Wednesday, August 31, 2011

This blog is destroying civilisation!

Today this blog welcomes (if that is the right word) the return of the columnist Glenn Beard, the man unafraid to speak his mind.

Friends, I am here because I am mad!!

I have just analysed the visitor logs for this blog and I discovered a disturbing statistic - the readers overwhelming come from freedom-fries loving countries!!

So what, I hear your lame-stream media liberal appeasers ask? Well, let me tell you another fact that will blow your mind. This blog was founded in November 2005 in the UK and then in just a few months afterwards, in fact in 2006, the UK's GDP fell below that of China!!

Co-incidence, I think not!!

This blog has no real information content and rarely involves any actual sailing or kayaking. What it does do is give a few seconds or even minutes of distraction, which leads me to the final conclusive statistic - many readers access this blog during work hours.

So you begin to see through the schemer's veil. Those commie bastards, aiming to undermine civilisation as we know it, have created a blog with no real content, but which reduces western productivity to a fatal degree.

You don't believe me? Well I had my doubts until I found this confession earlier this year: this blog is written by a Syrian lesbian!!! Ok, officially it is a denial, but we all know what that means. The fools even labelled that post as fiction!!!

(beginning to cry)

So people, I love my country, and I beg of you, if you love yours too, stop reading this right now!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The "most improved" Wandle River

A bit of good environmental news for once. The River Wandle (above) in south west London is one of Britain's top ten "most improved" rivers, according to the Environmental Agency.

Once merely a sewer, this urban river has been turned round and is now packed with wildlife. I remember stopping when I saw a [sorry bit hopeless at species of water fowl, probably a coot or cormorant] struggling with an eel almost as long as it was.

On last year's kayak down it the water was clearly good and filled with growing things. The only slight qualification was that it was packed with litter and needed a good clear up, but even here the Wandle Trust is doing its bit (I should go along to their events too).

More background at The Guardian and The Telegraph.

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Street, Whitstable

Yesterday I went for a walk along the sea wall at Whitstable. We usually go west but this time tried east, turning round when we reached what is called "The Street" (see iPhone photo above).

It is a nearly straight line of shingle heading almost directly out to sea, as can be seen in this Google Earth picture:
It is such a regular structure that there are some that say it's man-made, maybe created to help harvest the oyster beds as has been done since Roman times.

But according to Wikipedia it is entirely natural shingle built upon underlying clay. Some more pics here at

As you might expect such a clear navigational hazard is most definitely on the charts:

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Good for herons

It's a bank holiday weekend so to the forecast sunny spells was added rainy squall after rainy squall. Good for ducks and other water fowl (above).

It could of course be worse...... or at least so the news tells me.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Finding things

All week I've been finding things by the Thames bank. Not another gun - like the one above - but still interesting things.

Last weekend I did another of those Thames 21 river foreshore clean up events. There was a rather exciting moment in the safety briefing when they got to the point about how "last year someone even found a gun" at which point I raised my hand and said "that was me - I was the one who found the gun" (for some reason in the style of Jeremy Clarkson - not sure where that came from).

In the actual clean up found lots of junk where Beverly Brook meets the Thames including one very wet mobile phone. So if you had a Nokia on a Vodafone contract and lost one, well don't ask me as I gave it to Thames 21 who probably gave it to the PLA.

Then going for a mid week run along the Thames Path I found a Lloyds Bank cashpoint card half way between Putney and Hammersmith Bridges. Again if you lost one don't ask me as I handed it in to a couple of Police Officers I found further up towards Putney.

Finally today I found two bank notes - rather damp in the afternoon rain but still very usable. These two I do still have so if you have lost some money let me know what denomination and where they were lost.

But there is of course the question as to what the right response should be - so bloggers out there, what do you do when you find money?

Updated: after the Thames Festival Lady Daphne trip I got on the tube at Tower Hill and found something else - an Alcatel mobile phone! It was on a District line train heading to Wimbledon and was handed in to London Underground staff at Embankment.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Stocking the America's Cup

This blog recently led the interweb into the brave new world of stocking. For those of you in need of a "previously on... " recap, stocking is the recreation of the world of the stock photo which is apparently the next planking (oh come on, you must of heard of planking).

