Thursday, July 31, 2008

Ten down, 27 to go

Day 2, Stanground Lock to Ashton Lock, River Nene

Poor River Nene, a totally inoffensive – even pretty – river, but I have taken agin it, and even though it has been green and pretty today, I still have not altered my view of it as a kind of boating purgatory, that must be passed through between the Middle Level and canal heaven. Partly, it is because it is boring. It isn’t even pretty in an interesting way, and it lacks buildings and settlements and boats. There are swans and geese and herons, and I confess that I did see my first ever woodpecker today, which was the high spot of the day.

Mainly though it is because of the locks, which are clearly the work of satan, designed to sap the will and induce despair in the most cheery of people. It’s not that they’re hard work – although some are – at least that provides a challenge and a sense of achievement. It’s not that there are lots of them – the Huddersfield Narrow has exactly twice as many, but is so, so much more rewarding and enjoyable. It’s not that they’re big or scary – though they can be, a bit. It’s not that they’re slow to fill or empty; they’re not. It’s that they’re just so bloody relentless. Every one has to be left empty, with the bottom gate open. I’m not sure which is worse; coming down like we did last year, when we had to fill every one before we could use it; or going up like we are now, having to empty every one after us. The worst one actually was the one that had been left full, so we had to empty it, go through, and then empty it again. They have standard V gates at the top, which are fine, but guillotine gates at the bottom, which take forever to open and close, whether electrified, or using the big, completely smooth stainless steel wheel specially designed so that it cannot injure the user in any way no matter how stupid they are, but an absolute pain to use.

Oh, enough moaning. We have made good progress today and are tied up in a nice spot just off the main navigation above Ashton Lock. I remembered it from last year. We came through Stanground at ten past nine this morning and travelled solidly for nine and a half hours. The engine temperature stayed at a lovely steady seventy throughout. What miracle could have wrought this? Perhaps taking the thermostat out this morning?

One other interesting thing I forgot to mention yesterday. John Shotbolt told me that Martin Duiker, who painted Warrior’s roses and castles, had been in touch with him, because he’d read that I’d written about him on here. It wasn’t Australia he went to after this lasy job, but Wales. Apparently he still paints, but not boats. Hope he does get in touch.

No picture tonight owing to lousy reception.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Cooling off

Day 1, Bill Fen to Stanground Sluice

Well, here we are at Stanground after an extremely pleasant, although not uneventful, day. We got to Bill Fen in the car at 10.30 this morning, topped up with diesel (£130.64), and left at one o'clock. It was a perfect day for boating, lovely hot sun, and I was trailing my feet in the water (one of the many advantages of a tug foredeck) and toying with the idea of getting right into the lovely clear water. It's like an subaquaqueous forest, of fantastic plants, populated by fascinating darting fishes.

So we watched the water temperature guage rise and rise, as we always do, and just at the point (around four o'clock) I went to tell Jim that it was over 100 and the oil pressure was 15 (it should be 18-20) there was a sound like Vesuvious erupting and the expansion tank boiling like a kettle, so we considered it politic to stop and drift around for a bit.

Jim has long held the view that the overheating is exacerbated by weed on the skintank (not going too fast, oh no) and we wondered if there might be a way of getting at it. Baz suggested that he could get into the water and have a look - or, at least a feel. We didn't have a scraper, but equipped him with the coal shovel, and he bravely lowered himself into the water. Well, the conclusion was that there isn't significant weed growth much below the waterline, but he looked like he was having such fun that I wanted a go. This might be the only opportunity - too much current on the Nene, too much filth in the canals. The only drawback being that I am a notoriously bad swimmer and the water was a good ten feet deep.

However, to compensate, I have mastered the art of floating, so I too grabbed a rope and eased myself in. Keeping hold of the rope, I had an absolutely wonderful time floating and splashing about. Although I have a deeply embedded image of myself as a non-swimmer, inculcated from my utter hopelessness in the school pool, which had very bitter green water and was lined with slimy polythene, I now realise that I can propel myself at least eighteen yards (how do I knowe that, I wonder) It's getting out again that's the thing. It's easy when you know how, and have two strong assistants though. The trick is to turn your back on the boat and be hauled up by the arms. It doesn't even hurt. Baz could haul himself out; playing the double bass is very good for upper body strength. I have never swum in fresh water before; it was absolutely lovely.

