Thursday, 7 December 2017

The First weekend of Advent 2017

What sorcery is afoot? From whence has this trickery emanated? Is it witchcraft or just chicanery?
I am perplexed, anxious, confused.

I stand here in some discomfort.


My problem? Unable to pass water to be frank-well, not unable- just mustn't. Believe you me I am keen, nay desperate. But I must not.

"Why?" you cry.

It would seem that somehow, since dressing, the hole at the front of my underpants has magically disappeared! My usual escape route has gone. I am denied egress. It is the morning of Saturday 2nd December. I have a busy weekend ahead. This can't be happening.


Today I will assist (with Ady) Roy and Annie on Panther down the Marsworth flight to the Red Lion where tonight will be held the Cow Roast Boaters' Christmas Gathering. 


Adrian's new boat "Moorhen" is already at Marsworth (see previous blog) and tomorrow we will bring Moorhen back to Cow Roast after we have held a short ceremony to dispose of the ashes of our friend Geoff.

Last night I finished up on Roy's boat to discuss tides and other nautical matters and to aid  clarity of thought sampled some single malt. The word "some" is inadequate in this context. Why oh why did I not have the early night I'd promised myself ? Especially whilst still recovering from the worst cold since records began.


In my confused state it would appear, after further investigation, that I have put my underpants on the wrong way round. It takes time for my mind to clear and for this fact to dawn. 

Breakfast is a rushed ,unhealthy affair. The usual car swapping needs to be undertaken and I am to meet Adrian at Marsworth, bring his car back to Cowroast and return with him to Marsworth and walk up the flight to meet Panther.

Those of you who haven't fallen asleep might just have realised that my logistical planning was as arse about face as my underpants.

Why did I not just meet Ady at Cowroast,leave his car there and drive us both to Marsworth and save myself a totally unnecessary two way trip? This does not bode well.

Whilst I'm admitting to examples of my failing mental faculties may I tell you of another? 
Last week I went Aldi and took with me my one remaining old £1 coin. My cunning plan to  get rid of it was to use it for the trolley.
I pushed my goods round the shop with an extra smugness at my guile . Having paid for my shopping and packed it in the car I returned my trolley.....and got my old £1 coin back ! This wasn't meant to have happened but why I ever though there would be any other ending God knows.
Still mustn't get one's knickers in a twist.
Bob looks more like Rick Wakeman this year

We had a grand do on the Saturday night with the Red Lion producing some very fine grub. and the raffle with other bits raised  424 quid for the RNIB in memory of Geoff. (It would have been £425 with the old pound coin some mean scrote slipped in at the end!  hee hee) Numbers were a bit down which did mean a bit more seating/eating space




Carrie trying to pay attention but knowing she is having her picture taken






































£15 worth of raffle tickets and look what I won!

We retired in good order not having over indulged with a reasonable chance that the hole in the front of the pants will be to the fore in the morning.

Come the morning and we have a small ceremony to perform. The Ashes of
friend Geoff whose funeral was at the end of October are to be scattered at Marsworth and his brother and cousin David with wife Joan joined Adrian and myself, Roy and Annie and Mike and Judith at 12 noon.
A prayer, a poem a few words by Adrian and Brian and the ashes were scattered in a spot that Geoff knew well near a pub we often used together. Not having done such a thing before I put together a short Order of Service and did a passable impersonation of an itinerant Rabbi. I also wore Geoff's Blackpool scarf


Brian scatters his brother's ashes
It was sad but had to be done. We adjourned to the Red Lion to toast Geoff's life and made our farewells before firing up the two boats and returning to Cow Roast. A morning of mixed emotions. No matter how one deals with such an occasion both Ady and I feel a very deep sense of loss.


Thomas Aquinas summed it up for me. "There is nothing on this earth more to be prized than true friendship" ....and Geoff was a very true friend. Goodbye old mate.

And so we returned to Cow Roast and moored the newly acquired Moorhen alongside Independence where Mac and Carrie had a guided tour


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My last posting talked of my two "locals" , The Cow Roast and the Lamb in Berkhamsted. The rumours as usual were rife but the picture below with the added concrete barricades suggest nothing is happening for a while, if ever at the Cow Roast. It is as always an indication that not only don't Punch Taverns give a toss about pubs, customers or employees but they have no qualms about making the street scene even uglier with a shuttered pub and a concrete monstrosity.  A pub that is shut because of their greed.


Doesn't it look awful.!?

The other rumour is that the Lamb re-opens on this coming Friday-assuming Punch don't burn it down on Thursday.
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Image result for ashes cartoonWhilst I'm in a deep depression over the publess state of this once great nation it would seem an appropriate moment to congratulate the Australians on winning the first two tests of the Ashes series currently being played over there . They have matched and beaten us in every department of the game and there is little hope of rescuing the situation. I am told that Mr and Mrs Howe who live in the colony will soon be visiting their  and my friends Mac and Carrie but fortunately that will be on the Orkneys where a complete absence of electricity, internet, phone signal or a postal service will mean their gloating will be restricted to a couple of sheep and a goat-which sounds to me like a good night out in Australia.
So that was my weekend-knickers in a twist-a jolly start to Christmas-and goodbye to two lots of Ashes.

