About Me

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I'm Fred. I arrived on the scene in 2002 in a paper bag. I was given as a birthday present. I live with "Him" and "Her". I spend a lot of time on my shelf above their bed thinking. We also spend quite a lot of our time on our Narrowboat "Jophina II" . My blog is about my thoughts and experiences.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

The Louth Canal

A few days ago, whilst waiting for the car to be serviced , He went for a walk along the Louth Canal in Lincolnshire.

The canal opened in 1770 and linked the market town of Louth with the Humber Estuary at Tetney about 11 miles away. The main outbound cargo was wool. The canal ceased to carry working boats in 1924 and gradually fell into disrepair although the River Lud ensures it is still in water. It is far from Navigable today but it is obviously well cared for and is very pleasant to walk along with plenty of wildlife. There are plans to eventually restore it by the Louth Navigation Trust.

He walked from the Riverhead Warehouse in Louth to Salter Fen Lock and saw the remains of five of the eight locks. One of these, Willow’s Lock, was in better condition than the others and showed that curved sides which these locks had.

It was a good walk and following some food shopping in some of Louth’s interesting shops he collected the car and was home by lunch.
 Willow's Lock

Riverhead Warehouse

Sunday, 29 January 2012

A trip!

The week before last He went on a trip with some friends. One of them is standing in an election to be a Vice President of a national organisation which involved him having to visit eight different places in four days in order to do some campaigning. He offered to go along to help with the driving.
The first day of the trip took term to London at lunchtime and then on to Devon for an evening meeting. The second day was quite a bit shorter visiting mid-Wales and Shropshire. Day three was Lancashire ( see my previous post on Garstang and the Lancaster canal) and Yorkshire and the final day was Suffolk and Rutland. All in all they covered 1200 miles and were pretty tired when they got back but had a good time.
On the trip they found an especially good B&B which He asked me to mention as it comes with an enormous recommendation if you ever need to stay in the Telford area. The Old Rectory of St James was nothing short of brilliant; a fantastic welcome from the hosts, beautifully decorated and furnished rooms and the best breakfast ever! It really was something special.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Garstang - The Lancaster Canal

Last week He went away on a trip. I’ll tell you more about that in another post.

On the trip He visited Garstang in Lancashire which is on the Lancaster Canal. He went for a short walk along the towpath and took these pictures.

Monday, 9 January 2012

A night on the boat and thermostatic plugs.

He spent Friday night on the boat although he said He didn’t sleep very well. It was evidently very windy, he wasn’t feeling very well and it took him a while to fall asleep. The real issue was at about 3am when there was a loud clattering sound on the roof at the front of the boat. He went to investigate and found that the coolie hat which stops the rain coming down the chimney had blown off and, restrained by a length or wire, was rolling around noisily. He had to get up and go outside to sort it out.

With the mild winter we haven’t needed to heat the boat much although after the split pipes of last winter he’s invested in some thermostatic switches so that the heaters don’t come on until the temperature falls below a given figure. They were quite expensive (£20 ish) but hopefully worth it and cheaper than all the plumbing supplies he had to buy last year!

Monday, 2 January 2012

Ringing in the New Year

Both He and She are church bell ringers – campanologists to those in the know.
They used to ring quite a lot but progressively rang less and less once children arrived. An interesting aside is that it was as a result of some friends who were bell ringers suggesting a bell ringing holiday by narrowboat that got them interested in the inland waterways and narrowboats. That was more than 20 years ago (long before my time) but evidently they had two enjoyable holidays one on the River Soar and the other on the Grand Union in Northamptonshire cruising from village to village and ringing the church bells.
Anyway they saw in the New Year 2012 in a church tower in rural Lincolnshire. Following an enjoyable meal with friends they went up the tower just before midnight when one of the ringers tolled the tenor bell (that’s the biggest one) at midnight and then everyone else joined it. Champagne followed ( or should it be flowed?) so quite civilised really!
On New Year’s day they visited the boat to check that all was well.

Saturday, 31 December 2011

Fred's thoughts on the year just past and hopes for the year to come.

