Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Steam pig, October-fest (Leeds) and people-watching...


It's been a busy and varied weekend which began on Thursday afternoon when we set off towards Leeds on the boat... we didn't get far - just to Woodnock Lock before the river thwarted our progress.  It hand't occurred to us that it might have been in flood.  Primarily because we'd not had any rain to speak of.  IF we'd paid attention in geography, we'd have remembered that the flow of the river tends to be governed by what's happened UPSTREAM....

SO, as our plan for Thursday had been to go as far as Lemonroyd or Woodlesford to overnight, we patiently waited on the lock-landing for a few hours whilst the level dropped...  THAT was the plan.  It was still in the red around 5.00pm so we wrote the day off (it's 2 hours ish from there to the relative safety of Lemonroyod above Fleet wier).  Around 5.45 the traffic lights changed from flashing red to amber meaning we could proceed but as it'd soon be dark, we stayed put.

For the first time in ages, we set an alarm and were up, breakfasted and away by 7.30.  It WAS a bit windy and the river was still in the yellow but as we were heading down stream it didn't cause much of a problem... that was until we did the turn at Castleford from the Calder onto the Aire.   There was quite a bit of flow coming towards us, along with the occasional crocodile to negotiate.

All was going well but on apprach to the lock off the river, I noticed the morso control was loose - very loose.  Once into the lock, I did an emergency tightening before Andy began filling it.

We made good time despite the wind and once safely moored in Granary Wharf, we were joined soon after by a steam powered boat heading towards Doncaster/Rotherham (can't remember) to take part in a musical thingy, in which their role was to blow the steam whistle.

The boat itself was nothing special but the silent cruising must be lovely - I got chatting with the old blokes running it and their passion was infectious.  It's not for us though - bloody hard work keeping the steam up and maintaining it... not to mention lugging an awful lot of coal about all day.    I was curious about how they managed to keep the batteries charged so they explained they've got an alternator connected up to the drive shaft with gearing so it charges as it moves.   I felt a bit daft then.

As Friday evening began, we started to notice a lot of pedestrian traffic passing by the boat in various fancy dress outfits... well I say various, I may have well just have said lieder-hosen (spelling?).  We presumed it was just a works night out and thought nothing more about it.   We'd already made plans to visit some friends to see how their conversion works were going and go out for dinner.  The downside being that as we'd been unable to confirm our arrival (cause of the aforementioned river in flood) the only table available in the Italian we wanted to go to wasn't ready until 8.30pm.... and as anyone over 40 will agree, THAT time on a Friday night is a bit loud to be able to talk.  I don't know WHY these places always think having booming music on so loud that you have to shout at the people you're sitting with is conducive to spending more money...it isn't... in fact, we ended up eating quickly and returning to the boat for a couple more drinks.  When our friends left, we sat on the back deck watching the world go by with a night cap.  

It's really amazing SO many different things go on in a small space.  Within a couple of hours, we observed every thing from couples arguing, drug deals (allegedly) young love, PAID for love (if you follow) jolly drunks, aggressive drunks, FALLING down Stupid drunks and even a spot of pre,during and post coital affection on a balcony above!

Andy was shocked and it took him at least 4 minutes before he could look away lol.

It really was an eye-opener all the things going on around us.  The atmosphere was for the most part, REALLY friendly and convivial....  Alcohol can be useful like that.  

ONE thing that was consistent was the friendly interest passers by have in our life sitting on the boat.  At one point, a group of young ladies  ended up coming on board for a nosey around.  It got a bit cramped with a boat full of people but they were well mannered and genuinely interested and friendly... even the cats enjoyed the attention.  During the visit, a random bloke arrived looking for them and it transpired he was their chaperone/responsible non-drinking adult.  His name was Mark too although we never did get any of their names.

As more and more pepole came by chatting, we discovered it was October-fest  https://www.visitleeds.co.uk/news/Oktoberfest-Leeds.aspx# hence all the wankered  jolly drunks staggering back in swaithes.  One passer by was moaning bout having spent £20 on 2 jugs off beer, only to be told their time was up and NOT being allowed to take it out with her.... some folk later on  managed to smuggle theirs out though.

We did think about going ourselves but to be honest, it seemed like a bit of a waste of money and we were really enjoying the evening watching everyone else whilst whilst we had a few gins.  YES I know we started Dry-October... well gin IS dry isn't it?

