Wednesday 27 December 2017

Naked Twister, a different view and jobs to be done...

Ok  - I'm lying about the Naked twister... (although there was a bit of bum cleavage on show now and again) - more about that in a bit (the twister I mean)...

SO - After our Christmas Eve chug we settled down for a quiet night outside the pub... ahem - who'd have though Christmas Eve would be a loud music night in there? ... oh well, we made the best of it with a couple more drinks to  numb our senses make the music sound sweeter.

On the boat, we've a bit of an agreement in that a) we don't buy Christmas presents for each other  (there's just no spare room for "stuff" and b) we ARE allowed to buy things for ourself or things we need, then wrap up and allow the other to unwrap.  

It works pretty well most of the time... you can see how excited Andy was when he received this:

It's a replacement filters for the screwfix water filter I fitted to the boat a while back... it was due a change so that's another little job on the list.  It should be easy as it's push-fit so all that's required is to cut about 20mm of each pipe then push them into the filter...  what could go wrong?

After we'd opened presents (3 mins) we donned our warm clothes and prepared for cast off and the return journey home... Bright and sunny it may have been but BOY it was windy...  the short chug down to Broad Cut bottom lock was interesting... crabbing our way along as we passed the moored boats.  That lock is a pig at the best of times but what with the wind AND the leaky ground paddles, lets just say we got battered around a fair bit AND sneaking out on to the river, then waiting to pick up the crew was interesting too.

Our journey downstream was uneventful until we came to Broadreach Flood lock...  a combination of a spirited river and gale-force winds meant the skipper at the time *read not me* had ... lets call it an emergency stop into the piling on the lock landing... head on.  No serious  harm was one but we'll have to get out the paint again.  INSIDE the boat, every single cupboard, drawer, door and porthole shutter had been liberated and were swinging freely lol.  

DURING the journey back, the lamb cooked itself to perfection and when we moored up, lunch was ready to be eaten. 

AS planned, after lunch (well closer to tea time actually) we set off on a walk to our friends Sally and Lee's who had daft games planned for the rest of the day...  I'm not good at joining in such things (unless I'm tiddled)... and (ahem) luckily I was  a bit so it was great fun....  IT''s amazing how funny a £3.50 "props game from Wilkos" can be to a room full of rat-arsed merry adults... well I SAY adults,  I was the oldest there and I'm sure I'm still only about 15!

After a round of "pass the sprout" (think pass the parcel but with fore-fits) some other game came out, which involved things that wedge your mouths open and having to say things on a card... 

We split into 2 teams (boys verses girls - Andy had to be an honorary girl) but "the girls" all working in Denistry, had a bit of an advantage - AND were WAY too competitive... ONCE I'd done the 'sums' to work out the FAIR scores (them having 1 extra person in their team than us) I we declared it a draw!

It was a silly but fun evening and of course yes, the Twister did come out... a little "too " late for Andy - having already had some kind of accident whereby he broke their toilet seat (and he has no idea HOW) a nap was in order... mid game!

That was the last photo I took before we called it a day... (Boxing day I think)... the rest of which, was a sombre affair - saying things like "never again"...  

Well, until the next time ....

Sunday 24 December 2017

Early Xmas Dinner, Decorated boat and Christmas Eve Cruising...

Here we are then - it's Christmas Eve already... everyone NOW has permission to wish each other a Merry Christmas... not that they needed it but you get my drift!

So then - you'll recall we were heading up to my folks for  a pre-Christmas dinner with them? - well, we went to visit on Thursday and enjoyed spending time with them AND a decent meal...  I think it was probably the first time my dad has cooked a Xmas Dinner - Mum's not very well of late... struggling with both Osteo and Rheumatoid Arthritis... ADD to that 2 non-functioning knee replacements as you might imagine, just getting out of bed is proving a struggle.  My dad probably does't see the decline as much as we do - not seeing them for months at a time, it's more obvious to us.  Of course, parents being parents, (and a bit stubborn... perhaps in denial) they've adopted a  "keep calm and carry on" approach to it, WHEN in reality they need to admit that at their time of life, there's nothing wrong with modifying their home to make life safer. 

