Sunday, 31 October 2010

What a lovely weekend!

Anyone looking for paint advice, please see the previous post featuring 'Primer'....

Anyway, this weekend, The Pippins have had a lovely time!

I was all alone on the eponymous boat on Saturday morning.

Jackie was having to work a Saturday on the editing job she was doing in London. She was needed to pull it all out of the fire in the inimitable way which gets her so much repeat work...

I, however, was home alone.

Well, I read 'The Week', then got up, washed up, cleaned the bathroom really thoroughly, swept the boat through, did a load of washing, then took the re-cycling to the tip.

I wandered back to the mooring via Emmaus, (where I dropped off a hideous Christmas bauble on behalf of some friends and bought a paperback for 50p)and picked up a call from James Duck on the way.

He and Amy were heading toward the Parish on nb Lucky Duck!

I was heading to Tesco....

A quick call to Jackie to confirm that she felt able to entertain and wasn't too knackered, meant a return call to James to invite him and Amy to supper.

I decided to do Pippin special lamb.

This involves at least half a bottle of cheap Red, three cloves of garlic and 60g each of Rosemary and Mint, and quite a lot of capers.

Just on the lamb.....

James doesn't like veg much, so I did roast spuds, parsnips, and swede and carrot mash. ( With James, if you stick to the root stuff, you can't go far wrong....)

We also had some broccoli too.

For starters, I did Jackie's special recipe fried mushrooms on pate toast.

Amy doesn't do fungi.... But she did today!!

This was my fault. I meant to do her a mushroom-free pate-on-toast-type starter. Sadly, I forgot. (Beer may have been the issue here....) But Amy chomped away personfully in a way that suggested to me we may have found a version of mushrooms that she found palatable.


The gravy featured some of John's special "Weapons Grade" Chilli Sherry.

None was left over........

This morning, we were all celebrating the end of British Summertime by enjoying an extra hour in bed.

Jackie read 'The Week', I read "Practical Classics".

Round about 11.30, I put my head out of the hatch to see The Ducks returning from a rowing outing in Cambridge.

'Would they be interested in bacon eggs and sausage' was the text. 'Words cannot describe how interested we are' was the reply.

Thus, the Mighty Pippin's grill was lit, sausages were started, showers were taken, bacon was grilled, eggs were scrambled, tomatoes and mushrooms were fried.

There was a ton of food.

How unlike Pippin.....

(There was toast also.)

Fortunately, Andreas (lately of nb Rowanberry, now sadly boatless) rocked up, and Rhoda from wb Hullabaloo stuck her unsuspecting head round the hatch cover. Both were duly brought in and fed.

A lot.

It was so nice!

After tons of grub and gallons of tea, I decided to head to Jones's boatyard for some red diesel. The Ducks were keen to have some too, so off we duly trolled.

Jackie, meanwhile, was helping Rhoda with her engine service.

Sadly, the diesel filter Rhoda had was the wrong size, so the poor girl is now living at her Mum and Dad's until the correct filter arrives from Beta Marine.


It will all be sorted soon.

The Ducks headed off to Cambridge in the lowering clouds of a Fen winter evening, James bravely espousing the well known fact that 'there's no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing...'

Amy, meanwhile, decided, very sensibly, to stay inside and 'tidy up'.

Clever Girl!

Ducks, it was lovely to see you!

Andreas, when one door closes another opens.

Rhoda, filters/schmilters. It will all be okay soon.

Bones, see the previous post for paint advice!

Love, John x

A Primer (probably not a Latin one though).

Quid et demonstrandum.

Okay, that's enough Latin.

Bones, thanks very much indeed for your lovely comment on the post 'Paint'.

What a relief! I re-read it and thought 'oo-er, that might be considered a bit patronising.'

I know from your writings in "Canal Boat" that you are a skilled DIY-er, so if I do stray inadvertantly into "I knew that" territory, then please forgive me..

Primer is the first coat you put on. Water-based, or acrylic, primer is formulated to be thin and has very good penetrative qualities, so it gets into the grain really well. However, it will warp MDF and plywood like nobody's business if only applied to one side, as the paint tightens the flexible board down one side as it dries.

