Sunday, 16 November 2014

If only...

.......they had build a canal in the New Galloway forest I'd be sorted !!

A few weeks ago I took a road trip from Chichester to Stranraer  - 480 miles, covered it using the Honda, CRV - 4 wheels rather than ST1300 -  2 wheels, never mind, this chapter of my life is bikeless which is sad.

It was for a trip to see my good friends John and Carrie and their two little dynamo's. I had provisionally agreed it when I thought I would be homeless while the boat was painted, this is now July 2015.... when I should be larging it up back in the homestead, no commute, bike in the garage, as much electricity as I want to waste as well as water and heat etc, anyhow that is next years story maybe.

So I set off Monday am and got to their farm house in the twilight of a Scottish winter - just in time for the tail end of hurricane something or other to whip through....


We had a great time as it was the kids half term....

My kind of beach.... all to ourselves.

We had a day in the Galloway forest.....and had all seasons in half an hour

The farmhouse location is stunning...

The only hiccup was when messing about with the radio controlled planes and quadcopers John's plane lost its valiant battle with an unexpected wind. We build them with sophisticated flight controllers that have GPS and altimeters in them but even though the plane knew where it was trying to fly back to the head wind was pushing it back up the West coast of Scotland. We thought we got a Ltt and Long fix as it was running out of battery but we suspect after the last broadcast is was blown a long way off form this last fix.... ouch !!

All in all an excellent and restorative break. Thank you John and Carrie

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Leave my boat and do not darken its doors ever again....

.... and with that the old batteries were swapped over. When we got Percy there were a couple of 85 amp/h batteries installed with a 90 amp/h starter. Kev my neighbour had a couple of 110's he had got under warranty from Norbury I brought off him and they lasted a just short of a coupe of years and were never looked after.

Even with my modest power demands they slowly lost more every evening and last time Rachel was aboard we killed them to the point the bath pump would not operate.  So they were replaced with a couple of 110 sealed types and as there was a deal on at MC I replaced the starter at the same time.

They are doing very well, I have not run the engine this week... the solar topping them up and the fridge is off as the back cabin is now may fridge/larder for the rest of the winter. In fact it is colder in the back cabin than the fridge was! One of the benefits of Percy is its compartmentalisation.... lots of doors. This keeps the bathroom/bedroom kitchen and saloon warm with the engine room buffering the back cabin. Fridge in the back cabin currently 26c in the saloon.

Anyhow a before  picture....

....and the after picture

One benefit was the threaded posts rather than clamps.... tidier and tighter fit and safer when installing as you can see they are close to the bulkhead. It is a job to to when you are not in a rush.

Lots of other stuff that I should have blogged about but when you send so much time aboard there seems less time or maybe less inclination to blog, shame really.

Monday, 6 October 2014

Mooring by moonlight

Just took Leia for a before bedtime wee..... the mooring was beautiful and misty after the rain..... so I got the camera out with the tripod.

For best effect click on them to get the full size image.

Friday, 3 October 2014

Shocking that I have actually cruised the boat. I never wanted it to be a floating cottage, nice as it is, my aim was to use it to travel. Long term plan is to see much of the system but for now as and when we get out.

The reason for the cruise originally was to take Percy to John Sanderson on the Stourbridge to be painted. Him running a little late and the stoppages dropping in early meant we have put it back to Summer 2015 now. Not ideal but me spending more time afloat made it difficult to say the least.

So this little cruise was up to Stone and back, familiar territory but some of the nicest canal cruising out there, I especially like the run between Great Haywood and Stone.

Some observations.....

The weather.... glorious, sunny, warm, nil wind and into October, either we are going to have another wet and mild winter or a real icy bugger to test my resolve.

HS2... not coming to Fradley now, good news but HS2 should not be done anyhow, More investment in freight on railways and better internet connectivity should be where the money is spent. Anyone travelling the motorways - I do a lot now, notices the amount to freight traffic, should be on the railways with regional hubs - rant over. I feel sorry for the residents of this place...

...took a payment to move out, did not need to now, but I know who has it now so good luck to her.

Darwin award.... goes to the couple who we held back for at a bridge hole near Armitage, he took my lead and came through but stayed close to the bank (offside) to allow me to start my approach, he went into the bushes. only then did we notice his wife was cooking with a gas camping burner on the hatch top, the trees swept the hot pan and stove towards her and the open hatch, it was by more luck than judgement that she did not spill the hot pan over her or the burner drop into the open hatch, there were not screams of pain, just panic as we passed!!

I cleaned the boat..... I had taken the lazy - its going to get painted approach, that excuse spent I washed the boat in three days  - it was mucky. Whilst not the best it could be it certainly looks better for it, I need to keep on top of this.

I need a new chimney..... for the exhaust. No wind and 3mph forward momentum resulted in more diesel smoke that is good for me. We started with the titch chimney and then realised we needed the 28 incher. Much better but a keen eye for clearances was the order of the day. One blister when I realised very late we had a problem and another compliment we should be in the circus when I did a rapid clearance of the exhaust chimney (with cloth this time) and thankfully a cold rear chimney. I have made enquiries for a hinged one from Tony Redshaw - £46 plus P&P.

Fishing.... far too much and rather than the complete angler more the dispraxic, loosing far too much tackle and trumping myself by snapping off the end of my 4 week old rod..... arse !! Lots of nice fish caught even with a 10 foot very stiff action rod !!

Engine.... ran faultlessly, much commented on and admired. After a while you take for granted the slow revving thump thump thump....and forget the shouted conversations over Waterlily's eager but noisy revving Beta. (no disrespect to Beta engines, I'd have a cacooned one if I went that way again.

