Tuesday 27 November 2012

Lucky Last

Over the last few months I have been posting extra items each day to reduce the number in draft. Well there has been a quick flurry of postings today. Just to help clear some of the last of the backlog. It has been an interesting three years. With over 1000 postings made in that period. 

But like all good things there comes a time when it is right to move on. The boating blog has been good fun. It has also been good to read all the comments from many of you. This is the last posting I shall be making on the boating blog as I move on to do other interesting things. 

I hope that you have enjoyed the ride.

My best wishes to one and all.

Regards

Mick

Last.....

Disclaimer



Disclaimer
Well, I’ve had to revisit, rewrite and rehash the disclaimer from a succinct statement to a rather more lengthy affair to make clear to the increasing number of paranoid, litigious, wealthy, self-publicising, arrogant, censorious and just plain stupid twits who insist, not only on visiting this blog, on failing to realise that, if they don’t like what they read and see, the option is always there not to come back.

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Crazy CART Economics.

Many of the old nursery rhymes are quite factual in their sometimes obscure origins. None more so than Row row row your boat; gently down the stream; merrily merrily merrily; life is but a dream! 

Or the 21st Century rhyme version that goes "Chug chug chug your boat; gently down the street; voluntary voluntary voluntary; CART lives in a dream!"






The lyrics to the original of this ruptured rhyme have often been used as a metaphor for life's difficult choices, and many see the boat as referring to ones self or a group with which one identifies. Rowing is a skilful  if a somewhat tedious, practise that takes some perfecting but also directs the vessels direction.

CART officers have stressful, dangerous and demanding jobs and there is a pressing need to balance this with a regular dose of mind-numbing boredom. I am convinced that it is this boredom that leads to oddball weird and wonderful ideas dreamed up in the rarefied atmosphere at CART Towers. Is CART living in dreamland, I think, very much so when a large amount of scarce money can be wasted on various puff projects such as poems on lock gates and boats filled with trees. Then add to this even more money invested in litigation. On what seems to be at worst, a terrible case of someone's bruised vanity. The thickened plot has very much been lost.

Anyone else noticed the price hike on BW moorings. Here are the details from three recent auctioned moorings at Tinsley. Our marina has a number of empty berths. There are two empty berths close to me now! 

Auction: 3687 - Tinsley Marina

Guide price: £1,966 

Reserve price: £1,475

Closing date: 23/03/2012

Auction: 4129 - Tinsley Marina
Guide price: £1,986 (+£20)
Reserve price: £1,589 (+£114)
Closing date: 29/08/2012

Auction: 4325 - Tinsley Marina
Guide price: £1,986 (£0)
Reserve price: £1,788 (+£199)
Closing date: 22/10/2012



Recent auctions have not had a single bid. Yet, the price hike continues. In 9 months the "guide  price" has gone up by £20. However, the "reserve price" has gone up by a further £313 pounds in the same period. This is the world of crazy CART economics. No one wants the moorings at the current price so the minimum price goes up by a further £333 in nine months. 

When something is overpriced and obviously isn't attracting people to the moorings. At a time when money is tight and the market demand reduces. Common sense dictates that you price to reduce your losses. CART is operating in this area of the market and comes up with a unique strategy and pumps up the reserve prices. 

Priceless.

Later....

Creating a Conservation Area.


There have been over the last few years a number of trees within the marina that have been vandalised. The damage continues to take place and though it has been brought to the attention of CART. CART have not taken any positive steps to identify culprits and to eradicate the problem. 

The environmentally responsible boaters living and mooring within the Marina feel grieved by the apparent lack of positive action and now feel that we should look at other ways of protecting the marina environment. One such method would be the creation of a local "Conservation Area." 

Though a conservation area is a ‘national designation’, local authorities have the power to designate conservation areas in any area of 'special architectural or historic interest'.  This 'specialness' is judged against local and regional criteria, rather than national importance as is the case with listing. 

The Tinsley canal is situated within a special architectural area with an abundance of history and industrial revolution importance. The marina is also situated within the Tinsley flight of locks. Within a local conservation area the local authority has extra controls over any planned demolition, any minor developments and the protection of trees. A designation as a conservation area would give our trees the additional protection they need and would be a significant driver to making enforcement more effective than it is at this time.

From various conversations it has become apparent that the group of trees which were vandalised recently. Was due to their height and location blocking the signal for a satellite television installation located on a boat. Jokes about how good the satellite television reception is and now. And how it was fortuitous that the trees were blown down during a quiet period of weather. Nudge, nudge, wink, wink. Speak volumes.

