Sunday, 3 June 2012

Some things never change

'On her Silver Jubilee' by Leon Rosselson. I hope he won't mind. ;-)

Right, we're off to see some boats. ;-)

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Who'd live in a house like this?

(image copyright rightmove/keatons, undoubtedly)

A 7' wide house, for sale in Hackney for £275,000.

Following the link and looking at the floor plan, you might get a tiny bit more space than a boat, but not much more (and less light, I'm guessing), and for four times the price of a boat, with none of the advantages. Why?

In other news, the occasional BBC royal street party thingy idents in between programmes were at least partially shot just by The Fox in Hanwell, while Tortoise was there recently, although not actually in shot - not that any of the canal was.

Friday, 27 April 2012

Is there really such a thing as 'pay as you go'?

My first mobile broadband thingy was a 'Three' model; fater the initial data allowance was used (took several months, I recall), any subsequent topup lasted a month, whether used or not. That's equivalent to buying four tins of beans, after a month you've only used two so they take them back off you; not really on.

I then - a couple of years ago, I think - found a Vodafone one (yes, pay full tax in the UK, you b*stards) that claimed unlimited data; I managed to get one before it was discontinued. The initial data allowance - think it was 1Gb, must check - lasted me those two years; most websites fucntion fine with images off, and it saves a hell of a lot of daya, when it's being counted. I was down to my last pound's worth, and a mere half an hour phone call later I was able to add more credit. £15, for 1Gb of data. That will only last 3 months, then it is taken away again; back to the beans again. So why call it pay as you go? It seems to be pretty universal, too - I haven't researched it much for a while, but I don't know of any company that will offer genuine pay as you go mobile internet.

Of course phone companies are all about money (and keeping it rather that paying it in tax), and customers like me are their worst possible nightmare. I can't imagine ofcom are interested, but it's a typically capitalist the-customer-always-loses scam. yes, I'm playing the game too, just doesn't seem fair.

Meanwhile - in even less exciting news (for the sake of adding a picture), these are back in a pound shop near you;

I know, I know. But it is useful; it'll charge a newish Nokia phone, iPod/iPhone, anything with a mini-USB (lots of things, not just phones) and also micro-USB (Blackberries, Samsung phones, I think, also kindles) from a USB socket; either in a computer, or from a car cig lighter USB power supply, also hadily on the same shelves (or a mains one, if you have one). You may never need it, but might come in useful too.

arg - new blogger; yes, I get so see that a random post about furniture made from pallet wood got 2,272 views, but why do I have to go back to adding html paragraph tags just to format my post. Otherwise it looks like the rantings of a madman. Ah, erm...

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Too much water & not enough boats

Tortoise is at the bottom of the Hanwell flight at the moment, just where the Brent enters the canal - otherwise known as 'The Fox'. With all the recent local rain the water level has risen around a foot since yesterday; a neighbouring boater reckons they'll have opened the sluices on the Welsh Harp reservoir, although whether that is fact or conjecture I'm not sure. The flow is pretty impressive, certainly a couple of miles an hour, certainly the coots struggled against it. A lot of rubbish/twigs/logs has floated past today - most are piled up by the first wier, above Osterley lock.

Meanwhile Brentford visitor moorings are as empty as I've seen them; in fact one boat has come down today so they were emptier earlier. The visitor moorings are turned over to winter moorings until the end of March, so most of them have now wandered on. ;-)

Monday, 16 April 2012

My second favourite boat called Blackbird

Seen on a recent flying visit to the K&A; lovely. That would be my workshop under there, could be opened up in summer...

Wednesday, 11 April 2012


The nice thing about living in Brentford (and being able to bring your own boat down here for a few days, to faff about) is that you see the odd bit of traffic that comes through. Hence I chatted to the crew of 'I Frances', first at the gauging lock and later in various of Brentford's hostelries...

Having been brought over from Bristol by it's new owner, it's a striking looking boat, lots of nice woodwork. It gets more striking when you find out it was built in Canada and sailed across the Atlantic to Ireland, then the UK (link to pdf). Here's the new owner's record of works, and for light relief the collected troglodytes of cwf cast their undoubtedly expert eyes over the feat.

In completely other news, on ebay, the present for someone who has everything; an apparently full size canal boat bow. Currently £1.99 with three days to go, buyer collects...

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Wecome to Victorian Britain

In a spectacular move even Jo Moore (of 'good day to bury bad news' fame) would be proud of, the government we didn't vote for got the NHS bill passed through the day before a controversial budget through, neatly deflecting prolonged flak - well, for a while, until any of us or our family are ill. Then we'll remember. Then we'll remember all too well.

In less important circles, I've reach the point where there's too much bloggable stuff to know where to start, and no camera card reader to hand, which doesn't help...

The title? expect workhouses and ricketts back any day now. Just wait...

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

And the winners are...

... well, it's not independent boaters, that's for sure.

Results here (and candidate info still here).

So, we have 2 1/2 IWA people and one RBOA, I think it's fair to say?

