Friday, 29 November 2019

A consideration of boating/boaters essentials

While aboard this weekend (16th Nov) I got to thinking of those few things that I take with me or have put on board to make life a bit easier. Many may have the same, I’m sure they do but they do it for me.

D is for Dyson, we have a small hand held. Its battery powered and I recently got a new Lithium battery for it quite cheap to give it more life. We et about 12 minutes from it but more than enough to give the boat a vac through. When charging or moving it gets plugged in. We also have a main Dyson for the longer cleaning vaccing sessions that pleasingly will run on the Honda generator

G is for generator and Gatery charger ! Ok so I took a Gibberty there, but since getting the sage advice from Richard who did the decoke and gasket change on Percy we have a lovely light Honda 1KW genny. Running old engines or engines built to an old design (Percy's Donk is not 10 years old yet) does them no good, they like to be run under load, turning the prop pushing 17 tons of boat forward. The other delight is no noise or vibration. Now I like Percys Lister but I prefer to listen to it from the tiller  - thats where I get the compliments, once had two fellas who ran across a field to talk to me about it! I have a little electrical project I'll blog about to make the whole genny thing tidier and safer....

I is for IPad, thank you Apple for such a versatile device. I am lucky I have the Macbook I am typing this on but while the keyboard is lit and tactile and the screen high definition it is overkill for periods on the boat when the Ipad does 90% of what the Macbook can do, and the sun will recharge it over the 12v  - no need for inverters and 80w charging transformers.... I can read book, blog, get mail, play games (not often) shop, Facetime facebook - just perfect with a long battery life. When this Macbook gives up - hopefully not anytime soon as it is a decent spec I'll opt for a larger Ipad I think and no Macbook...

W is for wellies, especially this time of year. When I was a little boy I lived in red wellies apparently. It does not take much for me to don the wellies for a walk and it is so much easier slipping them on and off in and out of the boat. Like waterproof slippers.... I must investigate some lined wellies or the like....

G is for gloves, I have poor circulation and get cold hands easily, so a decent pair of gloves are essential. I say decent but you can get thermal gloves from the £ shop for guess what a £, I have three or four pairs in various jackets, sheds and boats.

F is for fire blocks - I started this blog on the boat last weekend and was marvelling at how they make the Morso so efficient for such low fuel demands. I type this as I have just loaded the open fire at home with nearly a bucket of coal - it'll eat that tonight....

S is for Smarty, my latest treat for Percy, a dedicated 4g connection. I have been using my phone to tether, which  is ok but it drops connection  and I need the phone in the window, plus the signal does not make it reliably to the bedroom. The bonus is it's only (!) £18 but on a rolling one month contract. Just nice to have fastish reliable internet.... more on that in another blog.

I am sure there are other things but these were what came to my head

Wednesday, 27 November 2019

A company recommendation

In these challenging times for companies good service wins out especially for me. I'll pay more and be loyal for customer service.

So I have to strongly recommend On Board Energy who are based at Springwood Haven marina.

Here is a link to their online shop Click Me

They are super efficient at despatching orders, excellent communications if there is a query and very fair if there is a problem. They are also happy to give support on products purchased - I spoke with them to get advice and confirmation my wiring was correct when I fitted a Victron battery monitor.

They also honour a long term discount code from Journey With Jono's YouTube channel that makes their products ever more competitively priced.

So if you are buying bits test them out - I'm sure you will not be disappointed.

Note - not any connection or reward for this post, just giving feedback and recommendations for a efficient friendly canal based business.

Sunday, 24 November 2019

Percy may be a lifeboat next week !

Still getting the grips with this country living. You'll all mostly be sitting there with your gas umbilical cord connected directly to Turkey and Russia via Europe - I kid you not...

...and 9% comes by way of LNG tankers (Liquified Natural Gas) how mad is that !

Our cottage is 'off' the gas grid so we rely on heating oil  (yes I know my heating oil comes no doubt from even future afield  - and in tankers also) but we have little choice. We have a 'watchman' to monitor the levels and last time it started to alert me to a low tank there was quite a bit - so much we ran it for a good week or so after the warning. No here is the dum dum mistake by yours truly.... same warning so I relaxed and put it in the to do list thinking  have a time to sort - forgetting last times fill up was in the summer (little or no heating on) and now heating on twice a day - tit. 

