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Thursday, 14 January 2021

Why are 'dates' so significant? - stalled dieting (it must be hormonal) and tlc.

 I'll get this out of the way - I've been watching the calendar creep  up slowly to today's date - (14th)... it's the 2nd anniversary of Joyce's death.   I presume my brother and father have been doing the same... and probably her brother too (I suppose I could have just said 'other members of my family) ... I can't believe it's 2 years already... it certainly doesn't feel like 2 years have passed.  I still quite often make mental notes to phone her about something that's just happened/or is planed "later" - only to be jerked back to reality.  Most odd.  I'm no further down the road of understanding grief - all that 'five stages' stuff and it being fluid etc. perhaps finally making a little  more sense but not in a useful way.  It does annoy me that my dreams vary from back in the family home as a child to those of an crematorium worker (no idea what their job title is) who's having trouble getting the 'oven' (for want of a better term) to light.... MOST odd... Anyway -  mum, if you are reading this waffle, just know that dad is lonely but managing and (as you know) remains just as stubborn but selfless as ever... you've also missed nothing by dying as last year was a total bummer for everyone and this year isn't looking much better either! x  

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I'm approaching my 2nd 'weights and measures' day tomorrow and (me being me) couldn't resist a quick early viewing... I wish I hadn't - I'm stalled completely... ergo, I've not budged an ounce in 6 days now - unless today is some kind of miracle, when I write down the figs tomorrow, they are going to be exactly the same.  No Ok - I've NOT just been drinking the slop - I've been having 2 meals of slop during the day followed by a nice tea.  Perhaps I've skipped the 'losing' stages and gone straight to 'maintenance' - hmmf.

It might

 be a portion control 
 that's to blame - but I can't sleep when I'm hungry so unless I go to bed, half an hour after I've eaten tea (that's dinner/supper to you southern folks), I lay away feeling miserable... ADD Dry January to the mix and it's a pretty long night!

Oh well - perhaps if I'd measured thighs, belly and boobs I might have a hidden reduction... I suppose I'll never know .... what I DO know is that I too can be a stubborn bugger (like my dad) and will keep at the regime and see what the end of week 3 brings in 8 days time.  My liver if nothing else will be pleased with the break from gin.

MID January is a miserable time for everyone - the 'news' (if you can call it that) - most of it's lazy reporting about bugger all... making a fuss cause Boris went 7 miles away from home on a bike ride...- Radio 2 even debating it on their lunchtime show (which I generally turn off cause it really does let the whole schedule down)...  Anyone over the age of 4 who's ever ridden a bike - certainly for exercise knows you can cover 50+ miles quite easily.  My "walking" is quite often 7 miles away from the boat in one direction before I turn back.    Poor news (or lack of news) reporting really is diluting the reputation of the beeb which is a shame.  

The weather is crap, lots of people have historical family deaths in their minds and daylight is severely lacking... add covid into the mix and I'm surprised folks aren't jumping in front of trains! - perhaps they might be, were we not 'locked down' !

Still, there is a little light at the end of the tunnel (although it feels like Harecastle with the doors shut behind us at the moment)  with vaccinations... delivery of them still a concern but things can only get better... surely!

When the weather permits, I'm still out walking 10-14 miles a day... alas, I'm not good a walking in the rain.  RAIN does mean however, that I feel obliged to do "inside jobs" - Yesterday, I gave the bulkhead above the bathroom basin and hull sides a bit of TLC.  The wood was looking a bit tarnished with 'splash marks' so I sanded it down and gave it 3 coats of morrells - it's hard to see from the photos, but it has made a big difference. 

 Today, (it's hammering down again) the walking might get skipped or reduced to 5 miles) I might do the ceiling as that is looking worse for wear too.

After that, I'll turn my attention to the rear steps - which you'll recall last winter I painted Grey - well, what with the 'non-slip' granules, they've proven VERY hard to keep clean - ego, they are now going to be painted black so the foot fall doesn't show quite so much.

Until next time...

Sunday, 10 January 2021

TV troubles, website still sulking and Dry January endures...oh and I Do miss having a vice!

 It's true - most of my life I've had a place where I could either clamp a vice to (easily) or access to one without TOO long a journey...  These days, now I'm not working in the fairground unit and no longer have my own garage, it's one of those things I set out to buy... then remember a) a nice  good one will be expensive/big/heavy b) Trying to find a home for it on the boat will be a pain, c) I  in theory  I don't REALLY need one -  MOST of the time that's true but trust me... I've lost count of the amount of times doing a 'little job' (that's turned into bigger one or a repair from something I broke during the little one) I think "THIS would be SO Much easier with a vice"...

Why am I waffling on about this? - I'll explain.   Outside at the back of the boat, I've got 4 folding steps that I use to climb up on the roof or get a higher view point - the higher view point being needed when the flowers on the roof grow taller than my line of sight.   They are also useful as a foot rest when chugging along in a seated position.

It's been suggested by a few guests - generally ones with shorter legs, that some kind of  longer foot rest might be helpful for them.  EVER the amenable host *read don't have much cash but have plenty of time atm*,  I've come up with a simple and (more importantly) economic solution to the problem;  10mm reinforced steel bar between to two rests either side. 

BACK in fairground days this would have been a 2 min, easy fix... for free - in any workshop there is always a pile of left over bits of steel/wood etc. that has NO cost associated to it directly as it's already been paid for during whatever 'build' it related to - I'd simply ask my boss if it was ok (and I always did btw ... ask the boss) and then cobble something together using scrap.   

These days it's not so easy - especially NOW that we're all back in 'Lock down' again (I'll moan about that later) .    In a bid to get this done however, I was chatting with the accounts manager at the marina I'm temporarily trapped in the other day and she mentioned they had a vice (of course really) in their back room.  Thing is - I understand 'business is business' and whilst perfectly capable of heating and bending a bit of steel bar to requirements .... well it's just not 'cricket' is it? THEY have to earn a living too.    I know they'd' be perfectly willing to get a couple of lengths of bar and do it but in an attempt to be helpful, I've ordered some from eBay (grand total of a tenner) that will be delivered to a 'click and collect' point about a mile away and I feel sure they will bend it for a few beer tokens.  I'll report back when it's done.

