Welcome to the world of Narrowboating

To risk is to live!

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Freedom at last!

I finally finish work at the shop tomorrow (Thursday 31st May). After three years of living on my boat and only being able to take her out for 2 weeks here and there, at last I am free to cruise. I have been so excited and anxious that I have suffered from an acid tummy for the last couple of weeks. Anxious because I am terrified that something will happen at the last minute to prevent me going. I really should have more faith in the path that I am on!

I have had a few last minute hiccups like engine trouble, falling out with a neighbour (a horrible bully of a man) and lastly my work not including my holiday pay in my final salary. Since they have wriggled out of paying redundancy (long and boring story) I am going to make sure I at least get paid for not taking any holiday this year.

Other than that I am all set. I have a last minute shop to do but then on Friday I’ll cruise to Kings Bromley to get diesel and pump out the loo and then I’ll be properly free!

I hope to keep a cruise diary and to keep up my blog as I journey. However I will be limited to the amount of data I can use with my mobile broadband so I won’t be able to post many photos. I may also have reception issues so we will see. If I go silent it doesn’t necessarily mean that I have died!

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Rudeness and courtesy

It struck me again this morning how rude we as a society have become. A car raced passed me while I was walking Bonny this morning. We were on a narrow country road but he didn’t slow as he passed – instead he drove straight through a puddle as he swerved round us, soaking both Bonny and I. Then, instead of a wave of apology, I got a gesture involving a single finger as he raced off.

On my way to work, I pulled over to let a car pass me on a single track road. I looked at her as she passed, waiting for the lifted hand or nod of thanks, but no, nose in the air, she swept past me in her huge, intimidating 4x4 as if it were her right.

Once in work, it is my custom to say hello or smile at customers as they enter the shop. I would estimate that a good 70% ignore the greeting and don’t even look in my direction. Listening to the radio or watching TV, I notice how rude interviewers have become. They invite a person to come and speak on a subject and then spend most of the interview interrupting, speaking over the person or sneering at what they say.

The government, of course, are supremely rude; both to each other and to us. They scream at each other over the ballot box or TV studio. They lie to us and then interfere in a dreadfully discourteous way in all our lives. Not content with being rude to their own citizens, they then export incivility abroad by interfering in other countries and sometimes even by killing their occupants.

Banks and other robber barons are rude by treating us as if we were idiots – trying to persuade us that they exist to serve us, almost as if they were charities – rather than usurers bound for hell with profit as their top, bottom and middle line.

Examples of discourtesy are everywhere and seem to infect every part of our society, from the school gate to the work place and even in the sports we watch and take part in.

I have heard this rudeness blamed on our ‘individualistic society’. it is said as if all this is inevitable and there is nothing we can do about it. Well I believe we can – one person at a time. Let us bring back courtesy and civility to our world. let’s doff our hats at those we pass on the street, let us open doors and say “Oh no, after you”. Let’s occasionally let that car into the moving line of traffic who has been waiting for several years at the side road.

Why don’t we refuse to give in to the prevailing attitude of fear and suspicion towards a stranger and instead see them as a fellow human being with the same joys and fears, worries and ambitions that we have? Let’s look at each other in the eye again. Let’s smile and say “good morning”. If somebody is speaking, lets try to hear them out without interrupting. Let’s make an effort to see things from their point of view rather than rushing to argue.

If, one by one, we bring back gentility, politeness and courtesy in the way we treat others, perhaps we can shame people into responding accordingly. Then, as citizens we can influence our institutions and government, by refusing to put up with rudeness.

So come on… doff a cap today!

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

10 days… and no leak!

I have, including today, 10 working days left before my cruise. I cannot believe how slow time can pass when I am waiting for something as good as this! I suspect time will then speed up no end when I am cruising!

I have also finally diagnosed and temporarily cured a problem that has dogged my engine for nearly a year. I was losing water from the cooling system and it was ending up in the engine bilge. I had spent hours hanging upside down under the engine trying to locate the leak but without success.  I had taken the boat to the boatyard twice and had all the pipes replaced, but still the water mysteriously appeared in the bilge every day, at the rate of about a cupful or so.

Recently the amount had increased and I had come to the conclusion I must have a rusted through hole in the skin tank. The only way of accessing that would be to remove the engine and weld underneath – at a quoted cost of around £800! So to at least get me through my cruise, I decided to try Forte – a posh version of Radweld. This is a liquid you put in the header tank and it seals any holes it finds.

Anyway, I wanted to make sure it was entirely dry under the engine so I could see if the treatment was working. So I crawled into every gap I could to mop up the water, when suddenly I saw a drip, speedily followed by another and another – I had found the leak! The reason I hadn’t found it before was because this pipe was below the engine and on the opposite side to where the water was gathering and where the rest of the pipes were. Sorry, I’m going on rather long about a fairly boring subject, but to me it was like finding the Lost City of Atlantis! The Forte worked and I have also wrapped the offending joint in Duct tape and miracles of miracles, my bilge has been dry for two days! Hopefully that will see me through the cruise and then I’ll book it in for a permanent repair when I return.

Happy days!