Sunday, August 31, 2008

Amsterdam picture book

Amsterdam has long thin houses, and at the top are ‘winches’ which are used to hoist things upstairs. The stairs are very narrow and windy in order to save space, and these levels are a brilliant idea. They work so well even new houses are built with them. All the houses look the same, but apparently the ones with shutters used to be warehouses, these have now been converted into accommodation

I really like the tree lined streets the waterways and the narrow avenues.

This fence:

And the graffiti

While I was in Amsterdam I experienced knee quivering sweet Ecstasy:

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Late Night Random Thoughts

Amsterdam has everything you could ever want, if you wanted what it had to offer. You can have your foot massaged, you can do sex, you can do drugs, you can do walking, strolling, ice-cream eating, beer drinking, tram riding, art overloading and boating. You can do fine views, coffee, foods of all kinds, listen to bells and buy flowers. Today’s society can do nothing but love the place.

I have been wondering about this as I meander through the streets, this open society, this dream, this place to be. This city of lovers, romance, hen nights and stags, of weekend visits, of lifelong inhabitants, of tramps, of tourism, of locals.

It is the ultimate party place, the ultimate relaxation place, the fanatical art place, the holder of memories, of fun and smiles.

Everyone is happy, everyone is smiling, and everyone is relaxed. The streets are buzzing, the lights are flashing, the bells are ringing and street sweepers are out throughout the evening clearing up broken glass from the revelry.

It is all of this that makes Amsterdam a ‘must go to’ place. What you can’t do is take it away with you, you can’t take its morals ideologies, laws and dreams, but no-one seems to mind.

It is superfluous to ask why people come here, it is obvious? What I would like to know is what do people take home? Does the de-stress extend through ones being, and is a weekend of de-stress enough to get one through the stresses of daily life until the next ‘switch off fix’?

I watched a women walking around the square this afternoon, she had an interesting gait, an interesting face and most of all an interesting purpose for she was there when I returned later in the evening to sit in the square. I wonder who she is, she was certainly invisible, is that what we all become here – invisible?

The world is rife with stress, but I wonder what it is we all do to de-stress normally? We clearly don’t do enough as being ‘off for stress’ is an acceptable and popular event. Some of us have partners who are there for us to see us through the difficult times, the times when the world doesn’t compute and some of us don’t. What is there for the inner soul, the inner being, the depth of the human soul?

Nothing Amsterdam has to offer seems to touch my soul, so what do I do when I am stressed? Were I to embrace everything here I would not be happy, but perhaps we do not seek to be happy, but rather away.

I have walked around today and learnt about the golden era of this city, its rich history and its material structure. There is so much to see, to learn and to do one can literally escape ones mind. There is no need to talk to anyone, worry about anything. Everyone speaks English impeccably and the tourist’s needs are at the fingertips of those that want it. I have enjoyed talking in whatever accent I have felt like, and as I stroll around I have thought of nothing at all as the visual, auditory and olfactory world has pushed all inner thought away. Yet, when I rest I wonder is that de-stress. What do we do when we are at home to de-stress and do we allow those around us to do so, and be with those that need our help to do so.

So, the senses are stimulated automatically, all we have to do is walk out of our hotel rooms into the hubbub of this anonymous life. I suppose a holiday or a weekend break is the reverse of the sensory deprivation tank are they both as effective?

Saturday in the city

This morning I took a ride on the trams - I love the tram lines and the ding of the bell as they encourage pedestrians to get out of the way!

I thought this pigeon was part of the tower until I noticed it moving... so I took a photograph - it looks rather grand up there and I bet the view is amazing.

This is a beautiful view through the arches along the canal with more bridges in the distance:

and finally, when the place gets too crowded I always look up at the sky line - there isn't anyone up there and the roof tops make an interesting vista.

Friday, August 29, 2008

I spy with my little eye


My first impression as I came out of the railway station was that of huge crowds of people - those that know me know will know that huge crowds of people are not my 'thing'. I then realised that forgetting to bring the tourist book of Holland with me was probably a bad thing, and then I found the hotel.

After an extensive stroll around the city this afternoon I decided to have a look at the museum of torture, having walked the entire street it was meant to be on I still couldn't find it. Feeling most fed up, and back where I started, I had a salad and found myself admiring the living statues. They are a notch above the ones in the UK:

I went on a boat tour which I thought was rather dull, but I did see some boats en route:


My sense of direction seems to have failed me, that is if I ever had one! My colleagues were either having a joke with me, or there really IS a thriving market in this town. Despite trying to find it yesterday I failed. I did however come across this glorious place:

Although you can see the spire from some distance, the actual church is almost completely hidden from view by the surrounding buildings. Indeed, only the entrance rather than the walls are visible to the pedestrian. As I walked through the doors I was met by such visual splendour I could almost hear weepingcross gasping, to top it off as I approached the aisle and walked towards the alter the incense wafted around with such titillating exaltation I thought that were he with me he would have fainted in joy.
He wasn’t, and he didn’t.

