Thursday, 23 December 2010

Two posts in one

In the situation of having delightful company for the next few days and no tree to decorate - having a dying conifer in the front room not being my idea of a celebration - the resourceful engineer turns to the next best thing, which is, of course, a hand pillar drill of unknown age.

Bought at the inevitable car boot sale a good few months back, it's a fine beast that deserves a picture uncluttered by lights & tinsel, indeed a full post. It needs a bit of sprucing up, but should tackle most jobs without fuss. The chuck is moved down by a screw thread rather than lever as on electric ones, it'll interesting getting used to it, once I've a decent workbench (with space for the large Record vice currently sitting in my hallway, too), and possibly a nice boat hold to put that in...

Anyway. It's been a year of more work than boating, but thankfully a lot of the latter has been sociable, often on other people's craft. So thank you and 'more of this kind of thing' to everyone I've hitched a lift with, cornered at a boat festival or shared a pub table with, especially one person, to borrow a phrase, without whom I'd rather not be. I toast you all, in my case with a wee glass of Weston's vintage cider...

Sunday, 12 December 2010

city wildlife

Sometimes it's all too easy to see a city as a cold, human dominated place, taken over, paved and 'developed' (what a marvellous misuse of the word that is) to an inch of it's life, literally. But in the corners, the dark places, it's not nearly that bad.

The Eel Pie Island fox in a previous post knew the safe places, was healthy, confident in the (admittedly waning) daylight, shareing the space rather than hiding away. It's always fascinated me that a street at 1am is a completely different place than at 1pm, a different habitat, seen by different eyes and used in different ways. Cyling through strange bits of south London last night, two foxes calmly trotted along the street, in a way they wouldn't have done at ten in the morning, feeling I was in their space rather than they were in mine. Tonight, again, a peaceful meeting of eyes with another, more local fox more than made up for the other late night Saturday wildlife - the drunks in the car shouting badly thought out abuse at the cyclist (I deserve something more original that d*ckhead, surely). Watching them, slaloming up the road and not noticing a green light as they chose their next CD, they merited a voiceover from Attenborough or Oddie as much as any creature.

Admittedly, I prefer the foxes, the plants that grow up through the cracks in the concrete, the smiles and the triumphs of sharing rather than taking for oneself. Humans - surely a lowering of nature's tone, the lowest common denominator of life itself - don't have it all their own way. Even here, in a place of concrete, bricks & asphalt.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Brentford's waterside strategy

There's a BW Strategy document on the Brentford Community Council website that's worth a read discussing why there's not much through traffic, and potential improvements, such as extra moorings in the main basin above the gauging locks. I did note a day or two ago that not all the winter mooring spaces have been taken up this year, but anyway.

Whatever they think should happen, will there be any money to do anything? I can't imagine there will be.

Also on that link is the local response to the document (largely scathing), and also other documents discussing the various Thames moorings at Watermans Park. A local councillor once refused to tell me of the complaints being received, so it's nice to have access to the paperwork. I can't help feeling that a large part of it is attitude - people want twee riverside views without boats to clutter them up. I can't help comparing the situation with Eel Pie Island, of course...