Keen to continue this cutting edge trend-setting status after a bit of staging I put together the above and I'm sure you'll spot the uncanny likeness to this America's Cup photo:
Wow, you're probably thinking. How did you manage that JP? Where did you get that AC45? How could you re-create the natural amphitheatre of the San Francisco Bay?

The keen eyed will of course spot that the hull colour is wrong - darn, there is only so much attention to detail this blogger can manage.

But think of it as a challenge - or an opportunity. You too could become in-time with-it happening interwebbers - you too could enter the world of stocking.

So how about it ? Any interest in a new group exercise, the Boating Blogger's Stocking Challenge?

The uber-cool could even try stocking the O'Docker planking  - but easy tiger! Experts only for that assignment!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Buff Staysail's ACWS TV Show

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

JP's been slagging off some America's Cup World Series (ACWS) TV show - well he's clearly not been watching Buff's Sailing Slot on Queensland Community TV!! Yup, I've my own show, and check out the latest 22 minutes of perfection!

Alas this program is unavailable for streaming as Kevin the IT intern was caught running a pirate file store from our servers and he's been carted off to the young offenders unit. So instead here's the script in all its sparkling glory:

Intro: Stock ACWS graphics of racing boats, water splashing on AC pounding music etc etc. Cut to quick succession of short clips of [port name], boats turning round mark, crew spraying champagne over each other etc

BS (voice over)
Welcome to the America's Cup World Series event from [port name]! The America's Cup may be the oldest sporting trophy but its been updated to be as high power and exciting as Formula F1!!

Clip of boat sailing fast then nose diving:
What will happen in this week's races? Who will be this week's winner and who will be voted off

First lets have a look at the host of this month's regatta, [port name]

[Add stock film from host organisation tourist board here]

BS (voiceover to clips of boats heading out and then nose diving)
But on with the first race, who will find glory and who will go for a swim?
It was an exciting start, won by [boat name] and racing was close all the way round

Enter clips of boats near marks, too close to see where they are or what is going on, what the tactics are etc etc

But there could be just the one winner, and this time it was [boat name]

Clips of: boat crossing line, crew cheering, checkered flag being waved by smiling young woman, skipper spraying champagne over crew etc etc

We had an exclusive interview with the winning skipper, [name]

Well we were pretty pleased by that result

Wow, wasn't that exciting!  Don't go away because after the break we'll have another race and there's bound to be drama all the way round!

Clip of boat nosediving:

Then ACWS end stock clip, followed by adverts

Back to ACWS start stock clip, followed by clips of clips of [port name], boats turning round mark, crew spraying champagne over each other etc

BS (voice over)
Welcome back to the America's Cup World Series event from [port name]! We've another exciting race here today, where anything could happen - and probably will!

First a look at the body armour the sailors need and the reason why - take a look at this spectacular crash of the Oracle boat!!

BS (voiceover to clips of boats heading out and lining up for the start)
But on with the racing! It was an exciting start, won by [boat name] and racing was close all the way round

Enter clips of boats near marks, too close to see where they are or what is going on, what the tactics are etc etc

But there could be just the one winner, and this time it was [boat name]

Clips of: boat crossing line, crew cheering, checkered flag being waved by smiling young woman, skipper spraying champagne over crew etc etc

We had an exclusive interview with the winning skipper, [name]

Well we were pretty pleased by that result

Wow, was that exciting!  What an event - we can only thank [port name] for being such brilliant hosts!! Next month we're off to [port name] for more America's Cup action. More drama than Formula F1 and a lot wetter! 

Clip of boat nosediving:

See you in [port name]!!

Finally ACWS end stock clip and its a wrap.

Monday, August 22, 2011

YouTube ACWS Cascais

My PVR recorded a bit of the America's Cup World Series (ACWS) on late night TV and I can see why it was pushed the the early hours: it was just awful.  To be fair it was a half hour summary but even so pretty unwatchable and likely to be the subject of a future post.

But I found myself enjoying the full unedited final race available on YouTube (above). It was what they called "Super Sunday" the last race from that regatta with points that go forward to the real thing next year. Anyway what was important was that it was a match race of the new high tech wing catamarans - and one that mattered to the competitors.

