Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Manual Handling.

I have been up in Birmingham for a few days on a "Manual Handling, Training the Trainer" course.

It's been quite interesting.

The presentation part of it held no terrors for me as that's sort of what I used to do.

But the bio-mechanics of lifting and moving heavy stuff.......Hmmmmm.

It set me thinking about the kind of lifting and shifting that most boaters do on a very regular if not daily basis.

Gas bottles.

25kg sacks of coal.

Indeterminate loads of firewood.

Bags of laundry.

Large loads of shopping, bottles of drinking water etc.

All very high up in the risk assessment index.......

Now, in previous posts, and comments on the posts of others, the well meaning tumble of advice I have given has annoyed some bloggers.

I was, of course, mortified.

It has left me wary of further offerings.

However, if any one is interested in sharing what I've learned about how to avoid getting injured while doing the heavy work, then please leave a comment.

I could then either email you some info direct or put it on another post if that's easier.

I'm not being entirely selfless, by the way. The exercise will help me revise for the exam on Tuesday!

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Sailing into the sunset..........

Says it all..........


Yes, now the nation is gripped with Royal Wedding Fever, it seems impossible not to be drawn into the vortex of speculation surrounding it.

First, the location:

St Paul's - too many sad associations of That Other Royal Wedding......

Westminster Abbey - really sad associations of That Royal Funeral......

So why not Canterbury Cathedral?

- epicentre of The Faith that William will one day pledge to defend.

- big enough for quite a few guests

- out of London, so a nice change.

-lots of oppurtunity for people to line the route and cast flowers in the way they did for Diana, only happy this time......

Or, of course, they could go by cab to Westminster Registry Office, have assembled friends and family hum the famous air from Lohengrin as the bride enters, then cab it to The French House Restaurant above the pub in Dean Street, have lunch, then in the evening, a blessing followed by a huge party in the church hall of St. Anne's, Soho.

Well, it worked for us...........

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Fine days, wet cats..... incredible people

Thomas Cat fell in again this morning.

The first I knew of it was when the soggy one jumped on the bed and dripped on me.

I tried to towel him off a bit but he was having none of it, so I lit the fire to warm things up and left him to it.

He's now fully washed and dried out and off out a-mooching again.

The weather is fine today, and I should really stir my stumps and do stuff.

If you've found this post a bit dull, I'm not surprised, really, but at least visiting Pippin's blog gives you a link to Rhian and Andy's 'Smiling Footprints' blog.

A beautifully written post by an extraordinary woman having a A Really Big Adventure.

So read it!

Thursday, 11 November 2010


11 o'clock on the eleventh day of the eleventh month.

I was at home on Pippin as the tolling of Big Ben heard over the wireless marked the beginning of the two minutes silence.

I am not a Warrior, nor am I warlike. I have never worn uniform or served my country.

But every November 11th, I try to stop, and think of those that did and those that do.

The brave, the fallen, those with no known grave......

And those who I know I would have been like: those that died afraid, and wanting their Mum.

I try to stop at The Silence, just to give them my thoughts for a little space: my gratitude, my thanks.

It didn't happen today, though.

Just as Big Ben was chiming the last few tolls of eleven, a neighbour knocked on the boat with some small matters of business that I could help with. Our conversation lasted almost exactly the duration of the silence, and then he was gone.

I suppose I could have told him to shush.

Should have done, perhaps.

But I didn't.

I felt it would have been rude. A bit like banging on about one's own version of faith to someone who holds very different opinions and values..

Perhaps I was wrong, but maybe choosing not to honour the sacrifice made by the dead of our land in the defence of our freedom is, in some way, part of the freedom for which they died.

So long as it is not, simply, 'forgetting'.

That will never do.

They shall not grow old.

I shall not forget.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Sense Memory.....

We have the wireless on at The Hole-Making Shop. It is normally tuned to The Light Programme, aka Radio 2.

Today I had one of Proust's "À la recherche du temps perdu" moments, thanks to Steve Wright in the Afternoon's 'Non-stop Oldies' spot.

It was absolutely spine-tingling.

All the power of the trace of a loved-one's remembered scent on an old letter or book.....

Grandad Coles's Old Spice aftershave.....

Nana Witts's mothballs and paraffin heater in the sitting room....

Or the infinitely less comforting reminder of first days at school: floor polish, orange peel, boiled cabbage and wee wee.....

