Wednesday 27 January 2021

Internal Painting, Statistics, Apathy & foregiveness

 I know I know... I've gone quiet again.

It's hardly surprising to be honest - It's that time of year when (if you've not got the money to get on with bigger projects), you have to modify your plans and do crappy little jobs around the boat which offer little in the way of reward or enthusiasm. Add to that, Dry January, DIET January and a global pandemic and you've got the perfect 'apathetic storm'.  In short - I'm struggling with motivation.

That said, I AM still dragging my reluctant ginger wobbly bum out of bed every morning by 7am and walking 10 -12 miles come rain or snow (notice the absence of shine)!  It's very dull - my routes not even varying that much as I need to include a return trip to the boat 'mid-walk' to have a wee - 5-6 miles being my optimum walking distance between tinkles.  hmff.  Still, I AM doing it and as such getting some daylight in the morning which is apparently the best time to get it.  I'm not convinced.  No matter.... I'm doing it regardless.  I was talking with my dad the other day and even HE is struggling this year - given all the crap he's endured in the last few years (deaths door, being mum's carer and then bereavement)  his 'reserves' must be about depleted too.  It's rotten and there isn't anything I can do about it -  Still, apart from a couple of "snow days" as he called them, he's a stubborn committed and self motivating sort and is somehow managing to get on with things.   I 'm quite like my dad.

Whilst chatting with him, we actually touched on a few areas of 'life' we'd normally skirt around - relationships.  When mum was alive, we used to chat a lot on the phone and pretty much could talk about anything... occasional filters applied on both ends of the line but generally most things could be openly discussed.  Then,  if she deemed it necessary, she'd update dad in her way - to illicit the least reactionary response.  I'm not writing this well - what I'm trying to get across is that if there was an area of conversational topic that HE might be uncomfortable in talking about/knowing, she'd somehow manage to broach it, discuss it and get a resolution with the least amount (well to my knowledge) of resistance.

Now the 'mum translation tool' isn't available, dad just has to get the un-filtered version and deal with it... and you know what? - turns out he can. Perhaps I'd underestimated how progressive thinking he can be and his ability to adapt and move with the times.  HE clearly has hidden depths I've never given him credit for... it turns out parents are rarely what you think they are and from talking with friends, the older WE get, the more open we are to actually getting to know them. 

I'm wandering off again - sorry.   BACK to the chat with dad ... I asked him what (elephant in the room) a side, what is getting him down.  The number 1 thing, has turned out to be my niece and her boyfriend - who (whom?) after more years together than I can remember exactly, have agreed to go their separate ways...  Dad is really sad about that as this chap was a really good influence on her, a very kind and tolerant chap and it was his father (the retired vicar) who presided at mums funeral... in short - a good fit.  He then went on to say that he was also sad last year when Andy and I split - even going as far as saying how much he liked Andy and that he'd been a good fit too.  He paused himself then and said that whilst not knowing the cause of our split (I've never really filled him in on the background to our split - there's no point) but said I hope you can forgive him.  That lead nicely on to me updating him with the news that the house  purchase Andy had been 'mid-buy' for months had finally just gone through and that I'd sent him a card/bottle as a ' good luck in your new life ' sentiment... poor chap being in limbo since he left really.  Whilst where we both are now is not what I'd ever wanted,  I have to accept it, forgive any trespasses against us (very 'Lord's Prayer' I know) and move forward.  Dad was approving of this and then we went on with the discussion about people who  bear grudges spending their entire lives miserable  - the only ones losing out being themselves... we even touched on Christianity and agreed we both lead good Christian lives but without the 'God bothering'.    

All in all it was a 'good' chat.

REWIND a bit to "wobbly ginger bums"  - since I Was last here, I've had the 3rd week diet weigh in...  Results were:

13 stone 2 & 1/8th - ergo, that's 1 stone and 4/8ths in 3 weeks.. I'm very pleased with that but boy it's been a struggle.  I'm hungry from about 6pm until bedtime... I managed all day ok - but back in the confines of the boat, fire blazing and bugger all on telly worth watching, my brain kicks in to 'feed me' mode - (think Audrey 2 off  'Little shop of horrors').  

I realize photos of scales are very boring but let's face it, you're in lockdown too so have bugger all better to do either! 😃

SINCE then (it was Friday - today is Wednesday) I've totally stalled again... hmmmf...  I'm gonna have to walk a whole lot more today and tomorrow if I've a chance to move an ounce!

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You'll recall the next cheap job on my list was to tidy up the rear steps.  Last winter I painted them grey but they've been impossible to keep looking clean due to the non-slip granules in the paint.  THIS years plan was to change the grey to black.  Whilst I was doing it, it also occurred that the cupboard doors either side - despite being sanded back and varnished umpteen times LAST winter, were looking rough again.  It's to be expected I suppose... a side from the fact everyone brushes past them when entering/exiting the boat, when it rains and the hatch is open (guests often stand in that space when it's raining), they get a lot of rain slashing on them - the waterborne Morrells simply NOT really the right topical application for such an environment.  Solution? - MORE grey Gloss paint (left overs from painting the shutters last winter)

I have (since taking these photos) also painted the bottom panels and it's given the area a much needed lift - at some point, the wood panel on the hatch will also get a coat - probably white though as it's quite a dark area.   really need to fit a runner of sorts to it too as despite regularly waxing the aluminum strips outside, it IS quite difficult to open.

ALSO whilst avoiding rain showers outside,  I had a brainwave to cover the foam "spacers" I've been using at the foot of the mattress in the guest cabin - there is a small gap between the bottom section of the mattress and the cabin wall - most folks don't notice it but I do ... it' means the 2 mattress sections can slip apart and a gap appears.  In a bid to stop this, last year I cut a couple of bits of blue foam  and have been wedging them down the gap to stop movement.  It works well but looks are bit rough - well more rough than the rest of the cabin does...  SO, with left over material from the dinette cushions that my friend made for me last winter, I had another go at sewing.  LUCKILY you can't see the results but (whilst a little amateur) it's better than nothing and much nicer looking than a bit of foam wedged in a hole.

At some point, I'll make (or ask someone who has such skills) a couple more removable covers.

Talking (well writing) about covers, the ones in the dinette that were made last year rather beautifully by Denise, were beginning to bobble a bit - she did tell me I'd bought the wrong kind of fabric (again) and to be fair, they've been through the wash a fair few times so it's only to be expected.  I got to thinking of ways to rejuvenate them - and ping... a 'blast from the past' came into my head ... I HAD been picking off the bobbles by hand when I remembered "The Remington Fuzz-away"...  a quick google had me with today's JML type equivalent being ordered off  Ebay.

Anyway - half an hour's shaving and 2 sets of AA batteries later, they are like new again.... I'll get another year from them now I'm sure.

Right - I suppose I had better get out on my walk before the rain starts again.

Until next time...

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.

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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.

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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...