Monday, 31 August 2015

Chrissie Hynde

Chrissie Hynde is coming under fire from the feminist brigade for comments about rape and responsibility. 

Difficult argument, but if you choose to walk around with your wallet on show in a busy shopping centre and get it nicked, then there's no denying you are partly culpable. Thieves exist and are a fact of life - no amount of blaming them fairly and squarely for the theft of your wallet is going to change the fact your wallet will be stolen. 

On the other hand, those who set out to rape don't really care what their victim is wearing - the Nora Batty look certainly doesn't put them off. 

The kind of rape Hynde is talking about is not perpetrated by the hardened rapist - it's the kind that's on the borderline with consensual sex. That kind of rape (if it can be called that) may or may not happen depending on the attitude of the victim. Portraying oneself as louche certainly isn't going to help the situation and is more analogous to the wallet situation.

But as I said, a difficult argument. The feminists are looking at it from the perspective of an ideal world in all circumstances, but the world is certainly not ideal. Rape is wrong, plain and simple. So is theft. It all comes down to definitions.

Sunday, 30 August 2015

The Director's Cut

The holiday video is finally ready:

Over an hour of clips edited into 25 minutes.

Saturday, 29 August 2015

A Brecon Holiday

Well, we're back from our week's messing about on the Brecon and Monmouthshire canal. The Canal is a work in progress, but indubitably one of the finest canals in the country for getting back to nature and relaxing, despite being very narrow and very shallow.

Despite Hay opening the wrong lock paddles once or twice and trying to drain the canal down, we survived the week without any mishaps, and by the end she was criticising my boat handling skills, sharing steering duties from the 2nd day.

Never seen so much bracken - I reckon they grow the stuff on purpose and have bracken farms and plantations.

The canal runs parallel to the River Usk. You know how Afro-Caribbeans say 'aks' when they mean ask? I wonder if they say Uks when they mean Usk?

The boat was luxuriously appointed, but the hot tub on the bow gave up the ghost after the first day (we suspected rain in the switches). At least Hay got to have a go.

Overheard While Navigating:

Chairman: "Where are we?"
Hay: "Llan something or other."
Chairman: "You do realise we're in Wales and that puts us in any one of 1200 places?"

Overheard While Navigating:

Hay: "This bit looks man-made."
Chairman: "It's a canal - it's all man-made!"

Overheard in the pub:

Bloke: "I don't want to get philosophical about this, but in my opinion if they made an example of these suicide bomber and cut their hands off, why wouldn't do it again."
Chairman to Hay: "What doesn't he understand about the word suicide in the expression suicide bomber?"

Saw quite a few people jogging on the towpath with devices strapped to their arms, which they inspected every now and again. I'm at a loss to know what a device can tell them that their lungs and muscles can't.

Given the filthy weather (which did not detract from the enjoyment one bit), we bought some heavy weather gear in Brecon. The outdoor shops had waterproof kagools at hideously inflated prices - one place had one for £190. Bought a complete set of waterproofs for Hay and myself at a new outlet called Mountain Warehouse for £67. As luck would have it, the weather improved, but I was wishing it would hammer down for the rest of the week to justify the expense.

How can they justify the price?

Same stuff, under a 10th of the price!

Passed through a place called Pencelli. Hay reckons it's pronounced Penkethli, whereas I believe it's where all the Italian Welsh come from and it's pronounced Penchelli. Of course, Sebastopol is populated by refugees from the Crimea.

How does one pronounce this without sounding as if one is retching?

One touristy establishment we visited advertised hand-stirred jam. I winder what difference hand stirring jam makes - the odds are none at all.

Why is it restaurants and pubs have kids'meals? Can't they eat normal food? Kids' sized portions I can grapple with, but totally separate menus comprising crap?

The Usk

Usk again

Usk in flood after the rain

Would do it again in a trice. Much better than foreign holidays with all those travel disruptions and foreign people. And it's only an hour from us! However, having lived on a canal boat for three years, I know boats are money pits, so I don't think we'll be buying one soon for the 2 or 3 weeks of the year we'd probably get to use it.