So after things had cooled down a bit, and we'd topped it all up again, we set off at about half past five, and got to Stanground just before nine. We're booked to go through at about 9.15 tomorrow, so will get full value from out three day Nene licence (must remember to affix it!)

WE also went through one lock (Ashline Sluice; I wonder if Helyn's boathook is still at the bottom of it), and we saw an owl.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Last day of school

It's amazing what you can get done when you know you've only got two days to do it. Things that I would have put off for weeks have been tidied up and whizzed off, so that I can have a nice clear diary before I go. And when I come back, I start of a crisp, new, unsullied diary for the academic year 2008/9.

Because it's not just the start of the holiday for me, it's the end of the year. When I return, with Autumn crisp in the air, it will be to new beginnings, new students, new possibilities. What exciting engagements will those crisply lined pages be filled with by this time next year? It's been a very good couple of years for me, not only personally and with the boat, but also on the work front. Hoping my luck will continue to hold...

So another couple of hours, a few people to see and signatures to collect, and then I'll be off. Have to leave early because Sebastian is leading the basses of the East Sussex Youth Orchestra in Rachmaninov's second symphony at the fantastic De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill tonight. Then tomorrow, up bright and early, and hopefully at Bill Fen in time to leave with Warrior the same day.

Must just set up my out-of-office email reply - with a link to the blog of course - and that'll be it for the year.

Monday, July 28, 2008

The keys to the kingdom

Yesterday Amy and James of Lucky Duck were wondering where they could get a BW key in London, at short notice. I offered to lend them my spare one so that they could get one along the way, and give ours back at Cropredy, because we'd already agreed that we'd see them there and inspect each other's boats. So with a few text messages we fixed a meeting near Amy's work, had lunch and a lovely chat, and will be seeing them again in a couple of weeks.

Isn't technology wonderful?

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Moderation in all things

I've just noticed that Caxton use the comment moderation facility on their blog, meaning that they see any comment left first and then decide whether to make it public. It's clearly a useful facility if you're running a site where you might get people libelling third parties in your comments and be held responsible, but I'm glad I haven't felt the need to use it, and hopefully never will.

It must present dilemmas. Suppose someone leaves a critical or nasty comment. If I don't allow it, it looks like cowardice or censorship. On the other hand, if I do, then it looks either like masochism, or - if I then respond - as if I'm looking for a fight. On the other hand, if someone says something nice, surely modesty should forbid my broadcasting it to the world once I have control over it. So I prefer not to be in control of what comments are posted. Very occasionally, I have deleted comments. Once, on impulse, to protect someone else's feelings; once one of my own, because of a spelling mistake - but I still got accused of censorship - and a couple of times when they were obviously spam. Since instigating the old squiggly letters thing I don't think I've had any more of that.

I don't require commentors to be registered with Google/Blogger - I've had that frustrating experience when I've carefully crafted a comment and then at the last moment find I can't post it unless I go through some signing up rigmarole. Finally, I haven't taken the option of not allowing anonymous comments. I can't see the point. I've been involved in debates about the rights and wrongs of anonymity - albeit in the context of political blogs - and am surprised by how many people are against it. Firstly, in an online context, any name or identity is pretty meaningless anyway. People choose who they want to be. I'm all for that. I'm not pretending to be anyone I'm not when I write on here, or post on CWF as WarriorWoman, but I am representing only one particular aspect of myself, and the name and online identity I use highlights that.