That was a lot of waffle to say "I'm making a couple of simple foot rests for the back of the boat" wasn't it? - hmmm!  MIND you, I suppose with us all in the same boat (no pun) in regards 2021's National lock down, I suppose it doesn't matter.

We're 10 days in to January now and of course that means I've not had a gin for (what feels like months) 10 days now...  ODDLY, for a change I'm not missing it. I don't generally do Dry January AND a starvation diet at the same time.  This year, given how tubby I've become (starting weight 14 stone 2 and 5/8ths - don't you  just love accurate scales?) SOMETHING had to be done.

The thing is, because I'm SO SO SO SO SO hungry all the time (my belly tells me every 2 hours it needs something to do), I've sort of forgotten that I'm missing having a drink  - the hunger pangs 'top-trumping' the booze cravings I suppose.  

My Body fat % WASN'T as high as I expected it to be - 22% ... ANYWAY - after a week of drinking vanilla creosote (Thank you Ms. Wood Rip) I'm down to 13 stone 7 and 1/4. - a 9lb loss in week one which I'm very pleased about.   

The scales ALSO keep track of Water %, BMI and Muscle %. so I'm making sure the water stays level (well actually it's gone up a bit cause I'm drinking GALLONS daily ), muscle increases and BMI goes down... ALL of which are on track  - I'm not naïve enough to think I can maintain this loss however...  no - IF I can shift another 3-4 lbs in week 2 I'll be very pleased but not disillusioned if it's less ... my aim is for the 1st stone to be off by the end of Jan.  Historically, I COULD lose weight faster - alas, my exercise at the moment is restricted to 10 miles a day walking... my knees/back won't take any more vigorous punishment.  IN fact, if I'm honest, they are already grumbling a fair bit as it is!

82.96 miles up until last night since the 1st... not bad really.

Don't' worry btw- I'm not relying on the "slop" totally - having realized it's not a true ketogenic regime, I'm having some normal food each day too AND eating frozen grapes and honeydew melon as an evening treat.  

IN other news (this is a boaty blog apparently) - I'm still having problems with the website...  Since I clicked on something to do with dynamic pages when I tried creating a template for the 2022  cruise diary, every time I try and change something on the 2021 listings, it replicated throughout 22... it's proper pain in the arse and I only have myself to blame... Trying to be clever in the first place... I should have just stuck to solo pages and applied the KISS principle (Keep it simple stupid).  You live and learn - well except I don't... I keep repeating mistakes cause my memory is that of an old gimmer these days.

Whilst it's annoying, it doesn't really matter as I keep a manual record of who's booked for what etc - THAT said, with things as they are, folks are (understandably) reluctant to commit to much for the year ahead .... we may have 3 vaccines approved now but getting everyone jabbed is never going to be a quick process - especially given the lack of trust most folks have in the government's ability to do... ANYTHING.  Too much red tape as usual.   There HAS been talk about using dentists and pharmacists etc. which I think is great but I'd be happy to include VETS and not rule out famers!  Whatever  methods are employed it just needs to be as fast as possible if there is any hope of saving 100's of 1000's of businesses thus livelihoods from going down the pan.  

It's odd though - when Boris came on the telly box the other night and  kept his hands firmly gripped together whilst saying whatever it was he said,  a 2 month possible 3, national lock down was about to start,  my brain just thought 'oh well -' and that was that.  I think the term is brain-washing conditioning... January on a boat, unable to move easily, ALWAYS feels like a lockdown anyway... it's miserable for the most part.  OK, there are a few bright days when you actually FEEL like having a chug but for the most part, it's an endurance... ergo, a 'National Lockdown' doesn't really make bugger all difference - if anything, it just give folks who live in houses a feeling of what January CAN be like living on a boat lol... with exception they don't have to still fill up with water, empty their poo tanks and consider how much heating fuel you've got in.  That isn't a moan btw - even when I'm trudging along the towpath, trying to de-ice a frozen tap and hosepipe, I STILL love my life (and day dream of warmer days ahead)...  HAVING to try and get somewhere though on a deadline with Icy stretches really isn't nice.

This winter, with lockdown in place again,  CRT have suspended the 2 week ruling for continuous cruisers which is fair enough.  It's shame however there will always be the odd few that think THEY can stay on water points/service areas during this time - boaters on the whole being a good bunch, as in any facet of society, there'll always be a few that that take liberties and are inconsiderate towards others.

It's time to get my arse outside and do some walking - it IS getting boring but has to be done.

Remind me to explain about the TV trouble  when I'm next here as  I've run out of time this morning.

Until next time...


Monday, 4 January 2021

USB Led's, Diet Christmas Gifts and New Years Chugging in the snow...

 Happy new year and all that malarkey  Personally, I fear 2021 is not going to be much "use" to most of us until enough people are vaccinated against covid... with just yesterday Boris alluding to "stronger measures"... mark my words, there will be army on the street with guns - once they've all gotten into strategic locations around the country under the guise of "helping with mass testing in schools" - ... or have we abandoned that idea now... I forget... TOO many different messages, coming from too many sources.

I think this picture someone sent me via what's app, just about covers  where things might end up before too long:

ANYWAY - back to NYE - AS predicted, I'd gone off to bed by around 10pm - having decided there was bugger all on "real" TV really worth watching, I plugged into Netflix for something or other - it's all a bit vague due to the need to finish off all the booze on the boat how engrossed I was watching the fireworks through the porthole at the foot of the bed !

Talk about loud, I think a fare comparison may be Beirut... the amount of seemingly pointless "banging" ones never ending.  OK ... I realize I'm turning (if not already turned) into a curmudgeonly old git but as I laid ( - or is that an egg?) there, I couldn't help but think HOW much money was being set on fire by families... perhaps parents under social pressure to keep up with the Jones's or compelled to ensure 'Fifi-Tricabelle or Tarquin- Bartholomew' had a 'normal' NYE.   Either way, at the end of the day, I struggled to get away from the base line of them simply setting MONEY on fire which could have been put to better use ... for all of us .  JUDGEMENTS a side, (and with earplugs in muffling out the worst of the noise) - I did perhaps enjoy the  (free for me) show a tiny , tiny bit.

