Friday, 25 April 2008

Producing electricity

Well I have wired in the battery charger and inverter this week. It all seems to work well and Lisa enjoys the fact that she can use her straighteners in the morning before leaving for work. We both enjoy that we can use the computer for longer than the battery life of one hour forty five minutes. We didn’t buy the optional remote thingy for the battery charger and I am relying on a bank of leds for information on how it is working. The only snag is that I have mounted the inverter adjacent to the charger and can’t see the leds without the aid of the bathroom mirror. Not really ideal, especially when Lisa is doing her hair. I’ll purchase the remote eventually. The size of the wire that was recommended surprised me and some of it still needs doubling up. But running the engine for an hour a day keeps the battery bank charged and the hot water constant. There is one lead that runs from the starter solenoid to the engine alternator that I don't think needs to be there so I'll take it off and see what happens. Well that's the way I did the rest of the electrics.
The roof has now taken on a green tint and has been given its first coat of British racing green. It is just the shade we were looking for and look forward to finishing the rest of the paintwork next week. When I started the job this morning, the weather was perfect. I’d been on the job for fifteen minutes when the clouds parted, the sun came out the metal heated up instantly. Brilliant. After ten minutes or so the clouds went black and it started spitting. Typical painting weather for the towpath painter by all accounts. Fortunately it was only the first coat and it all needs sanding down before subsequent coats. I also give the chimney a coat of heat proof black. Very smart.

We are also picking up the shower next week and I am apparently fitting it soonest. This seems like a demand and my objections that it is going to be quite a long job seem to cut no ice. We had to wait for my little van to be fixed to enable us pick up the shower. I have been using the BW facilities at Sutton Cheney and Lisa uses a local health club of which she is a member and it will be good to be independent.

It had developed an electrical fault and I put it in the garage on Wednesday. The mechanic rang today and said it was fixed. The damage was a miserly £40.00. What? Any decent garage would have charged at least £100.00 to do absolutely nothing. I have no idea what the problem was and he could have charged me anything he wanted and he knew it. There are at least some honest garages out there, you just have to find them and keep them to yourself.

Lisa is visiting Terri in London tomorrow but on Sunday we’ll probably head up to Shackerstone for a pint at the Rising Sun. We are currently at a beautiful rural mooring all on our lonesome with all the facilities we require.

Sunday, 20 April 2008

Hats, jackets and beer festival

What is it with some men driving boats (I am currently refusing to use nautical terminology). There seems to be a perfusion of men wearing brimmed hats whilst steering. Are they pretending to be Indiana Jones or some such hero? When did this fashion emerge and why did I miss it? I must confess that I too have a brimmed hat that was stolen from a house that I used to live in Norway. It has never been worn and probably never will be unless of course I wish to resemble our friend Indiana.

The lower classes also seem to have a penchant for wearing luminous jacket, probably stolen from construction or gas companies. These can vary in colour from bright yellow to orange. Is this the only jacket they own or do they think they will be easier to spot if they fall in? The men who wear the hats look like they would never be seen dead wearing the jackets and the men in the jackets would think the hats were too Poncey. Nobody ever seems to wear both together.

I took a trip to Midland swindlers on Friday and bought the battery charger, inverter and other overpriced bits ‘n bobs. We got a Sterling alternator to battery charger and a Sterling quasi sine wave inverter. The washing machine is the only thing that may (or may not) need the sine wave and we can run that during day with the generator. I also picked up the lights as they were on offer for £1.60 so bought thirty of them. These included two over bed reading lights although their fitting looks quite a way in the future. I’ll try to have these fitted this week as the one hour forty five minutes of battery power on the computer is quite limiting and if we watch ‘The Apprentice’ and the other one, ‘The Apprentice You’re Fired’, there is no time to write the blog. That will hopefully be resolved this week.

Eddie Boatstove (I don't think it's his real name either) from Northern Fabrications arrived on Tuesday evening with our new Boatman stove and all the assorted bits and pieces. I had called him over the weekend and he had said that he was thinking of doing the deliveries on Tuesday. By Tuesday late afternoon we had assumed he was not coming but another call revealed that he would be with us later that evening and at eight he turned up. The stove is now screwed to the plinth and is roaring away. We are highly impressed and with it and with the new Ecofan we are blowing hot air around the boat. Makes a change from Lisa blowing hot air around the boat. A very reasonable £400 with delivery included and all the bits a pieces for fitting. He didn't cut the hole in the roof though.

