Archive | November, 2014

Answers to some Burning Questions…

28 Nov

Q.   How do you get our four-legged friends across dog-dirt alley in the rainy season without muddying up the car/boat?

A…   IMG_20141127_090038

Q.   Is this a new rare breed of pig – the Gloucester Old Stripe?


Q.   Where do narrowboats refuel?


Q.   And WTF is this?IMG_20141124_170818


On a postcard please or, this being the age of the internet, leave your best guess in the comments. Our panel of judges will reward highly anyone coming close.


27 Nov

Pronounced I-c-e-v-o-g-u-l and translates to Icebird for those non-Dutch speakers among us. It’s the original name of the little boat and not one that John feels he could live with. I think, he being a tropical flower, it’s the ice part he has trouble with.

Tradition/superstition has it that it’s OK to change a boat’s name when out of the water so, if he ever makes up his mind which name that might be, it won’t bring bad luck.

Remember when we waded on board in those early days of just having acquired the little boat… ?100_3100

Well amongst all the watery wetness, we found a handwritten letter from the first owner to the one before John…001

How lovely, what a find, and joins up a few dots. There were also some old photographs of her build, launch, test run and subsequent trips on the water. Shame about the missing engine room pic – would have answered a few questions. Water damaged and curly edged, we rescued these and stowed in a safe place – ie Hobo – until such a time that we (I) could be bothered to scan them on to the computer.

Having found that time yesterday afternoon (and shelled out on a new printer/copier/scanner to replace my old defunct one) I am now in a position to share these with you.

It’s quite something to have just these few pics – a little bit of her history.

This one shows the armature construction in April 1976, according to the back of the snap…IMG_20141126_0007

Sadly, many of the build shots were too damaged; hard to make out from the photo so wouldn’t scan so well I figured.

These show her being loaded for transport – November 1976 – to the river Kennet…IMG_20141126_0006

IMG_20141126_0005The hull, engine and cabin completed.

And her trial run on the Kennet…IMG_20141126_0002

Also November ’76. What a beauty and cutting along by the looks.

The sharp end is quite different now…IMG_20140530_133436

Much needed extra cabin space having been created by the previous owner. This makes the bow tiny from the outside – barely standing room – but does make a much more usable space inside…

As she is now…IMG_20141117_210515

A lovely space for the John. He’s gradually putting his stamp on it by adding a desk, restoring the little stove which works very nicely..IMG_20141126_180110And John’s hand-crafted chimney doing the business…

And will look the business too, once he adds the copper strips.

There’s many ideas/good intentions/plans/stuff still to do in the cosmetics department but all this has to take a back seat until the major things have been dealt with. Notably the engine and hull.

Much has gone on that can’t be seen: like pulling 12 and 240 volt wires through, connecting (after first unblocking) the fuel lines and painting the under-bed storage spaces white – and filling them with stuff. It makes such a difference when you are looking for something under there.

And of course, that perennial problem with boats, finding somewhere to put everything. Just his tools would fill an aircraft carrier. Twice over.

But it’s coming.

On this one, back in the day, the sailing mast is visible…IMG_20141126_0003

And here in use for a family trip on the river Kennett, summer 1977…IMG_20141126_0004

You’ll note that windows have been added by now.

Much of the work that John is gradually now doing is of the not very photogenic variety. As in the engine. He’s found a couple of snags – things sticking that shouldn’t stick and bits that should be bolted on that aren’t. He’s just discovered that it’s the fuel pumps that are jamming up the works, so they’ll be taken to bits now and inspected.

He’s very methodical and takes great pains, which is good, to ensure all is as it should be before he winds her up. Thus avoiding any calamities. Both dying to hear her going though and hoping that the Lister sounds good and is as bombproof as we think it is.

So, we have the proof that she floated and ran once upon a time. Lets just hope she will again. Soon.

At the End of the Day…

14 Nov

The end of this day…100_2389

Looked a whole lot better than the beginning.

A beginning that saw me – wellies on and hood up – squelching through the mud down at dog-dirt. In the rain. It was that wet sort of rain, falling steadily, just as I was off to my little early morning job. Nice.

I have no picture of this morning. Not inspired to capture this particular element as I was being attacked by it. And it was before 07.30 and I’m really not at my best then.

To make up for that, here is another shot of last light tonight. Ever so slightly different view…100_2390

From my front door.

Nothing more than that really. Just wanted to share the moment.

Prrofreeding Fale

12 Nov

I didn’t pass…006


After reading this from – an interesting and philosophical blog…

Why do we find it so difficult to share our dark and dirty selves online? Do we openly express our happiness via social media to seek the approval of others? Perhaps the most damaging part is that by only recording and sharing the splendid moments in our lives, we lose track of who we really are? 100 happy days isn’t enough to outweigh the other 265-ish days in the year.

I decided to share this un-splendid moment in my life with you, so as not to lose track of who I really am. (And not seeking sympathy in any way, shape or form. Honest.)

I didn’t miss the grade by much but, lets face it, enough for a fail. Seems a bit harsh to me and is very subjective in my totally unbiased (ahem…) view.