They've gone some way to reducing the risk of mum getting injured by having the bath replaced with a walk in shower...  at least now when she's upstairs on her own, she doesn't have to wait for assistance.  IN reality though, she really could do with a stair-lift fitting - working on the basis that whilst she's having regular falls at least when they're on 1 level, whilst it might hurt a bit and be undignified, she' probably wont end up dead.... UNLIKE  a fall down a flight of stairs, which might kill her.  It sounds alarmist I suppose but at least with  stair- lift, that "risk" would be removed...  STILL,  whilst you can lead a horse to water, you can't always make it drink ...    I hope they come to terms with this different stage in their lives and do all they can to make it safer.... SOONER rather than later. 

Anyway - it was nice to see them and spend time with them - Andy and I of course drank a fair bit so staying the night was a welcome treat. 

WHEN we got back to the boat (Andy had to be at Work for 2 on Friday) we found this:

Whilst we'd been away over night,  some friends had vandalised  decorated the boat with tinsel and streamers...  Whilst I'm not a fan of either, it really did make me laugh and as they'd left a nice bottle of Gin from 'Santa' they were forgiven.  In fact, the tinsel might STAY on the swan neck to save me painting it again!

Today is Christmas eve and we'd planned to go for a chug - so as to wake up somewhere different tomorrow ... we've done just that although we've not got as far as we'd have liked - mainly due to the rubbish water pressure at the home mooring... it took over an hour and half of filling before we set off and even then, the tank wasn't full - still, it'll be enough for a few days

Despite it being 9 degrees  Celsius outside, the wind chill has made the cruising rather cold - in fact after 3 hours (and 4 locks), we've called it a day and have moored outside the Navigation pub at Calder Grove... having turned above the lock where the canal is just about wide enough, we're pointing the right way for our return cruise tomorrow.... we're just going to bung a leg of lamb in the oven and eat when we get back home. 

AFTER lunch, we're calling in at our friends for a few drinks and party games - there WAS talk of naked twister, but rest assured dear reader, given my present "festively plump" status, there'll be none of that... it can't be a late night though as Andy has work on Boxing day... I on the other hand will be doing a pump out in preparation for the forth-coming closure in January when crt (in their wisdom) re-instate an unused/unwanted bridge, under the guise of it being to facilitate wheelchair access to the tow path...there's trouble a head ... you mark my words - boaters will get sick of opening and closing it so I suspect it may end up being left open...  

Merry Christmas.

Tuesday 19 December 2017

De de de de de de deh, De de de de derrr and festive spirit...

Sorry I'm neglecting here at the moment - there are 2 reasons I suppose .  The first being that whenever I sit down to type something here, my conscience gets a prick and I end up working on that ruddy risk assessment for the business licence - I mean,  WHAT has happened to common sense? -   You see, when coming up with a risk assessment for the boat, you have to pretend you've had ALL your brain cells removed - and quite frankly, those type of people are NOT the guests we want - the point of this live-aboard holiday experience is to enrich our lives, not turn us into the nanny state.

I'll give you an example of a line from our RAMS ( risk assessment method statement) - I mean,  they've even got me talking in acronyms now... grr.

it goes something like this:

Hazard Identified: Uneven Ground.(Slips/trips/falls)...
Persons exposed to risk: Crew, guests and other canal users....
Risk Factor:  medium ....
Measures taken to control  the risk:1. Brief crew prior to navigation on slips/trips/fall hazards.
2.  Appropriate footwear to be worn.
3. Crew issued emergency response card in case of incident.
4. Walk at a comfortable pace and watch footing for trip hazards.
5.  First aider on boat.
6.  First aid kit on board.
Acton to be taken by:  Skipper/Crew...
Risk factor after control measures:   Low.

