Friday, 17 May 2019


Greetings! I trust you are well. 

As I write these pearls of idiocy the weather forecast is telling me that the splendid Spring weather we've been enjoying for the last ten days is to be interrupted by a colder, damper spell. As the last ten days have also  featured a knee of considerable pain which sadly was one of mine I am unimpressed.
Whilst acknowledging that my knee which has borne a greater burden than most knees is of small concern compared, say, to some of the other ailments that afflict people more deserving than I,unfortunately my acknowledgement thereof does not stop this self-pitying hypochondriac from looking at my long term list of things to do and weeping. Not uncontrollable sobbing just a gentle, frustrated blub. Number one on my list , waiting for the right weather, is scribbled "plaml blot". Second is "rebqd battrope". 
It is not Lithuanian or any language of a country with few vowels. It is my writing. Never my greatest skill. What the first two items on my lozt, sorry list, should say is Paint Boat and Rebuild bathroom. They've been on the list for a long while.
 The weather these last ten days has been perfect for the first and if I could have made headway with that then the second could be done during the Spring interruption. But for the last ten days I have lain/sat prone or hauling myself round the boat cursing loudly and ineffectively at the pain and the inability to make progress.
The knee is marginally better, thank you, but the painting won't happen now till the sun returns and other matters are seeking priority. The list remains virgo in tacto.

Talking of  bad knees my mate has been collecting the 
"Osteopathy Monthly Magazine" for 20 years. He says that
 he has a lot of back issues.
Whilst I'm in a bad mood next week sees the hideous waste of money that is the European Election. Now Theresa May has announced she's off fairly soon the Tories are lining up to see which of their stars will replace her.
So in both cases-the Euro Elections and the future Prime Minister of your country I submit the following picture. How sad.


Let's lighten the moment. returning to the question of who reads this blog I was pleased to see that on 8th May bringing up the rear was one reader from Egypt! You are welcome though why the ramblings of a one kneed old boater should be of interest. Mind you there is a canal in Egypt.

8th May

United Kingdom
United States
United Arab Emirates

15th May
United States
United Kingdom
United Arab Emirates

But the 15th May brought a real surprise! Top of the tree was Luxembourg
Ahead of the UK! Why are 71 Luxembourgers interested. We must be told. There are only  602,005, Luxembourgers altogether (the same when they are not all together I presume) so compared to other places it's quite a high ratio of blogreaders to non-blog readers. Did you know Luxembourg has the second-highest number of Nobel laureates per capita (33.880 laureates / 10 million people). Foreigners account for nearly half of Luxembourg's population; a bit like Dunstable really except the number of Laureates in Dunstable is lower. Much lower. 

Luxembourg's motto is here in four languages which are all spoken in the country.

"We want to remain what we are" 

Which to us probably seems a strange ideal for a founder member of the EU.
Yet they manage it very successfully. Perhaps they don't have the misfortune to have a lying amoral Boris in their midst.
I came across this picture taken at Cowroast. Judging by the clothes I would think 40s/50s but then clothes didn't change that much from the 20s till the 60s...well mine didn't anyway.

I often muse on the fact that when I started work (though some would doubt I ever did) at the age of 16 my dad took me to Burtons the Tailors to be measured for my first suit. It wasn't ready on the day I started (16th September,1963 since you ask) so I wore my school blazer with the badge removed. This did not appear unusual to me or anybody else. That was the extent of my wardrobe and that was that. How times have changed. Now 10 year olds strut as though on the catwalk with more clothes than would have been imagined by a child of the 50s. The gang above look a happy bunch without such luxuries though.