However, it is not the first instance of trees being vandalised at Tinsley marina for exactly the same reason. I wonder if it will be the last.


Later......




A Litter Bit of Information


Great Britain has some very tough anti-litter and fly-tipping laws. The trouble is that despite these tough laws the litter problem continues to grow, and it shows little sign of relenting. Yet anyone that drops litter in a public place is committing a crime. Most people are very aware that littering is a crime and if caught individuals can be fined. The fine is typically between £50 - £80, and if not paid a magistrates’ court can impose a further fine of up to £2,500.


However, Fly-tipping is the "illegal deposit of any waste onto land or a highway that has no licence to accept it." Illegal dumps of waste can vary in scale and the type of waste involved. 

I am aware of one instance where items that should be disposed of under licence have been fly tipped into Biffa containers on a CART marina. The Biffa driver on the day contacted his company before he removed the offending items from the container. The fly tipper returned to put the material into an empty Biffa container in the same compound and then disguise by placing normal waste material on top. 

The matter has been raised with CART who have so far chosen to ignore the problem and it has now fallen onto boaters in the marina to raise the issue with the local council. What is needed is a serious commitment from organisations such as CART to pursue in law such incidents rather than apparently standing back and allowing it to happen.

Fly Tipping is set out in Section 33 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990, which says it is an offence to treat, keep or dispose of controlled waste without a waste management licence or in a manner likely to cause pollution of the environment or harm to human health.



Because of the problem of turning a blind eye to such issues is not uncommon. Section 89 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 places a legal duty on certain organisations responsible for public land to keep land under their remit clear of litter. 



Section 91 of the EPA goes on to state that a person who is fed up with a long-standing litter or fly tipping problem can use a Litter Abatement Order against those organisations listed under Section 89 (called the 'duty bodies') if they are failing in their duty to keep the land clean.

The boaters do have redress in the form of a Litter Abatement Order. Which can be used by any member of the public to improve the cleanliness of their local environment. A Litter Abatement Order allows any person to serve a notice (via a Magistrates' Court) to get long standing litter and fly tipping problems cleared up. 

Section 89 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 places a legal responsibility (called a 'duty') on certain organisations to ensure that land is kept clear of litter. (Section "G" the occupier of any relevant land within a litter control area of a local authority.)


Designated statutory undertakers:These include persons authorised to operate transport related infrastructure, such  as: railways, light railways, tramways, road transport (other than taxi or hire cars), canals, inland waterways, docks, ports, harbours, piers and airports. 


The Government’s Code of Practice on Litter and Refuse: Outlines to the above duty bodies what constitutes a litter problem. It also gives maximum response times for clearing up the litter problem once it has been reported.



Groups:

Campaign to Protect Rural EnglandWe campaign for a beautiful and living countryside. We work to protect, promote and enhance our towns and countryside to make them better places to live, work and enjoy, and to ensure the countryside is protected for now and future generations.


Guide to obtaining a Litter Abatement Order PDF document.

Litter Action encourage individuals and volunteer groups to take action against litter in any way they can. What is needed is support in their efforts from local councils as well as strict law enforcement to reinforce the community desire for a clean and tidy environment.

Keep Britain Tidy. There are lots of guides and resources on the KBT website which thoroughly explain both the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005.

The Big Tidy UpWe run a number of programmes and campaigns designed to improve the local environment and reduce associated anti-social behaviour. (Noted for their work on graffiti

The Big Whoppers Club.

The Big Whopper club is proud to announce the latest member to be inducted into the Big Whopper Hall of Fame. The Big Whopper Club is an Inland Waterways version of the "Tall Story" Club. 

The awards come in three standards. The Big Whopper Gold Standard Award is to acknowledge the quality of the story content and the I don't believe it quotient.  Most of all it is to recognise the possibility that the story also creates the element of doubt in the readers mind that it might just be true. 


A "Tall Story" is a tale told with a straight face even though it is peppered with many unbelievable elements and factual inaccuracies  Each element in a Tall Story is related as if it were true and factual. Some such Tall Stories are often made with wild speculative exaggerations of actual events. 

A typical example of a tall story might be based on a fish story. But not based on the big whopper that got away. No, this story cannot be based on oft maligned but common fisherman's tale of the one that got away. That sort of tall story would be sussed out in a moment. 