Sunday morning arrived and we'd planned to get off home around 7.30am...  UNFORTUNATLY the River Aire had other ideas about that...

IT was still in the red and falling VERY slowly.  We've got a powerful enough engine to have been safely able to manage it but we weren't going to risk it.  SO went off to weatherspoons for breakfast and kill an hour or so.

An hour wasn't going to be long enough so we did a bit of washing (and tumble drying), watched a bit of telly and chatted to the steam boaters who were also stranded...  every hour or so, we wandered to the marker board and by 1.00pm it had dropped enough for them  to make a dash for it.

We helped work them through the lock and closed the gates but the flow of the river wasn't helping the helmsmen get out onto the river.  He had to back up and take a bit of a run.

They shot off down the river and did appear to struggle a little with the current as they turned the corner under the bridge.

WE gave it another half our or so and then made the same journey - complete with our life-jackets on.  Rather helpfully, the chap who skippers the party boat, worked the lock for us to save me having to hover on the landing to pick Andy up and we shot off downstream too.  To be honest, whilst it WAS a bit fast flowing, the engine was clearly up to the job and even the turn into Clarence dock above the weir was negotiated safely enough with a bit more power requited than usual.

It was a lovely day and we made really good time, going with the flow down-stream.

The new weir at Knostrop flood lock has now been completed and  you can see how much water was still coming down with us.  

Luckily, when we got to the Calder, it wasn't as high as the Aire had been and although we did need to put a few more revs on, we made good time - OK, so it was dark by the time we got home and as we we'd arranged to meet Tony and Vicky in the pub for a drink, we had tea on the hoof in the dark.  

The reason it looks like "dropped" lasagne is because it WAS lol.

No matter,  we were safely back on our home mooring by a little after 7pm...  and I proceeded to batten down the hatches/tighten up the ropes well in preparation for the storm heading our way..

Until next time...

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Sweeping the chimney and a new coal bucket....

Our lives are SO exciting I'm sure you'll agree!

Well, dull as it may be, keeping the chimney clear is rather important... if you don't, at best you'll get a messy roof - at worst, it'll kill you from co.

SO, the other day, I went looking in the gas locker for a bit of chain to dangle down and wiggle about (all very technical isn't it?) but whilst looking, old Mick came over and asked what I was up to.  It turns out he has a suitable brush.

To begin with I removed the fire bricks to make access to throat plate removal easier...It might have been an idea to have left it a couple of hours though as it'd been in over night and was still quite hot.

Once  that was out, I got on the roof and removed the china-man's hat (coolie thingy).  Mick warned me that once I began shoving the brush down it might get wedged so it' be a good idea to have a pole ready...  

Having thought it through, I decided to do it the other way around - i.e., pull it through from the bottom.  I rummaged in my chaotic tool cupboard handy shelf of bits and bobs, for some para-chord which I threaded down from outside and then tied to the brush handle.

Having gently positioned the handle inside, I closed the door AND vents before going back on the roof to begin.

I pulled it through a few times and have to admit, was surprised just how much gunk was in the grate when I came to clear it out.  It does draw much better now though and ever since, we've not had any muck on the roof either - even when the fire is shut right down for over night...  success.

I'm really enjoying having the fire on all he time now - it CAN be a bit if a pain running out of coal (in the boat) when it's wet and windy outside ... the existing coal bucket, whilst looking OK, didn't really hold enough for more than 1 day ... and that's 1 day at current usage rather than "winter"  - SO, we went into town to look for a bigger one.    First stop was a shop called Scartop.  It's a brilliant store with everything you might ever want for the home.  The downside being, a lot of the things you want are NOT cheap... and of course we did find a bigger one but at £29.99, decided it was too dear.

Next stop was Homebase - having modified the search for a metal bucket...  t'dah

AND only  a tenner - BARGAIN!

It holds 2 and half times the amount the little one does so, combined with that, we can go nearly 4 days without getting wet now... probably 2 days when it's really cold.

I told you - we DO lead an exciting life...  

Until next time...

Monday, 9 October 2017

RYA Helmsman's Course...


We kept our plans to undertake this a bit secret I'll admit... MAINLY in case we failed it.  A select few knew of course that on Thursday gone, we had our first (of 2) training days.