Something else that's changed in more recent times is the habit of waving. On the cut for most of my boating life (some 45 years since I first bought !) there has always existed the habit of acknowledging other boaters and gongoozlers with a wave of the hand or maybe just a nod or a smile. 
Nowadays-and it's not just me that's noticed it-many pass by staring resolutely ahead treating waving watchers like myself as though either we don't exist or are certifiably insane attention seekers uncomfortable in our own persona.(Ooops-might have given too much away there ) I know as you get older you apparently become more invisible-or is that less visible? who cares- but is it society generally or just the newer boaters don't get the point? I suspect the former but will carry out an in depth survey (no silly-not from the canal bottom) by resolutely waving at every passing boat and getting a response percentage. I shall report back next time if I haven't been locked up. I know you can hardly contain your excitement at such a survey.

These two both waved-but I know them anyway

An unusual sky over Roy's boat taken whilst he prepared an excellent salmon. peppers, sweetcorn with soy sauce all baked in a parcel.

 Bloody marvellous.....Roy always waves-even when he's on his own- in case there might be someone he hasn't seen who wishes to be his friend.So sad but a wonderful cook.

Fortunately these blokes didn't wave!

A bit of team lopping going on here-God knows where. Dunstable possibly....outside Wickes they have branches everywhere.
Here's a little known fact. I know it's little known because I just made it up. 8 out of 9 in Dunstable are mentally ill. Yes they're unstable-geddit.


Unfortunately to prove this requires you to do a handstand in front of your screen. Good luck.
I enjoyed the joke I heard the other night-"My Yoga teacher turned up drunk-Put me in an awkward position"

Late News!
The joint Devon and Cornwall music festival has been cancelled.
The organisers couldn't agree if The Jam or Cream should be on first.

Bye bye....and don't forget to wave.وداعا GIF - Bye Goodbye SeeYa GIFs

Thursday, 2 May 2019


I hope you all had a good Easter. I spent most of mine on the Mooring, Pam having gone to Espana on a walking holiday (a contradiction in terms if ever there was one).
I'd dropped Pam at Luton Airport on Maundy Thursday at 4.30 a.m.! They've changed the drop off arrangements there again and in the dark it took all my knowledge of Urdhu to sort out where to go. Three quid for the time it took to unload Pam, her case, a peck on the left cheek, wipe a tear from the other cheek (mine of course) and drive off. Thieving bastards.
I went for an hours kip in a chair before setting off to Elstree where a farewell lunch had been arranged by old friend Dave Harvey who is moving to Dorset from Stanmore where we were bred and buttered.
The lunch was at the Battleaxes Inn which as I hadn't visited for about 40 years I was unable to judge how much it had changed. As everything does change it's probably quite different being part of a chain which I'm sure it didn't used to be.

200 years of mateydom
In attendance apart from Dave and myself was Trev Adley with whom I used to play football in our street. (Then my dad bought me a ball which was a relief to Trev. Aren't the old jokes best?). Trev was accompanied by wife and carer, Terry and Dave's Minder, Andrea (known as Andy which can cause confusion) was making sure Dave remembered the correct use of cutlery; a skill not granted to many originating from Peckham.
It was a jolly occasion with much reminiscing and it occurred to me once again how blest I have been through my life to have friends that I've known for over 50 years some of whom I like. 
The meal was good although Trev's enquiry of the Latvian waitress as to what was the difference between the Lunchtime Special Fish and Chips and the Normal Menu Fish and Chips evoked the answer "Pollock". Nuff said. We didn't like to press the matter but it got us agiggling.

It was also good to meet for a celebration (albeit tinged with a slight regret at Dave going) rather than a funeral. Shame old Geoff couldn't be there. Hey ho.
One other good thing to come out of the lunch was an exchange of email addresses so now I can send them this blog and they'll wish it had been a funeral.

From Elstree to The Lamb in Berko which as reported last time is up and running again until August. I had intended an early post-Luton night but stayed on for the quiz which was a bit pop music and high speed for me but 10/10 for effort.
It's just good to have the place open again and to see some old friends in their proper places.