So what was the song that did it for me?

You'll probably be surprised, and, no doubt, deeply disappointed.

It was "Four Non Blondes" with "What's Going On".....

Still makes the short hairs stand up on the back of my neck.

That'll be Linda Perry's amazing vocal, then.

Those totally unpredictable yet gorgeous intervals take me right back to 1995, when I first heard the track.

If you have no idea what I'm on about, download it.

Meanwhile, I'm off to sit outside a Parisian Cafe with a coffee and some biscuits.

I may be some time.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Maggot-danglers Anonymous......

A couple of mornings ago, there was an unscheduled meeting of the aforesaid group on the stern-deck of a neighbouring boat, nb Innocenti.

Andreas, (who is renting Innocenti from Mike P-J while he is in the Antarctic), was woken up very early by the sounds of scuffling and general commotion aft.

(We moor up miles away from anywhere, but we do have a public footpath running through the middle of the land to which we all moor.)

Andreas expected the worst: Dawn-Raiding Thievery!

He hastily donned some long-johns and opened the hatch with all due expedition to defend life, limb and property fom the nefarious intentions of early rising ne'er-do-wells.

He was confronted by a large, mostly harmless looking, monoglot Pole, who indicated Andreas's bike, securely chained to Innocenti's cruiser deck.

Now, this could have led to a tragic misunderstanding, but for the fact that Andreas followed his uninvited guest's gaze and pointing finger to see another visitor, on the other side of the river, holding a fishing rod......which was firmly attached to the aforementioned bike by a river's width's worth of 12lb line.....

The chap was simply trying to extricate his mate's line and spinner fom the bike's spokes.


It was often said of me, in the days when I thesped, but that bit of miscasting takes the ship's biscuit.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Hello Mick, Mags and Poppy!

Thanks very much for the comment on the battery blogpost!

Sorry I can't leave a comment in return: Blogger won't let me, even on my friends The Lucky Ducks' blog......

Unfortunately, we aren't able to make use of the info this time round as we've replaced the twelve 'duffers' with six new 'uns plus a starter battery.

I think the Epsom salts idea is a bit on the fanciful side, but the other plan may well have legs...

Our neighbours (who are a bit cash-strapped due to a new baby) have three of our old ones, so I may prevail on them to follow the advice and attempt to rejuvenate them.

I, however, shall watch.

From a safe distance.

King's Lynn, perhaps......

Seriously, thanks again for the info, and for reading the rubbish I write.

You deserve a medal!

(Here, here, here, here, here, here, here, says most of blog-world.

Anyway, thanks again,


Sunday, 7 November 2010

Lazy Sunday.....

Today, despite the unseasonable fair weather, nothing could persuade the Pippins to stir from their bunks much before 11.00.

We listened to the wireless, read papers, and didn't attempt to further knacker ourselves painting nb Caboodle.

Life is too short.

At about midday, we surfaced: Jackie headed off to the market to do the big shop. I hung around Pippin to replenish the wood supply from the wood pile and attend to a couple of little maintenance jobs.

I fetched and reduced two wheelbarrowfuls of wood to stove size, then opened the stern deck covers to fill the stern gland greaser with Morris's K99 Waterproof Grease. (We experimented with other, cheaper, grease some time ago: a mistake. Stick with Morris's. It is what it says on the tin......)

I then removed the weed hatch for my annual poke about (canal based boaters may be horrified by this interval: in fact, on a river like the Cam, the amount of rubbish likely to wrap itself round one's prop is much less: the river is a living thing, not a man-made construct, so people are perhaps a little more circumspect about what they chuck in it...though the results of various Cam Clean-ups suggest that 'a little more circumspect' is a highly relative term!!)

Anyway, After removing a goodly length of blue rope that had wrapped itself in a lovers embrace around the prop, I replaced the weed hatch with a proper-job dollop of shower and bathroom sealant all round the edge. Hopefully this will stop the leak from the weedhatch which has been an annoyance for some time.

If it doesn't work, no matter, I shall just replace the rubbers and use a stronger sealant. If anyone out there has experience of this problem and wishes to share any ideas, please do! That would be great.

Wb Hullabaloo's engine thumped into robust and newly seviced life this evening as Rhoda finished the work the wrong filters had held up. Well done Jackie for sharing her RCR notes and lending a helping hand. I kept well away. I only really know about paint......

