Thursday 30 April 2015

Human lifespan measured in cosmological terms

Our planet Earth has been around for 4.5 billion years. That's a very very long time in human lifespans. In cosmological terms the universe has been around for 14.7 billion years. But do you know how much it has it changed just in your lifetime?

Explore BBC Earth's unique interactive website, personalised just to you. Find out how, since the date of your birth, your life has progressed. Including how many times your heart has beaten and how far you have travelled through space.

Investigate how the world around you has changed since you've been alive. From the amount the sea has risen, the tectonic plates have moved, the number of earthquakes and the number of volcanoes that have erupted.

Grasp the impact we've had on the planet in your lifetime. From how much fuel and food we've used to the species we've discovered and the ones we have endangered. And see how the BBC was there with you, capturing some of the most amazing wonders of the natural world. Explore, enjoy, and share with your friends either the whole page, or your favourite insights.

Click Here

Wednesday 29 April 2015

Cock and Bullshit

When I read this, I thought it was April 1st again. Or something dreamed up after a few sherry trifles by the Chair of the Canal and River Trust. 

Apparently Barking, is about to start living up to its name and has gone completely and utterly mad. Because the barking councillors in Barking say that they will be the first to use new technology DNA forensic testing. Which will be deployed to catch owners who fail to clear up after their dogs. The London council says it is poised to become the first in the UK to use DNA testing to track down owners who fail to clear up their dog's mess. 
The barking councillors in Barking are about to unveil this extraordinary new measure at a dog fouling summit on called 'Leading a New Way'.  Again I checked the calendar - I mean barking and leading.... It seems that all pet owners will also face fines of up to £80 if they fail to clear up their pets excrement. Under the barking councillors in Barking's plan. The pets DNA would be collected by a cheek swab which is sent to a laboratory.   
Well, I don't know about you, but I have the devils job getting the dog to take a pill. She trusts me and I feed and water her.  As well as being her companion for the last seven years. I can't wait to see a barking councillor take a swab out of my dogs cheek. That and successfully come away with the same number of fingers. 
The barking councillors in Barking say the DNA profile is then going to be added to a central register. Which is being compiled by PooPrints UK. I have just checked the calendar - I mean barking, leading and now poo printing!

The council hope to set up a pilot for forensic dog mess testing and if successful, it will be rolled out across the borough from September 2016. They will discuss how this could be combined with the forthcoming requirement from 1st of April 2016 for all dogs to be micro-chipped.  If an owner fails to pick up their dog’s mess, a DNA test will be taken from the offending faeces which can be traced back to a registered dog with 99.9 per cent accuracy.

Councillor Darren Rodwell, said: 'We are the first Council in the country to get really tough on pet owners.'  Can someone get a muzzle restraint and a swab ready, please.  I have a barking councillor here and we need to check his DNA because this one is talking a load of Bullshit!

Tuesday 28 April 2015

Mars and Venus in conjunction.

I am convinced that I will never be able to understand the fair sex. Men are from Mars and women are from Venus and we have all heard that before. However, all that apart. Its just the logic of a woman that confounds me every time. 

Let me explain, we are moored up and I thought we could take the dog for a walk. So I asked her if she wanted to come along. She said 'I'm watching this romantic film and its really good. Can you take her on your own.' OK I say and me an the dog trundle off along the towpath. I quite enjoy taking the dog for a walk, because if nothing else, she is good at breaking the ice with strangers on the towpath. More so if they also have a dog of their own. 

It was just another day and another canal or so I thought. We bumped into a few doggie strangers. Everyone did the usual admiration of each others mutt. Patting, tickling and then we would carry on along our way. It was about an hour or so later before I returned back to the boat.

You can imagine my surprise to see the memsahib in the niff. So I said 'having a shower?' No she says 'I'm in a romantic mood.' 'A romantic mood?' I enquired, as I removed my coat and hat. She said 'It was the film on television that inspired me. The couple in the film were very much in love and the wife would be waiting for him to return home. She would prepare a romantic dinner and a bottle of the best wine. Or she might even dress in a very provocative way.' 'But your in the niff' I said, while nochelantly helping myself to a chocolate from the box of Belgian.' 

She replied 'The couple in the film described being in the nude as wearing the love dress - its a sort of secret code.' I said with a chuckle 'Sweetheart your love dress could do with ironing.' I don't remember much else. When I woke up the dog looked fuller than normal, I suspect that could be my dinner. She had consumed all the chocolates, as well as the whole bottle of wine. She then had the temerity to go off to bed with an headache. 

What did I do. Is it me?

Monday 27 April 2015

Be Weir of the boaters.

