Tuesday, 24 April 2012

A meeting of the Parish Debating Society, or Tom Kitten meets Benjamin Bunny

This one's got an 18 certificate, so, children, look away now.

Tom Kitten, (or Thomas Cat, as he now wishes to be known), would seem to have had a meeting with a Mr B. Bunny.

That this happened, and that the meeting did not end at all well for the latter, was evidenced by my discovery of a severed rabbit's foot in the companionway when I got home tonight.

Then there was the small pile of guts in the bathroom......

Then China emerged from hiding with most of the rest of the late Mr Bunny in her mouth, which she kindly deposited on my pillow with a "See what I got for you, Daddy!!" look on her face.....

Too kind.

Anyway, the various body parts were given a decent and immediate sea-burial, although I was not, as is customary, able to put the last stitch through the nose as it was sewn into a canvas hammock with a cannon ball at it's feet.

There is a very simple reason for this.

The nose-half of the rabbit hasn't turned up yet.

It may do yet, though I have checked all the hidey-holes I can think of.

Including my boots and shoes........

My best hope is that the rest of Mr B. is now inside Thomas, who is looking distinctly mumchance.

Indeed, I'd almost go as far to say that he looks as if he's eaten something that that didn't agree with him.

That'll teach the local wildlife to get into a debate with our Thomas!

Monday, 23 April 2012

Tragedy strikes the River Cam community

Today the death was announced of Rebecca Chamberlin.

Rebecca was killed in a car crash at the weekend.

She was a leading light in the Clare College Boat Club.

I didn't know her, but good friends of mine do.

I therefore want to pause, reflect, and send a message of love, sympathy and condolence from all of us to her friends, family, loved ones, colleagues and fellow rowers.


Sunday, 22 April 2012

Updated blogger.....

.....is proving a pig to use!

Why, when something isn't broken, will some clueless numpty try to fix it?


Happy Days......

I worked yesterday (Saturday) at The Hole Making Shop.

I do roughly one Saturday in four now, getting an extra day off in the week in return.

It's normally fine, but yesterday was a bit manic. One of the recent intake of apprentices (now a newly qualified journeyman) was off sick with a tummy upset and some mis-rota-ing had an experienced hand down to work when she'd already done all her hours for the week.

So the team was two down at the start.

Now, you aren't actually allowed to run in The Hole Making Shop, (it would be like running with scissors, only much, much worse.....) but, by golly, I wasn't half walking fast for the first two sessions......

But it all went okay. Everyone pulled together really well and we had a pretty good day.

In the evening we cooked supper for a chum and had a lovely time. I drank a good deal of red wine and had an atrocious sneezing fit as a result, which reminded me it's Hay Fever time. (The extra histamines in wine can set me off). But no harm done.

Today we elected to go into Ely to pump out.We had thought to go into Cambridge, but a quick text to Amy Duck elicited the information that there was an important rowing event taking place between 10.00 and 15.00, so access to the upper Cam would be limited.

No problem, Ely it was, then.......

(Jackie did drive in by car first to ensure the pump-out was working. It's a long way to go to find it isn't!)

I took Pippin in. It was a lovely run. Cool, with the odd spot of rain, but lovely none-the-less. On the way back, I had a snooze while Jackie took the helm.

We got back through the lock and onto our mooring at The Parish just as the heavens opened and we had a proper downpour.

Perfect timing.

Happy Days!

Thursday, 19 April 2012

The Cambridge News.....and other rants......

Though not by me!



I'm too bleedin' knackered, mate...... (work having been more than ludicrously busy of late..)

No, The Illustrious Organ that serves these parts has carried a few articles over the last few days that have caught my eye, and, indeed, may catch your attention too....

The Conservators of the River Cam have thrown all budgetary restrictions aside, cast caution to the winds, lost any remaining credulity they may have had, and gone and bought their River Foreman a very expensive-looking bit of sonar equipment.


For the River Cam?



Now, like you, I didn't rate the chances of any Soviet-era Kilo Class submarines making a dash for these waters too highly.... the absence of sufficient air-draught for the conning tower (or 'sail' in US-speak) at Stretham being a major factor.....

However, the Conservators clearly know better than I, for they have invested a sizeable chunk of our licence fees in just such a sonar detection system.

Thank God!

We can now all sleep easily in our bunks, safe in the knowledge that Colin Sparkes, the River Foreman, is armed with the very latest in cutting-edge ASW kit to thwart the Red Menace!

Actually, the reason given in the paper is that it will make it much easier for him to identify objects such as bedsteads, shopping trolleys, bikes, motorbikes and God alone knows what other detritus has been pitched into the Cam, and having thus pin-pointed it with all the accuracy that geo-stationary satellite navigation systems can afford, he can, with laser like precision, remove said objects from the water with the crane attached to his working barge.

Of course, no-one likes to remind The Conservancy that this very work was effected yearly with nothing more complex than a collection of ropes and grappling hooks manned by volunteers from Camboaters, with n'ery a sonar ping in sight, or, indeed, ear-shot.

But then they went and pissed us all off royally with the ludicrous increase in licence fees, so none of us now feel obliged to assist with any future endeavours of this kind......

So the brainless numpties then go and blow a chunk of OUR hard-earned cash on some sonar for Colin to play with........

Oh well, it'll probably put back the plans for the new kitchen we are all paying for at the Conservancy House at Clayhithe by a few months, so all is not lost.....

Interestingly enough, the paper also carried a job advert for a Seasonal River Bailiff to help police the river.

Now, none of us have a problem with the current River Bailiff, who does an excellent job. I can only assume that the creation of this post is to supply someone in the Conservancy's son, daughter, cousin or uncle with some work experience/"job for the boys" for which we boaters will, of course, foot the bill.