Tw@t(s) of the week .....were the last two boats passed us at Burston on the way back. The first a hire boat was making a breaking wash, and only slowed marginally for the tight bridge hole (those who cruise will know) and proceeded to hit is soooo hard, the sound echo'd the still country air. The second, a privateer from Newark, well  he must have been red lining his engine, the wash was immense and our boat did not stop moving for a good few minutes, he could have had a waterskier behind he was moving so quickly, you understand where the bank erosion comes from when you meet idiots like him.

Everything else was lovely, happy people, nice weather, good route, good company and nice boat. A few pics for the end ....

PS.... felt sorry for Weston boat services, many a time we have passed and admired their location, now sadly surrounded by new builds...

Diesel use

Small post to help me refer back to when I last filled up.

Took 48 litres on board at the pig farm @ 79p on the 2nd October - engine counter hours 180

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

A room with a view

It was 6c outside last night and 11c on the boat (Thanks to my 5 quid Maplins indoor/outdoor temp gauge) I slept well, window wide open listening to the sounds of the night as I very quickly hit dream land !

This morning at 6am the mist was sitting comfortably across the canal and surrounding farmland, it was a beautiful morning walk down to Common lock. Anyhow, as they say a picture is worth a thousand words.... more like three thousand of my limited words !! Remember to see the pics at their best click on them.....

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

6 weeks in - initial thoughts

So we have been aboard for 6 weeks now. What are my thoughts....

Well it is more tiring than I thought. That may be to do with the 40 mile a day commute I now do plus for a period of time each week we are LAT's ( Live Apart Together) meaning we are both shopping, cooking and cleaning in the respective abodes. Callum our youngest pointed this out to us early on and we are now understanding the extra demands on us individually.

It is a beautiful location. Fradley has its own character, quiet in the main during the week (except sunny Wednesdays when my fellow bikers descend on the Swan) then mad busy at the moment at the weekends with boaters and gongoozlers descending in quantity, then the evenings quieten down.

We have only had one boat moor below Hunts, I think this is a sign of the reduction in boat movement? This gives such peace and quiet.

Friendly - my fellow boaters have been nothing but welcoming, even those who's dogs have had altercations with Leia. She has been the negative so far. She has become very territorial of the boat and maybe our mooring. As we are close to the gate most have to walk past us so putting the dogs into conflict. No serious harm and the fellow boaters have been good, they keep their dogs on their leads when passing and I have to watch out for Leia. Hopefully she will get used to it and clam down a bit.

The fishing...... Now it is me living on my own canal, it's great and I have fished far too much, but my excuse is in a few months it will be less attractive so the inside jobs will get done.

I have done some outside works, just finishing off my decking to sit out on hopefully in the Indian summer we are to have. It has been a nice project and despite the insect population trying to harm me it has gone well and I am pleased with the results.

Electricity..... Now I have a confession to you tax payers. I have a charging regime that sees me take odd bits to work to recharge. I will make a payment for this to clear my conscience. However using the freezer compartment in the work kitchen fridge I take a couple of bottles of water home each night and replenish the old, it literally removes the need for the fridge to run. I turn the fridge off overnight as it is so well insulated it stays cold.

The batteries are holding up well, these were 110's replacing some old 90's with the Smartgauge helping the charge and the 135w solar panel I have only run the engine 5 times in the last six weeks and two times was to motor over to water up !! I am very pleased with how the electricity is doing. I have no illusions it will stay as is.... The dark mornings , did I mention I get up at 6am, now are coming as the evenings are drawing in but I have lamps and know at some point I will be running the engine each night for a top up, and maybe replace my cheepy batteries for some 135's and I have a plan to go to 3 leisure's. I do eye the wind generators two of my fellow moorers have .......

I have only filled up with water twice in 6 weeks, I will do it again before I go southbound for the bank holiday (stil have 1/4 of a tank so I did not bother...) but even so once every two weeks is good. I do have a shower on the boat but have mixed it with showering at work.... That way someone else cleans my bathroom ( he'll get a good drink at Christmas)

The loo, apart from my documented flood has also performed well, a cassette a week I would guess, increases when Rachel is on board for obvious reasons, I like an au natural pee so that helps !!

The temp on the boat is dropping  - 11c on the car temp a few mornings ago.  My hardy neighbour Mandy advises she holds on till October with the fire, I fear I will be a September fire starter!

The internet is good, my Samsung Galaxy 2 I got from my good friend John is excellent when tethered on the 3 one plan ( all you can eat data package) I also download programs from the catch up services and sky at work on the super fast broadband to watch ( when I am not fishing or deck building).

Skype is also excellent to keep in touch with Rachel. We have eaten meals together while skyping, it was so natural Rachel got up one time and was just about to ask if  I wanted a coffee...!

I did buy a new television. I could not enjoy the LG's 18 inch screen and wanted a HD freeview tv mainly for the football. Samsung have a great range and I opened for a nice 22inch smart TV with freeview HD. I can plug in a pen drive with a movie on it and watch it or surf the internet. Best so far has been using my Netflix account on the TV it streams faultlessly and I am using that maybe more than the free view channels.

So better than I expected. The trips down south are like a mini holiday, Rachel said the same. I am sure it will get harder in the winter, living and travelling but we'll see.

My mum is getting the dubious  benefit of seeing me most days as I drop Leia off with her. This was only done while it was so hot but it has kept going as it helps us all, dog gets company, mum gets a reason to walk on the park I get to check on my mum and we are all much the better for it. Plus at the moment I am getting my laundry done ;-)

So all in all, a good move so far, plenty of things around the corner and some already met head on (someone drove into the back of Rachel's nearly new and much liked Toyota Auris. Was a challenge but overcome.)

It works so far due to the planning and the relative locations .....