God I'm a contradictory so and so.

 . . . . . . . . . . . 

I don't know why I compartmentalized this section from the once above as it does relate to New Years ???  (nor do I know the correct grammatical term for doing so)... OH WELL.

Like a big kid, when it snows, I love being out and about it in - (less so when driving obviously) ... actually I DO like driving in it but only if I'm the only person on the roads....

SO - I think it was NYE when we awoke to a lovely inch (yes ladies that is a TRUE inch) I got clobbered up and decided to go for a chug... OBVIOUSLY in search of a tap/services and STILL within the Tier in which I 'm stranded before anyone thinks about grassing me up.  There was a thin layer of Ice on the canal but nowhere near as bad as it had been previously.   On this occasion, rather than turning Left, I turned right and headed off towards Sale ....with HALF a mind to spend NYE in Lymm.... the biting cold (clearly I hadn't put on enough layers) had gotten to me within about an hour and half so I pulled over, had a warm (with lunch) and then turned at the earliest opportunity.  To be honest, I wa already getting sick of tow-path walkers shouting "Happy New Year" every 20 foot or so (the curmudgeon already set in for the day)  - no matter... I took a few nice snowy shots as we chugged along

The return journey brightened up a bit with a slight thaw - in fact at one point it was raining.  Still, I'd enjoyed the chug (albeit brief) and look forward to the next snowy day ... when hopefully Ill remember to wear long johns a base layer.

As we'd been chugging along, the bosun had opened the last of our fizzy stuff and by the time we'd gotten back to the pontoon - expertly reversed I might add (ergo no wind OR audience) it was agreed we'd have a 'last supper' before the impending 2 months of misery.

It was then my "Xmas present" was discussed - we'd been avoiding it for a while.   I didn't get any presents again this year from anyone other than our Christmas guest (she gave me a comedy gift - overnight oat recipe book ... mainly cause I 've moaned about not liking them so many times when she's been onboard and THEN done a U turn and decided they were the future).   SO - Santa's "joint gift" was this years (last years now I suppose) "famed diet plan" - ergo, a 2 weeks meal replacement plan for us both to kick-start our slimming with a ketogenic regime.  What that means is eating 'slop'  that is supposedly nutritionally balanced but which allows the body to use fat stores rather than glycols as an energy source.    THAT is the claim.  HOWEVER, having done  'hard core' Atkins many years ago, I suspect this isn't actually the case as far as our plan is concerned - the amount of 'carbs' in each 'meal' being too high... I Think it's actually just a very  calorie restrictive regime for people who can't be bothered/struggle to calorie count.     

Oh how i already miss "proper food" - THAT said, for the sake of 2 weeks of misery, we ARE both going to stick to it and see how much blubber we can kick start - if nothing else, our stomachs will get used to smaller portions (portion control being my biggest failing) and what with that AND the DRY January, it can only be an overall good thing for my (now aging) blubbering body.  I've taken photos of the scales and tweeted them to keep me incentivized. 

It may sound like masochism, but I'm using the time I'd usually spend cooking, planning 'meal prep' menus that can be containerized and stored in the fridge/freezer a few days in advance - it's amazing the variety (and inexpensiveness if that's a word) you can come up with - especially if using a lot more veg than previously.  

Obviously, it's going to have a positive effect on 'guest menus' too...  perhaps we might even begin offering  "Health and wellness Cruises" - ... mind you, a couple who came across the Rochdale canal with me a couple of years ago ALREADY described the  journey as a "walking holiday over the Pennines" (I'm paraphrasing here but you get the jist) . It made me laugh at the time.

. . . . . . . . . . . 

BACK to boaty improvements for a moment - the other week my friend Wendy sent me a photo (and link) to some USB  Led lights she'd gotten for her boat.  NOT so much as a festive decoration but simply additional lighting.  Armed with her link (and advice to try white over warm white) I ordered a couple of sets.  For the money, they are really good... usb (so can only draw 1.1amp max - I WILL wire in a meter at some point to check) and provide 100 lights on a 33ft string.  

I've just put them back and forth until they ran out either side under the lounge SORRY, Saloon gunwales.  (100 each side) .  I even felt quite smug having already been organized enough to have USB sockets in both places to avoid trailing wires.  

They EVEN come with a remote control (which works both sides at once) which allows  various "twinkly" patterns or JUST ON - (with a dimmable option) - suffice to say, when I'm sitting to starboard, they add just enough light to read without putting on "the big light" or faffing round with the flexible usb ones that I'm forever getting wedged behind my chair.

Alas, during the fitting procedure, I DID rather clumsily break my long serving Bosch glue gun - the nib had been bent a long while but it ended up "benter" ... however, on trying to straighten it, it snapped off and that was that.  A quick wander to poundland and it was replaced with a 2 quid one that may be crappy quality but it DID let me finish the job.  

Thinking back , it's over a year since I used the glue gun anyway so perhaps a diddy one will do...  watch this space... if the lights all fall down, we'll know I should have gone to screw fix and bought a better one with better glue.

Right - I can't sit here typing all day - I've got 10 miles to walk to keep the 'blubber' burning - I've got old photos pasted to the fridge & larder doors to remind me (should a moment of weakness occur) WHY I need to stick to it. 

Until next time...

Wednesday, 30 December 2020

Ice-Breaking, Christmas Cruise & Website woes (again)...

 Website woes are beginning to become an annual 'given' -  Remember this time last year when 'GoDaddy' forced me into upgrading to their "new product" ... only to find after I'd spent weeks de-doing the website that I wasn't allowed to have more than 50 pages?  Having had a strop about that at the time and then transferring to Wix, I naively thought my woes were over.   Clearly that was a dream!

