capacity out which could be around 40% loss over the life of the battery. So there could be a 70% charging efficiency and a 60% discharging efficiency over time. But we don't need to monitor how efficient our batteries are unless they are nearing the end of their life.

So periodically we need to reset the monitoring system to a known condition. Opinion on how often this reset charge should happen is open to conjecture. I try to do mine about once a month for no other reason than I try to remember to do it at the start of each month.

The only way we can do that is to give the battery a complete recharge. However, when doing this full charge. It would be a good idea to go through the three main conditions of charging. Bulk charge, Absorption charge, Float charge which is sometimes confused with the Equalising charge.  
  • Bulk Charge is when the battery is charged at the full available charge current.
  • Absorption Charge is when charging is current limited to charge the battery at a slower rate to prevent the chemical process from gassing. The current going into the battery will steadily decrease as the battery reaches its fully charged state.
  • Float Charge is when the battery is maintained at a lower fixed voltage to compensate for any slight discharge.
  • Equalising Charge. Batteries will reach their fully equalised state, when float charged a long period of time. However, after your battery is fully charged, you can perform an equalising charge by allowing the battery charging voltage rise to 15.5v for three or four hours. The equalising charge allows individual cells in a battery that are not taking a full charge for some reason. An additional small charge time at an elevated voltage to recover to full charge capacity. This is not to be confused with overcharging a battery with a cheap automotive battery charger.
The more expensive battery monitors also have what is called "system event logging". They can record whenever certain types of events occur. Such as a full discharge of the battery. Or you may be able to set an alarm for when a certain monitored event occurs. Say a discharge below a fixed level. Or if current is being drawn out of the battery above a certain level.

So when I say a "reset" charge I don't mean a hard reset of the battery monitoring electronics. There is usually a combination of buttons to press to let the battery monitor know when the battery is fully charged. The battery monitor is then resynchronised to 100% capacity once more.

There are several battery monitoring systems available. From the very simple to the very complex. From the cheap and cheerful to the expensive techno toy!

On Rosie I use the victron BMV501 battery monitor. The data used by the BMV 501 is monitored to an accuracy better than 0,5 % and, employing Peukert’s formula, account is taken of the reduction of effective capacity of the battery when the discharge current increases. An optional temperature sensor helps to further improve accuracy where wide temperature variation is expected.

The standard display includes:
Battery voltage.
Battery charge/discharge current.
State of charge of the battery: in Ah or as a percentage.
Time to go: the time until the battery is flat at the current rate of discharge.
Battery temperature

The BMV 501 also records data of the performance and use of the battery:
Adjustable over and under voltage alarm settings.
Average depth of discharge.
The deepest discharge that occurred.
Number of charge/discharge cycles.
Number of times that the battery has been fully recharged.
Number of complete discharges.
Number of times that the under-voltage alarm has been triggered.
Number of times that the over-voltage alarm has been triggered.

A simple battery voltage monitor is the BEP Marine. This stylish, high-quality panel mount analogue voltmeter will help you to keep a close eye on your batteries and charging systems. Suitable for 12v systems only, it is colour coded for easy reference.

Another simple on is a Durite simple analogue voltmeter. Ideal for keeping an eye on your batteries and charging system. Features a backlight, suitable for vehicle or marine use and require a 53mm diameter hole for mounting. Available in 12V or 24V.

BM1 The BM-1 is designed to monitor the state of charge of lead acid battery systems with capacities of between 5 and 600 amp hours. With a simple, four-button operation, the unit continuously monitors voltage, the charging or discharging current, and the accumulated Ampere-hours taken from the battery bank. It also predicts the time remaining to full charge or discharge of the battery bank.

The Victron BMV-600S is Victrons newest high precision battery monitor. The essential function of a battery monitor is to calculate ampere-hours consumed and the state of charge of a battery. Ampere-hours consumed are calculated by integrating the current flowing in or out of the battery.

Xantrex LinkLITE battery monitor can measure currents up to 1,000Amps. It selectively displays voltage, charge and discharge current, consumed amorphous and remaining battery capacity. It is equipped with an internal programmable alarm relay, to run a generator when needed or to turn off devices when the battery voltage exceeds programmable boundaries. Description Defining the amount of energy available in a battery is a complex task since battery age, discharge current and temperature all influence the actual battery capacity. High performance measuring circuits, along with complex software algorithms, are used to exactly determine the remaining battery capacity.

SmartGauge battery monitor. Super simple installation, highly accurate state of charge meter. Cannot run out of synchronisation with the batteries. Volts display, Charge Status (percentage), user programmable alarm functions, interface to the SmartBank split charge control system.

The Sterling Power Management Panel is a combined instrument including four volt meters, four amp meters and one amp hour counter. All voltages, amps and amp hours can be monitored on a central LCD display. Because the current is measured via shunts, the heavy cables required for conventional in-line amp meters are not necessary. This ensures minimum cable usage, low voltage drops in the connections and less Radio Frequency Interference and Electromagnetic Interference around the instrument panel.

