Monday, October 31, 2011

Church, Cathedral or Museum

I have been listening to the protests outside St Pauls Cathedral and I heard on the radio last week and later found on the internet here that “It is the first time the cathedral has been closed since the second world war, and church officials say it is costing St Paul's around £20,000 a day in lost visitor revenues.”  It costs £14.50 to have a look around St Pauls (here).  I have often wondered whether it is reasonable to charge to enter a cathedral or church and I don’t think I have really made my mind up.  I would pay to go into a museum (although naturally I would rather not pay), and considering the contents of some of these Cathedrals are they any different?   I am thinking of visiting Coventry Cathedral this weekend and LO you have to pay to get in there too (£7). 

In August I went to Winchester Cathedral and I paid an admission fee there (6.50 or £7.15 with Gift Aid) and I didn’t even bat an eye lid; I thought it was worth it.  They actually say on their website that “The Cathedral is open every day for early morning prayers and closes after evening prayers. No charges are made for those who come to join our worship or who wish to pray privately and everyone is welcome.”

I used to think it was outrageous that one had to pay to enter the ‘house of God’ but as time has gone by I think I have softened.  Attendance at church is not as high as it used to be and the revenue to maintain these buildings has to come from somewhere. 

I liked the voluntary contribution box as I used to enter Ely Cathedral, several years ago but I rarely put anything in it; I doubt I was alone.  I think I thought it was my RIGHT to enter the Cathedral whenever I wanted.  Had I donated perhaps I wouldn’t have to pay now.  Apparently it costs Ely “- £3,000 a day to keep the Cathedral open”. That money HAS to come from somewhere. Although not all cathedrals charge - Guildford manages to keep its cathedral open without a specific charge, but if you have been there you will see that compared to some of these other older ones it isn’t quite in the category of ‘museum’ splendour.

In my history in this country I have found the Anglican and Catholic churches to be the ones that have their doors open, reliably, all the time for visitors.  When I visited Ely with the Baptists or Methodists they would reel at the entrance fee as if the Anglicans were criminals– but they seemed to fail to observe that at least the buildings were open outside church service times – unlike theirs!  Now that the Cathedrals are charging (some you can’t pass the payment desk to get in) I wonder what the message is.  Do visitors really go to the Cathedrals to meet with God? I am not sure they do – all the ones I have spoken to go for the architecture and splendour.

If the bible is anything to go by it would be a poor argument to suggest that people go to the Cathedrals to meet with God and thus shouldn’t have to pay for the privilege.  God is meant to be omnipresent and God’s Cathedral is the world. If the still small voice of the wind in the trees can be the sound of the almighty, then I doubt anyone complaining about an entrance fee has an agenda of evangelism, surely?

Indeed, when I had no money and wanted to sit quietly in a place of splendour I was passing a cathedral and asked to sit quietly in this place, to be, to rest and think. I was excused the entrance fee.

Encouraging people to meet with God isn’t a free entrance to a big building of historical merit but through a conversation with the person on the till.  Or at least, one would hope so.

I think that some conversations with ‘believers’ are often more offensive than the entrance fee in a Cathedral.

Yesterday I was sitting in the cafe and had already admired the most beautiful cupcakes; they were Orange and decorated with spiders bats and ghosts.  A man came in and admired them. ‘why don’t you have one’ said the lady behind the till. ‘Oh I am a believer, and I don’t believe in that sort of thing’ said he.  It wasn’t what he said, it was the way he said it.  There was a chilled moment and then he continued his order - remember it was HIM who was eyeing them up in the first place.  Just because the man didn’t believe in the cupcakes didn’t make them disappear, but telling us the way he did certainly made the love vanish out of the room.  I wonder what his message actually was but it certainly nailed another nail in the coffin of the church message.

It is too easy to criticise the church and what it stands for and I can see exactly why it seems so out of date and unapproachable.

It is funny that several Christians regard the entrance fee to see the house of God as scandalous.  I can’t quite equate how £14.50 to visit God compares to what they harp on about so often -  the price God paid for the freedom humankind.