Imagine that in a landscape table format and add 101 "other" common sense things and you won't be far off...

SO - I'm still plodding on with that in my spare time.

Meanwhile - you may have seen the Strictly Final at the weekend...  (De de de de de de deh, De de de de derrr ) and enjoyable though it was, I do feel Debbie Mgee (Mcgee?) was robbed - ESPECIALLY as I voted for her twice!  ... until seeing her on the canal thing a while back, I'd never really taken to her... but, on that program with Lorraine Chaise and the other two - (Nigel Havers and Simon someone or other who's name escapes me right now) I took a liking to her and WANTED her to win to cheer her up a bit since losing her husband. Oh well Debbie - we did our bit for you.  STILL, "didn't she do well?".... especially for her age - I struggle to put my socks on some days and she's got 15 years on me!

In boat related news, Andy has finally beaten me down and as such, we've now got some awful and tacky  lovely led Xmas lights festooning the sides (and roof) of the boat...  Here have a look:

I put my foot down and refused to allow connection to the boat's power supply directly so he ordered "solar powered ones" from somewhere on-line... The little solar panel is pitiful and whilst on a sunny day does "something" - it's not enough... ergo, we took apart the box to reveal 3 * AA rechargeable batteries in each .  AS we already had (somewhere) on the boat some re-chargeable Duracell , we're now removing the flat ones on a morning and replacing with ready charged ones... and then, using the boats batteries (thank you PROPER SOLAR PANELS) to charge them up ready for the next day - are you keeping up at the back?

IT's a bit of a faff but it keeps Andy happy and means I don't have to have wires hanging out of the portholes...

They even flash manically  twinkle - Look:

I hope that wasn't too much excitement for you...

TRY as  I may, the whole Christmas thing leaves me cold... I know I sound like a real old grinch, it's just the commercialism of it that really gets under my skin...  As a kid it was different as I've already said.  Still,  boaty folk are doing their bit with lights/trees and Xmas wreaths - There's a boat a few hundred yards up the cut making really quite good door wreaths which I intend to go and buy tomorrow when I head into town.  We're even getting Christmas cards from people on other boats ... which I have to admit is thoughtful  - and a sign of acceptance into "boaty community".  A couple were delivered today and rather than lie and say (what many people say) "oh we're not doing cards but giving the money to charity"... I was rather more candid, saying "thank you very much that's very thoughtful of you - we shan't be reciprocating though as we're spending the money on Gin instead" - HALF tongue in cheek - HALF the truth!

FOR the record however, I DO still send 3 cards each year...  1 to my folks... and 1 each to my 2 closest friends... that REALLY is it.  

Writing of parents, we're going for tea  later in the week to my folks - I hear my dad's going to cook a Turkey - apparently he's taken a liking to cooking with a glass of wine in hand ... I've been doing that for years and wholeheartedly endorse his method... I wonder if I should "risk assess" the procedure?

Until next time...

Thursday 14 December 2017

Playing with Fire and cabin fever....


HOW cold has it been?

Well,  SAD that I am, I like to keep an eye on both inside and outside temperatures as you know...

The other day, I was a bit obsessed...  MAINLY because we're experimenting with different brands of smokeless ovoid thingys  from different coal yards to try and find a balance between long burning, heat output and dust avoidance.

Having had a bit of a lay in, I was surprised to see at 8.37 am, it was STILL minus 5.4 outside but the stove had maintained a comfortable 22.8 in the saloon overnight.

Even the back cabin wasn't too bad  at 19 degrees - I was also pleased to note the SOC showing at 80%... which given we'd had a full night watching Peaky Blinders on Dvd was a bonus,

This obsession  interest in temperatures isn't entirely  because I'm a complete saddo - it's as a result of weather forecasts...  WHICH, I've decided  are rarely much use anyway - I mean, at the weekend  WE (as in West Yorkshire) were threatened with huge snow falls  which never arrived.  THEN came the warning of a colder spell and despite the BBC weather page, showing for our locality a range between freezing and minus 2, when I got up to check in the night the cats woke me up for some food, at 3.16 (am) 

we were down to minus 6 outside the boat  but still a toastie 24 inside...