Previously Assault and Battery (1)
Previously Assault and Battery (2)
Previously Assault and Battery (3)
Previously Assault and Battery (4)
Previously Assault and Battery (5)
Previously Assault and Battery (6)


The Boaters Alphabet (J)

This is one of an occasional series of entries into my blog. The "Boaters Alphabet" today's letter is J and is a Jetty. A landing point, projecting out from the shore. Also called a mole, pontoon, dock, pier, quay or breakwater. Usually a place to moor a boat to give ease of access. The Spiral Jetty is the work of American sculptor Robert Smithson. It is an earthwork built of mud, basalt and earth, it forms a 1,500-foot-long 15-foot-wide anti-clockwise coil.

is for the joy I get from spending time on the boat. Watching nature slowly glide past. Ducks and Geese with new broods in tow. A sudden flash of blue, followed by a piecing whistle from a Kingfisher flying inches above the surface. Soon to be seen sat on a branch low to the water. Like me he is eagerly watching and waiting. A sudden dart and a small splash. Back to the branch, and a quick side to side movement as a small fish is dashed unconscious. Another meal for a brood of hungry chicks huddled and hidden at the end of a bank side tunnel. Like the Kingfisher, its not an easy life just watching and waiting. Its a difficult pastime. However, someone has it to do and today its my turn.

Wine or beer another difficult choice!

Jacobs Ladder - a rope ladder.
Jack plate - a mounting device for an outboard motor.
Jet Ski - a boat powered by a water-pump used to create propulsion.
Jib - a triangular sail projecting ahead of the mast.
Jibe - a change of course so the sail boom swings over to the opposite side.


Saturday 28 January 2012

Amazon Kindle on board your boat.

I have an original Amazon Kindle, it replaces a large number of books on the boat and at the same time saving space. The Memsahib also owns a Kindle she likes to have her own rather than share. There are some interesting things you can do with a Kindle. One of them is to  read your favourite blogs. It’s a nice way to read favourite blogs on-the-go, although the blog images are black-and-white and video is not available.

You can even get paid to have your blog published on the Kindle. You are not going to make enough to retire, but little acorns. Amazon launched its Kindle Publishing for Blogs program just for this purpose. You might need to think through how your blog will look in black-and-white.

If you are thinking about buying a Kindle, look for a secondhand one. For some time, the Kindle has featured an experimental browser that lets you access the web for free. It's clunky, but it can prove a godsend for boaters with the 3G edition of the Kindle who need to access email or other urgent information in locations with no Wi-Fi. From the newest Kindles onward, however, 3G web access will be restricted to Wikipedia and the Kindle Store only. No Gmail, no BBC News, no Twitter. To access those sites on the Kindle, you'll need to be connected to a Wi-Fi network. On the bright side, though, existing Kindle users, who own what Amazon is now calling the Kindle Keyboard, get as much 3G use as they want. The company said: "Our Kindle Keyboard 3G will continue to offer experimental web browsing over 3G or Wi-Fi."

You can also place copies of wanted documents on your Kindle. Think about the paper stuff you leave behind at home that you might need to refer to. You can convert these documents to display on your Kindle. These are Kindle's native file formats that require no conversion, Kindle (.AZW), Text (.TXT), Unprotected Mobipocket (.MOBI, .PRC) Audible (.AA) MP3 (.MP3). HTML files can be renamed to .TXT and display quite well on the Kindle. Most of the time I just copy and paste what I want to read into Notepad and then  email the file to my Kindle. There are free programs that will take any multi-column Word or PDF file and format them to read on the Kindle.

With Kindle Personal Documents Service, you can send your personal documents to your registered Kindle devices, at your Send-to-Kindle e-mail address. Send to Kindle for PC is a free application that lets you easily send your personal documents to your registered Kindle devices, (Your Send-to-Kindle e-mail address is a unique e-mail address assigned to your Kindle device.) from your personal computer. You can send your documents using Windows Explorer or from any Windows application that allows you to print. Send to Kindle for PC is available for download at www.amazon.com/sendtokindle.

There are thousands of free books on every topic under the sun that can be downloaded onto your Kindle. Even the Amazon site has lots of free downloads. There are other sites where members take out of copyright books and convert to a format suitable for the Kindle. You can even download audio books to listen all played through your Kindle. Laid awake, and the other half is sleeping soundly. You don't want to disturb them by turning on a light to read - listen to a kind book at bedtime!

You can play what I call sensible games like sudoku and if games do not float your boat how about downloading crossword puzzles on your Kindle. Family photographs can be displayed on your Kindle but only in black-and-white.

There are many possibilities for the Kindle, its a great device to experiment with.  I am working on a series of Kindle canal and river cruising files with, photographs, points of interest, maps and texts. Similar to the printed canal navigation guides. However the versions will be able to be updated section by section. People will be able to contribute their own content into the guides for sharing with others. You page through the file on a section by section basis. say, lock to lock, junction to junction, town to town or by points of interest.

Some of the posts on the blog have been part of the Kindle conversion experiment. First to see what they look like when web browsed from the Kindle. And when converted directly for reading on the Kindle. When they are completed, I shall be giving them away for free. I'm also working on converting the Rosie blog into an eBook - done on a year by year basis. Again I shall be giving the eBooks away for free.


