Saturday, May 29, 2010

Off boating with an iPad

It's a bit like the beauty and the beast. The newest & coolest kit with this slow and beamy boat (using the widest definition of the word as per Carole Anne) together in the home of "Wind in the Willows".

Indeed the gentleman practicing fly fishing (he was keen to emphasis the practice bit as it is the closed season) told us we had gone past Toad Hall. Alas the youngest of my crew were learning to drive as we pottered by but we will have another look on the way back.

Tomorrow we are promised sun not the rain we had today.

But if you are reading this the iPad is doing what it should.

ps: we are having a lot of fun!

Test post

Alas one drawback of the iPad is the browser Safari. It was known that it can't do flash but what is worse is it's inability to manage complex web sites like Google Docs and (this is really bad) Blogger.

As always the answer is "there's an app for that" so this post is checking out the BlogPress app.

Bit limited but I guess that's what life is like at the bleeding edge

Bonus marks for those that can guess what central London building this wind vane was on.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Navionics and the iPad

Oh my golly goshes....

Today showed shocking lack of self control. There was a PC World between my train station and home - ok, not exactly, but only a little way off - and found myself walking in and.....oh wow, what a co-incidence.... its the UK iPad launch date. And what's this email just received this afternoon? Navionics charts available for iPad?

Yup, I now am what can only be described as playing with my new toy.

Full review to come, but it looks gorgeous.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Captain and his hat

I do not like this style of hat.

It comes over as either somewhat old fashioned and paradoxically un-nautical, more at home at a fancy dress party, and with a whiff of camp about it as well.

Real sailors know that such hats would be blown away come the first gust and instead have eyes sunken into the skull to escape the salty spray (in theory anyway).

Now I have a boating trip coming up shortly (more anon) and was going to go hatless, until my brother-in-law made a very good point. When, he said, I let my nephews and nieces have a turn at the wheel what could be better - to make it official and show the importance of concentrating on our course - than lending them the skipper hat's.

Hmmmm..... this might require further consideration.....

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Boats not on that list.... and why

Yesterday I posted 10 varied types of craft that I've spotted out on the Thames recently and taken a snap. But there were others out, that were missed out.... what were they and why no photo?

So here are 10 more craft out there and why they were missed out.

1. Kayaks and Canoes

No Bonnie, not forgotten, and yes they were out there, so why no snaps? Well two reasons really. Firstly kayakers are always looking around at the world around and might well spot yours truly snapping way and I'd get all self conscious and wish could explain about the competitive world of blogging ("You don't understand how tough it is! Two fellow bloggers .... this week alone!").

Sailors aren't thinking about folk ashore, but instead are wondering if their sails are set right, if a burst of wind is about to blow them over, if they're about to be run over by a bigger boat. Ditto motor boat drivers who worry too much about whether they look cool and are they going faster than the next boat.

Also of course I almost certainly knew the kayakers out there and that brings all sorts of issues starting with "surely this is fine weather enough even for you JP".

2. RNLI Lifeboat

Its out there all the time and doesn't go as fast as the Police boat (I've seen them race - they might have claimed it was for an emergency but we all know it was to prove who had the meanest boat on the river). Anyhow been a bit grim week for safety of life and the Thames.

3. River taxis

Not exactly exciting and too big for my requirements. An everyday boat.

4. Party boats

Why do people think this is a good idea? You're stuck on-board with no option to leave surrounded by people trying to drink the bar dry. Four words to remember: "The Office Booze Cruise"

5. Support boats

These are usually just tin cans with outboards, containing someone with a megaphone yelling out to rowers to "pull harder, row faster" etc

6. Rubbish boats

Big yellow things, very slow and heavy, no engines and very, very smelly. Not good for entertaining dates. Honk very loudly at other boats foolish enough to get in their way (rowers and their support boats, you know what I mean)

7. Inflatables

Look like they've taken the wrong turning and probably are about to drift out to sea. Ok, not that bad, but usually overloaded and underpowered for the Thames.

8. Narrow boats

Do not seem happy on the Thames. Scuttle as quickly as they can to a canal where there are real ale pubs and morris dancers.

9. Surf boards

Not sure that counts as a boat and anyhow just looks like two surfer dudes showing off. Now if it had been Scarlett Johansson lying on the board doing those overarm strokes, that might have been worth photographing.

Hmmm.... seem to have missed something.... what can it be.....oh yes, of course:

10. Power boats

It seems the dark side isn't the power it thought it was as alas these are instantly forgettable. None of them look anything like a Riva classic, they're just plastic blobs, not worth taking a snap of. But there were rather a lot of them out there, buzzing like annoyed bees.

So there you go, twenty different types of boat on or around the Thames over the last week.

And even better the list didn't include the dreaded Bubbler!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Which boat..... and why?

A selection of pics of some of the boats out on the Thames over the last week. Which would you choose and why?

Pick 1 (above) is the Laser, while choice 2 (below) is an old fashioned rowing gig Thames Waterman Cutter (thanks Chris):

Next up choice 3 on dry land a lifeboat:


More peaceful this Enterprise is number 5:

A bit more up to date this RS Vision choice 6:

A bit more exciting, the old bill's choice, its number 7:

And lets not forget at number 8 its the fire and rescue team:

At 9 it's the rowing boat that posted earlier, captured in the sunset:

And last but not least at number 10 there's this, the Clarkson special:

Also....... what isn't on this list?

Sunday, May 23, 2010

London Idyll

This weekend summer finally arrived in London.

The temperatures been in the high twenties and the temptation has been to find a shady spot and have a nice doze.

It was a spot of luck for the 2010 Wandsworth Art's Festival, held from Putney Wharf to Wandsworth Park, as the crowds descended to its green spaces to picnic and sunbath. The connecting Deodar Road had pulled out all the stops, with violinists seranading the sphinx statues, a young girl dancing to music on her iPhone, another in a wet suit with rowing oar asking passer's by if they'd seen a boat and houses decorated as if entering a fancy dress competition.

The high spot for me was the Graeme Miller installation called "Track". Along the avenue in Wandsworth Park was laid a railway track made from scaffolding poles along which carts could be pushed or pulled.

By lying on one and looking at the sky you saw wonderfully relaxing view of the trees gradually sliding by against a blue sky.

Well at least that was the theory, and the practice if the passenger was under ten. If you were a bit larger and had not just one but two helpings of Eton Mess the previous night there were the occasional grindings to a halt, as happens at the end of this clip.

There were all sorts of craft out on the Thames, but they will have to wait until another day.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Two Safety Tips

Safety seems to be the theme for the watery blogger at the moment, so here are two top tips:

1) Use Gloves

I love the spinnaker: when you put it up you get this surge of power as the boat accelerates - hopefully in the right direction.

But it can be a scary sail. The thing is it just has such a huge area that the loads on it can be hard to manage, and it needs a lot of ropes, which can lead to all sorts of tangles.

This story however involves a hoist of the spinnaker in the picture above that went wrong. The man swigging on the halyard by the mast didn't notice that the rope wasn't being pulled through the jammer but was coiling at his feet. So when the wind caught the sail the rope went flying upwards through his hands, and he wasn't wearing gloves.

The result was not pretty.

2) Stay in the boat

A couple were once found swimming half way between the islands of St Lucia and Martinique. They were all on their own, without a boat and also without any clothes.

Apparently they had been out sailing but as alas happens too often there was no wind. So they decided to go skinny dipping, both of them.

However once in the water the wind picked up, and it was fair to say they were lucky to be picked up too.

Lets be careful out there.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Bristol Pilot Cutter and the skip

The Beeb's series of Sea Fever programs is about to end, with the last two of the "boats that built Britain".

The penultimate of these was the totally wonderful Bristol Pilot Cutter (above) while the last was the LCVP landing craft.

To show the evolution of the concept the presenter Tom Cunliffe experimented with a rather unusual vessel, namely a skip with outboard.

And it worked!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Plotting the Thames's Tides

The Thames in London is a tidal river. The currents are fast and the range between high and low water sometimes over 6m.

You can get the raw numbers from the web site of the Port of London Authority (PLA). Here you can find both tide forecasts and live data from gauges along the river. But they are a bit dry, and it can take time to work out the picture along the estuary.

So I was delighted to find this site that shows all this information graphically. If you look at the pictures above and below you can see the water flowing in and out of the Thames today.