Andreas is now renting Mike P-J's boat while the latter is enjoying an Antarctic Summer Sojourn under canvas at an outpost of The British Antarctic Survey.

(Sounds effing cold to me......)

Andreas is very happy to be back on the Parish and living on a boat again.

I picked up a copy of 'Towpath' as I went through Bait's Bight Lock on Wednesday. I gave it to Andreas as there's a chance he may be able to buy another boat of his own when the sad ritual of splitting up is finally finished.

We have just bid goodnight to Pam and Trevor, who popped round for supper.

At work at 0700 tomorrow.


Saturday, 6 November 2010

Busy Saturday.......

Today, we got going early-ish on the remaining work to do on nb Caboodle.

Jackie took the forrard well-deck area which she duly attacked with one angle grinder, while I merrily rubbed paint off the treadplate of the stern deck with a knotty wire brush in the other.

As with all these things, it never takes long to type.....

We finished painting the primer on as the last rays of sunset disappeared.

Tonight, spaghetti and meatballs, some red wine and a dvd on the computer.

We're both jolly tired.

Friday, 5 November 2010

Old batteries still have some zap!

This will not be news to experienced boaters who are advised to look away now.....

There was money to be had in the old, knackered, never to go again batteries that we pulled out of Pippin's engine room.

The twelve of them tipped the scrapyard scales at a hefty 160-odd kilos.

We pocketed £53-00 for the priviledge of divesting ourselves of all that dead weight.

We had thought to take them to the tip before Jackie very sensibly looked into the metals recycling option.

Worth a thought if you've got some old batteries to dispose of and a car to make the trip to the yard in.......

Though I don't doubt most of you were well ahead of me on this.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Boater's Serenity Prayer.........

Today, I took Pippin into Cambridge to pump out.

Jackie stayed on the mooring to fix Rhoda's engine (the new filters had arrived) and continue paintwork on nb Caboodle.

So I was Cambridge-bound.


You just know this isn't going to end well, don't you.....

Actually, the rationale behind choosing Cambridge over Ely as the pump-out destination of choice was perfectly sound: limited hours of daylight, not wanting to leave Jackie homeless and bankside while I chugged back from Ely, and the hope that the university rowers might possibly have some lectures to attend/homework to do etc etc.

And so it was that I chugged in this morning, breezing Baits Bight Lock, which stood for me, and passing but one or two training tubs in the whole trip.

I pumped out at Cambridge with surprising ease, given the handle on the pump-out hose has been broken off and the whole thing is held together with duct tape and goodwill.

Also, having three-quarter filled the tank with rinse water, even the coin-slot jamming did not perturb me: I pushed my £1 coin through the slot with the edge of a handy 10p.

So the rise-out went okay.........

No, it was on the return trip that it all went pear-shaped:

As I chugged out of Cambridge, past the Commons, I lost count of the number of eights, fours, sculls etc being put in the water and then overtaking me.

It was the angler at the footbridge that did it:

"Why are you so close" he said indignantly to me as half the membership of CUBC rowed passed me.

'WHAT!' I said, 'Why do you think!!!!!!?'

He then said something rude, to which I responded by inviting him to go and dangle his maggots in somebody else's ditch.

Thus it was that, thoroughly adrenalised, I took The Mighty Pippin up on tip-toes to allow the rowing fleet to pass.

I caught up with them at The A14 over-bridge. Here, a priceless ginger wing-nut on a bike tried to hail me.

He utterly failed to make himself heard over the sound of the traffic roaring across the bridge, although the W.I. could have made jam with all the plumminess.....

I made out some vague exhortation to 'be careful'.

Good Grief.

Like I was about to be anything else?

Anyway, I got Pippin past the assembled throng of Cambridge's Finest and into the lock and onward to The Parish without further incident.

(However, my money is definitely on The Other Place in next year's race.....)

And so, Brothers and Sisters, now John has shared with the meeting, let us close with The Boater's Serenity Prayer:


Please grant me

The Grace

to accept the things that I cannot change,

The Strength

to change the things that I can change,

And the Wisdom

to properly weight the corpses of those I had to drown because they pissed me off."

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

The Hole Making Shop.

Athena, friend of the Lucky Duck's, dropped by the workshop today.

We made a small accurate hole in the material she presented us with, extracted the material therein and sent her on her way rejoicing.

I'm glad to say all was well.


Next time James and Amy come to supper, Athena and chums must come too!