A cynic would suggest it's a neat stitchup by someone in an upper floor office; by denying the IWA and RBOA seats on the council by default (list of 'nominated respresentatives' also here - WRG seems to be the only big directly canal association allowed to play), the IWA get an even bigger voice on the council, RBOA get their say (and so they should) and 'private boaters' get eff all. Diddly squat. As we expected, then.

I should make it clear I have nothing against the IWA, RBOA or anyone else. It's this travesty of 'representation'. Perhaps it was never going to work. It'll be like the NHS, about to be ripped apart by people with accounts at Harley St. In a couple of years, when we look back at when we didn't have to pay for a broken arm to be treated - or our licences weren't doubled overnight, say - they'll tell us we chose this, that we were complicit.

Actually, I'm far angrier about what they're doing to the NHS - that affects far, far more people in a much more important way. But it's all the same. We're f*cked.

Edit: see also Peter Underwood's post on the results suggesting all four represent the IWA. What's the point? I genuinely don't understand why they did this.

Friday, 2 March 2012

Elections & stuff

I met a CRT council candidate the other night, by accident, in a pub. Not one of the ones I already know/know of in some way. He won't get desparately far in politics as we went straight into his pet hates without working out what I might think, but would on the same token be ideally suited as a taxi driver.

He's not part of any of the main groups, but I'm sure represents plenty out there, if fact I did suggest he join a well kown canal forum to hoover up some support...

I'm glad (because it goes without saying) there will be boater representation on the council, but I'm hardly convinced it'll do much good, especially the way the IWA are playing the game - insulted not to have a chair at the table already (reasonable, along with other bodies) they want all the places reserved for us boaters? I wish I understood that tactic. If someone's name is familiar they'll probably get voted in; most won't have a hope in hell. But back to our nameless independent...

I see the canals as somewhere to live and let live; he, like many, wants them to conform to what he wants, and only what he wants. If someone is on a mooring before him he immediately assumes they are overstaying. If he pays one and a half grand for a winter mooring, he thinks everyone else should too. He denies that east London boaters have a 'community' or should even be allowed one. And he wants to stick to 'the rules'.

I'm all for rules - when they're of cooperation, not pointless coercion. Red lights on roads means that others can safely cross elsewhere - a point sadly lost on many of my cycling conpatriots. Driving into box junctions in heavy traffic when you can't leave genuinely makes things worse, which is why you're not supposed to do it.

But rules that make less sense, in context? If boats 'overstay' in winter, who are they harming? If it's only the egos of those who resent others having something they have paid dearly for, then I'm all for it.

Incidentally, a BW lockie (trying to top up the lobng pound into Paddington by running water through Cowley lock) tells me that the western entrance to Brownings Pool at Little Venice will by physically blocked off after a certain date, and only those 'paid up' will get through. Must read the terms of my license again... if they theink they will 'clear' east London's canals - in much the same way that cities all over the world remove their 'undesireables' before a big sports event - they're making trouble for themselves. Leave them be, seriously, just leave them be.

There's plenty of room for us all, all opinions, all boats, all faces. Our current government may be trying to take us back to feudal elitism, but it doesn't have to be like that everywhere.

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

A new Bridge for Brentford

Indeed, albeit one only partially across the Thames; from the north shore to Lots Ait; one of the islands just downstream of the Brent/canal outflow.

We spotted work starting on the old shed on the island a few weeks back - once a depot for the Thames Steam Tug & Lighterage Co (later less poetically Thames & General), whoi'd provide the motive power for trains of barges being towed from the Brentford Dock rail/river interchange into London's more central docks.

What's interesting is that while local word is that a 'leisure centre' is to be biult on the island, the internet tells me it's going to be developed as a boatyard and small business workshops, which is much more exciting; perhaps there's a bit of both.

I'm assuming the end of the footbridge is temporary; I can't imagine they wouldn't build a footbridge without ramp access these days.

here's another view of the bridge, taken through the security fence/gate on to Brentford High Street:

In a coincidence that could only be fairly called serendipitous, I spotted a previously unknown (to me) book about Brentford Dock, and the railway link to it, in the local library this morning:

It's an interesting read, and filled in a lot of the background for me, with a fair amount of canal related stuff too. When the GWR was built from Bristol to London, it was actually easier to get goods to central London's docks via canal from Bulls Bridge (very close to the railway at Hayes) and down to Brentford and the Thames, rather than by road from Paddington. Even this proved to be slow and expensive, so pretty soon the branch was built down to Brentford to get traffic straight into lighters; in operation for a hundred years until the shipping container and Beeching killed it off. There's a nice bit of snarking about the already extant LSWR line through Brentford (the current Brentford line, the station still being called 'Brentford Central' when I first moved here), too, and speculation that the three bridges road/canal/railway conjunction could have easily been avoided, and was mainly done to show off by Brunel...

The book is published locally by Dandelion Publications based on Brentford Dock itself, available, at least, in Brentford Library.