Symbols show the locks upriver and the Thames Barrier in the middle, complete with which spans are open.

It's a great example of how the graphical display of data can really bring it alive, giving an understanding of the processes involved.


Monday, May 17, 2010

Two Views of the Thames Barrier

The Thames Barrier (above) is an impressive and strangely beautiful structure.

It is the second largest moveable flood barrier, with rotation mechanisms contained within the stainless steel clad piers which remind me a little of the Sydney Opera House. There are ten spans in total: the four main 61 metre spans were designed to be the same width as that at Tower Bridge.

London depends upon it raising the gates when high tide and a storm surge combine to send water funnelling up the Thames estuary, threatening to flood the capital. And the risk is becoming ever greater, as the south east of England is gradually sinking while water levels rise higher.

And this is another view of the Barrier, using sound not light:

The photo was taken just after we powered through one of the gaps, and you can see the flat bit which shows the gate underwater in the horizontal lowered position.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Trinity Buoy Wharf

The powerboat course last weekend was based in one of those forgotten corners of Docklands that are real hidden gems.

Trinity Buoy Wharf is one of those places packed with character and history, nature and geography. It's where the River Lea meets the Thames, and it was one of the bases of Trinity House, the organisation responsible for maritime navigation aids such as lighthouses and buoys, founded in 1514 under the reign of Henry VIII.

Here none other than Michael Faraday undertook experiments as part of the development of lighthouses, one of which still stands, called appropriately The Experimental Lighthouse:

Since Trinity House left, new uses for the site have sprung up, some historic, some continuing the experimental tradition.

A variety of art usage of the complex includes storage for the English National Opera (ENO) and also the home where you can hear a radical composition of length - wait for it - one thousand years!

Called appropriately Longplayer the first performance began on midnight on 31st December 1999 and will continue until the current millennium ends in 2999. You can listen to the piece play out as it is streamed over the internet, and the best bit is, that you are guaranteed it will still be playing next time you are in London!

The site also includes some experimental architecture in The Container City:

This is pretty much what you'd expect from it's name - buildings built from containers. The advantage is that planning permission is not needed as by nature it is a temporary construction. The downside is I'd imagine they get cold in winter.

Also on the site were some installation artworks, a pier used by the fast Thames Clippers service, and some old lightboats, one of which at least has been converted into someone's home, complete with on-deck bath. Across the river you can see the impressive structure which is the London Millennium Dome.

The final touch to this remarkable site was a genuine American Dinner, Fatboys:

Well worth a visit if you find yourself in Docklands.

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Pool of London

While out powerboating last weekend we passed this lovely Thames barge, the SB Cabby, heading towards Tower Bridge. It was a scene that could have come from any time in the last hundred years.

It was a shame not to see her with her sails up. I suppose that today its thought to be too hard to sail such a vessel in the confined spaces of the Pool of London. But of course in its day the sailors would think nothing of it, doing that every day whatever the weather, as I read about in the book "The Mate of the Caprice."

But despite that she looked beautiful, naturally at home in these waters.

They even raised the bridge to let her in - magnificent!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Is this a yacht?

If you enter "yacht" into Google (or indeed Bing!) images you will see lots of pictures like this one. Though probably not exactly this one, which I copied from Tillerman's blog without his permission - an act of open Internet piracy which is natural to one who has flirted with the Dark Side.

Alas, fellow sailors, I think our word has been press ganged by the enemies, an insult to all that is proper. The picture above is of a motor yacht: a real yacht looks a bit like this:

One thing I noticed when doing the powerboat course last weekend is that a yacht under power steers very differently to a motor yacht.

I'm not that great at parking: no one has actually said "don't worry JP, we can swim the last few metres" but they probably thought it.

So it was good to have some excuses when things went pear shape, namely:
  1. When going slowly and you turn the wheel on a yacht the boat follows like its on tracks, unlike a RIB which without a keel does a bit of sliding sideways
  2. Yachts also have a rudder, so when the engine is neutral you have steerage way as long as the yacht is moving, unlike a RIB which has a tendency to follow the wind. I think that probably explains why RIBs etc go fast - they have to have their engines on all the time to control the boat. Which makes it lucky that:
  3. RIBS are a lot more bouncy than yachts.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Two Thames Stories

1. Rowing on the Thames

Oh no! In my previous post on different types of boats Chris of Rowing for Pleasure spotted I missed out rowing. All I can say is sorry and blame again trying to write a post while watching BBC4's Sea Fever series (confession, I'm doing that now, so beware typos and further omissions).

