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We had talked about the 'all you can eat data plan' and why 3 had withdrawn it (over use and large demand) and he advised 3 did have a 30gb plan - all tethered use (the last 3 plan offered only had a 4gb limit on tethered data - for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

Saturday, 14 May 2016

C&RT Complaint - full and final resolution

You may remember this me for the initial post 

This is what my good neighbours called me about the day after I brought Percy back from a back to metal repaint in October last year. If you search for complaint on my blog you will see I have updated a few times on the progress of a formal complaint I made to C&RT.

I have now settled the complaint with C&RT.

My observations.... I'll not give the full detail of the final settlement other than to say C&RT have accepted their contractors did indeed damage the newly painted boat. On my suggestion C&RT paid for a surveyor to inspect the paintwork, I asked for my surveyor Balliol Fowden who has surveyed all my boats and he did the inspection with myself and a C&RT representative and his report concluded there were stone chips, albeit superficial on the side that was peppered and not so on the other side.

This was independent professional proof Fountains had damaged my boat.

I then left it to C&RT to speak with their contractors as to how they might address this and with the help of two very professional members of the C&RT management and directorate I received an offer I have accepted.

After a slow start and some confusion on the responsibilities of contractors and contracts C&RT have been very professional and I'd say supportive. They have followed stage 1 and stage 2 of their complaints procedures very carefully and I have received polite and effective communications for which C&RT should be proud.

I think this has been a learning exercise for them and I am aware of positive discussions at director level between C&RT and Fountains to progress this complaint but also thankfully address the risk assessments and method statements associated with grass cuttings adjacent to boats.

My learning is be patient and professional, I have never been rude or lost my temper, I have been frustrated and angry but not taken this out on the people dealing with the complaint.

All in an a frustration and I have damage to my boat that I'll monitor and repair as and when it is needed but I have faith in C&RT. So it is a well done C&RT and hopefully Fountains can start matching the professionalism of their contracting trust.

One final important note to me is I only accepted the C&RT offer on the condition the financial side was recovered from Fountains and C&RT were not financially disadvantaged  - I have received this assurance. C&RT's costs are in the learning process that I think is a good return however painful it was for me.

Monday, 2 May 2016

I genuinely do not know what to think .....

I have just watched this film for action Youtube video. It is about the families and others who are being taken off the system for not cruising enough and not having a home mooring.

Click here for the video ....

Their lifestyle is so far removed from the conformity of my approach to life I do not even know if I should be using my life as a guide to having an opinion on the issue of live aboards who do not engage in a 'bona fide' journey around the system.

I was going to type I have the luxury of a home mooring, but then it occurred to me I also have a job that pays for that luxury. My job also pays for the luxury of a mortgage and a home and an asset. But that makes me more confused.

I did feel for the little boy called Cub who was selling his toys and having to live in a van....(which I doubt)  but then I have brought up my sons and in doing so had an absolute responsibility to do the best for and by them.

I guess that is the real difference - I conform(d) to the normal approach to living.
  • Should I be critical of those that do not ?
  • Am I envious of the those that do not ?
  • Is there anything I can learn from my reaction to the issues in the video?
  • How do I feel about the C&RT response and or actions to reduce/remove those moorers who use the canal just as a home.
On reflection there are people who pay for a linear mooring or marina mooring and live aboard unmolested by C&RT. The difference is the group being pursued do not pay for a mooring but as evidenced in the video do pay for a license. 

So I guess the question is are C&RT social landlords with all that comes to support the less advantaged - well the (my) answer is no they are not. So I am rounding on the idea those who cannot pay and abide by the rules to keep moving should not be on the canals. How harsh is that? In making that call I concern myself with the issue of where does the discretion start and stop? If discretion is used then do C&RT not become that social landlord?

I feel for C&RT,  as a parallel they are like the hospitals being forced to hold onto social care cases because the social system is so dysfunctional. But the comparison is not quite the same as these people have choices I guess and the health care people have not the same choices.

So on the balance of review I feel for the people who want to live an a boat but not cruise a bona fide route and will not/cannot pay for a home mooring. But I support C&RT in their endeavor to enforce the  principals of living (and working) on the canals. I support them as this is the principal for how the canals are used and C&RT are doing the right job, however hard that is.