So I recon we are down to our last thirty or so litres of oil.... we have run out in the past when we first moved in (knackered sensor - they are known to be short lived) and it was a PITA to bleed the boiler and the Rayburn of the air that got in so I don't want to have that challenge again - even though I now know how to do it. 

So the fire is lit here and the electric heaters are on standby....but so is Percy. Last week we were on board (16th Nov) and on the Saturday night when it was about -3 outside I was sitting in my shorts and T shirt. The Morso and back boiler is very effective.  

It would not take much to put the cottage's nest system on eco and repair to Percy until the oil arrives (booked for Wednesday)  

Watch this space !!

Friday, 22 November 2019

Canal boat diaries - a must watch

Some will like me be aware of the various and many Youtube vloggers putting their lives on line in video format. Not for me, I have a face for radio for sure and not enough liveaboard content. There are so many now that I don't watch all of them anymore, many following the same routes and using the same ideas for content that does become repetitive. Yes there are some good ones out there... there are some that are a bit 'up themselves' and some that well, are just on youtube !

One I will always watch when he posts on Youtube is Robbie Cummins - the Naughty Lass. His style is warts and all, very honest but also very well put together, a good mix of all aspects of living afloat. His skill has been recognised with a four part series on BBC4  - Canal Boat diaries and I'd really recommend it to you. I have been so impressed I have written to the BBC to ask for another series or two.... I'd encourage you do the same if you like what you see.

Here are a few links

Episode 1 on Iplayer

Episode 2 on Iplayer

Episode 3 on Iplayer

Episode 4 on Iplayer

Please give them a go and if you like them give some positive feedback.... he deserves it.

Wednesday, 20 November 2019

The sound of water

Not something you want to really hear in you house or boat. As I type (15th Nov)  there has been some horrendous flooding in the East Midlands and South Yorkshire. Rachel got stuck in Derby gridlock and had a 14 hour day last Friday.

Retirement does confer lots of privileges, one being no commute and being relatively immune from the impacts of sever weather. In fact I went out into the aftermath of the recent rains to check the valley. I was concerned that last time the river Churnet flooded so badly the Black Lion pub was cut off - so I hurried down to offer any help if needed.

One thing that was very evident on the walk down to the river was the continuous sound of running water as the valley emptied into the river below. 

The towpaths from the lack towards the river were underwater

You would think the benign Caldon canal would be immune from such impacts but it is one to watch when the rains come as they seem to do evermore!

Sunday, 17 November 2019

Moody Moorland Meander

One aspect of school learning that somehow lodged into my brain - Alliteration, that and onomatopoeia !

Anyhow, the weather on the moorlands can be very personal, from how it treats you to how it shows itself. I recently did what I call the end of the lane walk (very imaginative, there is the also the five fields walk, the valley walk, the village walk, the farm walk, the flagpole walk ..... plus a few more) Anyhow my walk was undertaken just as the moorlands was having a change in personality, from moody wet miserable moorlands to light bright wide open and welcoming moorlands. In between there is a change of light that is quite engaging.

Thursday, 14 November 2019

The marking of time - especially around the 11th of the 11th

The concept of time intrigues me and also agitates me. It's the one thing we as humans have little or no control of and has such a big impact on us and our planet. Of course our individual time on this earth is minuscule... in fact someone has worked it out.

Your age when you die = 85 years
Earth’s Age = 4.5 billion years
85/4,500,000,000 = 0.000,001,890%
Roughly your life span will be two millionths of one percent of the age of the Earth. Compared to a human life span of 85 years, it would be like a life form that lasts 141 seconds. 141 seconds is to a human lifespan, as a human lifespan is to the age of the Earth. 

Just to add some Canal reference here I found a picture the other day of the first time we saw Percy in the 'steel' so as to speak.

27th October 2012 at 10.26 am
So our ownership give or take a few weeks for surveys etc is coming up to 7 years not a lot of fractions of a % but those seven years have flown. And time does fly... but only when you look backwards. Looking forward to something and it seems to drag, it certainly did when we were waiting for the survey results 
I did buy time when I retired early, I brought my freedom from my job by a large pension sacrifice - worth every penny, if you can you should I have not regretted a day of no work and being on my own time

So where is this going. I walk a lot in the area of the moorlands where we now live, great for the body but also great for the soul. One of my walks takes me through the graveyards of Kingsley Church St Werburghs - The Church is a grade 2 listed building, with the tower dating back to the 13th century.