So this is how It works. They break it down into four categories:

  1.  Attention to detail
  2.  Spelling, punctuation and grammar
  3.  Technical ability
  4.  Level of intervention

They passed me on 2 & 3 but saw fit not to on 1 & 4. At least my dear old English teacher, Miss Riches, would be proud – re no. 2.

And I can learn symbols – re no. 3. (I can also look them up in the manuals provided.)  Piece of pi cake.

In failing me on point no. 1, they infer that my level of concentration isn’t what it should be and say as much in their handwritten comments – which were, by the way, almost illegible.

Just as well I can concentrate then, or I wouldn’t have been able to read them.

You have no idea how I pored over that assessment piece. And that’s probably where I went wrong – over-thinking. I do have a propensity for this and it really doesn’t do me any favours. Indeed, the less I think the better I become.

As regards point 4: On the course, a lot of time  is spent emphasising that the proofreader shouldn’t intervene/alter the style of the author. They say that in the real world, by the time you get the typescript it will already have been edited and therefore any major boo-boos/glaring anomalies will have been put right. So leave it alone. Yet some of the mistakes I did (correctly) adjust were so basic – the editor would have to be shot for missing them.

They also, at the same time, stress that the proofreader is the final safety net, as it were, and must correct style inconsistencies, as well as the grammatical errors/typos etc. So it’s a judgement call really; one that I called badly it seems.

Oh how I agonised over some points. Shall I? Shan’t I? In the end I did – and obviously shouldn’t have. Heads they win, tails I lose.

This may sound like sour grapes. It is. Actually.

After a self-imposed cooling off period, I emailed to ask, politely, if I could re-take this assessment. Why of course, they reply, that’ll be another £45 please. Kerching!

A couple of my friends have wondered (when I shamelessly sobbed on their shoulder) if this was standard practice. Call me a cynic but I wonder too.

So, what next?

Despite all that I’ve said, I am very much enjoying this course and learning lots, so I shall soldier on bravely with the copy-editing part of the course…004

See how I fare with that. It might be that I’m better suited to this – a less anal, more creative occupation – or not.

Whilst it would be ever so handy to have that certificate of competence that they hand out to those they deem so (not me evidently) to present to prospective employers, I shall do without. Thank you very much.

I will make do with liberal outpourings of bullshit charm and totally busk it market myself furiously when the time comes and if I decide to go the proofreading route.

Maybe, just maybe, this new-found knowledge and insight into the publishing world will make me a better writer. But, if all else fails, I shall have to come up with something else I (think) I can do (that makes money) in the jim-jams.


You may leave suggestions in the comments if you must. No smut.

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Remember Remember…

5 Nov

The fifth of November

Gunpowder treason and plot

I see no reason why gunpowder treason

Should ever be forgot.guy-fawkes-gunpowder-plot-1605

I think his idea was pretty sound, given the state that our parliament is in these days. Even though he failed big-time, he did leave a glorious legacy that lights up the sky this time of year – usually for a couple of weeks before and after the 5th November. And any other time there’s the slightest excuse for making big bangs and crackling sky sights that get us oohing and aahing.

Come to think of it, I usually get my big fireworks fix in August. Have a look at this to save me the bother get the idea. It’s a marvellous event, trust me.

No plans to head out to any displays tonight though – no need. I have as much action as I need in that department that can be seen without leaving the boat. I’m guessing it comes from ‘Arlow.

That’s Harlow in Essex, in case you were wondering, a very special place just down the road from here, where good drivers, good taste and good boatbirds like me fear to tread. And a world away from here – Hertfordshire – albeit separated by only a couple of miles in reality.

I must brave it one day, with the camera to capture some of the sights, and do a proper post on the subject. I promise you’ll laugh like a drain like it.

Anyhow,  I’m getting ready for winter…


This’ll do for starters.

I get 3/4 days from a bag of coal so this lot should last me around two months – longer if I burn wood, which I will when I have it. And my stove will be going 24/7 mostly and keep me and Hobo’s resident creepy-crawlies sweltering and the paint on the outside blistering properly warm and cosy. I choose Excel over Pure Heat as it makes a lot less ash but the same price so I think a no-brainer.

The 47kg gas (for hot water and cooking) should be good for 3/4 months, at my current consumption of 13kg to a month (ish), so that should take care of the worst of the winter… if I’ve got the sums right.

It looks a bit pikey site needs a little tidying up but as my kind neighbours (Bill and Bill) hauled this lot from where the coalman left it (the other side of dog dirt alley) I can hardly complain about the neatness/whereabouts of their stacking.

No, I’m a lucky old boatbird and duly grateful.

So winter approaches, although maybe someone should tell that to the moorhen (not so) young. They clearly think they are surfer dudes…001

I wonder what this season has to offer. My money is on a cold one – we could certainly do without all the rain we had last year – though right now I hear it hammering on the roof and see it cascading down the windows. Of course outside – Hobo doesn’t do condensation!

Guess the shopping can wait a while…

Happy Bonfire Night people. Have fun. Stay safe.bonfire