Typically, it had rained hard in the hills overnight which meant the river was angry and the flood gates locked shut.  This meant our cruising range was limited to the canal with the automated gates...  and of course along with the flood  conditions, the wind was blowing a proper hoolie which made some of our manoeuvring fecking difficult a little more challenging than we'd have liked.

To be honest, neither of us particularly relished the idea of being assessed -  both having left school an AWFUL long time ago.  My most recent training/examination being a week long intensive Microsoft Certified Professional course at York University which (whilst I did qualify) nearly tipped me over the edge... it being full of 18-22 year olds all keen as mustard  to learn to PASS the exam at the end to prove they were brilliant IT boffin whereas there was I - in my 40's, ALREADY an IT boffin but struggling to do it Microsoft's way.

With the memory of that awful week burning in my head, when the trainer arrived we were both pleasantly surprised to discover a retired Physics teacher and scout master with 40 years boating  experience and a relaxed training technique.

The first hour or so was spent sitting in the boat chatting about our boating experience whilst he showed us some of the models he'd made to demonstrate various lock mechanisms AND boat manoeuvring techniques.   We set off chugging around 11 am and it didn't feel like training OR assessment.  We knew he was watching everything we did and ticking off boxes in his head - It didn't matter though... it was a relaxed and pleasant affair.  Every so often he'd ask a question about positioning or how what we were intending to do on approach to a lock - we were both quite candid in our replies... even as far as saying that whist we intended to do one thing, IF on approach the wind messed things up, we'd reassess and formulate another plan on the hoof.

Initially I felt that might NOT be the right thing to admit but it worked in our favour... being prepared and able to  try something else WAS the  correct approach to safe boating.

Given we were BOTH wanting the qualification, we'd planned to take turns at the tiller and swap roles periodically.  We went as far as Foxholes where we tied up and stopped for lunch.   This gave the chap opportunity to assess our mooring techniques and discuss springs etc.  The spacing of the rings at our chosen spot was NOT ideal but sufficient to explain the differing options none the less.  After a chatty lunch (previously prepared by yours truly and left in the oven to reheat whilst we chugged) we set off again towards Fairies hill before turning and heading back home.

Poor Andy was at the tiller when we got back to Kings lock which is notoriously windy but I tried to distract the chap whilst he wrestled to get off the lock landing... I'd almost managed it until he pulled into the lock and the wind did it's usual trick of placing the boat no where near where he'd intended to put it.  No matter, the point being that he was able to correct it and retain control.

Soon after he passed the tiller back to me to continue the rest of the journey homewards.  Whilst waiting for the next lock to empty, the trainer suggested that if we both wanted the qualification, Andy would have to spend more time on the tiller - we've previously gotten into a bit of a routine with me steering and him chatting working the locks.    Once back on our mooring we did a bit more classroom work (if you can call it that) said our goodbyes and agreed to do our 2nd day on Sunday - subject to river levels as we'd need to go up stream to work through manual locks.

On Saturday morning, we decided that whilst usually I'm the one on the tiller when we approach Fall Ings lock, we should have a practice with me being crew and Andy driving.  The river had gone down but the warning light was flashing read ... flashing red means navigation unsafe.  NOT to be deterred, we took a look at the board and the water whilst had been in the yellow was well down into the green.

I phoned CRT to ask for an explanation and was told the light was a bit dicky!  Still a little apprehensive, Andy motored into the flood lock and off we set up the river.    The wind was still blowing quite hard but he tied on to the lock landing perfectly and between us we made it look easy.  Typically no one was around to observe our success.

Confident at his ability, we returned home and prepared for day 2.

Yesterday's weather couldn't really have been much calmer and everything went swimmingly.  Andy taking the boat from the mooring up the river and into Fall Ings perfectly.  Things briefly went ary in the lock because we shared with another boat (which was re-locating from Stanley to Dewsbury ) Marina) and rather than climbing the ladder and holding our boat steady from the lock side, Andy opted to stay on board - the result being a few bashes and clonks as the instructor and I wound the paddles up.

Whilst talking with the other boat, it transpired their engine was over-heating.  Their intended route requied a couple more river sections before getting into the (relative ) safety of Broad cut.  With this in mind, we decided to go a little further upstream than planned to proved safe escort in the event they broke down on the river  - the theory being we could tie them on to stop them going over either of the weirs ahead.

As things panned out, their boat made it ok but our intention stood us in good stead with the RYA chappy.

The extra miles added a couple of hours on to the course but gave us all opportunity to play at turning on the river a few times.

ANYWAY - around pm we got back to our mooring whereby he confirmed he was happy with our ability and produced our certificates.

Not flattering photo's but I suppose they never are.  I'd have preferred "Marti Pellow circa 1985" on mine but apparently you can't do that!

Hey ho.

So there we are -  we've done it now and another step closer to being able to run "Ellis" as a hotel boat in the spring... First Aid here we come!

FYI - the RYA instructor we used was a chap called Geoff Auty.  He's the Scout leader trainer.  I came upon him via an enquiry on their website I'd sent a couple of months back after following a link from the RYA.  Initially, we'd planned to book with Bear Boating up at Apperley (spelling?) Bridge and do it on one of their boats....that would have cost us £275 EACH!

Geoff on the other hand does it on a voluntary basis - either on the Scout's boat or your own .  He charges the costs of the paperwork and RYA book  (£20 each) and if you're NOT using the scout boat (which they charge out at £80 a day) suggests a contribution to Scout funds.  We gave him the daily hire rate which he'll pass on so all in we had the 2 day course and certification for £200 for both of us.
A saving of £350.

Whilst the saving was important, the best thing about it for us was being able to do it on our OWN boat.

We'd certainly recommend doing one ...

Until next time...

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Golden Wedding Anniversary, Brilliant Ballast and a rogue nipple...

Sorry for the absence - we've had a weekend away with my family to celebrate my parents 50th Wedding Anniversary.

We're NOT party folk and in a bid to avoid any fuss, Mum and Dad (aka Joyce and Cliff) had decided to take us away for a weekend to be together at their expense.  Given that Andy doesn't work Monday's, we asked to add on another day happy to pay for it but my dad wouldn't take a penny - moreover, BECAUSE we'd asked for a bath, we ended up in a superior room.

It was an all expenses paid trip (by my parents) for immediate family - which consisted of my cousin Rachael (and Husband Mike)...my brother Ken (and Wife Heidi), their son Sam and of course Andy and I.   There should have been my niece Kim (and boyf Tom) but they couldn't get a pet sitter)...

That's the thing about big families... my dad came from a catholic background with way more siblings than either space OR money.  AS a result, he's the most generous, sharing sort of chap you'll ever meet.... the rest of his siblings being the same - whatever they have - they'll happily give away to anyone.   I couldn't even buy a drink at the bar without my dad pushing some money into my hand - it was the same after lunch on Saturday when a few of us ended up at a bistro a few miles down the road... I'd paid simply because I pushed my way into the queue at the bar but on route home, mum insisted on giving me some cash.

It's a trate I try to replicate... and for the most part I succeed.

Anyway - we stayed in the Victoria Hotel at Banburgh, just up from the Castle.  It's a dog friendly place in certain rooms (luckily not ours) and the lounge/bar areas have quiet dogs sitting by tables watching the world go by...  it's got a good vibe.

We had a meal in their Bistro on Friday evening - (note the bottles of wine at the far end of the table where Andy and I were sitting near Mike)...  suffice to say, Saturday morning was a delicate affair!

When everyone else went home on Sunday, we continued our weekend - drinking less thank heavens and took a visit to the castle.

If you think we look rough here, it's because we were...  having set off on a walk to Seahouses (about 4 miles down the road) the morning after the night before...  we managed to get a lift back as we just couldn't face the return hike!

The castle is quite interesting  -  learning it's history from circa 600ad (give or take) when it was first on the map.  The staterooms are well maintained and there's also an Art gallery and Armstrong musueum.    ANDY was clearly bored stupid  pretending to be enamoured by the "stone exhibition" 

whilst I was more interested in the Accumulator... (same principle as the one on the boat - just BIGGER)

After the Castle, we ended up back at the hotel for Another bath each...  if you're of a nervous disposition, please look away now:

Control yourselves!

BATHING is probably the only thing we both miss about living in the house/bungalow.... I've always been a water baby - quite often placing the laptop on the loo and watching a film surrounded by bubbles... topping up/letting out as the water goes cold.

Even IF we'd managed to fit a bath on to the boat, we'd have had trouble getting enough hot water.  ANYWAY - it was a lovely change to be able to have umpteen soaks over the weekend.