Keeping to the fishy example. A real Tall Story would be one where a tale is created around a small group of people living on a canal. The group have not the slightest  interest whatsoever in fishing.  The group then get together to form a non-fishing, fishing club all of their own. They then make an application to the canal authorities to manage fishing along a section of some obscure canal. Then the group promptly ban all the disabled fishermen in the area from fishing. When a disabled fisherman in a wheelchair turns up to fish something he has done for many years previously. The non-fishing fishing club has the gall to send for the police to do their dirty work. The important element here is. Could this be a wild, speculative exaggeration - or could it be based in truth.



A real tall story has to have a totally unbelievable element with just a small possibility that it could in reality be true. Therefore it is in the opinion of the Big Whopper Judges that the above story has reached the required Gold Standard.


Tall Stories are often told so as to make the originator seem to have been a part of the story. They can be vile, humorous or good-natured. But for best effect the line between truth and the Tall Story is distinguished primarily by the I don't believe it factor. As with many myths there's this tendency to exaggerate the exploits of the hero or villain of the piece  But in Tall Stories the exaggeration often looms large, to the extent of becoming the whole of the story.


A similar event to the Big Whopper is the World's Biggest Liar Competition. An annual competition for telling lies, held in Cumbria. Competitors from around the world have five minutes to tell the biggest and most convincing lie they can. Competition rules bar the use of props or scripts. Politicians and Lawyers are not allowed to enter the competition, because "they are judged to be too skilled at telling porkies".





The World's Biggest Liar competition is held every November at the Bridge Inn, Santon Bridge, in memory of Will Ritson (1808–1890), a pub landlord from Wasdale, who was well known for his "tall tales". One of Ritson's most famous fibs was that turnips grew so large in the Lake District that people carved them out to make cow sheds.

In 2003, Abrie Krueger of South Africa was named the world's biggest liar after telling a story about how he was crowned King of the Wasdale Valley. This marked the first time that a foreigner had won the competition, which was marked with allegations of Krueger having cheated. A Bishop of Carlisle was supposed to have once won the competition with the shortest-ever speech; he simply said, "I have never told a lie in my life."

Comedienne Sue Perkins won the competition in 2006, marking the first time in the event's history that a woman won the competition. Her winning tall tale was about how the ozone layer became damaged, ice caps melted and people had to be taken to work on camels.


In 2008, John "Johnny Liar" Graham won the competition for the seventh time after telling the judges a story of a magical ride to Scotland in a wheelie bin that went under the sea. 

In 2007, John "Johnny Liar" Graham's winning lie was that a World War II German submarine had invaded Britain to capture digital television decoders.

Paul Burrows from Essex won the competition in 2010. He told a story of how the lakes and mountains of the Cumbrian countryside had been stolen from the county of Essex, leaving it as flat as it is today.

The 2011 winner was Glen Boylan. His story involved betting on a snail race with Prince Charles (who advised him to remove the shell to make it more aerodynamic) and losing because his opponents cheated with battery-operated snails. Mr. Boylan's said "Just before the whistle, Prince Charles nudged me and said: ‘Take the shell off your snail, it’ll make it more aerodynamic.’ So I did, and I put all my money on it. But it didn't work – it just made the snail more slug-ish." The tale also involved being offered a mayonnaise and peanut butter sandwich by a good Samaritan who just happened to be Prince Charles who was passing through. Prince Charles was in Cumbria to hand out the prizes in the annual snail race and the odd pets competition. He said he’d be giving his royal seal of approval to three historic buildings while in the area. ‘The Beacon in Whitehaven, because of its maritime heritage, Curwen Hall in Workington, because of its connections with Mary, Queen of Scots, and the Copeland Council offices, because it’s full of dinosaurs.’


Later....


Monday 26 November 2012

One for the ladies

Contrary to the popular (but wrong) belief that all men are either full time or part time misogynists. Here is a posting only for the girls. The boys are advised not to read any further past this point. As further reading might just open your eyes and shatter your tenuous hold on what you see as reality. This posting  allows my feminine side to show through and at the same time saves me a fortune in men sized lingerie. 

I have a deep respect for people who soldier on despite many pitfalls that come with what we men see as freedom and enjoyment of life. I find that the fairer gender seem to be able to articulate their concerns so much better than us. Having been the father of two children one of whom would be today described as a "challenging child". One who has continued to carry the challenge aspects over into her thirties. I have to admit to a tiny feeling of "now you know how we felt" because she has produced a child of her own and is (I hope) enjoying the experience. Would I, if I had the opportunity change our experience - not a single day!