Apparently,  the BBC is to air a two-hour, real-time documentary following a canal boat as it makes its way along a British waterway at a leisurely 4mph. Described as the ultimate in slow-motion footage.

For many, the languid film has been described has being as interesting as watching paint dry, but the British Broadcasting Corporation hopes many viewers will find it a refreshing change from the usual frenetic pace of modern TV.

There is no presenter, narrator, dialogue or music, so all the viewers will hear, are the sounds of the boat's engine, the lapping of the water and the local birdsong as the barge makes its way along a picturesque stretch of the Kennet and Avon Canal.

The week after a second boat documentary  is to be screened. However, this time the documentary will following a set of first time hirers. The program will chart their progress over the same section of  canal and is expected to take 25 minutes.
There is no presenter, narrator, dialogue or music, so once more all the viewers will hear, is the high speed sound of the boat's engine. Which is expected be drowning out the sound of a tidal wave of water washing out the banks an the abuse of moored boaters as well as the birdsong. As the barge makes its way along the same picturesque stretch of the Kennet and Avon Canal.

Sunday 26 April 2015

Inspiration by example.

Tommy Kleyn walked past a polluted river on his way to his job in the Netherlands every day. The Netherlands are well known for environmental stewardship, so this polluted river didn’t make much sense. Kleyn decided to take action by picking up the river a little bit at a time after work.

“It took me about 30 minutes to fill one garbage bag with trash, but one bag doesn’t make a dent in a place as polluted as this. I vowed to fill one bag of trash each day as I passed this spot,” Kleyn said.

Every day, Kleyn documented how the river was transformed by his work by taking pictures and sharing them on a new Facebook page called Project Schone SchieIn just six days, Kleyn had made some impressive progress with his cleanup effort. Eventually the neighbors took notice and began helping him.

“The idea is to motivate people to fill one garbage bag with litter each year. It only takes 30 minutes, it really makes a difference and you will be amazed about how good you feel afterwards,” he said.
Eventually and as it should have, Kleyn’s story went viral. Other people in the community began following in his footsteps and cleaning up trash on their daily routes too. People all over the world have been inspired.

Nathan Massey from Leeds in the U.K. walks along the River Aire on his way to work every day. Yesterday he deceided to start Project Clean Aire. He made a facebook page for it and everything.

Keep track of his progress at 

Saturday 25 April 2015

NABO council meeting.

Saturday has been an interesting Saturday, as Saturdays go when you are retired. In fact it has been an amazing day out. I started early making our way down the A38 towards Birmingham. The Memsahib was visiting daughter Steph and I was attending a couple of boating related meetings. 

The first item for me was when I attended the NABO council meeting. I usually try and attend the AGM. Like most association members, I am guilty of leaving the governing council to get on with it.  So I tried to be discreet and watch from the back. However I was soon spotted and invited to join in. Which I admit I found to be quite enjoyable. Spent I some time listening and watching the team discuss the merits of various important issues that are confronting boaters. This confirmed what I had thought all along. NABO is the only boating association that can genuinely stand up and say it can represent all boaters. All on council were quite knowledgeable on the various issues and  the changes taking place.  

The second meeting for me was in the afternoon at The Bond in Digbeth. This was organised by CaRT. Intended as a presentation of CaRT's strategy and vision for the future. I like it when activists of whatever persuasion turn up to make a point. The meeting was picketed by the National Bargee Travellers Association. I was not put off by the picket and my thoughts were quite supportive. 

The facilitated meeting started with a presentation by Richard Parry.  I was also looking forward to seeing and hearing people ask searching questions. Questions that might make those within the trust feel uncomfortable. That expectation of a lively searching discussion was thwarted.

However, it seems that the NBTA were out in force not only with the intention to make a point, but with with the intention to dominate and disrupt the whole meeting. While I have a great deal of sympathy for the travelling community. Whether it be on land or water. The behaviour demonstrated was appalling. Such behaviour certainly brings no credit to the NBTA. However the behaviour  certainly highlights the need for boaters to make a careful choice when joining an association. 

There are difficult times ahead for all boaters and the inland waterways. The imposition of changes to licensing terms and conditions which are questionable. The wholesale and sweeping changes to visitor mooring time limits across the waterways. Are both symptomatic of a malaise within the trust. More than ever, I am convinced of the need for a single association that represents boaters and only boaters. One that represents boaters, with out any divisive demarcation lines between live aboard and leisure, constant cruiser, trading boat or home mooring based. But an association also needs to be truly and fully independent of the trust. Building an association that can work with the trust, but at arms length.  Representing boaters with the trust as an equal and without fear or favour.  NABO is certainly fulfilling my expectations.

