Tuesday, 23 December 2008

A very merry christmas.....

Just a quick post, really do not know where this month went, how did I ever have time to go to work!
Anyway better news on the car front - the insurers have written off the car as expected and we are expecting a cheque any day, so no quibbles re electrical faults etc. We have already bought a replacement which we are collecting tomorrow am & shall be giving it a trial run driving up to Scarborough tomorrow afternoon were we are spending christmas with daughter Hannah son-in-law Chris, Astrid & Finlay ( who I expect will ensure an early start to christmas day!)

Eric has been staying for a couple of days & we went into Doncaster this afternoon so he could do his christmas shopping, was not too stressful thankfully & we have just finished the wrapping so all done ready for him to take home tomorrow.

A couple of pics taken during the recent cold spell

Sunrise - 12.12.08

Ducks on ice - 7.12.08

A very merry christmas & a great new year to you all from all aboard nb Poppy.

Friday, 5 December 2008

A bad day just got worse!! (& always read the small print)

Nothing boat or cat related just a rant to let off steam!
Mark went to work by train today as he is going for xmas drink with workmates later so having use of the car for a change I had planned to go to Ikea ( Leeds) to finish the xmas shopping.

On route I stopped off in Thorne to post a couple of parcels & whilst looking for a parking space could smell smoke & very quickly realised it was coming from my dashboard so out of the car ( by which time I could see flames) & a 999 call. Luckily the fire station is just around the corner & the fire brigade arrived in minutes & dealt with the fire - Thanks guys - they were terrific.

What's left of dashboard

It seems fairly obvious that the car is a probably a write off as even if you put a new dash in, the rest of the interior is smoke damaged & sodden. But as we are fully comp was not too worried that's what insurance is for.... you would think.
So after getting the car recovered back here ( again - excellent service from Brittania Rescue) I called Lloyds insurance to be told that if the fire was caused by electrical fault ( which it more than likely was) we are not covered!!!
On reading the policy booklet there it is in black & white along with any mechanical or computer failure.
So not a happy bunny this afternoon :(

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Just wet & windy

I thought I might have had some pretty snow scenes to post given the weather forecast but as it is just wet & windy some more pics of cats!

I sent for the briquette maker from Amazon as the briquettes I bought ( chap was selling them on ebay as he'd made a load but no longer has stove) seemed to burn quite well, they do make a bit of ash so stove needs riddling more often but seems a good use of old newspapers & not alot of effort for some free heat.

So Poppy decided to try the box for size......

Which Soona wasn't too happy about.....

and eventually Poppy let her have it !

Although we haven't had much snow (yet!) we have had some hard frosts, whilst the stove & ecofan keeps us warm & toasty some mornings the hatch has been frozen shut!

Yesterday it was cold but dry & sunny so I spent the morning outside sawing wood in readiness for the predicted bad weather. When I had finished I came in, washed my hands, put the kettle on then put the tools away. We had planned to do the weekly shop in the afternoon as Mark was on early shift & home 1.30ish ( I know at this point you are wondering why I am telling you this - but there is a point - bear with me!)

Mark was home in good time so just a quick shower & we could be off......except the water pump was not working- dead as a doornail. Checked the trip switch & no probs there, so empty the cupboard, fiddle about to get the bottom shelf out to get access to the pump then much chuntering & head scratching. I dig out the pump manual & read the trouble shooting guide whilst Mark ( ever the optimist - not!) is declaring it deceased.

One last look at the trip switch which is on the outside of a small wall cupboard in the bedroom near the stern doors,

Mark then had a peek in the cupboard, which as well as housing the little axe, pin hammer & assorted bits 'n' bobs is home to the consumer unit & found a loose wire hiding under the axe (where someone had carelessly chucked it!) so the water pump had not died after all, a quick reconnection & all sorted except that the pin hammer & axe have to find a new home!

To compensate for waterpump related stress when we'd done shopping we popped into Costa Coffee for a coffee & bun. Very nice it was too.

Some of my neighbours here on the marina are quite arty & they put on an xmas fayre last sunday to display & hopefully sell some of their wares. I bought a couple of watercolours which will find a place on our cabin walls.

The bright spot is not the sun/moon but my flash!

I am interested in rope/knot work so I also bought a hank of cord to start practicing with, should keep me occupied during the winter months - when I'm not making briquettes or sawing firewood.......

Friday, 21 November 2008

Hatches battened....

Wednesday 19.11.08 4.20pm

After some pleasant autumn days with some stunning sunsets, the weather is taking a distinctly wintry turn today with snow forecast for us in the east, at the moment it is certainly cold enough for snow but just rain at the moment. Not that we are cold with the stove & the ecofan doing a great job.

