Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Revelations and growlers

We're all shuffling around on the Ashby Canal with the water now free flowing and this is a good thing. Unfortunately, as of the other week, I am now half a century old and this is not necessarily a good thing. On the up side, Lisa bought me a Kindle ebook reader. Like everyone else who has one, I was a little suspicious that I wouldn't use it, but it has been a revelation and I Haven't read so much. I have downloaded over fifty free books and I may even buy one if Amazon are lucky. Although that won't happen for a while so, Amazon, don't get your hopes up and don't do any unnecessary investment.

We have also bought some new batteries and these too have been revelation. You forget how good new batteries are and it improves life greatly. We no longer have to moor in the middle of nowhere so we can run the engine to ten and just to watch the telly to half past. Power to the people (or at least the couple). I wanted 135amp batteries but the cost was not worth the extra amps.  We have to budget for cheap new batteries every year as they never seem to last longer. Cheap and nasty, that's just me.

We are currently at the terminus of the Ashby and, since our last visit, there has been a bit of work done on the extension. An extra hundred yards have been completed. This includes a small footbridge made from lightweight aluminium that won't be there the next time we get here. The problem is that if you want water, and since the existing sanitary block has ice damage to the pipes and cannot be used, the alternative pipework is in a framer's field opposite. You have to moor your boat, bow against the bridge.

It's already dented and the fittings are from your garden gate. I thought about taking a photo but was so amazed by the builders/planners incompetence, I forgot. See it while you can as, by the summer, it'll be on the side covered in mud and weeds having been crashed into, fallen into the canal, been hauled out and left abandoned in the hedge. I wonder how much it cost? Probably a lot more than the foot bridge at Stretton Stop at Rose Narrowboats that has been there for years but doesn't look as nice (my English teacher always told me never to use the word 'nice'. No idea why)

A new sine wave inverter and a new toilet system are also on the cards as Lisa wants to wash her smalls on the move and sit on a china bowl while she's doing them. It's in the hands of the gods whether she can convince me and she may have to complete a cost/benefit analysis including flip charts, graphs, Power Point presentations, written reports and a small group of skin headed growlers armed with baseball bats to change my mind. It's more likely in the hands of this group rather than of the gods.

Monday, 10 January 2011

Old filters and new sofas

Lisa's been complaining of a bad back lately and her symptoms are exactly the same as mine when I have a bad back. I am, however, a little sceptical as she has been watching me with a bad back for years and I think she's just after the sympathy vote. Anyway, she's too small to have a bad back as she doesn't even have a back.

We've gone all Moroccan
I have failed in my abilities as responsible for the maintenance of the working parts of the boat. We ran out of diesel the other day and the primary filter was clogged up beyond help and I didn't have a spare. So I cleaned it out in clean diesel and hoped that would last a couple of days until after the holidays and I could get another. Unfortunately my technique for bleeding the fuel system was incorrect (as I later found) and, with the blocked filter, by the time the fuel was just starting to enter the system, the inadequate starter battery was finished. And there was nothing left in the leisure batteries either. So we ran out of energy and with the generator not working correctly and not allowing me to charge the starter battery, we were stranded without our electricity generator. Any solution was going to cost just under a hundred quid so I decide to cut my losses and call RCR in an attempt to get maximum chance of starting for my money.

The chap duely arrived and sorted the problem and I got a second hand starter battery to boot. Excellent service and we aren't even members although we did promise to join, which of course we will. I even got a free course in properly bleeding the system for when this happens again (which it surely will). He even said my wiring was good (on second thoughts, he was probably drunk). Highly recommended to one and all although wait until your first breakdown then join over the phone.

I've finally clad the front inside of the boat with timber, in this case t&g. It looks a lot better than the old look of yellowing spray foam insulation. That was looking a little tired. So last year. Next, apparently, I am required to make the steps into the boat, a coat cupboard (a coatboard?) inside the door and a small table opposite.

Don't be stupid, of course it'll fit

I've had enough and need a glass of wine

 It always looks better in the morning

We've now bought a new leather sitee/sofa from Ikea for £160 and got rid of our chairs. It was the perfect size for the boat and was easily fitted through the front door. At least it was after we had man-handled it down the towpath (I can say 'man-handled' as Lisa took no part in this activity). We left the store with most of the sitee/sofa hanging out of the back of our little Peugeot 106. Well, we have in the past, moved house in smaller cars than this. It was too heavy for Lisa so she dropped it as soon as we got in from the car to the towpath. I tried to get it on my head but it was too large. So, since I was on my own with Lisa only taking photos, I decided that the hundred or so metres to the boat could only be completed by wheeling this giant cardboard package down the muddy towpath end over end. I can't say it was my finest moment and I wasn't best pleased but was grateful that it was dark with no moon. But at least it wasn't raining. I also had to disassemble the cratch to get it in.

Is it called a sitee or a sofa? Are they the same thing? Or is it a couch? I really don't know. Lisa calls it a sitee but that must be sooooo working class it can't be right. Any ideas?

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Christmas skiing in France

We've been skiing over the Christmas period as we don't really like the whole Christmas thing. Lisa, Terri and myself in a tiny apartment in Tignes, France. A superb week and the first time skiing for about five years. It was also the first time that Terri has spent a considerable time with us since she went to uni. It may also be the last as she is on her last year and will be in the job market next year. We got her to go with us by making it all inclusive for her but even that may not have sweetened the fact that she was stuck with us for a whole week. No broken legs or cracked heads only bruised egos and busted skiing reputations. I am now not an advanced skier any longer and have handed the mantel to Terri.

It never ceases to amaze me how ridiculous Lisa and I look together (and those glasses don't help at all).

We thought that when we got back the ice on the canal would have melted but no such luck. Still nobody is moving. One of the other livaboard boats is up for sale but I don't know if it is related to the current iced in situation but I wouldn't be surprised. It's all a little depressing, well not really depressing but a little anticlimactic after the pristine environment of Tignes). I had drained down the water system but didn't do the central heating and one of the connections had expanded and broken. Half an hour after getting back on board the fires were burning and the joint had been fixed from my vast box of spares. Other than that, no problems except the four hour delay in getting the boat back up to heat.

We did nothing over New Year only drink French wine and beer. Very comforting.