The lady on the welcoming desk did vomit, so all is not lost.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Bones is an IDIOT

Oh dear, I was checking my details for the hotel tomorrow in Amsterdam and like a compelete idiot I seem to have managed to cancel it. This is just so typical!

I HATE travelling!!

No, don't laugh!

I have, finally, managed to call the hotel and hopefully reversed the cancellation... DOH!

Conference is OVER

My conference is over and my professional hat has been stuffed into the corner of the wardrobe. I can now enjoy 3 days off trawling the streets of Amsterdam.

Boats and Rag Dolls

The first time I saw Rosie and Jim was at Enslow 5 years ago when I had just moored up, and was taking a stroll along the long line of colourful boats moored en route to the Rock of Gibralter public house for a lemonade to wet the whistle. There in the window were two dolls with nooses around their necks dangling down, the youth with me told me they were 'Rosie and Jim'. I am not known for my knowledge of childrens programs, but after the brief encounter and quick education I found it rather apt and in many ways rather profound that dolls associated with boats should be hanging, literally.

Apparently Rosie and Jim are rag dolls, of narrowboat 'rag doll' fame. What I do not know is whether they are meant to be rag dolls themselves, because they look very well stitched from material that doesn't even resemble rags, indeed, their hair is the most ragged bit of them, and quite stylish at that.

Are Rosie and Jim the only 'dolls' associated with our boating world, or are there others?

I cant decide whether it is 'sick' or 'appropriate' to have Rosie and Jim in the window of a boat. Most people think it is highly inappropriate for adults to have teddy bears, and those that do tend to hide them away... yet these toys are displayed for all to see in a shamelessness that puzzles me. What is it that enables an adult on one hand to regress to childrens programs with such vigour yet encourage children to grow out of them?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Minds and lights

When I sit gazing up at the pedestal at the great minds of science, I see this:

Dont look at the lights..

Presentations and Questions

Well, I have survived the first part of my presentation and can now relax with a coffee. The Dutch know how to do coffee and as I sit back enjoying the aroma I remember the gorgeous coffee aboard Alnwick during the Cropredy festival, and on my way up to Derby to do some work.

Yesterday I was rather lost as I made my way from the hotel, but I bumped into a confident looking chap strolling through a tunnel under the railway station, and latched onto him. Casper turns out to be a nervous chap but he spent Sunday working his way around the city so we went to the Uni together. Unfortunately we chatted all the way, so when it came to finding my own way this morning I had absolutely no idea which side of the road to stand to catch the bus, and no idea about any of the landmarks to indicate when I had arrived. There was a friendly lass sitting next to me on the bus, so I struggled with my actions and gesticulated my desire to be in a certain place - she smiled and replied in perfect American.. nothing like feeling a pillock! Luckily I spotted one of my international collegues and raced off the bus when they did. Arriving at the centre I grabed a coffee and stood buzzing all morning as people asked me all sorts of questions about my research. It never ceases to amaze me that I know what I am talking about, it really is a pleasure to hear other peoples opinions and talk and defend my work. There is nothing like the buzz you get when someone says 'wow that IS really interesting, good work'. I haven't had any impossible questions which always helps things go smoothly.

So after today I can sit back and relax. I haven't decided whether I am looking forward to my three days in Amsterdam at the end of the week for a holiday, I had hoped Maffi would be able to join me, but he won't be able to after all as the gas bubble in his eye is refusing to dissolve.

churches, canals and streets

I finally took my camera with me and took some pictures:

I like this cathedral, it stands tall and makes the perfect landmark for when you take a stroll and get lost.... well, it does until you find yourself in an area of tall buildings without an old tower in sight. Thankfully everything is signposted around here.

This canal runs right through the city and is lined with houses and bars. Just before I took this picture a trip boat came through, it was quite a sight, bright orange, and rather like an armband with people in rather than just arms.

I don't speak a word of Dutch, but much to my relief the Dutch speak English. Unlike most European countries the Dutch seem to like people speaking English and look at me as though someone quaint has walked in the door, and seem to breath a sigh of relief when I confess I am English and not just profoundly stupid (although I suppose.....).