Everyone has done things that they later regret and if given the opportunity would be happy to go back and change the outcome. All have us have not done things that we later regret not doing. Given the opportunity we would in an instant do it differently. However, this is life, it is not (to use a well worn cliche) a rehearsal, its a one time gig. However, there is one thing that we all do and that is to try to learn from our mistakes. 

Sometimes it helps if someone else has made the same mistakes - then we don't feel quite so silly and out of touch. Its more so embarrassing whenever we make mistake around raising a family. I remember my mother saying "don't go out without clean underwear - in case you get knocked down by a bus." Or enquiring just as you have got ready for a night out on the town "have you got a vest on."


Northern Mum is a blog written by Jane, a Northern Mum with Southern Children. Recently described as "a blog guaranteed to raise a chuckle." This is not surprising with posts titled 'Sniffing Each Other's Bottoms' and 'Sun, Sea and a Seven Foot Chipmunk' you know you're going to need tissues and a Tena! 
Funny Mummy Blog quote: "I must have done something good in a past life (I am far too cynical and selfish for it to be due to anything I've done in this one) because, THANK THE LORD, The Poop slept for around three hours of the four we were in flight. Now, before I get stuck into today's moan, hear this - I'm glad she slept. I'm grateful she slept. I understand that it could have been a damned sight worse. But. Sleeping 14 stone baby + budget airline = an incredibly unpleasant four hours for mother, father and any other unfortunate within earshot of our whinging. For five reasons." 

Bare Foot Foodie, Brittany Gibbons has three kids, a suspiciously passive husband and a seriously funny way with words. She's a giver alright, and her blog doesn't hold anything back. Brittany can definitely be on the colourful side when it comes to language and body parts, but the way she re-enacts the stories of everyday mom life, mentions blood or shares emails that she's sent to her husband will have you crossing your legs (for one reason or another). Every post is a winner.


Later...

Great Expectations.

Am I all that different to other people in that I have a certain level of expectations from other people, especially those in authority?  I am one of those people who hates to be late and if someone asks me to do them a favour. I like to be prompt in doing so. You know, you make some informal query. You expect that people will be back in touch within a reasonable time scale.

I have a friend who is currently seeking work. Not being one to let the grass grow under his feet. He is very proactive at looking for a job. He describes his job applications as being a bit like a letter in a bottle. He launches them in the expectation of never getting a reply. He is often left wondering if the letters ever get through to their intended destination at all. 

At one time he decided to try and test the system. So he started adding a stamped addressed postcard, acknowledging receipt of his application. After about twenty attempts with no reply he gave up. One day, a postcard arrived. It was one of his acknowledgements, but it was five months after the closing date for the job had passed. He was then left wondering if the postcard itself had been delayed in the post.

What I have noticed is that more and more my expectations are not being met. As secretary to a waterways activity group, I have to send formal letters from time to time to various bodies. Almost without exception, replies are hard to get. I get the feeling that there is some, "head in the sand" burial in the hope that the questions might go away.

It's the same for text messages, which fair no better. But you can elect to get a memo sent back when the message is delivered. So, if your persistent you start looking at other ways of getting a reply. Picking up the phone and talking to them directly. But you often get the answer phone message asking you to leave a message. When you do get to talk to people you often get the most vague of assurances.

One way if you are really persistent is to write to someone at the top of the tree. In the hope that when the message is cascaded down the system. It might carry a bit more weight or gravitas. We did this a couple of years ago with our bank - we got a bunch of flowers sent by way of compensation from the man at the top. We are left waiting the answer to the original question which never arrived. So we moved banks.

Now, I understand that some people are even more bloody minded than me. The escalation of weapons goes to the miss-named "Freedom of Information" act. Around 120,000 requests are made each year. Private citizens make about 60% of them. Businesses and journalists accounting for 20% and 10% respectively. Journalists' requests took up more of officials' time than businesses' and individuals' requests. However, many such FoI requests still get ignored on the basis, that it might even at the 11th hour go away!

There is now a new method being trialled in the media. It's the covert hidden camera and/or voice recording method. You set up an innocuous meeting on some subject or other. Then ambush the person with your real questions. If that doesn't work you confront them on neutral ground like in the street. I find it makes interesting television to watch, whilst you while away the time waiting for the reply that you know in your heart of hearts will never come!

Mobile phones in the public's pocket now complement the on street surveillance cameras. It's amazing the number of times that the public recording is now provide the damning evidence obtained from the streets. In some cases the watchers are now being watched by the watched. You was a demonstration marching down the street. The marchers now use cameras to record the cameras used to record them. I was puzzled why they would want to do that. Then I was told that quite often they use the recording to gather evidence of the people who were recording the event for later use when arrests are made. 