Of course there are times when the rowing boat is the best craft, and in honour of that truth I've re-posted a picture of two of the rowing boats most famous proponents. However I wouldn't like to travel through central London in one, and not just for the larger boats rushing by.

A bigger problem is the current. I remember seeing one afternoon a traditional wooden rowing boat attempting to row against the ebbing tide and failing. However hard the man at the oars struggled, he and his friend were being dragged down river.

In the end they gave up and beached the boat just below a pub where they vanished for several hours. Much later that day I saw them head up river, the tide now with them, till they disappeared into the dusk.

I have this feeling that though their afternoon hadn't gone to plan, it had still been a good day.

2. The old bill cautions two powerboaters

Like Adam from Messing About in Sailboats I too have received an email from Lisa Bertil of Safeboater describing 23 of the worst boating accidents. Reminds me a bit like the book Total Loss that I reviewed earlier.

Adam posted some excellent top tips, like going on a training course, wearing a life jacket and checking the weather.

While doing the powerboat course over the weekend we saw some good examples of boaters not following this good advice. The first RIB was in the lock with us and the crew had no life jackets and only a couple of layers of clothing on a day with biting North-Easterlies. Unsurprisingly they quickly decided they had had enough and headed in.

Further up towards Tower Bridge as we passed the River Police HQ we saw one of the bill's launches stop another power boat. In it were two lads with no wet weather gear, no lifejackets and no kill cord.

"Now then, now then, what's all this?"

After a proper ticking off they were allowed to go on their way with sheepish grins.

Let's have fun, but lets be careful out there.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

There is no one best boat

There are many different ways to get on the water, but there's no best.

If you want to travel down a little river like the Wandle then a kayak is good, and then there are different kayaks for slalom, tricks or seas. On some rivers like the Cam only a punt will do.

If you want to race sail in a lake or river then nothing beats a boat like a Laser which you can also race, but for day sails or family trips something bigger like an Enterprise, Stratos or Wayfarer is better. On holiday in warm blue waters there is nothing like a Hobie cat.

If you want to sail further afield then there are big boats, cruising yachts and racing yachts, the sorts that potter around the Solent, across the Channel or even the Atlantic.

But there are occasions where these aren't the right boats, and the Thames is one. Take the kayak: yes it can go down the river, but I wouldn't want to be in one in the centre of London. Here there are lots of big boats, and some like the Clippers going very fast. There are piers and moored boats and fast currents that can trap you against them in a potentially lethal way.

And dinghies are alas little better. Often moving too slow to overcome the current and stymied by one huge obstacle - the bridges. I have heard it seriously said that the best way to travel under them is to capsize, drift under (assuming the current is in the right direction) and then get back in.

So the powerboat is here a good solution, able to get from Putney to the Thames Barrier and back, something that neither dinghies nor kayaks can seriously manage.

They are also great for jump in and go entertainment, and as posted earlier it was an absolute blast to go through the Thames Barrier in one at 20 knots.

But their accessibility is also their weak point, which is that they are often driven by those who don't understand the needs and concerns of others messing about on the water. However that is the fault of those that use them not the boats themselves.

Its a bit like skiers vs. snowboarders: they can enjoy the mountains better if separated onto different slopes.

The good thing about the water is that there are many, many ways of enjoying it. The bad thing is that it appears that just one boat won't be enough!

Monday, May 10, 2010

An Explanation

Ok, it was like this.

It started with an idea of my brother and his family: why don't they hire a motor boat up river on the Thames? They have four children under ten and what could be better for them than a little messing about on the water. And where better for it than the home of Ratty and Mole and the rest of the Wind in the Willows crew, as well as Three Men in a Boat, and many, many others.

Then who better to come along too than Uncle JP as he knows about boats and can do stuff like mooring up, springs, knots and things. And indeed the idea of a bit of messing about with boats, and with nephews and nieces, and on the Thames - well, my reaction was simple: count me in.

But then the doubts: maybe there are things you should know about boats that don't have sails and stuff, and maybe a spot of revision wouldn't hurt, for as you might have noticed there is often a long gap between venturing out on the water.