It is quite safe to use a water-based primer on wood and then over-paint with oil-based under and topcoats. The water-based primers soak into wood much better than oil primers. This only works on wood though. You MUST use an oil-based primer if painting steel, and mixing oil and water-based paints willy-nilly on any surface will cause all kinds of trouble, so Bill Rodgers comment is quite right.

Undercoat is formulated to provide a good surface for the top-coat to stick to.

Under-coat is a solid-rich paint, unlike topcoat which is lots of varnish with a bit of pigment in it.

A good undercoat, then, is essential to provide 'body' to the final top coat.

It sticks really well to the primer, and if the correct shade is chosen, provides not only a stable foundation for the top-coat, but also contributes to the way light reflects off the topcoat, giving you the desired shine (matt, semi-matt or gloss).

I'm not sure where you are with the panels on The Good Ship.

If you've already put on a few coats of Crayola Paint and hate it, you can either sand it all back to nearly bare wood and start again, (which would be dispiriting and dull), or try Dulux Diamond-Hard Acrylic Eggshell.

This stuff may be the way forward.

It's not gloss. It's semi-matt in the way oil-eggshell is. But you can paint it over existing water-based colour coats with no fear. (It will need a 100 grit rub down to give it a good key, though.)

It is water-washable (unlike emulsion which is rubbish on boats), and is actually quite nice to apply. (Inhaling oil eggshell fumes in a confined space can give you bad headaches and weird dreams.....).

Your Dulux mixer shop will be able to mix Dulux Diamond-Hard Acrylic Eggshell to whatever colour you require.

As I say, this may be the way ahead. It's water-based, but it's so-oooo not Crayola!

Please let me know how you get on.



Friday, 29 October 2010


Mortimer Bones has been bemoaning the state of the DIY paint industry on nb Bones' blog.

This post is to replace a comment that I started to make and which grew like Topsy.

Anyway, cut to the chase....

Forget Homebase, Bones.

You need a proper Paint Factor.

Try googling for your local Dulux branch, or Leyland SDM if they have a branch in Oxford, or any good local builders or decorators merchants.

These guys will match oil-based paint to the shade you require either from an example or from their own range of colour charts.

(You will not believe how many shades of grey there are, even if they do have rather poncy names)

Instead of gloss, ask for oil eggshell.

This is a semi-matt finish oil paint that will do the job well.

If you're painting ply panels, use a water-based primer and do both sides at the same time or they may warp badly.

(This isn't as hard as it sounds as the primer flashes-off very quickly, so you will be able to handle the driest part of the side you've just painted while supporting the panel on it's edge to do the other.)

Once primed, the panels won't warp, so you can undercoat and topcoat at leisure.

Use an appropriate grey oil-undercoat before the topcoats, (light grey for a lighter grey topcoat, dark grey for a darker one.... bleedin' obvious, I know, but it does make a difference.)

This may seem extravagent, but the difference it makes to the final finish has to be seen to be believed.)

A small foam roller is a good weapon for the primer application, but a brush is better for the undercoat and top-coats.

Purdy synthetic brushes are really good. They don't shed hairs, and are lovely to use. Not cheap, but make the process of painting so much more pleasurable than the £1.00 each B&Q jobs that they are well worth it.

It's best to prime x 1, undercoat x 1, topcoat x 2.

If you want it to look totally spondicious, rub down the first topcoat with 100 grit production paper manually with a rubbing block before doing the second and final topcoat.

That will give you a superb finish that will last you for years!

Good luck!!

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Feel-Bad Thursday

Today was utterly rubbish.

I did not enjoy it even slightly.

I'm tired, fed-up, annoyed and worst of all, alone.

Jackie is in London until Saturday evening, so I don't have her wonderfully benign eye-rolling at my 'woes', imagined and otherwise, to keep everything in perspective.

Fortunately, Thomas Cat is here, and he understands instinctively.

I have no idea where he learned all those rude words, though.......

Oh well, another day at The Mushroom Farm tomorrow......

Monday, 25 October 2010

Feel-Good Monday!

Yes, a rare occurence in most people's experience, yet today is definitely a 'feel-good' day.

Today I got to work at 0700, which doesn't presage feelings of goodness, but at least felt better than being late. (We open early at The Hole-making Shop three times a week...)

I then spent the day operating the Holemaker's Guild's Difference Engine while processing the results of the workshop's efforts today.

Last time I did it, it was an absolute sod.

