Tuesday, 26 September 2017

External Waterproof Speaker and Autumn cheer...

The more time I have, the less I achieve - it's true... when I was working 70-80 hour weeks on occasions, I STILL managed to make MORE progress on the boat than I do now that I'm recovering from my hand operations...

A recently retired good friend agreed this when we spoke a while back that he doesn't know HOW he had the time to go to work as he's always busy these days but doesn't often feel like he's achieved much.  It's very true.

Still,  I AM still ticking off little jobs here and there - I've finally wired in properly the outside speaker which connects to the radio in the dinette - it's been wired in (and hanging through the door) for ages but I decided it was time to get the wires hidden away AND connect a switch into the circuit so on a morning when I put the radio on (usually Vanessa Felts I'm afraid... I MUCH preferred Bunty when she was on but the BBC keep messing things up  - I've YET to meed anyone who prefers that ginger Twunt   Chris Evans to Wogan either... ) it doesn't have to be heard outside.

Writing of the BBC, on the plus side, when the aforementioned self important fool  presenter is on holiday, the lovely Sarah Cox does a MUCH better job - pity she can't have the slot full-time....and I STILL miss Pam Ayres on a Sunday afternoon!

BACK to the wiring...

Well, having decided to do it properly ( ish) I got some trunking, fed a bit of old cat 5 cable through (which I'd cleared out of the garage) and glued it through a hole down into the engine bay and then through the bulkhead into the electric cupboard...  Of course it would have been fine had the wire I  used not been broken "somewhere" along the run - it was only when I tested it out I remembered the wire HAD been stapled to the side of the garage to connect up the garden speakers and I must have gone through one or more of the strands ... and of course I'd obviously wired up the duffer this time.  Hmmf.



The wiring in the cupboard does look a little Heath Robinson I'll grant you but at least now it works.

 The switch was recycled from one of Mick's old LED lights that had broken on his boat...  The speaker has been given a coat of dark grey paint so it doesn't stand out too much on the back and now Radio 2 can accompany us as we chug along - without having to faff around with portable radios etc...and if we're in a place with no signal, we can just plug in the ipod and listen to that instead.

Sorted!

As the plants outside are now dying back, Andy has planted up some winter violas to keep the roof of the boat cheery for a while longer...  luckily my mother gave us some smaller pots (I have a feeling they came from a friend of hers who gave her them to go on the boat) so at least you CAN see over these when chugging along - well you would be able to, had he not also planted some ruddy straggly fuchsias in the middle....  oh well - it's still a bit easier than it was in the height of summer.

In other boaty related stuff, the macerater toilet has developed an intermittent fault now - I think it's solenoid related as it ALWAYS empties OK but won't always "fill" - as in from the fresh water... it just clicks and does nothing... THUS far, turning the power off at the breaker, giving it a few mins and then back on again gets things moving (no pun)  although as I type this, I'm "waiting" to finish something I went to start earlier - and the aforementioned reboot hasn't worked... yet!

I think I'd better get in touch with Jabsco and see if I can get a replacement part sooner rather that later.  

HAND wise, the stitches come out on Thursday and  unless I'm doing something where it might get knocked, I've gotten rid of the bandages during the day - I still strap it up to sleep in for protection but it's much better than it was even a week ago....Still not much grip in my fingers but I know it will return in a couple of months.  When the stitches have gone, it's time to begin massaging the scar to break up the tissue underneath so as to prevent a hard lump of scar-tissue forming.  I've been doing this religiously on my left one and although there is still a sore bit, it's really quite good again now.... and MORE importantly, NO more being woken up in the night in agony.

I really should have had it done ages ago....  misguided loyalty to "work" was the reason for the delay.  oh well - you live and learn.

Until next time...

Friday, 22 September 2017

Tiny fires and a lynch pin....

Winter is on it's way...  I know this because for the 2nd morning in a row when I got up, the temperature outside was showing only 3.4 degrees c. - it might have been lower during the night as since I don't HAVE to be up at stupid-o-clock any more, my body clock has adjusted to sleeping in to about 7-7.30 now which is lovely.



We HAD been setting the heating to come on for an hour or so to give us hot water and take the chill off the boat but it'll not be long before the fire is in 24/7... which we're both looking forward to.  We've gotten one of those plastic garden storage trunks and put it back in amongst the bushes to the side of the boat - initially, I'd put sacks of coal in it but when one "walked" (thieving scrotums) I decided having it in lose might be a better idea - the time it takes to fill a sack/bucket/pockets or whatever might deter whomever it was from taking any more... failing that, I'll rig up some kind of electrocuting alarm lol.

The trouble with having the heating on is that the batteries get a bit of a hammering when they are at their lowest - ie in the dark early morning, after a nights use and BEFORE the solar kicks in.  Given we're still running on 3 that's probably not the best idea.

SO, in a bid to keep them alive for as long as possible, I've been experimenting with 'tiny fires'... so as not to heat the boat to unbearable temperatures but just make it comfortable - especially now the rear is door is open more with the cats coming and going.  

That may look pathetic but you'd be amazed at how much more comfortable the boat is with so few coals burning all day - on a night I chuck on a couple more and rather than closing it up, just leave it on full vent - by morning the lounge is still warm and only a few embers remain .  It's taken a bit of getting used to but I think we've capped it now... roll on the snow and ice so we can get a proper fire going.  


So - Lynch Pins...  I've had a devil of a job getting hold of any in Wakefield... it seems no one's ever heard of them...  we used them all the time at work doing the fairground stuff  - perhaps it's scary to think they are often all that's holding a swift (roof joist) in position on a waltzer or speedway but they do the job well.  

The reason I wanted a couple was for the cabin hooks on the rear hatch.  For the last few months, when closing the boat up from the inside for the night I've bolted the middle of the sliding hatch and engaged a cabin hook on either side door to hold it down.... this appeared to work OK - that is until the winds the other night ....  turns out that if the hatch was rattled REALLY hard (by wind or Mr. intruder) the cabin hook could work lose and fall out of the retaining hole - thus allowing the hatch to be lifted and free access to the back cabin - NOT something you'd want to happen when you were asleep in bed.

I'd been racking my brains as to how best to solve this when it occurred to me to drill a hole into the back doors and bung a lynch pin in to prevent the cabin hook dropping back.  

I didn't manage to actually find any in town but Gavin who I used to work with, brought me a couple from work as a favour -it'd have been nice if they'd matched but he couldn't find 2 the same, so for now, I'm just using the one but it does the trick.   I'll  attach a bit of chain to it and fix it to the door so it can't get lost.... when I get around to it. 

Until next time....

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Never mind Garlic bread... the future is Rhubarb Gin and we've tasted it...

Good morning.

I'm not going to harp on too much here - suffice to say my right hand is still quite sore... it's rather annoying as being left handed, (and having that one heal so easily) I'd assumed the right one would be a breeze.

NOW OK.  I did something stupid on Friday with it - I'd walked up to Boots to try and buy some more dressings (they didn't have any suitable) but as I left the store an old bird  a little old lady coming in stumbled towards me and I instinctively grabbed her to stop her falling to the floor... of course I used both hands but I must have subconsciously gotten used to protecting my left one - ergo, the right one took most of her weight...  within milliseconds the pain shot up my arm and the throbbing took hours to subside.

I think it's all right - I took off the padding to redress it later on and whilst there WAS a bit of blood on it, I don't think it was fresh.

Enough of that - suffice to say, it's all cleaned up again and bandaged back up for protection.

SO - Having decided we're both getting a bit chubby  festively plump, we're back to walking 8 miles a day and have worked out a pleasant circular route.  We go down the canal side to Foxholes, up the road in to Altofts, bear right and then cut along a bridal way along a wood side, round Newland hall (derelict), passed Kirkthorpe church , through some woodland , over the river and then back down the tow-path to our boat...  - according to Endomondo its 7.79 miles... which is close enough.  

