Sunday, 30 January 2022

Gotta love an Apple ..... but

It's a funny thing back in the day.... late 80's ( Sinclair ZX81 and Spectrum ) and early 90's I was a computer nerd  - still am but less so now  - see later for why. I worked for the University of Derby - then Derbyshire College of Higher Education and I was employed to set up and run an 'Inplant Print Unit' which I did with the support and help of a top fella Mr David Bush, lots of stories to tell for another day but Dave was the graphic designer  - a very good talented one and I was the fella who put the ink on the paper etc.

Anyhow computers were in the workplace then - just, all PC's 286's 386's 486's nothing like what we use today but they were DOS based then windows 3 (1990) a real learning curve with floppy disks no cd's no internet ! Dave being a graphic designer and the graphic design teaching school down the corridor were picking up some of the very early Macintosh computers  - eye bleedingly expensive with diddy screens but a revelation to the graphic designers of the day - and in my estimation even then the early start of the demise of the craft of lithographic printing of which I had completed a four year apprenticeship ! 

Anyhow the story is about our friendly rivalry of me being a PC fanboy and Dave being a Mac fanboy. There was very much a competition between the two systems as the PC was just into WIMP ( Windows Icons Menu's and pointers) from the old command line operating systems that were the old DOS ( Disk Operating Systems ) of the fledgling PC world. We had many friendly arguments about which would triumph  and which would not - as we know there is space for both and both doing well. The PC was a fiddlers delight always something to add in and set or adjust.... the Mac turned on and worked. So in my estimation I learned more from the operation of the PC but Dave learned more of his craft from the delivery of the Mac.

So why the post, well I've been watching a Youtuber for many years now Carey Holzman who is entertaining and educational on building and troubleshooting PC's (I did say I was a computer nerd). One of his recent vlogs was decommissioning some old early PC's that brought back memories for me of what I used to build and fettle. Click here for the video So taken have I been I've dusted off my old Windows PC in the loft and got it fired up ( did not start straight away only giving me 3 beeps on the POST  - diagnosed as a graphics card issue.) Taking out the graphics card and reseating it sorted it and we got it booted, then overnight for the windows updates ! Not sure what to do with it as I've a Mac Mini that boots into windows as well as Mac - might remove the hard drive and offer it to the community hopefully some youngster will find a use for it.

I got keen then and focussed on my Apple devices. I love Apple stuff - it just works so well. I've recently upgraded the M.2 drive in my lovely and still very relevant Macbook Pro 15 inch laptop. I also recently upgraded the ram and the M.2 drive in my Windows gaming laptop  - the old 120gb drive - who puts such a small drive in a laptop.... got put into a USB caddy so I have a decent very fast spare 120gb drive very portable. The M.2 drive I removed from my 15 inch macbook is properiatory and can only go into another similar model Macbook so as it's  a decent drive size I may clear it and offer it for sale.

Now I got adventurous  - just before christmas I was charging my Macbook up and there was a pop from the charger  as the cable into the transformer was broken and it was arcing. I have a spare so this one went into a draw. Today I was looking at buying another but on my economy drive - see later post for info on that, I decided to see if it was repairable. Now here comes the 'Gotta Love Apple... but' .... the transformer was sealed so seemingly unrepairable  - bad stuff Apple but all too common with some  ( not all) of their stuff. I've replaced the screen ( warranty) battery and hard drive  - latter two myself on my Macbook. My Mac mini has more ram and a larger HD. I've repaired Rachels Iphone but not my Ipad(s) I've also had a new screen on my Iphone. However the power supply seemed unrepairable. But Youtube came good and there were a couple of vlogs about cracking open the case using bull nose pliers that worked a treat. Some soldering heat shrinking super glue clamps and hot glue and I have a repaired working 60w power supply. Money still in my pocket, one less item to landfill and one less item off the new product inventory - result.

Not the prettiest but effective 

So Apple great kit, some easy to upgrade but some designed obsolescence. All in all I still would take Apple stuff over windows and IOS over Android. So Dave ultimately was right. I should catch up with Mr Bush ...... 

