Friday, 10 March 2017

Well it's all been downhill since last I posted. Being a man, I never mention any ailments that might befall me, dire though they may be I would feign tell you about my bronchitis that

buggered me for a fortnight, kept me away from the boat for nearly a week, required medical intervention by way of antibiotics and much ministering by the gentle Pam, the Florence Nightingale of Tring Martial Arts.
I feel the worst of the fever has passed and solids are being taken and liquids of course and I thank those many friend who sent best wishes and scanned both the gates of moorings and the Lost in Action section of the Berkhamsted Gazette for news of my condition.

Because of the ague, which I haven't hardly mentioned, this posting is a bit lightweight, failing even to mention the leg infection which has thwarted the implementation of my busy fitness regime and also necessitated medical intervention and still does. I fear the ballet career may have been dealt its final cruel blow.

Hence not much in the way of pictures or news from the cut, nor adventures in foreign climes or days out in the Home Counties.
Of course I could fill a page about my bronchitis alone but we chaps don't bang on when we're crock. We march towards the sound of the cannon never bothering others with how ill we are, how we couldn't sleep at nights, how cold the doctor's stethoscope was although being English I did not flinch an inch.
My GP' surgery is  half way up a bloody great hill; I suspect sited there as a matter of  policy to reduce attendees and works on the basis that if you can get to the surgery then you didn't need us in the first place.
Anyway when I was being examined to establish the chronic degree of my bronchitis with which you may be aware I was recently afflicted the GP asked if I was getting breathless. "Coming up that hill I was wheezing like a church organ " I replied.
"That's quite a steep hill" he assured me.

"I know but I drove up"

Pausing only to dip the end of his stethoscope in the ice bucket he issued the necessary prescription and muttered something, probably in Latin, that sounded like "fuggin arfwit"

Anyway to other matters. I'm examining my loo provision. My current facility is a cassette loo and is getting a bit ancient with concomitant problems not dissimilar to those affecting your humble servant as tempus fugits. It seems to leak a bit usually at inconvenient times. Rough tough boaters will be shouting at the screen that repair kits are available and new seals can be installed (for the loo that is not your humble servant) but I can't be arsed for want of a better word. Anyway I'm thinking of reverting to the good old fashioned bucket'n'chuckit of the kind I first used when I started canal life.  (when I was on the Broads we had a sea toilet of a type with which I was recently reunited on my 70th Birthday treat on a barge in Maldon: demonstrated above by my lovely assistant, Kay)
A shadow of my former self

I was surprised at the cost of b'n'c thunderboxes albeit cheaper than the more sophisticated cassette and other types until I came across the baby pictured available from all good camping shops for under 25 quid. Why not? thought I.
Well it's arrived (2nd arse post?) looks ok but somehow lacks the solid look so important in anything one might sit on especially if it's full of whatever and one has no wish just to go through the motions. So being a tad on the heavy side I am keeping it for emergencies and continuing my search.

There. That was interesting wasn't it.

Two items of good news! Annie off Panther has undergone back surgery and is recovering apace and the Cow Roast Inn has started doing food again-7 days a week! By all accounts it's very good too so we hope that as the Cut livens up in the Spring the sound of happy boaters will soon fill the place once more. So many happy memories from that place-as we say in New Orleans" Les Bon Temps Rouler"-Let the good times roll. 


photo courtesy of Carol, Still Rockin
The major regret resulting from my infirmity was that I had to miss the gathering in Tring to celebrate the life of boater Les Biggs. It was , by all accounts, a good turn out and the stalwarts Mac and Carrie made it, so at least the moorings were represented.
There's a link here to the excellent blog of George and Carol on "Still Rockin" which does Les proud. Now there was a real man who dealt with illness with fortitude. Bon Voyage old mate.

Our thoughts remain with Jaq; may her trip back to the USA, the prospect of  Spring and the continued support of the Community of the Cut bring her solace. 

Until the next time mes amis......

