Friday, 15 January 2021

Changing my batteries after 7 years !

Seven years from a set of batteries is not bad going. Over 1,000 charge cycles but I started to notice bad performance and I got a warning they needed a service ??

Ok, not my boat batteries as they have been in two years now  - need to check that ( was February 2019 so not quite 2 years

This is the battery  - or batteries as they are four linked together from my MacBook Pro late 2013. Still a fine machine I7 processor 16gb of Ram 500gb SSD and a lovely retina screen. So when the Macbook started shutting down unexpectedly I sought out Apple to see what they'd charge for a new battery   - just short of three hundred quid !! I have other things to spend that on so I sought the sage advice of YouTube and found a fella replacing one with an OEM battery from IfixIt. 

Eighty pounds DIY just don't puncture the thing that is stuck into the Macbook with industrial grade adhesive strips.

This is after removal, using adhesive remover and fishing line pulled under the batteries to separate the batteries from the case  - slowly does it. 


The new set it for hopefully another seven years - I'm retired so canot afford this tech but it is good tech. Charge up fully then leave it connected to the mains for another two hours. Then completely discharge it and then charge back up to 100% - this apparently is needed to calibrate the computer to the battery 

All done and I'm writing this using the same Macbook. Now what to spend that saved money on !!

Tuesday, 5 January 2021

Who doesn't like a stat or two

I've always liked playing with numbers and recording unnecessary  bits of information. When we were younger and money a lot tighter I used to work out our spending and income each week ( remember when we were paid weekly in cash !) This extended to monthly accounting in a blue ledger book I still have for posterity. I moved on to Microsoft money in latter years but now in retirement thankfully I just spend ! 

I don't record all spending on Percy just fuel ( more for how much is left in the tank) or how many hours I have done since last fill up etc. 

One stat I'm pleased about is the number of posts I did last year - I smashed my Percy blog record by some margin.


Never hit over 100 before and my 113 for last year was 2.17 blog posts a week 

It was 20% more than my previous best year in 2013 - the first full year we had Percy

It was a splendid 135% more than my worst year in 2014.

Ironically it was the lockdown that gave us the opportunity to use Percy more and did those two long planned trips the four counties and the Llangollen and back. The blogging each day no doubt helped plus I had more time to blog about other stuff during the year.

Hopefully this year will be more blogging about Percy and a few jobs I need to do.... the next blog will be just that ! 

Reverting back to house stats that got me thinking of this post in the first place.... Today I upped our electricity direct debit as we are using more electrical heat sources as this is renewable ( remember my pledge to change here)  

I initially was a little annoyed as this was mainly due to Rachel working from home.... but then I realised she had not been doing the 50 mile a day 3 days a week commute to work. 

Look away those of you that live aboard or have a thermally efficient home. Our energy use is reflective of us living in a cottage over 200 years old with single glazing and three bedrooms so not too tiny. Also I do feel the cold - could be called a wuss lightweight etc but I can afford not to be cold and have always said I'll pay what it takes to be warm. Having said that we are looking at using more renewables and will be spending on double glazing this year to reduce heat loss. (Plus we have two wood burners now and each walk I bring back a chunk of blown down wood for next year) 

Reviewing the info it's interesting how over two years we used a difference of just 21 litres of oil. The savings was on cost with the pandemic dropping the cost of oil to a very low price. Savings on fuel for commuting was impressive even if we did have to heat the house more. 

When all combined we were a decent chunk of cash for Motorcycle spending up on 2019.

Anyhow better get to the vets with a wee sample from Leia. Poor Leia is getting old and had started with kidney failure, the vet suggested a choice of quality or quantity of life left sadly. I opted for quality as I would want myself, no point her living longer in pain and discomfort. 

As Forest Gump advised "My Mom said life is like a box of Chocolates, you never know what your gonna get" Leia and me are both heading for the coffee cream ! 


Thursday, 31 December 2020

An alternative perspective to end 2020

I wrote my last blog post before Christmas but did not post it as it was quite negative, not very festive but it needed recording. I'm working hard at being positive and have every reason to be looking forward. I recently read a BBC article about positive thinking and am trying to practice what I read.