So in the ever escalating war of video and sound technology and public persistence in getting a reply to their question. Will the hidden camera or covert recording come into the mainstream of use by the general public. I can see it now, going into the bank to make a deposit and recording the transaction for later used as evidence. pressing the record button in my pocket as I get to the front of the queue. George Orwell's Big Brother surveillance is alive and well, but like a reply to a question has been a bit late (28 years) in arrival. 


Later....



Sunday 25 November 2012

Snoopers Charter (2)

You already know what I'm like... I usually like to take a "well meaning" if Victor Meldrew in style "I don't believe it" swipe at whatever I come across. As It says on the front page "If you take this blog seriously, then you are on your own."On Wednesday, I wrote a bit about the governments snoopers charter. I postulated in a roundabout way that CART might want to take advantage of such a charter. My blog reader replied with a considered opinion. One that I take on board at  face value. However,  this stimulated your scribe into a reply (banging on)  at great length. 

Quote: Whilst I share your concerns about the Governments intentions re the Communications Data Bill, I'm not sure how you can link that to C&RT's work in maintaining its income stream (similar I might suggest to parking wardens 'snooping' on parked cars). I would also like to know what is wrong with C&RT asking a marina for information? I'm not sure why C&RT have to quote S 35(2) of the DPA to justify their questions, because as far as I know it is not illegal to ask questions, what may be illegal is supplying the information requested. On the point of people giving money to a charity that uses it to monitor boats to make sure everyone pays the correct licence fee - I think the answer is probably yes.





Dear John.
I agree that asking questions is not in itself illegal, but does asking such questions have a moral dimension. If the questions were not intended to be covert and hidden from the boater in question - why were they not addressed to the boater concerned. If the questions were intended to be covert and hidden from the boater in question - why is there the need for CART to be covert about what CART already have on record. (A more up-to-date version of the chicken, egg - egg, chicken conundrum)
If as a landlord, (Marina owner) I was in receipt of a letter asking questions about one of my tenants. (Boat Owner) I would weigh up the letter content and make a decision as to whether I considered the questions to be a legal and valid enquiry. I would also look and make a judgement on the morality aspect of asking such a question. Our opinions may differ, but I am minded that legality or morality certainly have a roll to play. (Leaving out any issues centred around transparency)
Why would CART feel the need to include a reference to a bit of legislation. Unless they themselves thought that the questions might be considered by the recipient as being - well, questionable in themselves. Further more the quoted piece of legislation does not give any compulsion or requirement to me to reply or to keep covert the correspondence. (However, it would appear at first sight to a lay person to actually suggest differently. It certainly did to me.)
In such a case I would feel a business and moral responsibility to look after the interest and welfare of my tenant. This would certainly include not compromising their privacy. This is after all, the very least anyone as a tenant should expect from me as their landlord. My suspicions being raised about the way this communication has been been conducted. I would feel bound to alert my tenant to the letter and its content. I would also feel aggrieved that the letter might in itself put me in some legal or moral discomfort with my tenant. Discomfort that the writer does not (in this instance) apparently feel.
Our Civil Liberties seem to be something that the general public feels a need to be protected. It's a sad but evident truth for the general public to feel the need to collectively protect themselves in such a way. Charities such as The National Council for Civil Liberties are in business to keep the public aware of such issues. When you are made aware of the gradual erosion, you do tend see the issues from a whole new perspective. 
Sometimes such matters may raise doubts in your mind about whether they are accidental or deliberate infringements of our Liberties. One such instance for me was the cart letter. Whilst such a matter does not directly concern me. I am one of the public collective and so I have some concerns as a fellow boater.
Recently I have seen a more litigious side of the new charity come to the forefront. This in itself begs the debatable question “is this the way we want our inland waterways to be run.” That debate on the running of the inland waterways started long before the creation of CART and will continue for the foreseeable future.
There have been some inherited Health and Safety infringements where certain employees actions or lack of action are called into question. There will be significant sums of our licence, mooring and charitable donations expended on such matters. 
Questionable judgement calls on other piffling issues that are now involving threats of litigation do nothing to further the cause of the inland waterways. In my opinion they only give fuel to the fires of dissent amongst some boaters.
I accept that not all of the litigation is of CART's own making. People can and do sometimes feel the need to challenge interpretation and perceived discrimination. In such cases if CART is right - then costs will be awarded as appropriate. However, the public face of a charity (measured in the public’s perception) will guide how deep into their pockets their hands will go. Sometimes proving a point of principal in the courts, might eventually cost the inland waterways considerably more in other ways. It seems to me, to be so inept, demonstrates an apparent lack of forethought. Piling up even more fuel for the detractors to get in a bit more CART bashing.
In the public mind we collectively remember bad news and forget the good news. We then formulate an opinion on our remembered instance creating a perception. At university my tutor once gave me a bit of advice. He said “Engineers are renowned for their failures.” What he meant was build a good bridge and its builder is soon forgotten. However, if your bridge falls down you will never be forgiven or forgot. I am not aware of any successful engineering failures other than in the notoriety gained for the engineer.
We are back to perspectives and perceptions. I live in a northern town where money is in short supply for hospitals, police, fire service, schools, libraries, the roads and a myriad of other more essential causes. Jobs are disappearing (900 this week at Tata) and austerity rules our lives. Common sense needs to prevail. Spending money (at this time of financial meltdown) no matter how much it might be - on lock gate poetry when it is considered by many as being best spent elsewhere on the system – such as repairing lock gates for instance. Spending thousands on balloons and bunting will never be considered a better investment than a bit of spot dredging. Boating trees round the canals will never be considered a better investment than money spent on towpath repair. Good waterways managers like a good engineer will soon be forgotten. However, if your canal bridge falls down you will never be forgiven or forgot.
Then there was your parking wardens 'snooping' on parked cars comment. Rather than answer this directly I refer you back to NBW. The matter has moved on a little in the last few days. See here on Narrowboat World.
Quote: Just suppose you had an expensive car worth say £40,000 and it was parked on your drive. Someone approached it stealthily, photographed it at close quarters and walked off quickly before you could question them. On another occasion, when your car was parked in your works car park, a different person walked up to it and photographed it. Later still, when it was parked in a local supermarket car park, yet another person photographed it. This time you asked what they were doing but they refused to answer, jumped on a bike, and rode off at speed. None of these people wore any uniform, carried any obvious I.D. and refused to answer when challenged. Now what would you do? Ring the police would be my guess? Maybe that is what I should do next time? As regards Damien Kemp's recent complete denial in narrowboatworld I feel I can't do better than repeat the now famous Mandy Rice-Davies quote: "Well, he would, wouldn't he?"