WHY does it have to be so complicated/restrictive?... I mean, all I was trying to do was use one page as a template to use in order to duplicate a cruise from 2021 to 2022... simple enough you'd think eh?

Wrong!  Wix "dynamic pages" (whatever that is supposed to mean) has other ideas.  Instead of just letting my create a new one, it flagged up something about using too many static pages, TOLD me there was a better way to do it - and THEN promptly left me reading through "HELP PAGES" (an oxymoron if ever there was one) to try and find out HOW!  As it stands, as soon as I publish the next cruise, it applies the formatting to the donor page - thus replacing "Fully Booked" with " Details & Booking" (which is what the NEW page created from the template/duplicate NEEDS to say.

Are you keeping up at the back there?

In short (or should that be long?) it's a blooming good job I have a proper system "on paper" ... and by that I mean a 2021 diary that I write bookings in as soon as they've come in so I know what's what.  


I suppose it's not all bad - perhaps a double booking might be a good thing - an introductory service for solo travelers... so long as they are happy to bunk up and share a bed lol.... I'm joking ! *thinks of a way to divide a kingsize bed down the middle*...

ANYWAY - back to the plot (as tenuous as ever I think you'll find)... you may recall a while back, financial necessity (i.e. 'Ellis' needs new batteries before the next season begins) suggested I put on a couple of  'festive specials'....  Of course Boris with his multi-tier status pretty much put paid to that idea (what are we up to now I forget - tier 34?)... what he didn't take into account however was that  US and a returning GUEST had 'saved' our original 'support' bubble so as to be able to guarantee a 70th birthday cruise back in September... and as that 'bubble' remained in place, there was no reason why we couldn't take our Christmas trip (regardless of any last minute amendments ) so long as we remained within the boundaries of our present tier (it may as well be tear tbh).    

SO, Xmas eve arrived along with our guest who brought with her the nicest mince-pies and Christmas cake I've ever had.  I've never really LIKE mince pies - in fact, I think it's probably 10 years since I last tried one to prove to myself that I don't like them... tastes change and now it appears I DO like them... (well these at least) and off we chugged - Gluwhein in hands.

The original plan HAD been to spend Xmas eve in Castlefield basin - pretty much so we could go to the pub and people watch... alas, "tier 3" meant no pubs were open so it would be a pretty much miserable place to be ... with only train noise for company.  THAT plan abandoned, we turned left at 'Waters Meeting' and chugged on to Worsley.  Having tied up outside a (closed) Hotel, we settled down for a Christmas Eve with plenty of wine/cake and 'nice-ness'.  

It made a lovely change to have a REASON to have a Christmas - not since I was a child have I found it pleasurable ... Then it was a lovely magical time when even my father who seemed to work 24/7 was able to pause, spend time with us and even do a jigsaw.  SINCE childhood however, it's just been a few office xmas **ss ups and miserable feelings.

This year however, with a purpose, it felt lovely... good company, nice food and drink and being the envy of folks walking along the towpath - all having a nosey in the boat as we sat snug (and smug) inside with the fire blazing and our glasses regularly full.

When we awoke on Christmas Day morning, the canal had frozen over slightly but it didn't appear thick enough to remove too much blacking... or at least not where we were - the reality being that once around the corner, it became about half an inch thick and by then we were committed (or should that be we SHOULD have been committed?) ... oh well.  Looks like it's gonna have to be done again next year anyway.

I suppose at it's worst, it was about half an inch thick which whilst not too bad, really did slow us down on our journey.  

We still made it to our destination (Pennington Flash) shortly after lunch and on turning round at Plank Lane marina, bumped into a couple of boaters we know from the Leeds & Liverpool canal... Neil the fender making man and his lovely wife who I can't for the life of me remember what she's called...  They were hunkered down making use of some hedgerows shelter in preparation for Storm Bella .

We turned, and went back to the nicest view point of the flash and (having firmly banged in pins) I set to cooking Christmas dinner whilst Chrissie went for a walk and the bosun tried a few Ariel shots with his drone... turns out, minus 1 degrees doesn't half gobble up battery power so that was a short lived experience.

Whilst dinner was cooking (Leg of Lamb, Gammon Joint and more veggies than were really required) we had a few drinks, watched 'Liz' on the telly (or was it a zoom call - I can't recall ;-) ) and eventually had our dinner around teatime.

Once we were satiated (and the washing up done) it was time for silliness... "pass the sprout" should have been more fun than it was... the previous time this was enjoyed being 4 years previous at Sally's xmas afternoon party"... ALAS, either I bought the wrong thing, or it's been dumbed down now to little more than "cracker jokes & paper hats".....hmmf.

Oh well... given how the rest of 2020 has been, it was only to expected .

Boxing day needed to be a good start due to the weather forecast - Chrissie was on Breakfast duty and once we were full, I got all clobbered up with appropriate external clothing ... only to find that it was no where near as "bad" as the forecasters had been saying it would be...

In fact a nice chug back to Manchester - stopping off briefly for a cheese and biscuit lunch and few glasses of wine.  The predicted weather eventually arriving during the night.

To summarize, for someone who really doesn't like Christmas fuss, it was the nicest one I've experienced for many years... certainly since the last time I was away on a cruise over the holiday season - I DO miss cruise ships... then again I suppose, I now LIVE on one full time (albeit a tiny one) lol.

See you next year - enjoy your "night in"... I shall be in bed with ear plugs by 10pm and then ready to begin Dry January  *quivers*... AND  a hard 2 months ahead to try and shift the blubber 2020 has helped me pile on - 2 stone needs to be gone by the start of the boating season... I think it's fair to say I shall be VERY grumpy for a while now as I don't "do" hungry very well.

Happy New Year - 

Until next time...

Tuesday, 22 December 2020

Well THAT'S shown me... Recovering rear seating, experimental Sour-dough and Good Customer Service

 Ok - moving on from my recent rant, I ask you forgive me... I'm over that episode now - having experienced some 'good' behavior towards a soul in need since i got carried away.

