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Monday, March 25, 2013

Hemel Hempstead gives me a jolt

The canal passes  Hemel Hempstead within a 10 minute walk to the town centre. The building in the picture is the old Kodak HQ building built in 1971. It has had some extra floors added to the original 22 and is now been converted to approximately 430 apartments. The main shopping centre of Hemel is very close to the building.
We are heading a bit further on as the moorings here are not very good.

While moored in Bourne End we travelled in on the bus to Hemel it was here in the town i got my jolt or perhaps you might call it a "wake up look what`s happening" moment. Even a Wow! it is true realisation.    Hemel Hempstead is a sizable town of about 85,000 with a large industrial area. It is adjacent to the motorway (freeway) system and just 23 miles or 30 train minutes from London.                                                                                    The shock was seeing in the Marlowes shopping centre (mall) 12 empty stores from a total of about 70. Walking along the main shopping street outside also had many shops that had ceased trading. 
 © Giles Devlin
Now living the life we do and not being part of the country`s workforce or an owner of a land based residence and having limited knowledge of press and TV news it did hit me to see this. Yes I am aware of the financial crisis and have seen some pretty run down towns on our travels, Rugely springs to mind, but to see this happening to a town of this size close to the capital was a shock.
Understanding why the shops are closing is not hard when looking on line I see rents of £82,500 plus £19,000 business taxes per annum for 997 square feet. US readers just add 50% and you are near enough in dollars.
You need a lot of customers to pay costs like these plus a workforce. So who do we blame for all this?  The bankers, government, Internet shopping, the list could be quite long with everybody`s ideas. I have no idea but feel bloody depressed writing this having had one of the grandchildren on the boat over the weekend because for sure they are the ones in the firing line if it`s not brought under control.
grandson Jack
I will stop here because I`ll be onto the EU club, you know the one where some(all of Europe) can take what they want without making a contribution and the other members(uk) will go without or end up working longer to plug the hole in the finances.

Anyway this boating way of life does shield us from a lot of the stresses of living ashore. Fuel and food are our main costs which compared to shore dwellers other expenses is not to bad. At least we have no mortgage on a large property that needs heating.
 Fuel bills for a house have reached high levels since Nb Valerie started floating. Saturday, the only day we buy a paper for the TV guide, I read that the UK only holds 20 days stock of gas(propane) and now supplies are in short supply and there could be a shutdown of gas supplies to homes. Because of our connection to the U.S. I will mention the U.S. holds 6 months of stock.

 What happened to this country that once ruled a big chunk of the world that we are more and more being controlled by foreign companies. German, French and Spanish companies control the biggest slice of our energy supplies. I remember as a kid growing up in Paddington the Gas company was North Thames Gas Board and the leccy was London Electricity Board. Water was Thames Water Co. Now it`s gone from German hands to Australia.
Article HERE mentions energy in the U.S. as well as the UK.

 So if you can`t cook or heat your homes don`t worry because you will be able to use HS2 and get to the midlands a few minutes quicker.  Do we in the UK really need to spend billions of £`s, double what they say now because you know it will cost double in the end. The UK is a small island do we need 225mph trains?

The fuel on board the boat is diesel and at a lower cost than road diesel it gives us not only  the ability to move the boat but also provides hot water and electricity from each unit of diesel. Most of our heat is provided by wood gathered from fallen trees as we travel.
All in all there is less stress afloat even in retirement. Ok rant over, sorry but it just peeves me to see what a state this country is getting into. But don`t despair if all else fails you can take to drink now tax on a pint of beer has been cut by 1p. All that does is reduce tax receipts ( the things that reduce the national debt) although if you drink 4 pints per night you will be 28p a week better off so I can see now what a sensible decision our government made there. Thousands all over the country will be dancing in the streets.

Back to life afloat. Today Karen and Ian Nb Tacet stopped off for tea and chat on their way down to London. Have to use an old pic as is usual spent time catching up and forgot to get the camera out.
The photo was taken on the Bridgewater canal last April.
Jaq and I had a walk into Kings Langley the other day, who knows or cares which day, and spent 3 hours because we could/wanted reading history of the area. Never in my dreams did I imagine life could be so good in retirement.


Nev Wells said...


A good post....I share your frustrations and concerns. We moved our energy supplier a the weekend....we we due to be paying £175 a month.... not much cheaper now but 100% renewable. Council tax and water rates on top.. so tempting hopefully sometime soon to be afloat, keep blogging


Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Hi Nev,
I am as always, in shock at the cost of a home here in the UK; add all the council taxes, etc. etc. and I wonder how young families ever afford it.

We are enjoying your new blog as well and were happy to read that Waterlilly sold.

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs