Sunday, June 24, 2007

JP Down Under

Yes, at short notice JP has found himself in the land of vegimite, exchanging the warmth of London summer for the sharp cold of an Australian winter.

Not sure that there's going to be much chance of sailing amongst all the business commitments - and given that where I'm staying (Canberra) isn't on the coast.

Especially when jet lag wakes you at 3 am.

Oh well, needed to prepare a presentation anyhow......

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Full sized sunset

Like the last post, but bigger......

Like the last post, but bigger......

Monday, June 18, 2007

What - no boats?

In Coleridge's "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" there is the great line "water, water everywhere, and not a drop to drink".

He probably meant the sea voyager eternal worry about fresh water, though of course it could also cover equally dangerous risk of running out of the sailor's trusted rum (or in the case of Robin Knox-Johnston, whisky).

However in my case its water water everywhere and not a drop to float on. For it's been a land lubbers summer so far, with distractions from the new flat and OU finance course.

On Saturday was off to lovely Whitstable (below) for a beach BBQ.

In previous years we have gone out in Alex's Dart, which is very fast and wet, but now he was responsible dad attending to the sausages and burgers.

But we did have useful discussion about outboard motors for my brother's inflatable - though it does still seem quite small for the Thames.

Hence another discussion (this time in Dorset) with my uncle about getting a proper boat for journeys up and down the Thames. He raised the interesting question of why if there are hybrid cars there are no hybrid boats?

It seems from articles like this one there could be a problem with power and you can't charge the batteries by breaking as you can on a car.

Oh well, it was a lovely sunset again....

Monday, June 11, 2007

Water Rats

Apologies for silence but this weekend was locked to desk writing an assignment for the OU course on Financial Strategy I've been studying.

On Saturday night I escaped for an hour for another bike ride along the Thames path. On the way I disturbed what looked like a rat - after all they do say that anywhere in London you are no more than a few metres from one. I hoped it was no normal rat, but a water rat, hero of the lovely Thames based classic story "The Wind in the Willows".

It was ratty who said - as many have said afterwards - "there is nothing - absolutely nothing - half as much worth doing as simply messing about in boats".

Of course the Thames where the story is set much further upstream, mild mannered and slow moving, a safe place for ratty's small rowing boat. However near me the current is too strong, with the tide rushing in and out faster.

I saw this classic heavy rowing boat one evening with three occupants that was loosing the battle - how ever hard they tried they were going backward, being dragged out towards the sea. In the end they gave up and as the water level fell, beached their craft and disappeared, not doubt to have a drink at the local pub.

Latter that evening I saw them again (below, under Putney Bridge). The sun had set and the tide had turned and they were heading back up river. Even though the day hadn't gone just as they planned I can't but help thinking that ratty would have been proud to have been proved right yet again.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Boats and Bikes

This is not a boat, I accept that. But it is still an essential tool to enjoy river life. Yesterday I got one and today it sped me along the Thames path from Putney to Kew in 45 minutes to meet others for a picnic.

It felt very civilized - like one of those European countries where everyone looks very healthy riding on bides with two advert-cute blond babies looking out from their trolley.

The path looks a bit like this:

At times it is so narrow you can feel the bushes on either side and have to stop in a passing place if anyone comes the other way. On one side (in the photo above the left) is the river and there are stunningly pretty views - a place called Strand on the Green caught my eye looking as twee yet pretty as music by Elgar at his English-lyrical best.

Of course it would have been better to have been on the river - like the dinghies racing by Hammersmith Bridge.

Or even like this gentleman who not five minutes ago passed outside heading gently upriver....

The bike shop sold many accessories - but amongst all the clips, helmets, pumps, shorts, lights and so on, for some reason they didn't try to sell me a pair of bright yellow floats!

House Boats & the Property Ladder

It is well known that us Brits are absolutely obsessed about property. An Englishman's home is not just his castle but his once little nest egg that has increased by [enter huge number here] in the last 6 months alone.

The TV schedules are full of programs from self-build to how to buy abroad - and last week one such called Property Ladder covered an interesting project to convert an abandoned barge into a houseboat (above you can see a photo of the barge during the program shoot).

A house boat is a lovely idea - to be actually on the river, rising and falling with the tide, gently rocking in the wind, hearing the lap of waves and cry of gulls can be magically. And it can make great sense costing less than the equivalent in bricks and mortar (or even steel and concrete).

However there are problems that the program skirted round. The developers want a reported £ 270,000 for a sixty year lease of the mooring. However the Port of London Authority reserve the right to evict anyone with just 3 months notice. And the thought of a quarter of a million vanishing into smoke is not exactly the best way to encourage prospective buyers.

But the risk might be low - look at this property sale - and note the comment about the lease length.

Its a shame as there are empty berths and house boats looking for places. But the annual charge of £ 9,000 for the boat above is again too high for many tastes.

But then again property prices in London seem to be able to only head in one direction - upwards.