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...

Tuesday 24 November 2020

Fire-Escape & and 'That's That Then'.

Now then,  here we are again - nearly the end of November and I just realized I'm behind where I was LAST year in the old 'book-keeping' chores... looking through my phone to see what I'd been up to recently, I came across the screen shot I took on the 6th Nov Last year of my accepted Tax return by HMRC.  Hmmf...  not like it'll make begger all difference to the finances but I suppose I really do need to get it done before the deadline becomes just that.

MEANWHILE - ignoring 'grown up stuff' for a moment... ACTUALLY, come to think of it I suppose this is just as grown up:  After17 months of solicitors bills (for very little actual work me thinks), last week I got the Final Dissolution Order through from the court... WHICH in "normal parlance" would be classed as the 'Decree-absolute' - ergo,  I am now FINALLY legally single again.  I really do pity people who got 'properly married' or those with kids and maintenance issues to sort out... it must be horrible.  It's been a difficult enough split for us and we already came to a fair agreement BEFORE involving a solicitor.  In hindsight, we should have just done it ourselves and saved an awful lot of money for nothing.  Hey ho. Anyway - That's that then...  the end of an Era.

I'd hoped to feel more positive about it to be honest - alas when the paperwork landed on the doormat  (my tenant opens my post and updates me accordingly) it felt like a final dagger to the heart... like watching years of (mostly positive memories) having a big red cross put through them.  I can't deny it's sent me on a bit of a downer... not helped by the miserable winter blues nagging at my mood, all at the time of my late mums birthday anniversary...(and that's with me ignoring the covid elephant in the room).  Still - it does leave both Andy and I "free" to do it all again... hmm...  or perhaps not!  

We're still in touch - all be it at a LONG arms length...  there is still genuine affection for each other and I'm confident as time heals, we'll be able to be proper friends...  right now, I'm still smarting emotionally and as much as I WANT to totally forgive, I'm not sure I have the capacity just yet... likewise I suppose from his point of view... in one of my less proud moments (admittedly at the end of a very difficult few months, during which I struggled to come to terms with what had been going on) I lost control and was cruel to someone when I shouldn't have been... namely his parents.  The contents of that vicious exchange ( vicious from both sides) are private but suffice to say buttons, were pushed from which there came a point of no return - Which I'm sad about and when NOT looking through the red haze of the time, I regret and am sorry about.  

Still - it's all water under the bridge now and I hope everyone is able to move forward in whatever weird direction mother nature has in store for us all.

In my case, I had a VERY close call with the Grim-Reaper this week...  For a while now, when the immersion heater has been on (it's rated at 1kw) I've noticed 'hot smell' coming from the inverter.  To be honest, I just rationalized it in my head that as it contains a massive coil and moffsats (I think that's their name) this was probably just a  side - effect of them doing their job.

Being on Shoreline, I didn't really think much  of it until the other evening whilst cooking tea.  I had the microwave on at the same time as the immersion... (immersion 1kw and microwave rated at 1.5kw) -combined total still within the inverters capacity (or on pass-through mode) the 16amp shoreline feed.

The  'hot' smell became more of a 'Smokey' smell.

On opening the cupboard to look, it became apparent all was NOT good- acrid smoke was being produced and a strange "glow" from inside the inverter was visible.  After knocking off the power at the boat's isolator AND outside at the shoreline, I investigated properly by removing covers etc.

IT turned out that the negative INPUT must have had (good English) a poor/stretched connection and passing such a big current through created enough heat to melt the connecting block.

I went looking for a big choc block in amongst my electrical gubbings box... only to remember, I USED up the big ones last year when I fitted the power supply in the bedroom for the chap who had booked who needed to bring a CPAP machine with him... never used in anger due to covid trapping him in Germany.

Knocking on a neighboring (mid self build) boat, I managed to scrounge a smaller one and decided to use it for the earth.  I also replaced the internal negative wire with a new piece (and put the heat sleeve over it too) .

On putting it all back together I turned everything back on (hearing the fridge/freezer start up) I was relieved when it worked again.  Over the next couple of hours I kept checking (as you do) for smells and having phoned my brother (he's an electrician) and shown him what I'd done, we agreed all is now well...  I might just have been a case of poor crimping on the initial installation but whatever the cause, it's now resolved... the grim reaper being sent on his way on this occasion.  

To be on the SAFE SIDE - I fitted new batteries in all 3 smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms before retiring for the night lol.

IN OTHER NEWS... remember I mentioned about putting on a couple of Xmas Specials up on the website? - well I did... just 2, 3 night trips... ONE of which was snapped up very quickly which is marvelous... what's even better is that it's the Xmas eve one  and it's the lady who came for her 70th (and thus saved her 'bubble' for us, so no matter what happens, Boris can't really put a spanner in things.

The other one is yet to go but even if it doesn't, I think we'll make the trip anyway cause as lovely as Shoreline is, I do get a bit itchy hull when not moving around.