Anyway, enough of The Conservancy and all that sink in them.

Let us consider a water-borne matter of truly global weight, import, pith and moment.


This is the name given by rowers to an aggressive swan.

Google it for the details.

All I have to say is this:

He's giving the rowers the bird!

No, seriously, he's a bit of a menace.

However, his presence and the attempts to have him and his brood re-homed have polarised opinion in Cambridge.

The rowers hate him, and lots of people who hate rowers love him.

I like all river life, like swans.

I also respect pond life, like rowers....

(Oh come on, James, only the amoeba-brained would try to turn an eight within 30 feet of Pippin's bow, cutting through the water at a stately, but potentially deadly, 4 mph?

Wouldn't they.......?

That altercation knackered our gearbox, by the way, though no rowers were harmed.....)

Seriously, I like rowers too, except possibly when they are endangering themselves near Pippin's bow (Sharp) or stern (Mincer), but even so I forgive them my grey hair.


We all must share the river, be we boater, rower, or highly pissed-off and hormonally charged large white aqautic avian.

Or a combination of all three.......

So relax, everyone.

Live and let live.....!

Monday, 9 April 2012

In which John seriously overdoes it and Jackie saves the day. Again.

We have both been working our socks of without remit over this 'holiday'.

For the first time ever, I have missed the presence of a son in his early twenties to help spread the load.

But I was way too slow off the mark in the fatherhood stakes, and even if I hadn't been, any child of mine would doubtless have been as idle, feckless, disinterested and generally useless as I was at that age.......

Anyway, the new Guidance Notes, (rulebook) for our mooring at The Parish led to a race for compliance over the Easter break.

We all had to get our sheds sorted so firewood from the no longer allowed pallet bunkers could be stored there.

Having worked my usual 37 1/2 hour week over four days at The Hole-Making Shop, I was tired before I started.

After three days solid of sawing, chopping, barrowing, bunker dismantling, countless trips to the tip, shed sorting, possession culling, and more trips to Emmaus dropping off the stuff that didn't make the cut, I was almost hysterical with fatigue.

Yesterday tea-time, my lovely Mum rang to wish us a Happy Easter and let me have a word with my sister and no. 2 neice, who were visiting.

I gabbled on about what a wretched time we were having for quite some time.....

(Did I mention that the flat decorating had been held in abeyance while I got the mooring rules compliance issues sorted, so I still have all that to look forward to, and that on Saturday afternoon, our water pump packed up. So we had no running water on board.)

Okay, so I didn't actually burst into tears, but it was close.......

It was Jackie, of course, who saved the day.

Yet again.

While I continued to reduce the size of The Stealth Woodpile and put up shelves in one of my two sheds, (the better to condense the contents of two into one, freeing the other up for bulk wood-storage duties), Jackie phoned Jones's Chandlery in St. Ives, established they were:
a) open
b) had a water pump
drove over there, purchased same, then fitted it with barely a pause.

Oh, and picked up 80 litres of red diesel while she was at it....

By five o'clock yesterday, we were both sitting down enjoying a cup of tea while quietly aching all over, when Mum rang.....

So sorry Mum, for wibbling hysterically, but it has been a rather busy Easter.....

Jackie had to go to work today, as she's editing a telly programme that needs her help. However, she told me in no uncertain terms to go back to sleep this morning. I woke up again at midday.........

I've spent the rest of the day in a bit of a daze, really, but have managed one more trip to the tip and had a little bit of a shop for groceries.

I have however, had a good chat with our landlord, who was horrified at the idea that I thought I had to re-home 20-odd tons of sycamore cordwood.

The Stealth Woodpile is fine by him, as it really is well camouflaged, and is unlikely to excite the interest of the brainless nimbys from the village who have been making trouble for him and us.

So that's a relief.

Not that my efforts were wasted, though.

I was very conscious that it might appear to my boater neighbours that there was one rule for them and quite another for me as regards firewood: an untenable position, I'm sure you'll agree.

No, the work done will help reduce the size of The Stealth Woodpile, making it stealthier yet, while I, like everyone else, have cleared a shed to make way for wood, as per Guidance Notes.

Early doors tonight, as I'm up and at 'em again making holes in stuff at 0700hrs tomorrow.

Happy Easter, everyone!

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

"Where have all the barrows gone?.....

....long time passing, where have all the barrows gone, long time ago........."

Yes, this April has bought a new and stricter set of rules to The Parish.

Our landlord is a a very reasonable and nice man.

However, problems with local nimbys have forced him to tighten-up existing mooring regs. and introduce a few more.

Only one barrow per boat, and to be kept inside a shed.....


I had four barrows.

(This may seem excessive to you, but would you, out of choice, put your grocery shopping in the same barrow as the one that ferrys the toilet cassette to the midden? Or the one that carries the firewood? Or the one that ferries the diesel cans?......)


I have culled the collection out of necessity, and now have the requisite solo barrow.

And it's in a shed.....

This may seem unremarkable, given that I have two sheds. (The bare minimum for a man of substance, I feel...)

However, both sheds were absolutely crammed solid, floor to ceiling with the sort of useful stuff that husbands instantly recognise as worthy to the point of being indispensable and wives see as a heap of utterly useless old tat.

An edit is being effected......

Actually, it's more of a Swingeing Thatcherite Cut, for which I am sure future generations will hold my name accursed.....

The bikes are all going.

The tool shed is likewise to be emptied.

All to make way for next winter's firewood, about 6 tonnes.

That leaves me with circa 14 tonnes to get rid of.....


Piece of cake...............