The arguments for and against anonymity seem to me to be analogous to those for and against the secret ballot. My hero, John Stuart Mill, although in favour of widening the franchise and, incidentally, one of the very earliest advocates of votes for women, was opposed to the secret ballot. He thought that people should be prepared to stand up and be counted, literally, because if they couldn't be identified with their decisions they might decide selfishly or irresponsibly. He was probably right, but the advantages of secrecy, in terms of the liberation from possible coercion or bribery, surely outweigh this.* At least, we seem to have accepted that they do in political life. In blogging there's probably even less grounds for denying anonymity, given that anyone can respond and make their own points in response. We should be able to consider points and arguments independently of our views or knowledge of the people making them.

*For this to work, it is vital that you not only can vote in secret and not show anyone else your ballot, but that you must, and that you must be prevented from showing it to anyone else. This is one of the reasons that the expansion of postal voting is worrying.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Stick this in your window (in seventy words)

What can I say when this speaks so eloquently for itself? Please, take the time to savour the carefully crafted prose. Appreciate the attention to detail that the Environment Agency lavish on such an apparently small and insignificant detail - if they care this much about a three inch square of paper, what safe hands our rivers, lock cottages &c. must be in. Indeed, we can all sleep more peacefully in our beds knowing that up and down the waterways of this great nation, while clumsily deployed British Waterways licences may be displayed with no thought to whether the obverse or the reverse should be facing the user for transom affixment, EA certificates will be lined up smartly like soldiers awaiting a royal inspection.

Alternatively, they could have said, 'stick this in your window'.

But where's the magic in that? Where is the expansion of our vocabulary? Yes, I mock, but really I secretly love this arcane language. I'm glad they do it. It's easy to poke fun at it, and that's part of the reason, but it does represent something wonderfully old fashioned; one of the good things about the past, when people used the English language in all its variety and complexity, without shame or fear of elitism, to communicate rather than obfuscate. It's not the meaningless jargon of modern companies' 'mission statements', or the weasel waffle of politicians with their feel-good buzz words. It may be excessive, but it's good English; all the words mean something, and once you get over its redundancy, it does make sense.

So as a gesture of my admiration, I shall, forthwith, deploy my square of sticky plastic as advised, and I shall mock no more. Also, I have decided that henceforth I shall write 'etc' in Victorian fashion as above; it looks so much more elegant. Kindly pass me my quill...

Friday, July 25, 2008

Come rain or shine

There is now a boating hat for every meteorological eventuality (because there's also a furry one with ear flaps for when it's freezing, but it's packed away somewhere).

It's my birthday today, and the sou'wester was my present from Jim. I'd mentioned ages ago that I thought it would be a good thing to have, but I wasn't expecting it so it was a splendid surprise. I realised I needed one, or something like it (and what could be better than a great big yellow one?) last time I was steering in the rain, trying in vain to see out of the side of my anorak hood... because when you're steering, you stand sideways on, don't you. Don't you? Well, you should. And I decided that what was required was some sort of waterproof covering that actually moved with my head, and prevented rain from dripping down the back of my neck. What better than something designed for the very purpose. I have tried it on, and custom-folded the brim, and practised rotating my head, and it works very well, provided there are no ornaments within range to be swept off shelves. Additionally, I can wear it backwards and pretend to be a duck.

He wants me to say that he bought it from Bacons Dozen in Lowestoft (01502 564 120) who sound rather marvellous, especially if you need some Whitworth spanners or similar.

The fairweather boating hat was acquired by me at a jumble sale, and was, the label tells me, manufactured in the British colony of Hong Kong, so is clearly Vintage and not just old rubbish. I didn't have the nerve to wear it last year (also, last year it wasn't actually all that sunny) but it has been donned this year already as I am a lot more confident now that I am forty three.

Thursday, July 24, 2008


Six days to go!

Like the big kid that I am (sometimes), I started packing for our summer holiday weeks ago. And finished. We don't have wardrobe space on Warrior; seems a bit inefficient when we can just keep everything on the bed during the day and it's the work of a moment to sling it out at night. In the past we've used those big laundry bag thingies, but I find them a bit unwieldy to handle and to scrabble around in, so I have invested in some Woolworths laundry baskets. They have nice smooth bottoms to slide onto the bed easily, and stack inside each other when empty.