One thing was clear - the organisers really like the idea of this being like Formula 1. They had champagne on the winning boat before anyone else had crossed the line for that all important spraying the crew shot, then before the skipper could really enjoy a glug a RIB was on hand to rush him ashore for a post race reaction. They even had a big checkered flag like this:

There were other innovations, like a sailing area they had to stick to. Indeed at the first cross I was wondering if that too would be different but apparently port must still give way to starboard.

Unlike the summary that re-cycled the same clips this was more informative and give a rather good augmented reality view of the course so you could follow what was happening:

Heading towards the windward mark:

But who entered the circle first?

Heading for the line:
Overall I rather enjoyed it and don't think the sailing area restriction harms it at all. It was sailing as we know it - sort of - but very fast, with all crew in the sort of protective gear they are currently giving out to TV crews in Tripoli.

There is alas no British boat so I supported one of the ex-colonies though I won't say which one.

The question I'm left with is this one: the next ACWS "Super Sunday" is in the UK - but far off in Plymouth.

Should I spend a day travelling for a race that takes around 40 minutes? Or should I watch in the comfort of home with access via laptop to helicopter camera live streams and digital overlays plus excellent tea making facilities?

Saturday, August 20, 2011

JP leads interweb in post planking trending stocking

A few months ago I noticed that this blog's visitor stats were racing ahead, maybe a third higher than normal. What was it? I wondered. Was it Buff Staysail? Top Yacht? Descriptions of travel from back in 2009?

Nope, it was a post titled "Writing like" about a site that claimed it could detect writing styles. To accompany the text I added a picture taken from the web found after a quick Google, the one on the left above. And now Google images servers, deep in the heart of Mountain View, had decided that my picture was just great and had promoted it to a top placing.

Hmmm... thought I, how weird. Then for some strange reason it annoyed me: these hits weren't really my hits at all, they were for someone else's picture. So enough is enough, I think, its time to replace that stock photo with one of my own creation, the one on the right above.

And it did the trick. Google's algorithms had a collective seizure as they discovered their cached record was out of date and consequently dropped that web page down the rankings into oblivion, taking my site's traffic with it. Hurray!

So the matter rested until today when I read this story on Gizmodo, about something called "stocking" which is apparently the new "planking". I'm sure that you with-it in-time trending people all know about planking - after all it has its own Wikipedia entry.

However stocking was a new one to me. Apparently it involves "re-creating the world of the stock photo" and has its own web site here. It is so cutting edge that if you Google images "stocking" you don't find a single real "stocking" image!

But hang on: isn't that what I just did - several months ago? Maybe this blog is part of the post-planking trending interweb - nay, leading the pack, setting the pro-stocking agenda!!

I think I might go and lie down now - but not in planking way of course. This would be soooooo last month.

How much?

London has the reputation for being an expensive city - mostly well earned. But that doesn't mean you have to spend a fortune to enjoy it.

Take this weeks' 24 hours extravaganza and this list of what remember of the outgoings :

  • Timeout London (above) £ 3.25 which was a good investment even if it did get the times of Arrietty wrong, requiring a bit of on-the-fly re-scheduling
  • Oyster card (also above) hard to say as I use a mixture of zones and pre-pay, but TfL says a day's travel in central London should never be more than £ 6.60 (unless TfL computers get confused)
  • Roundhouse tickets concert plus Curtain Call installation £ 7.50 - how about that? Ok the friends went with (who I'd sailed with from Lisbon to Gibraltar) did get it via one of those special offer emails
  • Tate Britain entry: FREE! (ok, I am a member, but most of the museum is free to view)
  • Courtauld's two exhibitions and permanent collection: £ 6.00 - again, how about that? World famous top pictures for well under a tenner
  • Home made burger with lots of trimmings in Covent Garden: £ 4.00
  • Tea and chocolate brownie: dunno, maybe £ 3.00 if eaten in to avoid the rain storm outside
  • Serpentine Gallery: Summer Pavilion and Installation: FREE - yup, not a penny to pay there
  • Arrietty film at Odeon Covent Garden: £ 7.50 - not bad that, its their mid week afternoon reduced price tickets

Grand total: £ 37.85 - which I think is pretty good for 24 hours of packed arts, music and cinema.