(Sorry, Auntie Mary, but there's just no other word for it).

The blasted thing was running so slowly, even by its own glacial standards, that I would have had time to nip out, plant a row of spuds, and then bring them to harvest between operations.

It got on my nerves good and proper.

Today, however, Sid, Neville, Barry and Lionel , (the boys in IT Support who operate out of a Nissen hut somewhere on the South Downs) were throwing the big brass switches a lot quicker.

It actually worked quite well.

I got all the results processed and ready in time for each of the pick-ups (by big Gardner-Diesel engined Foden lorries), so didn't have any hairy blokes from Transport looking at me funny, which was a plus.

So it was with a song in my heart that I motored home to Pippin.

Jackie is doing a week of telly editing in London, so when I got home, I raked over the coals of the fire she had banked up before leaving the boat at 0830 (lightweight!) and soon had it blazing.

I then divested myself of the protective clothing (Hole Maker's Guild Standard Issue Body Armour....) and donned my scruffs for a foray into the engine room.

I connected up the two new batteries to the rest of the bank with neither sparks, drama, profanity, or indeed, much discomfort.

The genny is whirring away to itself bringing the whole lot up to 'float', so I am feeling good.

The stove is toasty warm, and I have a glass of Robust Red to hand.

Oh, and the engine starts too!


And one of our neighbours has just popped round to say that all our old batteries were well and truly snookered. They'd done a drop test on all twelve and they weren't holding at much above 10.5....

Shagged, then...... Pity.

(I had offered them any that were still holding a charge for free, as a new addition to the family has left them a bit short of cash.)

Oh well, at least we haven't replaced the old lot unnecessarily.

We may well be investigating the possibility of selling the old batteries for scrap.

(Even a few quid a knob will be good news as there are twelve of them....)

We'll see.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

A bit more boat-related shopping......

This morning, Jackie disappeared into the depths of Pippin's engine room and mopped up about two litres of oil which had leaked from our very sickly gearbox. This was carefully tran-shipped from the bucket into a suitable receptacle for taking to the Re-cycling Centre's waste oil disposal point.

Jackie also put a new jubilee clip on the weeping skin-tank-to-engine hose, bled the air out of the skin tank and topped up the coolant with anti-freeze.

So where was I while Starship Pippin's version of Montgomery Scott was de-coking the Warp Engines?

Shopping, actually.

Yes, when the going gets tough, the tough go shopping.........

Actually, I had been sent shopping, by The Chief Engineer, which makes it okay......

Our neighbour Rhoda, from wb Hullabaloo, is going to service her Beta engine soon. Jackie has given her all the notes she made during her Beta 50 diesel one-to-one maintenance course she did with Pete from RCR this spring, along with a list of serial numbers of filters, belts, etc etc.

So Rhoda was off to Jones's boat yard at St. Ives to raid the well stocked Chandlery there.

Jackie asked Rhoda if I could tag along, as 'we needed some bits too'.

(I do have a sneaking suspicion that all Jackie really wanted was to get me out from under her feet so she could fettle in peace....)

Anyway, off we duly trolled to Jones's, shopping lists in our hot little hands and money smouldering gently in the pocket.

I was impressed by Jones's.

There is a chandlery in a nearby cathedral town which is much closer. However, I have refused to shop there since one of the staff was very rude indeed to Jackie.

None of that nonsense at Jones's.

The boss there went through Rhoda's shopping list carefully and helpfully. They mainly deal with Vetus motors, so didn't have all the Beta stuff in stock, but promised to get it asap.

I mooched about, looking at expensive toys.....

However, my own list involved
-one more leisure battery
-some oil soak mats
-some diesel.

I got two more batteries!

(Well, six in the leisure bank is still only half what Pippin had, and you can never have too many amps, I feel.....)

I also purchased three mats, 60 litres of red and a replacement seat and back for a Nauticalia Talleyman chair bought from Emmaus for a fiver. (Photos to follow)

When they totted up that little lot, I paid up like a man and hardly whimpered at all.

Actually, as Jackie bought the other four batteries, it's only fair.

Good job I got paid on Friday, that's all.....

We spent the remainder of the afternoon working on boats: Jackie rubbing down more of Caboodle's paintwork, me filling various diesel tanks.

When I finished, I helped with the rubbing down. We are very close to finishing the primer coat. If we can get it done before winter sets in, then good.

Spring-Time for Topcoats!

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Christmas Cake Recipe.

My good friend Jo Zagni has just emailed me the following recipe which has such merit, I just have to share it with you :

Once again this year, I’ve had requests for my Tequila Christmas Cake recipe so here goes:

1 cup sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1 cup water
1 tsp. salt
1 cup brown sugar
Lemon juice
4 large eggs
1 bottle tequila
2 cups dried fruit

Sample the tequila to check quality Take a large bowl; check the tequila again to be sure it is of the highest quality..


Turn on the electric mixer. Beat one cup of butter in a large fluffy bowl.
Add 1 teaspoon of sugar. Beat again.

At this point, it is best to make sure the tequila is still OK. Try another cup just in case.
Turn off the mixerer thingy.

Break 2 eegs and add to the bowl and chuck iin the cup of dried fruit.
Pick the fruit up off the floor.

Mix on the turner.

If the fried druit getas stuck in the beaterers, just pry it loose with a drewscriver.

Sample the tequila to test for tonsisticity.

Next, sift 2 cups of salt, or something.

Check the tequila. Now shift the lemon juice and strain your nuts.

Add one table. Add a spoon of sugar, or somefink. Whatever you can find.

Greash the oven.

Turn the cake tin 360 degrees and try not to fall over.

Don't forget to beat off the turner

Finally, throw the bowl through the window.
Finish the tequila and wipe the counter with the cat.

Cherry Christmas

Sparks Are NOT Flying!

The problems posed by the re-configuration of Pippin's battery bank are on the cusp of resolution.

Firstly, Mike P-J had a look.

Mike is an 'ologist of note with slightly more letters after his name than I have in mine.

He's also just finished a Phd in 'Things That Spark', so we were happy to go with his suggestion of keeping the wiring as it was and trading the starter battery for another domestic one.

However, when Jackie put this to Garf, he was very unhappy.

Apparently, the distance between his head and roof level reduced with alarming rapidity.

Clearly a man of trenchant opinion who will brook no contradiction.

So perhaps sparks, of a sort, did indeed fly......

Anyway, Jackie backed away whistling a calming tune and rang up Andy Rankin at Midsummer Energy for a 'Third Opinion'.

Andy is popping over soon to install the starter battery for us, fit a domestic cut-out switch and a battery monitor. (We've previously relied on the 'traffic lights' on the Tristar solar controller).

So that's all sorted then.

Thanks to Mike P-J, Moominpapa for the offer of help and advice and Andy for being a brick as usual.

Hole Making for Experts!

I hope I didn't offend Andrew on wb Cinnamon Girl with a previous post title of 'Hole Making for Beginners'.

He is clearly an expert!

Cutting new window apertures?


That would call for nerves of, er, steel....... (as well as some really good cutting kit!)

I only mentioned the angle-grinder/generator offer as it had proved itself well-up to the chimney-hole job on nb Innocenti.

Sorry we missed you in Ely, Andrew. After Garf had reconnected gearbox to propshaft we headed home: the rebuild of the 'box will take a fortnight or so, and we didn't want to hang around that long. (Being in Ely would double my commute to work. Also Thomas Cat would doubtless have had some sort of nervous collapse at the prospect of being shuttered-up aboard for that length of time.)

We'll hopefully catch you another time!

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Holkham Beach

Jackie (the wife) here... Just thought I'd show you some pictures from our walk along Holkham Beach last week.

Plus, John has added some photos to his earlier blog about our trip up the Backs on n.b Lucky Duck.

Hole-making for Beginners.....

It is really rather irritating that I cannot post a comment on my own blog!

I can reply to comments, (indeed, not doing so would be most unmannerly) though having to do so in a new post each time does make the whole process a little unwieldy, so apologies for that......

Andrew from wb Cinnamon Girl has asked me if The Hole-making Shop where I work can supply him with a 6" hole for his boat's new chimney.

Sadly not.

(The precision holes we make in the highly reactive material with which we deal are tiny little things.)

However, I did use our trusty 5.9 kva generator and my angle grinder to help Mike P-J make a very substantial hole in the roof of nb Innocenti for just that purpose.

He was very pleased with the result!