As I said, I am not aware of any successful failures. 



Errr.... Well apart from the royal family, I dig deep enough in my pocket there – so don't get me started on them..... 
Errr.... There is the “Fat Cat” salary syndrome for CEO's of poorly performing charities...… 
Errr... The Bankers salary and bonuses scandal... 
Errr.... MP's fiddles and house flipping..... 
Errr.... Nurse my tablets please! 

Later....




Friday 23 November 2012

Long term prospects for 2013

As England, Wales and Scotland were battered by wind and rain a weather expert warned that this could be the wettest drought on record. The meteorological office have issued a stern yellow and green warning. Their advice is to prepare ourselves for serious and prolonged outbreaks of mild weather. After the expected heatwave on Monday morning, drought conditions will be declared on Tuesday. This will be in the form of hose pipe bans and the need to exercise water conservation by Wednesday. So be prepared to share a bath with any nearby neighbours. There will be long periods of no sunshine between the early evening and the following morning.


Local authorities are swinging into action with their emergency response plans which are to begin in late spring next year. This will include the stockpiling of large amounts of road salt in preparation for the right kind of snow. Other kinds of snow will be ignored. Flood warnings will only be issued for areas with a long history of existing high water level problems. Plans include sharing the communal sandbag on a strict rota. It is predicted that storm front clouds might yet have a silver lining.  Resulting in shallow pools of water forming localised lido's on the streets.


As expected the rail franchise holders have a selection of mantras ready for any Unforeseen/Foreseen disruption. The Wrong/Right kind of leaves. The Wrong/Right kind of snow. Shallow/Deep water on the line. It is expected that there will be a significant Rise/Fall in fat cat pay, bonus and pensions which the various CEO's will collect from their holiday home locations.  


In an attempt to stop Ash Die Back text Sally to 70007 to plant a future victim.

The Canal And River Trust is expected to create another new committee to advise on the Lack/Abundance of water in the canals. A new committee to advise on the The Lack/Abundance of poetry on lock gates. A new committee to advise on the Lack/Abundance of trees growing in boats.

The creation of the John Dodswell award for persistence.  Achieved by standing directly in front of the fan. With a full cassette of Canal World Forum's finest on lock and load!

