Tuesday, 24 February 2015

English tonight....and the benefits of an opposing thumb

One small positive thing that being a LAT brings is food selection. Ok I have to cook myself (not a problem as we shared the cooking when not LAT'ing) and I have to do the washing up, yes no dishwasher on this tug !

On my way to Percy after work last night I called into Morrisons and purchased my food selection for the rest of the week - in a basket. Last night it was Chicken Jalfrezi, tonight as the title suggests it was smoked Cod with mash, cauliflower, Broccoli and carrots.

Tomorrow I/we if Leia gets left overs.... more on that later*,  will be eating Italian, Pasta with salad, olives and garlic bread. Leaving Thursday for a simple chicken and sweetcorn soup with extra noodles added, and I might eat the second nan with it 'cause I can !

* Confession time, I had a two people piece of Cod tonight and a tad too much mash. That is the risk, eating for two and not in the normal pregnant way. Italian will be easier as I'll cook for two and eat the second for lunch at work on Thursday.

I am also having to drink a bottle of Rioja to myself !

One positive I am not doing puddings.... maybe some fruit but that is all.

So dear reader fear not for me on the food front. I am eating around the world this week. I think we are Greeking it on Saturday for Toms birthday.

So now I have to decide on Netflix or the football - and as Leia does not have an opposing thumb I have the remote all to myself.






Sunday, 15 February 2015

Naked on the towpath 3am involving myself with amorous Shenanigans

Well after all it was Valentine's Day ish..... Only problem is was not our own romantic entwinements rather those of the bloody ducks !!!

Opening the windows and asking them to go away only seemed to encourage them more, then the dog got involved with some serious barking. Bear in mind we were on  a nice remote mooring outside the village of Whittington so your brave author took to the tow path in his all together and used the well placed mole hill mounds as lumps of artillery to dissuade the loved up ducks to take it somewhere else, no ducks were harmed in the process. The local moorhen got involved in the reallocation of the waterways. Eventually the ducks moved on and so did their awfully loud 'quacking'

So sorry dear reader it may not have been the details of the anniversary romps you feared, but another episode of living on the canals !

PS for the sake of your breakfasts no photos are included !

Saturday, 14 February 2015

30 years

Today is our 30 year wedding anniversary. 30 years �� together, through much but nothing like some have to endure. We have two intelligent and responsible sons, a beautiful daughter in law, a beautiful and intrepid girlfriend in law if such exists.

We got married on Valentine's  day which over the years, whilst romantic, has resulted in celebrations in quiet, sometimes  romantic locations but not restaurants. However ironically last year we were in a fine hotel overlooking the Conway valley looking at properties to buy in Wales what a year we have had.

Due to a Care Quality Commision inspection at Rachel's hospital we could not celebrate abroad which would have been our preference, having celebrated our 25th on the Nile. In fact much like our wedding day 30 years ago when Rachel had to be back at work the next day as they would not give her leave.....the NHS has and continues to be a major influence in our lives.

So today we are having a cruise down the Coventry.... Not sure where we will stop but it will be in the middle of nowhere where we can reflect, relax and maybe plan for the coming year.

Watch this space .....

Friday, 6 February 2015

House v's narrowboat

Not any sort of in depth review but a simple observation from my now seven plus months in/on a boat rather than bricks and mortar. I'll constrain myself to one observation for this post. I am saving a a broader review of all that is good and bad when I feel I have experienced, I was going to type endured, all the seasons.

It is important to let you know it is not all good -  as many read such blogs to encourage themselves it is idilic and a good reason to commit to a significant life change without getting the real picture.

Anyhow this small blog is as much to remind me when I read it back hopefully in September/October what to expect (again).

Nature.... that is my observation from a winter aboard. You live in it rather than beside it as it feels you do so in a house. In a house -well a city house such as the one we have in Derby it seems to have a better command of nature in that regardless of what is happening outside, in the main life goes on. How many times have you realised it has rained only after stepping outside, or snow or frost. High winds maybe might get your attention with the occasional whistle if the wind blows in a certain direction.

The lights go on, the heating heats, water flows and toilets flush.... in the main regardless of nature.

The boat is the same but you plan..... and in that you work with nature. Bad luck to you if it is howling a gale and pouring down.... You will of course know this because you hear the rain on the roof and you feel the boat rock (you have tightened the mooring rope up haven't you?) if your cassette or worst still holding tank is full regardless of the weather you have to be out in it.

You consume the weather forecast daily.....

I am acutely aware of the ever so slowly longer days (the long nights however cosy are a trial) Without work I would have no doubt come close to hibernation for sure !

Even the moon cycles become more apparent and welcome. This was the initial reason for the post....

Two photos.... what you cannot see is the moons position relative to the canal.

This is my coming home to the boat photo, just before I close the back doors for the night....


This is my on the way to work photo the next morning. The moon has journeyed over the canal but is very welcome both parts of the day as on a clear night I do not need my head torch....


I look forward to the full moon... any decent moon in fact as it lights my way along a very dark canal.

The sun is now just starting to do its bit also.... I got 3% on my batteries yesterday and only used 2% in the evening, I never really thought about my fridge let alone the freezer when in the house, now as I have a cold back cabin that is my fridge, until the sun gives me the solar during the day to run my fridge it'll stay off !

It's been good and I am starting to feel like a rufty tufty boater, no doubt sometimes I look more like a tramp but function over form all the way for now - especially when its dark !!