It seems to me that 2011 has been a year of particular change and of significant events both geo/political and natural disasters.
There are many images which I think we will hold for some time to come.
The so called Arab Spring where uprisings in N Africa and the Middle East led to fundamental change in several countries not least of which was Libya where Col Gaddaffi was eventually overthrown and suffered a humiliating death which was spread round the world on social media. Incidentally a few years ago He met Muammar Gaddafi Ahmed Kadaf al-Dam the Colonel’s cousin who is now in exile in Egypt and who bore a striking resemblance to the Libyan leader.
Who will ever forget the images of the Japanese Tsunami? It was very easy to watch the coverage on TV with a sort of detached feeling but when you separate yourself from the spectacle of cars and buildings being washed away   and realise that people, thousands of people, in one of the most developed nations on earth are losing their lives on TV, the reality is terrible. More than 15000 died but who knows what the legacy of the ensuing damage to the Fukshima nuclear plant will be.
Let’s not forget the floods in Australia, Thailand and Tanzania nor the earthquakes in New Zealand and Turkey.
The Royal Wedding in April was stunning. He and I were home alone (the others having gone away on a Hen weekend whatever one of those is) leaving us to have what I suppose we could call a Bear Weekend! We had every intention of going to the boat but got caught up in the event on TV. We thought it was fantastic – just the sort of thing the British do well – but the overriding thought was one of hope. We just felt that Prince William and his bride offered hope for the future of our Monarchy and a real hope that it will modernise in a manner suitable for this century but at the same time not lose sight of heritage.
In August there were riots in several parts of Britain with wanton destruction and theft of other people’s property. Shameful really.
Osama Bin Laden the world’s most wanted man was killed in an American raid in Pakistan which had and is still having, political repercussions. But was this the right thing to do? Is it right to invade another nation (albeit temporarily) and kill someone? I know he was the head of a terrorist group responsible for the deaths of thousands of innocent people and it was undoubtedly a PR coup but did it really damage Al Qaeda which is such a diverse and fragmented group? I was quite disturbed at the scenes of jubilation from the USA where the “eye for an eye” attitude still prevails.
The war in Afghanistan continued with many many more deaths and injuries.
The depths to which the press will sink to bring us a story were revealed to be even lower that we had previously thought  but on the other hand are we ( well the human population – bears aren’t that good at reading) also to blame for having the appetite to read such stuff?
The financial turmoil in the world continued with many losing their jobs. The Eurozone crisis came to a head in the last part of the year. Am I alone in being baffled by the complexity of this issue? The magnitude of the numbers involved are beyond comprehension but we are all affected by these events and will be for years to come. Thank goodness Britain didn’t join the Euro as some of our political masters in the past would have had us do. Our problems are big enough as it is. Will Britain remain in the EU, will the EU remain intact, will the Euro survive, where and when will it all end? These are all questions to be answered in the years to come or have we reached our financial Armageddon?
So there we are. My thoughts on the year just past. By any standards not a good one but like the Royal Wedding we must look for hope in everything or else we are lost.
Happy New Year and best wishes for 2012 – let us hope that we have all learned lessons from our experiences in 2011.

Thursday, 22 December 2011


He came across an interesting word this week…..PARAPROSDOKIAN.

Now how many of you know what one of those is? Well He and I do now and somehow we’ve got to find a way to weave it into a conversation - perhaps over Christmas. 

A paraprosdokian is a figure of speech in which the latter part of a phrase or sentence is surprising or unexpected such that it causes the reader or listener to re-interpret the first part. 

Paraprosdokians are often used by stand-up comedians when telling jokes or can be used by writers for dramatic effect. While researching using the internet thingy He found some great examples which I am reproducing below. We don’t know who originally wrote them but amusing they certainly are;

·         I asked God for a bike, but I know God doesn't work that way. So I stole a bike and asked for forgiveness.

·         Going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car.

·         The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it's still on the list.

·         Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear bright until you hear them speak.

·         If I agreed with you, we'd both be wrong.

·         War does not determine who is right - only who is left.

·         To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism. To steal from many is research.

·         Some people are like Slinkies ... not really good for anything, but you can't help smiling when you see one tumble down the stairs.

·         Dolphins are so smart that within a few weeks of captivity, they can train people to stand on the very edge of the pool and throw them fish.

·         I didn't say it was your fault; I said I was blaming you.

·         Why do Americans choose from just two people to run for president and 50 for Miss America ?

·         You do not need a parachute to skydive. You only need a parachute to skydive twice.

·         The voices in my head may not be real, but they have some good ideas!

·         Always borrow money from a pessimist. He won't expect it back.

·         Some cause happiness wherever they go. Others whenever they go.

·         To be sure of hitting the target, shoot first and call whatever you hit the target.

·         A bus is a vehicle that runs twice as fast when you are after it as when you are in it.

·         Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine.

Thinking about comedy have you noticed how, in recent years there has been a real surge in the number of stand-up comics on the TV. Some years ago He tells me that it was quite popular with people such as Tommy Cooper, Les Dawson and Dave Allen (although he mainly sat down to tell his funny stories). Then there were years when the stand-up comic hardly ever appeared on TV but today there are literally dozens of them not only on TV but also in theatres, at festivals and even doing arena tours where they appear in front of thousands. He and I think many of them are very good indeed although being a bit old fashioned He thinks that the use of swear words by some is overdone. Occasional use to give effect is OK but it often adds nothing to what is already a funny story. 

One of the best is Michael McIntyre in his view so much so that they are all going to see him at Sheffield Arena next year.

It’s important to laugh. Apart from anything else it’s good exercise and has been shown to relieve stress. Mind you when He laughs I always wonder whether a cardiac arrest is more likely!

Friday, 16 December 2011

Summer Holidays on the Chesterfield Canal

During the summer we all went away for a week on their narrowboat. We stayed on the beautiful Chesterfield Canal which was designed by the famous canal engineer James Brindley and was one of the earliest canals to be built in Britain. Work commenced in 1771 and when completed it ran from Chesterfield to West Stockwith on the River Trent. The Norwood tunnel which was one of the longst in the country collapsed in 1907 and was never repaired. Although the canal fell into disrepair it has been heavily restored in recent years and is open from Norwood to the Trent.

We left Clayworth and headed toward the end of the canal at Norwood. Having passed through Retford we spent the first night at Osberton lock which is very pretty.


Forest Locks


The next day they did some shopping in Worksop before going on to  Shireoaks Marina which is built on the site of a former colliery.
Old Pumping Station at Worksop

Shireoaks Marina
L joined them at Shireoaks and having had some very good fish and chips and a good night’s sleep they set about the 20 locks from Shireoaks to the canal summit at Kiverton Park close to the Norwood tunnel. Now 20 locks sounds a lot but they were restored in 2001 and pass through the most wonderful countryside so the time passes very pleasurably. Mind you from my perch on the roof and not having to do any of the work I would say that wouldn’t I?!
Having spent a night at the top they turned round and made their way back to Clayworth over three days. The weather was great the whole time and we really enjoyed it.
The Chesterfield Canal is well worth a visit whether by boat or along the towpath on foot.

And here I am keeping an eye of things!

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

A busy few days!

Last Friday they visited an elderly relative who is in a hospice in Surrey. It was a long day as they drove to Peterborough, and then took a train to Kings Cross where they crossed the road to St Pancras International to get another train to East Croydon. From there they took yet another train to their final destination.
It was not the quickest way of making the journey but He had been successful in applying for some free tickets from First Capital Connect trains which meant that the journey from Peterborough to E Croydon didn’t cost them anything.

It was all well worth the effort to see the gentleman concerned.

On Saturday they all went to see some other relatives in Cambridge and on Sunday morning they went into town to look around. He hadn’t been to Cambridge for a long time but it hasn’t changed much but really busy even on a Sunday morning. He & C spent quite a bit of time people watching which is always fun but the one which caused them the greatest mirth was a Chinese tourist who seemed to be taking a picture of the inside of a Vauxhall Corsa parked at the side of the road!

As an aside, He visited a Chilli stall on Cambridge market and tasted a number of chilli sauces produced on a local chilli farm. He said that the taste stayed with him the rest of the day but He came away with two saucs which He seems quite pleased with.

Sunday, 11 December 2011


Rugby World Cup

We enjoyed watching many of the matches during the rugby world cup on television although we were very disappointed with the performance of the England side both on and off the pitch. It proved a good excuse for early mornings and bacon butties!
Barbarians v Aus
He went (with L & C ) to Twickenham in late November to see the Barbarians play Australia. I could have been a very good match given that Australia, ranked 2nd in the world and fresh from their 3rd place World Cup performance and the Barbarian team included players from around the world many of whom had been playing for their respective nations at the world cup. In the event the BaaBaa’s were completely annihilated by the Aussies with only a last minute try to save their blushes; the final score was Barbarians 11 : Australia 60.
Press reports after the match suggested that the BaaBaa’s, who had only had 5 days to train, had spent much of it imbibing in liquid refreshment. Whatever the reason their performance was not up to scratch.

Women’s Rugby
Following on from the BaaBaa’s match at Twickenham was a ladies rugby match. England who were six nations champions last year were playing New Zealand winners of the ladies world cup in 2010.  Of the 52000 who attended the BaaBaa’s match about a quarter stayed behind for the ladies match and very entertaining it was too with a great atmosphere. It lacked the physicality of the men’s game but was technically very good and free flowing. England won 10:0 which was even better. They were glad they stayed.


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