Friday 27 January 2012

They are a load of bankers

The new CEO Stephen Hester of the (83% owned by the public) Royal Bank of Scotland earns £1,200,000 a year. His bonus this year is £963,000 of bank shares. Down from a £2,000,000 in bank shares bonus from last year. His pension pot has not been disclosed. So that's a cool £40,348.61 per week.

However will Hestor be able to manage.

Stop Press.
Sir Philip Hampton, chairman of Royal Bank of Scotland, has turned down £1.4m in shares, in stark contrast to the position taken by his chief executive on bonuses. Sir Philip was awarded 5.17m shares on top of his salary. Sir Philip’s decision to sacrifice it comes at a difficult time for the bank, with its chief executive Stephen Hester awarded a near £1m bonus on top of his £1.2m salary.

Stop Press.
Stephen Hester has now turned down the award of a near £1m bonus.

Stop Press.
It was revealed yesterday that £35.54m and counting is the total remuneration package so far that Mr Hester has received since joining RBS in 2008.

Hesters previous experience was as CEO of British Land with a property portfolio including a large amount of property (£4.1 billion) which has been purchased from and leased back to major retailers such as Tesco, Sainsbury's, House of Fraser and Asda. British Land has also been involved in Broadgate, since 1984 which is one of the largest development projects in London and is still incomplete. In October 2011, the company was placed in the number one position on a list of FTSE 100 companies that use tax havens for their operations.

More than 100 senior bank executives at the Royal Bank of Scotland were paid more than £1 million each in late 2010. The CEO Stephen Hester got £8 million in payments for the year.  Total bonus payouts reached nearly £1 billion. The bailed-out bank reported losses of £1.1 billion for 2010. The bankers were getting their bonuses, because the 2010 figure was an improvement on the loss of £3.6 billion in 2009 and the record-breaking £24.1bn loss in 2008. The bonuses for all other staff in 2010 topped £950 million.

Are you feeling the pinch, could you do with a pay rise? Are you retired, and your pension pot is leaving life a bit on the frugal side? Been given the run around by your bank whilst the bankers enjoy another round of huge bonuses once again?

Feel that there is not much you can do about it - or is there?

Do you remember Nicholas "Nick" Leeson a former derivatives broker whose speculative trading caused the collapse of Barings Bank, the United Kingdom's oldest investment bank. Leeson made speculative trades that at first made large profits for Barings. Of around £10 million, which accounted for 10% of Barings' annual income. He earned a bonus of £130,000 on his salary of £50,000 for that year.

Nicholas "Nick" Leeson paid the price and was sent to prison.

Contrast that with Sir Frederick "Fred the Shred" Goodwin. In October 2008, Goodwin officially announced his resignation as Chief Executive of Royal Bank of Scotland and to go into early retirement, effective just a month before RBS announced that its 2008 loss alone totalled £24.1bn, the largest annual loss in UK corporate history. His image was not enhanced by the news that emerged in questioning by the Treasury Select Committee of the House of Commons in 2009, that Goodwin has no technical bank training, and has no formal banking qualifications.

Sir Fred the Shred was also paid a price, a £703,000 pension.

Goodwin's pension entitlement was a fund of £8. However it had been doubled, to a notional fund of £16m. Lord Myners revealed that the reason Goodwin's pension was so large was that RBS treated him as having joined the pension scheme from age 20 instead of 40, when he actually joined. 

Following negotiation an agreement was reached between RBS and Goodwin to reduce his pension to £342,500 a year after he took £2.7m tax-free lump sum. The agreement followed the completion of RBS' "internal inquiry" into Goodwin's conduct, which found no wrong-doing.

In 2010 Fred bought footballer Graeme Souness's former home. In 2011, Goodwin moved out of the home after being asked to leave by his wife. The move followed media revelations of an extra-marital affair with a colleague at the Royal Bank of Scotland.

So Fred was even sticking it to his colleagues so to speak!

An ePetition approved by No 10 to ensure that honours are awarded for "public services" only is available for signature here if you support the sentiments expressed in it.
It is of course right that persons who have given outstanding service to the nation and or their local communities, or charities, should be recognised for achievements and dedication. However the current system of honours seems rather antiquated. References to the "British Empire" may not still be relevant, or even appropriate, today. The same might apply to the creation of new hereditary titles, since the honour is bestowed for personal achievement, not that of one's ancestors. Finally the system of selection should show some transparency, and must not be open to abuse for political ends.
However, if you feel that Goodwin and others should be taken to task about their actions. An ePetition approved by No 10 is available for signature here if you support the sentiments expressed in it
An ePetition requesting the government to investigate all banks and bankers that caused this financial meltdown in the uk, and then to bring criminal charges against them, so they can then be tried by the courts with a jury of there peers and if they are found guilty then they should face at least 10 years jail time.
 There is a rich seam of ePetitions on the same subject here is a small selection.
An ePetition approved by No 10, Ban Bankers Bonuses here
An ePetition approved by No 10, Make Bankers Pay here
An ePetition approved by No 10, Tax The Bankers Bonuses here
An ePetition approved by No 10, Bankers Bonuses To Go To Charity here
An ePetition approved by No 10, Bring Bankers to Justice here
If I was to create an ePetition it would go something like this:

We the undersigned petition the government to arrest all bankers and British Waterways senior executives. After a "Mugabe in Harare" style show trial with level guilt being measured on the level of pay, pension and bonus compared to the statutory minimum wage. To resurrect the principals of Judge Jeffrey's. By re-introducing the penalty of transportation to to penal servitude on the Island of Rockall for those found guilty of minor offences. Those found guilty of more serious breaches of the law it will be transportation to penal servitude for life in the Falkland Islands working on penguin counting research.
Jeffreys' notoriety comes from his actions, after Monmouth's Rebellion. Jeffreys was sent to the West Country to conduct the trials of captured rebels. The trials, later known as the "Bloody Assizes", Jeffreys issued sentences to defendants. About 300 were executed, and between 800 and 900 were transported to the West Indies.
Rockall is an extremely small, uninhabited, remote rocky islet in the North Atlantic Ocean. The United Kingdom declared Rockall to be part of Inverness-shire, under the terms of the Island of Rockall Act 1972.
A story about how banking works.

Young Fred bought a donkey from a farmer for £100. The farmer agreed to deliver the donkey the next day. The next day he drove up and said, 'Sorry son, but I have some bad news. The donkey's died.' Fred replied, 'Well then just give me my money back.' The farmer said, 'Can't do that. I've already spent it.' Fred said, 'OK, then, just bring me the dead donkey.' The farmer asked, 'What are you going to do with him?' Fred said, 'I'm going to raffle him off.' The farmer said, 'You can't raffle a dead donkey!' Fred said, 'Sure I can. Watch me. I just won't tell anybody he's dead.'

A month later, the farmer met up with Fred and asked, 'What happened with that dead donkey?' Fred said, 'I raffled him off. I sold 500 tickets at £2 each and made a profit of £898' The farmer said, 'Didn't anyone complain?' Fred said, 'Just the woman who won. So I gave her the £2 back.

Sir Fred the Shred, has now  retired from the Royal Bank of Scotland .


The Boaters Alphabet (I)

This is one of an occasional series of entries into my blog. The "Boaters Alphabet" today's letter is I and is an Inlet. A small narrow waterway leading to a sheltered haven a safe place to moor.

is for Images of the early canal builders. The Industrial revolution that the digging of canals kickstarted. Today these images are just faded picture's that hark back to an Important time in our history. Now we only glide pass the remains of that old heritage. The canals bear silent testimony of the days of the number one and the engineering skills of the old navigators.  Many interesting places to visit with some to tarry for a while. Someone has it to do, it is not easy, this time its my turn.

Inboard - toward the center of a vessel and a type of motor fitted inside a boat.
Inglefield - a clip for attaching a flag to a halyard.
Inflatable - a dinghy or raft that can be filled with air.


Thursday 26 January 2012

Are you up for being a CaRT volunteer?

After a recent ruling by three judges that a Citizens Advice Bureau volunteer is not covered by employment law because they did not have a contract of employment and was not being paid. He or she also did not qualify for protection under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 and the associated European Framework Directive.

What this has done is to create a situation where a volunteer may or may not be covered for any of the usual protection from third party liabilities. Such as getting hurt whilst volunteering. Or causing an accident. Remember the old adage - where there is a blame there is a claim. Who meets the claim, the charity or the volunteer.

The decision was welcomed by the Association of Volunteer Managers. If the appeal had been allowed, they argued, it would potentially have created a huge financial burden for many charities and deterred them from taking on volunteers.

What this means is that having to pay out for such liabilities cover would cost to much. 

Paul Michell, the barrister who successfully represented the CAB, recognises that the outcome does not leave a satisfactory state of affairs. "If volunteers are not protected under employment and occupation directives, then how are they protected? That is the next question."

Rob Jackson, director of development and innovation at VE, said it was pleased with the Court of Appeal's decision. "We don't think volunteering is the same as paid work. Making it so would create another set of problems. It would put up barriers to volunteering when we're trying to encourage more of it."

Kate Bowgett, Association of Volunteer Managers, also thinks the appeal court got it right. Volunteers she says, "don't exist legally".

That means that a volunteer is on their own. There is no such thing as an acceptable legal definition of a volunteer. Other than a volunteer does not exist.
Mark Restall, a consultant on volunteer management and author of Volunteers and the Law, agrees with Bowgett. "A few years ago I would have said volunteers needed a better defined status. But now I feel that the status quo is better. At the moment it's based on mutual trust, and any legal changes would risk making it something different - almost a sub-category of employment."

