Wednesday, April 30, 2008

No News

Bones has no news. However, I thought you all might like to know that I am about to go and have a delicious warm power shower in our huge shower room at work. I often marvel at shower rooms, not least because I can fit a double bed AND a kitchen, and possibly an engine in ours. I will celebrate the occasion in style and brush my hair.

On another note, I am rather fed up with Girl trousers. Where on earth am I meant to put my keys????!!! Pockets seem to have failed to find their way into the design of mine.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Weekend Cruising

I had the lovely company of Martin and Anne over the weekend, and really enjoyed having them onboard when I took the boat out on Saturday. They were both rather good with the fishing net - or rather Martin was good at Hanging Anne over the side! I am now the proud owner of 2 tennis balls and another heron!

I am especially pleased with the heron. I have a few bits from the last one, but not all of it, so I am delighted to have the opportunity to re-try.

It was also a time for seeing people I knew. At Wolvercote lock I bumped into Phil and his mum, and offered them a lift back to the city which they accepted much to my delight. And passing the meadow I waved at Grahoom on his boat.

I am facinated by the sinking hulks that appear on the waterways, and I was struck how some make me feel weak at the knees, as if my soul is being swallowed up into the depths of dispair, and it is all I can do to get them out of sight.

Yet others seem romantic, poetic and enchanting as they rest there holding mysteries from the past and present.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

A legend dies

Humphrey Lyttelton dies at 86

Friday, April 25, 2008

Day in the life of a surveyor

Lock boy is clearly missing life on the water! I had this email, and enjoyed it so much I asked for permission to post it here....

Oh, I think I forgot to mention. I surveyed a river the other day. Only a small river at that point, barely six foot wide and a foot deep. We needed to get across and survey the other bank too, so I decided I would jump across. The chap who owns the site offered to drive me round to the other side in his land rover, but my new climate conscious mind refused to countenance that, besides I could jump that easily.

It has a certain element of Greek tragedy already, doesn't it?

So I check the bed of the river... firm. I found a likely spot to jump, not too wide and then made a decision. Jumping all the way from top of bank to top of bank was possible, but most likely I would land in an undignified manner and pull a muscle and God know what, so I would jump onto the sand bar below it, much easier jump, and climb out with poise and dignity.
So a two step run up and a majestic launch in to the air ensued, and all was going well.

Then I landed.

At this point thing rapidly started to go wrong.

It took me a few nano seconds to come to terms with what was happening, which was this... My wellies, instead on making firm boot prints on the sand bar, sank about 18 inches into the porridge like mud, which was a surprise. The angle I had elected to land at meant that my legs were now stuck in the mud at about 15 degrees from the vertical... the wrong 15 degrees. I made a brief effort to stand up but had to give up on the idea rather rapidly and sat down instead. The water was lovely.

It took a couple of minutes to extricate my feet and wellies from the mud, during which I was able to contemplate how lucky it was that I had decided not to show off jumping to the top of the bank, but rather to maintain my dignity.

Bones is not a pack horse

I have just been into the dreary spires to do some food shopping for my friends who are visiting this weekend. I spent ages choosing some meat and cheese. I crammed the delicious samples into my rucksack along with my books, wine glasses etc, and started heading back to work. As I got to the lift I really felt for the horses and donkeys of this world. They spend their lives carrying much heavier things - I suppose their ergonomics are better equipped for such activities, and walking on all fours may help, but even so!

Because I am an idiot I forgot to buy vegetables. That is what happens when you get distracted by the cheese counter. I wouldn't have been able to carry them anyway.

Current Book

Bones has new glasses and I am now reading for leisure again. Wonderful!

Currently I am reading this:

and love it!

Here is the blurb about it from the publishers website:
Set in Kenya in the late 1990s, Mzungu follows the experiences of Griff, a young, naïve farmers’ son from west Wales, as he settles in to a teaching job in a failing school in Nairobi.

Making friends with members o the ex-pat and local community, he witnesses the joys and heartbreak, the laugher, love and discovery, the adventure, disappointment and suffering with people of all backgrounds, as he experiences life as he had never imagined it before.

Griff watches how the El Nino floods, slum clearances, street justice and corruption affect the Kenyan people. The poverty is overwhelming, and the contrast between rich and poor is startling, yet the dignity and determination of the average Kenyan move Griff beyond measure.

Jim Bowen was born in Swansea in 1967. He has been interested in writing since his childhood, and his skills have leant themselves to song writing, poetry and short stories – although he has remained unpublished until now. Jim lives and works on his family’s organic farm in Abercych, north Pembrokeshire, with his wife and parents. Together they run a holiday centre there for people with special needs. Just Another Mzungu Passing Through developed out of Jim’s own experiences of spending two years working in Kenya for the VSO as the Nairobi Provincial Cricket Association’s development officer from 1996-98.

ISBN 9781905762330

Thursday, April 24, 2008

It is tough at the top

In Oxford, when we matriculate, we are told by the Vice Chancellor we are the cream of the cream of the academic world. I think we can safely say he didn’t realise I was part of the ceremony...

For some time now I have been getting headaches, tired eyes, feel dizzy, a bit sick, and struggle with my concentration. In a fit of peak, after a moment of inspiration, I decided to go to the Opticians to get my eyes tested. You will be unsurprised to hear that I now wear reading glasses. I am long sighted, and can’t see anything within a meter of my eyes. No wonder I couldn’t concentrate at work, I couldn’t see anything!!!

Wearing reading glasses has transformed my life, I can see everything beautifully, the words don’t wiggle around the page, and I don’t fall asleep anymore. A whole new world has opened up before me, and I am delighted. Reading is so easy it is as though someone is reading to me. Lovely.

It has taken me four months ladies and gentlemen to realise I need glasses. I wonder what the Vice Chancellor would have to say about that.

Maffi starts a new hobby

Yesterday morning Dusty was filling up Milly M with diesel when a woman failed to pick up after her dog. Dusty had a thing or two to say to her, but missed the bit where she said that picking up after ones dog is a bit controversial. I think she missed Maffi suggesting that there was nothing controversial about a 1000pound fine. (Actually it is 50pounds, but on prosecution it is 1000pounds).

So, there I was last night enjoying the company of the captain Milly M, when he started leaping up and down and chuntering to himself. After much ignoring of this strange behaviour I decided, out of interest for his well being, I should investigate further. After pretending to read for a while I heard ‘clear up’, ‘good girl’ and ‘nope, not done anything’ and ‘ooh, erm…. Nope’ then ‘bet she puts it in a tree’ then ‘nope’, followed by ‘that’s surprising’. Periodically during the evening he would leap up onto the front deck, and then make a hasty retreat, only to continue the process again.

It would appear that the mornings encounter lit a flame in Maffis heart for the inspection of the canine derrière. He has taken it upon himself to police the back end habits of the locals.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Caught 'em - Balmaha

Finally I have managed to catch up with Balmaha! They sailed past yesterday morning when I was at work, but stopped fairly locally in the evening, so after some liaisons I took the opportunity to whizz over to Eynsham to meet them. I dragged Maffi along with me and into the sunset we drove. After some 'debate' over the toll bridge fee which kept us occupied for several minutes with him saying it was 20p and me telling him it was 5p, and him saying it was 20p and me... you get the picture.
Then after stumbling along the road and down the tow path I turned around just in time to catch Maffi falling down a hole - the look on his face was an absolute picture!!! I roared with laughter, which was a tad unfortunate because I could barely walk with the hysterics, and to top it off, he was most indignant - until he blew his cover when caught him giggling ! After a few threats of throwing me in we managed to compose ourselves in time to bang on the roof of Balmaha.

I really like the boat and Mo and Vanessa are quality! Thank you for a lovely evening, and stop by when you come back!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Boaters and their knickers.

Oh dear, people really are getting their knickers in a twist over licence fees. continuous cruisers are repeatedly being lumped in with continuous moorers and now Granny Buttons has come up with a mad idea - increase the fees for continuous moorers, but also increase their benefits. One such benefit being that they can stay in one place for 14 days instead of 48 hours, and another suggesting they can use, free of charge, marina berths that become available when their occupants take their boats on holidays. I am not sure what people think a continuous cruiser is, but I certainly don't know any that would revel in the opportunity to stay in a marina, nor be in one place for longer than 48hours. The keywords in their licence fee are "continuous" and "cruiser". Where on earth do people get the idea that continuous cruisers want to moor for longer in places? Continuous Cruisers seem to be perfectly happy with their continuous cruising, the facilities and their options. Indeed, they rather like having to move on all the time. What is more they don't seem to be wanting benefits.

The problem is that continuous moorers are hogging the moorings for free, they have a mooring and the convenience of a mooring, without actually having to pay for it. What we fail to ask ourselves is why. All BW need to do is pop along, and make more linear moorings in the areas where demand is necessary and charge for them. This obviously isn't going to happen because people get their knickers in a twist over linear moorers and having to 'slow down' for them.

Another radical idea (gasp gasp) is for BW to do what they say they will do and charge boaters for overstaying on a mooring. I suppose that would be too sensible.

No-one seems to want to do anything about mooring fee's - I wonder why that is? It seems that the words cruiser and moorer are too similar for the population to notice the difference, and licence fee and mooring fee seem to be perceived as the same as well. Why is there a complete blindness to the English language when it comes to money?

So, what is the alternative? BW need to generate more cash, and to be quite frank they can't even manage what they have already. Narrowboat World ran an interesting feature yesterday about the new tendering trials that are taking place, and how BW are actually losing money as boaters work out how to get around fee's and some have managed to save themselves 1700 pounds over the three years by doing so. The problem is, much like most of BWs dreary plans, they are not well thought out, and are launched before anyone has really ironed out the problems - those glaringly obvious ones.

Indeed BWs track record seem to suggest they only ever make money by accident. It is true that BW are clamping down on boats without a licence at all, and this has made people pay up - fantastic... but can they really only do one thing at a time?

I am a fan of BW, I am not a fan of certain people within it - sometimes I wonder whether they went to the 'lets preserve the chocolate teapot by putting it in the sun' school of management.

At least the ombudsman is top dollar, but I suspect she is getting more business than is necessary.

Why are people so busy telling BW how to structure their licence fee's when it is none of their business. What IS peoples business is making sure the waterways are managed efficiently and effectively, and just because BW don't police their own waters, it doesn't mean we can't police them.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Spiders, Mosquetos, bites and bed chambers

The boat is covered in tiny little horrid bitey things, and the spiders are not building webs across the windows yet - it must be too early for them. This is most un-satisfactory. I have spent sometime enjoying my 'squash the mosquito' game but the walls are gradually changing from white to red, and it seems to have little impact on the population. They are having little impact on me, but I know they will start sucking my dry in not time; previous experience tells me this is another thing I don't enjoy.

On another note, the huge spider I mentioned a few days ago is doing well, but much to my horror there is another one lurking around the ceiling. The horror comes because that one is a male, and much much bigger - does the insect world have no dignity. My bed chamber is for ladies, and it is most bad mannered of a couple to move in without an invitation. Not only that, but they are not catching and eating all the flies. I am wondering how i can persuade them to move from their home aloft to the window by my head to protect me in my slumber from the blood sucking vampires of the night.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Oxfringe: Kate Saffin

If you didn’t go to see Kate Saffin’s show at the Oxford Fringe you missed out on a fabulous evening. Packed with one liners ‘The Mary Rose: a boat of ill repute’ is nothing short of an entertaining, exhilarating and amusing tale. In this one women show the allegedly true story of post war Wolvercote is bought alive in an enchanting work which encourages the audience to embrace, and fall in love with, the world of two working girls from London who discover a loop hole in the law and set up a brothel in the sleepy north oxford Wolvercote – legally!! Kate Saffin’s dialogue paints a stunning picture of the area, the people and their lives aboard the narrowboat. As the scene is unravelled in front of our eyes the audience are transported to a different world where they fall in love with the characters as they make their living amidst the controversy of their profession.
A smashing show that brings alive local history in an amusing and entertaining dialogue that grips, shocks and amuses for 40minutes.
Undoubtedly the best show I have seen in a long time - if you have the opportunity to see Saffin Performing snap it up!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Back to the keyboard idea.....

Does anyone out there have a p-70 yamaha keyboard, and if so, do you know the actual power consumption?

I keep coming back to the idea of having a keyboard on the boat, and as time goes by my fingers are getting rustier and rustier and I need to practice more

Sunday, April 13, 2008

New Baby

Anyone that knows me, will know of the 'slave' the 'child' and of Hannah. Thus you will be pleased to hear that her daughter, Emily, has been born weighing in at 10.1lbs!!!!!

Many Many Congratulations.

Living on a boat - Romantic?

I was having a lovely afternoon today when someone said living on a boat must be really romantic.

I am struggling to see why anyone could think that living on a boat is romantic. It is about as romantic as a hole in the head.

I bet it is the television that is polluting peoples minds!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Broken chairs

I went to the theatre this evening. There I was minding my own business enjoying the first half when my seat broke.

I just couldn't make it up.

Friday, April 11, 2008


OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOH! Thunder - hurrah, beautiful big raindrops and completely and utterly twirling on the front deck weather.... LOVE IT!

Wasn't so keen on the hail though....

Hurrahhh!!! Woooo Hoooooo.

me, excitable? Nah.

Thursday, April 10, 2008


Today, in a moment of independence, I am the queen, I can do anything kind of thing, I turned down an invite of dinner - well, one sausage and half of some mash, and decided to embrace my femininity as domestic goddess.

Wont do that again.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008


I am not bothered by spiders, I used to be, but I desensitised myself with a Caremiocnemisis validus (in a box on the wall (no, not on you Nick!)). This is all very well, because on boats spiders are our friend. Particularly Araneus Diadematus, who live across the open windows and keep the flies out. Yesterday morning I was twirling in the bathroom, as all good ladies do, and spotted some long legs protruding from a post. Identifying the offending arachnid as a Male, he was promptly dispelled from the area of ablutions and 'slung his hook' in the version of a swim on the Thames (that'll teach 'im). Imagine my surprise then, when I was taking a doze this afternoon, minding my own business and staring at the ceiling as I came to and worked out where I was, and there in the skylight (gosh, it sounds so glamorous) were some longer legs. This, after much identification, (where is Cosmos when you need him!), turns out to be a Tegenaria Gigantea, this is all very well, but would you believe it. The book says it is abundant in sheds, other out-houses, and out of doors.

Excuse me but which of the above categories does my swanky palace of Bones deluxe austere de la red carpet, great ship of the Thames fit in to?


Tuesday, April 08, 2008


After washing my contract Sony E phone briefly, I tried to dry it out, and unsurprisingly it didn't work. Good riddance I say as it has proved to be a most ridiculous phone and wholly unsuitable for anything, it is the powder puff of mobile phones.

As I needed to replace it I went to Virgin (who provide my network) and bought the cheapest Nokia they had - 14.99 for the phone and 5pounds top up. So, the phone cost me 10pounds. I do have a pay as you go phone so the top up will come in handy for that. That very evening my Nokia took a dive into the canal, and sank.

Maffi fished around with a net that night and managed to retrieve it (it came up with the light on!). I was rather pleased as my sim card went down with it, and that is my contract sim card. Anyway, 2 days later it still works.

I DO like nokia.

What a good idea - ha ha ha

I crawled into work this morning from my sick bed, and left before lunchtime in order to return to the chambers of despair in peace. I had overstayed on my mooring, and due to lack of supplies, I decided to move - AND Ali says he has good news, the views on the Thames are fantastic and the weather is amazing - I just HAD to move didn't I.

So, I moored on the bottom of the Oxford and dined, and then head off - I passed Maffi en route who said he was moving too. I told him where I was off to, and he decided to come to. I said I would wait at Botley Road and we could put the boats together I could be ill and he could be macho and move them both.

I arrived at botley road and moored up on the centre line, popped inside to get something and came out to find my boat had decided it didn't want to have its whole side on the bank, but felt its derrier would be better pointed towards some youfs on a bench. I couldn't get her back to the bank for love nor money. Thankfully Maffi wasn't long so I leapt aboard and decided we would do our grand plan in the next lock.

Bones and grand plans are NOT a good mix.

We breasted up, came out of the lock, and I flaked. UNTIL we got to the bit where we go under the Abingdon road. I emerged just in time to see one of Maffi's grand plans. He decided that the stream would flip him sideways and decided to take advantage of this.

It wasn't long before I had to leap onto my boat, start her up and add a bit of power to the situation. We very nearly wiped out a line of shiny plastic boats, a man with a paintbrush and a restaurant's floating pontoon... unfortunately there were no patrons on the latter, so we didn't get to enjoy the 'soup' affect or 'startled faces'. Good job I suppose.

I am now moored up with a million dollar view across christ church meadows resting in my chambers.

Maffi has just read the post and said it wasn't a line of plastic boats, he is indeed right... it was 3 plastic boats, a wooden gondola and a navigation post that nearly visited Davey Jones!!!! I didn't mention those because I thought it would be unkind...

Monday, April 07, 2008

Sea Searcher

When I was cruising to Banbury from Oxford with the valuable assistance of Steve I got the sea searcher out and had a go at making our millions. Needless to say I made none. Something I forgot to do was put the keeper back on the magnet, so yesterday I held the magnet in my right hand, but the keeper on, and just like magic I caught the bulk of loose skin on my middle finger. My other fingers sprang clear of the magnet due to restricted movement and I was in a bit of a pickle. I couldn't put the magnet down to put a screw driver between the magnet and keeper because that would have involved resting the magnet on the trapped bit. I tried various positions, but it just wasn't going to happen. After a short time I decided that the magnet was not a stylish fashion accessory and I would have to do something about it, besides, it really was not very comfortable at all.

So, I decided to enlist the role of the fisherman. I strolled up to him and politely asked for his assistance, and explained that I needed the keeper removed, but I couldn't do it. I handed him the screw driver, explaining what to do, and he grabbed the magnet pulling me with it. I had failed to give him the vital piece of information that the magnet had eaten part of me and that was why I needed his help.

He liberated me in no time at all. I now have a slightly numb finger - oops. The fisherman did ask me how on earth I managed to do that, so I gently explained that it was the hazard of being human, we have flat bits on the ends of our arms with bits that dangle on the end - they seem to be designed to get in the way of things. It is a funny design isn't it, these fingers. Useful, but funny.

Bother It

I was going to go up to Sheffield to see my lovely chums Martin and Anne this weekend, but the train is 61 pounds! Had I thought about it in advance, and broken a habit of a lifetime and been organised, I could have booked it and gone for 32pounds.

Sunday, April 06, 2008


my new phone, and its sim card are at the bottom of the canal, so, if anyone knows my number it won't work!

New number will be re-instated at some point.



I suddenly discovered this afternoon that in order to have another second on the boat and be comfortable, I needed to empty the lavatory and fill up with water. The urgency got the better of me, and I decided that there was no time like the present.

Top tip - when suddenly discovering such things, make sure you take advantage of the shop up the hill before hand!

This boating stuff IS fun isn't it!

New Phone

I now have my phone back... well, not the old one, that is in the mortuary, but I do have a new one 15pounds including 5pounds top-up, and a Nokia (my all time favourite breed). I have gone from an all dancing singing telephone with bluetooth and all sorts of other glorious things to a phone that ding dongs at me when someone calls. It makes and receives calls and does texts, that is all it does. That is what I wanted my phone to do in the first place, but by the way the salesman was going on when I bought my contract phone you would have thought making calls was a bit last season!

I shall have to remember not to wash this one.

Pictures: Snow



yep, I think that just about sums it up.

REAL SNOW!!!!!!!!


Saturday, April 05, 2008

Halfie, lights wine and steam

I have been poorly for the last couple of days - a dreaded cold which always goes to my chest and always renders me useless. I do sound good though - if Barry White sounds are good?! Maffi is moored along side at the moment making lemsips on demand, I was rather pleased when he said he would stay for a bit; my loo needs emptying, and the day I decided to do it is when Muchos Vomitous decided to visit! BLAH.

Mr and Mrs Halfie came to visit yesterday, him and his wife came bearing gifts - a circle of LEDs which are more efficient that the light I got from UltraLeds and a 20th of the price, and a bottle of wine to share. I really enjoy people dropping in, and it has been good to meet Halfie at last. Their idea of a holiday is quite remarkable - they did 600locks and 900 miles once - they did have 9 weeks to do it in, but even so! ( Halfie is currently writing the trip up on his blog)

Today I am trying to get better very very very quickly, as I want to attend the steam plough AGM. I have had to forfeit the exciting trip around SE Davis yard at Astwood Bank, one mustn't over do it!

Friday, April 04, 2008

The Narrowboat Shop

I love lemon curd, especially home made lemon curd - oh it is simply delicious! I also love chocolate brownies... especially good ones. When I worked in Cambridge there was a bakery just around the corner from the office that sold the dreamiest brownies you ever did see... I used to swim a mile in the morning and 2 in the evening just so I could eat LOADS of them. OOoh YUM.

Well, The Narrowboat Shop sells both... are they on their way down the oxford.. no.. I think I might have to take a trip out in the *car*!

Thursday, April 03, 2008


I had a lovely dinner with Steve in the local Plough pub in Wolvercote last night; he is good company, and always very kind when I usually spend the evening bending his ear about various calamities I have got myself into.

This morning I noticed the washing was piling up, and was rather pleased when Maffi said he was going to bring his boat into Oxford, not least because I could gallently do the lift bridges, AND use his washing machine at the same time! I collected some clean clothes in a bag, and the washing in another. On arrival at his boat, he stood on the tiller, I shut all the doors and put the washing in the machine, including what I was wearing and was about to jump in the shower, when I thought I would just take my phone out the clean washing bag and charge it. AH! I realised I had actually put the clean washing in the machine, along with my phone and charger...

OOOPS! Not a recommended activity. I am now clean, but have raided Maffis wardrobe - Boys are quite large, but I think I look rather dashing.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008


I thought, for some strange reason, that my boat was private. I also thought, as I surveyed it earlier, that it looked a complete wreck with a dead pheasent in a net flung on the front deck, pirate flag in window, wood on the roof and various buckets of rot distributed around. It doesn't strike me as an environment people would look too kindly on. One day, I will do something about it, but today I am too tired.

So, there I was minding my own business having a snooze when I heard some strange noises.. I got up, realised someone was trampling around on the boat,and flew the front doors open (during which I did a most undignified injury, but managed to carry on) and saw a fully grown up, older than me, responsible looking adult in a fake fur coat, with pruned hair carrying the lunch box of one of the children with her. There were two in total, one on the tow path, and the other was walking down the gunwhales of my boat. I stared and announced that "the adventure playground is over there" and thrust out my arm pointing in its direction (thankfully I am tall and my arm went over the roof of the boat) 'ooh sorry, sorry' I got from the women. Of course, I have now rehersed my FULL tirade incase this ever occurs again.