MEANWHILE - back on the boat, (the cats were at the cattery by the way) during last weekends Gin session with our friends on their boat, we got discussing toilet tanks (again) and our continued frustrations at our 'starboard' list when the holding tank under the bed gets more than half full - we term this as "tipping point".  It's a gradual list that gets worse the fuller the tank gets.  

ON plan, it was supposed to be offset by the position of the stove... however, as the wiring loom ended up RIGHT where the flue would have needed to be, we positioned it more centrally - thus messing up my original calculations.

Up to about the 3/4 full level, we've been able to counterbalance using jerry cans full of diesel and the generator locked away.  HOWEVER, once above 3/4's you end up sleeping with your head down hill.

Tony mentioned he had some old steel plates somewhere in his man cave garage and one morning last week, he turned up with 3.  

BLOODY heavy doesn't come close - small though they may appear, I could only lift one at at time with my feeble hands.  

They do fit easily under the port side kitchen units which is really handy.  The result being we can get nearly another week out of the tank before pumping out... and with the other 2 he gave us a few days later, get the tank almost full! 

OK so it's an awful thought but fiscally, that's potential saving of 4/5 pump outs per year (circa 70 quid) ... a saving  certainly not to be sniffed at! 

Until next time...

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Dog sitting... Grand parents and none-slip seats!

If you're able to link that lot together smoothly, you're a better man than I!

I'll have a go.

Starting with the easy bit, ahem - you'll remember those seats I set to making for the bow AGES ago? - well they are finally now in situ and have a few coats of paint on them.  They're a little higher than most i'll grant you but I wanted to be able to store empty jerry cans underneath one side and folding chairs the other.

Rather than having the tops lift up, I've opted for sides that remove - held on with magnetic catches...  leaving a reasonably sized gap at the bottom to allow water to washer under and out.   Initially I'd left them smooth but the other day when I stepped into the well deck when filling up with water, I slipped off the edge and banged into the ruddy anchor ... hence the tape now applied.  It will get painted when I do the non-slip-rubberised grit on the roof sometime.

 Not a lot of progess I'll grant you but that's cause I'm dog sitting at the moment for the old chap behind and Daisy is bonkers a very high maintaneence lady

She's not like "normal"dogs when you walk her, sniffing and weeing etc. - instead she CONSTANTLY wants her ball throwing.  It's quite exhausting.  BRYN on the other hand happily lollops around doing normal doggy things.  I was pleased when we got to the clean (ish) water pond over the back to be able to stand still whilst Daisy jumped in and out of the water retrieving the ball to tire her out.

Why am I dog walking you ask? - well, the old chap behind had to go to his daughters for a DVLA eye test... in order to renew his licence.    We've both quite taken to him ... like a granddad I suppose - neither of us ever had granddads ... well rather we did but they died before we were around so have missed out on the support and kindness they bestow on their children's children.  It was the same atthe bungalow to a degree - being surrounded by oldies was always a pleasure ... Eric and Edna (rip) - both being that bit older than our own parents sort of adopted us and we were lucky enough to learn from their wisdom and life experiences... OK so we were never able to tap into "bank of Grandma & Granddad" but  never the less their kindness didn't go unappreciated.  

It's the same with old Mick - he's a smashing old chap... his eyes are duff I'll grant you and it'll be difficult for him to come to terms with not being able to drive if they're deemed "too bad" but we'll all muck in and support him.  Andy and I have been trying to prepare him for the potential bad news in as kind a way as possible.... he's preferring to stick his head in the sand at the moment so time will tell how this pans out.

SO if you are lucky enough to HAVE Grandparents - take a while to stop and think how different your life would have been without them.  Take time to appreciate all they're done and continue to do for you... sometimes making up for your parents short-comings or taking YOUR side through bumpy times in your life.  

Treasure them!

Oh and as for WHY I've got Bryn as well,  it turned out Mick got muddled thinking HIS owner would be home (he takes him out with Daisy for a walk whilst his owner is working) and he wasn't.  Luckily, another key was conjured up so I could take him too for a couple of days.

The cats btw, stand their ground rather well against the dogs - especially Sox... she has NO FEAR.... although yesterday she did get into a fight with 2 junior swans... a fight she had the sense to retreat from back into the boat... where she promptly puked up a mouse she'd eaten earlier... lovely!

Until next time...

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

External Waterproof Speaker and Autumn cheer...

The more time I have, the less I achieve - it's true... when I was working 70-80 hour weeks on occasions, I STILL managed to make MORE progress on the boat than I do now that I'm recovering from my hand operations...