Good Friday and to church for the 3 0'clock service. The church was packed for what I regard as the most dramatic of services covering the Passion of Christ. I rarely get through it without piping my eye and this year was no exception. Particularly poignant was the exhortation at the end to leave in silence. So many people exiting on foot and by car and not a word uttered till beyond the church grounds. Plus we blocked the traffic in Berko High St.
Back on the mooring and neighbour Roy produced a paella for dinner of great quality. A fine end to a significant day.

On the Mooring, as everywhere, Spring continues to give pleasure with all the wildlife at it like knives. 
On my mooring there is a dustbin. In it I keep bbq coal and that was what I went looking for on Easter Saturday. The bin was covered by a round, light,steel plate. As I approached I could see the lid was offset allowing a gap of about three inches presumably shifted by the recent winds.
I thought that will have buggered the charcoal but on lifting the lid I got a big surprise. 5 or 6 little yellow beaks were pointed at me enquiring where their grub was. I replaced the lid as I'd found it and went and bought some more charcoal.
Over the next week I watched as mummy robin flew in and out feeding the offspring. Roy, who knows more about everything reckoned that as time progressed the feeding became less frequent thus encouraging the young to fledge.
My concern was that the young were about 6 inches from the top and as I understand it the first flight is normally by falling/launching from the nest. There is very little activity now some 10 days later but I don't want to look again for fear of disturbing. What to do. What to do. Oh the stress of parenthood.

I found this family trapped in the lock at Cow Roast with two boats waiting to enter. I did my David Attenborough and got them to shift the ducks out before entering . One cheerful sod said "Oh they'll be alright-there's plenty of them around at the moment" I hope if he reincarnates he comes back as a duckling.

Avid followers of this blog will both know that I usually make a bit of a fuss about St George's Day but this year as it came hard on Easter I decided not to have a "DO" . On Easter Monday, the day before, Roy, Ady and I celebrated with a roast dinner of lamb and beef with all the trimmings and suitable libation. The following day, 23rd I made a load of red rose buttonholes to sell at the Lamb on behalf of the hospice. Bit of a waste of time-it would make more sense not to bother and just send 20 quid to the hospice. Throughout the whole of Berko only the Lamb flew the Cross of St G and I'd bought that. The C of E announced that because of Easter officially the feast had been moved to 29th April this year but I still didn't see any flags flying.

The Easter also saw the formation and inaugural meeting of the Cowroast Naughty Boys Lawnmower Association. Ady acquired a secondhand mower and Roy and I chipped in for the cost. Here's our founder Ady, sporting his Red Rose after cutting the grass for Mac and Carrie in exchange for a donation to the hospice. More profitable than selling bloomin red roses to the mean sods of Berkhamsted.

On the subject of St G. I see the Labour Party managed (or should that be mismanaged?) to wish the nation a Happy St George's on Easter Monday, 22nd. What a disaster they are. Given the current climate they should be ahead in the polls and contemplating  forming the Government. Instead they've got themselves in a position where they are regarded as unable or unwilling to sort out the charge of anti-semitism, their leader is regarded as incapable of giving even the weakest of PMs a duffing up and their latest pronouncement on Brexit is so vague and woolly it has missed their only slim chance of attracting anyone not committed to leaving. And they can't even get the feast day of their Patron Saint right. Ye Gods. England My England.

Pam back from  Spain which went very well we had tickets for a concert at The Maltings, St Albans with the Gabriel Latchin Trio.
We first saw this jazz pianist at Ronnie Scotts in 2017 and have enjoyed his two cds since. It was an excellent evening;great music professionally delivered. Have a look at his site.

Next weekend (12th) sees the first anniversary of the wedding of Ollie and Jess which means it's also a year since I missed the wedding because of pneumonia. Bugger, Bugger, Bugger.

Anyway Congratulations to them and I hope their weekend goes well

Another reason to rejoice! I bought Independence in June 1997 as a project. Today, 2nd May, 2019,  I fitted kickboards to the base of the kitchen units. I can cross that job off a 22 year old list. What's the use of worrying it never was worthwhile.....oh pack up your troubles in your old etc......