Restall also cautions against anything that might look to an employment tribunal like a contract or a form of payment. "They will look at whether something of value has been offered or exchanged. This can be anything over and above direct reimbursement for expenses." He says that even giving volunteers a flat rate to cover potential expenses or offering them perks such as discounts at a charity shop could be seen as payment. "The problem is that we don't know for sure about lots of issues, but we only ever do when it comes up in a tribunal case, and there's only been a small number of them".
The appellant in the CAB case in the appeal court did not have a contract with the CAB, but she had been given a volunteer agreement. This was described in court as "binding in honour only ... and not a contract of employment or legally binding".
Victoria Willson, a solicitor at Levenes Employment, which specialises in the third sector, says that such a document or a letter can be helpful. "It should say that they are a volunteer. It shouldn't be too prescriptive, though. Make it clear that the arrangements do not impose any obligations to do the volunteering and avoid using employment law terminology - for example, 'disciplinary' and 'grievances'."

Would you still volunteer after reading the above?

Read more Here - Here and Here


The Boaters Alphabet (H)

This is one of an occasional series of entries into my blog. The "Boaters Alphabet" today's letter is H and is a Hitch. The hitch is not a boating problem, hitch is a boating knot. The hitch knot is used to secure a rope to another object or to another rope, or to form a loop or a noose in a rope.There are a large number of knots used in boating sometimes used for mooring up or joining two ropes together.

is for happy a time when the first flowers of spring arrive. A time for planning a long cruise on the river. The frost and ice have gone and fresh shoots of grass hide the first daisy of spring. Happy hour is the bouquet of a glass of white wine and the heady bouquet of spring. Its a hard job, someone has it to do. Today it is my turn. 

Now where did I put my glass!

Haven - A safe anchorage.
Hatch - An opening in a boat's deck fitted with a watertight cover.
Head - A marine toilet.
Heading - The direction in which a vessel's bow points at any given time.
Headway - The forward motion of a boat.
Heather - Blogmiester on Nb Takey Tezey
Helm - The wheel or tiller controlling the rudder.
Helmsman - The person who steers the boat.
Hold - A compartment below deck in a large vessel, used solely for carrying cargo.
Hull - The main body of a vessel.


Wednesday 25 January 2012

Was Thatcher an equal to Churchill

In the Daily Torygraph, there was an interesting piece by the journalist Peter Oborne about secret plans which are being made to give the doyen of the unthinking classes "Milk Snatcher" Margaret Thatcher, a state funeral. Apparently the proposal to give her a state funeral did not originate from the Conservative party, but it was the brainchild of Gordon Brown, the former New Labour prime minister. Now, I know that Winston Churchill had a state funeral and I believe that his service to the country deserved that. How anyone could think that Thatcher was an equal to Churchill beats me!

According to Oborne, "Secret discussions have been taking place without public debate to give Thatcher a big public send off at the taxpayers' expense, at a time when public services are being cut along with state benefits and people losing their jobs. Oborne argues against giving her a state funeral which he believes would insult "many honest patriotic people".

A number of petitions have been set up including "No state funeral for Thatcher" which when I last checked had attracted 8,602 signatures. It can be found here.

In Oborne's article he refers to a letter from David Farham, a former miner who wrote to his local newspaper 'The Shields Gazette'. It is worth quoting: "I am proud to say I was on strike for 12 months in the 1984-85 strike, when Thatcher used the full might of the state to defeat us. I would stand on a picket line now if it would prevent her having a state funeral. She had a near-pathological hatred of trade unions, and referred to us as the 'enemy within', but what did we do that was so treacherous? We struck to prevent pit closures and to protect jobs, with disastrous consequences. Look at the former pit villages which she left devastated."

Thatcher left Downing Street in 1990, propelled out of office by her fellow conservatives. However she continues to receive allowances from the taxpayer under the 'public duties cost allowance'. Despite her mental and physical infirmity, she has received £535,000 from the taxpayer for costs incurred from performing these infrequent public duties. To offer the woman who was one of the most divisive leaders in modern times, (A woman who destroyed the livelihoods of thousands of British working people. A megalomaniac who openly admired, the Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet.) a state funeral, would be an outrage to public decency and a slur on the state funeral ethos.

No contest, Thatcher never will be an equal of Churchill. ... Just say No!


On Manoeuvres (4)

This is one of an occasional series of postings about manoeuvring a narrow-boat on the canals and rivers. There may be other ways to achieve the same result. However, the method I employ has been devised or adapted by me using trial and error. (Trial and Error are two of my regular boating companions) Our boat is a semi-traditional in style and just over 50 feet long. Rosie has a keel depth of twenty five inches and weighs in at a tad over eighteen tons. The techniques described are intended to help new comers to boating and the forgetful like me! However, if you have crew available they can still assist when things get difficult by keeping quiet and not offering their advice.

Passing another boat.

When you meet a boat coming the other way, each boat should gradually move a little bit away from the centre of the canal. Each boat should take up a position leaving a few feet of clearance. You will pass the other craft with the on-coming boat on your left hand side. In shallow water when you move closer to the edge, you can slow down the engine to reduce the risk of your propeller being damaged by any debris on the bottom. This also has the effect of raising the stern a little in the water. Do not reduce the engine power to the point where you loose steering.  You may need to make short busts of power to help with steering. Observe the bank side vegetation and try to adjust your speed and position so that you pass each other well clear of any overhanging obstructions such as tree branches.

When passing moored boats, slow down so that your movement does not cause other boats to rock in the water. It can be a bit disconcerting when moored up, to find your lunch suddenly sliding around on the table.

