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.

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.


He has been very busy workwise over the summer. He had a job which meant that he was away quite a bit and in a six week period he visited Colombia, USA, Canada, South Africa and Kenya. Whilst in the USA he visited nine different places and crisscrossed the country. He flew on several different airlines and in every class of travel; economy, premium economy, business and even first! He seemed to really enjoy it although he was very tired and said he’d seen enough airports to last him a while. He’s found a clever site on the internet thingy which will plot his travels. I’ve had a sneak look at it and I found out that this year he has made 25 flights, covered a total of 41,500 miles, spent 92 hours in the air and his carbon footprint has produced over 8 tonnes of CO2 and, worryingly, 0.45kg of methane!

He’s told me some stories. When he arrived in Colombia he noticed that the taxi driver from the airport kept crossing himself at every road junction. The traffic was horrendous and the next day he saw firsthand how dangerous it was when the taxi he was in ran into a motor cyclist knocking him off is bike. Fortunately nobody was hurt and it seemed to be just an everyday occurrence in Bogota.
He had a day off in California one weekend. He was staying in Burbank which is quite pleasant as it has a small pedestrian friendly city centre which is nice to walk in – quite unusual for the US. He spent his day off going to Universal Studios California which was close by where he enjoyed, on his own, lots of great rides, back lot tours of the studios and the like. He seemed to have a good time!
There was one particular event which he told me about which made me chuckle. He was travelling from Fort Lauderdale to Phoenix and whilst waiting at FLL airport he went to the “men’s room”, came out of the cubicle and noticed a man wearing a ladies camisole top, high heels and a blue thong. He felt slightly uneasy as he followed this man out into the main concourse and walked behind him thinking I bet this guy is on my flight. Well guess what? He was!
Here’s a picture of the man in question;
Now the serious question is, would someone (male or female) have been allowed to board an aircraft dressed like this in Europe? I wonder. Indeed only the week before a young man in California had been denied boarding to a US Airways flight (the same airline) because his sagging trousers revealed his Boxer Shorts and this was deemed inappropriate attire. There seems to be a case of double standards here. The general feeling amongst other passengers was, after an initial laugh, that this overstepped the mark and he was probably doing it for a bet but a quick internet search shows that he is a regular traveller in similar attire. The airline is reported a saying that they don’t have a dress code as such so what’s the difference; well in one case the passenger was a white mature male travelling in First and in the other it was a black youth travelling in coach/economy. Maybe we should draw our own conclusions. Glad I wasn’t there – I wouldn’t have wanted to be thrown off for the bear faced wearing of a fur coat!
Following the American trip He also went to South Africa and Kenya before going back to the USA and Canada. Busy boy!

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Auction and getting locked out of the car!

They went to an Auction at the club where they keep their boat the other night. It was a club event to raise money for club events and charity. There were all manner of things for sale and with an auctioneer who wouldn’t take no for an answer, it all sold. I think He thinks She went berserk though! There were several pieces of gym equipment on offer and she bought the lot; two large contraptions of physical punishment, a strange padded device plus all sorts of other stuff which now resides in our garage.
Mind you getting it home proved to be interesting; the car was full when they got back with the rear seats folded down and piled high with their purchases. He parked the car in front of the garage, got out , shut the door and the car promptly locked itself! He pressed the button on the remote several times but it would not unlock! Stress levels began to rise as She had to go out and the car was blocking the garage door so the other car couldn’t be got out! After a bit of time the boot opened and he had to remove everything from the car before climbing in (impressive He can still do that) and starting it with the key.
These electronic things are all very well but when they go wrong......
Anyway the internet thingy told Him how to replace the battery in the key (which was the problem) and how to re-programme it which seemed to solve the matter. Thanks to the Volkswagen owners forum and YouTube.
Anyone want to join a Gym – I think we are opening soon!

Sunday, 4 December 2011


Earlier this year we (Me, Him and Her) went on holiday to Germany in the car. It was the first holiday they had had without their children for a long time so I was honoured to be taken too. They went to Oberammergau where the passion play is staged every 10 years. In those years the town apparently becomes very crowded but they had an altogether more civilised experience. This was not one of those years and whilst we were there we went walking in the mountains (I was safely tucked away in a rucksack!), visited Linderhof Palace and generally soaked up the atmosphere and beer of the Bavarian Alps.