Let me explain.  Last night, on the way back from a local "Premier" click and collect service place, I came across an unconscious chap - sprawled half over the towpath and into the hedge row.  At first glance (in the dark/rain) I sort of assumed someone had partaken of a bit too much xmas spirit on the way home from doing the shopping (he had a few carrier bags laying around him) and was sleeping it off... then it dawned on me that being in Tier 3, no where is open so he couldn't have done.. As I got a bit closer , I noticed the rear light of a cyclist turning left on the path ahead and also that the chap on the floor didn't look like the usual sort of person who might take drugs and end up in a self inflicted stupor.

I checked for a pulse and once my useless numb fingers had located his carotid artery, was relieved he was at least alive.  I tried to rouse him for a few seconds before digging out my phone to call 999.  Even as I was doing it, under my breath I was berating the afore mentioned cyclist for "walking cycling  on by" - no sooner had I started dialing, did said cyclist reappear and explained he'd already called for help and an ambulance was parked just round the corner at the end of Marland Way....he'd gone to meet them to explain where the patient was.  That was a relief and also a shark reminder that folks ARE generally good sorts when it's required of them.  As the paramedics arrived, I carried on my way - safe in the knowledge this poor soul who/whomever he was would be in good hands now.

It did give me butterflies in my stomach for a while though.  POINT is, despite all the "Covid in the air" both the cyclist and I acted instinctively  in the best interest of others...and that is how we should be.

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OK - Stepping off my soap box again, back in boaty land, I've been pottering - getting on with little jobs here and there when the weather has allowed.  Being in Greater Manchester whilst quite useful, it does mean poor old Ellis is experiencing a LOT of rain.  This has been a real pain as many of the jobs I'd like to be getting on with, require dry weather.

That said (well written), a gap in the clouds DID mean I could (rather roughly I admit) get around to applying some more padding to the new rear seats/backrests i made last winter.  

Whilst the water tank was filling, I took the old guest duvet out of storage and decided rather than spend 12 quid in a launderette washing it, I'd buy a new one for next season... thus freeing up the hollow fibres for 'padding' purposes.  

It was the first time I'd used my new mains-powered Staple gun... it can fire MUCH bigger staples than it's rechargeable predecessor.  Alas, it is also a LOT fussier about when it fires... grrr.  Still, in no time, I'd added a layer of padding and stapled new black leatherette over to cover it.  It's not the PRETTIEST/NEATEST job but it will certainly do for another year.

Continuing with the 'Good News'  another very productive and positive Day was had on 'Ellis' last week.

I bought a pair of decent walking boots around this time last year... which failed by March so I took them back to Go-Outdoors in Pudsey for an exchange ... well, the exchanged pair ALSO failed in the same areas( sole coming apart from the uppers various other failed areas of stitching.  A lovely sunny start for a change so I decided to take the boat in to Castlefield Basin *rather than walk all the way to Go Outdoors and back*... Having looked through my receipts from earlier in the year for the Merrell Boot receipt, It wasn't with the (now sealed up) March receipts folder - I pondered a while and decided to log on, do a click and collect of the boots and suck it up so to speak...

SO, I booked a click and collect for 1 pair of size 9 boots the same "model" as the ones I had (moab), noticing the sole (which is the main bit that failed) had changed a little to the sort of rubber used on Squash trainers....

ANYWAY - having chugged into Castfield and then walked the now much shorter distance to Ancoates, there I Was in the shop with new boots on the counter and about to pay the now lower price of £95 quid... Chatting away with the girl on the till as you do, I mentioned that I had planned on returning the pair on my feet for exchange but couldn't find my receipt so rather than have a fight, decided to get a new pair and suck it up... the premise being, that when you find a paid of walking boots that suit your feet, it's best to stick with them.... (the amount of times I've tried switching and ended up with sore feet being a REAL waste of money)...
She volunteered to look up my purchase history on my discount card and low and behold, within seconds, the March exchange was there and she had to call a supervisor to "inspect" the boots on my feet... at which point, it was agreed they had failed in several places and they would give me the new pair free gratis as an exchange.

That was number 1 good thing... number 2 was that because the boot model had dropped in price since I paid for them, they THEN gave me a gift card to the value of the difference (valid for 12 months) - talk about surprised... I'd given up on the idea of exchanging them cause I don't like a fight and tbh, it's rarely the Staffs fault (although some folks seem to thing it IS)..
So there we have it... a very good service from Go -Outdoors with exceptional staff going above and beyond during difficult times.

Walking back in my new boots, the wind and rain in my face (this is Manchester don't forget) seemed irrelevant.

Irrelevant that was, until Id chugged back to the Marina and then had to reverse on to the pontoon with the wind side on. NO MATTER - I handled the boat as if she had a girlie button and all was well with the world.

Inspired by my (unusual) good fortune, I decided to make some bread - if the truth be known, I'd forgotten to buy a loaf when I Was out so figured I'd try one of the sourdough ready mixes I'd had in the cupboard for a while.  I think they are bit of a cheat in that whilst they do give a lovely taste and claim to contain a 10% rye starter - they ALSO contain yeast to 'cheat'.  No matter, the outcome was a lovely tasting loaf that was eaten in no time.

I'll certainly buy the ready-mix again as it stayed "moist" a lot longer than my usual home-made loaves do.

meanwhile - I am not going to comment much about Boris's "U" turn at the weekend... suffice to say, i have a nasty feeling that by the middle of January next year, with the "army" being deployed to carry out mas covid testing at schools, there will be enough boots on the ground - perhaps with guns handy to FORCE the population to do as they are told... it's a scary thought in 2020/21 how many freedoms our parents took for granted are being eroded as we sleep walk into whatever it is we are sleep walking in to.

Don't get me wrong - I understand, it's serious and it's all about NOT overpowering the NHS but at what other costs??? - I suppose the real damage being done will not be known for many years.

On that note I'll finish now and wish you - Merry Christmas... and if you and any other consenting adults wish to eat your xmas lunch together and your nan is happy for a hug...I'll not be one to jump on the 'berating band wagon'.... use your common sense and so long as any "family/close friend unit" are consenting - who you eat sprouts with and watch crappy telly with is your business...not anyone elses.