Friday, 24 February 2017

My 70th celebrations have ended and I can relax with a cuppa (in a very fine thermos mug from neighbour Pat-thank you Pat)
My morning tea is very important to me as it is not until the first couple of sips have reached the still dormant core of my luscious form that the corpuscles start to move about and something approaching action takes place. It has to be Yorkshire tea. Nothing else.It has to be strong and it has to be savoured without interruption, distraction or any other activity. My first tea these days seems to last about 20 minutes which is strange in that there was a time in my life when 20 minutes was the time allowed to rise from the pit, wash, dress, grab some toast and be out the door. Sometimes,....ok often....I find the first cup does me so much good that I have to have a second though often I allow some of the surging energy resulting from the first tea to do something distracting other than stare at the cup. Sometimes,....ok often.....this means my second tea goes cold.
Not any more. Now I have my marvellous thermal mug my second cup stays hot and so in nearly an hour all I've done is consume two cups of tea. Bliss.

There are less constructive ways of spending your time. Or perhaps more destructive would be more accurate. Such as the bankers who put us in the financial mess in which we find ourselves. A bunch of crooks who defrauded millions and then got bailed out with my money. Yet for some reason that I forget the Labour Government got the blame and the the money that was made available to the banks  wasn't and still isn't available to sort out the essential services that are being completely dismantled by the current bunch of landed gentry who are behaving true to form. 

Why have I started banging on about this? 
Well, my mind was fully occupied by my first cuppa the other day when I heard a discussion on the radio about Lloyds Bank, in common with most, having issued an edict to staff about not drinking alcohol lunchtimes. One contributor said that in practice, the consumption of  midwork booze generally ceased over 20 years ago.
Now I don't know about you but as someone who regularly enjoyed a pint with his lunch and knew many others in all sorts of occupations who did too I don't recall the sort of balls-up of recent years  occurring when bankers, builders and bakers all went sur le piste at lunchtime. 
As I understand it Hitler was a teetotaller. Churchill wasn't. Nuff said.

 If Sir Fred Goodwin and chums had been too lethargic in the afternoon to work out who to shaft next we might not be treating granny on a bench in the corridor.

The only fault in my logic is the odious Nigel Garage although God knows what he'd do if he was sober all the time; UDI for Surrey I expect. Fair play to Nige though, at least they've discovered he is separated from his German missus and is shacked up with some French politician. The likes of the Sun and  Daily Fail of course didn't tell us this until after 23rd June. I wonder why. Now the Sun, the source of all truth, tells us that apart from the French interest Nige also has an English mistress just to maintain a balance I suppose.Anyway whilst it shows that Nige might not like being in Europe he does like being an internationalist when it comes to sharing his cocoa. I'm sure when he's living in America with his buddy Trumpet he'll have no qualms about finding a Mexican beauty with a ladder that wants to dip her tortilla .....I remember now Trump is TT as well. Fortunately Kim Yong Thingy looks like he has the odd tincture so nothing to worry about there then.

Whilst we are talking about foreigners I am very excited that the statistics on my blog reveal that there are now three Latvians following this nonsense. I was so pleased about this that I looked up to see where Latvia is. According to Wikithingy Latvia is a country on the Baltic Sea between Lithuania and Estonia. Its landscape is marked by wide beaches as well as dense, sprawling forests. It's capital is Riga and its currency is the euro.

Latvia does have navigable canals

  • Jugla Canal 
  • Karosta Canal 
  • Perkones Canal 
  • Riga Canal 
  • Fortress Cana

so maybe somewhere on, say,  the Karosta canal there is a seventy year old alcoholic with shattered dreams and gout induced arthritis who is searching the blogworld for a kindred spirit on some other waterway in a distant land but still part of the European community.  No chance.Vlad. 
I did a search on Latvian forenames and was intrigued by the 5th entry under boys - surely nobody calls their son SwedishBoy!

see link if you don't believe me

To matters of much greater import.

Pam has been making marmalade and has been making it very well. I offered to help but she declined-I guess it's what you'd regard as her preserve. boom boom.

Is it an operating theatre? No it's marmalade time.

After the marmalade is completed it's time to pack and head off to Kent where we are staying just outside Canterbury for the weekend.
We stayed in the village of Fordwich arriving latish on Friday night (getting out of London (Ealing) from where we had collected Florence was a slow process) not helped by a strange noise from my rear brakes.
We discovered the nearby Fordwich Arms served food till 9.30 so we slung the bags and baggage into our squat and enjoyed a very fine meal I opted for Cottage Pie and Pam had lamb cutlets. We were both very happy with our choices.