Friday, 21 August 2015

Calais Touch-Up for Iran

Had occasion to do a bit of touch-up on the pool car yesterday, which is the first car I've ever owned that had a clear lacquer coating. What idiot first started this lunatic craze that makes touching up paintwork a bloody impossibility?

You know, one simple solution to the Calais problem (for the French at least) would be for them to give it back to us. It was ours till 1558.

I hear that the IAEA is to allow Iran to appoint its own inspectors. Bloody athletes - I thought Seb Coe had promised to put an end to doping within athletics with him at the helm....

Thursday, 20 August 2015


That Bradshaw bloke must have led the life of Riley - all he ever seemed to do was go on holiday.

Tomorrow we're off to spend a week's staycation on a narrowboat (or rather slightly wider than a narrowboat) in the Brecons, leaving No.1 Son to guard the house. Looking at the weather forecast there's a lot to be said for booking holidays in locations were the weather can be guaranteed.

At least the food on the route looks half decent:

Sleeping arrangements aren't too shabby either, what with a 4 poster:

But the bath leave a bit to be desired - they could have put it inside:

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Vaping University

At last, a sensible report on e-cigarettes!

Licensing will cost a packet (if you'll forgive the pun) and mean a massive price hike. On the other hand, if they're ever prescribed, I'll get mine for free as I'm over 65...

I see there's an article on the BBC News site that says we've reached the stage where the majority of university graduates are in jobs that don't require a degree in the first place. Time for an overhaul of the university system, if you ask me and limiting a university education to a top percentile of A level students and making it free for them. There's no doubting that many of those going to university are simply looking forward to the experience rather than the education it provides (although an education is doubtful in some instances), like some 2 year long summer camp. I've heard many of those interviewed on TV and radio actually say it. Even those who go for the education are saying the value for money is poor, which is only to be expected when the name of the game is bums on seats.

How about those employers who demand a degree from new entrants selecting their entrants from A level students and then being made to pay university bursaries by law, thereby sharing the risks and the costs. Many industries pay bursaries already - the NHS, for example.

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Corbyn Bananas

Was watching Michael Moseley on iPlayer talking about genetic screening. Apparently you can get a kit that you spit into, send off and by return get a report on your chances of getting a certain disease. Hay reckons my test would come back to say I'm a banana.