Bye bye for now

Friday, 24 November 2017

Christmas is Coming

Greetings!

As mentioned in my last post friend Adrian has bought a boat and the proud owner, his brother Kevin and myself moved her from Leighton Buggered to Marsworth prior to coming up to Cow Roast after the Boaters' Christmas Party at the Red Lion at the beginning of December. He is waiting on a vacancy in the marina.




Grove Lock -Ady's first as Skipper of Moorhen




Leaving Maffers 2


A Glass of Bubbly to celebrate-Cheers Ady
It was a cracking day's boating with gorgeous weather and for a change I got to work some locks and establish how very unfit I am -must try harder.


Mind you he wont be doing much boating for the next fortnight as friend Claudia is visiting from Chicago and they have a very busy syllabus......Welcome Claudia -have a great time.


and here are 6 more silly buses


Image result for funny bus pictures cartoon

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Some ratbag stole my Number plates!


Who would do such a thing in broad daylight as to cause inconvenience (and expense) for the sake and risk of two number plates with no significance.

(Is there such a thing as narrow daylight? Discuss)
Bastards.
I rang the police to report it. Apparently the popular scam is to nick the number plates, fix them on their own vehicle-or a stolen one- fill up at the petrol station, drive off without paying and then throw the plates away. They took all the details and issued a crime number; rang me a couple of days later to say no crimes had been reported and to enquire if I needed the services of Victim Support. I said I was happy with the surgical one I was wearing but should that fail or the Govt demand its returnto the truss bank I would be in touch
I didn't but I wouldn't mind finding the ratbags and getting the 30 quid for replacements.

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It's a bad week in the matter of pubs. My two locals, The Cow Roast and The Lamb are in crisis.


Phil the landlord of the Lamb is leaving which is sad for me as we are good friends and I'm sorry to see this successful landlord somewhat broken in spirit. No doubt as in all matters there are more complex reasons but the common factor in both pubs is the dreaded Punch Taverns with their record of high rents, restrictive practices and lack of maintenance. In my opinion they are not interested in encouraging their pubs to develop but solely in copping the rent and when that runs out redeveloping the site.


I'm presuming the Lamb will reopen with a new landlord-I just hope the poor sod has a good  solicitor.
Phil and I at opposite ends on a brewery tour

The Cowroast fortunes have been up and down-mainly down for a few years now and it has closed. Rumours abound as to its future but the ugly steel shutters suggest an air of Toxtethicity (my new word) made even worse by the fact that the BMW garage opposite who used to park staff cars behind the pub are now parking in front. All very sad and does nothing for the streetscene.










The site is  scheduled as an Ancient Monument under the protection of English Heritage and is designated as a Roman town so redevelopment will be difficult.
http://www.dacorumheritage.org.uk/article/cow-roast-dig/

I suggested some time back considering a joint project by the locals, Historic England, the Borough Council and Punch Taverns to turn the site into a museum as in the style of St Albans, incorporating the pub but using it as visitors' centre whist carrying out further excavations and developing the footprint of the Roman settlement that was there.

It occurred to me the other night that I have been using the Cowroast Inn for about a week less than Mugabe was ruling Zimbabwe. (Since 1979)There is no truth in the rumour he is to become a Director of Punch Taverns.




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I was sad to learn of the passing of Antonio Carluccio-he was one of the good guys. We met him once and he was a charming fellow. I read that he suffered what Churchill called The Black Dog and I know what that's like.


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The diary is beginning to fill up as Christmas approaches-in fact the unwritten Wall's Law is that the Days of December fill up in inverse proportion to the speed at which the bank balance empties.
There-it's no longer unwritten.
The usual rule in the Wall clan is no presents other than for the under 16s and I'm applying that to other friends as well.
Mean old scrote.

Anyway friend Trevor's six eventieth next week and the Boaters' Christmas Party the following weekend. So rock on.


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I'm staying in tonight. I have a very chesty cough and generally feel like I'm on my way out. I went out for a short walk today and was wheezing like a sodding harmonium so I've decided to behave. I have a bottle of beer, half a bottle of wine and a quarter of a bottle of  single malt. And a lemon.
For want of sleep I'm a bit zombied. Do you think I should leave the lemon?
No. I'll start with a hot lemon with a tincture of whisky then have beer while I'm cooking, then the wine with my dinner. Ah hang on I've just found a mini bottle of bubbly in the fridge. Hmmm. Breakfast?