I first started walking through the graveyard when we got the cottage April 2017 and there were two graves in the newest part of the church. There seems to be a new grave appear each month just lately - or more frequently. Its filling up so quickly they have now set the plinths for the next row of lives lived and completed….

It's one thing the graves spreading, but when you read some of the dates - a few have lived long lives but some have lived less than my time on this earth. Some of the older graves in the cemetery around the church date back hundreds of years - all people who lived their lives and are now not talked abut, maybe just read out aloud to keep their memories alive! 

On a poignant, relevant and related thread the Commonwealth war graves cemetery at Tyne Cot  has a constant reading out over discretely placed speakers the names of the34,887 soldiers from the United Kingdom and New Zealand Forces who are commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial to the Missing. As visitors walk along the path to the Visitors Centre names are spoken out loud by a female voice. These names are called out every few seconds on a continuous speaker system. It is incredibly moving and I was compelled to stand and hear as many names as I could saying a silent thanks you to each man who was read to me as his memory passed by me.
So spend that minuscule % of you time wisely, if you are doing something you don't enjoy try to change so you do not have to. Be brave be bold, relish each new day and every now and again say a silent thank you to those men and women who gave their today so we could have our tomorrow. 

Tuesday, 12 November 2019

A tale of 48 hours(ish)

Sorry for the delay in getting this post up.... I am getting behind but at least I now know why... - see here  Linky

Yes for the record we had some boat time, now going back to the 27th October !

It was planned so off we drove, dropping the trusty Rover 75 tourer off for its MOT work while we were aboard. It had to be Sunday to Monday as there were caring responsibilities to undertake at both ends of the age scale.

We got to the boat and set to with the required job, me on the stove and Rachel swapping the bedding over. I cleaned the chimney last time I had a day visit when I also cut the grass and did some napalm type gardening ! Therefore the stove job was to get the stuff swept down the chimney off the top back boiler plate. I don't know why they call it a back boiler - back and top boiler would be a more apt name. Anyhow all cleaned (reminder to self take the workshop vacuum cleaner next time ) it was lit and a walk undertaken to give myself and Leia some much needed exercise  - Rachel was resting up due to a foot injury.

Fire lit....

Then off for my walk...

Almost dark on my return 
Then it got cold and very misty  - I love these very atmospheric autumnal mornings.

We did some light gardening then sadly had to repair back to the cottage as I had to collect my Rover from its MOT (150,000 miles now !) and we had to be elsewhere on the Tuesday.

It did not stop me getting a lovely canal walk in the other side of Staffordshire on the Wednesday (Rachel was back at work - only semi retired !)  -in my valley along the Caldon canal. It was quite alarming to see how high the River Churnet had been !

There was a load of sediment dumped under the railway bridge

I did the full walk out of the valley to the top fields behind the Falconry centre. This is my five fields walk added to the valley walk ( a decent amount of exercise) as the footpath is at the end of our house. The farmer had been cutting the grass on the top field.

Sadly I'd forgotten the other farmer (they have some strange field ownerships around here) had been muck spreading on the fields behind our cottage and Leia was sick for the next couple of days - could be totally unrelated but a bit of a coincidence  - any advice or experience of such?

Now I have resolved the photos issue I'll hopefully get the blog up to date 

Thursday, 7 November 2019

Sorted (sort of) I'm still here, just Blogger or Catalina being difficult

I have had a blog under edit for a couple of weeks now but for some reason I can't see all my photos when I try and add one to my post..... I can only assume it's something to do with te changes to Phot's on the Mac under Catalina ....Grrrrrr !!

I am working on it honest.

Blogger used to be able to show the low res versions of photos from Iphoto on the mac when composing a new post. It seems since the upgrade to Catalina now Blogger can only see the downloaded full resolution images despite the los res images being in the Photo library. So now the only way I can upload my photos to my blog it to first download the hi res version to my macbook.