Mike and Innocenti are currently moored up outside The Cutter Inn at Ely, so pop down and say hello if you are around, Andrew.

We may be able to arrange a visit to do you a similar hole if you like....

(A spot of assistance with the starter battery wiring (see previous post) would be an ideal reciprocation!)

Battery and gearbox woe.......

Our visit to Ely has proved to be actually and potentially rather expensive.

Garf, of the boatyard by The Boathouse Restaurant, had a good look at Pippin's Newage PRM 260D gearbox and pronounced it more knackered than originally thought.

The main seal has indeed gone, but the reason for this is the play in the end bearing. This cannot be reduced to correct tolerance with shims, it has to be replaced. Either way, it's a gearbox out job.

Further, it will then have to be taken up to Gearbox Graham in Warwick for a complete strip-down and thorough examination of the internals for other wear/damage.

This has the potential to relieve us of a worryingly large sack of coin.

So that's the bad news.

The good news is that Garf reckons the gearbox removal/replacement is straightforward enough for me to do, which will save a few quid.

I'd popped into Ely to run some errands while all this was going on. I returned to find Jackie had bought four new leisure batteries and a starter battery from Garf. I'd hoped to nurse the battery bank through another winter, but they are all at least three years old and already past their prime, so I bowed to the inevitable.

I then spent a very hot and uncomfortable hour or so bent triple in the engine bay fitting the leisure ones, and I confess to an unreasonable amount of profanity in the process.....

The new batteries also pose a problem.

Pippin's original bank of 12 x 110 amp leisure batteries also started the engine. I have now got to wire up the new starter battery to the engine but must also surely make sure it gets it's fair share of charge.

The starter battery is currently (DEFINITELY no pun intended....) sitting on the back deck while I wonder what to do.

Electrics are not my forte. I can work okay on an established system provided I label clearly and do lots of notes, but wiring something up from scratch is outside my skill set.

So, how is this done? Anyone out there got any ideas?

It's not crucially urgent, as I've wired up the leisure batteries to the starter motor as it was before, so we can at least start the engine.

(Also, with the gearbox issues, we won't be starting the engine or going anywhere for a while anyway.)

However, any help and advice would be much appreciated, especially as Boat Safety is due next June.

It's important to get this right!!

Monday, 18 October 2010

A post entirely about boating (well, almost....)

To post solely about boating on what is ostensibly a boating blog may seem barely worthy of comment, never mind a mention in the title.

However, Pippin ramblings do tend to encompass a rather catholic variety of topics, so I felt the urge to flag this up in the title.

You can't say you weren't warned........

Bottisham Lock was out of action for a while last week while Men in Green stood around staring at it and scratching their heads. Eventually, one arrived with the correct Whitworth adjustable spanner and tweaked it back to life. The uncorked Cam was then a flurry of boating for a day or so as cruisers, narrowboats and widebeams all resumed their interrupted journeys.

With the lock fixed, the Pippins were up with the sparrows yesterday, refitting newly topped-up and re-charged batteries, fetching diesel cans, wood for sawing up, getting the washing in, emptying gash, the recycling and the compost bin in readiness for the voyage to Ely.

It was a beautiful morning: golden in the way that put one in mind of John Keats' Ode. The mooring and river were mill-pond smooth and sideways lit, but sadly we were too busy with preparations to pick up the camera. Here's a photo from the archive to give you the gist:

We would be staying overnight in Ely so attempted to corral Thomas Cat and bring him along.

Tom used to be utterly unbothered by the engine noise or the boat in motion.

Until that is, I banged into Bottisham Lock quite hard in high wind last winter.

Now even the sound of the engine sends him kitten-crawling under the nearest chair with a look of feline terror on his face.

That he had rumbled our intentions and scarpered was beyond doubt. We left him to play on the mooring all day and resolved to fetch him via car later.

The trip itself was unremarkable in the best sort of way: nothing happened to mar our enjoyment of the lovely autumn morning.

We did see a Fen Harrier. I insisted Jackie try to take a picture.......

I don't think we'll be up for too many awards with that one......

We also had a little game of Grandmother's Footsteps with a rowing eight and their coach as we approached Ely, but it was conducted with good humour, so definitely no harm done.

At Ely, we moored up at Garf's boatyard (where Pippin is having her gearbox seals sorted out today) then jumped in the car, which Jackie had cleverly driven up on Friday evening, and headed for Cambridge for "A Day of Boating: Part, The Second."