The good news is that at 12 midnight I can listen to Test Match Special covering the 2nd day of the first test in Australia. It's great radio though obviously it would be nice to watch our national sport on the Beeb. Sadly that isn't possible since the bitch Thatcher sold that part of our birthright to the Australian/American/whatever dodges the most tax /Murdoch
(The same Govt that set up the likes of Punch Taverns and buggered the pub business)
While I'm in anti government mode I was surprised that the meedjah didn't pick up on Boris when he was making his third apology for the Zaghari-Ratcliffe cock-up and used the phrase "we shall leave no stone unturned" blah blah. Don't give those buggers any ideas about stoning you eedjit.

The fire is roaring and the central heating is running.It's very cold out there and it's snowing ooop north. I just had a text from Carrie to say it's blowing a hooley up in the Orkneys and they're catching a ferry tonight. Look what's on the same ferry!



Bon voyage my friends. See you soon.

And all the best to the rest.

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There should be many contented spirits on board, for such a life is both to travel and stay at home …. and for the bargee, in his floating home, travelling abed, it is merely as if he were listening to another man’s story or turning the leaves of a picture book in which he has no concern
An Inland Voyage, 1878. Robert Louis Stevenson


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Saturday, 11 November 2017

Matters Various

So what shall we talk about today?

Boatwise the major thing has been the ongoing saga of tidying the moorings. Canal and River Trust, our landlords, want to do an inspection of all their moorings to establish what is there in terms of tenants' bits and pieces. This is quite reasonable as when a mooring becomes vacant the landlord needs to know what should and shouldn't be left for the next moorer. It is also part of the rules and regs that the moorings be kept in a safe and tidy condition so all in all we knew that we had to bite the bullet and get shot of years of accumulated junk. When I say "we" it infers we are all in the same state of shambles but of course that isn't the case. Some moorings are pristine and manicured with no piles of "that'll come in useful" stuff lying around. And then there's mine!

Needless to say mine was one of the worst having been moored here over 20 years ( and I inherited some junk anyway) , fitted out Independence-which generated more stuff-and run the annual charity auction thereby inheriting some totally unsellable crap. The last is my fault for not  dumping it the day after the auction but keeping it in the vain hope it might sell the next year.

Anyway having fiddled and faffed around putting off the evil day and then finding the sick leg saga prohibited any action I cried "ENUFF"!










The result is that last week I had two big piles....oooh nasty....one of stuff for the Council Tip and t'other was lots of scrap for the scrap metal man.

The Battery Commander
Helpfully the Council Tip in Berko closes on a Thursday and Friday (it's a rubbish tip hee hee) and I was in Kent over much of the weekend so that had to wait pile but this week it was dispersed. The scrap man, an amiable fellow named Chay, collected the scrap pile and we soon had a second scrap pile for him plus 12 batteries from various moorers which apparently will be worth money. I was very grateful to neighbour, Roy,  who despite just getting over manflu in its most virulent form, helped lug the batteries to the gate. They were ****ing heavy causing the trolley to sink and stick in the mud reminiscent of scenes from the retreat from Moscow when the same thing happened to the French Cannons.
I got rid of FIVE lawnmowers! Now I've never owned a complete lawnmower, only shared one with a neighbour so how I finished up with five, all buggered, I do not know but they've gone- along with one from Mac and Carrie's mooring. Four bikes, two of which never made it to Chay, the Scrap Man, but were "recycled" in the truest sense of the word.

So real and satisfying progress.  I just need to clear my plants from the successful (nearly-came 2nd) entry for the CRT Boats in Bloom Competition and I'm done. Trouble is a lot of the flowers are still trying, confused by the weather and I can't bring myself to dump them whilst they still display.

It will be good to get it finished and concentrate on jobs at home.

Sadly we will still have the same path along the mooring which is now quite dangerous when wet/flooded especially at night. CRT argue they do not have the dosh to fix it which means either it doesn't get done or, as before, we the moorers do it. Trouble is when we last did it we were all younger and  I would say more willing. I for one was both these things and certainly more prosperous, Now the attitude is very much more along the lines of "we pay handsomely for the mooring so spend some of it on us". I was told that because Cow Roast is a Leisure Mooring that CRT felt they had no duty of care as to the path and the safety thereof. However since then the CRT department that sends us the bill have imposed, on those that did not argue counterwise, an above average  increase in fees because of "residential use". If they believe that then it seems to me that they do have a duty of care so the path should be repaired. The s will hit the f if the Emergency Services are called one Winter's evening and a paramedic goes a over t. Tonight as I write listening to the rain pouring down the path is unusable for large lengths. It can only get worse....but at least the mooring will be tidy.




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Friend Ady was looking for a boat. It's been an idea floating in his mind for a couple of years now and this time it's happened.