I managed to fill two of these with my stuff; just my clothes, none of the other stuff we're taking. As I'm always berating Jim for taking too much stuff (no, you do not need three pairs of boots, smart trousers and a shirt for every occasion), I thought that this really wouldn't do.

Firstly I removed two thirds of the undies. It will be jolly good for my soul to wash them in the bath and hang them up to dry over the engine, and will make me feel very virtuous and horny-handed (but I use Neutrogena for that). Then I removed about half the t-shirts and most of the long sleeved ones. It won't be cold, will it? Even if it is, they'll be on the outside so it doesn't matter how filthy they are. I removed the pretty little tops I was taking for best; a clean vest will do instead. I shall still take one skirt, and am still debating over a pair of jeans. They're fearsomely impractical from a washing point of view, but if fairly clean, will take you anywhere. The other leg coverings I have packed are strictly for boating only, being of the hi-tech synthetic fibre, multi-zipped, outdoor type which I wouldn't want anyone to think I wore as a style statement.

In pursuit of a stylish birthday present for my friend Donna, I went Up West (as we denizens of the metropolis call it), and they have clothes shops there, on Oxford Street and Regent Street. Normally this would be a closed book to me, my main suppliers, since the demise of jumble sales, being charity shops and, if I'm feeling particularly wicked, Primark, but I was feeling bold, and stepped inside a few of these pulsating temples of youthful adornment. The fact that it appeared to be the tail end of the sales helped. And in H&M I found some splendid shorts. I shall say no more other than that they go rather well with my Boating Hat... must remember to pack pink and orange socks.

Anyway, I got it down to one basket in the end.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Hostage to fortune

Well, only a week to go. I was so impressed with Amy's sidebar calendar on Lucky Duck, I wanted one myself, so that everyone can see where we are, and when.

Baz said, isn't that a really bad idea, because then everyone will know we're away and come and burgle the house. I pointed out that the fact that we're going away is already public knowledge, and the burglar isn't going to much care whether we're in Northampton or Acton. And anyway, for all you burglars reading this, Aaron is moving in while we're away, and Carl next door is a one man neighbourhood watch, so I wouldn't try it if I were you. Furthermore, we haven't got a TV for you to nick.

Amy told me how to set it up, but I enrolled Baz too - although with hindsight I think I'm getting the hang of this now - and here it is. Only it's not quite right yet, because some of the entries are too long and you can't scroll across, but you can get the details up with a couple of clicks. It's all very provisional of course, so you'll have to keep reading to see where we are, when, but if you're in the area get in touch.

My, that's done me in.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Converging on Cropredy

It's going to be an exciting time at Cropredy, and not only because of going to the Festival for the first time after wanting to for years - no, make that decades. I heard yesterday that Mike is planning to go, and hoping to bring Zulu Warrior, which would be great.

And yesterday evening I learnt that the friends of one of my colleagues, Megan the redoubtable Deputy College Secretary, have just taken over the Brasenose Arms in the village, and she'll be there as well, helping them to get things sorted out.
I asked Graham of Alnwick what the pub was like, and apparently it's less posh than the Red Lion, and traditionally used by the residential boaters there. Sounds fine to me.

Now all we have to do is get there. I told Graham that we're aiming to arrive on the 6th - a week out of Ramsey. With long days and no hitches we should be tied up to Alnwick just about in time for the fun and frolics.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Tres amusant

If there's one expression that's guaranteed to have me reaching for my metaphorical gun, it's 'I like a good laugh.' People who say this mean either 'I drink Bacardi Breezers and think that chocolate willies are funny,' or, alternatively, 'I am a po-faced misery who completely missed the point of your mildly amusing blog post but will never admit it.'

It's one of those things that, if you have to say it, you clearly have a problem in that department. Who, frankly, doesn't enjoy a little mirth from time to time?

Anyway, I make no claims for the amusement potential of this, but it had me weeping over my desk this morning.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

That's better

Thanks Baz. We resized it using Microsoft Picture Manager. That's just how I pictured it. Now, if we could just do something about separating the posts....

Work in progress

Aaaagh, I've gone and done it.
Of course I don't like it.
Steve's instructions worked perfectly.