Postscript - I've just realised Apple have updated their Mac OS to Monterey. All very nice apart from the fact my I7 15 Inch Macbook is now 'too old' to be part of their ongoing OS roll outs so the clock is ticking a bit louder  on its demise. I've engaged myself this evening upgrading a 2009 Macbook that belonged to Callum to take Monterey... so it's doable when needed. Just a shame the ongoing technology march takes such decent kit out of the race far too early. 

Thursday, 27 January 2022

Plans for 2022

So our beautiful world has started on its trip and tip back towards light as we spin around the sun. Already the days are eeking out their daylight 

We did some planning for 2022 and hopefully it should be a good one health and pandemics allowing. We've had to plan around  things not boaty related as Percy's donk needs some work either I'll have to have a crack at or wait for someone eminently more experienced and qualified .... but that may take some waiting time. We have plenty of time built into a possibly new lifestyle that if Percy will allow will get us some trips ( extended) on NB Percy

So in a rough order....

  • A 3 day motorcycle trip on my Himalayan  to do the Lake District passes with a trip across Windermere on the ferry.
  • Devon and Cornwall for 5 days again on the BMW with a couple of good friends 
  • 6 days cycling across England following Hadrian's wall me and Rachel - organised by Sustrans
  • Snowdonia 360... 360 miles over 5 days stopping in Bala. The 360 is a route around Snowdonia that we will break into segments. This one will be on the Bike bike  ( BMW R1250 RT) with Rachel
  • Off to Normandy with 10 motorbike frends  - BMW again - 7 days tbc'd hopefully
  • Then off to Colditz with two other bike friends that may take in Czechoslovakia  - BMW again and this will take in an autobahn or two to stretch the bikes legs ! 8 days IIRC
  • A family holiday booked for our joint christmas present in a farmhouse in the cotswolds - 5 days Wells going to Wells !
  • Hopefully a walking holiday just before my 60th.... not sure where yet but I have a couple of ideas
  • Then later in the year when I am 60 ffs.... if it all falls into place a two week sailing holiday around the Greek islands.
  • Might finish the year off with a trip to Scotland  ( Moffat) or maybe return to Wales
Some all or none of the above might happen -  I hope we get the change to stretch out legs this year.

Rachel is changing jobs going back to the NHS  - my personal opinion is with her skills she is needed there more now that in education. Hopefully there is an option for some annualisation of hours meaning larger chunks of time can be taken for breaks on Percy. We have set aside a chuck of time to take on an extended trip - boat being sorted. 

So an extravagant year again of holidays. Hopefully I'll get a few trips up to Scotland and day trips into wales on the bikes as well as some cycling in the peaks  - greedy or what.

We also have plans for work on the cottage that I'll try and pick off - one thing it won't be a boring year. 

Monday, 24 January 2022

Les and Bruce in my thoughts 24th January

The boating community and two families lost two good men on the 24th January. 

2017 Les Biggs and in 2019 Bruce Napier. I knew them initially as good honest interesting funny bloggers, and I met them and they became friends. The common injustice they share is being taken from loved ones far too early. 

My selfishness wanted them to be blogging forever, always enjoying the canals and their boats. It's a lesson to us all they gave us in their untimely and unfair  deaths that we are not here for anything other than the briefest number of passages around our star. 

They were both men of good intellect and great fun, their words alone gave us that. Their shared love and experience of the canals was a great pleasure to all and I am happy to confess to using my work time to read and dream as they chronicalled their retirement on their own boats, sharing their joys and experiences, I will be forever grateful for that.

I don't have a faith, other than to believe we go back to the earth and become something else, maybe eventually that 'something else' we meet again in whatever form, the chaos of matter in the universe can and does bring those parts together and so it did for Jaq with Les and Sheila with Bruce, I'm thinking of you both.

So today I will raise a pint or a glass  of something stronger to these two fellas and thank them for their enthusiasm, their love of the canals and for being two bloody good blokes. 

Friday, 21 January 2022

A mooring update

 Good news.... here is the detail. 

