Pay your bills and dream big

I often get emails asking me for money.  Or at the very least my bank details so I can assist West African millionaires in moving their funds around.  Happily for me, most of them can be ignored (you only need one bad experience with a suspected Nigerian warlord to learn that lesson).  Sadly, today I got one of the requests for money that was above board (see what I did there?).

The Canal and River Trust demand I pay a license fee every year to continue living on the waterways.  And as I quite like life afloat, I grudgingly pay it.   Plus, when I’m chugging along and lose the ability to steer the boat because a sofa cushion has become wrapped around the propeller, I can have a legitimate moan about how the CRT are failing to spend my license fees appropriately (after I have finished swearing about the moron who throws a sofa in the canal.  That’s what Gumtree was invented for.)

To be honest, I don’t quite know if fishing three-piece suites is actually part of the CRT’s remit.  Their website says something vague about maintaining waterways and the environment, and makes no specific reference to keeping the canals furniture free.  Not that it really matters.  The point of this blog was actually going to be a more ‘seize-the-day’ kind of post rather than a ‘why-aren’t-institutions-doing-more-to-stop-people-throwing-large-chairs-in-the-rivers’ kind of post.

So anyway…..I have paid the CRT several hundred pounds to maintain the rivers for me.  And this summer I am (probably) going to make them earn their crust.  I am going to make the most of being on a licensed boat and boldly go where hundreds of boats have gone before.  I am going to wave farewell to the River Trent, and take a turn down the River Soar.  Yes, that’s right a whole new river.  That comes with a whole new map book (the costs maybe spiralling out of control, but that’s not going to stop me).

It might not put me in the same league as Henrik Frederiksen (who built a raft and then spent four months drifting down the Amazon), but it’s a start.  First step, weekend on the Soar, next step a bigger river, and so on until Double Fracture sails the Nile.

It’s a good plan.

This blogpost was brought to you by ‘Angel of small death and the codeine scene‘ by Hozier.


Communal living – a second rant

It looks like 2016 may be the year of sequel posts.  Sure they are not as creatively satisfying as free-standing, independent posts, but Hollywood teaches us that mass audiences are drawn to concepts and characters they already know.  So maybe the same is true of low-level boating blogs.

My latest rage-filled episode occurred a few weeks ago, when I was trying to leave the boat to go to work for a night shift.  It was going badly – I couldn’t find my ID badge, which a week earlier would not have been a problem, but the hospital had recently increased parking security and so I needed the badge to be able to use my extortionate car parking space.  So I was already running late when I started down the single track marina road.

In the distance, I saw a set of headlights coming towards me.  “No problem,” I thought.  “The marina signs that I often ignore clearly say outgoing traffic has right of way on this road.”  I waited patiently for a few seconds for the other car to pull into the side for me to pass.  He didn’t.  I started to edge forward – a clear sign that he should move over.  He started to edge forward too.  I sped up.  He sped up.  We were now approaching each other at about 5 miles per hour.  This game of chicken was getting out of hand.

When he passed by two perfectly good parking spaces, I realised that he was not going to back down.  I wound my window down, and awkwardly reversed into a space so he could pass.  I was fuming now, not only because I now had 15 minutes to do a 25 minute journey, and the other driver had flagrantly ignored the small ‘give way’ sign on the gates but also because I had been forced into reverse parking which I absolutely hate.

Then to rub salt into the wound, the other driver smiled and waved as he drove past me, oblivious to the obscenity I shouted out of the window.  (My non-car-based neighbours may have heard it though.  I may be getting a rageful reputation.)

The anger was not over.  I got to the south bank gates, stomped around to open them, drive the car through and close them again.   And then I screamed in frustration as I realised that someone had closed the main gates to the marina early, and I would have to repeat the whole process.  The cyclist approaching the gates swerved in surprise, and did not help himself by in no way doing anything to speed up the opening and closing process.  He sped through the gates as soon as they were open, with only a nervous backward glance as my stomping and muttering became ever more vehement.

I now feel slightly bad about shouting out my window at my first neighbour, and give him my best smile of contrition whenever I see him.  I do not feel bad about the cyclist, and if I could remember what he looked like, that man would be in serious trouble.

This blogpost was brought to you by ‘Angry‘ by Matchbox 20.