More importantly, that burns off about 800 calories give or take.  Anyway, whilst on the first leg of our walk on Saturday, we noticed Claire (from the boat behind) and her friend Todd were chugging the same direction to have her boat blacked... we slowed down a bit, planning on opening the first couple of locks for them to speed their passage.  It turned out Todd's other half was already waiting at the lock to do that anyway so we carried on and shortly afterwards bumped into a chap called Paul.  He was one of the slingers who helped with the craning in of Ellis last October.   We got chatting  as you do and he mentioned he'd recently bought some Rhubarb and Ginger Gin from a shop in Castleford and wholeheartedly recommended it... we made a mental note and carried on along our way.

On our return,  we went gin shopping!

T'dah!

It's rather nice... a slow drinker as for full benefit it's best neat on ice but at only 20% vol that's ok.

Flavour wise, you get the rhubarb first and then after a few moments, the ginger kicks in.  It's nice!

WHILST shopping, we also tried some Elderflower gin... that's rather nice too.  The rest of the day is somewhat hazy lol 😆

. . . . . . . 

Boat wise, Andy got a phone call from Eric (next door neighbour at the bungalow) to say a package had arrived for me.  It turned out to be the consumables for the next couple of services from Calcutt boats.  2 oil filters and 1 each of diesel and air filters (they get switched on alternate oil changes)...

It's handy having a sensible postman - he posts "mail" as normal to the old address for us to collect from the tenant but has the common sense to leave packages with the either Sheila or Eric either side and they let us know... it's working out quite well,

Remember that prototype porthole shutter I made in the bedroom many moons ago?https://narrowboatellis.blogspot.co.uk/2017/01/porthole-shutter-prototype-and-waste-bin.html

Well I've finally gotten around to taking them off, fitting magnets into the mdf and removing the pointless catch ...


FINALLY the porthole at the end of the bed can be left open all day to increase ventilation.  We're keen not to let the cats into the bedroom as I really have no desire to share my pillow with a cat's derrière  - hence why the bedroom door remains closed.  

Until next time...



Friday, 15 September 2017

Carpal Tunnel round 2 and counting your blessings...

Yesterday was much more organised at the hospital than the previous visit - perhaps because I knew what to expect but an admission time of 4.00pm and post op discharge of 6.05pm really was quite good going - especially as I was 2nd in the list.



I really do need to get back to healthy eating  - since stopping working I've put on over a stone which is neither flattering or helpful to my wardrobe... I'm stuck in my "fat clothes" at the moment and given my delusional optimistic thinning out of clothing when we moved on to the boat proper, there are only a few things that fit... time to increase the daily walking me thinks!

Anyway - When I got into the shared room yesterday, I was soon joined by a chap called David, having the same procedure... HIS first time with his second hand to be done in  a few weeks.  This poor fella looked terrible - clearly exhausted and carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders.  

We got chatting as you do and it was good to be able to reassure him about the recovery time first hand (no pun intended)... he was quite nervous but MORE concerned about how soon he'd be able to drive...  that was a bit odd given he was clearly retired but as our conversation progressed I reassured him that when I had my first one done, I felt safe to drive after a couple of days using my finger tips... it's your body tells you what it can (and more importantly can't) do.   It transpired that his concern was due to the fact his wife was in hospital - has been for 6 weeks and he needs to be able to drive to visit her...  

He went on to explain she has terminal cancers pretty much all over ... including anus, kidneys, lungs and spine - in short, she's on her way out and he wants to be able to be with her when the end comes... preferably in a hospice which the palliative care team are currently trying to arrange for them.  The wife is a fighter and refuses to give in just yet he said, she is fully aware time is running out but she is putting a brave face on things - for his sake he thinks.  David openly said were he in her shoes, he'd end things himself...  our conversation then went on to euthanasia and how much BETTER it would have been for the country to have a referendum on legalising that rather then to leave the EU.

It's true -   at least giving the country a chance to vote on something we understand would have been a far better idea than asking us to vote on something very few understand the implications of.

