Thursday, 30 April 2009

BMC are Alive and Well

We tend to think of BMC vehicles as being very much, over and out.

Any BMC cars still on the road are viewed as classic collectors items for enthusiasts and what was once quite an average car, usually turns heads, even if its only because its still moving and hasn't rusted away.

Human nature being what it is, we seem to have an affinity with the past and a soft-spot for anything reminding us of the good old days.

Surely, this is the secret of the success of TV programmes like "Life on Mars" and "Ashes to Ashes".

BMC is far from dead, however.

In Doctor Who style, it regenerated into a number of other companies, with the original passing on.

Through manufacturing licence arrangements, factories sprung up worldwide, making BMC vehicles for the overseas markets.

Leyland Australia struggled on until 1975, Maestro's were built in Bulgaria for a brief period in the mid nineties, the Mini was built in Chile for a while, many models were built in New Zealand until the late 1970's and South Africa built their own version of the Morris Marina until the 1980's.

However, BMC also struck a deal with Turkey and the Turkish version of BMC was established in 1964 in Izmir.

Austin and Morris vehicles were manufactured in Turkey for the Turkish market and in 1966, BMC started to grow and got stronger each day, by adding trucks, tractors and engines to its product line.

Now they are a vast company and still trade under the BMC name.

Interestingly, they also built a version of the B-series 1500 and 1800 diesel engine (used in the Leyland Sherpa van), which is still seen in narrowboats today.

I believe that these are no longer produced, but Calcutt Boats still offer reconditioned ones:

BMC in Turkey now produce some very tough trucks and it was a joy to see the BMC badge again, plus some very nice looking landrover variations.

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Paper, Scissors, Stone

Defence is a funny old business. It reminds me of the childrens game, "Paper, Scissors, Stone".
You know the one !! It's the game where each player decides to be armed with one of the three and presents their choice of weapon at the same time as their opponent.

Paper covers stone = Paper Wins
Stone blunts scissors = Stone Wins
Scissors cuts paper = Scissors Wins

It's the same in grown-up warfare, albeit with slightly more serious repercussions.

Somebody develops a tank to kill soft skinned vehicles and infantry, so in retaliation, somebody else invents an anti-tank weapon.
Somebody else then develops electronic counter-measures and chaff, etc to confuse the anti-tank weapon and so it goes on.

For every solution, there is an antidote.

Man is never at his most creative, as when he is devising methods to destroy other men.

Tanks run on some pretty rough fuel.
You can't always expect to get the latest fad, low-sulphur diesel, with go faster additives, in the battlefield.
For this reason, it surprised me to see Webasto, famous in our boaty world for their diesel boat heaters, selling their heaters for tanks.

After a lot of debate about boat heaters running on red diesel in the past, it seems to me that if a Webasto heater can run on tank fuel, then it should be a doddle running on a boat !!
Unless the drab green paint makes a noticeable difference !!

The thing I like about Turkey is that its not a nanny-state like the UK.

You don't get an endless amount of warnings telling you to wrap up warm with notices on the packing of soup telling you to be careful, because the soup could be hot and might burn your lips.
It's really getting over the top in the UK these days. I wouldn't mind so much, if they really cared.

I'm sure it's more to do with fears that they might get sued if the average British consumer is stupid enough to put hot soup straight into their mouth, burning their throat out.

The other day, I saw a family of four going out on a motor scooter. Dad was driving, junior stood on the footplate between his fathers' legs, mum rode pillion and their baby girl was in mums arms.

This family are obviously off out, as well.

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Making An Exhibition of Myself

Do you ever wonder about exhibitions ??

Trade shows, fairs, call them whatever you will.
In essence, I mean a show where a range of related products are shown and promoted to the masses.

Probably, one of the best known examples in the UK is the Motor Show at the NEC or the London Boat Show.

However, there are lots of other shows in the UK.

Basically, any product that people need to buy, will appear at some form of exhibition or show.

I went to a marine industry show in a very large exhibition complex a few years ago and literally fell through the wrong door, ending up in an education exhibition.

I'd never seen so many white boards and undersized furniture in primary colours, in my life, I can tell you.

Even killing needs to be exhibited, or to be more precise, instruments for the purpose of.

Today, I ended up at a very large show which displayed examples.

Probably the most interesting stand (or booth as our American cousins call it), was the Taser stand. The occupants were very excited as they now have a product which looks like a large shotgun cartridge. It can be fired out of a shotgun at a "bad" person and it will attach itself to the clothing of the perpetrator (you can see I'm getting into this). Two little prongs will then make contact with the skin of same and discharge 50,000 volts across the pins, which will turn him or her into a human statue, so that the good guys can subdue the bad person.
Yes sirree, the wireless Taser is going to be a blessing for law enforcement agencies.

The photograph on the right shows what the best dressed Italian soldier of the future will be wearing.

Netbooks are even becoming popular in the military.

Below is the truck that can take anything you throw at it.

Shortly after this photograph was taken, a colleague tapped their knuckles on the steel plated radiator grille of another similarly constructed German military truck (not Benz this time), only to be rebuked by a very attractive German sales girl, who told him to desist as he might "break it".

I assume she was referring to his hand rather than the truck.

For the despot who has everything, this Bulgarian stand offered a very varied range in machine guns, mortars and ammunition. The other stand, just out of camera shot, but from the same geographic locale, offered a good line in mines, including one product labelled a anti-helicopter mine. Not quite sure how that one works ??

Monday, 27 April 2009

Alpha to Omega - Salters Lode is Open

We saw the NB Zindagi at Ely on Sunday night. Dave Taylor was watering his flowers, while Zindagi sat at the (newish) visitors moorings.

I didn't realise, but according to his blog, they must have come through the newly opened Salters Lode lock the same day.

Salters Lode is a strange lock (strange in the technical way) and it connects the non-tidal Middle Levels with the tidal Ouse. To cruise from the Middle Levels to the non-tidal part of the River Ouse, you have to run a tidal gauntlet of less than a mile between Salters Lode and Denver Sluice.

Its always a dice with the tide as the river level on high water is often higher than the non-tidal bit and the lock has more than one gate (complex, I know - I'll post a photo when we get through it in a few weeks time).

We are due to leave the Fens and Environmental Agency waters and re-enter BW-land.

Anyway, Zindagi has arrived, which means that the lock is repaired after being out of action for about 2 months.

I had that Peter Pan feeling - to quote George Darling, father of Wendy, "You know, I have the strangest feeling that I've seen that ship before. A long time ago, when I was very young".

The wind generator, the unusual (biblical ?) signwriting of the Greek characters Alpha and Omega and the christian fish symbol, are really quite distinctive.

Sunday, 26 April 2009

The London Canal Museum Joins Twitter

The London Canal Museum have now joined the movement and started their own Twitter account. The museum, which is situated in an old Victorian ice storage warehouse in Battlesbridge Basin, has an interesting collection of canal artefacts and photographs.

They also have their own Bantam tug which floats in the basin and a stern of a working boat inside the museum hall, so that visitors can get some idea about life on the canals in the working years.

The museum is not new to technology and already provide podcasts for prospective visitors to download before they visit.

The museum building and the visitors mooring has Cloud Wi-Fi internet coverage.   

The LCM appear to be using Twitter to publish details of exhibitions and special events.




There is a little bit of a negative image surrounding Twitter amongst many middle aged people (i.e. boaters). They seem to feel that it is the latest fad for bored teenagers to tell each other what they are having for breakfast, using highly abbreviated textual gibberish.

In reality, it can be a very quick way of boaters keeping in touch with other boaters and publicising stoppages, events, problems, movements, etc. This "contact" can often be between mobiles as the messages are headlines, so it makes it unneccesary to wait until you can tie up and get on a laptop or PDA.

I've often wondered if it could be used more widely by trading boats. Twitter would allow them to publish their prices for diesel, gas, etc.

If all the trading boats did this, wouldn't it make life much easier for those of us who like to use them ??

You could even receive their position reports on your mobile by SMS... 

I see that N.B Hadar, a real trading boat, is a Twitter member and already doing this (@haedi)..

Well done, Hadar. 

Another application could be to track brokerages to find out what boats they have for sale or even to find out if the red boards are up at Thames locks ???


Freedom is an Illusion - Recession is Reality

Freedom is an illusion.

Are any of us truly free ?

Of course, its all relative.

Sometimes freedom, or the lack of it, is easy to spot.

The African slaves working the plantations of the Caribbean 250 years ago quite clearly lost their freedom. Snatched from their homelands, shipped in terrible conditions and sold to work for the exclusive benefit of others, they had clearly lost their freedom.

Are we free, here in the UK in 2009?

Of course not. On the sliding scale of freedom, we might be further up the scale than those unfortunate slaves, but how free are we ?

Wherever we go, we are watched by CCTV cameras. We can do whatever we like, providing it meets the needs of others and it doesn't cross the invisible wire fences set by others.

The other day, I heard this announcement over the public address system in a London station:

"This station is monitored by 24 hours CCTV, in the interests of safety management".

Safety Management ?? An Orwellian shudder transversed my shoulders.

RELAX - its for your own safety - we're doing it for your own good (of course, we may also release copies of the film to any official body that needs it !!). How free is that ? watched by faces unseen, in the interests of public safety !

Stress is also the enemy of freedom.

Life is very complex these days.

Everybody wants something from you, everybody wants to impose a deadline.

Rebel, I say - declutter your life.

Feel the warmth of the sun on your face, feel the wind in your hair - soak it up.

I'm sure you've all heard the expression "this is the first day of the rest of your life".

It could also have another line added - "it could also be your last".

Make the most of the simple things in life.

The recession is another tumbler in the lock of the "Revelation" that is the theme of this blog.

The "Towers of Materialism" came crashing down as the recession started to bite.

It was getting out of hand - people were getting greedier and greedier.

The recession may well, force us to take stock of our lifestyles.

Without a doubt, it will ruin many lives, cause people to lose their homes and so on.

NOT FOR ONE MOMENT, am I saying we deserved it or its a good thing, but every cloud has a silver lining.

Perhaps the positive aspect of the recession is that mankind may just learn to appreciate a sunrise, the song of the blackbird or the ripples on the water.

People sometimes ask me if I am happy.

No, says I, happiness is euphoria. Euphoria is fleeting.

I am content - much better and longer lasting than happy. 

A big, smiley cat kind of content..