It was Amy Duck's Birthday Bash: a trip up the Cam from Jesus Green along the college nb Lucky Duck!

Powered craft are prohibited from this stretch of the river during the busy summer months, but from October navigation is permitted if a written application is made to The Cam Conservancy.

James and Amy had sorted all this out , so we were good to go.

This shot suggests Brave Captain Tidy may have been having second thoughts......

We were joined by a lovely group of James and Amy's chums, so a jolly party was soon under way as James threaded The Duck through narrow bridge holes and numerous surprised punt crews with an expert hand.

I refuse to dwell on the one incident of a punt operator being truly unpleasant, as the time and his number were recorded, so his hash will, no doubt, be settled in due course......

At the head of the navigable river, we moored up and said goodbye to Bones, who had sneaked in a spot of boating before visiting her mum. Sadly, Boots was not in evidence as he would probably been unable to resist the temptation of snacking on Lyra, Lucky Duck's cat.....

The return trip was lovely and accomplished with flair. James is jolly good at this sort of thing!

We were soon all in The Fort St.George for a bite of supper, then home to the mooring to fetch Thomas and head off to Ely.

Doesn't take long to type, but took a while to do! Thanks to The Ducks for the loan of Lyra's travel box and to Rhoda for tea and help finding The Ginger Menace.

He mewed pitifully all the way to Ely, but perked up at once when in the more familiar environs of Pippin, and seems now to be exhibiting no further signs of trauma.

Thanks again, James and Amy, for a truly memorable afternoon!

Saturday, 16 October 2010

On the matter of Gin.....

Andrew is right, (See comments to previous post), gin should really always be served with lime.

When I worked at The French House pub in Soho, Gin Rickey (a drink, not a person....), enjoyed a brief vogue amongst the workers as a post-shift pick-me-up.

The vogue was brief because one picked you up, two steadied you, and three knocked you sideways....

Happy Days.

My memory of the exact composition of the aforesaid is, for some unaccountable reason, rather hazy.

However, it did feature a lot of freshly squeezed lime.....

I do remember my dear friend and oppo Annie Wolohan disappearing off mid-lunchtime shift to Berwick Street Market on an urgent lime-buying mission and returning with a large sackful.

None were left by the end of the night.......

The old wardroom hangover cure is of course Pink Gin.

I tried this once.

I have to say it must be an acquired taste as it really wasn't very nice.

(If one is going to deploy Angostura Bitters in any quantity, then, for my money, better use can be made of it in a Horse's Neck. Now that really is a nice way to either get rid of a thumping headache, or, perhaps, acquire one. But as it doesn't feature Gin and does contain the zest of a whole lemon, it isn't really relevant to this particular discourse.)

My mention of lemon in Amy's Birthday Post was, I suppose, a misguided attempt to modernise or be trendy.

An alcohol version of Dad Dancing, I suppose.

Not a good look.....

So Amy, it's lime in the gin from now on, and remember not to drown it with too much tonic.........

Friday, 15 October 2010

Happy Birthday, Amy Duck!!!

who knows instinctively how to make a happy man feel very old......


Good Grief.

In 1985 I was still at Drama School. I was Egeus and Robin Starveling in The Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art's production of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" at Cliveden.

A life-time ago.......

So the acting career never came to anything. I never was James Bond, or at the RSC, or on telly, or even moderately successful.

I remember the year of Amy's birth with fondness and regret.

I still had my very best and my very worst moments ahead of me.

But if I could go back and start again, I wouldn't.

The mistakes I made, the errors, the loss of compass, the foolishness, the vanity and the defiance....... all have led me here, to the place I am now, doing what I do for a job, living with the woman I love and am lucky enough to have married.

Amy Duck, may your road be straight, the wind at your back, and the Gin cold, strong and served with lemon...

If you never regret, but simply seek to learn, then you won't go far wrong.

Birthday blessings from The Pippins.


The Abolition of British Waterways

What to say?

The government have abolished British Waterways.

Just because the government have done this I am very tempted to say it is A Very Bad Thing.

But is it?

What will replace it?

What will their attitude be to us boaters?

Who will enforce the licences?

Are current licences still valid or will they have to be re-negotiated/paid again to whoever the hell is now in charge?