The next time I checked, at about quarter past 8, it had dropped further to minus 7.5 and the stove was showing it needed some more attention.

It's a good job I have better things to do, or I'd be emailing the met office and suggesting they try a bit harder! ;-) 

SO - the outcome of trying different fuels has been that the one we've been using for a long time - Some unbranded ovoid thing in clear sacks from a coal man in Cudworth at £6.50 per 21kg sack is better than 3 other types, sourced from 2 different coal merchants in and around Castleford... ergo, we'll stick to that.  I suppose every stove is different ... and if it aint broke - don't try and fix it!

Btw - ON the morning it was down to 7.5 outside, the canal JUST about froze over... albeit it rather thinly...

and within a couple of hours it had melted away again.

Cabin Fever has set in of late as due to a Gastric flu we both seem to have picked up, we've been "boat bound" for 3 days now - Coming in to day 4 and I'm feeling little better but Andy is a day behind me...  most peculiar type of bug though... both ends obviously but oddly, the stomach happily accepts food all day long... building it up until early evening when it decides to return everything in an undigested format.  

Lets just say, that whilst we are very pleased we fitted 2 loos - I am not looking forward to emptying the cassette in due course. 

ON the plus side, we've both shifted a few pounds without really trying this week and what with feeling so ropey, even our livers have had a bit of a holiday.

Still, WHILST we've been hold (holed?) up, it has forced us inspired us to get the 2018 cruise calender on the website finished... in total 22 cruises of varying lengths for guests to join us on.  There are loads of typos and spelling mistakes as already said, but hopefully as people read through it, they'll let us know and I'll correct them - Life is a bit short really to worry about such things and if folk really want to complain, then perhaps boat life isn't for them anyway lol.

We've already accepted that 2018 will probably be a quiet year (guest wise) but we'll make the trips anyway as we WANT to do them.  Over the next week or so, we're going to make a determined effort to get our 2019 diary on-line - Andy has already drafted out the routes so once we've checked they'll work (for us) we'll get web-building again.

Reluctantly, we've also asked for a listing in Canal Junction "Hotel Boat" section.  It's cost a few hundred quid but if we are to cover costs, it's probably a necessary compromise to our "non advertising" idealism.

ALSO - I was chatting with the Marina owner here last week when I went to get some pump-out cards and he offered to put a link on his website to ours... he tries wherever possible to support other local businesses and it's much appreciated.

Who knows - this time next week we could have a fully booked schedule! ... or (more likely) we'll be advertising those kidneys on ebay before the year is out lol.

Until next time...

Saturday 9 December 2017

Bah Humbug, a bridge over troubled water and medicine ....

The next person whom I bump into that says to me "if I don't see you again before, have a good Christmas" is going to get a slap.

For heavens sake  - it's still the first week in December.  I do wish people wouldn't get so wrapped up (no pun intended) in all this MEDIA hyped Christmas rubbish...  it wouldn't be so bad if even 10 % of folk actually believed remembered what started it all. 

Yes I know I sound like a right miserable old git - (I suppose I can be) but when you're a "grown up" (loosely speaking), Christmas is nothing...  other than a time when finances get stretched, unnecessarily.  Now OK... as  children, we were lucky enough to have lovely family Christmases - my dad would take a couple of days off work, relax (a bit) around the house and even find time to do a jigsaw.  Presents were always in abundance and I was rarely disappointed.  In short, it was lovely.   FAST forward into adult life and it's just bloody irritating.  IDIOTS spend ages in supermarkets, buying whatever festive rubbish they force feed us and dont get me started on the queues..... and for WHAT ? ... the shops shut for ONE day.  arrrgghh.

End of rant.