Sometimes you will be passing moored boats and meet another craft coming the other way. The passing will leave much reduced clearances. Sometimes in this scenario it is much better for one boat to slow down and hug the bank. In this case the one closest to the moored boats will keep moving as it is closest to the centre of the canal. The one furthest away will slow down and hug the bank and if necessary be prepared to stop.

When approaching a bridge where it is difficult to see beyond, sound one long blast on your horn. If as you approach a bridgehole you hear a long horn blast be prepared to stop. When meeting a boat at a bridge hole, the nearest boat has priority. (On rivers, the boat coming downstream has right of way.) Be prepared to slowdown or stop at bridge holes. Murphy's law states that in mile after mile of empty canal, passing boats will always meet in a bridgehole. Wherever possible I try to adjust my speed so that I don't need to stop the boat from moving forward whilst some other boat negotiates the bridgehole.

Remember a boat that is not under power is drifting, when drifting you have no steering. You are a bit like a car on ice, you can turn the steering but little change of direction if any will happen.

When passing a boat you will find that the boats will be pushed apart slightly as they pass. Be prepared to make any fine adjustments to the tiller as you pass. The amount that boats are drawn towards or away from each other will depend on how deep the water is. In shallow water a passing boat may draw away enough water from under your boat to leave you sliding along on the bottom for a few seconds.

When passing through restricted bridge holes the boat will noticeably slow down until you are clear of the restriction. You are squeezing your boat through a narrow gap and the water in front is trying to find its way past you, down the sides and underneath to get to the propeller.

Now for overtaking, because I am never in a hurry, I tend not to overtake other boats. If I catch up with another boat, I tend to slow down to match their speed. But there are rare occasions when the boat ahead is moving very slowly when an overtake might happen. I wait until I have a good view of the canal ahead and then give a toot on the horn to indicate to the boat ahead what I am doing. Sometimes the boat ahead will be encouraged to speed up. When this happens I just fall in behind again. Most often the boat ahead will pull to one side and give you more room to manoeuvre. My preferred method to overtake a slower boat on the wider canals is to pass whilst saharing a lock if there are any around. You get to meet people and enjoy a short chat. Suggest to them whist chatting that you will be the first boat out of the lock and that  you will set the next lock ahead.

From time to time check what's happening behind you. If a boat is catching you up, its a good idea to move over and reduce your speed to let the other boat pass with the minimum of fuss and minimum of distance travelled. Wave the boat behind on, when the canal ahead is clear and you are ready to move over.

Previous On Manoeuvres (1) (2) (3)


Tuesday 24 January 2012

Driving licence for a boat.

Today for some reason - maybe it was complete boredom - I started to look at my driving documents. The green counter part was interesting as my three "brownie points" for being a bit swift (36 mph in a 30 mph zone) had now reached their 4th birthday. I know,  they last for three years, but you can only have them removed after 4 years, no I don't understand why either!

However, it was not that that made the tea come down my nose - When I looked at my plastic credit card style part of the licence. It had expired. Merde!  DVLA will tell you if your car tax is due, but they say nada, zilch, SFA if your licence expires. The green part of your licence is current up to the age of 70. However the plastic bit only lasts for ten years. My plastic bit ran out about two weeks ago. Now I'm not sure how PC plod would view this, or if I had a bump how my insurance would view this dire crime. But I think I could hazard a good guess.

Apparently, the penalty is up to £1000 if your plastic licence has lapsed. So, I went to the Post Office for a D1 form, the nice lady said that they did not supply the forms any more - but she happened to have one left over. If you request one from the DVLA on-line, it is a 10 day turn-around. 

However, rather than risk driving without the plastic bit, when you submit the D1 form - do it at a local DVLA centre (the ones the government is busy trying to close down to save money) as they will then photocopy your licence and then stamp it with the DVLA proof of submission stamp. Oh! don't forget to give them a £20 note as a fee. Now you can drive once again. Simples! You also have to send with the application two passport sized photographs. You can update your driving licence on-line but only if you have a new electronic passport, (now costs £77.50 I've just done that today as well, when I checked it, my passport had run out.) So now I am back behind the wheel, and hundred pounds lighter in the wallet.

I'm glad that I don't have to have a driving licence for the boat. Oops, that's a possible revenue raiser for those lovely people at CaRT to spring onto us!


Monday 23 January 2012

Birds of prey being persecuted!

We took the dogs out this morning end enjoyed a two hour stroll around the Old Moor Nature reserve. The highlight of the walk was watching a Buzzard doing lazy circles in the sky over Cat Hill and disappearing off into the distance. I think most of you who read my blog will know that I am a conservationist with an interest in Bats and also an RSPB volunteer. So is should come as no surprise for me to ask if you will add your name to an ePetition. The petition is to ask DEFRA to Introduce the offence of vicarious liability for raptor persecution in England. (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.)

DEFRA Scotland in recognising that those who persecute birds of prey, frequently do so at the direction of their employers or others with vested interests. DEFRA in Scotland has just introduced an offence of vicarious liability, the purpose of which is to bring those parties to justice.