Monday, August 25, 2008


Skips over here are FAR better than the ones in the UK. I walked past this one with great regret. If only I had a larger suitcase and a bigger baggage allowance... this is REAL wood!!!!!

Bikes, Arches and canals

Sunday evenings talk was in the local church with the most stunning echo to add a daunting sound to the speaker. Afterwards there was a reception in the 'gardens' I rather liked this view:

and the canals:

and Holland has so many bikes!!!!!

Sunday, August 24, 2008


Well, here I am in Holland with my computer because I am working. The trees here are planted in very straight lines; rather like France. There are also lots of ditches of water, also in very straight lines. with other ditches going off them at right angles.

I was walking down to the centre of town to touch base, and passed this in the shop window - a true welcome!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Boats and Belts

I have moved the boat and had a good look at the damage caused by the boat yesterday and the dent is most impressive! So much so there is one on the other side as well!!! I was moored up on a slight corner which explains that one.

I have also discovered what a belt is for (and why girl trousers do up higher than the comfort threshold of the human body). It isn't to keep ones trousers up, it is to strap ones belly in.

Last Minute Rush

In true unorganised chaotic last minute form I have decided to go to the IWA festival tomorrow and have booked some accommodation between there and the airport so I can have a relaxing morning on the Sunday before flying out to Holland for a week.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Off and away

The week is slowly coming to a close and the time has come to think about my trip to Holland. My passport has arrived and I have tucked it away in the new passport holder from Miss T (many thanks lovely!)

I am just trying to decide whether to go up to the IWA on saturday - it would be a good opportunity to find out more about a few things I am interested in, and it puts me nearer the airport for the Sunday... hmmm.... just need to find a B&B to stay in if I decide to do that. I tried a few, but other festival stayers are going to be there - so the festival is looking popular!

Caniverous Botony

As you know the pet shop wouldn't let me keep a goldfish so I became an aquatic botanist. This was all going very well until this morning I noticed a problem with my tank. I can't even get botany right!!!



20 of them so far.

No my dears, this is a tragedy and not even remotely funny.

Plastic Boats

Would you believe it? Two plastic boats have tried to moor up here, one had tent pegs, and the other had no pegs!!!!


Maffi has just telephoned me because someone has smashed into my boat. Looks like I will have to have it taken out of the water and examined... GRRRR

Why do these things always happen when you have no time to breath let alone pack, work and eat!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Mealworms and Botony

Since the goldfish fiasco I have become an avid botonist but I am a little neglectful. I have a gorgeous Aloe vera plant given to me by the gorgeous Miss T. She said it would save me from kitchen burns, so I liked having it there in the corner. One day I walked into the cooker and burnt my leg. I was a little busy (cooking) so I took a leaf, as directed, and rubbed it furiously on the wound and carried on in the secure knowledge that magic was taking place, and I wouldn't know anything had happened. I still look at the scar and marvel at how profoundly ineffective it was. The plant and I have had a rather odd relationship ever since, and today I noticed it had tried to escape the pot and make a dash for the door. I reunited the departed components and placed them in the sink to inhibit any further rebellion. I have noticed that Aloe Vera remains green even when it isn't watered for long periods of time. Green and utterly pointless.

Aquatic plants are far easier to handle, and far more rewarding - you don't have to water them.

Mealworms on the other hand are proving to be a bit of a bind. They are meant to like apple, but they turned their noses up. They don't like grapefruit, but they do love carrot. Unfortunately they are quite cute to start off with with their little legs at the front of their bodies and their crusty exterior extending beyond its back legs for a substantial distance (in mealworm terms), but the older they get, the bigger they get, and they are beginning to look as though oodles of pus are forming between each segment. I hoped they would be beetles by now, but apparently this larva stage can last 90 - 110 days and they are meant to molt 10 - 14 times! Unless they molt and then eat it, I can safely say mine haven't molted AT ALL.

If I didn't live in a boat like mine

I think I would rather fancy one of these:

You rotten lot!

You could have pretended to miss me! There I was going AWOL and you all cheered.


Monday, August 11, 2008

Bones is Silent

I have a frantically busy week at work this week, so I won't be blogging much. Thus there will be silence from these quarters.