SO - Xmas ,forced-ivities a side,, we got confirmation this week of something that has been rumbling in the background a long while.  Earlier in the year, I 'spotted' (quite well hidden at the time on a map rather than stoppage list) that the Ramsdens swing bridge here at Stanley Ferry was to be repaired/replaced in late January...  Well, earlier in the week, the mooring holders all got an email from CRT to tell us it's happening.

The annoying thing is, that in order for this to be done, we're going to lose 1 permanent mooring and 1 visitor mooring (1 each side) and from reading the email, it appears the bridge will remain ACROSS the canal - ergo, BLOCKING boat traffic.  At the same time the existing crossover bridge is to be closed off - OK it does wobble a bit). WHY is this being done? - to assist disabled access and make it easier for cyclists ffs. It's not the end of the world I'll grant you but it IS a waste of money AND hinderer to boating movements... It will mean more noise to those on permanent moorings either side of the bridge whilst boaters pull in to open/close the bridge and increase the congestion RIGHT on the water-point/pump out station.

In short it's going to make a quick fill with water/pump-out - especially on a windy day, a pain in the arse  quite frustrating to say the least.... not to mention the potential for "bumping" other boats in the process. hmmmf.

Still, what do boaters know?

Writing of boaters 'knowledge' - the other week, I got involved with a discussion regarding a 'fault' with the algorithms on MPPT controllers which allegedly means they don't begin tracking until the current is over 1 amp.   Apparently, as ours are wired in series (given the long length of the cable I'd figured it was best to have a higher voltage-thus lower current flowing down the full length of the boat, RATHER than massive cables and panels wired in Parallel.) we'll be losing out on some charge.

SO - ever willing to doubt myself  take advice, I got the appropriate connectors and yesterday in the biting cold wind, temporarily re-wired them to see if it made any difference to the current going in to the batteries.

and did it work?

Not a bit of difference... all that happened was I got numb fingers and a bit (more) grumpy.  HEY HO... it was worth a try I suppose.

IN more cheery news, Andy's folks gave us an early Christmas present when we met up with them at his brothers down in Cheltenham the other weekend... which we were allowed to open early.   A bottle of medicine AND instructions on how to make best use of it!

The book has some lovely recipes in it for various cocktails and infusions - the only down side is that some of them involve adding various botanical and WAITING a few days before drinking the gin.  I'm not sure we'll able to do this, as patience is generally NOT on our list of attributes - especially where GIN is concerned!

Until next time...

Tuesday 5 December 2017

First Booking, diets all round and website building...

Have I mentioned I HATE building websites? - When working in IT, I did everything I could (quite successfully actually although in hind-site, perhaps it would have made it easier NOW) to get out of doing them... they're SO subjective - what one person thinks is fine, another hates etc.

That said, it's a necessary evil - one that I'm MAKING myself plod on with.

ON the PLUS side, it appears to be worth while as we got our first booking request on Sunday...  a solo traveller as it happens which is really good - it goes to show our idea of having April and October as "NO single supplement" months will be well received.  Some have argued that "it's supposed to be a business" and "you'll never make any money doing things like that" ... and whilst they might mean well, THEY are missing the point of this whole life change thing... living on a boat and touring around the country is what WE want to do - primarily for our own benefit.  The enrichment guests will bring to our lives is of secondary benefit and taking 3rd place is the fiscal side of it.  YES - it's a means to an end to some extent but we dont want to get all wrapped up in doing it just for the money if you follow.

So - hopefully in due course I can update the 2018 diary to show 1 week booked.  Brilliant.

The website is simply called "" - it'll come up if you google it.   There are numerous spelling errors (I prefer to refer to them as typos) - reality is, sometimes they're a typo... MORE often than not, I can't spell things.... and please,  DON'T get all pedantic on me re. grammer... I get enough messages on here moaning about split infinitives or whatever!