If God is everywhere then these Cathedrals are not the house of God but museums, many are listed among the world heritage sites and I doubt one has to be in them to meet with ‘God’ – art, architecture and history is to be found everywhere including the natural world and that is free. Some things you pay for, some things you don’t; I don’t think it is a matter of religion, faith or entrance fees.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Dear Granny

Humans are a bit slower than Canines (they take MUCH longer to grow up) so I am sure you spent a very long time teaching Mum manners but I am afraid that she has forgotten them ALL.

Firstly she has a total phobia against using her hands - she sits at the dinner table stabbing her meal with a slicer and prong and seems to look quite pleased with herself for some reason.

Between you and me she creates quite a fiasco at the dinner table. I suspect her teeth aren't up to much which is why she has to slice everything into tiny pieces before bringing it to her mouth on a prongy thing. It is quite an extraordinary practice. To top it off she doesn't drop a thing and clears her plate completely! Oh Granny!!!!!!! She has absolutely no respect at all.

The other day I had pigeon for supper. Grandpa will be very pleased to hear that I am not a fussy eater (unlike mum) and I ate it all. Last week I had squirrel but it's bottom didn't taste very nice so I left the tail. I think that is OK. Grandpa says we don't have to eat bottoms.

Lots of Love
Your devoted Grandson

Friday, October 28, 2011

Clearing up the cut

This is currently moored in Thrupp.  There is a motorcycle right at the bottom of the pile. I wonder whether that is the lump I kept going over and hitting at the bottom of Kidlington Green…


Misty Mornings


Thursday, October 27, 2011

Maffi’s Tree

Maffi put this picture on his blog this morning but when I saw it I saw a face looking as if it had been caught out and a fab hair do.  I copied the picture, drew in blue on the face on the tree and posted the picture below this one.

 tree tree2

Extraordinary Day

This morning as I was contemplating the ideal of ‘normal’ . I often do and am rather fond of the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band’s quote ‘if that is normal I am going to be a freak for the rest of my life’.  I am fully aware there is no such thing as normal but I was wondering what it actually is to be normal. Just as I was in full throw of thought I noticed a bloke peeing up a tree in broad day light in broad public in the middle of the footpath. His bicycle was hidden discretely behind the tree. Is that normal? I suppose to be liberated possibly is, but I wonder how many of us really are.


That was my first extraordinary sight.

The second was a letter in my pigeon hole at work – not any old letter but a letter from my GP. Sometime ago I decided that I wouldn’t keep going to the Drs surgery about my inability to sleep; not least because I was too tired. Instead I decided I would correspond by letter and told them so.  I just wanted them to make a note that I was still not sleeping and to consider me if anything new came up.  It made it clear that the problem wasn’t resolved but I was just going to live with it, quietly. I felt quite good as I popped it in the post and I never expected a word back. 

Well, the GP has written.  He seems sorry that my insomnia continues as a chronic problem but he has read about a technique that it might be worth discussing. Looks like I will be booking another appointment to discuss it as he suggests.

A letter back – how extraordinary!!!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

What a sky! Picture book Part 2

It often helps to include the pictures in the picture book so here they are - not quite as good as real life.  Our skies are stunning and whilst walking the dogs I just loved the dramatic skies rolling around above me. I was home before it started to rain (much to Boot’s relief).

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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

What a sky! Picture book

Monday, October 24, 2011

Art and Science

Maffi sent me this link which I thought was rather fun.

It is from the Guardian:“

“Internet users get animated about RSA short film series

Andrew Park's videos, which are drawn from capitalism and education speeches, have received 46m YouTube hits”

You can watch the video here.

Dear Granny and Grandpa

It has been very exciting in Thrupp because Jan and John arrived on their Narrowboat Shadow and made us smile.  After afternoon tea at Annie’s John and Jan said they would go for a walk and suggested we went with them – Mum gave them some tips on places to go  and put them on a lead – well, it was the end of my lead which I thought was a bit odd, but I completely understand the need for a lead so I smiled sweetly showing them how to stand. Then mum said fair well and walked off – but  she forgot to take me home with her!!