Until next time...

Tuesday, 15 December 2020

Human Kindness verses Self obsessed modern life...a bit of a rant

What on earth is going on with the world at the moment?


Where has ‘humanity’ gone? … Where has ‘Kindness’ gone? … WHY are SO many people (mainly Daily Mail readers I suspect) behaving in such a self- centred way?

WHEN was the last time  YOU did something kind for the benefit of someone else? – hmmm? – I don’t mean grandiose gestures JUST something kind… that might make a difference to whatever internal HELL someone else is going through?

If you are struggling to remember  - then quite frankly… whilst NOT wishing to be a virtue signaler, it’s time you got off your arse, went for a walk and used your eyes to see the frailty around you.  It’s really easy to make a difference to someone’s day – a simple “Hello – what awful weather*can be substituted with; Isn’t it lovely the sun is out for a change*”… it’s all about connecting with someone who isn’t as lucky as you are to be ‘settled’.  Someone who perhaps HAS worked extremely hard – perhaps continues to do so, in extremely challenging times with nothing but despair at the end of THEIR tunnels, in comparison to your lot.  Just think about it and try and walk a mile in THEIR shoes without looking down your nose thinking “well we/I had it hard too” bollocks… cause that’s what it is is… all bollocks. 

I am probably as FAR as you can get from a socialist but I AM a humanist /empath and other people’s pain can be crushing.    By pain I mean “real pain”- perhaps subjectively … certainly not self pity pain or the kind of  “My life is more important than your life or feelings so I’m going to protect myself in a bubble because I can”… sometimes to the detriment of the people around you (if you are lucky enough to have anybody or that you’ve not pushed away) who cares about you and WANT to see you… give you a hug perhaps – REGARDLESS of whether Boris says you are allowed to or not ffs.

Many folks are SO compliant with  the government GUIDANCE that they are no longer able to make their OWN sensible decisions – in short, they’ve been  brainwashed into avoiding their families for fear they might  contract covid and die.  YEAH – some do/have/will… many wont… quite frankly  I know if my mum was alive still, she’d willingly take the risk for one last hug with either my brother   or I (me or/and my brother however it should be written) whether it killed her or not.   I suppose that is maternal instinct… good parenting and you’ve either got it or you haven’t.

I suspect it’s mass brain-washing… people susceptible to the trite they read in the likes of the Daily Mail *Other completely bigoted newspapers ARE available but rarely considered by those already brain-washed enough to read the DM in the first place*…  people who claim to have enough education and ‘life’ experience to consider themselves ‘well informed’ have become – for want of a more eloquent expression; Self obsessed sheeple!

It’s a shame - it really is… SOME folks beyond the age of 70 *already if you think in biblical terms  *past their ‘3 score years and 10’  demonizing anyone trying to get on with  life.  Oh it’s ok for them… sometimes sitting in their  (certainly  in many cases) financial ‘ivory towers’ to be demanding “stricter measures” to stifle the spread of Sars 2 … these measures being MORE full lock downs.  DON’T they get it? – THEY DON’T WORK….  All they do is SLOW things down enough for the Hospitals to be able to (to some extent) cope with the numbers of people who need medical assistance to either recover from it… or die.

Sadly,  MANY equally life threatening –(for many younger people, still with families to bring up) are getting side-lined because of it…I totally “GET” the government’s stance… it would just be easier if they would/could openly say, we CANNOT protect everyone and ensure no one dies… life isn’t like that… ALL we can do is mitigate the speed at which it spreads… and EVEN WITH A VACINE – which they are already saying might prevent you from contracting it, will NOT STOP you spreading it – ergo, we may as well all right off 2021 and your kids/grandchildren can look forward to massive taxes for the duration of their working lives… anyone under 30 – perhaps 40 (who hasn’t already been fortunate to secure a mortgage) can abandon any idea of being able to OWN their own homes  - instead, a life time of perpetual renting is pretty much written in stone for them.  In short – it sucks MORE for the younger folks than It does for the oldies.

Before I offend ALL my demographic here,  the above RANT has come about because of conversations I have been having with the disillusioned folks I take the time to talk to when I’m out and about  - NOT for altruistic reasons … I’m the first to admit to being lonely… I AM lonely.. I spend WAY too much time on my own and I hate spending time alone… it’s toxic.  I walk for miles each day and for my own SELFISH reasons talk to people… ‘cause I crave interaction with others – in the selfish hope that by listening to their problems/ perception of the world today,  it makes mine seem less important.  Alas, that doesn’t always happen… in fact, more often than not, I head back to the boat full of THEIR worries on top of my own…. Still, tomorrow is ALWAYS another day but if I should die in my sleep, it doesn’t really matter.  UNLIKE the young fellow I spent some time talking with today.  He’s only in his mid 30s – parents dead ( mum 5 years ago – father last year), wife has just confessed to cheating on him with a mutual friend … 2 kids – one the paternity of which is now under question. .. he HAD been furloughed from his employment only to be recently made redundant… we were sat (sitting) on the same concrete bench in the sun – me listening to pop master initially through my headphones – him just staring into space.  As lost as I can feel, sitting there with him pouring his heart out (admittedly he’d got his way through a fair through  few cans of Stella) I felt SO helpless not having any words of comfort … I almost wished I was a man of god – or at least a man with the capacity to say something profound enough to provide some kind of succor … alas, the best I could do was have a swig of his beer as we chatted and head down my own rabbit hole of despair.  I'm lucky... not having kids to consider but  His Christmas is going to be the first without his kids, no parents of his own to prop him up and provide much needed support  .... a pretty wretched time  BUT luckily for him, a kind hearted -(perhaps Christian ) old lady next door to the bedsit he's ended up in has offered to spend the day with him...despite HER vulnerability to covid, SHE has seen the support they can offer each other in both their times of despair and she's prepared to take that risk for the sake of humanity.

Luckily (for me) – when we went on our respective journeys, I was heading back to a marina with at least the opportunity to interact with either another ditch dweller/marina staff ,  acting the fool long enough to make them laugh or at least feel better about their day which might also be just a shitty.