Without exception, every conversation I've ever had about the right to chose when to end our own lives has ended in agreement... I can't believe no potential government has had the bottle to put it in their manifesto.

Between us, we came up with an idea of recruiting help to finish our selves off should the need ever arise.  Macabre though it may appear, it's actually a sensible thing to do - acquire a suitable amount of something that would  send you to sleep forever but put it somewhere innocent looking so you could ask a friend/neighbour/relative to bring you WITHOUT them knowing anything was afoot - thus reducing the potential risk of them being prosecuted for assisting....  

Now OK, so neither of us understand the law in this area but it is something worth bearing in mind if the need should ever arise.

BACK to the op - I won't lie...  this time it bloody hurts  is more painful than before.  Even though I took a reasonable amount of good painkillers before retiring, it was a rather bad night.  This morning, it's throbbing and I'm trying to keep it elevated... by tomorrow, it'll be much better I'm sure.

In comparison to poor David's wife I have absolutely NOTHING to complain about...  so I won't.  In fact, I think I'll put a jacket on and go outside and play ball (using my bad, good hand) with Daisy.. she's always pleased for someone to throw her tennis ball... on her terms I'll grant you - it's a battle of wills in regards HOW close to me she'll drop it - her preferring to have ME get up and meet her half way.  

She usually wins!

Until next time...



Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Stern Greaser...

Yesterday, the time finally came when the stern greaser... ran out of grease!

I'd been aware it wasn't far off being 'fully screwed down' for a few weeks but it looked like it would last forever...  Alas that was not the case.

Having read other peoples suggested ways of doing it without getting covered in grease (and deciding just to put a pair of gloves on and use a desert spoon), imagine my delight when I opened up the tub that'd been sitting in the engine bay  (you know the one ... the one the webasto fitter had used to support the pipes along with a bit of wood) to discover someone had designed it especially for purpose - i.e.. it had a plastic disk the full size of the tub with a hole in the centre which meant all I need do was push down the holder and it would fill it up - mess free.




Even better, is the fact that there's still enough left for another fill... hopefully in about another 12 months.  

The down side to having done this is that it's pricked my conscience in regards painting the engine hole ...  I sort of forgot all about it when doing the rest of the boat - unless I get a sudden surge of energy, it'll have to wait now until I'm healed after this coming Thursday's hand operation. When I DO eventually do it, I'm just going to use white (or maybe yellow) hammerite.  

Something I DID get around to the other day was applying a bit of sikalfex to extend the flow of water off the roof an inch or so in order to miss the edge of the rear portholes.
I painted over it so now it just looks like a bit of poor welding - it works to a point but when the rain is VERY heavy, it still goes over it... ergo, I need to do a deeper bit which I'll get around to next time I open a tube.  It will at least keep the fly nets a bit cleaner if nothing else.

Speaking (well writing) of clean - I've had all the ropes off again and ran them through the washer...  this time in a zip up cushion cover and as a result, not a single tangle!    They feel much nicer to handle again  and we're both trying our best NOT to let them dangle in the canal.... for now anyway....UNLIKE one of the cats - Sox, discovered she could swim the other day... she was proudly wandering down the canal side gun-whale when a duck appeared and she couldn't resist trying to get hold of it - you should have seen her face though when she ended up in the water... SHE was quite surprised she knew how to swim .  Annoyingly, as I couldn't reach down low enough to get her out, she ended up doing a few lengths of the boat before she had the sense to swim around the stern to the bank side where I COULD pull her out.

We half expected her to be sick a few times once she'd finished licking herself dry but we got lucky...  She's being a little more cautious now... George will be next  though as he keeps rolling around right on the edge of the concrete so it's only a matter of time before he ends up falling in.


Until next time...






Friday, 8 September 2017

Boats and Pieces...

Ok I know it's a plagiarised title... give me a break will you?

Apologies in advance that this is a bit all over the place - I'm a bit behind posting stuff here .... HENCE a week's worth of odds and sods.

