Wednesday 28 February 2018

Beast from the East...

WHY do we have to name "weather" these days? - IT's winter... it's snowing... It's FUN!

A lot of people today will have stayed at home to play in the snow... that's fair enough I suppose but there are ALSO a lot of folk who HAVE to go to work (luckily I no longer fall into that category) - That said, Andy had to go in at noon so this morning, once I'd put another 2 cruises for 2019 on-line  ( we donned our wellies and went for a walk up the road to the slope that catches us all out. 

Armed with Snow scoop and a bag of grit, we made it less likely catapult folk into the canal later in the day *think back to that chap that I towed off the slope a few weeks back*...

and despite it snowing quite a few times more during the day, I've just checked and it's still clear **polishes halo**.

It'd had been a cold night - this morning, before I stoked the fire back up, it was still showing minus 3.6 degrees c outside but the boat was still toastie from last nights fire... I'm getting quite good at this fire lark now... 

When Andy had gone off to work, I ran a load of washing through and the tank went boom, indicating it wouldn't be long before we'd need to top up.  Looking at the temperatures forecast for the next few days - AND the fact the flood gates have been closed, it's likely the canal will freeze soon so I figured it was best to get it done today.  It was nice chugging in the snow but I was briefly thwarted when I got to the tap   - it being frozen solid... same went for the hose pipe.  SO 5 litres of water from the calorifier later the tap was flowing again and I took the opportunity to "milton Fluid" the hosepipe whilst it defrosted in the washing up bowl.

Once back on the mooring, I had a fiddle with Andy's new camera... it's quite good but when using the 63 x optical zoom lens, I found it REALLY hard to see what I was taking photos of...

Having seen a glimpse of our little GINGER mouse, I thought I'd focus on where he'd been scurrying around and I screamed like a girl  got the shock of my life when THIS fella came along instead

I watched him for a while and noticed him going back and forth under Andy's old polo... later, when I went to fill up the screen wash, I spotted a "grain store" he'd been making (the rat, NOT Andy) near the battery.  hmmf... I'll have to get put some poison in there (can't put it near the bird food) and hope he goes back for his tea!

Until next time...

Saturday 24 February 2018

Long overdue Jobs and fliers...

So then,  NOW that the count down has began, I'm HAVING to get on with some jobs that have been on the back burner...

Until the other day, we've managed just with bolts on the front door - given it's straight into the bedroom, we've never used it as an entrance/exit point...

Once we've got guests on board, they may wish to come and go as they please (alone) and once we've retired into the crew quarters, that would be difficult.

SO,  a quick nip to B&Q and a night latch later, I thought I'd make a start.

In typical ginger style enthusiasm, I got carried away without THINKING it through fully....  

All was well until this point...  when I fitted the latch thingy, only to discover that the actual locky thing(you know- the bit that's on a spring and engages with the rebate bit) DID'NT actually DO anything to keep the doors locked - i.e., it needed to be the OTHER way around.

Undeterred, I took it apart  - every intention of reversing the mechanism   AS you might guess, a "spring" thing flew up in the air and was never seen again.

Another trip to B & Q to buy a replacement - only to find they were out of stock.  SO, I figured a Yale is a Yale  and AS the pack says "standard" I (wrongly) presumed it would be OK.

Silly me.  no - it needed a differently positioned hole to take into account a different sized plate.  Plan c was Take apart the new lock (VERY VERY gingerly carefully) and use the spring from that one as a replacement for the original one...  voilà... it worked and we now have a working lock.  

It's not ideal as you have to open both doors to exit / enter but it IS secure.  When time (and funds allow) I'll replace it with a top and bottom closing one like the one on a friends boat which seems much better.

NEXT on my list of jobs, was a little shelf to put tea/coffee on... given the worktop is not very big, having them out of the way will make meal preparations a bit easier.

I've put a little fiddle rail on it to (hopefully) prevent things slipping off in the event of rough seas. 

In other news, whilst we really DON'T want to advertise as such, we've had a small run of fliers produced and have asked friends to put them up in their work-places.

It's an A5 double-sided thing.  

We also intend to post a few through selected folk's letterboxes... With a bit of luck, they'll generate some interest for our shorter trips to Leeds and back in the summer...  That's a job for Sunday morning. 

Until next time...

Monday 19 February 2018

Cat & Dog Stalemate...Family Visit and "Taster cruise"...

Here we are again... another week has flown by.  I'm trying to get to grips with "Twitter" as apparently it's where we'll generate most interest... that and the dreaded face-ache place.