Stop Press: update from Canal & River Trust. "Michael, you are welcome to share your views and give feedback on our page. Trolling however, is not allowed and you will be removed from his site if you [c]ontinue to do so. Please see our guidelines for posting to this page in the info section. Kind regards, Anja"
Later...


Snippets of weather

Talking about the weather (as we did in yesterdays posting) is both a national pastime and frequently used by everyone as a conversation starter. Weather-obsessed British people spend on average six months of their lives talking about whether it's going to rain or shine, according to a survey published recently.


Speculation about whether it's going to be wet, complaints about the cold and murmurings about the heat are also the first points of conversation with strangers or colleagues for 58% of Britons, it recorded.  The study of 2,018 adults by pollsters found Britons talk about the weather for about 2 days every year and the subject comes up more often than work, what is on television, sport or gossip. 19% of over 65s questioned also believe they can predict the weather as well as a professional weatherman.The most usual explanation for the British fascination with weather is that it is so changeable. 


Never more so than when boaters collect together. Often the conversation is filled with little snippets such as "Hi, did you have a good Summer out on the boat?" "Yes indeed, we had a great picnic that afternoon." Or the boater who had a look out of the side hatch to see what the weather was like. His wife enquired from their bed what the weather was like. The boater replied "I don't know, I can't tell, it's much too foggy?"

Or the apocryphal story of the boating couple. Where a man and his wife were having a siesta when suddenly their mobile phone rang. The husband picked up the phone and said, "Hello? after a couple of seconds he replied  "How the Great Heck would I know? What do you think I am, a weatherman?" He then hung up and settled back to sleep in the bed. "Who was that?" asked his wife. "I don't know." he replied.  "It was some bloke who wanted to know if the coast was clear."

Although boater Fred was a qualified meteorologist, he ran up a terrible record of forecasting the weather. Fred told me that when he checked on the accuracy of his predictions he had been wrong almost three hundred times in a single year. So Fred decided to move his boat to the Milton Keynes area and apply for a similar job with a new charity. The tricky question on the job application asked for the reason why Fred had left his previous position. He said I wrote, "The climate didn't agree with me." I am sure with the god given accuracy of his predictions, Fred will fit in just fine.

Later....

Thursday 22 November 2012

Weather extream


The Met (United Kingdom Meteorological) Office celebrated 151 years of forecasting the weather in August 2012. This year our very changeable weather has broken a few meteorological records but for all the wrong reasons!!!

  1. Hottest temperature recorded - 101.3F (38.5C) in Faversham in Kent on 10th August 2003.
  2. Hottest month is August - beating record temperatures for July by 2C and September by 3C.
  3. The sunniest month of all was 101 years ago, when 383.9 hours of sunshine were recorded in Eastbourne, Sussex in July 1911.
  4. Lowest August temperature: -28.4F (-2C) on 28th August 2 1977 in Moor House, Cumbria.
  5. Lowest recorded temperature: -16.96F (-27.2C) in Braemar, Aberdeenshire on both 11th February 1895 and 10th January 1982.
  6. Highest rainfall in 24 hours - 279mm (10.98inches) on 18th July 1955 in Martinstown, Dorset.
  7. Maidenhead, in Berkshire, saw 92mm (3.622 inches) of rainfall in just one hour on 12th July 1901.
  8. Fastest winds - 123 knots (142 mph) on 13th February 1989 in Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire.

So what did our cruising weather for this year 2012 achieve?

It has been the wettest April in the UK for over 100 years, with some areas seeing three times their usual average. 
Some 121.8mm of rain has fallen, beating the previous record of 120.3mm which was set in 2000.
UK's wettest June since records began in 1910, provisional Met Office figures show. It comes after this year also saw the rainiest April on record, while the period from April to June was the wettest recorded for the UK. June was also the second dullest on record with 119.2 hours of sunshine - the record of 115.4 hours was in 1987.


Later....


CART Weather Warning for Boaters.

I see the weather has taken a turn once again and now returned back to summer conditions.  including floods, hosepipe ban and water shortages.

Last summer I had been wondering for a while if the winter weather would be any better than the summer or like beer - either mild or bitter. So I decided to get in touch with the CART helpline to see what they knew. They said that they were not certain at this moment in time - But as a precaution it might be a good idea to collect dead wood from the canalside for the fire. I told everyone else on the marina that whilst CART was not certain about the exact detail of the long term weather for the coming winter period. They had recommended that we should collect fire wood as a precaution.