Ok it might be steeper if had eaten out rather than grabbed a sandwich at home, and there was that round of drinks at the Roundhouse and sneaky taxi ride to keep on what was a rather tight schedule, but even so I was impressed by how little it all added up to.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Music, art and Arrietty: one day in London

It might have been raining (and hard at that) but JP's had a great 24 hours.

Yesterday went to the Roundhouse to hear a performance of solo cello performed by Steven Isserlis, which was great for three reasons. Firstly of course he's a great musician, and was playing works by Bach, Britten and Australian composer Carl Vine.

Secondly recently (ok, relatively recently) the Roundhouse has been transformed into a wonderful circular performing space.

And thirdly it is currently host to Ron Arud's installation Curtain Call. This is ring of 5,600 silicon rods, 8 metres tall, that surrounds the performing space and on to which are projected images and videos to create a real 360 degree experience.

It was a bit like the proms - no seats, just the floor (concrete, hard) or standing, but you could walk in or out of the curtain. During the Bach the videos were music scores, Britten clouds (as above) and for the Carl Vine (which actually turned out to me my favourite as the solo instrument was accompanied by tape) floating highly magnified pollen.

Afterwards there were some more Curtain Call works, including this one that reminded me a bit of the Global Communication gig at the British Library. Then two others wasn't so into before a final one that started off as a man dozing on a train and then went into his dream of him and some woman, which would happily have seen again. Great fun.

Then today took the day off to enjoy life a little. Instead of one mega art exhibition packed in a whole series of small scale ones:

1. The Vorticists at the Tate Britain - think short lived blighty version of Futurism. They had a manifesto that included the assertion that "the English character is based on the sea" -  liked that bit.

2. Toulouse-Lautrec and Jane Avril, beyond the Moulin Rouge, at the Courtauld. Just a couple of rooms but interesting and its in a lovely building:

3. Falling up, the Gravity of Art, also at the Coutauld which basically a few pics plus just the installation below:

4. Quick look at the Courtauld's main works as they have some top-notch Degas, Seurat, Cezanne, Gaugain, Renoir, Modigliani, Manet, Picasso etc and Van Gogh's self portait after he chopped off his own ear.

Then it was time for lunch, and luckily the nearby Covent Garden had a food fair so was spoilt for choice and in the end had one of those proper burgers (with rocket, mustard, gherkin etc) then cup tea and chocolate something in Pret a Manager to give strength for the tube plus long walk in the pouring rain to......

5. Serpentine Gallery Pavilion. This year its a very sombre black affair with at its centre a secret garden full of scented plants:

6. Serpentine Gallery's installation by Michalangelo Pistaletto. This was disappointing for two reasons: firstly they didn't let you take pics with your phone (how 20th Century) and also was basically coils of corrugated cardboard with the odd mirror. No pictures for obvious reasons.

Then it was a bit of dash back to Shaftesbury Avenue to see the latest from Studio Ghibli, the pastoral Arrietty, which was simply gorgeous! Wonderful art work, leisurely pace (no explosions here thank you very much) and moving central relationship. If you know the Borrowers books then you know what happens, but here with Japanese green tea of course.

And with that it was back to JP HQ.

Not a bad day......

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

JP spotted sailing claims challenged

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

Ol' JP pointed me towards the above video, claiming it shows him sailing in the Square Metre Rule Centenary Jubilee Regatta in Saltsjobaden, Sweden back in 2008.

Says him! I mean, seriously, do you believe it? I have searched the video carefully and ok there is one shot where there is someone a bit like JP but is he actually sailing? More like standing in the foredeck hatch doing nothing if you ask me.

Not convinced JP, not convinced!

This is Buff Staysail, sceptic, over and out!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Rope coil

For O'Docker, hoping he can coil up his problems and get sailing!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Picturesque Fowey

Fowey is a lovely place - maybe my favourite place in Cornwall - as can hopefully be seen in these photos.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

London Surrey Cycle Classic

As part of the preparations for next year's Olympics they are running a test event of the road cycle competition.