A recently retired good friend agreed this when we spoke a while back that he doesn't know HOW he had the time to go to work as he's always busy these days but doesn't often feel like he's achieved much.  It's very true.

Still,  I AM still ticking off little jobs here and there - I've finally wired in properly the outside speaker which connects to the radio in the dinette - it's been wired in (and hanging through the door) for ages but I decided it was time to get the wires hidden away AND connect a switch into the circuit so on a morning when I put the radio on (usually Vanessa Felts I'm afraid... I MUCH preferred Bunty when she was on but the BBC keep messing things up  - I've YET to meed anyone who prefers that ginger Twunt   Chris Evans to Wogan either... ) it doesn't have to be heard outside.

Writing of the BBC, on the plus side, when the aforementioned self important fool  presenter is on holiday, the lovely Sarah Cox does a MUCH better job - pity she can't have the slot full-time....and I STILL miss Pam Ayres on a Sunday afternoon!

BACK to the wiring...

Well, having decided to do it properly ( ish) I got some trunking, fed a bit of old cat 5 cable through (which I'd cleared out of the garage) and glued it through a hole down into the engine bay and then through the bulkhead into the electric cupboard...  Of course it would have been fine had the wire I  used not been broken "somewhere" along the run - it was only when I tested it out I remembered the wire HAD been stapled to the side of the garage to connect up the garden speakers and I must have gone through one or more of the strands ... and of course I'd obviously wired up the duffer this time.  Hmmf.

The wiring in the cupboard does look a little Heath Robinson I'll grant you but at least now it works.

 The switch was recycled from one of Mick's old LED lights that had broken on his boat...  The speaker has been given a coat of dark grey paint so it doesn't stand out too much on the back and now Radio 2 can accompany us as we chug along - without having to faff around with portable radios etc...and if we're in a place with no signal, we can just plug in the ipod and listen to that instead.


As the plants outside are now dying back, Andy has planted up some winter violas to keep the roof of the boat cheery for a while longer...  luckily my mother gave us some smaller pots (I have a feeling they came from a friend of hers who gave her them to go on the boat) so at least you CAN see over these when chugging along - well you would be able to, had he not also planted some ruddy straggly fuchsias in the middle....  oh well - it's still a bit easier than it was in the height of summer.

In other boaty related stuff, the macerater toilet has developed an intermittent fault now - I think it's solenoid related as it ALWAYS empties OK but won't always "fill" - as in from the fresh water... it just clicks and does nothing... THUS far, turning the power off at the breaker, giving it a few mins and then back on again gets things moving (no pun)  although as I type this, I'm "waiting" to finish something I went to start earlier - and the aforementioned reboot hasn't worked... yet!

I think I'd better get in touch with Jabsco and see if I can get a replacement part sooner rather that later.  

HAND wise, the stitches come out on Thursday and  unless I'm doing something where it might get knocked, I've gotten rid of the bandages during the day - I still strap it up to sleep in for protection but it's much better than it was even a week ago....Still not much grip in my fingers but I know it will return in a couple of months.  When the stitches have gone, it's time to begin massaging the scar to break up the tissue underneath so as to prevent a hard lump of scar-tissue forming.  I've been doing this religiously on my left one and although there is still a sore bit, it's really quite good again now.... and MORE importantly, NO more being woken up in the night in agony.

I really should have had it done ages ago....  misguided loyalty to "work" was the reason for the delay.  oh well - you live and learn.

Until next time...

Friday, 22 September 2017

Tiny fires and a lynch pin....

Winter is on it's way...  I know this because for the 2nd morning in a row when I got up, the temperature outside was showing only 3.4 degrees c. - it might have been lower during the night as since I don't HAVE to be up at stupid-o-clock any more, my body clock has adjusted to sleeping in to about 7-7.30 now which is lovely.

We HAD been setting the heating to come on for an hour or so to give us hot water and take the chill off the boat but it'll not be long before the fire is in 24/7... which we're both looking forward to.  We've gotten one of those plastic garden storage trunks and put it back in amongst the bushes to the side of the boat - initially, I'd put sacks of coal in it but when one "walked" (thieving scrotums) I decided having it in lose might be a better idea - the time it takes to fill a sack/bucket/pockets or whatever might deter whomever it was from taking any more... failing that, I'll rig up some kind of electrocuting alarm lol.