I was asked a couple of weeks later by a fellow boater if there had been any update from the CART helpline on the winter weather forecast. No one had been in touch, so I rang them up again to enquire. CART again said they were not sure of how the winter would go. However some further early indications were pointing towards a cold winter. It would be a good idea to continue to stock up on logs. I passed on the update once again to everyone at the marina. 

It was about this time that we had several of our towpath tidy days organised amongst boaters in the surrounding area marinas. Everyone was having a good time clearing the towpath and foraging for dead timber and old logs for their stoves.  So a couple of weeks later I rang the CART helpline again. This time CART said "It looks like this winter is going to be quite cold indeed. Most of the early indicators were now pointing in the direction of a very poor winter to come." I passed on the bad news to everyone.

Now that the area around the marina was clear of litter and all remnants of dead wood. We decided that we would buy in a load of wood from a supplier to supplement our growing stocks. Most boats in the marina were now displaying healthy stocks. But there were a few boaters still travelling much further afield, continuing to forage the banks and towpaths. It seemed that we had collected together almost every scrap of waste wood along the canalside for miles in each direction.

A couple of weeks later, I rang the CART helpline once again. I enquired about any updates to the long term weather forecast. I was informed that all the indicators were now pointing to a prolonged and bitterly cold winter. Possibly one of the worst on record. I said "Are you absolutely sure that the winter is going to be very prolonged and cold?"  "Absolutely," the CART helpdesk person replied. "I can assure you it's going to be one of the coldest winters ever." 

I asked "How can you be so sure?" The CART helpdesk person replied, "Our secret boat recorders which we have dotted around the canal, we use them for covertly spying on boat movements. Have reported that there are boats in many northern marinas piled high with wood and  the boaters are collecting wood like crazy! I can assure you it's going to be one of the coldest winters ever." 

Later....


Wednesday 21 November 2012

The Snoopers Charter


I received a mailing from Shami Chakrabarti Director of Liberty (The National Council for Civil Liberties) Shami is one of six independent assessors advising Lord Justice Leveson in his Public Inquiry into the Culture, Practice and Ethics of the UK Press. Which is due to publish in the next week or so. Shami is also a frequent member of the BBC's question time panel.

I was being asked to write to my MP about the Communications Data Bill. 
"The Government plans to instruct private companies to collect and store our 'communications data'. That means records of emails, web activity, texts and phone calls - for the entire population. The reasons for storing the data are very broadly defined. Access could be granted to hundreds of public bodies for reasons that have nothing to do with fighting crime.This amounts to mass, blanket surveillance of the population - outsourced to the private sector." 
Yes, the Coalitions version of the Government Snooper's Charter - which was seen off by public pressure during the last Labour government. This is another about turn on a commitment made as a manifesto promise, this time by the Conservative party. Snooping is alive and well and once more back on the governments agenda.

I can to a point understand the need for national security reasons and crime prevention why such a draconian step might be taken. What I can't understand is why the information is going to be made available to bodies outside of crime prevention such as the Police and National Security services.

Then I read a comment from Damian Kemp, Boating Communications Manager at CART. 

"Our standard procedures see us monitor all sightings of boats across the country. Something we do as unobtrusively as possible on a daily basis. If our records don't appear to match the declaration regarding the home mooring for a particular boat, we contact the boater for clarification. We may also contact a marina, which is legal through the Data Protection Act S.35(2)."

Here we get to four questionable outcomes of a "standard procedure" to monitor movement of individuals and their boats. Is this "snooping" actually proportionate, is it actually ethical and is there a missing moral dimension. And is this what we would expect from a charity. Do you think the public will want to put their hands in their pockets to support a charity - that spends its charitable donation in such a way. Will the CART chuggers be advising the public of this standard procedure.

Who knows, maybe CART would want to purchase the telephone and Internet activity information of boat owning individuals as yet another standard procedure. Just how are my civil liberties being impinged. Does it stop with my movements around the canals or is there even more that we don't know about. Maybe this is a question that could be directed at Shami and her organisation for for further clarification. Maybe this is another question for my MP/MEP and the media.

Talking of the media... I see that CART has put in yet another appearance in Private Eye magazine. Over many years I have come to know that the "eye" is one publication that most organisations don't want to come along and shine a light into their darkest corners. That's why its such a popular magazine with the public and whistle blowers. Read eagerly cover to cover by the establishment.  

Do you remember The New Christy Minstrels and their song "Three wheels on my waggon and I'm still rolling along. Things look bad, I'm feeling sad, but I'm singing a happy song." Why do I get the feeling that the wheels have started to come off the cart. Or maybe there was only ever three wheels to start with?


Later....