Jeremy Corbyn has been in the news for some reason. Let's have a look at his policies:
  1. The Economy: An end to austerity through higher taxes for the rich. Well, the rich already pay more by virtue of a progressive tax system; however, I guess he means more tax bands beyond the 40% rate. There is the little problem that exorbitant taxation simply encourages tax evasion and tax avoidance. He does promise a further crackdown on tax evasion, but previous governments have already done that, with little result beyond the odd high-profile case - and it won't end austerity. Not for me I'm afraid, 
  2. Foreign Policy: Less intervention, which I can't disagree with - most of the problems with terrorism emanate from good intentions with poor follow-through. However, he advocates talking to everyone in the middle east to generate peace - people have been doing that for decades and there comes a point when Hamas' avowed intent to kill every Jew on the planet needs some alternative strategy. We're talking about religion here, and there's no debate with militant Islam (or any militant religion) and it's immune to rational argument. My jury is out and slightly jaded.
  3. The EU: Stay in. I'm not against staying in the EU - better to change it from within than try to do it from without. I'm on his side there, but a no to political union.
  4. Education: A return to LEA control. Can't disagree there - there's been too much playing around with education and trying to push through ideology that hasn't been tested. No-one can say Academies are a resounding success. On side again - also on ending public schools' charitable status (that's just a joke), as well as the charitable status of religions.
  5. Housing: Right to Buy at discount. I support this so long as it enables more social housing to be built from the proceeds on a 1 for 1 basis. However, it seems at odds with standard Labour policy. Got my vote again.
  6. Defence: Wind down the defence budget and exit NATO. Rank stupidity when we have a radical Muslim threat (partially caused by misguided foreign policy, admittedly) on EU borders and Putin is heading to make himself dictator of Russia for life. Unless, that is, Jeremy expects nations closer to the threats to bear the burden. A resounding no from me - it's far too ideological.
  7. Royal Family: Not a fight he's interested in, so no comment.
  8. Transport: Re-nationalise  the railways. Good idea - it's not as if the independent railways don't have problems with labour relations anyway. It's incomprehensible that I can fly to the continent and back for less than a 2nd class return fare to London. While he's at it, re-nationalise the telecomms companies, the post and the energy sectors - for too long they have only focused on the profitable parts of their businesses to the detriment of the countryside or whatever. At least the postie knows where I live, whereas the courier companies haven't a clue and only manage to deliver 50% of the time. Try to get broadband in the countryside and you'd think you were asking for manna from heaven. I have no problem whatsoever with key strategic industries, where the product is almost a human right, being in the hands of the government (to say it's in the hands of the people is a joke, as the people have no say whatsoever). However, take it beyond that into Clause IV and he's in USSR territory and loses by vote.
  9. Political Reform: 50% of shadow cabinet to be women. Again, too ideological and risks handicapping himself in the interests of tokenism. Women are no less daft than men.
  10. Health: Eliminate all elements of privatisation from the NHS. A contentious issue. More and more screening tests are becoming available, which add to the lifetime cost of looking after a person in the hope of allowing him or her live a bit longer. Many of these tests are outsourced, as the NHS simply doesn't have the equipment or experts available to run them. Ban all private medicine (i.e. nationalise all medicine) and we'd have the people, but not the money to pay them, or get the equipment, without continuous, massive tax increases that are an election no-no. My jury is out, yet slightly against - although that's at odds with my support of the nationalisation of key industries, and health is certainly a key industry. Perhaps I need a rethink on this.
He's by no means the rabid Marxist people portray him as - many of his policies are eminently sensible, but a handful are just too ideologically driven without evidence of them being beneficial. On the whole though, old left and nothing to get too upset about, unless you're consumed by the desire for power at all costs and want to appeal to the slightly left of Tory electorate. It certainly opens some clear blue water between the parties and provides a real choice between left and right.

Monday, 17 August 2015


The car park we used in Saltford on Saturday when we went kayaking was furnished with several picnic benches and tables on the grassed area. While they looked as if they were made of wood, they were actually made of a thick, dense plastic for durability.

Some tossers had placed those tin foil BBQs on the tables and, obviously, they had melted the plastic all the way through. You wouldn't place BBQs on wooden tables, let alone plastic ones. 

Some people are simply incurably thick.

Sunday, 16 August 2015

More Avon Kayaking

More kayaking on the Avon yesterday - Saltford to Swineford and back:



Apparently (according to the lady in the Jolly Sailor) a lot of kayakers shoot this weir - we're going to give it a go, but not before getting some helmets.

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Demolishing Listed Buildings

We were watching an episode of The Restoration Man the other night where a chap who was renovating a derelict school came up against local planners due to the building being listed. Try to do anything that alters a listed building and you're risking legal action - unless you are a large developer intent of creating a car park for your £12m shopping centre, and then you can apparently demolish listed buildings.

That happened to two derelict listed buildings along our usual Sunday walk into Yate. A new addition is being built to the local shopping centre, which will comprise several branded stores, a cinema and a staff car park. Both the listed buildings were demolished to make way for the car park. How can that have happened?

Friday, 14 August 2015

Gossipy Deep Shit Burqa

Heard someone complaining yesterday about Twitter and Facebook containing nothing but meaningless and inane gossip. What the hell do they normally talk about at the office then - nuclear physics, the meaning of life and the cost of production? Meaningless gossip comprises the majority of human interaction. Forget about work - what people need is a decent life-life balance...

People use the expression 'talking about deep shit'. Isn't 'deep shit' an oxymoron? Well, either that or an eco-friendly earth closet!