Talking of reading I failed on my reading target for the last two months with a woeful three and a bit books rather than four in November I targeted. I do enjoy reading but get distracted.... but at least I still have plenty to go at and I added a ghost story - Platform Seven recommended from Sarah's Blog .... here  

The stove got fitted (at the cottage)  and fired up just before Christmas  - we've been enjoying using the coal and wood in the workshop if for nothing else to start freeing up space in there. We still need to paint the surrounds and chimney breast. It's in a very old cottage ... 200 plus years old we think so needed to look rustic and be practical, deep hearth helps keep the ash off the carpet ! 

I have also reflected on the two trips we achieved in 2020 - the four counties which I think I have said before could be done time and again and I'd still not get bored with it and finally getting Percy plus Rachel and I over the Pontcysyllte aqueduct.







Plus a bike trip to Scotland ....




Finally to pick up on my positive approach to 2021 I have this morning (29th December) booked the dry dock for Percy's blacking and hull survey in October so that'll be another cruise over to Stone. The lady who I spoke to was so helpful and friendly which bodes well for the actual 'event' in October. Plus I have recommendation from Carol of Stillrockin Just hope the hull survey goes as well - I have contacted Balliol who has surveyed the three boats we have brought as well as doing the C&RT damage survey on Percy. Given the time scales I am confident we can secure his services again ( he has confirmed ). Then it'll be booking Nigel the Boat Safety fella for the inspection when we get back from Stone in late October.

We have also adjusted holidays around Rachel's University and NHS commitments that will give us a couple of weeks in late April for a trip to not sure where yet. 

Could be :
  1. Chester
  2. The Ashby
  3. Top of the Macclesfield
  4. Up the Caldon again
  5. Stourport basin 
Two weeks to play with so it will be CanalplanAC to plan/plot that for sure.

Before that I have the stove to fit and engine to deep service so Percy will be getting some attention in the early part of next year. We have in the past been aboard over the New Year. My good friend Mandy has just sent us some pictures of Percy sitting out in the snow. I know how long it would take to get Percy to a comfortable heat so for now I think we will wait until the daytime temperatures are higher and there is some sun on the side to get a bit of solar gain. 

This year we will be in the Snowy moorlands to kick 2020's arse into the history books ! 




Monday, 28 December 2020

The curse of internet on a tub of steel and fed up

I've been dicking around trying to improve the internet signal on our boat... and its been a frustration to say the least. It culminated in my Ipad being launched across the boat in frustration while I was trying to watch the Rugby on Amazon prime the other week.

The frustration is we can get a decent (by boat standards) download speed of around 10 MB/s  - perfectly acceptable for streaming and other internetty stuff but its inconsistent meaning buffering or worse dropping the stream altogether. 

I have put up an outdoor omnidirectional aerial and have a TPlink 4g modem. The latter being recently replace by their latest cat6 300mb/s (Ha!) model. I have done a ton of reading the forums about cell towers, channels and carrier aggregation something the latest model of TPlinks (M600) is supposed to support. 

However when swapped over it actually was slower than my older M200 (150mb/s - double ha!) 

The frustration is putting up the external aerial does not seem to achieve a great deal more that having my Iphone in the window at the front of the boat. 

So the TPlink M600 has gone back to Amazon and the TPlink M200 is back in service - well service at home undergoing tests in the window (22mb/s here which is as fast as our home broadband) 

Ultimately if we can't get a reliable signal on the boat we have a few choices;

1. Read a book

2. Move moorings

3. Sell the boat

I've never felt so disconnected from the boat and canals. Maybe it's because I know what work is needed in 2021 (if we get a 2021), Hull survey, blacking and boat safety. All really are needed if we do sell the boat so not wasted apart from the time effort and money that will be involved.

I could just take it to Norbury and get them to do the blacking and get the hull surveyed while there but in my experience blacking is best done by yourself to get the best job and if that is the case I need to find a dry dock that is in commuting distance to the house. I liked the bonded warehouse but it was too distant from the cottage meaning I was left aboard in not the best place.

Truth be told I'm fed up with this year and the Chinese virus that is doing its job on the world. I have work to do on the boat that should be an enjoyable challenge, but I just see it as another 'job' that needs doing before we can cruise. When you add the jobs needing doing  - general maintenance stuff plus fitting the back stove then the BSC Blacking and survey - not a lot of cruising will be done next year and what will be done will carry an overload of cost and work.... 

