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Tuesday, 21 January 2020

Mirror film, wet paint the 'empty chair', porthole fly nets (reprise) and surprise visits...

Catchy post title or what?😎

You may recall when I last picked up my laptop, I ended with a reference to 'mirror film' - well, when I opened the packages from China, it turned out I'd ordered rather DARK stuff - ie, once it's on, the boat is like something from the blackout.  It's very effective at producing privacy - less so at letting light in.... Still, it was only cheap so having 'practiced' on the first round (ergo, I should be better at it when the RIGHT stuff arrives from China)  I will replace it with a lesser tint in due course.

For someone  generally ok (ish) at diy type jobs - well certainly by the 3rd attempt, I found it a right faff to apply... basically you have to clean the surface really well.... then spray it with detergent and water ( ahem I used bold liquid that I used for the toilet bowl) ,  remove fiddly backing film and then apply - squeezing air bubbles and the 'slip' out using a credit card type thing...  it sort of works but I'm a bit cack handed sometimes ... the result however not being TOO bad

You can see more easily from the side hatch how much light they block out - STILL, at least I can sit in my pants and not be too concerned about prying eyes.

Once finished with the windows, the next day I decided to give electric cupboard doors a bit of tlc AND a much needed vent panel - since being on shoreline (ie the combi inverter/charger being on all day) I've noticed the fan worring a lot more ... it must be too hot so I've dug out the vent grills I bought a few years ago and FINALLY gotten around to fitting them - AND also drilling holes in the bottom panels at floor level to allow cool air to be drawn in.  I've no idea if it's actually making much difference to the inverter if I'm honest, but at least I THINK I've tried to make it better.  It DID mean however, I had to relocate my much prized MANUAL service history (masking tape stuck to the rear of the door for each oil/filter change and service lol.

I took the opportunity to sand down and re-varnish the door whilst it was off... which then necessitated removal of the wet locker/calorifier door for the same treatment - tedious but now done... 

they should last a couple more years before needing to be replaced... I don't think there is enough veneer left on them to take another sanding.  Time will tell on that one.

Whilst the varnish was drying (on a lovely sunny day ), I took the opportunity to give the new base-plate a coat of paint AND whilst I was at it, refreshed the existing one too... THIS Time using white satin wood paint... which turned out NOT to be the best idea I've logic was that it would dry quickly it being water based... HOWEVER due to the temperature of the canal water at this time of year, it didn't dry ... for 5 days!!!

5 days is a LONG time when you keep falling over the rubbish that lives in there atm have stuff laying around that needs to be put back in there lol.
BY day 5, I was so sick of testing the 'wet paint' with my fingers, I decided to squat over them with a hairdryer and apply heat for about half an hour.. THAT finally seemed to do the trick.

. . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . 

GOING back in time a bit - you may recall before I got the boat, I'd found some rather good, acrylic porthole covers with nets on to keep bugs out? - ...  HERE:

Well, since then they've stopped doing them - concentrating their efforts on bringing up their kids... which is fair enough I suppose... but it's a bit of a pain now... obviously, what with over hanging trees and bushes etc, the nets have pretty much become full of holes - SOME of which I stitched up (badly) last year and some of which just ended up "twanged" off...

WHAT to do...

Well, in true 'Ellis' style - TRIAL and error (plenty of the latter of course)... FIRST I tried gluing some fiberglass netting in place using "hot glue" - this DID work but didn't look pretty.

Then I had the idea to try "self adhesive velcro" which WORKED, framed them nicely but (ahem) as soon as it rained, came off.

The FINAL solution is to wedge in the netting using a paint scraper, apply an elastic retainer (prototype was rubber bands) - in the form of black knicker elastic  in the groove and then run a ring of hot glue around he edge whilst pushing black para-cord into it to hold everything in place... neatly.  I don't have a finished photo yet as the para-cord is yet to arrive from Ebay.

POINT IS, I can't see WHY this won't work and be robust enough to survive the odd brush with a tree - I'll report back on that in due course lol.

AS you can tell from above, I've been keeping myself busy - MAINLY because last week was the first anniversary of my mum's death.  It weighed on me quite heavily.   It doesn't FEEL like a whole year has passed... in fact, it feels like I've just put the phone down from my cousin who called to say she'd died suddenly.  

Reality is however, 1 year has now gone by and by the 24th (funeral day) we'll have ticked off a full year of anniversary dates.  I'm told it's a milestone.  I doubt it will feel  any better but perhaps you (well me) get to handle things less emotionally ... I'll let you know on that one.  I'm not expecting an epiphany or anything so lucky but I AM hoping to keep a tighter control on my emotions.  

Emotions that of late have taken their tole on me - especially sitting in a boat on my own when it gets dark out side.. since new years day, apart from interactions with 'shop assistant's I'd not seen anyone for 14 days... the constant 'niggle' of Andy's empty chair in the corner of my eye on an evening whilst watching the telly preying on my subconscious I suppose... reminding me that somewhere along that line I'd failed.  Which isn't really the reality...  it was only when I'd taken some laundry out of the dryer and left it on MY preferred chair the other evening that I sat in the "other chair" - and what do you know... by SITTING IN the empty chair, my brain had a different view of the cabin and something 'clicked' ... hey presto - NO empty chair and a lesser feeling of isolation.

I know that probably sounds a bit bonkers but when you stop and think about it logically, it has credence.   SO - to anyone out there who's lost someone they shared a long period of their life with, my advice is to SIT in THEIR chair and if you're as lucky as me, your brain will stop reminding you that they're gone.

IF it works for you, then please send donations via paypal lol.

Joking a side - I CAN see how easily (and quickly) folk can become lonely/isolated.  I'm lucky... despite my buggered back (and grumbling knees) I'm really rather fit and often walk between 9-14 miles a day... THIS gives me chance to chat to people, take in sun light and NOT feel like 'Billy No Mates'  FOR the lesser mobile person, their home (be it a boat house or whatever) must surely feel like a prison cell.  I don't have a solution for them, but for me, it HAS to be get out and about... AND before long that will include boating again with guests.

Speaking of guests (well writing but don't be a pedant), ON Saturday  my dear long suffering boaty friends 'Eddie and Wendy' (Weddy and Endy) had arranged to come and stay to take me out for tea and a catch up... it didn't seem right them staying in a hotel - and to be honest, I wanted to be able to spend more time with them, so they stopped on the boat instead.  They were due to arrive "some time" on Saturday afternoon when I got a message pop up on my phone from other boaty friends who were in the pub opposite the marina if I were home and fancied a catch up.  I qickly sent Wendy a message to say to let me know when they were are hour off, as I was nipping into the pub to catch up with Roger and Jane.  

THEY were doing dry January (like me) however when Wendy and Eddie turned up (and introductions were made etc) I caved pretty easily and had a few glasses of wine.  It turned into a lovely relaxed, impromptu catch up with Rog and Jane and then a nattery (boozy) afternoon/evening with Wendy and Eddie.

SUNDAY of course was not so pleasant as we all had the hangover from hell... ANYWAY - I'm back on the wagon again now and will maintain my plan of not drinking alone... only sociably.... I JUST need to get out there and BE more sociable lol.

Until next time...

Thursday, 9 January 2020

Dry January, Vegan options, More repairs and a free month at the gym.

Let the record state - I officially HATE Dry January.

I know I drink too much generally... ALL/Most SOME boaters do...  I  think it's to do with rarely having to drive a car... or get up early the next morning after a drinking session and THEN drive  a car.

Since Andy and I split last year, I've gradually curbed my booze consumption - I suppose mainly because being on the boat alone (or alone with guests) I have to be solely responsible for everyone's safety...  I  always WAS but doing things solo does make you look at things with a different perspective.  In that regard THIS Dry January should be easier - the Jury's out on that one for now lol.

Still, I'm doing it and haven't wavered...  I WAS doing well this time last year too until mum died and then I fell off the wagon and never managed to climb back on.  Having spoken with dad the other day (who seems physically fit and well - especially considering how seriously ill he had been only a copule of years ago), we both think he'll see the month out!  HE BETTER!

ANYWAY - whilst on the rode to perdition so to speak, I've been experimenting in other ways to self flagellate ...VEGAN meals...

Now before you good vegans start jumping up and down, I'm writing this with a grin... in fact, whilst I am not going to become vegan (my liking of 'proper cheese' eggs and milk is too strong) - (and btw, chickens HAVE to lay eggs or they'd explode), I AM learning and opening my mind to vegan options when out and about  in particular...  well I would be if I had enough money to eat out but you get my gist.

I've actually got quite a few vegan friends these days... the openly less sophisticated food wise (by their own admission) Greg & Frankie , several other boaty types who as I write this I can't remember their names and also some dear vegetarian friends - one of whom is keen to convert to vegan.    IT was Richard who gave me a quite simple vegan recipe stolen from the observer I think it was, for Thai green sticky mushroom spiced rice.  I say vegan it SHOULD have been (and would have been if I'd  listened and got some Thai curry paste from Morrisons rather than the blue dragon stuff (which ahem, contained fish paste)...   The point is, with a little bit of conjuring, it was rather nice and  'Ellis' is going to add it to the veggie menu for guests this year...

You'll gather from "tea on a tray" that the dinette is once again my work shop!

I've an offer to go to a local vegan  restaurant with my friend 'boaty Julie' but having looked at the recommended vegan sharing platter, I'm put off by the price given my current cash flow and solicitor bills...  I'll get there at some point but not until this years money begins to arrive.

In  more "maintenance" news, I'm still plodding on doing jobs here and there... the latest of which was to make another base-plate cold store area... the original one proving extremely useful  - not so much for cold storage in high summer as it's not really cold enough for veg by the time the water in the canal has heated a bit... it IS useful storage for drinks bottles etc - ergo, I made another one.

In true 'Ellis' fashion though, when I'd cut the floor, I discovered one of the bearers in JUST the wrong position to enable removal of 3 of the ballast blocks... after much buggering around trying to break a block with a crowbar and lump hammer.... THEN an angle grinder (which resulted in a boat full of concrete dust), I gave in and cut a bit more floor out!

The end result is a slightly larger than before base-plate store AND removal of about 160kg of ballast.

OF course the 'pull-handle' I bought when i did the other one is NOWHERE to be found on the boat... so I've just ordered another off ebay - having checked the size AFTER I 'd ordered it, I find the new one is smaller than the existing one - oh well... at least that means when the old one turns up somewhere (which it will when I'm looking for something else) I can cut a bit more wood out and then fit it to match lol.

Having done that, I needed a bit of a rest...  so a walk into town (it's circa 8 miles round trip - 9 if I call home to pick up post) found me with a free month trial gym membership.   I've never liked gym exercise but over the years it has been a necessary evil - more so when I worked in IT and didn't get much exercise at work... latterly, with the fairground stuff and then boating, I've managed to keep away.  This year, I didn't put on the weight I lost last winter so I'm already starting my "health kick" 2 stone lighter than last year... I'm gonna give it 1 month of reasonable effort and see if I can get to 11.5 stone ... which is a weight where my boobs don't bounce when I walk!

I WILL of course be paying particular attention to the #LegsEllis lol.  (that only makes sense if you follow the twitter feed)... and in truth, I only do it cause it gives me a chuckle...

I do get 'odd' looks at folk in the gym when I shuffle in with my walking boots on (and keep them on) along with my floaty ball key ring... do  I care? - do I buggery!

Right - I'm off now ... the walk to the gym beckons and when I get back,  I intend to apply some more mirrored window film ... more about that later.

Until next time...

Sunday, 29 December 2019

New Cushion covers, Xmas is over, bilge alarms on the river and New Horizons...

Hey up.

I appear to have been away (from here) for too long again...  I've been really busy doing jobs that shouldn't take long...which invariably do.

Take removing the shower sealant and redoing it.  It'd been on my list for months... in fact, back as far as the START of the (now over) cruising season... Anyway... I finally got around to doing it the other week.  All I can say is "plllr"...

ANYWAY - it's done now and being black construction adhesive, will at least look better for longer - time will tell.  I had received a message recommending some "strips" to glue in but having already bought the sika flex, I carried down the planned route.

It'll do.

I also got around to fitting the little turn buttons to the front seats... not a major thing I'll grant you but they do hold the side panels in place nicely.   Just a bit of paint to touch up on the frame behind and they'll ALSO do.

MEANWHILE, back in side the boat, now I'd painted the crew quarters, including the side panels (they were looking grubby with shoe marks etc) I decided to redo the non-slip on the steps AND give them a fresh coat of paint too... along with extra non-slip granules too.

Getting the "tape" off was a bit of a bugger... the use of a hairdryer did ease it's removal.  Once done, I stepped back and admired the result... realizing I'd effectively trapped myself on board unless I exited via the front doors and balanced down the gunwales.  The rubberized granules adhere really well and usually can take another couple of coats before losing their "non-slippy-ness".

Talking (well writing) of the front doors, THEY too are in need of some TLC.  The silicone around the glass externally had failed and what with a combination of that AND guests not quite 'getting' the need for ventilation when sleeping (ergo condensation forming there) the inside has become quite stained. I don't think the staining would be sand-out-able so as soon as weather conditions permit, I'm going to sand them down, prime and paint them grey too.

BEFORE then however,  I wanted to test out some door stops I'd found on ebay...  they DO hold the doors open (loosely) but due to the length down to the floor, they are not really up to the job.  IF I put  wooden lattice sub-floor under the grass that might help and tbh, I might just do that anyway... we'll see.

Back in side  at 'the other end' again...I got a message from Denise the friend who I'd asked to re-cover the dinette cushions the other month, to say she'd finished them and if I would be around, she'd drop them back off.  I'd no idea she'd do them so quickly... when asking a favor you just assume folk will fit it in around their other things -  Anyway, she very kindly did them and I had them back on the boat before Xmas.  I have to admit, I'm REALLY pleased with them... the new fabric being a lot more robust than it's predecessor.  It was a pig to work with apparently but she's made a grand job of them.  Obviously I thanked her and not being cash rich, have offered to take her and her husband (and perhaps grandchild) on boat trip from Wakefield to Leeds in the new year.  I'll keep an eye on forecasts and river levels and plan around that to suit them.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 

Christmas itself was a difficult day.  I'd had a visit from 2 dear friends inviting me to come along and spend the period with them... it just didn't feel right to impose myself and expected misery on anyone else... aware my father was going to be alone (his choice too) I had a bit of a walk into town which was nice enough and exchanged a few messages with dad - both 'chocking' each other up I suppose...  he had intimated previously he might come down and visit in between xmas and new year but apparently he had things to do so would not be coming ... which is fair enough.  ANYWAY - Christmas day was complete and on Boxing day,  I decided to unplug the shore-line and make the trip to Leeds on the boat with my friend.

I had planned on a few days away as cabin fever had being setting in anyway, but the forecast for the weekend was not good so rather than chug for 6 hours in wind and rain, when boxing day looked "ok ish" we made a dash for it.

Having been tied up not moving for a few weeks, the alternator decided to play up the other day and not out put anything...  I think it didn't like being subjected to the charging currents from the combi inverter...  it had been sulking for a few days and then, magically when disconnected from shoreline with the inverter OFF, it began working again... MAJOR relief.

Whilst on the river, we spotted a boat marooned that must have broken loose in the last floods...

It'll take the next floods to dislodge it I suspect and then who knows it's fate... I hope something can be done to it before it ends up over Castleford weir further down stream.

NOT long after going passed this, we were thrown into a little panic... the bilge alarm began to buzz and on turning the bilge pump on manually, I was shocked to see a constant stream of water being evacuated from the engine bay.. the pump, rarely being able to pump anything out.  

THIS was not a thing you want in the middle of a river section with about an hour to go...  the alarm kept going off and the pump kept pumping constantly...  I seriously feared a weld on the swim had failed and we were sinking.    TO cut a long story short (and save you the dramatic hour we had) it turned out to be a sudden influx from a blocked drain in the rear locker that "cleared" and dumped a few weeks worth of water into the engine bilge in one go.  THIS didn't become apparent until the relatively safety of Lemmonroyd lock!

BEFORE then, I'd worked out a contingency of running the bilge pump constantly AND rigging up the mains powered "hippo" back up pump until we could get to Granary Wharf in Leeds, WHERE , we'd lower the level to sit on the bottom and make emergency calls... my theory being that any boaters in there, when faced with the knowledge that another boater was "sinking" would tolerate being stuck in an empty pound whilst a solution was found.

I'm sure you can imagine the relief when the alarm stopped, and the water being pumped out slowed to a trickle!

So then,  here we are in Leeds... and when I say we, I'm referring to David and I... David being a chap I've been dating for a short while - privately.    It's been a difficult year as I'm sure anyone who's followed this dribble throughout will agree.  

I started the year with my mother dying suddenly and then roughly halfway through, divorce proceedings commencing...  the latter being perfectly amicable with Andy going off and doing his own thing... sometimes a little too publicly (think Facebook postings) for my liking but I know, no malice has been intended.... life moves on and situations present themselves.  

To be frank, I didn't really think there'd be much chance of me meeting anyone new in my life for a long while... especially with my nomadic lifestyle.    Well it turns out I was wrong.  It's early days but for the first time in a long while, I'm able to look forward.  I don't know how things will progress romantically (I'm quietly optimistic)  but  "business wise" bookings are already looking good for the year ahead AND I've got a couple lined up for 2021  (despite not yet having completed my route plan)...  life is good... people are good and so long as you (and by you I REALLY mean me) continue to look at life through good eyes, with positivity and kindness, the world will occasionally smile back on you.

Happy New year - let's hope 2020 is good for all of us.

Tuesday, 17 December 2019

Seats complete and "That London Look"...

Since my last missive, I've been busy working through my imaginary list (I'm not good at actually WRITING lists any more) of maintenance/improvement jobs... and the odd 'spill' a side, things are progressing nicely.

