Saturday 30 November 2019

boaters hey

Lorks its cold! Which made things very atmospheric along the canal as evening fell and we prepared for our great LIGHT SWITCHING ON and singing and partying, on the eve of the Winter Fayre. Up from the town rose the sound of their own official light switching on, officiated by someone who'd once been on the telly apparently. And they had mains electricity and amplifiers, so I'm sure it was all very bright. I stuck a light bulb in a 25L drum and hoist it up my bargepole where shortly beforehand the EU flag had been fluttering (or hanging limply, it wasn't very breezy) and lo, it were an the full moon had risen at the wrong time and the wrong place.

And as the night grew darker, the Cross Guns Singers belted out an assortment of trad seasonal songs and Jim Purry used his homemade bellows to get the forge roaring for warmth and metal bending; and there was hot chestnuts and mulled wine and curry from the Wolf Kitchen and lots of steaming breath and mud, and Sherry Jim was ratted, and just for the moment all was as it should be and well with the world.

We'll be here all weekend! On the Lower Wharf on Bradford on Avon.

Friday 29 November 2019

in praise of the rigger boot

Let’s hear it for the rigger boot
The perfect place to stick your foot
When winter brings the endless rain
And towpaths turn to mud again.
They’re warm and dry and stylish eke
(Well, if we’re talking boater chic)
Go! Splash in puddles! Cause a nuisiance
With an air of insouciance

I'd been looking at rigger boots back in the autumn with an eye to getting a pair; "Don't be daft" said my sensible side (I do have one somewhere); "Your para boots are fine."

Then blow me if I didn't find a perfectly good-as-new pair by the bins in Bradford on Avon. It's a boater thing; if you've got something that you don't need but has some use in it, leave it by the bins for someone else. Sometimes you'll find treasure. Cacky old toilets covered in shite, maybe not so much. Some folk are rather naughty, to be quite honest.

Never  mind. Happy boots! Dry feet! Good morning!

Wednesday 27 November 2019

the Kennet and Avon Floating Fayre, Winter 2019

This year's canal winter fayre takes place on the Lower Wharf, Bradford on Avon, on the weekend of 30 Nov- 1 Dec. There'll also be a lighting-up on Friday evening, and probably some singing too.

There'll be artwork from me, silverwork from Anna Berthon, cool vinyl on sale from the Record Deck, weird stuff from the Goblyn Portal, mulled wine from the Dawdling Dairy, ace vegan takeaways from Wolf Kitchen, and all sorts of other arty crafty shit.

There'll also be the Buskers Stage, where some of the fine musicians of the canal will be performing.

Here's a link to the Facebook page for the event, which will enable you to get more info.

Wednesday 20 November 2019

not a solicitor

I've moved westward. Now the view has widened out to the big field where you can sometimes see hares. There's a barn owl that patrols the sides of the canal here too, so a while after the sun had dropped below the horizon I went out to watch for it. I was just in time to see it wheel round in the air and drop onto something in the field, and I watched in vain for it to rise again; it was either happily eating the prey there on the ground or had flown away low so that I couldn't see it against the gloom of the hill.

But I did see the two deer who'd emerged from the hedge and were walking softly across the horizon.

My time at Sells Green was mostly peaceful, though I was interrupted on Sunday by a hireboat speeding past my window as I sat at my desk idly sketching out ideas. Knowing that at that speed, it was going to clout good and proper against the swingbridge a little further on, I went out just in time to see the helmsman go hard astern. Water boiling from the prop, the boat came back as fast as it had gone forward, clouting the stern of my boat as it came.

Before I had a chance to say anything, the bloke on the tiller shouted at me that I shouldn't be moored where I was, and that my boat was a tip. I started filming the incident, in case it turned even nastier. He objected loudly to having his picture taken, covering his face with his arm. "You can't take my picture, it's against the law!"

"Oh yes I can, and oh no it isn't"

"I'll report you!"

"Go ahead and welcome. I'll be reporting this to the hire company"

A man on the towpath, whom I assumed was one of the hireboat party, approached and reiterated that I was breaking the law by photographing the man on the boat.

"No I'm not"

"Are you a solicitor?"


"Well, I am. Is your boat damaged? I'd like to come on board and take photos of it"

"You are absolutely not coming onto my boat"

"Well, there you are then" he said, as though to prove something.

And off they all went. I was shaking by this time. So I went below and fired off my email. And then vented on the canal Facebook group, where a friend commented that they'd been pranged by the same boat earlier, down at Semington.

The next morning, I got an email back from the hire company; 
Our hirers are due back later this morning and I will personally be pointing out the error of their ways.
Approaching at bridge at such speed is unacceptable, apart from the fact they should have been going slowly past your boat. To then lose control and proceed to abuse you, just shows that they are not the sort of customers that we wish to build our business upon.
I am glad that no real damage has been inflicted and will update you on their response later on.

This is one of the better hire companies, so I trust this response.

Presently, a couple came by. It was the self-identified solicitor and his wife. 

He apologised; his wife had seen and heard the entire incident and told him that the hireboat was in the wrong. They'd been walking their dog on the hill and had been opening the swingbridge as a courtesy for the boat.

I accepted his apology, and failed to point out that he was wrong about the law on privacy.  Not to mention the underlying assumptions that went behind his actions... 

Tuesday 12 November 2019

hot water bottles and Macs

We've had the first frosts, and the last of the ash leaves are settling on the roofs of boats that were rash enough to moor under them; ash trees seem to go for the big leaf dump all at once, and a boat can almost disappear under them. I think the cold got into my MacBook; it seemed to boot up, but there was no display, so I used my iPhone to research solutions to a broken screen, and got nowhere. Until after a week or so, it just came back to life again while I was trying a few random combinations of opening and closing the lid while pressing buttons. 

So now I'm treating it very gingerly, and making it hot water bottles on cold nights, while for own part I simply huddle under two duvets and a quilt, and wrap fleeces round my head to keep it warm.

Into Bristol yesterday to pick up the latest prints; now the Crofton barn owl has been added to the Christmas card designs in my shop, and I've got a couple of prints of it as well. They're in the Etsy shop whose link is there on the right hand side of this page, hopefully.