Friday 24 April 2015

Green World

In a world where the “green” label may not actually live up to its implied status.  Owners of diesel-powered boats are being reassured that they’re doing their part for the environment, and their health. That is the conclusion of a recent report from the Health Effects Institute an organisation that studies the effects of pollution, which found that emissions from diesel-powered vehicles do not contribute to developments of lung cancer.

The first study to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of lifetime exposure to new technology diesel exhaust. These new results, however, seem to dispel concerns that diesel emissions are acting as a carcinogen, particularly in newer clean-diesel engines. This is good news for clean-energy advocates and those concerned about public health, as it adds diesel to the growing list of viable options for consumers to take into account when choosing a new engine. The news that diesels aren’t doing as much damage to public health as previously thought is definitely good news. And it comes on the heels of some other industry tremors, in which there have been some revelations that cars marketed as “green” may not actually be better for the environment, as once believed.

Thursday 23 April 2015

Plastic Time Bomb

Look at any length of river and canal and you will find plenty of plastic in the water or strewn along the bankside. Plastic rubbish that has been discarded because we don't repect our environment. Once in the waterway it will eventually make its way into the ocean. Vast floating island of plastic are to be found in the seas and oceans. Yet in reality the discarded plastic  rubbish is just the tip of the iceberg. The vast floating islands of plastic  account foran estimated  5% of all the plastic waste that has been dumped, blown or washed into the sea.
The latest research published in the journal Science offers a more accurate estimate at the quantity of plastic waste entering the ocean. The research findings show that between 5 to 12m tonnes of plastics enter our ocean every year. This is on top of the 100,000,000 to 150,000,000 tonnes already in the ocean. 

However, the real worry is the missing plastic. We don’t know where all the plastic goes. We are aware that it never breaks down completly. Only, breaking down into smaller parts, almost invisible to the eye. We know that plastic in the ocean is confused as being food and eaten by many life forms. The plastic has caused the death of countless seabirds, turtles, and ocean mammals. The new Science study identifies where the plastic is coming from. It originates mainly in developing countries, with rapidly growing populations and emerging middle classes, which are consuming more and more plastic.

Wednesday 22 April 2015

A new star of the theatre is born.

Well it was something of an interesting day yesterday. I was up extra early (the sparrows were still wiping the speep from their eyes) and out on the road by 6:30 am. Now this is normally the time when I am pulling all the aches and pains together and gritting my teeth. Prior to getting up and then slobbing in an unkempt heap before enjoying my first cup of coffee for the day. I was going on a flying visit to the theatre in Sheffield today. But this time it was not to sit in the audience seats at the Lyceum or the Crucible. I was not going to watching a play or a band. Today, I was to be the guest and principle participant.

It was a modern hospital drama that I was going to be taking a part in. Soon on arrival, various people were soon faffing around as I was being made up for my appearance. The costume was a bit flimsy and I had to wear a covering over my hair. In no time at all I was soon wheeled out on set and I took up my position centre stage. I watched as the various camera's were being positioned. The lighting adjusted and the other cast members all took up their various positions. The off stage technicians in the wings had their equipment turned on and ready. After a few nods and the odd thumbs up  acknowledgement we were ready to roll. It was time for 'Action' which I knew would be followed some time later by 'Cut!'

My part was quite an onerous one to play and I admit that there were a few stressful moments. But I like to think that the old consummate professional (some might say acting the fool) shone through. I soon started to relax and was quickly getting more and more absorbed into the role. The dialogue was not to difficult and I am pleased to say that never fluffed my lines. As they say in acting parlance. I did not break a leg, though I am pleased to say that I never corpsed either.

Life is full of twists and turns, and it was purely by accident that I came to be here. In a roundabout way, my visit to the theatre had been brought about by my ever dwindling level of available power in my battery bank. You could say that since I had retired, my leisure battery was also indicating that it was also going into and age related retirement mode of its own. In fact the battery bank was quickly giving up the ghost.

It was a long day that started at 8:am and continued through until lunch at 12:30. Butternut squash and bacon soup was the starter. It might not sound appetising, however it was quite delicious. It came with a brown crusty roll and to be honest I could quite happily done a good pastiche of 'Oliver' and asked for more. Before you knew it lunch was over (I actually missed out on the ice cream) Soon afterwards my day in at the theatre as 'principal boy' also came to an end.

I will be doing autographs requests later...

Yesterday, also marked a sad point, as I lost a dear and close old friend. After eleven and a half years my old pacemaker was replaced. This morning I am feeling a bit bruised and sore. It could be said that for the next few weeks I have to take it easy until everything has healed. Somehow I don't think that taking it easy will be much of a challenge.

Its time to go cruising.....

Standby everybody 'Action' ... time to hit the  'Cut'

Tuesday 21 April 2015

Spring Summer Cruse 2015 ❸

Willington to Mercia Marina

Overnight the weather quite cool and blustery though we avoided any frosts.

Morning: Up early to prepare the boat for a short cruise back to Mercia. The first meal of the day was once again the full traditional English breakfast. I'm getting used to the idea of a good breakfast again! Followed by several cups of coffee from the percolator. It was late in the morning before everything was finally ready.the trees are full of leaves now and the early spring flowers such as May Blossom fill the hedgerows.

Afternoon: Just after lunch we finally came winded in the winding hole. Then enjoyed a slow cruise back to Mercia where we soon back on our mooring. We passed several other boats on the move. 

Evening: The evening came and we prepared once again to enjoy a meal on board.  It was a much warmer evening and the bats were active once again.


Birds: House Sparrow, Tree Sparrow, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Rook, Jackdaw, Starling, Blackbird, Mallard, Mute Swan, Chiffchaff, Robin, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Pied Wagtail, Coot, Waterhen, Canadian Goose, Grey Heron, Wood Pigeon,  Black Headed Gull, Swallow, House Martin, Swift and  Tufted Duck.  

Butterflies: Meadow Brown
Bats: Pipistrelle and  Daubentons

Today's Total.
Miles: 2.1
Locks: 0
Swing / Lift Bridges: 0
Tunnels: 0
Pump Outs: 0
Engine Hours: 13.1
Solar Panels: 20 Ah
Accumulated Total.
Miles: 2129.2
Locks: 1311
Swing / Lift Bridges: 299
Tunnels: 37
Pump Outs: 21

Engine Hours: 3105.0 

Solar Panels: 19782Ah

Legal Advice

Legal Advice is available for live aboard boaters, from the Community Law Partnership. Community Law Partnership have set up their own Telephone Advice Line for live aboard boaters throughout England and Wales on 0121 685 8677. 

The helpline is available Monday to Friday, 9.00 am to 5.00 pm and there is an emergency service available outside of those hours. Community Law partnership provides advice, assistance and representation on ‘accommodation issues’ for boaters. e.g. evictions.

The Community Law Partnership (CLP) is a radical, progressive firm of solicitors specialising in the law relating to Housing and Public Law. CLP incorporates the Travellers Advice Team (TAT) – a ground-breaking nationwide 24 hour advice service for Gypsies and Travellers. 

The The Community Law Partnership was formed in 1999 by its current Partners: Chris Johnson, Rosaleen Kilbane and Mike McIlvaney. We aim to provide quality legal services to the most vulnerable and disadvantaged sections of society who, without our assistance, would be denied access to the legal system and to their rights. We aim to give a personal, expert, efficient and friendly service to our clients.

In addition to the Partners, the firm employs solicitors and highly trained and experienced case-workers. It also takes great pride in its trainee development programme, whereby young graduate lawyers are given the training, guidance and hands-on opportunities to develop into experienced professionals. This legal team is ably supported by an administrative staff of thirteen. Our clients come from a wide range of cultures and ethnicities and our team reflects this rich diversity.

We have a highly successful track-record, often in ground-breaking cases. We were finalists for the Legal Aid Law Firm of the Year Award 2011. In 2012, Rosaleen Kilbane won the Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year Award in the social and welfare law category and the practice was judged Law Firm of the Year (sole practitioners and firms up to four partners) by Birmingham Law Society. 

The Community Law Partnership are ranked in Chambers directory 2014 which says "they're really innovative and take important challenges forward - a really, really dedicated outfit" and "they're so focused and have a stellar reputation."  If you would like to view endorsements of the quality of our work from fellow professionals, or the level of client satisfaction from our clients themselves, please follow the links on the website below.

Monday 20 April 2015

It's a cold wind blowing along the cut

There is much that is good about the inland waterways. However, there is also much that's bad.  The level of public relations is grim, distrust amongst boaters is dire and is about to fall even further. The actions over the unnecessary changes to licensing do not bode well for the future. Yet the trust keeps on plugging away with various puff pieces. Fluffy voles are a favourite as are stories of how thing were in the past. Yet the biggest story remains studiously ignored by the trust. That is the funding shortfall, which is like a huge but invisible elephant in Canal and River Trust Boardroom.

There is a cold wind blowing along the cut:

In a steady gentle breeze, the water surface is never still;
canal and river is hemmed in, by the nearby verdant hills;
quiet is the needed solitude, that my waterways bring to me;
something that many folk in towns, could never ever see;
as the springtime ray of sunlight, will warm you through;
my words inspired an image, only for your mind to view.

The canal and its industry, was once a place of heavy toil;
why the river is a leisure park now, for no one to despoil;
a myriad of buds and flowers, that only spring time brings;
amongst the waterways most attractive, and natural things;
heady scent of bluebells, a memory that our senses hold;
the sound of the hedgerow birds, inside our heads unfold.

However this vista is sullied, for the future is looking grim;
as corporate megalomania, new unwanted rules brings in;
boats can't stay any longer, so move along your time is up;
the peaceful tranquillity gone, for we have been sold a pup;
a waterway run by accountants, maintenance cut to the core;
the future tipped beyond the brink, the ends in sight for sure.

The towpath life now rushing by, as peace has been replaced;
no longer a place to walk with child, as the waterways defaced;
turned into a high speed cycle route, the towpath's no longer safe;
now its just a time trial location, for a cyclists high speed race;
decades of dedicated restoration, to improve what had been lost;
towpath now given over to cyclist who don't even share the costs.

Partnerships promoted as saviours, an extra burden they now create;
a new level of empire building clap trap, is this to be the ultimate fate;
trustees are well out of their depth, their outlandish targets are set;
but just like a mythical cheque in the posts, neither can clear the debt;
a million pounds a week is the shortfall, the gap continuing to grow;
both with heads buried in the sand, how could we expect them to know.

The Alternative Canal Laureate

Evan Keel.
"The events depicted in this poem are fictitious. Any similarity to any person living or dead is merely coincidental. No person should without the prior permission of the author assume the identity of any character. These poems are a story that could be based on actual events. In certain cases incidents, characters and time lines have been changed for dramatic purposes. Certain characters may be accidental composites, or entirely fictitious. I was helped in my creative endeavour by my friend's telepathic cat named Huxley. Huxley assumes all responsibility for any mistakes and errors."

Sunday 19 April 2015

Spring Summer Cruse 2015 ❷

Stenson Lock  to Willington

Overnight the weather quite cool once again though we avoided any frosts.

Morning: Up early to prepare the boat for a short cruise as to Willington. The first meal of the day was once again the full traditional English breakfast. Followed by several cups of coffee from the percolator. It was late in the morning before everything was finally ready.

Afternoon: Just after lunch we finally came winded in front of the lock. Then enjoyed a slow cruise Willington where we had a choice of several mooring spaces. We passed several other boats on the move. A visit to the new co-op to stock up on essentials.

Evening: The evening came and we prepared a meal on board.  It was a warm evening and the bats were active.


Birds: House Sparrow, Tree Sparrow, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Rook, Jackdaw, Starling, Blackbird, Mallard, Mute Swan, Chiffchaff, Robin, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Pied Wagtail, Coot, Waterhen, Canadian Goose, Grey Heron, Wood Pigeon,  Black Headed Gull, Swallow, House Martin, Swift, Tufted Duck the highlight being an Oyster Catcher.

Bats: Pipistrelle and  Daubentons

Today's Total.
Miles: 2.1
Locks: 0
Swing / Lift Bridges: 0
Tunnels: 0
Pump Outs: 0
Engine Hours: 13.1
Solar Panels: 20 Ah
Accumulated Total.
Miles: 2127.1
Locks: 1311
Swing / Lift Bridges: 299
Tunnels: 37
Pump Outs: 21

Engine Hours: 3091.8

Solar Panels: 19762Ah

Fawlty Towers

It's been a sort of 'Fawlty Towers' experience, one where Basil and Sybil can't communicate with each other.  because of the head in the sand mentality of an ex quango, keeping up appearance of being the same old same old quango.  

By way of an example, you may remember that some time ago. I asked the Canal and River Trust if any of our elected representatives were holding meetings with the licence holding electorate.  Learning the hard way from emails and phone calls which can get lost or forgotten. I know it saves time to ask any serious questions via the Freedom of Information act.  So I wrote:

Dear Canal & River Trust,

I was interested to read the article in Aprils Boaters Update penned by Ivor Caplan. The article was a request for information on how to bring younger people into boating.

I was intrigued by the comment. “I know from speaking with many boaters, particularly those involved with organisations such as boat clubs, societies and trusts, how important they see this issue and I would appreciate receiving any comments.

I have searched the trusts website and I am unable to find a list of visits planned by our representatives either in the past or in the future at clubs, societies, trusts and other organisations.

Can you supply a list of previous and future planned visits (venue, time and date) made by the various boater representatives. - Ann Farrell, Chris Bailey, Clive Henderson, Ivor Caplan and Vaughan Welch.

The freedom of information request was stimulated because our ageing society is likely to have a profound effect on the future of the Inland Waterways. It was a pretty simple sort of request that I made I'm sure you would agree. One that should be easy to handle and one that I would have thought the Trust would want people to know, share and at least be aware of.

