Friday, May 29, 2015

The Flasher

Google appears to be in change mode.  Today we received an email notifying us that on 27 June they will cease sending SMS (Text) message reminders we have set up in Google Calendar.  I use Google Calendar to remind us of important events such as birthdays, anniversaries and routine boat maintenance tasks.  Google’s reasoning is that the SMS option was created before smartphones and the SMS system is now obsolete.  My guess is the SMS system was costing Google money and that by changing to a smartphone delivery option the cost has been transferred to the customer.  It’s not a major issue for us.  All I had to do was edit all the reminders converting them from SMS to email.

Yesterday evening I went for a riverside walk In Reading.  The Thames Path on the north side was blocked by a temporary security fence around what appeared to be a construction site.

On the far bank of the Thames I had noticed piling being installed and assumed the path was being widened and new moorings installed.  Then I reached a large noticeboard which stated the purpose of the project was to construct a bicycle and pedestrian footbridge across the Thames at the southern end of Caversham Island.

 The proposed bridge is shown in black.  There is a ramp on the northern approach and steps & ramp at the southern end.
Some photos of the concept drawings on the noticeboard.

We've only been this way once before, back in May 2012 when we were in a rush to get up north.  At that time neither of us had noticed Piper’s Island or the fact it was completely occupied by a restaurant.

This morning we dropped back down through Caversham Lock to reach the large Tesco near King’s Meadow Park.  Jan filled one of the large trolleys whilst I performed “boat bitch” (quoting Marilyn on nb Waka Huia) duties.  I even emptied the vacuum cartridge afterwards.  No point in carrying additional ballast!

We needed to make a decision whether to start moving or wait until the afternoon.  The rain was extremely light so I made the decision to go.  Not one of my best decisions as the heavens subsequently opened.  Gradually the seams opened in my rain jacket and the cold, wet jeans flapped around my legs.  The only interesting thing that happened during the cruise was seeing the flasher on the north bank.

There was a vacant mooring at Beale Park and we decided to call it a day.  Ten minutes after mooring the sun came out!  You might think we would be annoyed…… but then a hail storm passed over!  Cruising will resume tomorrow.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Three Solved Issues

This has been written using Microsoft Live Writer so you will know I’ve found a solution if you have read the last post.  The solution is actually a “work around” because the problem is beyond my ability to resolve.

But first I should explain why I use Live Writer rather than writing the blog posts directly into Blogger.  There are three advantages using Live Writer.
  • The formatting in Live Writer is far superior to Blogger.  It’s WYSIWYG.
  • You don’t require an internet connection to write posts with Live Writer
  • Live Writer allows you to pre-write posts and set an automatic publishing date.  This is useful if we are away from the boat and don’t want to advertise Waiouru is unoccupied.
The problem

Google has upgraded their login and password protocol (the API).  The protocol used by Live Writer is now incompatible with Google and will be rejected.  Google state it’s a Microsoft problem and Microsoft don’t appear to be interested as they have included the Live Writer functionality into the latest MS Word.  It’s unlikely there will be a “fix” in the near future.  Perhaps there will never be a solution.

My work around

If you used Live Writer then this is how I managed to get around the problem.
  1. write your post in Live Writer.  Don’t include photos but leave a line space for them.
  2. When finished click the ‘Source’ Tab located in the bottom left corner of the Live Write screen. This displays your text and all the hidden format codes, hyperlinks, etc
  3. Highlight and copy all this text.  Note: you can’t copy the post title.
  4. Load Blogger and create a new post.
  5. Click on the HTML tab (top left beside the ‘Compose’Tab) 
  6. Paste the text from Live Writer into Blogger
  7. Click the Compose Tab to check the formatting
  8. Add any photos using Blogger
  9. Preview and then Publish
 Our My second issue

There I was standing on the stern of Waiouru three days ago cleaning the shavings from the head in my electric razor.  This time I was being thorough and used a small brush.  It looked almost clean so I decided to take a deep breath and blow out the last of the stubble. <plop plop> The sound of two of the three cutters going into the cut.  Obviously there is nothing wrong with my lungs!  I’ve been shaving with only one cutter.  There are pro’s and con’s to this.  Shaving now takes three times as long and the finish isn’t that great. On a more positive note, the two exposed drive shafts provide a morning facial massage!

It was quite a shock to discover the manufacturer wants £40 for new heads.  I’m not paying that and so it was back to the keyboard.  Eventually I found an obscure Fleabay supplier who could provide some cheap (£9) chinese replacements.  They looked the same and I placed an order.  We don’t have a postal address which means delivery is also a consideration.  This supplier will mail them to the Argos outlet of your choice and we get a text message when they are available for collection.  I walked to Argos this afternoon and collected them.

Third Issue

We appear to be doing a tour UK of Marks & Spencer stores.  Jan has identified a particular model of bra she finds comfortable when doing locks.  43 years ago I would have been very reluctantly dragged into the lingerie department brick red with embarrassment whilst attempting to look anywhere other than at the rows of over shoulder boulder holders.  Now that Jan has identified the make/model she likes I drag her into each local M&S where I get down on my hands and knees to rummage through the lingerie giving small cries of glee each time I successfully find one.  Today I managed to find four.  How I have changed over they years!

We must mention nb Ploddin’ Along which passed us today.  Jan was at the side hatch when Louise & John called out telling her they read the blog.  Jan has since searched and found their blog <link here> which has gone onto our own blog list. 

Blog Problem

Readers, after several frustrating hours I have been unable to fix the blog publishing problem using Live Writer.  It first started when I attempted to embed photos from Picasa into yesterday's post.  Attempting to log into Picasa from Live Writer resulted in an error message.  I removed and then reinstalled Live Writer.  This didn't solve the problem.  I reinstalled Picasa, which also didn't solve the problem.

My hunch was Goggle had changed something.  I tried a test post without photos and received a different error message.  So the problem isn't with Picasa.

This is the original error message

This is the new message

A search using the information in the second message revealed that on 26 May Google changed the protocol for 3rd party software to access Google Accounts.  Live Writer uses an old protocol which is now incompatible with the new Google protocol.  In order to use Live Writer with Blogger Microsoft must update Live Writer.  However I have read that Microsoft has ceased supporting Live Writer.

Apparently a large number of blog writers have been affected

Link 1 to more information
Link 2 to more information

I will continue searching for a solution

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Night and Day

I wanted to go to sleep and Jan wanted to show me the scene from the stern.  This morning she was up at her usual time of 5am and for some reason I rose at 5.30.  Actually I thought it was 6.30 but at that time of the morning my eye doesn’t focus very well.

{Hummm..... Huston we have a problem.  Liver Writer doesn't want to communicate with Picasa web album.  Please wait whilst I attempt to fix this error}  {actually the situation has worsened.... the laptop battery is now going late.  This post may be delayed until tomorrow}


Writing this post directly in Blogger whilst I attempt to resolve the Live Writer problem.

Sainsbury’s opened at 7.00am and shortly thereafter I was on my way back to the boat with all the items on the shopping list.  From the street Sainsbury’s looked to be in a small original building however on entering the supermarket it was obvious they had maintained the original shop front but added a large extension to the rear.   

By 7.30 we were on our way.  Apart from those early morning rowers, the river was empty of moving vessels.  The first three locks were on self service.  Jan likes them that way and we tend to find we do them quicker on our own.

There are some lovely (and expensive) riverside properties between Marlow and Henley.

We're not sure if the house is falling down or they have incorporated the remnants into the "new" home.  Probably the latter.
  Jan really liked this one!  Just need to win Lotto.  First we must buy a ticket!

The approach to Henley on Thames is a long straight with a line of white marker post down the centre line of the river.  There is an island at the opposite end to Henley which has what appears to be a temple on it.
A quick check in Google and what a surprise.... Its name is Temple Island and the temple is a folly!

Most people probably know Henley for the annual boat regatta.  I think it might be held in June as there appeared to be a flurry of activity with the erection of tents and finishing touches to the lane marking.
The row of homes with boat houses underneath look quite attractive.
Henley Bridge has a face on the main arch keystone.  Actually there is a male face on the downstream side and a female face on the upstream.
These faces are probably only able to be clearly seen from the river.  It appears they are replacements.  Our assumption is the faces on the original stones were worn away.  I couldn't find out anything further because the internet connection is currently very poor.

The Angel can be seen on the north bank of the upstream side of the bridge approach. 
Having previously visited Henley by road we decided against stopping, pressing on with the idea of finding a rural mooring around noon.
Goodbye Henley

Both of us couldn't but help it notice this following home above Marsh Lock.  

Old boat house with ultra modern new house.  We think they got it wrong!
Jan liked the chimneys on this next home.
I don't think we could afford the domestic staff.  My choice was this next home.  Well actually it was the curved lintel and roof line over the small window above the boat house entrance that caught my eye.
We pressed on looking for that elusive vacant mooring eventually arriving at Sonning Lock.  I actually recognized it having walked to the lock from Aldermaston when we were fitting out Waiouru.   

When we arrived at the lock we found a large dutch barge waiting to go up.  The a plastic cruiser arrived behind us.  To our surprise the lock keeper squeezed us all in.
Readers I apologize for the poor quality of this post.  Hopefully I'll get the system back to my usual low standard by tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

On to Marlow and a foul job

It was a very early departure this morning leaving Windsor at 7.30am.  However we didn’t go far.  Just to the water point below Windsor Bypass Bridge where we found this considerate boater moored on the centre two bollards of the water point.  Yesterday the boat was moored on a lock landing!

There was no one on board!  I managed to tie Waiouru to a tree and the hose was just long enough.  It took just over 30 minutes to top up the tank and then we were off.

The homes got progressively nicer and more expensive as we got closer to Maidenhead.


We passed Monkey Island just before we reached Maidenhead.  The name doesn’t come from any connection with monkeys but rather monks.  Apparently they were the first recorded residents of the island using it for fishing.

A footbridge links the island with the south bank but we couldn’t see a road bridge.  More information is available at the following links


Monkey Island Hotel

Initially we thought this next building was a retirement home as it was advertising vacancies.  After further squinting at the notice we think it’s a hotel.

The Southern Comfort might look like a paddle steamer however we suspect there is no steam involved.  Best guess is it’s diesel powered.

On the eastern edge of Maidenhead the homes became considerably more expensive.

Apparently Jan’s parents once owned the following home. 

They sold it when they emigrated to NZ and then her mother drank the proceeds from the sale.  A tragic story and is the reason why I regrettably didn’t marry money. Smile  She’s going to kill me when she reads this!

The section of river beyond Maidenhead is particularly picturesque.    Cliveden House is sited above the river with a good view down the Thames.  It’s been the home of numerous english nobility and one Price of Wales.  The Astors lived here during the 1920’s and it was also the setting for key events in the Profumo Affair.  It now belongs to the National Trust.

We were making the left turn into Cookham Lock when Jan noticed these two bountiful Canadians.

27 goslings….. Don’t believe us?  Count them again.

It must have been a big nest!  Unless they are babysitting?

The river became quite busy on reaching Bourne End.  Numerous rowing skiffs and then small sailboats.  We both wondered how they managed to find all the free time during the week?

We found ourselves hugging the starboard (right) bank.  On approaching the eastern outskirts of Marlow we noticed a boat from our past.

nb Tyle Mill Lock was a hire boat at Aldermaston Wharf when we were fitting out Waiouru.

The lock keeper at Marlow must have seen us coming as we only had a very short wait before he opened the lock gates.

The lock setting is rather attractive, and Marlow above even more so.

A large weir to the left and then you pass under Marlow Bridge.  It’s a suspension bridge constructed in 1860.  Rather than suspension cables it uses linked bars.

The ends of the bridge transoms have a cast iron plaque

The date on the plaques is 1860 but Wikipedia states the bridge was built in 1832.  I’m trying to identify the animal on the plaque.  It doesn’t look like a swan?

We moored on the upstream edge of Marlow and had lunch.  The afternoon was supposed to be spent doing a number of boat maintenance tasks.  The first of these was to clean the bathroom hand basin grease trap.  Water has only been going down it very slowly.  After emptying out the cupboard underneath I placed our bucket under the trap and removed the bowl.  Like last year, it had 2cm of grease and “crud” in the bottom.  This didn’t explain why the basin was slow to drain so I decided to do a more in depth investigation and completely dismantle the plumbing.  On removing the internal downpipe I discovered an almost solid grey/black ‘sausage’ of old soap, grease, skin and ‘crud’ all bound together with hair.  It took far longer than I had planned to clean the individual components and then reinstall the trap.  Then I realised one component had being inserted in reverse.  Dismantle everything and fix.  Everything worked and then I noticed I’d left one of the components out.  Disassemble and do it all again.  All of this doesn’t sound so hard except that the grease trap isn’t that accessible unless you are 40- years old and have sight in your left eye.  I don’t have either criteria so all my work was being done by touch.  End result is the grease trap is clean and reassembled.  It doesn’t leak, the water disappears down the plughole quickly….. and I am exhausted.  None of the other tasks were completed!   

Monday, May 25, 2015

Lunch Engagement

It was a 9.00am departure this morning with a short cruise up to Staines-upon-Thames where we had a luncheon engagement with a long standing family friend of Jan’s. The question was whether we would be able to moor outside The Swan Hotel where we had booked a table. When I phoned they would take a booking for the lunch, but not for the mooring.

The Swan Hotel

We reached the moorings at 9.30am and found them vacant.  There was time for morning tea before our friend, Hilda arrived.  She has lived nearby for most of her adult life and was a good friend of Jan’s grandparents.  We chatted aboard Waiouru for an hour before heading to the hotel for a leisurely lunch. 

During our lunch a launch arrived decked with white ribbons.  The ladies then noticed a bride was waiting at the mooring.  Boats were shuffled around to allow the bride to board the launch before being whisked away.

The unanswered question was…. Is she heading to the wedding or escaping from the groom?

After our enjoyable lunch we wandered back down the steps to the boat where Hilda had her photo taken beside Waiouru.

Whilst we prepared Waiouru for cruising Hilda headed back to the Staines bus station stopping to take a photo of us from the town bridge.

On the opposite bank is a statue of the Swan Master.  The statue actually depicts The Queen’s Marker of Swans.  Every year the Royal Swan Upping occurs.  The Royal Swan Uppers wear the scarlet uniform of the Queen and traditionally use row boats to check the condition of all the swans and cygnets on the Thames.  The swans all belong to the Queen provided the Upping occurs that year.  In 2012 the weather was so bad the Upping was cancelled.  The consequence of this was the swans fell into common ownership until the 2013 Upping.  You could have taken a swan for the pot that year and not broken the law!

The river started to get busy at Runnymede.  Whether this is normal or a consequence of the 800th anniversary of the signing of Magna Carta wasn’t determined.  However at one point it did look as if we might be involved in a “near miss”.  The Lucy Fisher came into sight and appeared to believe she owned all the river.

We squeezed further to the right leaving the large tupperware boats behind to manage their own problems.

It wasn’t until she passed that we realised propulsion was via a large stern paddle wheel.

All the locks today were manned but despite this Jan thought transiting them was just as physical because she needed to securely hold the bow line against the side flow of incoming water.  I guess that means pressing the lock control buttons is easier!

Whilst waiting below Romney Lock Jan could hear the sound of a band playing.  Being somewhat deaf, I couldn’t hear much.  She could hear a bugle and then a brass band before finally hearing bagpipes.

On entering the lock she asked the lock keeper where the music was coming from and was told “Eton College band is practicing!”  Neither of us had realised Eton College was to our immediate right.  Nothing to see as a line of trees obscured the view.  Eton was established by Henry VI in 1440.  It’s a boys independent boarding school.  It’s a public school, which in England means it’s a private school (ie, not a state school).  Fees are around £35,000 per annum.

We cruised on before mooring for the night just beyond Windsor.