ANNOYING thing is, that although I am resisting facebook, I conceded we need a presence there... ergo the other week I set up a Mark at Narrowboat Ellis page thingy... I've no idea how it all works if I'm honest - I appear to have over a 1000 new best friends... alas most of them appear to be Russian Brides.   I HOPE to heavens they don't all arrive as we've just NOWHERE to put them....  I suppose if they can dust they may be of use but they'll have to put some clothes on  first! :-)

Moaning a side, I got an email through the website contact form (I'm never sure it works)  asking about the possiblity of doing a taster cruise at the end of March/beginning of April.  So given we're "legal" to trade from the 1st April we going to try and do a 2 night trip to Cooper Bridge and Back... we're doing some later in the year as 3 night ones but if we hurry (and the river is on our side) we should be able to fit it in.  It'll give us a chance to practice being hosts with the most before cruise 1 on the 10th April... So we've now got an official Maiden Voyage! HOW grand does that sound?

IF however the river is playing up (as might happen at this time of year) we still have a plan - albeit covering a lot less ground (water?) down to Fairies hill and back... we'll have to practice winding/mooring and general boating skills to keep them entertained but we'll still have fun. We can always have a walk up to a couple of pubs in Altofts or even Whitworth golf club for a pint (or 3).

Anyway - the reason I'm telling you this is tomorrow when I see the new business mentor, I'll have to eat a big slice of humble pie... THIS contact/booking came via a group I'd joined on Face-book!  grrrrr...

In other news, on Satuday, Andy's sister and twin nephews came for a visit.  IT was raining first thing and it looked like a nice run out would be out of the question.  Luckily around 10 it dried up and a plan was hatched to head up stream into town as far as Calder Island to have a late lunch at the Toby Carvery there (I can't for the life of me remember the name)...

At the first lock off the river, you can see it HAD been up and over in recent days...  in hindsight, perhaps my new blew trainers were NOT the best choice of footwear for the day...

I noticed the crew were taking a while to empty the lock (it leaks and always fills up) so went for a wander... it soon became obvious why - there was a new wide beam in it, having just been craned in an hour earlier at Wakefield Wharf (where we saw the other boat the other week).... tuned out they didn't have any windlasses with them so Andy and crew worked them through the lock - from here onwards they are all electric and they DID have a CRT key.
Like the other one , this also has the paint job done before leaving the builders... and is spray foamed but unlined.  Apparently there was another boat following it but we didn't come across it before he turned left and headed up the river to Thornes Cut.

We chose a very glamourus place to bash some pins in and walk to the pub... just outside the tip!

After we'd eaten, we went up stream a bit further and back on to the river in order to turn around...  since we'd left, the river had risen about half a foot and the flow increasing substantially... for a change I had to use a lot of power to make the turn  - good to know we have plenty as a result of getting the bigger engine.  

Once we'd turned, we swapped roles and Andy played skipper and the boys and I crew.  

Obviously by time they'd done this lock, one of them needed a lay down...
I vaguely remember being a teenager....

Once off the river for the final time, I went inside to cobble some tea together... whilst away, the fender fairies must have been and hung them on the side - as is proven by this photo a friend sent us of the boat approaching Stanley Ferry!

Until next time...

Oh hang on... I nearly forgot:

He comes for a biscuit a couple of times each day... Sox has other ideas - hissing at the poor fellow.

Thursday 15 February 2018

Solar Picking up again now and Valentines in the pub...

The trouble with Wine-Wednesday being on Valentines day meant that during  our usual mid-week skush, we were surrounded by tables for 2 looking longingly into each other eyes... YEAH RIGHT .... the reality was that there WERE tables for 2 but most of the folk sitting on them were glued to their phones and having the "curry and a pint" for a fiver option.  Romantic or What?

I was luckier than most however as Sally and Sheree (however you spell it) sent me a message around half 4 to say they were in the pub and had secured a table for us...  well it would have been rude not to join them (we'd originally planned meeting up about half 6) I went on ahead whilst Andy was at work.

It's fair to say, the pub HAD made  an effort and we tried to get into the valentines spirit as best we could

WE managed not to spend the evening on OUR phones, instead preferring to communicate with each other!

Andy joined us after 8 and we had a quick extra bottle tea before he gave the girls a lift home - the balloons are currently STILL in my car!

During our chats, a couple of plans were formed for meeting up later in the year when we're in Skipton - on route back from Liverpool in late June for a meal out - We'll have a visitor on the boat so we'll invite them to join us for the evening too.  Another plan was also hatched for the Xmas day posse to come aboard for a couple of nights before we go in for blacking on 20th August (we're booked into dry dock for a week)... at the time (read, after a good few venos) it seemed a good idea for Sally,Lee,Sheree,Josh and Emily to join us in Leeds and we'll sail back to Castleford so they can get the train back - AFTER an over night for us all on the boat.  WHERE we're all going to sleep is another matter... this might need more thought.