GOING back to last weekend - Saturday morning was a bit of a rushed 'tidy the boat' as Andy's parents were coming over to spend the night on-board as we had tickets to see "Our House" - a musical drama using the music of Madness - performed by the youth group we've seen a few times now.   When Andy bought the tickets, we assumed we'd still be in the Bungalow  but as you know, our plans jumped forward when the boat didn't take as long to do as anticipated - ergo, they'd stay with us on board and rather than faffing around getting a taxi into town ... we took the boat!

The nearest mooring spot was (again) opposite the Ruddy duck pub so it seemed a shame not to utilise it for tea (dinner if you're posh) and we did so, before walking up to the Theatre...  a walk which (according to the mother-in-law who'd not yet imbibed of enough falling down juice  not to care) seemed hard work.   The performance was good - would have been better if you were a madness fan... which none of us were but we had one of the boxes this time so at least we could decant our OWN wine from our box (ahem) during the performance to save spending a fortune at the bar...

DON'T get me wrong, I know they need to make money  and we did buy 1 round of drinks but Hotel prices for wmc drinks, really isn't acceptable.

Annoyingly, Andy's dad (who was sat/sitting? by the curtain) didn't pull it closed - preferring to have the plebs SEE us perhaps... which meant we STILL had to be discreet lol.  I suppose it was for the best and did curb our tippling - a little bit lol.

The walk back from the Theatre seemed much easier - I found these 3 drunks cheery folk on route ;-)

After a relatively relaxed evening, the following morning was a bit more time stressed - we'd decided the night before, that rather than cook breakfast on the boat, we'd go up the river on to Thornes cut to moor for breakfast at the Toby Carvery - it's about 4 quid for the 'eat as much as you like' breakfast which IS good value but if you want a drink with it, another 2 quid...Still 6 quid each isn't bad - take note ... NO beer was consumed.

After breakfast, we continued on to the river to turn and head back to the mooring.... where on arrival, we promptly went to the Stanley Ferry  pub for lunch.    Once that was eaten, the in-laws departed and we got in the car to go over to Scarborough to visit my folks, niece and her boyfriend in a holiday cottage....on arrival we ended up back in another pub (The Ivanhoe I think) for tea before heading back to the house for a pleasant evening chatting, drinking wine and watching telly.  

It was good to catch up with everyone although I must admit, 2 nights on a row seemed quite exhausting compared to when we were younger...

THIS week, as a result, we've been on the wagon again... AND eating at home!

JOBS wise,  in between rain showers, I've given the buffalo boarding on top of the rear lockers and the engine board a coat of Hammerite garage door paint - NOT the obvious choice I'll grant you but we've used it at work   my FORMER work successfully in the past.

It's certainly tidied them up nicely and covered over the occasional spills I'd made (yellow) when I painted the insides...  SO Andy has kept reminding me.

Whilst in the painting mood, I've finally gotten around to doing the handrails dark grey on the inside - My line's gone a bit wonky here and there but you don't really notice it with the rope sitting in the gully anway

I've ALSO touched up the scratches the chain on the front fender had caused AND taken steps to prevent it happening again with some rubber hose bought from Pirtek.  Initially, I'd planned to use the clear 3/4 inch tubing from B & Q but as  (is typical for them these days) it wasn't in stock, I couldnt.  LUCKILY,  I had a flash back to when we piped up the 'Jets' ride of calling to collet lots of hose one day from aforementioned company - they only charged me a fiver for 1 metre of it which was a bargain.
I had to cut it into sections because  the button has 2 x 4 inch chains coming off it that are 'quick-linked' to a longer bit which in turn is 'd-linked' to the eyelet...  it's not as neat looking as I'd have liked but it'll do the job (hopefully)


Time really is flying though - I WAS hoping to get that cold store on the baseplate sorted before my next hand operation but it's been re-scheduled now to next Thursday so realistically there's not much chance of it happening now until I'm recovered enough - mid November going by how long it's taken for the first one to be usable.  

Instead though,  I WILL sort out the prototype porthole shutter I made in the bedroom MANY moons ago with recessed magnets to hold it open  and hopefully get the exterior speaker switched and mounted outside with the wiring hidden - (compared to having the wire dangling out of the electric cupboard like it has been for months)...  