A liner for the chimney was also acquired as tar was running onto the roof and down the sides. I’m thinking of gathering it up and selling it to Tarmac as there’s so much of it. This makes the chimney a double skinned jobby and should cure the problem. I’ll have to dig out the pop riveter to fit it but it shouldn’t be too difficult.

I have built the plinth and back bit and tiled the area and now fitted the stove. It is slightly over engineered as I wasn’t sure of the weight. In fact you could get a herd of smallish disco dancing elephants doing their stuff on it assuming you could find said elephants with a penchant for Gloria Gaynor.

We have also bought a proper mattress instead of another blow-up bed. We kept buying them and Sam kept puncturing them. This one might last a little longer. Getting it back from the shop was fun as we only have the Ford ka on the road at the minute and it was a bit of a squeeze to get it in the back without it bursting into the driving seat.

We are currently at Hawksbury Junction as there is a beer festival at the Greyhound this weekend and we partook of some real ale. A boat is the perfect vehicle for such events as it’s your home as well. We never seem to last as long these days as we did when we were going to the Nottingham Beer Festival where we could drink all night and have a kebab on the way home. Last night we only lasted a couple of hours before retiring back to the boat. It must be something to do with age. I’d just like to point out that Lisa flagged first.

I’ve just looked out the window and there were two men on a passing boat wearing brimmed hats. Are we being invaded by aliens?

Saturday, 12 April 2008

A qualified person

I am now a fully qualified plumber and electrical engineer. The water is flowing in both hot and cold varieties. Not only is the water pump working but the tunnel light is also functioning and switched at the correct place. I just need to find tunnel to try it out on. The rest of the lights are still not present but give me time (as if I haven't had enough). I can tell you’re impressed.

The Ikea chairs are also wearing well and we haven’t broken them yet which is a surprise as we’ve had them for a week already. There is also a table and chairs and the washing machine is plumbed in and working great guns off the generator. We were told, and I had read, that washing machines require sine wave to work correctly. Indeed others had told us that washing machines explode if the correct electricity form is not supplied.

Needless to say that I ignored these harbingers of doom who, usually well intentioned, merely regurgitate what they had over-heard, what someone had told them or they had read in some manufacturers blurb and insist that it’s the truth. Never believe the truth or at least other peoples’ truth. Mine is also a little suspect but that at least is my truth and I’ve got no-one else to blame if that’s wrong (except Lisa of course).

We can also recharge the leisure batteries using a Heath Robinson contraption involving various wires and the positive from a car jump lead set. It works but I have to remember to disconnect it when we stop or the starter battery will expire.

We were so impressed with our modern living standards what we took a trip up to Sutton Cheney to refill the water tank. The previous water had been in there for a month and had been put there merely as ballast and anyway Lisa wanted fresh to drink. No more hauling those jerry cans down the towpath for me. It makes you appreciate the simple things in life when you have to live without them. Lisa says that’s why she like living with me. I cannot imagine what she means.

I'm in a gprs area tonight but I'll upload the photos to prove it all tomorrow. Bet you can hardly wait.

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

New chairs

We've bought some Ikea chairs. They're very comfortable compared to out picnic chairs but possibly not up to Wilson's standards. We just need walls now. But the electrical cupboard is nearly done and by tomorrow, may be finished and the wiring connected up. This means that the water will be ready to be pumped and I can finally finish dragging barrels of water down the towpath on our submersible trolley. I still haven't got the lights fitted but the wiring is all in place. I have to get the the lining completed above the gunwales; least at the front in the living area.

'y's are a real problem with Lisa's computer. I'm not trying to make excuses for my appalling spelling but there you go. The 'y's still don't work and neither does my spelling.

The mooring police have been visiting today and have placed notices on all the boats that have been mooring on the non-towpath side and just noted the names of all those of us on the towpath side.

Friday, 4 April 2008

An appalling meal and a real fire

We are now back on home soil (of sorts) having travelled from Hawksbury junction. A pretty uneventful day except for our lunchtime meal. We pulled up at the moorings on the Ashby at Bulkington to try the Corner pub mentioned in my old Nicholson's. According to the book this served "good bar meals". Well it doesn't. It serves appalling rubbish that it calls food. I shall be boycotting all Marston's taverns in future if this is the standard of the cuisine. My frozen fish had been boiled in water and was tasteless tripe. I even doubt if it had ever been a living creature swimming the the sea. The veg was also from the freezer and had been boiled to buggery. As for the cheese sauce (I thought that might be a mistake) it was a white sauce with cheese flavouring powder added (maybe). It's a long time since I've had a meal that bad.

Lisa had a combi and the steak was like two bulls testicles and the scampi was minuscule. When is five onion rings ever considered a serving? The whole thing was advertised as two for one and so it was. If I had arrived there by myself and been charged full price, I would have had the manager in one hand and the chef in the other metaphorically gripped around the throat and pinned to the wall to ask them no uncertain terms what they thought they were doing ruining what could have been decent food (on second thoughts, I very much doubt it could have been rescued).

Needless to say that when the waitress asked if everything was all right (surly moo) we replied that "yes it was". Ohh! we are brave aren't we. Just don't like to make a fuss. But we left after only one pint and they'll never see us again. Not that I suppose they care if their customer care is anything like their food.

Les on nb Valerie agrees with me that the Barley Moe at Newbold is a good meal and good value according his blog.

We have called Eddie from the Boatman Stove advertised in the back of Waterwas World and he will have a stove delivered to us in the next week or so. He seemed very helpful and I have read that he is.

Thursday, 3 April 2008

Returning home

For whatever reason, I didn't write a blog last night. Yesterday before we set off, nb Hadar passed us by and I shouted the required hello and introduced the boat. Keith and Jo waved and passed by as they were in a rush somewhere. Very nice boat. We then made our way the the pie pub (Folly)at the bottom of Napton locks. We had a pint of Guinness each but didn't have the pie in the end as Lisa had made a particularly large breakfast. Apparently we missed Sue on nb No Problem by half an hour judging by her blog. Next time perhaps.

After lunch we winded and made our way towards our home canal again as Lisa had realised that she had a hairdressing appointment on Saturday morning (cannot imagine why she didn't realise that before). On arrival at Hillmorton top lock we had to reverse into the mooring and the trolley that we keep on top got caught in the bushes and, you guessed it, it ended up in the canal. Do we ever learn anything. This morning Lisa recovered the trolley with the boat pole whilst I held the boat steady.

For lunch we ened up at the Barley Mow at Newbold again and this time we both had a massive mixed grill for less than six quid each. The new owners are really trying to make an impact and it is well worth a visit. Tonight we are at Hawksbury junction after being followed for some of the way by two boats containing the competitive middle class families from hell. Lisa actually steered the boat for several miles, around bends and passed both moored and passing boats. Very brave. She'll be winding outside the Greyhound at Hawksbury in one go before long. Then again pigs might be queing up at security in Heathrow.

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Towel overboard

Had a late start today and made or way down to Braunston to visit the PO and The Plough. The meal was very good although a little more expensive that we are used to (about a pound). The wind was a little gusty but when we started again on the way to Napton it really took hold. We had moored just beyond the winding point outside the marina and had to back up to the entrance to turn. Every time I attempted to put the bow into the entrance, the wind blew us sideways and I missed it. The pole was useless so I opted to back into the entrance and wind with the bow in the canal. and the stern in the marina Worked much better and a lesson learned.

The remainder of the journey was just as eventful and the boat seemed not to react too well on occasions. In the morning we had lost a couple of tee shirts and the collapsible dryer as someone had placed it outside in the cratch as that same someone thought that it would be a good drying day. Indeed it would have been if the said person could have kept the items to be dried out of the canal. The tee shirts are never to be dry again and are destined to wrap themselves around some unsuspecting boater's propeller in future times.

Talking of which we lost the dogs towel in the early part of the afternoon under the same circumstances (we never learn from our mistakes). By the time we were about a mile from the junction with the Grand Union I'd had enough of struggling with the thing. I had put the struggle down to the wind but thought I'd have a look down the weed hatch. Yip. You're right. There it was, the dogs towel wrapped around the prop. I'm not surprised the boat wasn't doing what it was told. Well you live and learn. Or in our case not.