I suppose she was worried that they would get lost so instead of her holding my lead, I had to hold theirs!  John is scared of dogs so I was very gentle with him.  Here is a picture of us both that I pinched this off his blog

Boots Halfie

You can see how well behaved he was – he was standing nicely at the end of the lead and didn’t pull too much at all.  Sometimes we even had the same expression:


John also like to have a good sniff at things so we were able to stop whenever I wanted to and he was quite alert (as you can see from the picture).  I was really pleased with him. We walked everywhere and I was absolutely exhausted when I got home.  John has a lot more stamina than Mum and as soon as he suggested another walk I absolutely insisted that Mum let me inside so I could go to bed. 

A wonderful time.

Lots of Love


Friday, October 21, 2011

Walking and the Shadow

I knew NB Shadow was going to be arriving in Thrupp sometime so I took a walk up the towpath to enjoy the autumn day and see if I could spot them.

The cement works looked lovely in the light:


I spotted them at Shipton lock so we turned around and raised the lift bridge for them




It was a beautiful day and once they had moored up we took tea together at Annies. Afterwards they took Boots for a walk over the fields while I got on with some reading I needed to do.  By the time Boots returned home I had finished my work and he was exhausted so I left him in bed and dined on board Shadow for a most enjoyable evening. 

These share boats really are fantastic. This is the first one I have been on and they are so different to my limited experience of hire boats. I wonder why more people don’t have a share.  If NB Shadow is anything to go by, they are really rather homely and much more like the boats I have seen people living aboard.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Stourbridge Navigation Trust Open Weekend: Picture Book

Some pictures from my time up in Stourbridge with some lovely people doing lovely things.  Stourbridge Navigation Trust  Open Weekend




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I like this boat Aldgate. Nick Wolfe has a sign on the roof which I couldn’t read the entirety of because of the mop – and indeed, I stopped reading when it became clear he was looking for a female without baggage.  I always thought it was the baggage that made someone interesting. I wonder whether he found what he was looking for.DSC00629 DSC00635 DSC00618 DSC00625

Maffi has gone

Thrupp seemed strange as Maffi pulled his pins and sailed off into the sunset. Shipton, where he had spent some time preparing for his epic trip, didn't hold the ghost of his boat and, like everytime a boat moves on, it seemed that he had never been there. At first I kept expecting Molly to come flying around from Annie's or jump onto the boat. Maffi's bicycle isn't propped up next to the tea rooms and the car we shared is in the same place before I go to work and when I return; no longer does it skip around Thrupp in different parking spaces. All change.

Maffi has been here for a long time. If you ever needed anything doing it was Maffi who would quietly and silently step into the shoes of hero and do it for you. It wasn't an easy ride living next to Maffi - if you have the good, you get the bad too but that is what friendship is about, and ours had it all.

Maffi did a lot of travelling it in his first year of living on his boat but when he was set to pass Oxford it took him a while to leave - he worked, went to college and left with more tools to be the writer he wants to be. He has written some super work while he has been here. So, he has set sail to travel the system again and I look forward to hearing about his travels as he sets off and meets new and old friends on his great adventure.

I never know whether people will keep in touch - no-one ever can know; but either way I know that I am looking forward to hearing about the highs and lo's of this particular boater as he heads off into the sunset.

I stopped off to see Maffi on my way home on Saturday as I had some post for him. He was in that familiar state trying to resolve his boats plumbing and moored in Cropredy. The following day he went off to Fenny Compton and now he is beyond the boundaries of waters I consider to be 'up the road'.

Enjoy your trip Maffi and be careful of them there dragons! Sail free, sail happy and most of all have an absolutely fantastic time!

See you soon!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

What a week

The week is 7 days; I can't remember Monday very well at all. It seems ages ago. The week started with the most delightful film 'Midnight in Paris' which is just divine, magical, enchanting and wonderful. It was a great way to start the week, and on my way home I noticed that NB Rock n Roll were in moored nearby but I never quite made it to visit during sociable hours before they were to head off the following day. However the wind was high and they decided to stay an extra night so I was able to visit them after all. It was the end of a very very hectic and busy day so I was rather tired and vaguely on a different planet but it was such a lovely evening: I had a wonderful time hearing about their travels. Thank you guys!

On Friday I headed up to Stourbridge to the canal festival there which was also lovely. I arrived to the crowd of CanalWorld forum gathering for a banter (a group of boaters getting together for a natter) together. It was full of smiles and laughter which was lovely - especially as it was Bazza's birthday. Eventually I retired to bed in the back cabin of NB Cobbett. I had visited Cobbett in the build process but hadn't been to since so it was lovely to be welcomed on board and see it all finished.
On Saturday morning before all the crowds gathered I took a walk. I loved the boats resting on the water as the mist rose and the smoke oozed out of the various chimneys. The foggy haze was beautiful - especially as the moon hung above it in the pale blue autumnal sky. I strayed up onto the road and got a little lost before finding the towpath again and returned to the boat for breakfast.

The festival itself was lovely. Lots of people, boats of all shapes and sizes and a line of lovely cars including a 3 wheeler morgan. By lunchtime I was having reverse cabin fever with all the crowds and felt the need to return to my chambers so I took my leave. I was sorry to leave everyone and miss out on the rest of the excitement but sometimes when you (I) have to go, you (I) just have to go and everyone was very sweet about it. I didn't get to say goodbye to everyone (which would have taken hours) but I know the banter continued with lots of fun!!

I made a couple of stops on my way home and by the time I returned to my boat I was ready for bed. It was a little brisk to say the least - the temperature is really beginning to drop now.

Pictures to follow.

Thursday, October 13, 2011


Catherine, only ever known to me as Windfola – an intriguing character not far from where I live who I had hoped I would meet has died. Indigo Dream did meet her and they write about her here.

This is my favourite post of  Windfola’s in response to someone who was looking for a cruising companion, it has the humour and fun that is beautiful.

I could be interested in doing a bit of cruising while I wait to sell my house and buy a liveaboard. So that could be until next week or next year, depending how long it takes to sell.

My qualifications are;
I am female (well I was last time I looked anyway).
I am not working at the moment.
I am in my forties.
I am not an axe murderer (yet).
I am an over-educated underachiever.
I was well brought up, but am no domestic goddess.
I am not looking for romance.
I would however need to bring my two dogs on board

Now I never will meet her.

I did think about going to the funeral but if she could see all the people that hadn’t met her and who cared it would break my heart to think that were she there she may have wished she knew then before she died.

You just never ever know who will be affected by your death, and often the people who are are the people you never even thought had noticed you. Some of those, sometimes, are the ones that can pull you out of the pit.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Good and Evil: Horizon and the Psychopath

My lovely Aunt mentioned a program she had seen on Horizon and I downloaded it ages ago. I finally managed to watch it at the 11th hour before it expired. I thought it was a super program. I found the last sentence particularly poignant. It went something along the lines of:

Whether we are good or evil lies partly in our genes and partly in our environment but as we don't choose either are we really free to choose at all.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Banbury Canal Day

I took the motorbike up to Banbury Canal Day last Sunday. I wasn’t feeling that great but it was lovely to see the town bursting at the scenes with people and stalls all celebrating the canal and ridiculously hot weather.  I had a great time catching up with people and looking around.  There was something for everyone.



Peter in his barrow boat with some rather fine bunting


Tooleys yard was open and had some good traditional crafts  DSC00554

and it was so good seeing Atlanta in the dry dock looking really splendid

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There were pirates




of various sorts (not to mention Jolly Boatman)


the French Market was great: DSC00571 DSC00572

Horse and cart


a bit of sawing


a bit of dancing


The market, people and canal – quite a scene, quite a crowd.


Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Lift Bridges - Respect?

Some time ago I was sitting on my boat and I heard the gentle bang of the lift bridge. Then I heard it again. I was surprised because I haven't heard it bang much since it was electrified.