Snowdrops in Fordwich Churchyard
Down by the River Stour that runs alongside both Fordwich pubs

Next to the Fordwich Arms there is the Town Hall. Fordwich is the smallest town in Britain hence a hall that has a capacity for just 44

Our squat for the weekend-very nice

 Saturday morning and after a walk round the village we drove to Faversham to meet Caz, Philip and Florence and Ollie and Jessica for lunch at Posillipo's. It was a jolly gathering with much to celebrate (one expectant mother and one engagement-not the same people!) and an excellent pork tagliatelle with a mushroom sauce. Superb

Everybody was impressed by the size of the waiter's peppermill
After lunch Pam struts her stuff on the Faversham catwalk

On the Sunday morning Caz took Pam to the church where they are to be married in May-Caz and Philip that is not Caz and Pam-don't be silly

Top Totty off to Church

After that to Chilham where the Reception is to be held. We had Sunday Lunch in the George and Dragon and the checked out the Village Hall before returning to Fordwich via Faversham.It is a very fine hall, large, well kept, well equipped and not too far from where we will be staying for the wedding. Such fun,

To Canterbury on Monday for a flying visit, a quick glimpse of the cathedral and a coffee in Cafe Rouge before getting back on the M2 and heading for home with the car sounding like Hercules the horse had got loose in Steptoe's Yard every time I braked.

A good run back in time for putting the heat on the boat and a bus back to The Lamb where it was Quiz Night.
After our performance last time we were hopeful. Sadly last is where we came so more homework needed.

Whilst we are on depressing matters Fulham got stuffed by Spurs in the 5th Round of the Cup so that is 70 years of never seeing them win bugger all and the car cost just under 200 quid.

I am writing this by candlelight. Hurricane Doris has knocked the mains power out, it is tiddling down and the wind is swaying the boat most satisfactorily. I just returned from the Dentist-all sound thank you- and called in on Mum and Dad at Harrow Weald Cemetery. It was like anenactment of Danse Macabre with branches blowing around along with flowers from the graves, a couple of headstones looked like they'd been blown over as had most of the seating. Quite spooky. All I needed was Abel Magwitch to appear at my shoulder and my laundry bill would have soared.

I went to Sainsbury's in Stanmore after that. I lead such an exciting life. Stanmore was my old manor and on the way at Marsh Lane I passed what was a bit of wasteland   when I was a kid . It's now smartened up, fenced off and has a big sign saying Stanmore Marsh South. It had redundant air raid shelters there 60 years ago half heartedly shut off with bits of rusty corrugated iron sheets that were easily dealt with by the gangs of us kids that played unhindered and unchastened in the shelters for hours. I laughed out loud as I passed by wondering at the fuss such behaviour would cause nowadays.  On reaching Sainsbury's I was reminded of a time a few years back now when I overheard an elderly Jewish lady berating an assistant because they had no Kosher Hot Cross buns. She obviously failed to see the irony in such a request but I admired her persistence.
On the way out there was a girl of Middle Eastern appearance selling the Big Issue. I admired her spirit as Hurricane Doris was whipping round her stirring up bits of cardboard, shopping baskets and lighter pensioners while she, looking very cold, attempted to sell the Big Issue to a predominantly Jewish clientele. I'm sure they treated her kindly though I got a shock when she told me it was now £2. 50. I had committed myself by then and parted up reminding myself that it was only an accident of birth that I lived in a country where for under 50 quid I could have a check up,  clean up and a filling repaired not two hours previous; the price of 20 Big Issues.

As to life on board  there hasn't been such a need for lots of heating these last couple of weeks and the days are getting longer all of which makes life a bit easier and cheaper.
 I see we have our first fishermen fishing opposite despite notices to the contrary. No doubt this means a happy exchange of views with them pretending they don't speak English but in the meantime they are not getting very far as the swans and geese are taking an interest no doubt wondering why they aren't being fed.
 I have been training the swans to protect anywhere that anglers infest and it seems to be paying off with the geese-always handy in a punch up-for extra bonus.