Linderhof is one of several palaces built by King Ludwig of Bavaria who I conclude was totally mad! He styled Linderhof on the Palace of Versailles in France but it is much smaller with only half a dozen rooms. The gardens are fantastic with several buildings including a Moroccan House, a Moorish Kiosk a Hunting Lodge and perhaps most eccentric a Venus Grotto.  The Grotto is not naturally occurring but he had it carved out of the rock and elaborately decorated and lit. It is complete with a lake and Ludwig staged plays there for his entertainment.  He’s an interesting character and well worth reading about. Eventually the poor chap committed suicide in the nearby lake.

Our journey to and from Oberammergau took us through France, Germany, Luxembourg and Belgium. It has to be said that the motorway network is fantastic and less crowded than our own although there was a fair amount of congestion in Germany. Apart from the tolls in France which soon mount up the standard of driving was very good and much better than in Britain; in particular I couldn’t help but notice from my vantage point in the back of the car that there was almost no outside lane “hogging”. In Britain there seems a reluctance to move to the middle and inner lanes after overtaking meaning that the outside lane of motorways are always clogged which in turn encourages some drivers to undertake. This simply doesn’t seem to happen in France and elsewhere.
Here are some photographs of the trip.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

I'm Back ( well nearly)

It's been a long time since I blogged but I'll be back in the swing of it very soon. There's been a lot going on this year and for various reasons I haven't got around to it. There's much to report on such varied subjects as Travel, Canals and Narrowboats and Rugby Union. You'll need to be patient as it will take me some time to get all my thoughts published.

As a reminder, I am Fred, I live on a shelf in rural Lincolnshire and I am the confidant of a chap in his fifties who is something of a grumpy old man. Well not really but he has that kind of insightfulness that comes with a person of his age. I refer to him as "Him" or "He". He is married to "Her/She" and they have two daughters "L" and "C". The elder is at University and the younger at Sixth Form College.

Look back at some of my earlier posts.

I'll be back soon.

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Someone to answer the phone

As a small businessman (!) He has for some time used an answering service to take calls when He’s not in the office. This works very well for him as calls are answered by a real person in his company's name, a message is taken and immediately passed on to him by e_mail or text message.

The costs of the sevice which He had been using had begun to increase so He shopped around for another supplier. This time He opted for a “Pay as You Go” service where you only pay for the messages actually taken instead of a monthly fee. He’s very pleased with it and asked me to share it with you in case you are interested. Details are at.

Friday, 7 January 2011

Not blogged for a while. Been hiding in a snow drift!

Once again I haven’t blogged for a while. I’m sorry but I find it difficult to get Himself motivated sometimes!

Quite a lot has happened.

C had a 16th birthday party in the garage at home. It seemed to go quite well although it took him quite a long time to recover!

At the end of November He and the two daughters ( L and C ) went to Twickenham to see England play Australia. What a match! It has since been described in the press as the greatest England game for years and possibly one of the greats of all time. England won by the way!! They enjoyed their day out and the experience of being with 80,000 others. Being close to Remembrance Day there was a minute’s silence during which you could hear a pin drop in the stadium.

At the end of November (29th) it started to snow. And boy oh boy did it snow! We were all stuck in the house for eight days. Luckily there was plenty of food in the freezer although some of it looked a bit “off” when it came out and had to be binned. Speaking of bins we didn’t have them emptied for four weeks! The novelty of the snow soon wore off. It took Him two days to dig out the driveway only to find we still couldn’t get anywhere when He had finished!!

Luckily, the day before the snow arrived, He ordered some central heating oil. Readers may recall that He has something of a reputation of allowing the tank to run dry and, in a bid to get organised and not risk running out at Christmastime, He decided to top the tank up. Fortunately we had plenty left as the delivery took over two weeks to arrive. He paid 47p/litre when He ordered it but the price almost doubled over two weeks – fortunately He had pre-paid so we got it at the lower price. The cost has fallen to about 65p/litre now and we shall need some more within a month or so. The rise in price in the lead up to Christmas has given rise to many questioning why domestic heating oil prices are not regulated in the way that Gas and Electricity are. It’s a good question.

Then it was Christmas which passed off well but with more snow.
New year was seen it with He and L drinking lemonade at home both suffering from a Cold. L was at Nik’s house and E went to a party in a nearby village.
So here we are – it’s early January and we are getting back to normal!
All the best for 2011!


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