Are 'Dave' and his cronies now going to abolish The Cam Conservancy?

So many questions. So few answers.

The Mighty Pippin has resolved to keep heads down but crew closed-up to action stations, plenty of slow-match, and, of course, the trusty forrard six-pounders treble-shotted.

If nothing else, we'll make their eyes water!

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Evening of the Day....

I type this one-handed as Thomas Cat is firmly ensconced on a cushion on my lap.

My left hand supports His Majesty's head, so, lowly serf that I am, I'm loathe to move it.

Tom's fans please don't worry: I think this is an onset of "Feline Autumn-Cold-Related Cuddle Syndrome", nothing more serious......

(Well, he normally throws up when he's proper poorly, which gives a clue........)

I've just had a couple of nice beers after a hard day.

Yesterday, I was sent out from The Workshop to join the Mobile Hole-making Gang as they were very short staffed.

This normally fills me with a nameless dread, as some of the members of the Mobile Gang (exclusively male as it happens) take great delight in belittling us Workshop types and generally making us feel unwelcome and second class.

However, the reason for my being called upon was staff sickness, so, with a heavy heart, I trundled off to the peripatetic venue:( never leave your oppos in the proverbial- it will come back to bite you on the bottom.....).

The dreaded three were all absent!!!!

So I spent a lovely day with the good people of the Mobile Team making lots of holes in quick succession. It was fun, I enjoyed it, and the good folk were grateful for my presence as it did take the pressure off a bit.

So, a good day's work.

(Incidentally, if you are new to Pippin ramblings and are a bit confused, let me attempt to explain:

I work for an organisation that is very strictly governed by rules of client confidentiality. To blog 'En Clair' about what I do could be construed as a breach of that privacy.

I would then lose my job.

End Of.

So I have to refer to it in rather obfuscatory (when was the last time you saw that lovely word?) terms to avoid at least an Interview Without Coffee or at worst my P45......)

Anyway, other news:

Pippin is off to Ely this weekend to have her gearbox seals sorted.

I have also been attempting to re-vivify our battery bank, but the signs aren't good. We may have to replace the lot. Thats 12 x 110amp batteries. Eeek!!

Oh well, it's only money.......

We are looking at doing this plus upping our solar grid before 'Dave' Cameron's VAT increase kicks in.

While I'm on the subject, I used to be a Liberal Democrat.

Now the time-serving little twonks have got into bed with the very people who will give them and us the absolute shaft at the earliest given oppurtunity makes me feel sad, betrayed, and actually rather ill.

Clegg, you've done more damage to the Liberal Cause than ever Jeremy Thorpe did when he shot that rent boy's dog.

And Nick, my boy, you are going to know exactly how that feels: to be a rent boy, a dog, and shot....

First and last political blog-rant over.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

A quick bargain bog blog.......

Okay, okay, that's probably the naffest title for a post this year.

But hey, there's still three months to go!!

Anyway, to business, as it were......(oh blimey, how deeply mired in 'Carry On' style innuendo am I going to get? Good Grief!!)


Our friend Rhoda on wb Hullabaloo is selling her brand new never been out of its box composting toilet.

'Why?', you may well ask..

Well, Rhoda used to live on The Great Ouse. Sea toilets (and the liquid effluent from composting toilets for that matter) are de rigeur down there.

(I am bursting to deploy some devastating witticism featuring the expression 'Shit Creek' at this point, but shall refrain out of deference to my readers in Cheltenham, Bournemouth, Newbury and Tunbridge Wells......)

Sea toilets et al are prohibited on our stretch of The River Cam, (unless, of course, you are a Cambridge based disco boat, or, indeed, the operator of a hire cruiser fleet based in Ely. Allegedly.)

So poor Rhoda can't fit the composter without contravening The Conservancy bye-laws. Thus it must be sold.

It's currently on Apollo Duck in the chandlery section with lots of pictures of its' pristine and unsullied condition plus Rhoda's description etc. She can be contacted through Apollo Duck in the usual way if you are interested in availing yourself of a bargain.....

The First Law of Conversational Mechanics.....

I think it's a well known fact that when two or more boaters are gathered together, the conversation shall turn to either toilets, electrics, or both, within a given amount of time.