Despite those pair of prats there is a Spring feeling after Hurricane Doris and whilst there can still be a sting in March's tail life is good.....and I figure I have enough coal, wood and diesel to see me through.
My highly trained SAS_Stop Angling Swans
I see the anglers are moving as the swans become more anxious about the absence of grub. Which way will they go. Ah heading North with the mercenaries in pursuit. Good riddance.

No joke to finish on today so you'll have to make do with this one liner..................................

Bye Bye or ardievas as we say in Latvia, SwedishBoy

Thursday, 2 February 2017

I found this in a pub toilet. The Magistrate said I must stop taking photos in toilets as it can lead to misunderstanding.

 It's a pub in Moorside, Oldham with one bar in 
Lancashire and another in Yorkshire. 
They don't have Happy Hour in either 
of them but it is only £2.90 for a pint of Landlord
All good things come to an end and so my birthday fortnight has run its course ending officially on 29th January. OK I know there aren't 16 days in a fortnight but what the hell.
After the jolly at the Akash (see last post) I was chuffed to join Pam and Natalie on Monday for lunch at Bill's in Berko for which Natalie kindly paid. It was very good lunch and it was good to see Nat happy with her recent triumph over the evil motor insurance bods.
On the Thursday I went to my sister's in Lancashire for a celebratory lunch with Tom and Moira and Valerie and Martin at the excellent Navigation Inn, Dobcross, adjacent to the Huddersfield Narrow Canal (

A fine lunch in good company which rendered me horizontal for the little that remained of the afternoon (the lunch that is, not the company)
Tom enjoys my birthday balloons...........and a small whisky

and another small whisky with his lunch

A faggot to start-different but very tasty

Tom has recently had cataract ops on his eyes (where else?!}  and after 50 years I now have to get used to him without glasses.....of the spectacle variety that is.

On the day of the lunch Tom and Moira had new reclining chairs delivered-just in time for a post lunch siesta; though Tom does look a bit like Stalin laid out for the proletariat to view.

Back to Hertfordshire on Saturday for a quiet weekend,,,,,,which culminated in a most enjoyable party at Pam's with Pat,Andrew,Matthew and Katy and Richard and Ally, all neighbours, and a few bottles of bubbles and nibbles. Very pleasant. I must have enjoyed it quite a bit because when Pam said on Monday that was the last leg of my birthday that was exactly how I felt in the morning-on my last legs. A sensible day beckoned and the celebrations officially closed.
Phew-great fun.

And then Pam got a call from Ollie in Sri Lanka to announce that he and Jessica were engaged. Just a small celebration then....hee hee.

Into February and the weather has warmed up and the rain has come down. A major delivery of diesel, coal and gas has wiped the best part of 200 quid off the account so I'm hoping that delivery will see me to the end of the winter. Calor gas has now gone up to £29 reflecting the world wide rise in oil prices. It did not of course go down below £27 last year thus not reflecting the world wide reduction in oil prices, The Fuel boats are a marvellous service to those along the cut working in all weathers to provide such an essential service. I ran it close this time as I was nearly out of gas and diesel because the fuel boats got trapped in the ice and delayed for nearly a fortnight. We had a rhyming exchange of texts which I publish below to show that if Jules ever gives up running the workboats there is a place for Canal Poet Laureate

I wrote:

If you crack the ice
That would be nice
And not pop a rivet
Would be trific
But if you've got some gas
Would be a blast
And 4 Homepride fuel
Really cool.
Plus a diesel tank filled
I would be thrilled


Jules replied:

We're stuck in the ice at Cook's wharf,
It's not where we wanted to be,
We'd rather be shifting our goods 
From the motor boat and the butty,
We'll bring you what you require 
As soon as the cut starts to flow,
So be spare with your gas & your fuel 
Until we can go Daddy go.

Splendid. Jules ought to call herself Coalridge

Life on the mooring continues to roll on despite being extremely soggy underfoot but the days are getting longer and Spring is not that far away, as the brave daffs here show.

I have a shed full of stuff left by nb June Rose when the mooring was vacated and June told me to help myself for our St George's Auction (22nd April). So now I have my shed(s) plus this one to sort but not before the rest of my mooring gets tidied. And that wont happen till it stops raining. Manana.
As I write the wind is blustering away and a proper storm is forecast so it might be the manana after manana.

Time to batten down the hatches and cook my curry. Until next time.....