Not the most positive of blogs but it needs to be recorded  - I know others are venting - Country House Gent on YouTube has a view, not one I agree with but there is a real sense of anger in him.

O well at least we have a Christmas to not look forward to  - shouldn't wish my life away but it's hard not to want to flush 2020 down the toilet and wipe our hands on the remains of winter in 2021 before, if we are still here, spring 2021 and the vaccine arrive.

..... as to the internet, might try a different 4g router from Amazon, they can take a bit of order and return abuse, I spend enough with them. 

Watch this space ........

Monday, 7 December 2020

I need a boat fix

More than once in the recent past I've considered selling Percy. Boats are a real expense and if like me you do as much maintenance on them yourself it is a 'load' on your time and ( for me) whittle time  - those quiet moments when trying to relax the little red boating devil on my shoulder starts asking me questions such as, 

  • When are you going to lay the kitchen and bathroom floors? 
  • Isn't it about time you hoovered out the water heater burners? 
  • What about that major engine service, the one where you take the side off the engine to get to the sump?
  • Those curtains are coming soon, when will you finish the window refurb?
  • That forecabin is a state, needs a sort and declutter...
  • Could have done with a polish before winter 
  • Those little bits of paint that need addressing ....
  • Have you booked the dry dock for November next year for the blacking and insurance survey....
... and on and on.

Having said all that we were so lucky this year as while all other holidays were cancelled we had two great two week holidays around the four counties and to ( nearly) the end of the Llangollen.

To justify the boat to me I like to use it all year and this latest lockdown whilst easier in conditions ( we could and did visit the boat for the day ) has been a frustration but understandable one. 

I was planning to go to the boat on Thursday to stay over for a few days and crack on with the engine service. However a hospital appointment ( Thursday) and a stove delivery ( Friday) has put a dent in that. We will still possible go this weekend ..... C&RT advice below:

As of 2 December 2020 our navigations will be open for you to cruise – and stay on board overnight – subject to ongoing government guidance. The Government advises that people should specifically try to avoid leaving or entering very high alert level areas (tier 3), other than for things like work or education so we would strongly advise against travelling to or from your boat, or boating for any distance, in these areas.

We are in tier 3 as is our boat so we are not crossing tier borders ! My interpretation, other interpretations are no doubt available. As through this period I've practiced common sense, limiting my exposure to others and others exposure to me while at the same time being sensible with my own mental health, and I get low  (SAD  -Seasonal Affection Disorder).  So I need to be out doing thing being it walking, fishing motorcycling or boating. 

My life my sensible choices and balanced risk. 

A report will follow (hopefully) 


Saturday, 5 December 2020

C&RT doing essential work on those horrible Knowle locks

The Knowle locks are beautiful but not the place to be in the wet and more critically the wind. Done them a few times and the wind can play merry havoc on the pound crossings especially if you are swapping chambers with other boaters. 

A friend on one of the motorcycle forums is a volunteer lock keeper at these locks and has recently shared a C&RT info video which is interesting for a five minute watch with a cup of coffee... or maybe a small whisky if the time is appropriate 

Thursday, 3 December 2020

Rudyard lake - C&RT owned and maintained

Since we took Waterlily up to the end of the Leek arm of the Caldon I've not really thought much of the lake that was built  to feed the Caldon canal. Here is the post on NB waterlily's blog - 11 years ago now   

Indeed it is still a working reservoir that feeds the Caldon canal. Now I live in the area I visited it on the bike on a recent food shopping trip ( for the future.... this is lockdown England where to minimise Covid 19 infections we are encourages and in some instanced legislated to do certain things in certain ways  - essential travel being a contentious issue for many) 

Anyway I digress  this is a beautiful reservoir  that will be explored more in coming months  - on foot. 

You can read about it here  - Click me 

There is no doubt the canal engineers of the day put some serious effort into water provision for the canals. Bosley reservoir another fine example.

Anyhow here are a couple of gratuitous pictures of my bike and the reservoir as well as a picture or two of the hills above leek as I wended my way back to Sainsbury's for food !