Now, my background in The Arts ill equips me for a serious attempt at a mathematical expression of this, but as is well known, that's never stopped me before, so here goes:

N = the number of boaters gathered together

T = time elapsed

Q = start of the conversation

X = the point in elapsed time when toilets/electrics/both become the sole topic of conversation

B.var. = the variable quantity of beer consumed

The equation is to show the observed shortening/lengthening of T between points Q to X in direct relation to the increase/decrease in the value of N

I throw in B.var. for good measure as it has been observed that:

T between points Q and X
decreases in inverse proportion to the increasing value of B.var

Come along then all you 'ologists, lets have a tidy little equation to wrap this up....

The prize is you get to have your name forever associated with it.

I'm now going for a lie down.......

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Attention All Shipping!

Well, everyone on the Cam, Great Ouse, Middle Level and Nene.

A well known Cambridge narrowboat called Roe of Ely has recently been sold.

("Roe of Ely" is not a typo, by the way, unless her signwriter didn't like flowers or couldn't do esses very well......)

Today, The Pippins helped her new owner, Charley, and her lovely mum through Bottisham Lock.

It was their first proper go at setting a lock, and, what with the newness to boating, Roe's seventy odd feet of length, and it blowing a hoolie from the east....well, they were in a bit of a pickle......

We soon got them through safely and sent them onward toward Ely (and eventually The GU and London).

I think the most important bit of advice I managed to impart was "Don't Worry!! It's Only Paint".

If any of you see 'Roe' and Charley on their travels down to London, please give her a wave, as she seemed jolly nice.

Actually, I remember only too well the steep gradient of the learning curve when we took over wb Pippin......... so along with waving, please add some help, encouragement, support, advice and kindness as needed.

We all had to start somewhere.........

Friday, 8 October 2010


Today I spoke to my old chum Martyn (used to be David...) Jones for the first time in over 22 years.


It was absolutely brilliant!

We talked for ages. Until my phone ran out of battery, to be precise.

I then rang him back and talked a whole lot more...

What his lovely wife Sian makes of it all is as yet unclear: (Yes , I spoke to her too. At length. Poor thing.....)

Just now, though, I sit writing this in the lovely warm saloon of The Mighty Pippin,
Jackie sipping a glass of rather nice wine on the comfy chair behind me, Thomas the cat outside persecuting mice (and annoyed with me for leaving him for too long bankside while I went to Cambridge to pump out......) and I think of old times, new times, and times yet to come.

Life can seem bad and horrible sometimes.

It is absolutely crucial to one's health and general welfare to treat such times, however long they seem to last, as the momentary abberations that they truly are.

A quick 'thankyou'.. Bill Rodgers for the info re:tempalias!

David has got in touch with me via this method so hopefully we'll be chatting soon, and without opening the floodgates on a veritable tidal wave of spam!

Actually, it's ironic that David caught up with me on the blogpost all about the perils of the internet.

That it is a powerful force for good is beyond doubt, but like all tools, it's benign or malign application depends solely on the mind behind the hands of the user.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Blast from the past!

Wow! I've just checked in to blogworld to see a message in the comments section of yesterday's post from my old friend and room mate from student days David Martyn Jones!!

How fabulous! The problem I now have is getting in touch with him without publishing personal details on this public forum.


Anyone out there got any bright ideas?

Meanwhile, David, if you're reading this, my old Bournemouth address is still works (if you still have it) as Mum and Dad haven't moved in the intervening 22 years since we last saw one another.

It's great to hear from you and I hope all is well. Please get in touch if you can or via the comments section if needs be!

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Email Spam Virus Warning

Most of us have email, so pay attention at the back, this is important.

There is a computer virus doing the rounds presently which I think is particularly sneaky.

I opened an email purporting to be from my sister the other day. It was an advert for the usual load of discount "Medicines" which is usually dumped firmly in the spam box by our security software.

In opening it, I may well have granted the spammers access to my own email address book. It's possible everyone on it will now be getting an email purporting to be from me but actually a similar advert with 'Trojan Horse' attachments.


I've emailed all my contacts to warn them. Hope I was in time......

The way to spot this is in the Subject Box of the incoming mail. If it is composed of apparently random letters and numbers, then its the virus.

Don't open it!!!

It might be worth us all keeping our eyes open for this for a while, as it's going to spread......