Luckily the RYA is a bit like the App Store, in that what ever your needs there is a course for that. After a bit of Googling came up with the RYA Powerboat level 2 course at the London Powerboat School.

So last weekend went down to Docklands and had an absolute blast, especially going through the Thames Barrier and under Tower Bridge at 20 knots. Note the picture in yesterday's post came from these people here.

The instructor, Bill, was excellent, and full of top tips on how to board oil rigs and keep pace with Japanese Whalers and other skills that came from his time driving RIBs for Greenpeace. Highly recommended.

More from the dark side to come....

Sunday, May 09, 2010

A Message to all Sailors

Sailors - listen carefully, for you have been misled.

The powerboat is not bad as you have been told. This is said by those that have yet to have their eyes open, who still wander in the vale of ignorance.

The powerboat is a thing of beauty. Forget despondently drifting in the calm, forget taking hours to get anywhere, forget having to do things called a "tack" or a "gybe" just to go where you want to go. Forget having to worry about masts bashing into bridges and join me.

For today I blasted through the Thames Barrier at 20 knots, and what glory there was in that moment. Then I powered through central London passing St. Pauls before returning to fly under Tower Bridge at 20 knots, and how great was the feeling.

And verily it was revealed that the powerboat is good.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

JP joins the Dark Side!!

We all know that power-boating is wrong.

From early days of Swallows and Amazons and their "sail is the thing" to adults knowing that real boaters are not those flash wide boys throwing up wakes, but instead are in tune with the waves and the wind have so nothing to do with those nasty, smelly, noisy power boats.

But there is a power to the dark side. Experience the flow of air in your face, the roar of the engine, and the feeling of flight as the hull lifts off to plane over the water.

Yes, alas, JP has spent the day power boating. And he's going to do it again tomorrow, with some pathetic talk about there being "reasons."

Pah! We know what that means. He is lost, lost for ever.

No flowers please.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

The Pickle, Nelson and the Colonies

The BBC is currently running a series of documentaries called "Sea Fever" about this countries maritime past, and it's been pretty engrossing so far. Indeed at times it has been hard to both write a post and watch the screen. Fortunately tonight there is a lull while we wait for the election results.

Last night there was the story of HMS Pickle, a lovely little schooner who's modern replica is in the picture above. It was at the Battle of Trafalgar (spoiler alert - we won) and was given the task of getting the news back to blighty. And there was a prize - all of £500 up for grabs.

But it was not alone - a bigger ship, HMS Nautilus, discovered there was such a fortune awaiting who ever got the message home first.

It was a race of contrasts - between the traditional ship of the line - big, barrel shaped hull, square rigger - and the smaller, wine shaped hull, gaff rigger. The HMS Pickle with these modern advances could sail to windward much faster than its rival, even though its waterline was shorter.

And it was a very close run. Even with a short cut of landing at Falmouth and taking the stage to London there was just 30 minutes in it. But that was enough to get her commander, Lieutenant John Lapenotiere, to see the First Secretary of the Admiralty, Mr Marsden and then The Prime Minister, William Pitt, before finally being presented to King George III.

So the radical new design won - but where was it designed? The answer was not in any of the British ship building ports of Portsmouth or Chatham, as it was a prize brought back from the West Indies.

The Pickle almost certainly came from those radical colonies (or ex-colonies), namely either America or Bermuda. In the film she was taken out in a F8 and it was clear she was a lovely, sweet sailing beauty.

Looking forward to what ever comes next in the series.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

The Great Globe Mystery

In an earlier entry I posted about a pair of globes I saw when visiting St. Catharine's College, Cambridge last weekend. They were beauties, clearly antiques, and my host commented they had been a gift from Sir Isaac Newton. Indeed there was a plaque on the side with his name together with some Latin which alas meant nothing to me.

Actually I didn't give the college but the blogging communities brain's trust (aka Tillerman) deduced it from an impressively sparse number of clues. He also raised an interesting question - was it really a present from the great physicist astronomer and mathematician?

The issue arose from text he found deep within "Terrestrial and Celestial Globes: their history and construction including a consideration of their value as aids in the study of geography and astronomy" by Edward Luther Stevenson, PhD, LLD, etc etc (full text downloadable from American Libraries here).