In the time honoured way that only the Canal and River Trust as a pseudo quango could ever comprehend. In a parody reminiscent of the members of Parliament and their attempts to cover up the 'expenses scandal' from the electorate. The trust refused to reveal what meetings were being held by any of our elected representatives. The very people we had voted to put in place to represent 'us' the licence holding boaters. Were invoking the Canal and River Trust's own version of the official secrets act.

Having considered your request, I am writing to let you know that we do not consider the information you have requested to be subject to the limited application of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 to Canal & River Trust.

Therefore, in formal response to your request under the Freedom of Information Act, I have to inform you that Canal & River Trust is not under any duty under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 to provide the information you have requested since it does not relate to any functions exercisable by it by virtue of the 2012 Order.

I even took it to the trusts own complaints procedure. I was provided with a bewildering reply from Roger Hanbury that demonstrated a complete lack of understanding of what I was asking for. What could have been a simple reply to my initial FoI request was now subjected to all sorts of internal machinations and angst. But then in a Kafkaesque way Roger provided the very information I had asked for:

Roger Hanbury said "I have spoken to Ivor Caplan and he confirms that the boater representatives have not arranged any public meetings on this matter."

Well almost a year has passed since my FoI request was made and nothing further has been heard publicly from our elected representatives on the matter. But then little has been heard from our elected representatives on any other matter. Then there was the 'smoke and mirrors' myth of a new 'openness and transparency' that the trust would undertake.  Which has also amounted to exactly nothing.
In March this year the Worcester Birmingham & Droitwich Canals Society and CaRT organised a conference to discuss the issue. I would have taken an interest but as many of you will know I have been outside the UK for an extended period. But I have been following up on the event.
Caroline Killeavy, Canal & River Trust head of community engagement, says: "In many respects the nation’s waterways are more popular than ever. However, societies, membership organisations and charities like the Trust all recognise there is a challenge to appeal to new groups, and inspire them to get involved with the waterways. Changing societal pressures and reaching the right audiences in the right way, are among the challenges we all face. What is clear is that we are better to work together to enthuse and attract new people to get involved."
It  is to be hoped that the 'challenge to appeal to new groups and inspire them to get involved with the waterways' and 'reaching the right audience' does not involve the Canal and River Trust.  Because reaching boaters and inspiring them to get involved has been a significant failure.

Saturday 18 April 2015

Widespread illegal hunting of birds

Please sign and share this petition in an effort to speak out in Europe, against the widespread illegal hunting of birds. Because of various loopholes and inconsistencies in the law. It appears that too many birds are losing their lives, leading to a clear possibility of extinction for various breeds. We are concerned about specific species of birds such as the Amur Falcon and Lesser Whitethroat along with the possibility of endangerment and extinction of these birds and many others.

You will find the petition here.  Click Here

The news seems to be full of stories regarding the killing and poaching of elephants and rhinos for their tusks and horns. But rarely do we hear much about the killing of birds and other serious infractions of conservation laws throughout Europe. The regulations need to be set and implemented to help maintain and protect various species of birds like the Amur Falcon and Lesser Whitethroat, just to name two.

The current weak laws throughout Europe actually allow the occurrence of organised hunting trips and targeting of songbirds. However, the number of birds killed and taken by the hunters is minute compared to those that were smuggled out of their habitat as a means to meet demand for traditional cuisine. It has been documented that poachers alone killed more than 2 million of the Lesser Whitethroat in the last two years.

Stop killing our birds,wake up and realise that one day they will all be gone what sort of person takes pleasure in hunting them leave them so our grandchildren can enjoy seeing them. Jan Hughes, United Kingdom

How could anyone sanction 1 billion bird deaths for ANY reason! Jeff Evans, United Kingdom

Wild birds are disappearing due to our encroachment on their territory and from many other man made threats. This criminal and disgusting hunting during their migrations, and of already threatened species of birds, also contribute greatly to their disappearance and must stop! . Or it will not only be the spring that will be silent of birdsong, but also the whole year. Paul Lewis, United Kingdom

please please do something about this! Maria Francisca Sanchez Alvarez, Spain

Any person who feels the need to kill for pleasure clearly is lacking in the most basic of intelligence. Another example of not being worth the waste of the planet's resources. To feel the need to kill defenceless creatures shows their complete lack of character, morals, and basic humanity. Julia Ratsey, United Kingdom

The way it is going, we will be wiping out many species of birds for sheer greed and pleasure at killing. It's disgusting and has to be stopped.
Stuart Bradbrook, United Kingdom

We must stop this terrible slaughter of these beautiful birds. There must be stricter and more serious controls. Peter Roberts, United Kingdom

Strengthen EU laws to protect birds and step up enforcement against the illegal capture and poaching of birds before it's too late for some species. We cannot stop birds migrating in order to save them so we have to find ways of making their migratory passage a safe one. Judith S, United Kingdom

Friday 17 April 2015

Spring Summer Cruse 2015 ❶

Mercia Marina  to Stenson Lock 


Overnight the weather quite cool though we avoided any frosts.