Adam is right, obviously I need to shrink the photo considerably before uploading it. Baz had already cropped it long and thin - it'll be perfect once we get the size sorted out. Any hints Adam as to what size works just to fill the width of the page?

The thing that really bugs me about this layout is the way the end of one post is squished right up against the title of the next one. Any way around that that anyone knows of?

I will keep persevering; I don't want to give up just because I'm an old stick-in-the-mud and resistant to progress, but I hope we can overcome these little glitches. In the meantime, please consider it very much a work in progress.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

A new look for nbWarrior?

Now Warrior the boat has its new look, maybe it's time for Warrior the blog to have a makeover after all. Kindly fellow-bloggers responded, as I knew they would, to tell me how it should be possible to have a photo masthead, showing Warrior in all its glory, and I pursued this, up to a point.

Up to the point where I realised that in order to achieve that end, I would have to replace this tried and trusted (and much loved, by me if apparently very few others) 'template' with a whizzy new modern fab and groovy 'layout' which I believe will look more like this. The Caxton blog, by the way, seems to have got off to a really flying start - 32 posts for July alone SO FAR! And it's so interesting and entertainingly written that I even forgive them for having a bowthruster. In fact, I'll go further than that; I may even reconsider my view of bowthruster owners in general... until the next smug Daily Mail-reading git hoves into view on their semi-trad, anyway.

So, bewarned. I shall start fiddling tomorrow. Hopefully I will manage not to totally screw everything up, and I am trusting (perhaps naively) in Blogger's assurance that the old version will be saved indefinitely and I can revert to it any time I like (but I bet only if I can find the right button, which is likely to be the stumbling block for me).

So. Coming soon: your new, improved, user-friendly, greener, fashionable, digital, forged-in-the-white-heat-of-technology, traditional values in a modern setting, accessible, equal-opportunity and all-round highly desirable nbWarrior.


Friday, July 18, 2008

Fallen off again?

It has come to my attention that Warrior no longer appears on Granny Buttons' 'boatroll'; neither, if I remember rightly, does Water Spaniel, for one. This happened a while back, and the reason turned out to be that the list was set to accommodate only fifty names, and as new ones were added, those near the end of the alphabet dropped off the bottom. I suspect that that Andrew then expanded the list to a hundred - never thinking there would ever be so many. But I counted just now and made it ninety nine, which probably means that it is a hundred, given that maths isn't my strongest suit. So, will Andrew just expand again, or will he exert some sort of quality (or quantity?) control and weed the list?

While on the subject I recently weeded my links list a bit. I removed PolPhil Pete on the grounds that he hasn't posted since March, and the world is thus still woefully underinformed about What Would Hobbes Do?; and I removed Save Our Waterways - now it's become a membership group it's hard to see its particular raison d'etre. I've added the Photobucket albums alongside the Webshots ones, and will be using Photobucket from now on, I think - if only because it makes it SO easy to embed a photo in a CWF post.

When I say 'I', obviously I mean I got Sebastian to do it. He tried to show me how, again, but I resolutely looked the other way and stuck my fingers in my ears. I also wanted him to put in a masthead, with a nice photo of painted Warrior but that has so far defeated him. Note to self - ask someone who has a photo masthead in blogger how they did it. I also have a slogan, courtesy of Richard Fairhurst. He says that he sees this blog as being characterised by a 'traditional slant on modern boating'. I like that, and will incorporate it at the top of the page just as soon as someone tells me how.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Blimey, that was quick

Rang up BW on Monday afternoon, licence arrived in the post this morning.
Not bad.
Mind you, I rang the EA twenty minutes earlier, so where's theirs?

It is now possible to get short term licences without having a long term one, so we've bought a month off BW (August) and three days from the EA for the Nene - at £10 a day it's a dear way to buy it, but best for us. The Thames requires a separate one again but we can buy that when we get there.