A stonking great 65 foot ex hire boat (Willow Wren) complete with 12 bunks and a recent hull survey. The job was done in half an hour. Very exciting. I'm quite jealous. A real project.







More on Moorhen next time. For now -Good Luck Ady! =============================================================




Having been a Fulham FC supporter for as long as I can remember and suffering as usual at their appalling present  form I was much gladdened by this picture which shows something only Liverpool fans can also claim. Do you know what it is?




Well of course if you're not a football person you will have nodded off already but the two Fulham players above are Steve Sessegnon and George Cohen. Steve just won an Under 17s World Cup Winners Medal for England and George (who should be Sir George) was in the England Team in 1966-the last time we won anything.
Two English World Cup winners. Only Liverpool with the 16 year old Rhian Brewster  and Roger Hunt (79-who should also be knighted) have the same claim  to fame.

Oooooooh there's only one F in Fulham

Anyway my reason for introducing Fulham Football Club into the conversation is that I found a new word and it has some relevance to the club, I think.
Once upon a time when Al Fayed of Harrods and Dodi fame owned the club he inexplicably had a statue of Michael Jackson installed outside the ground at Craven Cottage.
The new (comparatively ) owner had it removed. Subsequently and some would say consequently we got relegated and are struggling with internal squabbles affecting the performance on the field. So there is a light-hearted campaign to have the statue reinstated. 
The new word?
"apotropaic" 
meaning : having the power to avert evil influences or bad luck.

Reinstate Michael Jackson now!



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“To understand the man you have to know what was happening in the world when he was twenty.”


Recent news and my reaction thereto has reminded me of the above quote by Napoleon Bonaparte which I think isn't far from the truth no matter how we might think we have evolved and matured since those heady days.
50 years ago I would not have thought a man (Tory/English MP) touching a woman's knee to be unusual. I would have known that if it was unwelcome it was out of order but before the days of speed dating, tinder and all the modern stuff a chap might chance his luck to find out.  
What I would have found unusual in 1967 would be that a Lesbian Leader of the chap's (Conservative)  party in Scotland  would give the chap a public telling-off some 20 years after the knee-touching event. The idea of a Lesbian heading the Tories anywhere would have been unthinkable (the Daily Fail never mentioned the L word) and whilst the world has moved on in that department it doesn't seem to acknowledge that we are all a mixture of good and bad and misjudgement in sexual matters is not new, nor is it a male preserve If I had a pound for every time I was told by a woman that I should have been more pro-active in "chatting-up" as we called it I would have at least three quid.

Now I know I'm walking on eggs here but over the last 50 years the world has changed in many ways and I do get confused-but was Napoleon right or have I failed to evolve.I'm with Nappy on this one.


Or maybe Muhammed Ali was right when he said-




"The Man Who Views the World at 50 the Same as He Did at 20 Has Wasted 30 Years of His Life"


Then again when I was 20 he was called Cassius Clay-a perfectly good name.

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I went to Kent (no it's not a Limerick) to collect Caz, Florence and Mathilda and bring them back for a small fireworks party at Pam's. It was a lovely party with a few neighbours who matter and most importantly their children. Pam did flapjacks and hot dogs. Great fun. Anyway here's Mathilda with Grandma and me.

Florence and Joseph
 Natalie with Florence
Pat,  Caz and Florence
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The saga of the Cow Roast Inn continues and it's take pot luck as to whether it's open or closed, has beer or doesn't. After nearly 40 years I've more or less given up on the place, taking myself and my crossword off on the bus to other pubs.
The last bus home is 8 p m. Another wonderful example of the stupidity of HS2 where the money for that King's Suit of Clothes could support/subsidise comprehensive bus services throughout the land and be of much greater value. As it is if I find good company and such company detains me I have to lash out 8 quid on a cab! 
As to the pub I fear the Last Rites are imminent but with the greed of Punch Taverns over the last ten years the place hasn't had a chance to turn itself into a sound business.

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We did another health walk last week (we being Ady and I) The walk was led by Pam and was attended by the Mayor and Mayoress of Dacorum. It was well attended which is good news all round but especially for Pam who, with others, has put a lot of effort into this.


https://www.hertfordshire.gov.uk/services/recycling-waste-and-environment/countryside-management/hertfordshire-health-walks/hertfordshire-health-walks.aspx


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Following the cremation in October Geoff's family have kindly consulted the boating fraternity regarding the disposal of his ashes. I've suggested the canal at Marsworth on the morning of Sunday 3rd December being the day after the Boaters' Christmas Do at the Red Lion Marsworth which was always attended by Geoff. The Raffle this year will be for the RNIB one of the charities he supported.
It seems appropriate. I hope Geoff would have agreed.
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Cheers for now.

The First weekend of Advent 2017

What sorcery is afoot? From whence has this trickery emanated? Is it witchcraft or just chicanery? I am perplexed, anxious, confused. I s...