Tuesday, November 30, 2010

British scientists discover "Winter"!

Today's a proud day for Blighty as British Boffins make the discovery of the year - nay, the decade. Those big brains have been beavering away with their data sets and climate models and have just made a break-through of epic proportions.

Apparently there is evidence of a 365.25 day cycle between periods of low temperature or "winter" as they are describing it.

"We were shocked" said a man with a beard. "But the evidence is very strong for this phenomena."

However across the pond there was scepticisms and the results were described as "controversial". Alaskan MumsNet spokesperson was categorical "This so-called Winter is a plot by progressive liberals to scare the public into handing over hard working honest tax payers money to scientists and the Obama administration is using it to impose a socialistic dictatorship!!"

We are also hearing about reports of security implications. The beltway think-tank "Big Bills Inc" has warned that the impact of "Winter" is to turn Dihydrogen monoxide or DHMO - a lethal substance commonly used in nuclear reactors - into a crystalline form which can be converted by terrorists into projectiles that can be targeted at freedom loving Americans!

Said their spokesperson Mr Off The Record "It is shocking that Government agencies have no action plan for cystalline DHMO projectiles and we have prepared a $ 50 million study program to investigate."

The White House was unavailable for comment.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Not in St Lucia

I am not, as Tillerman has spotted, in St. Lucia, and not even sailing there - alas.

Instead today I battled the freezing cold and tube strike to get to work, which involved draft contracts and power point presentations (neither my favourites), before struggling back against biting winds and late trains.

Yes, St. Lucia does sound rather nice, but to be realistic it ain't going to happen. So instead lets focus on the positives and dinner tonight, which was cassoulet washed down with a glass of the Beaujolais Nouveau.

It wasn't the cassoulet of the recipe books, but I have a feeling that's how its meant to be - you cook with what you have to hand. But the basis was meat, sausages, haricot beans and a sprinkling of bread crumbs which means it should have been on the right track.

And very nice it was too and there's plenty left over for another day.

Living in a cold climate has its compensations.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Latitude 51N

Another bitterly cold day, with temperatures in parts of Britain dropping down to -17C (0.86F) overnight. So no, didn't go sailing or kayaking over the weekend.

Its worth remembering that we're actually at a higher latitude than most of Newfoundland, and its only the Gulf Stream that keeps our waters free of icebergs.

Time to wrap up warm and cook up something warming like a cassoulet.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Snowy Sheffield

Snow! In November!

Very pretty for walking, but layer up.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Hot tea not cold paddles

It is freezing cold tonight.

It's the weather to put the kettle on to make a nice hot cup of tea, which I just have and it really hit the spot, warming the cockles as they say. But I've also seen that there are some braving the weather and out paddling in the icy winds and chilly waters.

Rather them than me to be honest.... brrrrrr!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Forecast Snow

It's a cold night here in Blighty-land, with freezing temperatures forecast and even snow - up to 20 cm in Scotland.

So its with more than usual envy that I look at pictures of the start of the annual Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC), currently a few days out from the start on their way to the sunny Caribbean.

Oh to be in the sun, cool drink in hand, listening to the gurgle of water under the stern....

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Round the Island part 2

For once being polite worked and C4 posted part 2 of the Round the Island documentary, and pleasant, though undramatic, it was too.

Basically all four teams made it round and "achieved something" - some more than others. The Extreme 40 came 3rd (uncorrected) and the self-made boat came 7th overall - which is quite something given it was its maiden voyage. It turned out the builder did know a thing or two about sailing - he won gold at Atlanta.

Some more pics:

Looks like they had great weather! Those within the UK can watch it by clicking here.

Apparently next year is the 80th anniversary so might be worth pencilling it in the diary. Just hope the weather is as good.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Not available

After a tiring week it was good to be able to switch off that alarm and have a late start followed by reading the papers over a coffee. So wasn't up in time to watch the 2nd part of the TV series about the Round the Island Race (last week's episode blogged here).

No worries, thinks I, there's 4OD just for such eventualities. But alas apparently it is "not available" - not at all sure why, so unable to blog about what happened to the four boats it was following.

Bother! Don't C4 executives know how hard it is to find suitable material relating to sailing and kayaking to blog about in November?

Surely someone should say something!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

This is not soup

There seems to a soup theme today, and so I took this picture.

In the old days London used to suffer from they called  "pea-soupers" - a thick smog containing particles of soot coming off from coal fires, which at their peak killed thousands every year.

After the Clean Air Act of 1956 pollution went down and so we don't get smogs, but we still get the odd thick fog, as we did today, and which lasted most of the day.

So I took a photo.... not really a prize winner I'd admit.

Sailor gets engaged

Today a sailor (the one driving in the pic above) announced his engagement.

All together now....aaahhhhhhhh!

Sunday, November 14, 2010


A bit of good news out of Somalia - the British couple kidnapped by pirates over a year ago have just been released!

More on the story from the BBC here.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Britain's Favourite Yacht Race

Channel 4 has just started a new series called "Britain's favourite yacht race" all about the Round the Island race, which is apparently Britain's fourth largest participation sporting event.

Alas the TV chiefs care not how popular it might be, its about sailing and so have placed it in the schedules at 7.25 on Saturday morning. Fortunately there is C4's on demand service, 4OD, and so have just watch the first episode which covered the start.

Well at least up to it. They followed four teams as they made their preparations. Firstly there was the rookies doing their first race and learning how to hoist a spinnaker:
The figures on screen btw is how long it took them - gee, thanks C4, I'm sure they're glad you timed that.

Then there was someone who built his own boat just for the event - here getting it measured.
It's maiden sail was out to the start line - cutting it a bit fine if you asked me but at least it got there.

Then there was the dinghy sailing cancer survivor crewing on a charity boat and getting top tips from one of Britain's gold medal winners:
Finally there were some pros on an Extreme 40:
As is typical for Round the Island races their start was on the early side.

Hmmmm.... maybe 7.25 am isn't so bad and now I know its being broadcast I'll have no excuse for not watching it live next weekend.

Actually I should make a bigger effort and do it next year - its a great race.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

When was this - update

Ok, so there are two ways to answers to the question of "When was this?" for this picture

1. There are red double decker buses crossing Putney Bridge and no buildings in the background - as Tillerman worked out, that means it must be in the 50s. The sails are a red herring as they are likely to be from the Ranelagh Sailing Club that has been there since 1889 and its not possible to work out what class of boat they are

2. If you look on the back it says "Putney Bridge 1950s"

It also says its by Dick Lee who was part of the Camberwell School of Art. He loved the sea and during the war served in the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve.

You can see more of his pictures here.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Picture quiz: where, when, what?

Ok, there maybe more questions than previous puzzles but it should be sufficiently recognisable that there won't be a prize apart from glory.

But, if you can work out the artist - then there'll be a prize (*). There is no signature or other indication so I have no idea.

(*) I dunno, dinner in Putney or something

Monday, November 08, 2010

Picture quiz: when was this?

Another picture puzzle.

One of the things I was in Shrewsbury for was this oil picture, which is clearly Putney Embankment. The question is can you gleam clues from it as to when it was painted? Nearest decade will do.

Knowing the big brains out there I might even wonder if you could get the school of art involved.

Kingsland Bridge Plaque

I think O'Docker means this one

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Picture quiz: where is this?

This is a rowing club, the picture was taken yesterday but any guesses where?

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Remember, remember

Ok, yesterday was officially Guy Fawkes night, but it was very wet, so tonight was a much better opportunity to celebrate Parliament not being blown up - with a firework display.

Friday, November 05, 2010

To ad or not to ad, that is the question

JP HQ was recently approached by a commercial offer: someone wants to advertise here! I have been pondering the pros and cons, and this is the list so far:

  • It's money :)
  • Content should be valued
  • Its seems a worthy site and appropriate for this blog
  • Could be more out there

  • Its not that much
  • Friends start asking about "principles"
  • Like freedom to say what ever want
  • Like freedom to stop blogging when want
  • It becomes "professional" 

So what do you think?

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

The First Draft

There is another explanation for the lack of sailing and kayaking this year: I have been distracted.

In an earlier post about the National November Writing Month or NaNoWrMo (yucky acronym that) I suggested that I could write about 5k words in 3 days, roughly 1.5k / day. This was not a guestimate, it was the number that came from first hand experience.

About a year ago I had an idea for a novel, and on January 1st resolved to have a go at writing it. And today have finally reached the last page and have a first draft, all 93k words of it.

Of course to be realistic the publishing market hasn't been this bad...oooh.... since for ever, so the odds of getting it published are slim. And rather depressingly the moment the ink is dry on the last page (not literally of course) you have to start re-writing, as you know your characters so much better than at the start.

But review and rewrite is something I can do in November. For the goal has always been the more achievable objective to finish the book, and it looks as if am well on the way to achieving this by the 31st of December.

And, no, I'm not going to say anything about what its about, except there are connections to the picture above.

Monday, November 01, 2010

JP wins major prize!

INT: RECEPTION ROOM. Balloons etc everywhere, tables with white cloth covered in used plates and half drunk wine glasses. At the top is a stage with mic and spot light, in which can be seen the familiar form of Buff Staysail, together with JP.

Howdy folks, Buff Staysail here! Buff by name and Buff by nature!

Welcome back to the second part of this award ceremony, and we have for JP a special prize! That's right, it's not just a blog 5th anniversary bash!!

JP (nervously)

It's come to our attention, JP, that your sailing and kayaking activities have been a bit, how shall we put it, anaemic this year. 

What is it? You sailed on Aeolus 4 times, kayaked another 4, drove that motor boat 3 days, had two days on the Dark Side playing with RIBs and then a single punt on the Cam. 

And yet out of those 14 days on the water you managed to generate an amazing 242 blog posts, which the big brains have calculated is 17.3 posts per sail, kayak, drive or punt. 

So in recognition of your out-standing abilities, we have decided to club together to get you the "Milking it" award of 2010!!!

(wild applause)

Err, couldn't you have called it the creativity prize? Or the imagination and diverse range of interests award?

Nope. I'm an Australian and we eat Vegimite and call a spade a shovel, or is it vice versa?

Well, of course I'm honoured, but this prize is not about me. I couldn't have won it without this year's work overload. And don't lets forget the help I received from the good ol' British weather...

What about frost-biting??

.... or indeed that bump to the head that drove me indoors, and the high price of living in London: boats are expensive things you know.

Anyway, thank you very much Buff! 

No worries JP!!