Morning: Up early to prepare the boat for a short cruise as Marina Mange had set in. The first meal of the day was the full traditional English breakfast. Followed by several cups of coffee from our new percolator coffee pot. It was late in the morning before everything was finally ready. First port of call was Midland Chandlers to pick up a new Fridge Freezer and a new boat stove. Both of which we had bought the previous week in their freaky Friday sale.

Afternoon: Just after lunch we finally came out of the marina, turned left. Then enjoyed a slow cruise up to Stenson lock. We passed several other marina boats that were doing the same as ourselves. We found a visitor mooring space that was a perfect fit between two other boats. Only 6" longer and Rosie would not have fitted in! It was our intention to visit the Bubble Inn for a meal in the evening.

Evening: The evening came and we decided to forgo the visit to the Bubble Inn and prepared a meal on board.  It was good to be out on the cut! It was a warm evening and the bats were active.


Birds: House Sparrow, Tree Sparrow, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Rook, Jackdaw, Starling, Blackbird, Mallard, Mute Swan, Chiffchaff, Robin, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Pied Wagtail, Coot, Waterhen, Canadian Goose, Grey Heron, Wood Pigeon,  Black Headed Gull, Swallow, House Martin, Swift, Tufted Duck the highlight being an Oyster Catcher.

Butterflies: Meadow Brown
Bats: Pipistrelle and  Daubentons

Today's Total.
Miles: 2.1
Locks: 0
Swing / Lift Bridges: 0
Tunnels: 0
Pump Outs: 0
Engine Hours: 13.1
Solar Panels: 20 Ah
Accumulated Total.
Miles: 2125.0
Locks: 1311
Swing / Lift Bridges: 299
Tunnels: 37
Pump Outs: 21
Engine Hours: 3078.7

Solar Panels: 19742Ah

Busting the Myth

Could the trust ever be in a position to take over the running of the EA waterways.

Busting the Myth
Before that could even be contemplated, the Trust is first of all going to have to demonstrate the ability to be totally self funding within the next decade. The CaRT flagship the 'Waterways Partnerships' currently can't even self fund themselves, never mind raise revenue. The trust has been back ignobly once already to government, cap in hand like a latter day David Copperfield, to beg for more. Its also going to have to improve on its lack lustre public relations. But more than anything else CaRT is going to have to overcome its greatest fear. CaRT is going to have to be open, transparent and officers are going to have to be accountable. The lack of accountability and the secracy is the lifeline that the Trustees will never let go.  The only way that the trust can ensure that accountability is to through a membership structure. Which the trustees will accept, only when hell freezes over or the taxi arrives for Hales and he finally goes.

The first major stumbling block would be the flood defence maintenance. Think about the flooding disaster on the Somerset levels and the flash flooding that is happening in our towns and cities. Which as a result of climate change is occurring ever more frequently. Remember the Thames flooding and the prominence on the news around the world. I can't see the public ever wanting to be in a position where flood defence building and maintenance could be placed in the same sort of level of risk that CaRT's maintenance has been allowed to descended into. With the accumulation of a half a billion shortfall over the last decade or so.

Taking over the Thames.
Thames organisations have already expressed serious concerns about the long-term plan. Pointing out the Elephant in the room. Which is the difference between running a leisure canal and a major waterway like the Thames. Richard Parry said: “We would want to work with organisations and individuals on the river. There will be plenty of time to talk, plenty of opportunities for their involvement.” If this is the same sort of opportunity, consultation, engagement and involvement that has characterised the trusts work so far. Especially with regards to maintenance, licensing and a myriad other issues on the canals. Those on the Thames should have real concern to be worried about any possibility of a take over happening.

The second major stumbling block. Richard Parry said that 'CaRT had access to sources of income denied the EA as a Government agency.' He gave two shining examples. The first is 'outside funding' this is the chugged up group of friends, which as a funding stream will always be variable and subject to the will of the giving public. It only requires one good public relations cock-up - which the trust is more than adept at – which could put the kibosh on that route.

His second example is grants from other trusts and charities. This is donations such as those from SUSTRANS. Which is currently converting the towpath into a high speed cycling velodrome and time trial venue. It only requires one fatality caused through high speed cycling and the whole charade will come tumbling down. How is this to be addressed – by educating cyclist. Can you smell the bacon? That's porcine avionics being roasted on a spit, over a sudden case of spontaneous trouser combustion.

