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Saturday, 25 January 2020

Toilet Pipe (revisited times 3), more jobs, a Twanged gongoozler and final anniversary.

IT was 12 months ago yesterday we cremated mum.  As many people have intimated, once you get through the first 12 months of anniversaries relating to her, her life and her death, things become differently painful.  I can confirm, yesterday (which I spend most of on my own (again)) was a tough one - controlling my brain and stopping it wandering back to that day was almost impossible.  DISTRACTION was the best I could come up with.  In the morning that involved spending as long as I could - or rather, as long as my back would allow) on my hands and knees gardening at the bungalow.  The tenant really has let it go but like I said to her, she's a single mother doing a good job at that, so a few weeds doesn't matter... you only get one shot bringing up kids so speaking as one who was fortunate to have a brilliant childhood, with 2 parents who sacrificed an awful lot to make sure my brother and I were loved, educated and compassionate, I'd FAR rather she put the effort into her child than keeping the garden tidy.

That said, it really has become a jungle lol.

That's why I boated up in to town to be closer walking distance... previously when I've walked the 4.5 miles there  and spent a few hours in the garden, I've not had the back strength to walk back again.  Ergo, simple solution to bring the boat closer to home and do it from there.

It seems to be working - I'm on day 3 of operation "re-take nature"...  there are a lot of days more needed lol.

DURING my journey, I got to a lock (Fall Ing) that had been closed for a couple of days for a police incident.  Which turns out was to search the lock for a missing teenager.

Mateusz Lugowski- poor kid is only 16.






I realise there is little chance anyone reading this would have an info but you never know... I can't imagine what his parents must be going through.

ANYWAY - during my asscention of the lock (single handing) I got a bit carried away with my top gate paddle winding and the boat rushed forward (it's a double length double width lock btw with awful currents)... and of course the resulting "rush" was 'braked' by the centreline... ahem a centre line that WAS going through a fairlead on the roof... a fairlead which "twanged off " with the most horrendous noise and skimmed past a goongoozler on the lock side!!! - had it hit them, they'd be in a very bad way.


IT had snapped off both the screws holding it down and pulled a load of paint along with it.

I have no one to blame other than "me"... I should have brought the boat up slower...  

ANYWAY - I've ordered a pair of replacements - this time a bit bigger with 3 fixing holes so when they arrive, I'll no doubt have a bugger of job removing the OTHER one lol.

So, I've been here a few days now - and have taken the opportunity to buy "heavy things" that are a pain to carry...  mainly soft drink and canned goods etc - it's a log easier walking half a mile than the usual distance carrying them.

BACK to the gardening (I know - this is a boaty blog) - 





THAT has been a few days work...  

There are STILL quite a few days left to do 


I'm tackling it in little sections at a time...  it'll  get there.

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BACK on the boat, the time finally came to RE-DO the toilet pipes... for the 3rd and final time...  THIS time, I've bought the most expensive twin lined Butyl NO odour (as apposed to low odour) hose I could find...  ANNOYINGLY - "Gazza" on a boating forum told me 2 years ago I should have done... turned out he was right - however as I didn't have the money (have even LESS now) I bought what I could afford... turns out the old saying, "buy cheap buy twice" (in this occasion thrice) IS true....  grrrrr. hmmf.


IT's done now - and the faint odour in the wardrobe is nearly dissipated...  well, it has done but is now replaced by the smell of the hose - massively better though lol.

WHILST the cupboard was taken apart, I took the opportunity to wire in more robust Car Power socket power supply - taken from the toilet feed (which is 30amp).  The reason for this is that one of the customers coming this year requires a CPAC (maybe I'm calling that the wrong name there) BREATHING machine to force air into him whilst he sleeps - Sleep Apnea...

IT requires a 10 amp supply for the 12v apparatus.  GIVEN the cabin is at the front of the boat, the only way I could think to accomplish this AND take volt drop into account, was to use the macerator toilet feed! - ergo, I've tapped into that and all being well it will supply the power he's going to need.  Apparently , the 10amp is the MAX - and he can turn off the dehumidifier function to save power... time will tell how the batteries cope over night... if they are struggling, I'll turn off the fridge and maybe connect the starter battery in to help out... I've got the lithium jump starter pack which I keep charged up as a back up.






I know that last photo makes it look wonky but it's not... it was the way I was holding the camera and hadn't screwed the surround into place.... it's fine... honest.

Righty ho - time to run the engine for an hour (bulk charge) now I'm away from shoreline for a few days and then get back to the jungle!

Until next time...



Tuesday, 21 January 2020

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

Catchy post title or what?😎

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

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





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

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




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

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

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

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

. . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . 



GOING back in time a bit - you may recall before I got the boat, I'd found some rather good, acrylic porthole covers with nets on to keep bugs out? - ...  HERE:  https://narrowboatellis.blogspot.com/2016/05/porthole-bug-coverscourtesy-of.html

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

WHAT to do...

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time...



Thursday, 9 January 2020

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

Let the record state - I officially HATE Dry January.

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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








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

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

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

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

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

Until next time...