This clip is of the pack crossing Putney Bridge on the outward leg - hence it is very short as they are all clumped together. The following train of support vehicles was much longer!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

London is great

A good antidote to the week's events was to look back at some of my previous posts about life in London.

There was of course the Ultimate Walk by the Thames, with 50 things to see and do between Westminster and Tower Bridge. Yup, all those sights are still there.

In contrast there were the ways to escape London in London - such as a bike ride from Putney to Kingston and back. And not just by bike: you can kayak (on the Thames or the Wandle) or even sail, stopping over at one of the hundreds, no, thousands of pubs. You can join thousands others rowing up or down the Thames, such as for the Great River Race. In winter you can ice skate at many wonderful open air rinks, including the glorious Somerset House.

And London's been doing this not just for years, decades or even hundreds of years, but thousands of years. Julius Caesar himself forded the river Thames, back in 55 BC. And the river has seen so much history, from the days of the Golden Hinde to the docks to the lightermen. Every corner of London has its historic gems, like Trinity Buoy Wharf in docklands.

London's central place is reinforced by its geocoordinates, home to Greenwich, the zero line of longitude, where the last tea clipper, the wonderful Cutty Sark is being restored.

London was also the home of the great bard, Shakespeare, whose plays were first performed by the banks of the Thames. He was by no means the first or last, with hundreds if not thousands of writers, artists and thinkers who have lived for a time in London, from Monet and Wandsworth to the recently departed Tony Judt.

And what museums and exhibitions there are! From Henry Moores or Gauguin at the Tate to Turner and the Masters and from Anish Kapoor's sky mirrors to Jean Nouvel's Pavilion at the Serpentine, in the heart of London, in Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens and all the other of London's great parks.

And outdoor sculpture, like more Henry Moores, this time at the stunning Kew Gardens or the Putney Sculpture trail in summer or winter.

But don't forget the music, whatever your taste you will find it in London. Whether Steve Reich's Drumming on the South Bank, Theremin and Global Communication at the British Library, Editors at the Brixton Academy, Didgeridoo with string quartet, poor Amy Winehouse.... the list is endless.

It is the city where you can find Nelson's ship in a giant glass bottle high in Trafalgar Square, have all the fun of a country fair, where through the sky flies Harry Potter, Antony Gormley statues can stand on countless buildings and as a backdrop for those Spooks.

Whether in fog or snow London is a beautiful city, home to wildlife from foxes to eels, and within a year the 2012 Olympics.

London truly is great, and I am proud to call it my home.

Friday, August 12, 2011

The House of Reeves

The family run furniture shop called House of Reeves was founded in 1867 when Queen Victoria ruled the British Empire and Charles Dickens was at his height. It has been in the hands of five generations of Reeves, who kept it going through the Depression and two World Wars, including the Blitz.

Now it is this heap of rubble, stinking of smoke.

I was in Croydon today and went down to have a look. If the comments from the crowd watching are anything to go by the looters and arsonists had better hope they are not on the jury when their cases go to court.

"Wicked, that was, wicked" said one.

Why was this furniture store burnt down, given that even the most enthusiastic looter would have trouble making off with a sofa? Was it for fun - or was it meant as a distraction to give more time to loot the nearby PC World?

Thankfully there is only a tiny minority who feel like that, and the stories of good deeds, such as the broomstick army of Clapham Junction, greatly outnumber the bad. And The House of Reeves is open for business again as 80 year old Maurice Reeves says determinedly "we won't let this beat us."

London has survived plagues, fires and wars: it will survive, it will rebuild. We won't let this beat us.

Anti-seagull Olympic falcon gets an eyeful

It seems that Aeolus and the Olympic sailing team have a common enemy - seagulls.

Those flying pests have been doing their dumps all over our boat's nice clean decks and this sailor remembers all to well discovering green mess on his hands.

Our solution was nets and shiny CDs (including one of Des O'Connor ... shiver....) tied on to a line but the GB Olympic team has gone one further and employed a falcon.

Alas it seems the falcon has seen more than it should.....

