Monday, 6 April 2020

We all need to make a pledge to change

Well we all know it's interesting times right now, but they do not need to be negative times. Yes of course we can focus on the things we can't do right now and yes there are some challenges (see my last post for such challenges) Please be assured in writing this I am aware for many working there are some uncertainties but again they can be turned to change opportunities? But what do we have to be positive about, well things will get better and return to something 'not quite normal' but that's how it should be. I'll come back to the return to 'not quite normal'... but focussing on the positives from this period of our lives...

  • In the main apart from our wonderful health and service sectors plus others we are getting a forced rest
  • Our planet is breathing fresh air again
  • We are talking to our friends and neighbours much more
  • Great acts of kindness and friendship are happening (see my free beer offer) 
  • Many of those 'jobs I'll do when I have time' are getting done
  • Our homes have never been cleaner !
  • Working at home  (and therefore less commuting  = less pollution) is now viable
  • We are appreciating the simple things such as reliable technology, food in the shops, sunshine, love, family, friendships, planning ahead, natture, remembering past holidays, playing games, spending time with the kids.... many many more positives...

So - 'something not quite normal' will be our future. But thats ok, life is constantly changing, events change lives, positively and sadly sometimes negatively, but life is about living and adapting. So what does this scribbler think will change, simply put YOU will change,  you will change based on how the world adapts post virus. 

The world will be poorer, but that's no bad thing. It will give new growth and investment opportunities and there will be a need and willingness to support such growth. There will be a levelling of wealth, sure not some communist dream but and here is an important point in MY pledge to change we need to be fairer and more supportive,  and here is the even more critical change point the support should be focussed on environmental humanitarian considerations... for ME that's...
  • More charity
  • More ethical purchases
  • More ethical investments 
  • More environmental considered purchases
  • More staycations
  • Less European and international travel
  • Certainly less air travel 
  • Constant review of how I can be a better human 
  • Add yours in the comments below to inspire me ?
It's ok me pontificating about all the stuff I can and will do, yes I'm retired, yes I have a small and believe me it is small pension but I HAVE to make changes otherwise this life lesson is lost and wasted on me and that will be the same for the billions around the world. 

So specifics from the list above for me as I've pondered this opportunity (please see it as an opportunity) ...

Critical point here and I've wrestled with it over the last couple of weeks is spending money. There is a lot of stuff we don't need but is sold to us as essential, I've blogged about this before. So targeted spending to support our economy is essential. Buy local (support all those shops that supported us during the lockdown) Buy UK products where you can. Spend money in pubs (yes) and cafes. Book B&B's and hotels for local trips no need to go to Barcelona for the weekend when you can do the Peak district, East Anglia, Wales and Scotland are beautiful locations for short breaks (use the money saved and take the train and talk to people ?) Spend but spend wisely and spend in a supportive way?

Back to my pledge to change.... 
  • Do I need two motorbikes when one does 45 mpg and the other does 80mpg..... 
  • I have Percy so staycations are a given (along with my 80 mpg motorbike)
  • The motorbike touring in this country will put money back into the UK economy
  • Make do and mend, I've amazed myself what I can turn my hand to and repurpose and continue to do so, it's enjoyable saves money and saves resources.
  • My Old Rover is financially worthless but is also a diesel 38 mpg very heavy large and in the main overkill for moving me and Leia around. It's high tax as its a relatively high emissions car so it needs to go.
  • We need to invest in an electric car
  • More efficient home power use. Need to get some low environmental impact  (wood) double glazing at home to both keep the fitters and makers in work and save ££'s and oil use.
  • We will grow a few more veggies. We don't have a large garden but are making troughs for summer veg and planting in our cottage garden borders also (how it used to be I'm told by Rachel) 
  • Other stuff I've not yet considered but will keep the 'change' option in the forefront of decision making.
That'll do for now. Putting these words down in my blog really is the start but an essential act to make myself the promise to change. Hopefully these changes if done in any small part by the rest of the world (and that's you dear reader) will make a change and send a ripple around the world and hopefully redirect all of our futures to a brighter place physically and emotionally ?

Stay safe and please please follow the government advice to protect all our essential worker by staying local  and minimising your personal contact.

Wednesday, 1 April 2020

A sad goodbye

Today we said our family goodbyes to Christine, Rachels mum. She died on the 16th March with Rachel and myself with her in her own home in no pain and surrounded with love. That love had kept her safe and well for quite a few years as her health declined.

The burial was limited to just her five children and her brother with me bring allowed to attend to live stream it to family and friends. It all worked and while small in numbers there was much love across the family as they watched in their individual locations.

I've always felt like one of the family, a sure sign of a loving welcoming  family unit. I've known Christine for over forty years, she was a formidable lady, certainly to a 16 year old who wanted to go out with her daughter. She did however have a weakness for compliments (easy to give) I can't recall how many times I told her she was my favourite mother in law, it always got the raised eyebrows by response !

She is resting in peace in a lovely rural location that will see a gathering later in the year when we plant a tree over her grave that in years to come will enable us to give it a hug and once again hug Christine.

"My favourite mother in law"

Sunday, 29 March 2020

Surfacing under personal sad times

It's been difficult to generate the drive to blog over the last ten days. On the 16th March I was at hospital having a MRI scan which was an interesting experience. Maybe more about that later (not a great time to be having such investigations but small detail in the greater suffering of many at thus time) On the same day we lost Rachels mum Christine who had fought a ten year long battle. Rachel and family had done a fantastic job of keeping Christine in her own home where she died in peace with Rachel and myself as well as one of Rachel's sister and Christine's brother with her.

In light of the following weeks escalation of the measures to control the spread of the virus her passing was a blessing not only to Christine but the family. Organising a funeral in these times has been a challenge but Rachel has done an unbelievable amount of work to give her mum a send off within the new restrictions she wanted. This week will be hard but cathartic all the same.

I'm a self isolator in the main by desire so the measures have not had a great impact on me but I can understand the pressures it has/will put on families and individuals who are the opposite of me. What took me by surprise was the anxiety levels that I experienced in the first few days of the change of life we are all now practicing. I'm normally a level controlled person but my mind went into overdrive and I had a few unpleasant days. This flared up other health issues that further compounded my state of physical and mental health. I type this to share with others it's ok to experience change. I found controlled breathing a great help as well as compartmentalising the negative thoughts as they came into my mind. I used a shoe box approach.... anything that I start to think about that is overtly negative and something I cannot influence I open a shoe box in my mind and drop the thought into it - it works very well for me.

One other thing that works for me is keeping my mind and body busy. We had a discussion over should we go to the boat to isolate ( we needed to ensure we kept well prior to the funeral for obvious reasons) as it turned out we were asked by C&RT to not go to the boat as we were leisure boater, so we were happy to follow this advice. Indeed we had already decided the cottage was far the better location as we had all the services on tap as well as many many jobs to crack on with . It's a shame we are missing Percy and there is work to do there but nothing like that needs doing here and I have a lovely garage and workshop to spend endless hours on jobs for the house.

The walking around here is also very isolated so that makes our daily hour of exercise easy and enjoyable. We are running our food down as we are trying to stay away from people until the funeral, then I'll join the queues and be happy to do so.

There is a lot I could type but in the main we are doing what the country needs people to do, social distancing, keeping calm and carrying on. It'll pass and things will resume to not quite normal and nor should they. I'll blog again about my thoughts on this ....

For now I'm thinking and sending positive thoughts to all those in hospital and those who have lost loved ones, the brave and committed essential workers across all aspects of this phase of life. Bless them all  - too many trades and professions to list but we all know who they are.

Stay safe, stay positive and keep healthy.

Tuesday, 10 March 2020

Getting out of my tangle

A lazy evening listening to the constant rain on the roof of Percy led to an early night as I knew my Tuesday task was a days worth of electicary sorting out.

When I put my two AGM batteries in with the Victron BMV712 and combined it with the Smartbank split charge relay it all got rather difficult to make a tidy install of it in the very limited battery storage space on board Percy.

I made the best of it and was happy with it as it was all under cover. ( I was never really happy with the location of the relay) Being under cover is great until you need to replace one of the batteries - the starter in my case. So with that need as the driver for change I put into action a plan I had been musing over  - going vertical with my wiring.

Yesterday was the mounting board as per my last post. Today I set to taking apart my masterpiece but all was ok as I had a plan !

Look away all readers with an OCD leaning ....


It's OK I had a plan....


Believe it or not the above is not a million miles from what I achieved below.

Quite surprising really that all this makes for a more efficient charging regime and adds some extra functionality (Smartbank and Smartgauge

When we got Percy 8 years ago now the charging system was much simpler and was no doubt installed based on the boat doing many cruising hours each day to support the small overnight usage (no TV gas fridge etc) I think I still have the Sterling split charge diode unit that was robbing close to a full volt from the charging.


I have the measurement now for the cover that will complete the 'improvement' and make what I hope will be a workable solution to the mess that was driven my limited space. I also have a little extra to add that will hopefully restore a little more of Percy's provenance.  

Still a bit more to do. When I put in the new solar controller I put the fuse at the wrong end of the cable run from the batteries to the controller. It should have been at the battery end ( Thanks to Brian from NB Harnser for that advice) When I tried to move the location I did not have enough cable so I need to revisit that install.

All in all a good days work  - now I need to make the cover in the workshop at home .... 


Monday, 9 March 2020

Self isolation

I’m onboard and self isolating with a whisky disinfectant. It’s hammering down outside but the fire’s sorted and I have food so I’ll survive.

Ok it’s only for 36 hours and to hopefully improve the electrical layout around the batteries. If all goes ok I’ll have a tidier system and a new starter installed by this time tomorrow.

I’ve been disciplined and only done what I can to the point of leaving me a functioning boat electrical wise. The new mounting board is on the bulkhead ready for the bits to be screwed to to hopefully make the battery box area a lot less cluttered.

More pictures will follow




 The magnets saved all the cleaning up of the drill swarf  for the four holes drilled and tapped for the M6 bolts that secure the ply board that’ll take the respective busbars and cables. 



Wednesday, 4 March 2020

A major blow to the Caldon canal


Thanks to Pip and Mick for the correction re the aqueduct (not) I need to be more attentive when I read stuff on the internet !

I read on Facebook and confirmed by a check on the Canal and rivers trust web site that there is a potential long term closure of the Caldon canal at Bridge 37. Bridge 37 is more than just a bridge it’s the aqueduct that carries the Leek arm of the Caldon canal over the Caldon canal just after  Hazlehurst junction.

Where the Leek  arm branches off the canal locks down to then go under the Leek arm using 37. If what I read on FB is correct the bridge foundations have failed and it is deemed unsafe so the canal and towpath are closed for the foreseeable until a plan is hatched to repair or maybe even replace the bridge. Ironically the Leek arm is still open.... so the unsafe bridge is still being used  to carry boats and water?

It’s a real shame and will be a blow to the pubs after the junction as well as removing one of the sights I enjoys seeing - moving boats on my walks in the valley along the canal.

Follow the stoppage here C&RT stoppage page

Tuesday, 3 March 2020

Just a little bit more patience needed

...then spring will be with us.

Yesterday I donned my walking boots for a much needed visit to my valley. The constant rain has made such forays rare as being a valley you need to walk down and up to get to the bottom where the river, railway and canal are and the paths are slippy and muddy.

I went for the shallower gradient walk down through Hazles wood  with the intention of walking along the canal from the lock to the footpath that takes me back under the railway and over the river Churnet and back up to the lane near the falconry centre. When I got to the lock ready to to head down the valley towards Froghall there was a dog walker going that way which was unusual but understandable as they like me were taking benefit of the better weather.

No problem as I have other beautiful walks so I headed up the valley towards the Black Lion and the RSPB lakes.

Blue sky and a high sun ....





Double click on this image and you'll see the black line that shows the route I took counter clockwise 


I need to get to the electrics sooner rather than later......