Saturday, 25 June 2016

The longest day....

A real double header of a title for us.... Travel and Boat updates

There was a film called the longest day about the Normandy Landings. Our bike ride into Europe this year was to 'do' the Normandy beaches as well as paying respects to our first world war dead at Ypres in Belgium.

We passed through Deauville the French city that the Honda Deauville takes it name from. It was ownership of this bike (I still have one) that has generated such good friendships across the country.

We also called in at Pegasus bridge..... a real strategic point for the invasion.

Our base for the main part of the holiday was Arromanches - Gold beach where the UK forces landed on D Day

Our room was in the building centre left above the red canopy.

I still cannot get my head around how lucky I have been to enjoy the peace in Europe so so many brave people fought for. Now we seem to have exposed discord in Europe again, not for me but for my children and grandchildren. So many young voted to remain and now they will inherit the challenges of a remote England and a broken Union.

We spend two days in Ypres and had some good food and paid our respects to the fallen at the Menin Gate. The last post is sounded every evening at 8pm.

From Left to right.... John BMW GS100, Steve BMW RT1200 Bob CBF1000 Nev ST1300 

We did the Ypres museum and added the tower tour. There are some fine views from the top of the tower but the icing on the cake was a lass tuning the bells than playing a fine tune which was deafening but very entertaining.

Worth turning the volume up on this one .....

As the house is now on the market I am back on the boat some/most of the time now. I arrived back after a week of very heavy rain I understand and just in time to get the longest day - except it was the day after due to a leap year.

Fishing into the night and with just the accompaniment of the twilight bird song is a simple but luxurious pleasure.

We have Percy booked in for blacking at Kings Bromly early July so I wanted to turn the boat ready for the trip up there in a couple of weeks. So Thursday morning I worked a late shift allowing me to take Percy to the Alrewas winding hole ....

I can't tell you how tempted I was to cruise past and carry on !!

I started wiring in the fridge with the new 8mm wire but I will need to borrow the 'fishing' kit from the electricians at work to get the thicker wire through from the kitchen to the fuses in the engine room.

So back with a cold, no doubt due to 200 miles in the rain, but an excuse the watch us beat the Aussies  3/0 in the rugby and hopefully an England and Wales progressing in the euros.

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

The back cabin

So cast your minds back to Thursday.... Long day at work then home eventually getting to the boat at about 8pm. I don't normally use the back cabin unless we have guests but it was such a nice evening I ate my tea on the drop down table and listened to nature.

I do need to have a sort out as I'd like to use it more, might even sleep there. I do harbour half an idea of converting the bed room into a dinette, still good for guests and use the drop down bed more in the back cabin..... One to ponder.

I finished the evening with a dilemma, both lads have brought me nice whisky for Father's Day. The Balblair won out, but it is nice to have a choice and to toast my dad and Rachels dad who were both whisky drinkers - they would approve.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Only those who have been there will know the pain....

....that is the pain and effort of downsizing and/or disposing of your house of many years/memories. The physical pain (try fully tiling a large bathroom) is as bad as the mental pain of moving on from a place of safety and security and of a family growing up and making their way in the world. I spend a lot of time there alone and I swear I can hear the echoes of long ago laughter, the tears of arguments and the steady breathing of a family growing up and growing old.

All very sentimental but that is what I am.

How people downsize to a boat I do not know, it is not part of our plan thankfully but I have the utmost respect for those that can walk away and dispose of so much - and I am the thrower away'er of the relationship - a dangerous person to be left in charge !

Lets see where we get to over the coming months but it is fair to say we are close to the end of the hard work and if I am looking for the positives if we do sell there is so much less to do to move and if we do not sell then we have a beautiful house to enjoy for the future - win win.

Now the boat, good old Percy sitting bobbing patiently waiting for its turn. What do we have in store....

Well in no great order...

  • Blacking - July booked in at Phoenix Marine after hearing positive things about them
  • Fridge electrics - wire sources and ready to install
  • Kitchen tiles  - Bloody tiling again but this time less than a M2  - happy days 
  • Kitchen and bathroom flooring - I have the Karndean and hopefully it should do both 
  • Back stove - one for the winter months as we only use it cruising and when we have guests. In the winter the back cabin is the fridge which worked very well when I lived aboard 
  • Main stove - do nothing or replace with Refleks, will depend on selling the house I guess as if we do not sell then I will not overwinter on the boat so I would not need to review the stove
  • Mooring - I am still not happy with the work I have to do on it - it is a beautiful place and I am inclined to stay, especially if I live aboard but I still may visit a few to scope out the costs and benefits/drawbacks of marina berthing. As stated my inclination is to stay and be 'hardy' !!
  • Front forecabin - needs some proper tidying and rationalization  - especially if I have a Refleks as I will need to add in a separate tank.
  • Washing machine - we have a little twin tub that may well fit in 'that corner' of the cupboard pots live in that never get seen. It would need some work behind the chairs  - maybe a job for Adele who did the kitchen refit.
  • Chairs/seatee - options appraisal here, we have a nice little sofa in the cottage down south that would fit... might look to try that one weekend before we opt for captain chairs (my preference) or a bed seatee (Rachel's preference)
  • Bathroom - no real plans here but I would like to modernise it especially if and when we spend extended time aboard. Having recently completely refitted a large bathroom at home this would be 'easy' - yep I really did just type that !
Thats about it for a little list.... my sister in law Sharon txt'd me last night and said how much I would be looking forward to a rest now we had done the house.... little chance !

Off to plane three bedroom doors now post carpet fitting then make up beds into bedrooms  - that should see me busy tonight !

Friday, 27 May 2016

Mobile internet - interesting options

Since 3 decided to phase out their 'All you can eat data' package, and in doing so offered me a less attractive option for twice the price I have been with EE.