Today 17th January we went over to Percy to check her. All was ok, batteries at 100% thanks to the solar  - no hook up and charger, we could if needed but the solar keeps the batteries sorted. Nothing in the little bilge under the stern gland, the auto greaser doing its job. 

While we were there I called in to say hello to the marina staff, Steve and Tony were busy still on the pontoon replacements and Julie was in the office. We are recognised  - the boat that came in with a distressed owner ! Plus where we are moored they know we can only get in one way due to the shallow rear of the marina. As I mentioned in my previous post I was going to chance my luck and see if I could get back onto C pontoon facing the entrance. The moorings here are IMHO the best as they are easy to get to from the entrance and you can see the main canal as well as the comings and goings of the marina - as close to being 'on line' as you can get while still in a marina. Julie advised good news one of the boats  on C pontoon had served notice and they were due out end of March and we could have their berth if we wished - excellent.

The other advantage (to us) is there are nice places to sit and watch the canal from the offside bank within the marina  close to our pontoon - even better still the marina staff have the Ok to clear some trees to make exiting the marian safer as before you had no view onto the canal northward. I've really pushed my luck and asked about fishing off the mariana bank side onto the main canal  - if that's a goer it makes marina life all the more attractive for the time being. 

So a very worthwhile visit, super friendly and accommodating staff and a new mooring for spring time. The boat is due off at the end of March but may be going sooner if they do we will get Percy round there PDQ. 

The marina layout copyright Great Haywood Marina. Click on the image to see a bigger version. 
We are on D23 now and I think our new berth will be C5 

We celebrated with a lunch at the cafe and then a walk to Tixall lock. Only one boat on the wide and another just around the corner on what I think are the better moorings. 

Tuesday, 18 January 2022

Some reflection on where were are with our canal journey

It's been a while since I visited Percy in Prison the marina. My other post, previous to this explained or rather celebrated the end of year we had for my online diary which kept us away. 

However it's a different type of ownership and canal enjoyment we are now entering. I've had time to reflect on the rapid change to Percy's residential status now and put it into perspective. I'm sitting here typing this with the woodburner lit, we've been for a misty walk in the countryside from out back gate, fast internet a curry ready to go and a deep bath pending. I've also been pottering in the workshop and have plans for some motorcycle fettling tomorrow as well as a bit of joinery. It's a peaceful lovely place we live in now so the need to scoot off to the side of a canal for the same is not there - and in some ways I find that quite sad. 

I've always been a person who's not keen to embrace change but this change is positive and will make us do 'something' different, well it already is as we are staying local pottering, walking  - maybe cycling more. 

One thing we have not yet really explored is a marina staycation  - I think that would need to include a relocation within the marian to make us feel like we are actually on the canal  - seeing boats moving from our boat. Where we are right in the back far corner we see very little, a nice'ish view but only from the rear doors as we cant reverse into the mooring as the back is too shallow. That in itself will give us a reason to relocate and hopefully the staff will engage with us to get us onto the pontoon we have in mind.

So the future will be a little more actually moving the boat when we come to visit, the location does help here having three routes to explore. 

  • North on the T&M it's up the Trent valley, the locks to Stone are well spaced and rural as is the whole route. Stone in about four and a half hours and four locks. Barleston is about seven and a half hours and twelve locks. That sets us fair for a run to the tunnel in a long day. So we could be on the Macclesfield in two days.
  • West'ish takes us on to well travelled water of the Staffs and Worcester canal. A peach of a canal with in my opinion three identities. From Great Haywood the Calf Heath, locks open country a couple of towns,  then the more urban run through Wolverhampton to Whightwick then rural until the outskirts of Kidderminster and onto Stourport. Two 6 hour days to Whightwick bridge visitor moorings  - or two days to Chillington bridge, a lovely mooring at 6 hours per day and we are back on my much loved Shroppie. Of course we can head up the Wolverhampton 21 to the BCN 
  • South on the T&M takes us back to Fradley  - not been on that route for a few years now so something to look forward to. Just a five and a bit hour day with only 4 locks. Then we can head off down the Coventry proper south or keep going to Willington and the wide locks to Sharlow, with options for the Erewash or the Trent through Nottingham and on to Newark or onto the Soar and complete the Leicester ring?
So a few options  - I've put some feelers out for a linear mooring in the area as well but like all such moorings they are subject to vacancies coming up..... we'll see.