Running fast to stand still.
The third major stumbling block is that the budget for the EA is fixed annually with the so-called Grant-in-Aid which has recently been subjected to being reduced year on year. There is not even a dim prospect within the next decade of that situation ever being turned around. Just imagine if the trust was successful and was able to raise some money – what is there to stop the government of the day from reducing the Grant-in-Aid even further. 

Smell the coffee, that's to go with the bacon sandwiches.

Thursday 16 April 2015

Degree of authority

I could lay claim with more than a degree of authority that I am a selfish person. This has been brought about by the selfish attitudes of others. Time and again I have been to the toilet, only to find that the bog roll has been pilfered. Now, I will take the last square of toilet paper off the roll without thinking twice. However, I will not lower my standards to nicking the whole roll.

Well it happened again today. Called in at the supermarket for a shop and a dump. I like to get the essentials sorted first - so off to the toilet. Good, trap one is free, that's another one of my pet peeves when all the traps are in use. But it has the advantage of a pre-warmed seat.  So I get down to work - after finishing the job - its time to sort out the paper work. Reach for the bog roll and some one has nicked it again. You can always tell when its been nicked, the cardboard centre is missing. Trap two next door is empty - so I am saved the indignity of having to beg for a few sheets being passed under the partition.

However, I'm not a slow learner - so now whenever I go out. I have another item on my mental check list. Keys check, Money check, Wife check, Dog check, Bog roll check. Now, I go out prepared for eventualities. I always take a length of folded bog roll in my back pocket. However, I admit, it got me into trouble when I first started. Because once or twice it sneaked through the dirty washing security cordon. This is the feel in a pocket and finders keepers check. Which is systematically conducted on wash day by the maid of all things the Memsahib.

I blame Blue Peter for encouraging several generations into habitually nicking bogrolls. Only to make yet another cardboard version of the Thunderbirds lair, Tracy Island. Now that the Thunderbirds are back on television I anticipate the situation will only get worse.

You have been warned.

Wednesday 15 April 2015

Draconian and disproportionate.

I found the article by Allan Richards (NABO slams CaRT's T&C's ) to be a good warning to all boat owners. 

Draconian and disproportionate.
I had hoped that the furore over towpath evictions conducted by CaRT and the resulting bad publicity was a thing of the past. However, the latest iteration of guidelines (for boaters without a home mooring) seemingly intended as an act changing addendum to Primary Legislation, that has worked flawlessly for 20 years, beggars belief. Changes that seem hell bent on creating a culture where further towpath evictions can be threatened as a consequence. No boater will be exempt from such draconian and disproportionate actions. Many like me will feel that I am only agreeing to the terms and conditions under duress.

Some good news
There is only one item of good news. NABO's unequivocal no nonsense repudiation of the changes being made. This is a sign that there is at long last a strong boaters association. One who will represent all boaters without fear or favour. NABO is certainly a good association for all boat owners (either those with or without a mooring - live aboard or leisure) to become members of.

Failing memory
There are associations that have forgotten their history and jumped into bed with the trust. I can't help but feel sorry for their older members who will remember their once proud history that has been usurped. The old grandees must be revolving at high speed in their graves.

Tuesday 14 April 2015

The Banana Skin

Well its the start of another cruising season. This as usual is being highlighted by the first of the years unplanned stoppages. As the cruising season gets shorter and more interspersed with hold ups and delays year on year. It begs the question what is going on within the trust.

Darkness descends over the Waterway

Its in a dim dark office where, even darker deeds are done;
 as the trust plans the canal repairs, by landing on its bum;
 the banana skin of maintenance, with many balls to juggle;
should it come as a surprise, that the trust is in a muddle.  

Canal maintenance is a chasm, of a type that's seldom seen; 
an ever growing financial hole, of a size that seems obscene;
licence money can be wasted, as transparency there is none;
a deafening silence then descends, as nothing can be done.

There is a need to deflect attention, by slight of hand or trick;
by just looking the other way, must think boaters are thick;
simply just pretending, that everything was already planned;
 how can you see what's wrong, with head buried in the sand.

Its just the same old story, of more stumbles trips and falls; 
all the maintenance repairs are done, by working at a crawl;
proactive or planned is not a concept, for their just not au fait;
blackhole gets bigger and deeper, into the chasm  is now the fate.

The Alternative Canal Laureate

Evan Keel.
"The events depicted in this poem are fictitious. Any similarity to any person living or dead is merely coincidental. No person should without the prior permission of the author assume the identity of any character. These poems are a story that could be based on actual events. In certain cases incidents, characters and time lines have been changed for dramatic purposes. Certain characters may be accidental composites, or entirely fictitious. I was helped in my creative endeavour by my friend's telepathic cat named Huxley. Huxley assumes all responsibility for any mistakes and errors."