I am taking deep breaths. I am girding up my loins. I am preparing for the worst, into the valley of Death. I am about to revisit the robins' bin. No activity all day. Or yesterday. Have they gone or have they tweeted their last chirrup? Here I go. Fingers crossed.
You see tomorrow is down on my list as the day I clear the moorings ready for a floral display non pareil + it's a bloody disgrace and desperately needs a tidy up....but I don't want to disturb the robins or worse, find a nest full of ex-robins.
Shut up Michael and get out there and have a look.

Yay!! All gone. Aint nature grand. So pleased and yet a hint of sadness. I hope they're ok....Oh blimey I've got Empty Nest Syndrome now. Still at least I've got my bin and charcoal back.

You never know-there ain't a lot of meat on a baby robin but I suppose they might  have made a meal for a passing predator or perhaps enough, say, for a paella.....Roy? You know I don't eat meat on a Good Friday! 

Pam took this picture whilst running one of her Health Walks along the canal at Berko. Now that baby would make a helluva paella. Whatever happened to Swan Vestas?

On to more mundane matters my ******** fridge had packed up. It's what is called a three-way fridge in that it can run on 240v, 12v or calor gas. Or rather it can't. Cos it's buggered. Even more unfortunately its buggerdom happened when the 2 day old kipper I was planning for my breakfast was in residence. It is now in the canal. The kipper I mean not the fridge. That might follow shortly if no improvement in its performance can be achieved. They are much more expensive to replace than conventional fridges but I might have to do just that. It owes me nothing. It was on board 22 years ago when I bought the boat and I nearly threw it out then but after a good clean up and severe talking to it has worked very well until today. Given it was on board and the boat was built in '83 it could be 38 years old which is pretty impressive. Sadly, however I am not impressed. It doesn't work, I'm skint and it smells, well, like an old kipper!

The May Bank Holiday is upon us and unlike Easter the forecast is for crappy weather. I've put the central heating back on and amended my comprehensive ToDo list to tackle mainly inside the fridge of course and the Boatman's cabin which needs a sort out to get rid of clothes that no longer fit (all of them) or are no longer considered fashionable. Old habits die hard but I always say you can take the man out of the Male Model but you can't take the Male Model out of the man. I know my days on the catwalk are probably over but one must maintain standards.

What's that Matron? Is that the time already? 
Oh well- goodnight everybody. Have a great weekend. Oh and "Pollock!"

Monday, 15 April 2019


Greetings Gentle People and welcome to this Brexit-free Blog.
The good news!!
Spring is here 
The Lamb PH has reopened and the rejoicing is uncontained. Oh hang on it just closed again-a plumbing crisis apparently (I know the problem) but the people running it seem to be doing  good job and it's great to see the old gang dribbling back in (Oooh Matron!) 
The current landlord, Corey, has kindly agreed to fly the flag on St George's Day and sell red rose buttonholes in aid of the Hospice so if you're passing....

STOP PRESS! It's open again. Yippee.

Talking of pubs

The poor old Cowroast Inn remains closed and looking very much the eyesore I predicted a year ago. The "For Sale" signs have come down and we await to hear its fate. Development? Indian Restaurant? Home for Unmarried Boaters? Who knows- but it won't serve as a pub anymore methinks. A tribute to the inadequacy of the capitalist system which allows organisations like Punch to ruin a community facility and then disappear. Disgrace.

Enough despair.
This photo was on FaceBook and was taken by a chap from BMW at Cowroast. I hope he doesn't mind me using it cos it's a great picture and if you screw your eyes up very tight you can see Independence
As I say, Spring is here.

I've even worked a few locks. Roy and his crew, Roger, were bringing Panther back from Watford after some remedial works so I set a few locks for them from Winkwell northwards-nothing too onerous but it's nice to be able to help the aged as they say........on the previous evening I drove to Winkwell to meet up with them . At some stage I collected half a Stop sign. Very strange. No idea why. Must ask Roger. Or Roy. Or Roy Rogers- another cowboy.