This morning, I did a load of washing and took the boat over to fill up with water (we're getting 4 days now before filling up) and I noticed when I came back from turning the tap on, at about 9.30 the panels were putting in 3.8amps.  The sun must be getting higher (I forget what the correct term is - I've got it somewhere on the solar predictions stuff from the house)... 

Anyway - in a few weeks it'll be noticeably improved and the currently charging regime of combined generator, engine and solar can be relaxed a bit.  

Until next time...

Monday 12 February 2018

Business Licence Approval - Tick...boaty creche and Andy fell off the wagon.

Today I got a call from a nice chap at CRT, confirming the business licence approval and offering to take payment for it and whilst we could  have deferred it until nearer the start time, doing it now will speed up the refund for the remaining balance from the old one.

True to his word, the chap sent the vat invoice and new license by return  so we're good to go.  

RATHER relieved given we've got 6 bookings thus far. Hopefully a few more will come along soon but it's a great start.

BACK to the weekend,  we'd arranged to meet our friends Tony and Vicky a few boats back for tea in the pub and a few drinks.  Andy has been on the wagon until now but decided to have a day off  sobriety and join in.  We all had a few jobs to do during the day  - including fitting the recessed handles from Screwfix for the wine-cellar
I bought 2 but so far have just fitted 1 in the corner near the freezer... I've forgotten to take a photo of it but trust me it looks ok and does the job.  

BEFORE they arrived, I was sent out to get some more tonic water - only having 3 bottles left on the boat...  on my return, I was accosted by Claire, Mick and Andy (and Hettie the sproglet) with a choice of jobs:  HELP Claire fill her boat with diesel or baby sit whilst Mick did it...  Well, having just gotten out of the shower prior to my trip to Tescos, I opted for the baby.

Claire promptly handed the child to me and I palmed her straight off on Andy... who spent the next couple of hours, happily watching ceebies (Andy not the baby)... we could tell she was getting a bit fractious (apparently hungry) but didn't want a G & T so we tried distracting her with Sox the cat... unbeknownst to us, she's afraid of them.

Oh it was ok - Sox didn't take offence but aforementioned child found her voice briefly before being rescued by her mum.😅

NEXT time, I'll take the diesel!

So - Tony and Vicky turned up and admired the wine-cellar... from which I removed a bottle to share... that lasted not very long and we opened another...  Having then gone on to the pub, only to find it too busy for us to get a table in the adult section - and me still in shock from the creche experience, we waited and had a few more drinks until there was space away from the kids.

They had a couple of specials on and I chose Belly pork which was rather good actually... much better than most of the stuff they do.  After dinner , we retired back to our boat as it was our turn to host... last time, us finishing off rather too much of their Sloe Gin.

A very convivial evening was had by all - taking turns in the hot-seat (well stool) by the fire) but in all honesty we over did it...
These were full bottles at the start of the evening...

A litle after 2, Tony decided they should be heading off back to their boat ... getting his boots on was too complicated after the JD (he was the only one drinking that) so he went home in my trainers!

Perhaps you can tell from the inane expression on his face  smiley happy look on his face, he was well gone and I of course escorted them back to their boat to rescue my trainers  ensure no harm came to them (OK - I half expected him to fall into the canal ) and wanted to get a photo  rescue him should the worst happen.  

All was well - although getting the boat unlocked was entertaining too... I SO wish I'd videoed it rather than just snapping.

Suffice to say, whilst we all enjoyed the evening, Sunday was a difficult day... that said , I did manage a load of washing, filling the water tank and cooked a leg of lamb.

We're BOTH back on the wagon again - at least until wine Wednesday when I'm hoping to be lead astray by Sally.

Until next time...

Friday 9 February 2018

Wine Cellar and goody-2-shoes...

Don't you just hate it when you try and corrupt someone for a crafty lunchtime pint and 2 for 1 burger  - only to find them finishing off a pork sandwich with a can of coke in their hand?  Grr - bloody goody goodies.

THAT's what happens to me on 'wine Wednesday' - ... having already been banned (by Andy) from our usual mid-week scush (skush?) - AFTER I'd been to Castleford to buy a couple of bags of coal (btw, we've settled on "room heat" from Steads at £7.80 for 25kgs),  as the sun was shining and I'd already seen my boaty mate Tony pottering on his boat - I thought I'd call in and encourage a sneaky lunchtime libation.  Hmmf.  Personally, I think he's under the thumb and had been instructed to DO something on the boat...  if you don't know what I mean, think back to the "Two Ronnies" and the "worm that turned".... keep looking over your shoulder Vicky! 😀

So then... quilted in to doing something productive inspired by his productivity, I decided it was time to begin the 'Base-plate cold store'  "Wine cellar".