This petition calls on the government to introduce an offence of vicarious liability to bring to justice those who direct or turn a blind eye to raptor persecution in England.

As an indication of how bad thing are, in the last year only four pairs of Hen Harriers successfully reared chicks in England, fourteen peregrine falcon territories failed on grouse moors in Lancashire's Forest of Bowland, and only one successful Goshawk nest was recorded in the Derwent Valley, Derbyshire. Current legislation is not enough to deter those who break the law and destroy our heritage; the introduction of vicarious liability would hit those directing the slaughter.

You can add your name to the governments ePetition here.

The petition is for British citizens or residents only. At present the petition has some 5,600 signatures. A minimum of 100,000 signatures are required by November 2012 in order to trigger a response from the responsible government department (DEFRA).


Fat cats and volunteers.

Most people are aware that the top few at BW are enjoying a remuneration package well beyond their capabilities. With redundancies planned to help raise their bonuses and their pension provision. However, they are not alone in the melee circling round the trough.

Ta daa!......

News on the CaRT volunteering front comes by way of a picture from a recent training event. Here the volunteers pay strict attention as they learn about division of duty and the team leader structure that will soon be in place.

The team leader is demonstrating the use of the CaRT supplied volunteers spade.  Now that BW has sold off all the tools and other assets, the volunteers are required to bring their own. A search of local back garden sheds by the ASBO volunteers is expected later this evening.

Billy Bob has brought along a green water container which he will leave on the towpath for other volunteers to use. Jim Bo has brought along a brown water container to be used in place of the sold Portaloo. This container will also be left on the towpath for future use. Swampy Sid has brought along a cold liquid lunch that he hopes he will not be leaving along the towpath, but will eventually end up in the canal.


The Boaters Alphabet (G)

This is one of an occasional series of entries into my blog. The "Boaters Alphabet" today's letter is G and is for the boats Galley.

is for the Galley known to land lubbers the world over as the kitchen. A very important area on the boat. A place where the "assistant lock slave" can be found as she prepares a meal for the crew.  Its a hard life, someone has it to do, today it is her turn.

Put the kettle on my love, now where did I put my slippers.

Gangway - The area of a ship's side where people board and disembark.
Gear - A general term for ropes, blocks, tackle and other equipment.
Grab Rail - Hand-hold fittings mounted on cabin tops and sides for personal safety when moving around the boat.
Gunwale - The upper edge of a boat's sides.


Sunday 22 January 2012

Cooking up more crap for TV.

One of the reasons for spending time away on the boat is to get away from the media madness that has befallen television and the country. This is nothing new, its been around and growing for a good few years.

Let me give you an example, take television cookery programs. Every now and then someone comes up with a format for a new “style” of program. The reality is that the program is nothing new. Its the same-old – same-old stuff from before. Just repackaged and some third rate presenter fronts the program. But then the imitators jump onto the band wagon and soon its regurgitated ad nausea. 

Take, cookery programs and the euphemistic “celebrity chef”. In reality at best a kitchen cook who has become well known by presenting cookery advice and demonstrations via the mass media, of television.

You can go back to the earliest days of television and there were the old stalwarts in the shape of Philip Harben, instantly recognisable by his educated accent, expansive manner, ample girth, neatly trimmed beard and in his trademark black and white striped apron.
At the same time there was Marguerite Patten, who delivered in the style of a home economics lesson. With her approach to cookery that included teaching essential knowledge and skills needed in the kitchen. All done with knowledge and character. Just like your Granny and with the same sort of appeal.

A time of good wholesome no nonsense television, now seemingly lost forever.

The first of the usurpers were Johnnie and Fanny Craddock who performed their unique brand of comedy cookery with a monocle and tails and she in an evening gown, dangling earrings, pearls and bouffant hair. John Walsh of the Independent said about Fanny “She had mad glittering eyes, the face of a supercilious horse, the maquillage of a French clown and demeanour of a woman in constant search of an argument. Fanny Craddock appealed to British audiences: her certainty, perhaps, her bossiness, her air of innate superiority, as if she were a grande dame condescending to offer cookery tips to the great unwashed. She was a howling snob, a scold and a terrible mother but, for 20 years from the mid-1950s to 1976, she was the queen of British cuisine.”

I trained my dog not to beg at the table. How did I do that. I let her taste my cooking.

Graham Kerr's "The Galloping Gourmet" The origin of his 'Galloping Gourmet' nickname was the result of a worldwide trek to the finest restaurants around the globe. The title was echoed in the opening of each episode of his original series, filmed in front of a live audience, where Kerr entered the stage area by running in and leaping over a chair in the dining room set.

No longer did we dads have to sit with our kids watching Rainbow just to drool over Jane Tucker, as we sat through the pain of  Bungle, Geoffrey and George. I have never liked Justin Lee Collins, but he is one lucky son of a bitch. Justin meets Jane Did you know that Jane married Rod, but now she lives with Freddy. You could not concoct a better dish!

But I digress.

Cookery programs progressed to following the usual trend by adding a bit of eye candy in the form of the thinking man’s cook Delia Smith. Who in fulfilling the dream ticket for the modern man, was also football focused. A cook who loved football and maybe loved the football a bit more. Her choice of team left a bit to be desired, but she was a woman!