Been seeing a lot of posts on Facebook about banning the burqa. If you ask me, a lot of people - men included - would benefit from one. Perhaps the burqa should be compulsory for some. However, I do wish people calling for a ban on the burqa would articulate what is it about this item that particularly offends them to call for a blanket ban (if you'll pardon the expression). It seems it's more what it symbolises than the burqa itself, and if that's the case then why not attack that than the item of clothing. Once you ban a certain article of clothing then heaven knows what will be banned next, purely from a logical standpoint - helmets, hoodies, balaclavas. The difference between a kaftan, which doesn't seem to attract any ire whatsoever, and a burqa is purely the head covering. Women in this country are not forced to cover their heads by law, and if they are so forced by their menfolk, then we have existing laws to protect them. I would suggest the overwhelming number of Muslim women who wear them do so out of choice and I would also suggest that a call for a ban would make more Muslim women wear one purely out of pique.

Back to Windows 10 - take a peek at Microsoft's App Store. It's like browsing a Soviet era shop with the proverbial bare shelves.

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Just Saying

B and Q (wish they'd cure this ampersand problem) oak veneered interior doors, £100 each or two for £150 on special offer - we need three, so £250. Benchworx oak veneered interior doors, three of, £179. Just saying.

However, £5k for a Benchworx kitchen (with cooker and cooker hood) seems a tad over the top for a pokey corner. Major rethink and the stripping of £2.5k off the cost is called for. I don't think the hand-built kitchen in the house cost that much!

Doesn't look like much has happened since the last update, but a lot of stuff has been going on inside. Electrics, insulation, etc. External cladding arrived yesterday (the covered pile on the right), but the storms and rain predicted for today will preclude its installation. Plenty to get on with inside though with more insulation and the plasterboard.

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Missing HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Classes\.html

Perseids, my foot! Spent half an hour at one o'clock in the morning looking for the buggers with nary a one spotted.

They say you're getting old when policemen start to look like kids; well that happened decades ago. I'm starting to look with an expression of mild bemusement when the names of Slebs come up on TV and I haven't a clue as to who they are or what they're allegedly famous for. I've finally started to lose contact with popular culture at the relatively young age of 60.

I recently initiated the free upgrade to Windows 10, but completely lost the ability to launch email or web hyperlinks in Outlook. Searched high and low for a solution, but as Windows 10 is so new there wasn't anything I trusted, as it all referred to previous versions of Windows and ancient versions of Outlook (I'm on 365). Very nearly gave up and rolled back to Windows 7 in disgust.

I finally clicked that the registry entry HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Classes\.html was completely missing. Creating it in regedit and populating it with "htmlfile" resolved the issue.

Now whether this was an issue with the original installation of Win10 or a subsequent change made by AVG PC-Tuneup remains to be seen.

Still getting used to Windows 10 - have deleted half the stuff it clutters my screen with as useless nonsense. It makes the most simple tasks to do with changing user permissions, etc. almost impossible.

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Say Cheese & Milk

Saw an advert for a McDonald's BBQ Smokehouse Burger on TV the other night. At one point they were at pains to point out that it contains matured cheddar cheese, backing this up by showing some aged rounds of real cheddar, but then quickly switching to the above named burger, resplendently garnished with limp slices of some orange lipid which in no way could be described as mature cheddar cheese. Couldn't even be describer as cheese.

Milk prices. Apparently the cause of the farmers' problem with pricing is world oversupply combined with our spat with Russia, meaning poor export markets for British milk, The law of supply and demand dictates that if there's oversupply then prices must fall as a consequence. Sad, but that's the law of the market - except of course when it comes to the CAP. I'm not sure what effect the CAP has on milk these days, but we were all against the CAP a short while ago, especially when it favoured inefficient French farmers.

I'm not generally in favour of artificially inflating prices for items in contravention of the laws of supply and demand. If there are too many dairy farmers, then perhaps we should let the market take its course. Under-supply will increase the price, but perhaps concentrate production into the large mega-dairies with massive benefits of scale, which also has its downside. When the market for ships left the UK for Korea and Japan and the market for steel moved to India, no-one guaranteed to buy ships or steel at inflated prices to keep shipyard or steel workers employed. Should dairy farmers be treated any different?

The usual response to falling prices is to add value and charge for the added value - in this case cheese, butter and other milk products (blessed are the cheese makers) and some are doing that and keeping their heads above water. Butchers have been doing it for decades by selling ready-marinaded or prepared meats that you pay through the nose for but (allegedly) save you a lot of effort.

Imagine feeling sorry for every producer or manufacturer in a market suffering a glut. Good idea to protect jobs (perhaps in the short term) or false economy in the long run? Answers in the usual position.

Monday, 10 August 2015

Book Club Floyd

Can't decide whether this is David Beckham showing good musical taste, or a designer retro look.

Hay is a member of a book club. Sounds excruciating to me to have to read a book I have no interest in whatsoever, purely for the dubious pleasure of criticising it within a group. Anyway, they meet once a month at each other's houses in turn and to date we've managed to evade the honour for one reason or another. However, it's our turn in October and I'm wracking my brain to find a way of dissuading them from wanting to meet at our house ever again, as they start about 7 and don't finish till around 11pm. The current strategy centres around sitting at my laptop and making the odd tutting sound, while occasionally turning round and glaring at one or other of them. Any additional ideas are welcome.

Sunday, 9 August 2015

The Invisible Man on the Avon Milk Run

Wasn't there a vote for a new LibDem leader not so long ago? Anyone know who won? Whoever it was, he's been remarkably silent of late.

Talking of politics, hundreds of thousands of people are flocking to join the Labour party to undermine the election of their new leader. Seems to me the only way to prevent this is to have the MPs elect their leader - at least the MPs have been vetted by their local constituency party and an MP elected leader will have more support from his MPs than one foisted on them.

Seems Muller now has it in for our dairy farmers, which actually translates to the consumer, if the consumer continues to buy Muller products. Anyone know of a website which lists the retailers who give diary farmers above the cost of production? Supermarket milk prices alone won't suffice, as a high price doesn't guarantee that the extra is passed up the chain.

Another sojourn on the Avon in the kayaks yesterday; this time between Bradford on Avon and Limpley Stoke. A tad busy around Bradford on Avon with scullers - the marine equivalent of earnest blokes in Lycra peddling expensive bikes furiously on canal towpaths - but one of the most beautiful stretches of the Avon. Came back via the Kennett and Avon canal.

Saturday, 8 August 2015

An Aussie Korean Blogger by Any Another Name

Aldi Carino shampoo. Looks like Aussie shampoo, smells like Aussie shampoo, comes from Australia - I'm damned certain it is Aussia shampoo targeted at those not willing to pay the price for Aussie branded shampoo. Try it - it's very good.

North Korea has changed from GMT+9 to GMT+8.5. Rather immaterial., however, as North Korea is still 50 years behind the rest of the world.

Yet another atheist blogger has been hacked to death by adherents of a barbaric, backward, medieval and totalitarian form of religion having no truck with the basic western tenet of freedom of conscience or human rights - fundamentalist Islam. Mind you, fundamentalist Judaism and Christianity are equally backward and antithetical to freedom of conscience, but perhaps not quite as barbaric.

Exterior doors and windows fitted. Roof tiles and cladding next week:

Friday, 7 August 2015

Duke's Migrant Hot Tub

I'm currently re-reading a biography of the Duke of Wellington. He was described by a contemporary as 'very abstemious, consuming just five or 6 glasses of wine with dinner and a pint of claret afterwards'. If that's abstemious, then the Georgians and Victorians must have been a cirrhotic lot!

Noticed how illegal immigrants are now being called 'undocumented immigrants'? I believe this term has been imported from the USA and I heard it used by the BBC the other night, but I'm at a loss as to understand why. If procedures for gaining admission to a country are not followed and you choose to smuggle yourself in through use of a lorry or walking through the Channel Tunnel, it follows that you are gaining illegal entry and are therefore an illegal immigrant. Are illegal drugs now to be termed undocumented drugs?