The benefit of EE was a 4g signal on my mooring with a 15gb allowance for £20 a month. I have to say their service has been very reliable and fast. However you can soon eat through 15gb especially if you stream football and Skype a lot - I do both. A few month I have had no option other than to buy more data.

Anyhow Rachel got the same letter from 3 the other week giving her the good news they are phasing out her data contract and offering something much more expensive. So we visited the 3 shop in Chichester where a veery nice young lad helped us through the options and by looking at the last three months use of the phone it was obvious we could opt for a lower minutes and data plan that was cheaper and also Rachel got a new Iphone 5s  - she did not want the larger 6s. 

In offering the options he did offer a sim only plan that was attractive but Rachel needs a phone so the option for getting something newer won out. In signing up he advised she could get a decent discount if she referred any family... so I then got interested in the max data 3 sim only plan. 

We had talked about the 'all you can eat data plan' and why 3 had withdrawn it (over use and large demand) and he advised 3 did have a 30gb plan - all tethered use (the last 3 plan offered only had a 4gb limit on tethered data - for those not aware tethering is using your phone as a wifi hotspot and connecting Ipads and laptops to it - as I am not typing this via my macbook) He said bizarrely 3 were not openly publicising this ... I can only suspect it is while they are beefing up their infrastructure? Anyhow we checked the Swan at Fradleys postcode and got the coverage map up and 4g was on my mooring so for £18 a month I now get 30gb of data  - all tethered. So 2 quid cheaper and double the allowance. I also get a second phone on a second network. The extra result is Rachel's old phone was a 5s that did do 4g so I have 3 4g on my mooring..... the real real bonus is the speeds - from the speed checker below.

nearly 40mb/ second that is as good as the virgin cable at home - the ping is no good for gaming but I expect the streaming and other stuff I do will be well handled by the connection here.

The final win was Rachel asked about her old Iphone 4 that we had forgot about - the fella advised going on recycling comparison sites and we got £17 quid for that so the first month on 3 was nearly free !

Might be worth checking if you have a old 4g phone the 3 sim only plan that gives the 30gb of data.... I'll let you know how I get on !

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

The art of electricity and the poorly performing fridge !

Last year - yes it really was last year I had some beer issues.

The issues being the Waeco fridge would keep John and my beer cold during the mini heatwave we endured taking Percy to be repainted on the Stourbridge canal - whule the engine was running. However in the late PM it would retire disgracefully allowing much needed beer to get warm.

I have concluded this is an issue with voltage - or voltage drop. The charging batteries would cope with the challenge of too thin cable when under charge but give a few hours of battery use the compressor start up would require more than the cable would allow resulting in a fan running but the compressor not kicking in.

So based on some studious internetting I have concluded that the voltage drop on a 6mm2 cable on a 12v circuit with a 4 amp load at a generous 8 meters (it is actually 40watts/12v = 3.33 amps) is 0.18v or 1.5%. I understand an acceptable drop of up to 3% is the norm.

Cable is very expensive compared to other things so whilst tempted to go for 10mm2 (which gives a 0.11 drop or 0.92% ) I'll risk the 6mm2 plus it will be easier to install/replace the current *ouch*

Only two things I cannot define is the present cable size, I think about 1.5mm so getting an unhealthy and risky .75v drop, plus a definitive compressor start up voltage for the Waeco.

I think I'll also follow Halfie's venting approach by drilling some holes in the floor to draw up cool air from the bilges, giving the added benefit of some bilge ventilation. I recently treated myself to some nice sharp flat bits to do the work.

Watch this space but if you think I have anything calculated wrong please let me know  !!

Friday, 20 May 2016

The end of the line .....

How is it that we get such attachment to 'things'. Is it because they have associated memories or give good value?

Well I have such a possession that hold great sentimental value and has taken me to some truly stunning places.

Now before you all start thinking I am joining the seemingly ever increasing defection off the canal  - relax. My ambition is to fill your web browsing with drivel and boat stories for a few more years to come yet - health willing of course.

No this possession is a lot cheaper and more basic. It should very eloquently introduced by this well known phrase attributed to Lao Tzu .....

A journey of a thousand miles starts with one step

Well my trusty and well travelled walking boots have literally taken their last step.

These beauties have supported me on many hundreds if not thousands of miles of walking . They took me up the highest three peaks in England Scotland and Wales two years in succession. They have walked all over Scotland and Wales and walked and many many miles of English canals.

Sad but they will retire tucked away to slowly dissolve on my mooring most probably holding a few daff bulbs so they can indicate when I should be dusting down my Nicolson's in the future to plan my adventures !

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Timed almost to perfection.

.... that is getting back onto the boat.

We are privileged to have access to house and boat and while the house is undergoing a full repaint and re-carpet  I am back aboard NB Percy. Got here late afternoon and set to with the vacuum and other cleaning products. I had called at the co-op for tea after having a lovely lunch at the Yew tree in Ednaston  - on the way to Ashbourne with Ashbourne being the gateway to the Peak district. We did reflect on how lucky we are to live where we do..... for the time being !

Now don't go thinking it is an easy life because to get he house the the paint ready state it is took an enormous effort that included gutting and fitting a complete new bathroom along with all four walls wall to ceiling tiled.... now that was a job. I also took out built in wardrobes and made good with studding, plasterboard and finally plastering - it is not such a dark art.

Last weekend we were out rebuilding a wall and yesterday I was tidying up where we removed a large shed last year with a rotavator, feather edging board, and 1,000 litres of bark !

So yes I am looking forward to a few days rest before we start again that will see such homely locations as Derby, London, Chichester, Leeds and France  - all before mid June..... and there is work to fit in between all that !

PS - had to light the fire, I need to be warm !

PPS written Sunday evening