More later as I continue to reflect

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

A fluorescent granny on the canals

We took a walk to the Fradley Coop down the Coventry on Saturday afternoon. Just outside Fradley we met a boat(er) know to us, again from the blogging community - if that makes sense. Anyhow I hailed him and he gave a pleasant nod and carried on.... so much for my face on the canals.

Anyhow on we went, got our supplies and by the time we got back to Fradley Junction  I was surprised he was not moored up.

He was Andrew Denny of Granny Buttons fame and was seemingly on a mission to cruise into a very cold night in a bid to get to Willington the next day.

We caught up with him at Hunts and reintroduced myself whereby he recalled who I was and my last boat (blog) Serious evening cruising single handed in winter, so top marks for that. We had a catch up, he declined tea for his mission was to get past the river section that night !

Anyhow here is is fluorescing on his way. we did close the gates for him for which he was unnecessarily grateful.




Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Electricity, inverters and a Smartgauge explanation, but not toilets.

Most boaters will tell you when a couple get together they invariably talk and sometime argue on the merits of how to hold and dispose of your bodily waste - toilets. Not this boater, I have a real electricity fixation.

Now I need to add a squirt of clarification to that.... as this boater (me) is off grid - fully. Lots will live in marinas for the winter when power is most demanded and most pressed and have a 'hook up' as well as a galvanic isolator to  stop their boat fizzing away to nothing.  Power to these boys and girls is limited to their wallet thickness in the main.

One thing living afloat for the winter has taught me is how much you are aware of the drain different bits of kit have on your bundles of liquid electricity storage - or batteries. I have gone from 170a/h to 220a/h to currently (sorry) 330a/h.

Now while like the sound of Percy's Lister CS2 I prefer to listen to it while on the back steering through this green and pleasant land, so I resist starting it up as much as I can whilst stationary. Also I am bound to self lubricate after each generation session as the 'donk' is a 1929 design and does not have such delights as oil pressure and much more than a simple 'splash' lubrication system for those bits inside I cannot see.

So I don't like to have to top up basically.

Now the inverter is a no name 1000 watt jobbie. It'll start and run the Dyson as well as the 700w microwave. After that all other devices are TV 22w, and charges for laptops and phones/Ipads etc.

Now the Smartgauge explanation - trust me I'll be back to inverters soon....

I nicked this from Mr Delting from this canalforum thread - the thread is interesting reading but Mr Delting's explanation is the best I have seen for owning a Smartgauge  - I am a devotee, it was the first thing I fitted to Percy.....


As I understand it Smartgauge is not meant to be read like a 'Bible' and mine certainly doesn't work as one. If I run some equipment for a known time I know I have used X percent of the 550 Amphours my batteries theoretically can hold. Smartgauge does not drop by X percent straight away but wait a while and it will be very close.

When we get back to the marina after a good run and SG states C100, when I connect shorepower the Victron goes Bulk, Adsorption to float in about 5 minutes so the batteries are pretty full.

What I do know is that if it says C60 in the morning I need a good charge period today, if it says C78 then in summer the solar will probably be enough. It is also useful when you look at 5:00pm and realize that all is not well when it reads C65 so you had better run the engine for an hour or so to survive the night. It doesn't matter if C65 is actually 65 percent or not, it indicates that your batteries are below 70 percent and that may be important at 5:00pm otherwise Murphy states that by 8:30 your inverter will beep and turn off in the middle of that film / match. and it is too late to charge your battery!

So if you were thinking of getting one what is stopping you?

Back to inverters....

I left mine on the other night by accident and came back the next morning to find it had robbed about 8% from my batteries as told by the SG. So I then realised the old inverter was using a good chunk of watts just waiting to be used. We only turn it on when needing 240v but I have realised that its standby and its no doubt poor efficiency in 'inverting 12v to 240v means it is an electrical luxury I had not thought about. 

So my dilemma and advice if you have got this far....

I have a small 150w inverter I could wire into the battery bank and use when I only need the tv or a charger or two.... I am not sure what this devices's standby or efficiency is but I am understanding that the closer to the maximum you run the inverters at the more efficient they are and this is a newer device it might be/should be more efficient even at standby.

My other option is to get a 180w Victron for about £100 of which I know its standby use is 2.6w (0.16 amps) and 87% efficient so my 22w tv will be in effect consuming about 25w? This option means on the times I want to run the vaccum or microwave I'll have to swap over the plug to the respective inverter, a simple system. 

My final option is to blow the budget and get a 1200 Victron that has a standby of 6 watts and is 92% efficient but can be put in search mode - sleep that consumes 2 watts but needs devices with enough draw to wake it up - a problem I have read about elsewhere.

I may well investigate the old inverter to see if I can find out more about it. I may well try the 150 watt one I have for now and see how that works, progressing to the 180w Victron until the old inverter dies one time when the vacuum is being used etc..... good typing that all up has given me a plan/strategy/approach.

Always welcome thoughts on what I have posted especially of you think  am wrong or you have a Victron to give me ;-)

Monday, 2 February 2015

The best type of snow

Woke up Thursday morning to a good old dollop of snow ....




















The best snow comes, looks pretty and buggers off


Still took me an hour and three quarters to get to work Friday !!

Saturday am (pic above)and its flippin cold but sunny so off to do my chores, two poo tanks to empty, an engine to lubricate, and a boat to vac. Busy Busy Busy....