Keith Floyd became well known for cooking with a glass of wine in one hand, often in unusual locations. Keith was the unthinking woman's cup of tea. Floyd was regarded as a pioneer of taking cooking programmes out of the studio. Floyd went on to present his shows from around the world, including France, Spain, Italy, India, Australia and the US, cooking on location in his unique and very chaotic style. Driven by his exuberant passion for good food, good wine and a good time. It was Floyd's wine-fuelled flamboyance that viewers loved.

But now the cooking plot like a bad soup thickens to a paste. The concept of cooking had been boiled, fried and char grilled to death by the lack lustre producers. So the new format would have to be the old sex angle.

No one is ever going to complain about having one of these in their lunchbox, and they're pretty handy to have around in a kitchen as well. Renowned for her flirtatious manner of presenting, Nigella Lawson has been called the "queen of food porn".

Nigella is neither a trained chef nor cook, but who would notice! Nigella has assumed a distinctly relaxed approach to her cooking. She emphasises that she cooks for her own pleasure and enjoyment, she finds cooking therapeutic. It works for me!  The Guardian said "Men love her because they want to be with her. Women love her because they want to be her" Nigella has said that she often partakes in watching football and is an avid supporter of Chelsea. No one is perfect not even Nigella - but its a close run contest.

So the next angle was the cheeky kiddies of the cookery classes, in the shape of  Jamie Oliver. Oliver married former model Juliette Norton and they now have four children. Poppy Honey Rosie Oliver, Daisy Boo Pamela Oliver, Petal Blossom Rainbow Oliver and Buddy Bear Maurice Oliver. Yes, I was right its the cheeky kiddies of the cookery classes.

In keeping to the kiddies theme, Oliver began a campaign to ban unhealthy food in our schools and to get children eating nutritious food instead. Oliver's efforts to bring radical change into the school meals system, was chronicled in the series "Jamie's School Dinners." This challenged the junk-food culture by showing schools they could serve healthy, cost-efficient meals that kids enjoyed eating. Jamie's efforts brought the subject of school dinners to the political forefront and changed the types of food served in schools.

So sex and kiddies has now been done by both priests and producers. So what's left for television to flog to death. The TV cooks have already mastered the four food groups: Fast, Frozen, Instant, and Chocolate. So this time its bad behaviour.

Gordon Ramsey was an American television voice actor based in New York. Some of his notable performances included a children's television show as "Bozo the Clown". Gordon Ramsey the cook is living up to his namesake in The F-Word (named after his favourite expletive) he named the turkeys he raised as Antony, Ainsley, Jamie, Delia, Gary and Nigella in reference to other celebrity cooks. My moment of triumph came when I spotted Ramsey filming in Sheffield. As I passed I gave him a cheery wave and said "Hello Jamie" he was not impressed.

So we are reaching the bottom of the list of themes - Twonks is next on the list.

What about Heston Blumenthal who is a proponent of low temperature, ultra–slow cooking, whereby a joint of meat is cooked for up to 24 hours so as to keep the fat content within the meat. Ultra-slow cooking does not melt the fat or release many juices, making the creation of gravy impossible. Blumenthal says that gravy is unnecessary as the meat itself is sufficiently moist. He has also experimented with sound amplification to enhance the sounds, such as the crunch, created while eating various foods. Blumenthal's signature dishes include snail porridge and parsnip cereal. Blumenthal has been credited for the bacon dessert sweet, a savoury bacon-and-egg ice cream.

We are running very low on producers themes now... But today, I got a text message about  Anthony Worral Thompson. 

Welcome to celebrity ready steady cook. So Anthony you had £5 to spend on ingredients, what's in your bag? "Organic chicken, langoustines, rice, stock, wine, scallops, onion, garlic, Stilton, brie, goats-cheese, three bottles of Cava, one bottle of Blue Nun and I have £4.94 left over."

With a great deal of additional talent to go at, I could be here all night...

Ainsley Harriott.
Rick Stein.
Marco Pierre White.
Gary Rhodes.
Jane Asher.
Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.
James Martin.
Brian Turner.
Phil Vickery.
Lesley Waters.

Then just to prove what goes around comes around, there were the television producers plonkers :- The Hairy Bikers. The show features a number of the elements of the Two Fat Ladies format, including regular banter between the two hairy hosts, unusual cooking locations and the use of motorbikes.

Who were the Two Fat Ladies? TFL was a television cooking programme starring Clarissa Dickson Wright and Jennifer Patterson. It originally ran for four years. The show included regular banter between the two hairy hosts, was filmed in unusual cooking locations, the use of a motorbike and sidecar and with the hosts sporting tattoos and beards, or was that The Hairy Bikers!

Chaos, panic, mayhem and disorder, the producers work here is almost done.

But now in meltdown to come up with yet another theme, in total desperation the producers have plumbed the depths of culinary despair and come up with.... Master Chef, which reminds me of a cross between a cooking game show and a chip shop on fire. With the catch phrase "Cooking Doesn’t Get Tougher Than This" I could not agree more.