I still need to get some interior photos on-line in a DIFFERENT gallery - I've uploaded a long photo stream of the BUILD (which still needs more adding)  - Hopefully by the end of this week I'll have tideid enough things away made the boat presentable enough to take some snaps of the accommodation available... here's the guest cabin as a starter though:

Alex Politzi (spelling?) would go mad... she HATES towels on beds lol.  NOTE Grey for guests, white for us... to keep things simple in the bathroom...  see - we think of EVERYTHING ;-).

So far, I've only got 12 weeks on-line  The first 8 weeks being a trip to Liverpool and back with a few days back at base to touch our paintwork and then weeks 9 to 12, Manchester and back.  Both trips WE want to do - we have to come back into Wakefield as we've got things in the diary that can't be re-scheduled.  Once we get back from Manchester in August, we're going to do a few short trips - Weekends to Leeds with (hopefully) guests on board... a way for people to dip their toe into boating (for a lot less money) rather than committing to a full week on board.  This will work well for us as although there is a risk of the Rivers messing things up, folk can still have a boating break this side of the river ... OR if we get "stuck" in Leeds due to the river, take a train back to Wakefield if needs be.

AFTER a few of those, we're then going to head down to the West-Midlands for the Autumn -  and then spend a couple of weeks down there so as to visit Andy's parents THEN take a view on where to spend the winter - It's all very exciting.  We still need to work out how to finance things for the first year - in the event of us not being booked up... especially as of yet, no one has requested either of our kidneys!😅

Today (Tuesday the 5th) has been a VERY early start - Andy has the works Christmas do tonight ... they're all off to a Casino in Leeds and I forbade him to come back to the boat - after the last works night out,  and all the problems I had trying to stop him falling on to the stove, a hotel in Leeds has been booked... supposedly sharing with a girl from work who would ALSO not be able to persuade a taxi to take her back home... IT's all going to get messy but at least tonight it's NOT my problem ... AND just in case he gets it into his head it'd be a good idea to TRY and come back to the boat with them all - I've told him I'm going for a trip out so it won't be here... (I'm not btw, but he thinks I am)...  TOMORROW morning though, Sally is coming for a little chug into town with me so I'll need to let him know where we end up mooring lunchtime ish, for when they eventually manage to negotiate a train back home.

The good thing about being up early though, is that I've already done my 6 mile daily walk - ok it was in the dark but still quite pleasant - I was surprised to see the Stanley Ferry pub TOTALLY lit up at 5.30 am... what a waste of electric... they clearly don't have to count THEIR amps like we do!

We're HAVING to walk each day as we can't justify paying out for gym memberships anymore and REALLY need to shift some weight - SINCE movin on board full time, we've BOTH put on nearly 2 stone! shocking... MY excuse is that I've been recovering from my operations - the reality is of course a) not going to work means I sit around reading and chatting a lot more b) I've started cooking/baking more (and thus eating the profits of my labours) c) we keep getting together with either other boaters/friends and eating and drinking...

WHILST out walking on Monday, we came across a cygnet, apparently trapped in a lock.  We think it was trapped ...bearing in mind  having seen them rtry and take flight on the canal, they need a fair distance to run/flapping to get airborne.   GIVEN the don't have arms to be able to hoik themselves out, it seemed a good idea to open the gates for it to leave...

Which it duly did,  and we carried on our respective ways.

Writing of dieting, I took the cats (yes we still have them despite our best efforts to fund them a new home) for their annual boosters, and BOTH of the have lost weight... GEORGE being "super slimmer" down by 0.6kg and Sox by 0.3kgs.  The vet was pleased with the result... although made a comment about LIKING them a bit more chunky  - whilst looking at my belly!!! ERGO, today is a fasting day ... I'm doing the 5 / 2 diet (although at 13 stone 11, I might be better off doing the 2/5 one lol)

We'll get there...

Right - I can't stay here all day - I've got "risk assessments" to write for the business licence thingy...  Seems bonkers really given that as a pleasure craft we can have up to 12 people on board anyway as is, yet the minute you tell the you're going to take 2 (max) paying guests on board, they get all 'red tapey' on you.

Until next time...