Can you say the same?

If not … perhaps DITCH the newspaper and pick up a copy of the “The Good news Bible” - … I’m not religious in any shape or form but it’s an easy read and makes a lot more sense than the Daily Mail EVER will…


Until next time…


Saturday, 5 December 2020

Towpath Life... Tax Returns and Christmas looming.

 Here we are again... can you tell I'm making a determined effort NOT to ignore this place as much as I did during the summer? - ironically perhaps as now, bugger all is REALLY happening...  it's pretty much groundhog day - day in - day out. 

The Towpath however HAS seen a change of use again.  During the recent (now thankfully ended) period of 'lockdown', more and more folks have been using the Towpath.   A few boaters moan about this but quite honestly, it's nice to see people as I wander down to Sale or Deansgate.  There is nothing (well for me at least) quite so miserable as towpath, bereft of human interaction potential.  Yes, I  know I'm a bit odd.  ACTUALLY, I take that back ... I'm no more odd than many of the other 'lost' folks wandering up and down the towpath when I stop to think about it... only difference is, I'm paying double what a 'leisure boater' pays to use the canal and a gazillion times more than 'Joe-public' is.

I don't mind at all.  I'm good at sharing. You see, the towpath is teaming with life (imagine Sir David Attenborough)- (I don't know how to spell his name) describing the comings and goings.

To start with, we've got the boating folk... striding around - more often than not wearing Shorts (like me) with their floaty ball key rings clipped to their shorts... mud up the back of their legs  and smiling/saying hello to everyone coming towards them or sat (sitting) on a bench etc.  THEN you've got the ding-a-lingers on bikes (I'm NOT so keen on them truth be told), who zoom up behind you ... give  a few dings on their bell and  EXPECT you to get out of their way.  At the nicer end of the 'user spectrum' are the old dears having a wander along canal side - hoping (like me quite often) to have the opportunity to interact with another human being... before they go back to their prison like home for the remainder of the darkness... in anticipation of repeating their walk the following day etc.

Unlike the Street or retail park, there is (despite what some of the more recent towpath converts think ) an understanding that it's "OK" to say hello when on the towpath... to everyone - be they on boats, kayaks, walking a dog, pushing a child in  buggy or even staggering around with a can (or 7) of 'special brew'... It's OK cause I'd hazard a guess most of us have made a conscious choice to BE there and avoid the more hostile routes.  Even the ones smoking dope are friendly enough on the whole.  I don't like the smell of it but it's no more offensive I suppose than the soap dodgers you often have to queue behind in Aldi *other German supermarkets with limited product ranges are available*... 

Oddly, today as I was walking Manchester direction, a chap (this time a jogger) passed by me and I got that strange smell for pork and onion pies - the ones that taste lovely from Stanforths in Skipton but when my brain processed it must have been a stale sweat aroma, I admit to feeling quite bilious at that point lol.

Then we've got the ladies who buy all the exercise gear but really are just having a gossip with a mate as they meander along the towpath.  I met a couple of these the other days on a "run out" - heavens I sound like Thora Herd in Last of the Summer wine ...  I must have been looking "good" - (something that doesn't happen often and tbh, I was only have a jaunt out cause cabin fever was setting in.  I can only imagine WHAT they were talking about but as I rounded a corner and dropped into tick-over for some moored boats, one of them shouted "my friend fancies you and your boat, are you single?" - quite taken aback I replied (possibly blushing) "I'm newly divorced but dance backwards"... which they didn't get so I had to (by then I was a few feet further ahead) wave a limp wrist at them to further explain... at which point they were (practically ro0lling on the floor laughing.

All good fun and positive interactions.

Of course it's not all rosy - as we chug up and down the canl, OR (as it mostly the case during the winter months) you ALSO come across 'troubled' folks... those who can't quite fit into society... or perhaps they choose NOT to fit.  They're just as worthy of a conversation or bit of kindness though.  I suppose THEY are the ones we SHOULD be looking out for and trying to help.  I try but don't always manage it and admit to choosing carefully if someone looks dangerous. 

Writing of 'scruffy people' I can't remember if I've already shared this with you but the other week - I was walking back from a gin run (ok perhaps I bought some bread and milk too) with my back pack on  and on my route is a church... where apparently on Thursday mornings they run a food bank... well it was just after lunch and I did notice a van being packed up with stuff but didn't give it much attention until was level with it... AT which point, a lovely old lady wandered out of the church front with a white carrier bag and offered me a bag of  (presumably) food not claimed... As tempting as it was (I doubt there would have been any gin in it though) I politely declined and continued on my way back to the boat... chuckling to myself that I've finally blended into cc society.  The joke is that on paper as a result of this Covid year, I probably DO I meet the criteria.  Oh dear... time to buy some less holey shorts and t-shirts from charity shops again.   

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 

NOW that lock down is over, Manchester remains in tier 3... ergo, whilst shops, barbers, gyms and pools are open - you CAN'T go into a pub.  It's all a bit pants really... the reality is that the "covid spreading hubs" (in my opinion) ARE the supermarkets that we ALL have to go into! - you know, the places where you DON'T have to submit to track and trace and where folks who are "mask exempt" regularly loiter around spreading (or potentially spreading) their germs... NO - Government totally ignores THEM as places of mass transmission!  Folks anonymously spreading the virus- day in, day out.

That really does irk.  It must REALY irk for the many pubs/restaurants being screwing into the ground as a result.

At the risk of having ANOTHER moan, I STILL maintain - EVERYONE should be wearing masks - end of... I'm exempt due to my asthma but quite frankly feel it a moral (perhaps civil) duty to wear one when I have to and  quite frankly, anyone who has emotional or mental health issues SO severe that wearing a mask whilst in Tesco's *other militant supermarkets are available* is clearly UNSAFE to be out without a carer anyway!