Luckily, nothing I'm doing actually involves spending more than a couple of quid - which is a good job as what with the solicitors bills, winter mooring costs and no money due in yet from next years bookings, I'm skint as a skint person.   I'm rich in other ways...  time... compassion... empathy... general 'fabulous ginger person-ness' and NOT forgetting modesty lol.😇

I'm still feeling rather miserable about this 'Christmas thing' - and still emotional at times but I'm taking that as a positive thing... the solution to lonliness being quite simple.   Every day, in between jobs when the sun is at it's brightest, I'm forcing myself to walk into town (it's about an 8 mile round trip from here) to buy a loaf of bread or some eggs... or even just look in the "yellow label section" in Sainsburys * other supermarkets are available and usually cheaper*...

This walk, takes me past a line of boats - and the beauty of this is that there are usually a few boaty people pottering around... ergo, an opportunity to pass the time of day with a chat.  I never realised how much I needed to be around people.  During boating season (which some would argue is all year round)... when I've got guests on board (and even in between guests) you get to meet and natter with all sorts of folk.    In the middle of winter, when tied up at a marina, it's easy NOT to see anyone... and I've concluded THAT is not good for me... I'm (rather bizarrely) a people person and need to interact.  So that's that then... STOP feeling sorry for myself about being on my own and become the weirdo who chats with everyone/anyone .... (not a big stretch for me some would say)...

Loneliness a side,  this is STILL a wonderful life... you just have to attack it  from a different perspective some times to remind yourself of how lucky I am...  incidentally, I love that old film... "Every time a bell rings an Angel gets it's wings"...

Sorry - tangenting again I know...

ANYWAY - I've finished all the new rear seats and back rests... I'm not sure now that I've done them in Burgandy whether I like it or not... once we get a few warmer days and I can slap some new paint around the back of the boat, I'm sure however they'll look better. Whatever the initial feelings are on them, I'm sure as I've gone passed them a few times, they'll stop offending me.

The seats are NOT as padded as the orginal ones were... and whilst not as comfortable, they ARE more stable  - leaping on and off the roof at times could be a bit of a gamble lol.

The crew-quarters dinette has looked like the middle isle in Aldi for a while now...

You might recall I had planned on replacing the porthole shutters I made a few years ago with new ones...  tbh, whilst they are only mdf with a birch veneer,  by the time I'd bought new disks, veneer and edging stips that would have been 100 quid plus I don't have spare atm.  HENCE the plan to give the existing ones a bit of a sand down and then paint them with left over exterior gloss paint... During the undercoat stage I wasn't sure (it was dark undercoat I'll grant you) but once I got into top coat, have decided they'll do until funds allow.

Of course TAKING them off the walls, it had become more apparent just how much yellowing had taken place over the last 3 years. TIME to experiment with a tin of Satin Wood...

I was a little hesitant but once I got 5 coats on, have convinced myself that "The London Look" is actually quite alright.  I'm going to resist the urge to paint bulk heads and just keep my painting to port and starboard.

I've not made the best paint job on the shutters (the odd run here and there on the edges) but they look clean and fresh AND will be easy to keep clean from now on.

As I type this, I've also got the saloon (that's lounge to you non-boaty folks) ones off and mid-paint...  I'm undecided yet as to whether to paint the walls in there too.  Sometimes, it's best to sit and think a while - failing that, I'll ask visitors opinions lol.

Meanwhile, OUTSIDE the new bow seats are now fixed into position (I might have told you this - I forget) and all they now need are the 'turn buttons' to stop the sides falling off ... They've arrived from Ebay and just need picking up from home.

I had planned to paint them with non-slip paint but given the whole point of phonelic board is that its supposed  to already be non-slip, have decided just to apply a strip of hazard tape on each edge to act as a 'brake' in case you do slip on the board itself... it'll make it less likely to flake I think.

Back inside again for a minute,  I've dug out the old silicone around the portholes (it was looking a bit sorry for itself) and rather than redo with the same, have opted for grey sika flex (construction adhesive)... it's much better having thunk about it, decided grey was the same colour as dust so they should look cleaner for longer lol.

Having lived with this for a couple of days now, I've also removed the (now mucky and failed) silicone from the floor edges and replaced it with grey too... it looks fine (although I don't appear to have taken a photo of that so you'll have to take my word on it.

NEXT job on the list is going to be removing the shower sealant and replacing THAT - THIS time rather than using white silicone, I'm going to opt for sika flex (again) but in black... ergo, it won't show up as mucky and therefore "look" cleaner for longer...  Kim and Agi have nothing on me!

Until next time...