Friday, June 24, 2016

Independence?

It's fair to say that things went badly overnight.

It only took a few hours for Scotland to announce it was planning another independence referendum - and who can blame them, given the alternative is sharing a country outside the EU with Nigel Farage and his supporters.

But there are other ideas afoot. There is one bit of the UK (as it is called at the moment) that was even more in favour of remain than Scotland, namely London (see graphic above).

Already there's a petition for London to go for independence as a city state and follow Scotland and it quickly exceeded 50,000 signatures. Other voices support this.

Or maybe a new union, "ScotLon" anyone?

It appears we are living in "interesting times" as they say.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Remembering Jo Cox, MP, on the Thames

Yesterday Jo Cox would have been 42.

As part of the memorial, this dinghy was covered in roses and named in her honour the Yorkshire Rose.

It was towed from the family houseboat at Hermitage Moorings to Westminster:
In attendance were boats from the river police, PLA and the fireboat which made its own tribute:
Then the Yorkshire Rose was moored to a yellow buoy just outside the exclusion zone and the barge left, taking those on-board to the nearby Westminster Pier for the event in Trafalgar Square:
Jo's husband and two children were such a sad sight.

A tragedy.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Buff and Sassi Battle for Britain on the Thames!!


Last week saw an epic battle (pic actually from this old post) between the Brexit flotilla and the Bremain-inners right here on the Thames.

This blog has an EXCLUSIVE interview with two of those actually involved, namely Sassi on the IN-boat and Buff on the OUT-boat. Let's hear first from Sassi:

Hi Guys!

OMG, last week was just awesome. Me and Saint Bob..... poor Paula and Peaches.... breaks my heart, but we were fighting the good fight!

See, the EU is like Glastonbury. Yes it might sometimes rain and get a bit muddy but even then its fab as you're in it with your mates. All types of people dancing, laughing sharing, enjoying - TOGETHER! And those nights when the band is inspired and the moon is glowing over those fields - wow, it becomes a wonderful SHARED experience. And similarly with the EU: together we can be richer and stronger than ever!

Sure you could be totally in charge of the music, sovereign-like, alone at home with Spotify, but then you'd be a no-mates type like Buff - looser!

I want a Jo Cox type of future not a weirdo like Nigel Farage! I mean look at this picture she tweeted of her husband and two kids out on the Thames... its just .....[sniff]....its...

Ed: at this point Sassi had to take a break so its time for Buff:

G'day all, Buff Staysail here! Buff by name and Buff by nature!

Yours truly's been busy last couple of weeks. Little known fact that ol' Buff has been key adviser to the Brexit campaign. You read any Brexit press release? More than likely it was a bit of pure BS!!

So why is Buff for Brexit? Well its simple: enough is enough! At the 2012 Olympics Team GB got 65 medals and Australia only 35 - and things look like they can only get worse!

If our figures are right, should the UK remain in the EU it might become its richest, most powerful country! Yes, wealthier than Germany! This could be catastrophic for Australia's chances to humiliate you poms!

There is only one hope: if the UK exits, then it will be poorer, so less money for sport. Plus if Scotland breaks away it will be smaller, and a poor, little England will be easy to defeat!

So make England little again and vote exit!


Editorial

Should be clear by now this blog is firmly of the opinion that the way to vote is:

REMAIN

The flaws of the EU are small compared to the benefits its brings, and we will be safer, richer, stronger, more harmonious together with our European neighbours.

It is much easier to solve issues that we have if we have the resources to do so, and Brexit would leave us poorer and more alone in an uncertain world.

Science, economics, geopolitics, trade, values, arts, travel, history.... the list of the benefits and connections between Britain and Europe is endless.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Hermitage Moorings mourns Jo Cox


Such a tragedy.

A woman who showed how selfless and committed our politicians can be shot dead leaving her husband and two children behind.

Jo Cox lived on a barge on the Thames at the Hermitage Moorings which I visited on their open day back in 2014.

They paid their own tribute to her, sounding their barge's horns which mournfully echoed across the river up to Tower Bridge and beyond into the city.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Enterprise class 60th Anniversary Tideway Race

As noted in an earlier post, this year is the 60th anniversary of the Enterprise class.

To commemorate this event, a special race was held yesterday on the Thames from Putney, where Jack Holt originally designed the Enterprise.

Very impressive to see the blue sailed fleet sail down and then back up the river:



Saturday, June 11, 2016

Royal flyby and flotilla

The Queen is 90.... again.

For complicated reasons (there's a complete Wikipedia page on the topic) she has two birthdays, but then again she is The Queen so I guess who's to say no.

Anyhow, one of them was today or round about now so there was a flyby over London and flotilla first up then down the Thames.

While unable to properly be at either I had a fair sight of the former whoosh over the City on its east to west track, a collection of 29 aircraft from Spitfires to Typhoons plus of course the Red Arrows (above).

During the afternoon there was a trickle of boats, classic rowing or Dunkirk Little Ships heading back up the Thames from the flotilla:



Good ol' Queen! Always get a good show from her.

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Politicians sail for charity

John Kerry and Ted Heath are two politicians that have sailed, but the reactions on either side of the Atlantic to their exploits on the water were very different.

The former's windsurfing exploits were apparently "bad" for reasons I still can't fathom (though compared to the present race....) while the latter's competition in the Fastnet race was not a handicap in him reaching the highest political office in the land.

Today in the UK politicians are still open about their sailing and today did just that in full view of the public on the River Thames beside the Palace of Westminster.

It was a charity race between the House of Commons and the House of Lords, each competing in two person Enterprise dinghies, designed here in Putney 60 years ago. They were raising money for the Westminster Boating Base and Sail4Cancer.

Alas I was unable to witness this titanic political battle in person but the word on Twitter is that the Lords were victorious, hence their flag (from here) above.

Monday, June 06, 2016

Book Review: Round about the Earth by Joyce E. Chaplin

I was initially unsure how much I'd learn from this book: after all, I've read really quite a lot of books about circumnavigators, from Magellan to Dampier by way of the ship's naturalists and Slocum.

But actually it was fascinating, as its a book about something very different: human's relationship to the planet and how that has changed, as perceived by those most aware of it: those that have travelled all the way around it.

The early voyages were into the unknown and full of risks. The planet was found to be larger than many hoped and in the wastes of the Pacific sailors dropped like flies from scurvy. Survival rates of some of the early expeditions went below 10%.

Later voyages by Captain Cook learnt from those failures and ensured his crew ate antiscorbutic sauerkraut and gradually the danger and risk was replaced by confidence. In the stability between 1815 and 1914 westerners from Europe and America could traverse the globe for pleasure and interest.

State backed expeditions were replaced by private individuals. Initially just the very rich, such as the Sir and Lady Brassey's voyage on Sunbeam, but the cost barriers kept coming down and new forms of transport opened up, such as the egalitarian bicycle.

The era of Phileas Fogg style luxury was not to last. In the 20th Century wars and new technology made circumnavigations much less glamorous, packed like sardines into aircraft emitting CO2 gasses that harm the planet.

The ultimate circumnavigators are the astronauts, looping the planet every ninety something minutes. But they face new dangers of radiation, vacuum and zero-gravity with no chance of recuperation on some idyllic desert island on their way.

And our circumnavigations are also virtual: robots circling this and other planets, beaming their messages back to the home world.

But ultimately all eyes remain on this, our Earth. Like the astronauts peering down from the space station, our fascination with this planet never ends.

An excellent book, a good read full of interesting ideas.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Picture Puzzle

What is going on with this speedboat, its ...err... crew and the shark?



Updated: the clue was the words "'#putt up or shut up" on the foredeck as the speedboat and shark are part of a crazy golf course:

The Junkyard Crazy Golf Club can be found in a basement of achingly hip Shoreditch (where else)

Monday, May 30, 2016

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

dpreview makes a Greenland style kayak



Regular readers will know I have a side interest in photography and one of the sites I keep track of is dpreview.

To test the video features of the new Canon EOS 80D they chose to show it in action while the presenter did something interesting, in this case make from scratch a Greenland style skin on frame kayak. Previously they'd tested the Sony A6300 by making a video about making local nettle beer.

While not tempted by the Canon (as posted earlier I can't see the point of the mirror and associated weight) that kayak does look tempting.

Alas Seattle isn't exactly on London's tube network, but its a great idea.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Thames seal and fish

It's always good to see the Thames as a living river, so much improved over the pollution of just a few decades ago.

In the stretch of the Thames between the Wandle River and Beverly Brook I've recently seen the seal above and also large fish such as one below.
Its interesting how the populations change: this year there seems to be much fewer cormorants around than last year for some reason.

Will have to keep watching those waters...

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Maccabees Spinnaker



My2fish has just posted a music video and its not The National so I'm disappointed and posting one of my own.

A few weeks ago I was flying back to the UK, listening to music on my headphones, and as the plane reached the coastline of good ol' blighty the following words could just be heard above the roar of the engines:

Till he gets to the English coast
To the place he loved the most
Where the spinnakers on boats
Are filling out, filling out, out, out
Filling out, filling out, filling out

It was the song "Spit it out" by The Maccabees (above) and felt very appropriate.

Then we flew over this old lady's house, which seemed a bit rude as she'd just had her 90th birthday:

But it was good to be home, even if they are apparently burying those murals.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

The many faces of the Thames



I got a bit misty eyed when watching this (isn't the Thames fab) until I switched on the generic sound-track (yawn).

They also, alas, missed out the story about the Jack Russell that swum through the Thames Barrier.