The current narrative from the aid agencies is that the illegals coming to Europe are so desperate that they are prepared to 'risk their lives', not that they are duped by unscrupulous traffickers and don't have an inking they are going to be loaded (or are aware of the dangers involved in being loaded) onto overcrowded, unseaworthy tubs.

This morning's sheds for beds update - it's going up like a mushroom. Windows are arriving today, but it's a moot point as to whether they or the roof tiles will get precedence. In any case, windows and roof will be on by the end of next week.

Thought we might put a hot tub in outside - we'll get two old baths, strap them together and link them to the hot tap in the cabin, or if we can get some cast iron jobs, then make a space underneath where we can light a log fire. Failing that, a couple of empty steel drums - there's no need to spend money needlessly...

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Tattoos on the Throne

Mrs Queen has beaten Queen Victoria for time spent on the throne. Hay says no-one can beat the amount of time I spend on it.

No.2 Daughter is yearning to have a tattoo and I'm trying my best to dissuade her from disfiguring herself for life. Tattoos are generally unacceptable to my generation due to associations with caste and pugilism (tat wearers of my generation were genuinely rebellious individuals - or pissed when they got them - and not fashion victims), but if they must be worn, then only on an able seaman, and even then I have strong reservations.

I've mentioned this before, but had a tattoo when 20 and in a drunken stupor after a stag night in Tilbury, where I was standing by a few ships as 3rd Mate just before my wedding. The purchase of 2 crates of Tennants Thistle cans contributed heavily to my condition, and I wish to hell I'd been stone, cold sober. 

As it transpired, I ended up with a somewhat traditional maritime theme of a sailing ship under full sail with the logo HOMEWARD BOUND. Not so many years later the writing was indecipherable and could have been anything. The once bright and majestic sailing ship looks like a faded cartoon and the sun in the tattoo set many decades ago. It's a hideous, disfiguring splodge. I was so ashamed of it (officers just didn't have tattoos) that I never wore short sleeved shirts ever again in the presence of my father. I just thanked God it wasn't something more lurid.

I find tattoos on women frightening, as in my younger day it was only low caste ladies and ladies of the night who sported them - and of course ladies belonging to certain tribes in the Naga Hills of Burma. To me they're not attractive, but that's purely a generational thing. I think I wouldn't mind so much if they were individualistic, but they are usually all on a similar theme, as if the tat artists share the same Ladybird Book of Tattoos.

Ones with foreign script are especially dangerous - what you think are ancient words of deep wisdom turn out to be adverts for the local Chinese chippy or some Arabian swear words.

One of the sailors on a ship I served in as a cadet in the early 70s had a wonderful tattoo of a huge bunch of yellow roses on his chest, which was fairly artistic. There's the apocryphal tattoo, which I've never actually seen, of a hunt scene on a sailor's back that stretches down to his bum, where the fox is darting into it's foxhole (all you can see is his tail) - you can guess what the foxhole was. And then there's the usual LOVE and HAT across the knuckles.

That said, I do find this one acceptable as it has functionality - the hiding of mastectomy scars.

You could wear that on the beach and no-one would be the wiser that it wasn't in fact a bikini top.

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

More Cabin Progress

Visible progress will start to slow down once the roof and cladding are on, as the skim coat on the interior plasterboard take time to dry.

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Sourced from Miles Away

On Saturday, after our morning of kayaking, we had lunch at The Old Mill at Bathampton. The menu showed the provenance of the supplies used to make the various meals and I noticed that something was from Somerset, something else was from Yorkshire, yet another ingredient was from Lincolnshire - in fact the complete antithesis of the usual statement going on about how all the ingredients are sourced locally from within a 5 metre radius.

It struck me that locally sourced ingredients must be restrictive by definition and it makes sense to search further afield for the best. Which is better - to expend food miles to source the finest the whole country can offer, or limit yourself to what are possibly inferior, locally-sourced ingredients?

Given the rampant penchant for companies protecting their produce with Protected Designation of Origin of Protected Geographical Indication, it won't be long before restaurants will have no choice but to source their ingredients from far and wide.

Cabin update: