A paddle punt

September 25, 2009

Today I was walking by the Thames, as a break from work, when I noticed what I already knew to be an unusual boat was out.

It caught the attention of a number of people on the tow path, even though it was mid-stream.

Now I knew of this boat from earlier in the summer, in my early morning walks. One morning it was moored by Richmond riverside, and I was able to get some good pictures:

The moored paddle punt

This gives an idea of how it works. The paddles work like a duck’s legs/feet, with the mechanism operated by a bike pedal and chain mechanism. There is a rudder operated by something like bike handlebars beneath the seat.

If you have seen one of those bikes where the cyclist is horizontal, the pedals at the front, and the handlebars beneath the seat. that is approximately the operating position that the punter must adopt.

This boat appears to have been made by a Jamacian boatmaker based in the boat houses by Richmond Riverside. He was in the driving seat on the afternoon out on the Thames.

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The age of things

September 22, 2009

I got to thinking how old some things are today. I was using an
electric/electronic screwdriver, and realised it must be at least fifteen years
old. OK. it has not had a heavy life, but it is an age.

But the thing that got me thinking about age is a sleeping bag. For reasons I
won’t go into here, I needed one, and fetched my late father’s one yesterday. My own one is compromised. My late father’s is his service one – and the date on the inside is “1942”; It worked fine – I had a good night’s sleep for a change, and, I was reflecting, this is over 65 years old! A sixty-five year old sleeping bag! It has one tear, I don’t think it was me, but blood from a cut was.

The IT kit I have around me is old – approx 14 and at least 20 year old printers (the 14 yo one is also the fax machine), the computer core is at least 10 years old (but newer hard disks), the keyboard is old – and my favourate, currently ill is over 20 years old. Mice are new because I get through them so fast. Modem is 12 years old (56k variety, I’m not on broadband still, but apart
from speed of download, don’t miss the things that I cannot do without broadband).

However, my using linux as the operating system means I can continue to use this kit because it is not a resource hog.

My father’s shed is in a poor way. The roof leaks, the tarps (plural) have now failed, and an internal tarp prevents a lot of damage. Father made the shed himself, so the minimum internal height is 6’6″, rising to 8′ by the door. Compare this to any shed you buy; I hit my head on every doorway, and I am not, quite, 6′ tall.

I was attracted by the “A-frame” of the NZ Antarctica service – in fact an ex-US shed from the 1950s, abandoned by the US, but rescued by the Kiwis. I discovered this evening that it burnt down earlier this year.

I am so taken by the idea of building a shed in the style of an A-frame. I also have details of some “super-insulation”, but not what I know as “superinsulation” from my job; I mean insulation that uses millimeters of material instead of inches for the same effect. I must get my hands on some of this soonest.

Talking of the Antarctic reminded me of a particular picture I downloaded years ago:

OK, I give up; how do they raise the flag every day?

OK, I give up; how do they raise the flag every day?

More early mornings

September 17, 2009

I know, I know. Poor blogger or what..

The earliest I’ve walked by the Thames is 04:00. In August I discovered where Bats would fool around (a dark spot), and even tried taking flash photos, to no effect. Some days I manage to sleep through, more or less, but the majority of the days have had me walking by the Thames pre dawn (since the last entry). There was also a high tide that left me trapped on a bench surrounded by 4 inches of water over the footpath for perhaps an hour. Photos to be posted. Only once have I come across a homeless person, but during the warmest period, I admit I had considered the idea of taking a sleeping bag and sleeping out for the night in some quiet nook (I did not find one quiet enough).

This morning, by Richmond Riverside, there was a young fox (I guess this year’s cub), who often got to within 6′ of me, only to be put off by my scent. I’d never seen a fox there before (I guess normally the Canada Geese keep them away), although foxes can be seen even in the middle of the afternoon in the garden of the garden flat of this block.

The last two rehersals had me almost falling asleep while singing. I’ve never had this type of problem before, and reminds me of Arthur Lowe (most famous from Dad’s Army) who suffered from narcoleptsy – i.e. would fall asleep with no warning.