Lots of people are talking about speeding boats, and the rules are 'do not speed' 'go slowly passed moored boats'

What is absolutely amazing is people don't understand these simple phrases and translate them to

'it is too difficult to remember to slow down so I shant'

'tie your boat up properly'

'what does it matter'

'I am in a hurry therefore it is ok'

No wonder the world is like it is, the English language seems to have become interpretable according to ones subjective or intuitive decision irrespective of reality. NOT only that, but those that use these strategies get upset when people don't agree with them DESPITE the fact they don't agree with the original statements themselves. They get even rattier if people use the same strategies to interpret their own interpretations to things like:

'I am to stupid to slow down'

'me breaking the rules is your problem, not mine'

'I am too insensitive to care or know why I have to slow down so I won't'

'I am incapable of planning my itinery so it resembles reality and incapable of taking life easy'

Cropredy Folk Festival

Putting a tent up is simple and I have put millions up in my time but there was something about Friday night, and putting up a tent, that was just so hilarious it was if I had never seen one before! Having put it up with the doors in the wrong place, then turned it around and put the fly sheet on backwards, and then eventually managed to get it all orientated in just about the right position, we stood back and marvelled at how un-tent like it looked. A bit of twiddling here and there, and a few guy ropes we decided it looked great. Maffi put up the camp bed which reduced the tent from a 4man to a 3 man and stuck out the end so we couldn’t shut the doors - the sight was quite giggle worthy and the whole process had taken about an hour! Nathan (who we borrowed the tent from) probably put it up in 5 minutes when he went to the bulldog event last year, oh well. Declaring it perfect we went off to the pub to meet some chums.

The weekend mapped out into a social whirl of fun, laughter, hilarity and much amusement. Maffi and I make excellent festival companions, not least because he knew most of the acts and could fill me in! We met some fantastic people including Lucky Duck whose blog I have been following as they have dreamt the dream of a narrowboat, purchased one, and then moved aboard. Although I had met Warrior and Co. before it was really good having more time to chew the phat with them. I was delighted when we took tea with them on Saturday afternoon - a most civilised occupation, especially with Sebastian playing his new accordion in the background! On Saturday night we stayed with the Alnwicks, I just love those guys - they are both very quirky, great fun, very down to earth and serve fantastic coffee! Their cat GC is a complete character... all in all a fabulous trio.

Unfortunately the weekend has left me exhausted, but I arrived home in time to get a good 13hours sleep on Sunday, so my batteries are gently getting restored! I am pleased that after all this time I have finally made it to Cropredy. A big thank you to everyone who made it possible, and to everyone who made it such enormous fun! To top it all off I even get to see my friend from 'home' and meet the people she talks about so much, they were a great bunch! Unfortunately we didn't manage to co-ordinate ourselves very well (which I think was me being too scatty!) - Thanks for getting the tickets Claire!

Friday, August 08, 2008


Bones IS happy!!!!

My bones don't really like camping nor do my muscles, and as I have a busy work schedule for the next few weeks, I decided I wouldn't go to the Cropredy festival overnight as my chums are, but just for the day tomorrow. In order to have some company while I got lost, Maffi said he would come along too. We were only reflecting the other day how much I was missing music. Indeed, I was missing music so much last night that I put the keyboard (thank you salty!) on loud and hammered away to the dulcet tones of the engine. I forgot how sound travels, but thankfully no-one came knocking on the roof complaining... the way I was playing they probably thought some frenzied long haired yetti had lost its way in the jungle and didn't dare! Perhaps Maffi had mercy on the local community when he agreed to accompany me - anything to get me out of the area!

I heard a couple of other boaters are going to be there, namely Warrior and possibly even LuckyDuck the rate they are going, and I thought it would be nice to meet up with them too. In the process of trying to work out when and where a different kind boater, much to my amazement, offered me their back cabin! HURRAH, much excitment ensued as the options of an exciting weekend loomed! With the possibility of NOT having to camp I jumped at the chance and called my other friend (I hope you are keeping up!) to see whether there were any tickets left. It turns out that there are some for the weekend, and they don't know about tomorrow, it depends on several factors which I can't remember. The price difference wasn't that great, so I am now the proud owner of a ticket. To add excitement to excitement it turns out they have some camping space for tonight... which means I will see the Levellers after all, and even if I don't want to camp, I can go back tomorrow AND stay over - HURRAH! I THINK I can manage to camp for one night, especially as I will have non-camping accommodation tomorrow night. How thrilling!

Bones is very excited!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Boil 'em up.

Maffi posted about my antics a couple of days ago, I chose to boil the bones outside to ensure the stench didn't permeate the boat. I put the pot on the BBQ and borrowed a chair to sit in as I contemplated the scene. Unfortunately the chair was rather damp, but I found it didn't impede my enthusiasm too much. What was amusing was when the neighbouring two boats decided to come and chat. They stood around the pot chatting away and I sat in my damp chair chuckling to myself, what an amusing scene! I did wonder whether I should give my chair up to one of the visitors, but that would possibly have been cruel as they too would have received wet derriers.So there we all were, barely a meter away from the stench having a civilised conversation!