Talking of locks, Pam who runs the Health Walks in Berko has one organised in May as part of the Chiltern Walking Festival. This one is called "Unlock the Future" (Joseph's clever title) and apparently will include a talk by me on the history of the locks pictured here-Gas Two as they're known to boaters. Fortunately it's only a 5 minute talk which is a worry because that is twice as long as the limited knowledge I have will take to impart.
Pam enjoys her Mothers' Day gifts
Details of this and many other Festival Walks can be found here

Spring brings with it another annual joy. The MOT on Karen the Kia-bosh- 10 quid short of 600 sobs; about what the car is worth! Along with my speeding fine from Somerset and Avon rozzers and April has been a bugger- I did win £125 on a Hundred Club draw for the local primary school and another 70 on the horses but that i soon eaten up by a car that isn't allowed in London anymore because the powers that be advised us wrongly to buy diesel cars. As is usual the Ps that B are very adept at taking money off you but not so keen when they have mislead a whole nation with duff advice.

Not wishing to get all bitter and twisted about the speeding fine (Oh yes you do) but I see that Somerset & Avon Police are the biggest revenue stealers from speeding fines.Police in the area dealt with nearly 200,000 speeding offences in 2017/18 - 160 times as many offences as Wiltshire, which had the fewest offences at just 1,191.
A speed camera in Taunton has caught out more motorists than any other in Avon and Somerset.
Figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show the trigger-happy camera situated on the A358 at Henlade has been the most active.
Guess where I got done? Yup Sodding Henlade. I remember the name but not the camera but from the TBs' point of view this hen laid plentiful golden eggs........



Enough of my woes....

Easter is here and I hope you all have a pleasant and peaceful weekend-I'm thinking of wearing a name badge that says anyone mentioning the "B" word from Good Friday to Easter Monday will have to donate a quid to the Hospice.

Want one?



Don't forget it's St George's Day on Tuesday 23rd so wear your red rose and celebrate how lucky we are to have been born and bred in such a blest country.......apart from the speed camera in Henlade of course.


The Plan is to get some paint on Independence this Spring. The weather forecast for Easter and onwards is promising so it's time to dig out the old clothes (I have no others) and get scraping, sanding, priming, huffing and puffing. Of course before that I have to tidy the mooring and find all the decorating gear and before that I've got work to do inside the boat. Hmmmmm. This calls for a LIST. That'll take a couple of days. Maybe three....any volunteers? I'm bored already.

Peace on you all.

Pop-up shop, Faversham, Sat 20th April 2019

We are running a little pop-up shop outside our office in Faversham, Kent. Come down and see us for a chat, try on some helmets and get geared up for spring cycling. Here are the details:
Where: Outside the Alexander Centre in Faversham town centre.
When: Sat 20th April, 10am-2pm
Helmet fittings: Get your head measured and find a helmet that looks good and fits well. (We've got helmets for all the family, not just ladies)
Panniers & bags: We pride ourselves on having the best range of stylish panniers and bags. Come down and try before you buy. 
Coats & rainwear: Keep the wind and rain at bay and come and try some of our stylish and practical rainwear. 
Cycling gifts: From cycling soap to cycling pasta, we've got lots of fun gifts and trinkets. 
Grab a bargain: We'll be selling off some old stock with big, tasty discounts of up 50% off. 
Where's Faversham? If you are looking for a little Easter jaunt, Faversham is a very pretty market town near Whitstable in northeast Kent (1 hr from London) and could be just the ticket. My husband and I came to Faversham one Easter weekend and ended up moving here!
There's a great Saturday market and the rather-wonderful Easter Hat Parade is also on in the town that day. So get your bonnets on and come and see us. And check out Saxon Shore if you are pondering a move...
See you there!

COWROAST CHRONIC (le) Greetings! I trust you are well.  As I write these pearls of idiocy the weather forecast is telling me tha...