Saturday, January 22, 2022

Highway code on the towpath

 Who thinks a Dutch Reach is a stretch on the river Amstel?  

Sorry, I've been watching too much Weakest Link. So much nicer without Anne Robinson.

Well the new Highway Code comes into effect in a few days so you need to be practising your Dutch Reach in your car, but does the code apply on the canal towpath?

If you are a boater or a towpath walker you won't need me to tell you what a menace speeding cyclists can be.  When I was volunteering for CRT they would speed through our "Share the Space" awareness road blocks, on more than one occasion aiming straight for me in the process.  I was actually struck a couple of times, once by a motor cyclist. One chap got very indignant blaming me for preventing him from breaking his journey to work speed record.

Well do we have a little bit more legal ammo now? Annex 4 of the new Highway Code states:

It is important to note that references to ‘road’ therefore generally include footpaths, bridleways and cycle tracks, and many roadways and driveways on private land (including many car parks). In most cases, the law will apply to them and there may be additional rules for particular paths or ways. 

Under the new code there are strengthened rules on the hierarchical priority of cyclists and pedestrians, so I dare say that if you are knocked over by a cyclist you might have some improved redress in law against them.  However, statements in the Highway Code are legal requirements when they use the word MUST rather than SHOULD. Sadly, in the bits of the new code that I have read, it states that on shared cycle/pedestrian paths cyclists SHOULD give way to pedestrians.

Will it make a jot of difference to general behaviour?  I'm not all that optimistic but you never know.  Maybe CRT will beef up their signage by pointing to the code's requirements.  That might be a start.

Note to self: Must get back out on the boat soon.

Thursday, January 06, 2022

Coming of Age

Some people have a bucket list. I never have written one down although of course there have been things I always wanted to do.  This weekend I shall attain the terrifying age of 75.  Yes, I know, who'd a thought it?  Somehow it seems a more significant milestone than 40 or 50 or 70. I don't think I can any longer claim to be middle aged.  I'm probably technically elderly. Hah! Time to review that non existent bucket list I suppose.

Travel the world?  Total failure on that one.  Switzerland is as far as I ever got - in an ailing old dormobile with a gang of fellow students.  We were aiming for Split in Yugoslavia but the van kept overheating so we turned round at Lake Zurich. We were so scruffy and the van so beaten up that we routinely got pulled over and searched for drugs at border posts.  One guard got very excited at finding a pouch of something in my holdall, until he discovered it was a tea bag.

Having a motor bike?  Many a middle aged man's fancy.  Well I had a little 50cc Honda when I was a student but I don't think that counts. Top speed 50mph downhill. I fell off it several times.

Playing guitar in a band? Many a young or middle aged man's fantasy. Yep done that, although not exactly sex, drugs and rock 'n roll - we played for barn dances. Still we weren't too bad and it was terrific fun and we often got free fish and chips.  One year we did 22 gigs. I think I made about 15 quid a time which just about covered expenses. In the 1990s Kath and I and a friend Alison formed a folk band called Man Sandwich - we were alarmingly good and huge fun until poor Alison died suddenly.  In recent years I have gone electric so I look really cool in our spare room when no one is watching. I'm not Jimi Hendrix but I can play a bit. I even have a Stratocaster copy - bought off Maffi, permanently on the boat.

Having an exotic car?  Well we did have a Citroen Dyane (a sort of 2CV estate) when we were first married.  Exotic enough in my book. 602cc of throbbing power, requiring dropping in to first gear to get up some hills. We loved it to bits.  Not exactly a Ferrari though. Actually I never wanted a fast car or a Rolls Royce. I prefer miles per gallon over miles per hour and our Skoda has a bigger boot than a Ferrari.

Writing a book?  Twice ticked! Not exactly a commercial success but I'm not ashamed of either.

Seeing one's idols at live gigs? Lots there. In my twenties I went to lots.  First ever performance of Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac.  Jeff Beck with Rod Stewart, John Mayall (many times), Pink Floyd, The Who (who were dreadful), Cream in a tiny club when they had just formed, James Taylor, Rev Gary Davis (very niche but a real catch) and so many more.  Plus many folky greats like Nic Jones and Martin Carthy lots of times. Sadly I never saw Bob Dylan or Joni Mitchell though. 

Owning a boat.  Biggest tick of all.  Lots of people dream about having a boat.  You can see gongoozlers doing just that.  It's great.  Waterways, countryside, city moorings, BBQ's on the bank, industrial heritage, waterside pubs.  What's not to like?  There were doubters when we first decided to buy a boat - "You'll never use it enough" etc.  Well they were wrong. It's one of the best things we ever did and we're still doing it.

I've just set out on my latest bucket list item.  Now that I'm about to be 75 I've started learning piano, well a midi keyboard in truth.  I'm doing it properly, scales and arpeggios and all that stuff.  I don't suppose I've got the time to become the next Liberace, Rick Wakeman or Vladimir Ashkenazy, but I know I'll enjoy trying.

Come back when I'm 80 and see how far I get.

Tuesday, January 04, 2022

New Years Honours

Happy New Year everyone.  Statistically, I'm guessing that the probability of it being better than last year is reasonably high, so let's look forward to it.

Apologies for the late completion of the Herbie Awards - I have to admit that the 2021 Awards have been pretty limited, as has been our boating.  Anyhow I still have to give the Special Award for 2021.  Maybe, being so late it should be called the Herbie New Years Honours.

Looking back, I'm amazed to find that the Herbie Awards goall the way back to 2007! In the very first of them I wrote

With the nights drawing in, I spend more of the evenings idly planning future cruises and contemplating the highlights and low points of this year so far. So I reckon it'll soon be time for the Herbie annual awards. When I say annual, I don't imply I ever gave awards before, but I might do again next year.

Well here we are all these years later.

 Herbie Special Awards are generally given to those who have given exceptional service to Herbie , other boaters, or to Canals in general.  Past winners have included: (in no particular order)

Maffi -for Caring Enough in collecting towpath rubbish

Sue (No Problem) - for leading by example the survival of liveaboards in the harshest of winters

Oakie and Kathryn - for Indefatigability in keeping on keeping on despite infirmity

Sue and Richard (Indigio Dream ) for Hospitality, giving us so many very special (but sometimes scary) day trips

Jaq (Nb Valerie) for Fortitude  in her dedication to her dear Les fighting illness while living on board.

Best friends Rick, Marilyn and David (Rainman)  for crewing, DiY and general moral support services to Herbie

The 2010 Herbie Paintfest Crew  who put in such extraordinary effort and support in the great Herbie repaint.

Sarah and Jim (Chertsey) for Sufferance and Munificence in generously allowing Kath and me to participate in events on "real" canal boats.

Val Poore (aka Vally P) for Generosity of Spirit in continuously giving moral support to boat bloggers.  I'm delighted to say she has been a supporter right from the start and she is till with us.

Frank Jordan the ever cheerful Abingdon Lockie for Brightening Boaters' Days

Ronnie the dog for Best Boating Beginner at less than a year old!

I may well have forgotten someone, but rest assured if you are that person, you deserved the Award.  Award Holders, a number of whom proudly display their logos on their blog sites, only have to look through the list above to realise that they are esteemed company. 

For 2021 I could offer the Award to our so Peter who valiantly worked every lock on our holiday cruise to protect me from over strain following my pacemaker fitment. But that could be construed as nepotism.  Instead for delighting us with their helpfulness, friendliness, efficiency and a caring welcome we're more than happy to give 

The Herbie Special Award


Karen (manager) and Chris (harbourmaster) at Ventnor Marina

I suppose I should let them know, although I doubt they'll be putting the badge on the marina signage.