Until next time...


Monday, 4 September 2017

Care in the community...

'Morning...

SO then, we've returned from our jaunt to Huddersfield.  A journey that takes about 25 mins from home in the car and 16 hours (ish) of travelling the nice way...

On our journey we've been fortunate to encounter quite a few good, nice,friendly, pained and helpful people...  That's the thing about boating; MOST people walking the towpath are fascinated by boats and the boating lifestyle and MOST people on other boats are friendly sorts who WANT to pass the time of day and more often than not... HAVE the time to pass... it's a good way to be.

The towpath walkers vary from foreign families to lonely sorts - some of whom seek solace from their troubles by talking to strangers.... being a boater actually does affect your way of thinking about and approaching those types of folk.  I'm the first to admit that for the most part in my life thus far, I've been the one talking - I'm FINALLY learning to listen and give people the chance to share what's on their mind.... when you do so, you learn to adapt your behaviour to the needs of other people.  It's quite a good feeling.   WHY am I waffling on about this? - well, whilst moored in Shepley sitting on the the back of the boat and greeting the tow-path walkers as usual, an older lady (note I didn't say old although she turned out to be early 80s she had a young mind) stopped to chat...  well I say stopped, she was with us so long, I half expected her to move in.  In the time we were chatting, she opened her heart about the loss of her husband... her sons marital disharmony... her own medical issues AND her loneliness.

This lady obviously NEEDED to talk to someone and whilst not immediately comfortable with the conversations, it actually did us good to listen and empathise with her!

She wasn't the only one to share their soul with us on this trip - there were another couple... also older but this time a husband and wife... her being fit and healthy and him suffering with dementia.  She was doing her best to look after him and you could tell it was exhausting her... the thing is, she was perfectly happy and willing to do it... no sense of duty, just a deep kindness for the man she once knew rather than the empty shell shuffling along side her.

The point I suppose I'm making here, is that being open and available to listen to other people is very good for us - good for everyone I suppose... we spend all our lives rushing about, thinking our own lives are so very important and trying to keep plates spinning to get through whatever it is we THINK is important....  ... ... after a while, when you slow down... stop to think about everyone else doing THEIR thing, you realise  for the most part, none of the things that stress us out matter in the slightest... they really dont.  IF you need help with things... JUST ASK.  Stop worrying about being a burden  - human kindness seems inherent despite all the bad news we hear, it's the good news we should be shouting about.

GIVING someone in need those few precious moments of time and kindness which might not even register to YOU, could be the precious fuel to keep them going!

Boat folk seem to do this with ease...  AND with a willingness to help others it makes the boaty world the special place it is.  It's a very diverse community... often quite bohemian but with very few exceptions, it's inclusive and welcoming...  EVEN if you're ginger!

I'm rambling sorry...  

IN BOAT RELATED NEWS.... well, I've been doing a few jobs here and there - I've a plan to do a bit of touching up and finally get the none-slip stuff on the roof before winter arrives but as the weather has been a bit hit and miss for painting, I've put up a little shelf behind the TV in the dinette so the walkie-talkies can always be on charge and more importantly, to hand!



They plug in to the spare socket at the back of my cubbyhole - I keep trying to tidy it out but whenever  I take things out of it to sort, I realise everything in it IS needed and ideally more useful if it's to hand... SO everything just gets shoved back in.

I really DO need to get my tool/electrical cupboard sorted out though as my shelves are getting so full that things fall off when you 'kiss' the bank side... Weather permitting though, painting really has to be the next priority before my other hand is operated on.... and we still need to try and squeeze the contents of our cars (currently acting as sheds) in to the boat somewhere - although I have been helped in throwing some more clothes away by a mouse - at least I hope it's a mouse... I took a bag out of the car yesterday with a few to sorting though it, only to find a mouse had been nibbling at my shirts .. whilst IN the car.  I'm not sure exactly how to deal with the mouse but I've binned the clothes.

Until next time...