I am VERY pleased with the results:

Every good boater needs these

I have been drumming up and down parts of the oxford over the last few weeks and am frequently tangled up in overhanging branches as I avoid oncoming boats, or just lose concentration. Maffi has listened to my wails, and admired the foliage I pick up in my hair, AND has come up with the ultimate solution:

I just LOVE them.

Pins, Hammers and Fingers.

I have been hammering in my mooring pins quite a bit this week, and nearly every time I have managed to get my finger in between the hammer and the pin. What is staggering is it is usually the skin/knuckle that is caught rather than the bone. My poor fingers are looking as though they have come off the meat counter.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Banwell Bone Caves

Weepingcross went to visit the Banwell Bone Caves (and here on Sunday, sadly I was unable to join him, but this morning my pigeon hole had a package in it - a ginger bread BAT! Yumalicious!!! I ate the wing before it occurred to me to take a picture.

To Paint to Vinyl to Blank?

I have, with the help of Maffi, completed the paint work for this year on the great ship. I had thought about painting the name on the front panels by hand, but decided that I really do want them to look the same as they are usually seen together. I looked into Vinyl and found a super place in Abingdon who sent me an imposed image on the front of Bones - the name with a skull either side. The problem is it was 60pounds which included fitting. Maffi got his name bits on the front done at Walton on Thames for 24pounds... quite a difference.

I can't decide whether to spend the money, get them online, or just get my paint brush out and do it myself.

Perhaps my next project will be to learn to signwrite.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Friends DO make me giggle!

I know it is wrong to laugh at others misfortunes but when I received a text from Ian telling me todays top tip I had to laugh. Apparently it is "advisable to check ones beer can for wasps before drinking from it" and such an activity is now on his top 10 list of things to do - my mind boggled. This evening he divulged the sad tale, and my laughter muscles have only just recovered.

On friday afternoon after a hard day at work, Ian and Adrian were finishing their day and back at Ians house. Ian decided a can of beer would be ideal for the afternoon and went in to get one. He came out, put it on the roof of the car, and did something else. He came back out, saw the can on the car and thought 'hmmmm I could just do with a nice sip of that nice cold beer' so he took it, took a nice mouthful, felt something horrid on his tongue and spat it out. A wasp had also felt the need for beer.... The mouthful got spat out.

Unfortunately Ian is rather allergic to wasp stings, so he thought about it and decided to embrace pretentitive measures and concluded he needed some antihistamine. Luckily there was some in the house he went back into the house, grabbed the bottle, and drank the whole lot thinking it was for the kids. AS it is, it was for his wife, so it was full strength after all (so he won't be sneezing for the rest of the year!). Following that he filled his mouth with vinegar.

Poor chap had a rather swollen tongue. His mate Adrian had been everso understanding until he called Ians wife to tell her what had happened and spoke with a lisp.

Ian threw the can out declaring he didn't fancy it after all.


aw how lovely!

I returned home today to find a bottle of wine on my welldeck from Lol and Jackie with a note thanking me for my help. How sweet is that! I told you they were lovely!!!! =o)

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Saturday and the Watermans arms

If you have never been to the Watermans arms near Osney Lock you have missed out! On saturday evening about 8 of us stopped by there for a natter and some food. The owner Henry is a complete character with a fantastic sense of humour, and his daughter in law is excellent quality as well. The two of them make a fantastic team and our evening was filled with intense hilarity. This pub is the sort of place you can go to on your own, sit in a chair and watch the scene unfold before you. There are newspapers if you feel the need to read, but overall the general banter is fantastic. You just couldn't make it up, or write such a comical sketch. There are no frills and what you see is what you get, and it is absolutely top quality.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Lovely People Friday

Having registered with my new GP I was feeling a little grumpy as I walked home and noticed some people fishing around in the Thames with poles and magnets. It turned out that the narrowboat had caught its sidedoor on a Steamer and it had flipped off and sunk. I picked up Maffi and my magnet and off we went to see if we could help. Two hours later we had found a couple of trees and a couple of bikes, but no door. The owners of the boat called off the search and we retired home disappointed. On saturday morning we made use of some ply I had, and Lol made himself a new side door - and made a good job of it!! The Steamer owner gave them his insurance details, and now they have to get a new door made, but at least their boat is secure in the meantime. They were a lovely couple and despite their mishap they were great fun!

What is this?

I love being moored here watching everyone floating around messing around in boats. Yesterday this boat went past - I have never seen one before... have you?