I admit - I've been putting it off for months as the floor took a lot getting down in the first place and I just knew it would be a pain.

Anyway - I remembered an door frame (don't ask) I had left in the garage at home so went to collect some post and loaded it into the car.

Not wanting to buy any more wood, I convinced myself that it wouldn't look odd using both 1 and 2 inch sections to make a frame.

Having gone back into the boat, I rather sensibly (for once) had the idea to number the pieces on the floor before taking it up.  I used a bit of masking tape and simple 1-36 system.

Once the frame was the size I wanted it, put it on the floor, drew around it and then took it up.  Having already removed ballast here, there were cut sections in the sub floor but of course NOT the place I wanted them...  to add insult to injury, there was also a bearer in the wrong place meaning the last 6 inches of the store would not be usable.  Not the end of the world though as I just moved it up a bit.

Moving it up of course meant I needed to cut some MORE floor out... and of course having sold my corded multi-too when we emptied the house/garage out, I was left using the battery version.  Luckily I had a few charged up batteries *note to self - rotate the regularly on the charger*.

That seemed to take all afternoon so I abandoned it for the day and came back to if fresh yesterday afternoon (having had chores to do in the morning).

I began fitting back in the cut out sections down each side (once I'd tested a bottle of Pepsi (other coal flavoured soft drinks are available)) would fit. and then cut the sub floor to fit  into the recess.

Whilst I'm sure I DID take more photos as I was doing things, my phone seems to have other ideas... as the next one it has stored is the (relatively) finished result.

It's VERY sturdy and doesn't flex at all when walked on...  I still need to find some flush handles to lift it out with and I'm toying with the idea of fitting hinges on one side.... It doesn't look too bad and  I'm quite pleased with it.   I still need to paint it out inside... I've got some hammertie garage door paint lurking somewhere so  that will suffice.   

Today, I intend using it as a temporary store for the contents of the freezer whilst I defrost it (again)....  I think someone over filled the ice cube trays the other week which meant when the water expanded it came into contact with the top freezing element and stuck fast.  I'm sure it's causing the  freezer to stay on more than normal.... NOT forgetting the fact, getting ice out is bloody difficult frustrating.

Until next time...

Monday 5 February 2018

Cabin Fever... experimental catering and a new boat is launched.

Well we're still alive - just... despite the grim reaper lurking around the boat of an evening...

Having spent most of the week indoors feeling sorry for myself (well part from the occasional meeting and drunken scush at the pub) - WHEN Sunday morning dawned and it was neither wet NOR windy, I decreed it was time we went for a chug to charge the batteries a bit.

The river was still a bit in flood (well the red light was flashing) so we turned and went the other way - towards Fairies Hill.  It was actually quite a nice (if cold) day to be out on the water - we weren't the only ones having the same idea as we met a couple of other boats charging their batteries too.

IT occurred to us to go downsstream to Castleford and have a night away from our mooring but once again, when we arrived at Woodnook lock, the  lights said "no".  THAT said,  When I went down to take a look at the board, it WAS in the yellow and dropping so could have made a dash for it to the flood lock - though on discussion, we decided that the Aire might be higher making our dash across it a bit perilous.

Instead, we filled up with water, turned and headed back the way we'd come.

On our return, Andy decided he was going to have a play at some vegetarian recipes:  Red Lentil Pate' , a potato, pesto, pasta and parsley soup along with a Tomato, mozzarella French stick  AND a potato, pepper and mushroom hash.

It turned out nice enough but despite often eating vegetarian when I go out, I couldn't help but still feel hungry quite soon after... 

This morning, we went into town to do a few chores...  including hair cuts, collecting post from the house and also "mat hunting" - the latter was a total failure but when on route back to the boat, we passed a narrowboat on the back of the lorry.  NOTICING the crane at Wakefield Wharf looking ready for business, we nipped back and parked the car before heading onto the Hepworth Gallery walkway for a proper look.

It wasn't until we'd been chatting with the woman whose boat it is for a few mins that I realised they had the SAME delivery driver as we did.  As in our case, just  making one slick reversing manoeuvre to get into the boat yard.

I videoed it here:

IT really brought back those nervous feelings of when ours was being craned in... I was beside myself - even Andy (who is usually quite laid back about things) went green too lol.

IT's a self fit out - well I say self, it's going to be fitted out by someone on the owners behalf - but they had the paint job done before it left the builders.....we'd like to have done that but money wouldn't allow.  

It's on it's way to Dewsbury to be done so we'll no doubt bump into them/it at some point - not literally I hope.

Until next time...