I looked out of the front doors and noticed someone manually opening it - which, to my astonishment, they actually managed to do. I decided I would meander over and see whether they needed some help as I had visions of a boat going through and the bridge dropping. As I approached the scene unfolded. There were 4 people sitting on the bridge arms and one person climbing up the slope.

I wasn't really sure what to do so I calmly approached them. 'Guys' I said in my I don't want to bother you but just thought I would say. They turned and I gently continued (and I mean gently) told them that someone climbed up the bridge and jumped off the other side breaking both their legs. I also said that was why the lift bridge was electrified and that I thought manually opening it caused problems.

We decided to slowly lower the bridge and see what happened. I tested the bridge afterwards with my electric key and it has worked fine since so I don't think any lasting damage was done. The guys were apologetic saying they didn't think/realise. I also told them of the girl who was messing about with a swing bridge and how her legs were chopped off. I calmly went on to tell them that the bridges look good fun but really they are quite dangerous. 'yeah' they said, 'we didn't realise' followed by 'wow' 'golly' 'yeah, sorry about that' and they walked off.

They didn't realise the lift bridge was electric but they did eventually notice the small sign that mentioned it and we commented on sign positioning before going our separate ways.

I don't know who they were but I came away feeling vaguely positive, calm and without feeling wound up or irritated. Many people I know would have shouted and screamed at them and I am not sure the end result would have 'felt' the same or even been the same. Of course, they may have decided to put a black mark against boaters from now on, but I am not so sure. Either way I hope they heard and won't come to any harm, or do harm.

Did I treat them with respect? I hope so. Either way respect is an important thing. Respect for our environment, the structures on the waterways and for people even when they so blatantly seem to be getting it completely and utterly wrong and flying in the face of reason.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Brave? De-cluttering? The never ending process - almost worse than painting!

I have been de-cluttering for YEARS.... YEARS... honestly YEARS! I had no idea it would take so long, and despite that people (except the very very few who were with me at the very beginning) who see my boat now would never believe I ever started. I have.

I have had another spurt of productivity and made some more space on the boat and recycled several things. I was beginning to feel the boat was beginning to get somewhere until it was suggested that the shed I store things in should be emptied to make way for coal. This is a very good thing on all accounts.

Everything in the shed came from my boat and as I haven't seen any of it for ages I decided non of it would come back onto the boat. You just KNOW that isn't what happened don't you. I now have to make space for 3 boxes of precious things. To be fair the precious things just need time to be sorted out into the really precious things.

Included in the pile there are photographs from a LONG time ago. Every time I come across them I have ignored them. Those days are gone! I have decided to go through them carefully and select a few to store in an album that I can return to if I ever want to. It is about time I reclaimed some of those moments and I think it will be a therapeutic and enjoyable time. That is what I call productive de-cluttering. (I almost sound convincing don't I!)

The sheer amount of stuff I have accumulated over the years is shocking. However I am comforting myself by assuring myself that I don't accumulate as much as I used to these days and that I AM making progress. This is true, I don't, however, it might take me another life time to sort through all the things I have here in Oxfordshire.

Decluttering is a very therapeutic process but it really is disheartening too. Chin up. Progress is being made! You know, I think I might just hold my heart in my hands and dispose of the things that I have already put aside to come on the boat - what is the worst that can happen?

I am sure it will feel good in the end. It usually does.

Saturday, October 01, 2011


How to flatten a tankard

  • Place it on a chair in an 'I am just going to put it there for a moment' and forget.
  • Fail to notice the cushion has slipped over it
  • Sit on the cushion
  • Wiggle to get comfortable
  • Have a moment of "flooding back" recall and leap up in over exaggerated way in an 'if I leap up quick enough it will all be OK'
  • Inspect the tankard.
  • Feel dismayed
  • Reflect
  • Stuff tankard at back of shelf with an 'I am sure I have made something marvelous and I will retrieve it when I know exactly what that is' way.
I am hoping I will work out a way to un-flatten it.