The trouble with having the heating on is that the batteries get a bit of a hammering when they are at their lowest - ie in the dark early morning, after a nights use and BEFORE the solar kicks in.  Given we're still running on 3 that's probably not the best idea.

SO, in a bid to keep them alive for as long as possible, I've been experimenting with 'tiny fires'... so as not to heat the boat to unbearable temperatures but just make it comfortable - especially now the rear is door is open more with the cats coming and going.  

That may look pathetic but you'd be amazed at how much more comfortable the boat is with so few coals burning all day - on a night I chuck on a couple more and rather than closing it up, just leave it on full vent - by morning the lounge is still warm and only a few embers remain .  It's taken a bit of getting used to but I think we've capped it now... roll on the snow and ice so we can get a proper fire going.  

So - Lynch Pins...  I've had a devil of a job getting hold of any in Wakefield... it seems no one's ever heard of them...  we used them all the time at work doing the fairground stuff  - perhaps it's scary to think they are often all that's holding a swift (roof joist) in position on a waltzer or speedway but they do the job well.  

The reason I wanted a couple was for the cabin hooks on the rear hatch.  For the last few months, when closing the boat up from the inside for the night I've bolted the middle of the sliding hatch and engaged a cabin hook on either side door to hold it down.... this appeared to work OK - that is until the winds the other night ....  turns out that if the hatch was rattled REALLY hard (by wind or Mr. intruder) the cabin hook could work lose and fall out of the retaining hole - thus allowing the hatch to be lifted and free access to the back cabin - NOT something you'd want to happen when you were asleep in bed.

I'd been racking my brains as to how best to solve this when it occurred to me to drill a hole into the back doors and bung a lynch pin in to prevent the cabin hook dropping back.  

I didn't manage to actually find any in town but Gavin who I used to work with, brought me a couple from work as a favour -it'd have been nice if they'd matched but he couldn't find 2 the same, so for now, I'm just using the one but it does the trick.   I'll  attach a bit of chain to it and fix it to the door so it can't get lost.... when I get around to it. 

Until next time....

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Never mind Garlic bread... the future is Rhubarb Gin and we've tasted it...

Good morning.

I'm not going to harp on too much here - suffice to say my right hand is still quite sore... it's rather annoying as being left handed, (and having that one heal so easily) I'd assumed the right one would be a breeze.

NOW OK.  I did something stupid on Friday with it - I'd walked up to Boots to try and buy some more dressings (they didn't have any suitable) but as I left the store an old bird  a little old lady coming in stumbled towards me and I instinctively grabbed her to stop her falling to the floor... of course I used both hands but I must have subconsciously gotten used to protecting my left one - ergo, the right one took most of her weight...  within milliseconds the pain shot up my arm and the throbbing took hours to subside.

I think it's all right - I took off the padding to redress it later on and whilst there WAS a bit of blood on it, I don't think it was fresh.

Enough of that - suffice to say, it's all cleaned up again and bandaged back up for protection.

SO - Having decided we're both getting a bit chubby  festively plump, we're back to walking 8 miles a day and have worked out a pleasant circular route.  We go down the canal side to Foxholes, up the road in to Altofts, bear right and then cut along a bridal way along a wood side, round Newland hall (derelict), passed Kirkthorpe church , through some woodland , over the river and then back down the tow-path to our boat...  - according to Endomondo its 7.79 miles... which is close enough.  

More importantly, that burns off about 800 calories give or take.  Anyway, whilst on the first leg of our walk on Saturday, we noticed Claire (from the boat behind) and her friend Todd were chugging the same direction to have her boat blacked... we slowed down a bit, planning on opening the first couple of locks for them to speed their passage.  It turned out Todd's other half was already waiting at the lock to do that anyway so we carried on and shortly afterwards bumped into a chap called Paul.  He was one of the slingers who helped with the craning in of Ellis last October.   We got chatting  as you do and he mentioned he'd recently bought some Rhubarb and Ginger Gin from a shop in Castleford and wholeheartedly recommended it... we made a mental note and carried on along our way.

On our return,  we went gin shopping!


It's rather nice... a slow drinker as for full benefit it's best neat on ice but at only 20% vol that's ok.

Flavour wise, you get the rhubarb first and then after a few moments, the ginger kicks in.  It's nice!

