Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Whales and squirrels

I had a really good Christmas and hope anyone reading this was as lucky as me.
In the run-up, things were all a bit snowed under, with wood cutting and de-icing inside the boat windows and lugging shopping a long way to the boat. I'm alongside woodland so made various concoctions for birds, having had a read in my bird book what they might like: cooked rice, sunflower seeds, peanuts, soaked raisins, left-over porridge and just about every suspect 'nearly empty' pasket from the back of my cupboards. It made good balls of food to lodge in tree stumps, then I got to watch the magpies, blackbirds and robins all afternoon instead of wrapping presents. Then this cheeky little fella trundled along, scoffing everything it could grab from the birds.

Anyway, after that, I went and spent a wonderful few days in London, seeing friends and my dearest loved-ones. Aahhh... the warmth, the comfort :-D
Never far from water-related themes, I was happy to see this decorated topiary whale, one of two in the same street!

Back on the boat now, I seem to have a pipe problem :-( A leaking shower-head, even though the water-pump is turned off. Oh well, always something to sort out on a boat!

Monday, 20 December 2010

Red sky, shepherd's pie.

Red sky in the morning, shepherds warning! Though in this case, it was the start of a lovely day of boating, crisp sunshine on the snow, beautiful dark trees against the white.
The following evening I managed to get lost in a blizzard, making my way back through Cassiobury park to the canal from Watford. It sounds ridiculous, but it's such a big park and the paths led off in different directions, all looking the same. It felt a bit of an adventure getting back to the boat at last!

I liked this little fellow, standing guard on one narrowboat. But best of all was this fine snowman. I could hear the children on board the boat nearby and wondered if the family would be spending Christmas day afloat. I bet that's a fine memory to tell their own children one day.

I loved Kath and Neil's (nb Herbie) musical Christmas card. Do have a look/listen if you haven't already done so.

Happy christmas, fellow boaters and landlubbers alike xx

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

International Animal Rights Day

That was the 10th December, when people group together to remember or campaign for, the millions of non-human animals who suffer at our hands. From abused 'pets', farmed animals and wild creatures hunted for sport, to those held for vivisection in laboratories across the world.
The Oxford campaign, SPEAK, continues its fight to protect the animals being tortured in the Oxford University primate lab. Its website explains the bad science behind animal testing.

An article from The Guardian:
Writing for Animal Aid, the UK's largest animal rights group, Marius Maxwell, a neurosurgeon at a specialist spine centre in the US, said the minority of Oxford animal researchers were "tirelessly promoting their claimed achievements before the media".
He said: "Many of my Oxford colleagues in world-class scientific laboratories, and in the humanities, are privately aghast at the ability of a small group of media-savvy vivisectionists to hold the debate hostage and thereby besmirch the international reputation of their university."

The fact that no-one is allowed to see what goes on in these places, shows that the practices are unacceptable to decent, right-minded human beings. Cameras are being resisted in abbatoirs, all access is denied to the public in battery farms etc. Only thanks to undercover activists has the truth come out, but this too is suppressed by mainsteam media. I include these couple of images, knowing full well I have selected the least offensive and disturbing:

As I write this, I'm thinking too of all the courageous people who are currently serving long jail sentences for trying to protect sentient creatures from this cruelty. Away from their families, as Christmas approaches, they have my respect, support and solidarity.

Monday, 6 December 2010

Slow locking!

It took me over two hours to get through two close-together locks this morning! I needed water and knowing things are going to get cold again, thought I'd better try and move today. The first hour was spent breaking up the couple of hundred yards of ice up to the first lock, losing splintering bits of my long boat pole in the process. I managed to get one gate open but got wedged in as the boat was forced to take the lock at an angle. Had to free up the second gate in the end. The same for coming out the lock, having to open both gates because of the quantity of ice behind each open gate. Hard work, but fun too!
Then it was on to the water point which was frozen. It was next to the BW office at Apsley so I went to ask if anyone minded me defrosting the pipes with boiling water. I called upstairs where I eventually made myself heard over the male shouting and laughter going on up there. Calling "Hi, anyone there?" (stupid question, I know), I wasn't too happy to hear some bloke shout down "No, but we've ordered a stripper". So I just set to, to have a go at the tap myself but two BW guys then appeared and at first just looked and said 'yeah, it's frozen, sorry'. I insisted a bit and then they went and boiled water for me (which I was happy to do myself) and defrosted the tap - wonderful! I was grateful, although my licence does cover the use of water points and some basic assistance with keeping them functioning would seem to be a reasonable expectation if BW people happen to be on the spot.
They went back inside and I could see several guys watching me breaking the ice with my boat pole to be able to get through the next lock (no mooring places available where I was). Embarrassingly, it took me ages, when I just wanted to make a dignified exit. I see the sexism wasn't consistent enough to actually offer help to the 'little lady'! Or maybe I just frightened the hell out of them with my big boat pole and vigorous smashing of ice - ha!
Aaaanyway, I'm still in the same town but in an ice-free stretch, with lovely hot-water for my shower. Mmmmm...

Friday, 3 December 2010

Christmas lights

Inspired by Jo and Keith on nb Hadar, I put up my meagre christmas decorations. It doesn't amount to much (birds 'n lights!) but it cheers up the boat on a cold December evening.

I'm stuck above a lock whose gates are wedged firmly shut with ice and the locals must be sick of the sight of me by now, so it'll give them something pretty to look at :-)