Just waiting for the weather to warm up then I can go and do a bit on Percy's engine and the gas locker.... a test for the ' no work on your boat' condition.

Saturday, 15 January 2022

Let's step back in time

It was the end of November when I last posted something of us doing rather than reflections or thoughts on life etc.  So what did December bring to my life.

Checking back on my photos I was walking the Caldon at the beginning of December, a lovely snowy scene. I recall walking up to one of the four boats moored on the visitor mooring before the winding hole that is there for non tunnel traffic to hear the tell tale sound of a lazy starter battery and the cursing of a canal boater. He'd retreated into his boat muttering before I could offer help.  Not a bad place to overwinter f you have access to a vehicle, if not there is a lot if walking for supplies and water 

Some photos of the snow from my drone of out little hamlet 

I tried my hand at Lemon drizzle cake - very nice it was to 

By the 8th December I'd decided I'd be upgrading my big touring bike. The BMW R1200RT has been in its current spec since 2014 with a few engine and gearbox tweaks. I like the bike it suits me so it was an easy upgrade to the 1250 shift cam engined bike.... this one coming with a sound system installed ! A lot less miles on it, new tyres mot and service as well as two year BMW warranty and breakdown cover....I drove over to Shipley to do the deal and it was delivered all ready a week later. An extravagance but you can't take it with you as they say. 

Biking thirst quenched, early on the 15th December I was meeting my long standing friend Graeme for a lovely 8 mile walk around Curbar edge. The weather was cold but fine and it was a most enjoyable mornings walking.

Some family stuff ( house viewings for sister in law) then on the 20th we were at out oldest sons home visiting and catching up with Teddy and Benny our grandsons. 

Another walk this time 9 miles around the Roaches and Lud's Church with my youngest son who now resides in Buxton.

Then it was Christmas prep collecting the turkey and taking my mum out for food in Uttoxeter - she likes a drive out to different places.

We paid a visit to Christine's resting place to have a chat and update her with all the news ...

Christmas day was at ours with Sharon Andy and Aiden for dinner and tea (Brother in law, sister in law and nephew) sadly I didn't take any photos

Boxing day was over at Toms for some nice food and present swapping as well as a walk along the Erewash canal.... his cottage backs onto the canal. Nice walk somewhat spoilt by a lad - late teenager on a cycle with his big brother or dad cycled by no problem then all of a sudden a massive splash and he went in and right under - some shock to him, he was ok but well shaken up and very cold. We offered help but they said they lived close by thankfully.

The 27th saw us catching up with more family as we were treated to freshly made pizza in Joy and Jeffs outdoor space  - plus I think this is where I collected the bonus of the super cold from Barry whos son Luke was not at the 'do' as he had a cold ! 

The 28th and Rachel was back as work  - working from home while I nipped over to Percy to check all was well. Cold boat but batteries charged so all was good. 

Then is was over to New Quay in Wales for our New Year. We invited Sharon for a break from other things. Part of the reason for the trip was for Rachel and Sharon to meet up with their teacher from their time at a Steiner house school - Eric. Lovely time catching up 

New Year's day and we were on New Quay beach starting 2022 in style. It's a lovely place and somewhere we will revisit.

Chips on the beach - a real treat 

We also went into the sea because we could ! 

The cottage wasn't the best so we came back a day early calling in at Aberystwyth, not a patch on New Quay  

I was beginning my cold so it was ill advised (going against my nurses advice) to go out on the bike. I'd not been out since my Blood bikes check ride mid December. It was cold but dry and I did enjoy it 

I pushed my luck by going back to Shebdon to help my neighbour move her moorings. I was snotty but 'just a cold' 

It's a lovely mooring and I was quite jealous  - ironically it was our mooring when we moved to Shebdon, tainted by the break in that saw us move on to another great mooring that we still miss.

So that's me all caught up  - heading to two weeks of illness !