In MORE positive news, I've done my Tax return for the previous year and that feels good.  I'm quite open about this so the 'profit' element whilst modest WAS an improvement on the startup year so that's good - alas, all the profit (and more) was eaten up with solicitors fees and divorce loan repayments but hey - they'd have been there without the profit so I choose to see this as a positive! 2020 WAS to have been the year when things began to look up but we all know what happened to that.  The reality now is it's been a debt building year.  NOW with the good news about the covid vaccines coming online, hopefully 2021 will help get back to 'zero'... and if not, surely 2022 will!

Out and about, Xmas lights are going up and that's nice to see (I usually think it's WAY too early) but this year, any light is GOOD light!

I'm quite looking forward to Christmas this year - not since I was a kid have I enjoyed it.... Xmas really is for kids...  luckily, my folks have been self sufficient and not guilted either me or my brother (my brother and I?) into enforced family xmas gatherings.  Last year did feel cruel NOT being with dad - his first on his own since mum died (after 52 years together) but he WAS adamant he wanted to be miserable on his own.... likewise in my case I was mourning both Joyce dying AND the end of my civil partnership,  Dad again this year is choosing not to take up any of the offers bestowed up on him which I totally understand.... he KNOWS he's loved and wanted but will do his own thing.  I respect that.

THIS year, with a guest coming, it's a different kettle of fish on board 'Ellis' -  I've already got  some crackers, and I've half a plan to wait until 23rd December and see what lights are left - time will tell on that one!

Righty ho - enough of this now... it's Saturday night, Strictly is looming on the goggle box and I feel a glass of something cold and dry coming on.

Until next time....

Sunday, 29 November 2020

Not Hacked... boaty chores and 2022 Cruise Itinery Started.

 I hate fiddling with the website - partly cause I'm crap at it... partly cause it goes against the original 'dream' life of being a free spirit bobbing around the canals on a whim.  Reality bites though and the only way I can afford to do this until I can draw my pension is through structured trips... a (not too difficult I suppose) compromise I can live with - in fact, one I embrace when it comes to actually HAVING guests on board... I just don't like the planning.  Several people have commented about my poor syntax and grammar - whilst I do GET their point, it's such a faff to fiddle with the formatting and given my tendency to bugger things up when I try and change them, I'm learning not to worry about it too much.

There's a saying an old bloke who used to come in to my dad's garage used on many occasion:  "It's near enough for a country spot"... I  always liked that and suppose have adopted it as my mantra lol.

ANYWAY - I have made a start on my 2022 routes.  Having enjoyed the time we spent going up and down the Anderton boat lift this year... AND the cruising on the River Weaver, we're going to start the season with a few trips around Northwich.   I've put in the header note about the plan to get a dog for 2022... it might not happen but forewarned is forearmed AND doing it with the consent of prospective guests FEELS like the right way forward.   If there was any way I could persuade 'Ed's" dad to give him up I wood as he's a smashing fella.

Website building a side, I've also being doing some inside jobs that I can get on with during the wet weather - which seems like ALL the time at the moment.  I've an awful lot of painting to touch up after quite a 'rough' season ... just look at all the scuffs and marks on the starboard stern.

The bow isn't much better either.

I could really do with some dry weather though... it's not cold yet so painting would be ok but it's just never dry enough to sand and paint... grrr.

INSIDE - the new (mains powered) bigger fridge freezer whilst brilliant, IS a pain when it comes to the freezer part.  You see, the door cannot open totally and given the "flaps" can't open all the way, putting stuff in and out is a bit of a pain in the proverbial.  My temporary

solution to this is to remove the larder /tumble drier cupboard door which is currently surface mounted - cut a strip off the side to shrink it and then re-fit it flush.  I'd worked out doing that would give an extra 22mm of opening space for the door.

It has made it a little easier but NOT enough.  The longer term solution is going to be (I think) a piano hinge in the middle of the (now flush) door - that way it can fold back on itself totally and allow the freezer to open fully INTO the cupboard.    That will have to wait until the end of this lockdown so I can have a meander around B & Q or wherever.

Another internal EASY WIN has been a new loo seat - soft close and only plastic but given I spend a lot of time looking into the bathroom (leaving the door open to let the heat from the fire circulate) I've put on a sticker which cheers me up...

Childish I'll admit but it does make me smile.

In other news, given the revised countrywide tiers that have been announced after this lock down finishes shortly (what lock down???) I think we are unlikely to be taking any guests anytime soon - despite the now permissible "Xmas" free for all.

Trouble is that VERY few people are obeying the supposed FULL lock down we've just had (well are technically still in until the 3rd Dec).

When taking my exercise, (or buying gin) it's clear by the number of cars on the road during "non- rush -hours" folks are just out and about...  high streets, despite not having many shops open are STILL heaving...  the tow path is full of folks and groups of youths are hanging around empty buildings doing the sort of things they would usually do... 

Corner shops are not asking folks to wear masks... the 2 metre rule is gradually being ignored.

SHORT of the army being on the streets pointing guns at us - like China would do, the uk population won't comply...

Even the oldies are revolting...

I do as I'm supposed so - to a sensible point... and that's just that..  everyone is thinking they are doing what their supposed to - to THIER version of a sensible point... people who are "mask exempt" are waving their silly little lanyards to show their exemption as they wander around Tescos infecting (allegedly) the rest of us...

The reality of government OR opposition at the moment, is NO ONE knows how to progress...  

I've been rejected by the discretionary hospitality fund for my home town because "Hotels are not being ordered to close this time" - and because I'm classed as an Hotel, I CAN be open... to "appropriate" customers... it's a complete farce... alas, one which no matter how much I moan about it, there is nothing to be done.

Hey ho - although given the approaching season perhaps that should be HO HO  😆

Oh btw - I nearly forgot... I had an email the other day from a well meaning reader, who intimated the blog might have been hacked as adverts are now appearing on it.  HANDS up...  I was fiddling with the new settings (new since blogger forced me off the legacy version which I liked, to their new version) and I activated something called Ad-sense... apparently having advertisements that are supposed to be relevant, is making a few pence... it'll all add up and who knows... perhaps someone might actually see something worth while.  Sorry if they are a pain but ANY source of additional income right now is well and truly welcome this end.

Until next time...