WHILST shopping, we also tried some Elderflower gin... that's rather nice too.  The rest of the day is somewhat hazy lol 😆

. . . . . . . 

Boat wise, Andy got a phone call from Eric (next door neighbour at the bungalow) to say a package had arrived for me.  It turned out to be the consumables for the next couple of services from Calcutt boats.  2 oil filters and 1 each of diesel and air filters (they get switched on alternate oil changes)...

It's handy having a sensible postman - he posts "mail" as normal to the old address for us to collect from the tenant but has the common sense to leave packages with the either Sheila or Eric either side and they let us know... it's working out quite well,

Remember that prototype porthole shutter I made in the bedroom many moons ago?https://narrowboatellis.blogspot.co.uk/2017/01/porthole-shutter-prototype-and-waste-bin.html

Well I've finally gotten around to taking them off, fitting magnets into the mdf and removing the pointless catch ...

FINALLY the porthole at the end of the bed can be left open all day to increase ventilation.  We're keen not to let the cats into the bedroom as I really have no desire to share my pillow with a cat's derrière  - hence why the bedroom door remains closed.  

Until next time...

Friday, 15 September 2017

Carpal Tunnel round 2 and counting your blessings...

Yesterday was much more organised at the hospital than the previous visit - perhaps because I knew what to expect but an admission time of 4.00pm and post op discharge of 6.05pm really was quite good going - especially as I was 2nd in the list.

I really do need to get back to healthy eating  - since stopping working I've put on over a stone which is neither flattering or helpful to my wardrobe... I'm stuck in my "fat clothes" at the moment and given my delusional optimistic thinning out of clothing when we moved on to the boat proper, there are only a few things that fit... time to increase the daily walking me thinks!

Anyway - When I got into the shared room yesterday, I was soon joined by a chap called David, having the same procedure... HIS first time with his second hand to be done in  a few weeks.  This poor fella looked terrible - clearly exhausted and carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders.  

We got chatting as you do and it was good to be able to reassure him about the recovery time first hand (no pun intended)... he was quite nervous but MORE concerned about how soon he'd be able to drive...  that was a bit odd given he was clearly retired but as our conversation progressed I reassured him that when I had my first one done, I felt safe to drive after a couple of days using my finger tips... it's your body tells you what it can (and more importantly can't) do.   It transpired that his concern was due to the fact his wife was in hospital - has been for 6 weeks and he needs to be able to drive to visit her...  

He went on to explain she has terminal cancers pretty much all over ... including anus, kidneys, lungs and spine - in short, she's on her way out and he wants to be able to be with her when the end comes... preferably in a hospice which the palliative care team are currently trying to arrange for them.  The wife is a fighter and refuses to give in just yet he said, she is fully aware time is running out but she is putting a brave face on things - for his sake he thinks.  David openly said were he in her shoes, he'd end things himself...  our conversation then went on to euthanasia and how much BETTER it would have been for the country to have a referendum on legalising that rather then to leave the EU.

It's true -   at least giving the country a chance to vote on something we understand would have been a far better idea than asking us to vote on something very few understand the implications of.

Without exception, every conversation I've ever had about the right to chose when to end our own lives has ended in agreement... I can't believe no potential government has had the bottle to put it in their manifesto.

Between us, we came up with an idea of recruiting help to finish our selves off should the need ever arise.  Macabre though it may appear, it's actually a sensible thing to do - acquire a suitable amount of something that would  send you to sleep forever but put it somewhere innocent looking so you could ask a friend/neighbour/relative to bring you WITHOUT them knowing anything was afoot - thus reducing the potential risk of them being prosecuted for assisting....  

Now OK, so neither of us understand the law in this area but it is something worth bearing in mind if the need should ever arise.

BACK to the op - I won't lie...  this time it bloody hurts  is more painful than before.  Even though I took a reasonable amount of good painkillers before retiring, it was a rather bad night.  This morning, it's throbbing and I'm trying to keep it elevated... by tomorrow, it'll be much better I'm sure.

In comparison to poor David's wife I have absolutely NOTHING to complain about...  so I won't.  In fact, I think I'll put a jacket on and go outside and play ball (using my bad, good hand) with Daisy.. she's always pleased for someone to throw her tennis ball... on her terms I'll grant you - it's a battle of wills in regards HOW close to me she'll drop it - her preferring to have ME get up and meet her half way.  

She usually wins!

Until next time...