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Night Spirit at Fowey

.... or maybe not. Someone thought this was a Spirit Yacht, but another wasn't sure and I have no idea.

Anyhow its very prettily lit up here - we just had flags etc. Indeed some used words like fancy or flash, but for me it looked fab and was a good subject for a photo.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Two stories from London

London is showing signs of normality today, after a quiet night and a day when almost all shops opened again for business.

But there's no doubt that the last few days have been a collective shock to the all of us in this great city. So it was with relief that I heard of the broomstick army of Clapham (aka riotwombles).

Stirred by the sights of mayhem on TV the good citizens of London starting tweeting to #riotcleanup and what started as a couple of activities led to hundreds descending on the glass and rubble covered streets around Clapham Junction.

With more broomsticks than Hogwarts this corner of the capital was soon tidied up, as were other boroughs after similar acts of community spirit. More on the broom as a symbol of London's - and England's - resilience here.

In comparison to this heart-warming tale, the first court cases for looters have started to flood the legal system, including this one. Alexis Bailey, 31, pleaded guilty after being caught looting the Richer Sounds store in Croydon.

His job - "learning mentor" in a primary school! (in Lambeth - natch)

One of these stories is inspirational; the other does raise all sorts of troubling questions.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Fowey Classics 2011: Mikado sailing

Happy thoughts, JP, happy thoughts!!

Bit grim here at the moment, London's burning, London's burning as they say. Its totally crazy - have a listen to this. I want to be back out there sailing rather than watching videos of burning buildings and locked down shopping centres.

Oh well, above's a nice pic of Mikado sailing. Did I mention that we on Aeolus beat her?

Updated: Have removed the other photo and text as might have been taken in by caption on the Panerai Classics web site as don't think that picture was Mikado after all. See for yourself here.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Cowes week collision video

Dramatic video has emerged of the collision between a yacht racing in Cowes week and an oil tanker somewhere in the Solent yesterday. Luckily it seems no one was hurt but that must surely be a close shave.

You can watch it on the BBC web site here.

Friday, August 05, 2011

"Not bad" sailing at the Fowey Regatta

You are a bit constrained in the language you use to describe race positions in an English Classics Regatta.

It's quite all right to say something like "made a total mess of that one" or "had time enough to make and drink a cup of tea". If you come a bit further up the fleet then phrases like "could have done that a bit better" come in handy. Bragging is an absolute no-no: none of that American talk of ass-kicking here if you don't mind.

So I'm a bit stuck, and will simply say we were not bad three times in a row and go make myself a nice cuppa and possibly down on a Pimms or two later on.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Fowey classics pics day 3

Bit of swell from SW made life up front a bit damper but don't mind that. Overall didn't feel it was our best effort, but will have to see what corrected times are. Our rivals on Mikado, a lovely Clyde Linear 30 from 1904, sailed a little ahead of us all the way round which was a bit annoying but then again we were faster on Tuesday. Another lap and we'd have got them, honest!

Updated: Well that was a bit of a result. On corrected time we were 30 seconds ahead of Mikado, and they're quite good as can be seen by their results in the recent Classics Week in Cowes here.

Managed to get a few shots of the gaff riggers start before camera was stowed below as we were in our 5 minutes.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Tall ships in Charlestown

Today there was no racing in the Fowey Classics Regatta 2011 - well of yachts that is. There was apparently plastic duck races and I had only the slightest curiosity as to what that might be.

Instead I headed over to nearby Charlestown to see the three tall ships and unspoilt village, much used in historic movies. Btw unlike colonial namesakes there is no royal connection, as it was local businessman Charles Rashleigh who built the port to support the clay mining industry.

Very pretty it was too, and had an excellent crab sandwich and visit to the shipwreck museum before heading back to Fowey.

I'm still not that happy with the photo import and blogger interface on the iPad so might have to tweak these when back with laptop.

Ok, this isn't a tall ship. I think it was the Argo in recent film of Jason and the Argonauts.

The main ship, the SV Kaskelot, has starred in a long list of tv and film productions from Hornblower to Dr Who.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Fowey classics pics day 1

These are a selection from some pics pre the start as took no pics after 10 minute gun.

Not a bad race though not really enough wind for us