It's a great document, and if you go to about page 144 you'll see a mention of a pair of his globes that may be found in the Bibliotheque Nationale of Paris, which states that these "are reported as having a diameter of about 40 cm. They are furnished with brass meridian circles, with horizon circles of wood, and each with a wooden base." In another document there's a picture - which you can see above.

While that's close to my recollection there are many similar globes in this book and online, and my memory is alas not photographic, and my iPhone is only a little better:

But the pair in Paris had Latin on it as well:

Philosopho ac Geometrae summo Isaaco Newton, equiti, Regalis Societatis Londini, ad scientias promovendas institutae, Praesidi dignissimo, ejusdemque consilio et sodalibus hos Globos qua par est humilitate D.D. C. Johannes Senex. London.


To the great philosopher and geometrician Sir Isaac Newton, Knight, most worthy President of the Royal Society of London, for the promotion of knowledge, and to the Committee and Members of the same Society these globes with befitting humility are dedicated by C. John Senex. London.

So are the globes created in honour of Newton, not actually his?

Alas I can't remember exactly what the globes in question had written on them, so it could indeed be the inscription here, and hence there would be no direct connections between the globes I saw and Newton.

But all is not lost if you read this article on John Senex. It gives some background on the man: "Around 1724, Senex moved into Fleet Street itself, opposite St Dunstan's church. By this time, he was well-known among scholars in his field, for he published Calculation of Solar Eclipses by William Whiston, a Cambridge don and one of Newton's friends."

So he would have known Newton and would have been familiar with Cambridge. Indeed next door Queens College has a very similar globe - but note there is no mention of Newton.

I've had a hunt around and found more information about Senex globes at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, which can be viewed online here.

But there's nothing definitive, which is frustrating. Next time I'm in Cambridge I'll try and resolve this issue one way or other.

Until then - any more clues from you Sherlock Holmes out there which could help solve this mystery?

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Seafarers Ale and Sea Fever TV

Shiver my timbers and yo ho ho, it's the time for seafarers and sea fever.

I saw this rather tempting advert in one of London's pubs today, and what could be a better combination than ale and sailing. There is of course the fine tradition of that first beer back after a voyage, but to drink to have a chance to join in the fun at Cowes week - that is PR genius. Well done Fullers with their Seafarers Ale.

It's also rather timely as Aunty Beeb is just about to start out on a series of maritime related programmes under the general banner "Sea Fever".

Art of the sea, sea shanties, famous boats, all linked into an exhibition at the National Maritime Museum on "The Boats that Built Britain."

Time to put my feet up, forget work, blogging and other writing and enjoy. All I need now is a fine ale to go with it.....

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Re-running the original America's Cup

The oldest international sporting competition, the America's Cup, was born 159 years ago in 1851. Amongst the spectators was Queen Victoria (above - also see story in post below) who asked who came second and was told "there was no second."

Named after the first winner, the yacht America, the prize is the more correctly called R.Y.S £100 cup, though engraved in the inaccurate 100 guinea cup (thanks Wikipedia).

And this year there will be a friendly re-match, with the UK's Team Origin challenging BMW Oracle on the same course around the Isle of Wight as part of the Round the Island race.

It'll give a chance to see Ben Ainslie go up against Jimmy Spithill, though using ACC designs not wing sails. There is alas no "Concorde" style super yacht being designed somewhere on the shores of the Solent.

More from the Sunday Times here.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

A very good answer

I was up in Cambridge today, but alas no chance to go punting as was there for a memorial service.

Afterwards was wandering around the college when in one room my eye was caught by a pair of old globes. One one was of the Earth, the other the nights sky. They were beauties, very faded, but on the latter the constellations were clearly marked out and it still rotated smoothly around its bronze axis.

What's their story, I asked our host.

They were a gift to the college from Isaac Newton, was the answer.

OK I admit I was impressed by that.

Updated: Given the post above a story of Queen Victora and the Cam. Apparently she visited in the times before the sewage system had been built and asked the Master of Trinity, who was showing her the college, what the pieces of paper were floating down the river. With admirable speed of thought Dr Whewell replied "Those, ma'am, are notices that bathing is forbidden."

Another very good answer!