Ooo, before I go (I've 5 miles to walk this morning to pick up a parasol due an accidental WRONG location click and collect), I've had another visit from the Spanish rescue dog yesterday - he's a charming fellow and I REALLY could keep him.  He poses for photos almost instinctively

don't you think?

HIS visits have really made me think it's time to get another dog... or rather PLAN to.  Something Ed's size and nature would be perfect.  

The thing is, I DO have to consider what booked guests might think... SO - in a bid not to brass anyone off who's booked already for 2021, I've decided that WHEN I put the 2022 schedule online (I'm about to start that), at the top of the page is going to be a large paragraph explaining that for the 2022 season there will be a dog on board... this BEFORE anyone can book so as not to enforce it on anyone.  I Think that's fair and gives me  NEXT winter to find the perfect rescue dog to join the good ship Ellis.

Until Next time...

Wednesday 11 November 2020

Overnight Oats (Bircher Muesli) and no comment

 Ignoring what is currently going on in the world, here on Ellis I am sinking my teeth in to my winter jobs list again...  a few easy wins such as taking the (overly dark mirror film I put on last winter) OFF the portholes and side hatches,  changing the mesh on the roof vents to ones with smaller holes  (now the fly nets have worn out over the mushrooms)  and touching up scratches here and there.    Bigger jobs include re-modelling the crew wardrobe to remove hanging rails and make shelves/dividers to store clothes folded on and also in the lower half, fit shelving to store uht milk, soft drinks AND make space for the very useful (but space consuming) sholley to live.... instead of it being on top of the crew loo - which to be frank had become a pain in the bum every night when preparing crew quarters for bed.

As much of the country is probably sitting around at home eating and drinking more than is good for them in the run up to 2021, I am taking the opposite approach - as much as I'd LIKE to keep eating and drinking whatever I like, the reality is, now we're not moving around I am just turning into a fat middle-aged puff! - the latter I can't really do much about... the former...? well it requires will power and motivation - both of which are in short supply but having touched on 13 stone 10 the other day, it HAS to happen.  

My blood pressure is higher than it should be (even having been medication for it for the last 20 years)  

- cholesterol is also high and the doc did suggest last year I they'd take another test and put me on statins but then Covid came along so that was that.  Having had a phone consultation recently, they suggested I take an over the counter test from a chemist and let them know the results...  suffice to say once again the overall level being 6. something or other, meaning in the absence of "proper" testing, they sent an online prescription to the nominated chemist... ahem, school boy error idiot at large here HADN'T changed it from Boots Northwich! - ergo, I'll not be collecting them anytime soon.

So - in an attempt to soak up as much as I can without medication, I've began the whole Plant Sterols regime and forced myself to begin eating over night oats for breakfast each day... after the 3rd day, I stopped noticing how unsweet they tasted and am now a bit of a convert....  AS for the plant sterols - all I have to say on that subject is that after a week or so on them, I seemed to develop an allergic reaction and my back came up in lumps and bumps and itched like mad.  On stopping them, it disappeared... 'looks like all my hopes are pinned on the oats.  I'll report back in a month if I'm still alive!☺😁☺  I've also knocked the gin on the head massively - initially doing alternate days... then every 3rd day and now I try  not to drink until weekends.... with varying results but any day missed HAS to be a benefit.  

The toe is still sore but I'm making better progress now walking and in fact can manage 6 miles or so in my boots before I have to take a pain killer... wish the same could be said for my back  but I suppose that's the price you pay for being such an agile, athletic old man - eventually, nature catches up with you.  Hey ho.  LUCKILY, being ginger people don't notice the limping!

What else to report? - er not a lot really...  when I'm not pottering about doing chores, I trying to work out a couple of short Xmas trips to put on the website (that will depend on what happens on 2nd Dec.) and also work some more trips out for the end of next year.  2022 is in the planning now and I  AM going to begin the year from Stone and spend some time on the River Weaver doing 5 or 6 night trips from Anderton, down the lift and after a few nights on the river, ending at Northwich Marina to do change overs plugged into electric... it makes it SO much easier.  After that, I think it'll be time to head further south but as yet I'm not sure.

BEFORE then however, I really need to get my accounts up to date for the previous year and do the tax return - tbh, the figs are already in a spreadsheet so it's really just a case of pulling my finger out.

Thing is, I keep getting distracted - yesterday I made a new friend... Whilst I was buggering about trying to fit the shelves in the wardrobe, I turned around and there he was - sitting quite happily watching me!

Upon instruction (and after a dog biscuit) he went and sat outside and continued to watch me working... amazingly, understanding me perfectly... later on I discovered he's actually a rescue dog from Spain! As you will imagine I spent the rest of the afternoon doing my BEST "Manwell" (how do you spell that?) impression... "I speak very good Spanish... I learn it from a book" lol.

So there we are - Remembrance day...11th hour, 11th day, 11th month. ALL this Covid stuff is REALLY put into perspective by WW1 I think!

Until next time....