Saturday, July 14, 2018

Peace of mind

Picture the scene. There I am, half way down the M40 on the way home after a boating expedition when a nagging thought enters my mind. Did I tighten the stern gland before we left?  Did I turn off the inverter? Oh ‘eck, the boat will sink and /or the batteries will be flat.  I think we get more like that as we get older, at least I do.  Normally of course, I have done whatever it is, but I spend the next week afraid that I hadn’t.  So now we have a solution.


I printed off a stack of these and use one each time we leave.  It works! Peace of mind at last. Except there are a couple of things I mean to add to the list, but I can’t remember what they are.  Any further suggestions for the list are very welcome. Of course it’s important to take the completed list home with you, or else you’ll worry that you did actually tick this or that.

In other news:

My new novel is in the hands of three kind friends who offered to endure a reading of it.  Hopefully they will confirm that it makes some sort of sense and that the story hangs together.  It’s no good reading through it yourself because your head is full of what you think you wrote.  Kath has been using her digital graphics skills to help with the front cover, a joint effort, which will look like this.

cover at

If it passes the reader test, I’m hoping to publish in a week or so. Exciting or what?

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Tales of the Unexpected

Things rarely turn out how you expect, and our trip down to Oxford and back was like that. The idea was to give our Peter a holiday break and a free bed while he attended a jolly in Oxford over the weekend, then to scuttle quickly back to Cropredy.  Bish bosh, job done.

We didn’t (or at least I didn’t) think I’d find time to rub down my starboard handrail, fill, undercoat and two top coats, but I did. (Adam, I’m still a big fan of that masking tape.)

I didn’t image for one minute that I’d find time to finish off my novel (bar the proofing etc.) but I did.

In all that hot weather, we thought we’d be overflowing with solar power, but sometimes we weren’t.

We thought we would be our own company on the return trip, but it was very sociable.

Instead of coming back in three days, we took six.

How did all that happen?  Well the weather had a lot to do with it.  Like most other people we elected for early starts to avoid the heat, so we were done and tied up by lunch time most days.  This gave us the afternoon off, which is when those jobs got done.  and like all the other boaters we headed for the shady spots to moor up, like here at Aristotle lane in Oxford.


Kath and Peter skulk in the bushes  Before long, the shade moved right over the boat, which is why the solar panels didn’t get a feed of sunlight.  They do seem to like a direct view of the sun. Also I have read that they are less efficient when they get very hot, and despite them having a good air gap underneath, they did get very hot.  Nevertheless they were a big help, even if not at their optimum.

As for sociability, our cup overflowed, the only disappointment was not being able to meet up with Bones as planned.  The diaries never seemed to fit.  Maffi was about and we had our usual natters with him of course.  Tying up early and sitting out, we got to know our neighbours each afternoon and spend many a happy hour swapping stories.  In particular, we spent three or four afternoons in the company of Ray and Lucille on Nb Lucy Lockett who we had not met before, but now know each others life stories intimately!

Another unexpected thing was to see how many of the CRT notices had already changed to the new livery.  Like most other boaters, we’re not at all sure it’s as good as the old although at least the blue does attract the eye more than the old white.  Time will tell. In principle, I’m generally against strap lines, especially ones with the first word ending in “-ing”. They always seem a bit naff to me.  I have in my career endured awaydays when such things are developed.  Like all things developed by committee, they tend to come out as bland or trite.  I shall say no more on the subject.


Here’s another thing I didn’t expect to see, especially on a pub wall:


This one was outside the Bell in Lower Heyford.  Maybe they should look at the cholesterol in their menu.

The reason we took twice as long to come back up the canal was simple.  The thing we had to get back home for was cancelled, so why hurry when we could just do two or three hours a day and spend the rest of the time sitting in the lovely countryside.

PS  My book is nearly ready. Kath is reading it through.  I think I might have thought of a good title.  Now I need to design a cover.  Once again, I’ll stick it on Amazon / Kindle.  I think these days it’s automatic that people can order a print version, so those out there who don’t like reading from a screen will have no excuse.  Stay tuned.

Wednesday, July 04, 2018


When it comes to a knowledge of Botany
I'm a person that has not Gotany
I've been searching through flowers
For hours and hours
But of rare ones I never did Spotany

Such is the standard of my poetry! Talking of such things, down here on the Oxford there are miles and miles and miles of wild flowers, currently mostly meadowsweet and rosebay willowherb, or on the shady bits, the big leaves of what I suppose are. Gunnera - giant rhubarb.

Now some boaters have said to me this week that they think the canal bank is too overgrown and there are not enough places to stop. Hmmph! That's a bit like complaining that all the paintings in the National Gallery are blocking the view of the wall. I counted the number of good mooring stops ( clear straight banks with piling and nice mown grassy bank to sit out) between Thrupp and Aynho, 10 miles, twenty good moorings, many big enough for a number of boats. That's fine isn't it?