Saturday, 22 September 2018

What keeps me away from the boat - an energy insight

Looking at my counter on the right there... it tells me I've been retired for a year now. I can honestly say I've not regretted a minute of it. I miss some colleagues and some of the banter but I think I am a remote soul at heart and like my own company. I really like being my own time manager and not having anyone tell me what I should be doing.

Just for my memories when I am no longer able to enjoy a mobile lifestyle - it comes to us all so get out as soon as you can !!......

....I was up in Scotland early September visiting my friend John who has helped me greatly in moving the boat and drinking beer (a lot) while doing so. He has a fantastic location overlooking Loch Ryan. He also has a very interesting insight into future energy use. Tesla power walls, wind turbines and photo voltaic's. In essence he describes the living off grid I did for two years !!

It is an interesting  subject and one that is much needed for the country and the environment. How much more sensible to invest the money from HS2 into powering the country for the future with environmentally sustainable sources.

Specifically for us at the cottage and the boat - well the boat is a simple but efficient solution. It has one solar panel that keep the batteries topped up while away (and conditioned) and does help some during the brighter months when on board. It can keep us on board without the engine running for 2-3 days with the fridge on. Obviously this depends on the amount of sun!

The batteries are sealed lead acid type - a couple of years old now and three 110amp/h with a starter. We could drop in a couple of Lithium Ion but they are expensive and not really needed for our type of boat ownership. When the time comes we may drop to 2 AGM 135a/h which will mean we can dispense with the battery box for the starter and the engine room will be a little less cluttered. Other than that is is about right for how we use it.

The cottage will at some point get solar on the workshop roof. I am sure also maybe in 2-3 years it'll have a battery wall to both help us and help the national grid. We also plan for an electric car, but not at the moment. My friend has a Leaf, but with only 80 mile range its good but not right for us. At some point we will drop back to one car  (and a few motorbikes !) and at this time we hope 300 mile range will be the norm  - it is for the Tesla 3 but they are on a long back order and cost £30,000 ish.

Anyhow it was a good visit to Scotland and I hope I'll be back and not leave it so long again.

Not a bad view from your back door is it?


 Portpatrick is a beautiful little town  - one we considered buying a house in 








My friend Mandy off NB Don't Panic has a blog called 'My view from the loo' this was my view from  the loo !!


Another view from that back door - beautiful.


The trip back was via the New Galloway forest  - beats a good section of the A75. The Pan European was very much at home here  - and yes the rain did come but the bike is very capable and keeps the rider reasonably dry. 






That was Scotland. We were on the boat in between to sort out the mooring and clean part of the boat - see my other post here

Then we had a brief but enjoyable couple of days in Wales... We stayed at the Sychnant Pass Country house  - very fine place as a base. Part of the reason was to visit the place my father in law's ashes were spread. A beautiful location overlooking Conway.

This was the view from our terrace 


 The stone where we spread Charles' ashes









Wales was also a place we considered to live before we stayed local in the Churnet valley. Maybe another move down the line - I'd prefer Scotland but it's such a distance for family and canals.



Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Mooring works, feeling hemmed in - not cruising (yet)

Its been a while since I updated the blog. We have been to the boat a couple of times and rather than cruised the boat we did the maintenance work on the mooring that we have to do as we can't trust Fountains to do it safely.  You may recall they broke two windows on Waterlily on separate occasions and damaged the paint on Percy literally 24 hours after we returned to the mooring after being painted. So we do the 'gardening'. 

It can be quite enjoyable but it means we don't cruise when we could I guess and the boat gets less cleaning. It's nice working away watching all the boaters cruise by, not sure if they are envious of us or us of them.... I think on the balance of probability (thinking why we own boats) they are having the better time.

So it was grass cutting and Willow weaving and general tidying up and a walk down the Coventry for food later in the day. 

We also took a walk down to Common lock to see what the marina progress was.... it brought it home to us there would be another 60 boats on our doorstep - amazing when I asked about this land C&RT said it did not meet the mooring reduction policy criteria so it would be unlikely to get permission for one boat.... now there is 60 going in plus no doubt the business on the bank that fits out boats. 

The houses are making their slow and unstoppable march towards the first/last bridge on the Coventry - the pig farm is now derelict, waiting to be consumed  on Daisy lane 

The gravel extraction is imminent, or so I am told. That will totally ruin the ambience of the place.

This is what it all looks like on Staffordshire planning map  


 Out new neighbours have moved in, not seen them yet


A bit of amateur Willow weaving  


It's been as busy as I can remember here over the last few months, usually we get one maybe two boats but I am told we have had up to five moored opposite. Not a problem unless they are noisy !


Here is that housing marching up the Coventry 



Don't think owning a boat is all relaxation, this cupboard needed a good clean as did under the bed. Both dry but dusty. Any work on a boat means major upheaval 



Another mowing session done 



Fradley as I like it, free from all the people who come to see the boats  - we should get an income  !!








Sunday, 26 August 2018

Danger time

... well it is for my internet. When you spend time on a boat or live on a boat or as is the case for us rely on 4g broadband at home  because the copper internet is so poor (around 1mb/sec download is poor.) you 'manage your internet consumption.

There are many good YouTube videos on how to get broadband on your boat. My son(s) have fast unlimited broadband - well over 100mb/s and with it being unlimited it does not matter what is connected and what is syncing . In fact the digital world of today just assumed everyone has unlimited Broadband so allows their software to be update or syncing pictures or documents downloading updates without asking etc.

So why danger time. We were due on the boat this weekend but the crap weather forecast put this back for a week so we have been sorting and dumping and shredding and sorting 'stuff' at the cottage. We are on the last room if you don't count the workshop  - our office and it is full of stuff. I have now got my windows PC up and running but is has not been on since January - queue many many updates of operating systems and software - all raiding my generous but limited data amounts.

So here is my tip - I've posted it elsewhere. I have a LG phone that a very good friend gave me for one simple reason - the telecoms company 's software is blind to its use, meaning I can tether to it and my 30gb tether allowance is not touched. So before I fired up the windows PC I enabled the tether on the LG phone and lots is going on in the background but all not eating one of my three (yes three) internet data sources.

It may not last but it is very useful right now. When I was living aboard it was used a lot and was very effective. I can provide the model but I guess it'll also be some specific update (or not update) that has allowed it to be invisible . 

Tuesday, 21 August 2018

Evening cruising, tappets and all change at Fradley

Unlike some we don't have set cruising times. Some are moored up into the holes left by other boaters by 11 am having run for 2-3 hours, got hot water and charged their batteries. This is the optimum cruising for best moorings and best charging regime - possibly.

We actually went out for a cruise. The bottom of the boat no longer is covered in weed growth !

I got to the boat Tuesday to help my neighbour in her relocation to a very rural mooring some distance away from Fradley. Like us she has seen Fradley develop into quite a tourist attraction. A new marina is being dug out just below common lock and Fradley village is seeing another explosion of housing and it is eating away the gap between Fradley junction and the village. A long time before they connect, but they will. It does generate more traffic and footfall for the junctions pub and cafe(s) as well as tow path walking. All as to be expected but it is not the Fradley we originally came to over 11 years ago now.

So a car shuffle that took most of the day as I was not overnighting as the boat was cobweb and dust city....

Last couple of photos of my lovely boaty neighbour. I think Mandy, Bonny and Don't panic will be missed on and around the Fradley Junction moorings.





I arrived bright and early Wednesday morning charged with the task of a good inside clean and thats what it got. Genny on, Dyson out curtains down - just did not wash the walls that will have to be next times job.


Rachel arrived from work/mother visit and we had a meal and relaxed in a lovely clean boat. Next day being my birthday we were due to cruise but went off looking at alternative moorings  - more about that later maybe.... End result was we slipped the lines at 5pm and went off down the Coventry for quite an enjoyable evening cruise.

Never seen our moorings so clear of boats.


 A very beautiful late evening cruise in the sunshine.




Scruffbag and dog....







One thing you notice is as to be expected many more boats mored up so lots more slowing down, but that's not an issue to us. We eventually moored up for the night just before Whittington. In the same location I got naked on the towpath a couple of years back ! Click here 


Friday am before cruising and on a cold engine  I completed a job I had been thinking of since the September cruise last year - Percy's tappets got adjusted. In September I cycled 10 miles for a feeler gauge - all around Stoke and could not get one. I have one on the boat now so was able to do this job. I need to make something to turn over the engine rather than struggling with the wheel that the alternator belt runs on. Three  litres of two cylinder engine is a beast to turn by hand. 

We were due back for a 50th party Saturday nights so next day we winded just after Sutton road bridge - Rachels nemesis winding hole - she had a mare there winding Waterlily one time.... this time she nailed it and that episode was put to bed. 


Interesting to see the red flags flying at Hopwas woods and the gates over two bridges locked off. Seems the army are now using the woods for live fire exercises



Why is it you never meet anyone on the long straights 



This Heron was very intent on getting a meal 




Darley on their way to Alvecote I expect. The steerer always looks so stern, last time we passed them was Stone a couple of years back  - same then, each to their own. 



Lots of boats on the move and one caught us up and got himself in trouble at a couple of bridge holes when we slowed or were waved through as he was ever closer to us. We let him pass before we winded and he said he was not looking to pass us .... should have stayed a bit further back then....

We stopped at the Tame Otter at Hopwas for food Friday lunchtime  - all good but the coffee was awful, absolutely mixing used coffee grounds in their coffee  - not good. 

A kip and then we set off again 5pm to get close to Fradley to moor overnight.

 This fella has his fire lit !!



Saturday Morning we (I) was on the move by 7.15 am to get to Fradley before the rush and to use the services. It worked out fine with us loaded the car, cassettes empty watered up and rubbish off by 9am.

Now where next and the paint to talk about  !