We're leaving on the 30th, so that's a fortnight today. Exciting!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Funny looking road

Here's a rather interesting story from our local paper, the Sussex Express. There was a slight degree of minor consternation a few months back when it was announced that some sort of drink/drive limits were going to be imposed on boaters. Well, if there's anything in this story, then they won't need to bother with new regulations.

In short, the captain of a ship delivering aggregate was suspected by customs officers of being drunk some three hours before his ship was due to leave Newhaven. The customs officers called in the police, who attempted to breathalyse him. So far, so good - being drunk in charge of a ship is presumably a crime under maritime law. But when he refused, he was charged not under any maritime law but under the Road Traffic Act, according to the report 'after prosecutors were unable to find a more relevant charge.' Apparently this has made legal history, his defence lawyer saying that there appeared to be no precedent for it. Well, there is now.

Having been kept in custody for four and a half days, the ship's captain pleaded guilty to refusing to take a breath test, so, sadly, the use of this law was not tested in court.

Whatever the evils of being drunk in charge of a ship, it is nonetheless worrying that someone can be charged, kept in custody, convicted and fined under a law that was never intended for the purpose. Not really surprising, though.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Laden with trinkements

It was a lovely sunny day today, the first in a while, so naturally I spent it at the Queen Elizabeth II conference centre in Westminster. I could see Big Ben and the London Eye out of the window, but could feel only an air conditioned chill on my skin. I did get to ask a question of the Minister for Communities and Local Government though, and to hear Boris Johnson make a (disappointing) speech (Ken Livingstone turned up at an event I was at last week, so now I've got the pair). And I managed to introduce the boat into three conversations, although two of them were with people on the Lee Valley Park stand, which is a bit like shooting fish in a barrel.

I have also added to my fine collection of trinkements. Trinkements are the freebies you can shamelessly collect at conferences from people desperate to tell you about their products and services, and to press their shiny leaflets upon you. The word came about when John at Huddersfield was so speechless with envy at the calling card case that I brought back from the Higher Education Academy conference that he didn't know whether what he was coveting was a trinket or an ornament. Trinkement collection can be quite competitive. Today I got my first memory stick (English Heritage) and a shiny new card holder (GLE ... something to do with economic development); some mints from Thames Water (what's that all about then?), and a notebook and badge from Lee Valley Park. Pens hardly count any more; as a seasoned collector I ignored them this time, although we did get a wooden one (!) in our oh-so-eco-friendly cotton bag. This is the latest conference trend. No one wants to be seen to be handing out nylon laptop bags any more, it's cotton shoppers from now on.

Obviously politics and local government conferences are pretty small fry. For the really serious freebies, apparently, it pays to be in medicine. That surely tells us something, although I'm not altogether sure what.

I was going to write about something else entirely tonight, but I've written so much now I think I shall save that for tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Harder stuff

Oh dear, things are escalating.

No, actually, I saw sense and after a few minutes decided to pass this straight on to someone else. But if I see any more, of course I shall still have to buy them.

The picture is called 'Steam Revival' so the juxtaposition of modern boat and old train isn't as incongruous as it first looked. Any idea if it's a real place?

Sunday, July 06, 2008

At long last (in more ways than one)

Yes, at long last we got Warrior signwritten, and at even longer last, I think I can post some photos, most of which were taken by Jim, but thanks to John for the ones taken from the bank.

I have given up on Webshots this time; it randomly refused to upload about three quarters of the photos (which needless to say were all the same type and size of file), so the signwriting photos are on Photobucket, here. Whoah! Read the story first...

The original plan had been to have the signwriting done by Dave Moore. We talked to him about it, and he did the temporary writing that served us for a year. I still feel rather guilty actually for switching, although he was very nice about it, and I'm sure isn't short of work. It would of course have been the absolute ideal to have Dave do it, with his flair, experience, training and reputation, but a few factors conspired to militate against that in the end: distance, cost, and the arrival at Bill Fen of the piratically named Black Boat John, who historically did all the Shotbolts' painting and signwriting.

He has done a good job. The main difference, I sense, is that we had to tell him exactly what we wanted. He couldn't give us any guidance. Unlike Dave, who chalked it out freehand, John plans it all on paper first. Most of what he has done hasn't been very traditional, whereas we wanted quite a plain, 1930s, sort of appearance. Of course there were lots of disagreements between Jim and me along the way, and every time I thought we'd agreed, it seemed he either changed his mind or it turned out we were actually visualising it differently. Changes continued to be made right up to the last minute, when I wasn't there. The plan had been to have all the writing in that very plain, sans serif, quasi-Grand Union style. Jim then read (or reread) Tony Lewery's book and thought that Warrior should be writting in a slightly more ornate style (or possibly much more ornate; maybe slightly more ornate was the compromise we reached)

It was also from this that he was inspired to have a vertical panel of diamonds under the drainage hole in the handrail. This I must say I like very much.

As you might gather, overall the scheme is a shameless pastiche of various aspects of old boats. It's not a replica of anything in particular, but hopefully it hangs together visually as long as you don't think about it too much. Our starting point was the age of the engine - 1937 - and the thought, what would we do if it was 1937 and we were just setting up in the tug business.

We were going to have both our names on it, but Jim decided either that that wouldn't look right (though actually the spacing would have worked well) or that he preferred to remain anonymous, so that is why only my name appears. Jim can be an honorary son. Feels like that sometimes anyway... The line under '& SONS' was in the initial plan, with both names; my idea was that in the later version the lettering should all be the same. However, John was working off the original sketch, and as I wasn't there... I'm not sure whether I prefer it or not, so I guess that means there's not much in it.

The address is the genuine address of Bill Fen, where we moor of course, and very near where Warrior was built, and it has a lovely ring to it, I think. Factory Bank runs alongside the High Lode going into Ramsey where the lorry breakers etc are, so is suitably gritty. I am slightly bothered by the thought that if one was setting up a tuggage business in the Fens one wouldn't necessarily have a narrow boat, but maybe someone could find me a precedent.

Wisbech was a genuine registration authority (they're listed in the Spring 2007 issue of NarrowBoat mag); and we just liked it better than Peterborough, which was the alternative 'local' one. Clearly if we plied our trade between Wisbech and Northampton and beyond (hence the narrowness, it's all starting to come together...) then we'd have to live on it.... (this may be what Emerson was referring to when he said that 'a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds'. On the other hand, he might not have been thinking of boat painting schemes. Who knows.)

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Why this is not about signwriting

I did fully intend to do a big post tonight, with lots of pictures of the signwriting and a blow-by-blow account. But know what? I'm too knackered to do justice to it.

Jim came back yesterday after a week in Ramsey, rubbing down and overseeing final painting and signwriting. I spent yesterday on a selection of trains. Well, most of it. I went to Harrogate (about 280 miles away). For the day. This came about because my former Huddersfield colleague, John, submitted a paper in our joint names to a prestigious but very expensive conference there. Not only was the conference expensive, but you have to pay for your own accomodation on top. I resented this, so resolved to pay the cheapest possible day rate (£195!) and travel up by train (£11 each way). So, six hours there, lunch, half hour paper (my bit = about ten minutes), an hour to kill, then six hours back again, arriving home at eleven. I didn't even get the tea at Betty's with which John had bribed me to attend, as he had to leave even earlier to come south for a validation in Canterbury.

And so it was that just after leaving the office today I got a text from him saying 'are you still at york, I'm on my way through London, do you want to meet up for a drink' York? I thought, that was yesterday, you fool. Then I realised that this was merely overenthusiastic predictive texting, and he meant was I still at work (though whenever I've tried to text 'Yorkshire' I get 'workshy'...). So I rang him up from the train, just about to leave Victoria (I know, just like young people, it's terrible), and he was in Westminster, so we met up for a couple of pints, and then I came home, and now I'm going to bed. Sorry.

Signwriting pictures tomorrow... oh, except perhaps not, because I'm going to a local government seminar at the LSE and there's a wine reception afterwards...

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

I was right about the cat

But I finally finished the damn thing, despite feline 'assistance' this morning. Anyone want a nice jigsaw puzzle? Hardly used, complete, slightly hairy?