On the subject of heat I have been wondering if these briquette makers using newspapers are any good, we have a daily paper plus a couple of w/e heavies & would be nice to put them to good use by providing heat for us so, spotting these on ebay I sent for some. They came today so I am giving them a try out this afternoon. I will let you know if I think they are any good......

So the wedding has been & gone. No hitches, everything went according to plan & even the weather behaved itself. A really lovely day.

The bride & groom, bridesmaids( don't they look beautiful!)
& Joe ( not sure why the funny face !)

Yours truly, Mark & the rest of the clan
apart from Eric & Rowen who were in Hawaii- lucky kids!

Mark has a cold at the moment warranting some 'man' size tissues ( & lots ot TLC!) so Soona, who always like to squash herself into any boxes lying around gave this box a try.


Trying( & succeeding) to look cute.

Friday, 31 October 2008

How to make the best porridge

I have done it again, more than a week since my last post! I wish I could get in the habit of posting at least every couple of days - one of the blogs I follow, Big Martyn seems to manage it & he writes loads! I will try harder......
Last week was half term for Eric so he came to spend it with us, he is shaping up quite well as a cabin boy & has the kettle on & cats fed before I'm fully conscious so as a reward for his hard work we had a trip to The Deep in Hull.

This ray was huge

A big red starfish

Looking up the Humber from the top of The Deep

We seem to have mastered the art of keeping the fire in overnight (thank goodness as it's been soooo cold!) which means I am able to wake up to hot porridge cooked overnight on the stove in the porringer that Han bought us.
My maternal Grandparents were farmers & my Grandmother had an enamelled ( cream with green edging) porringer that she'd leave on the aga overnight, she just added a swirl of cream & the porridge was delicious. I forgo the cream as I have put enough weight on since moving aboard but it's still yummy.

I trekked to Meadowhall yesterday & have finally got something to wear for Rob & Nikki's wedding now just 2 weeks away. It's okay for Mark - he has been measured up & just has to collect his clobber from the hirer's. Watch this space for some pics.

I took advantage of the cold but dry weather this afternoon to dismantle a couple of pallets for firewood. Whilst I was outside I met this border terrier pup - isn't she gorgeous!


Meanwhile Poppy was trying to scare me by pretending to be a squirrel!

whilst Soona did what she does best!

Saturday, 18 October 2008

A brief lull in hostilities.....

I took this at 7.30am yesterday & the promise of a gorgeous day was fulfilled although I didn't have a very successful one as I spent most of it in Doncaster in a fruitless attempt to find something suitable to wear for Rob & Nikki's wedding, which is now less than a month away. I was also looking for some curtain material as I want to replace ours as they have faded badly but again my search was fruitless. Hmmm....

Eric is coming to spend half term with us & we shall probably be going through to Hull for a day to 'do' the museums & The Deep so may try my luck there , if no joy then I may have to trek to Sheffield or Leeds - I'm not good at this looking smart lark - much happier in jeans! ( & don't even mention hats!!)

On the curtain front I am now considering blinds as an alternative- will save me alot of sewing which, within the confines of a narrowboat could be a bit of a faff. Should have thought of this before Hannah loaned me the sewing machine that I gave her when we moved aboard. Sorry Han!

More success on the stove front, managed to keep the fire in overnight, well for one night anyway but hasn't really been necessary as quite mild if a bit nippy 1st thing. Hopefully we have mastered it for when it's really cold.

This is a rare pic! Poppy & Soona have never been bosom buddies, the limit of their relationship used to be a mad chase around the house & a bit of play fighting but all that stopped when we moved aboard & Poppy began to spend alot of time outdoors ( catching things - unfortunately)
If Soona goes anywhere near her she is rewarded with a hiss & Poppy won't have anything to do with her.
We have a couple of fleecy blankets for them to sleep on but the one on the sofa is the one they prefer so usually it's on a '1st come 1st served' basis & as soon as one moves off the other will be in there so I was surprised when Poppy joined Soona for a nap yesterday afternoon.
The cease fire didn't last though & Poppy is back to treating Soona with absolute disdain. A nice side effect of all this is that Soona has become much more affectionate with us humans.

Having a lazy day today as still got sore ribs from my tumble last week, a good enough reason to settle down with Rebus for the afternoon.

Monday, 13 October 2008

Another busy week

It's been a busy few days since I last posted, Thursday I sawed up some old pallets ready for chopping into kindling, a by- product of which was the 'noggins' that act as spacers, they burn really well & last for a few hours so long as you don't mind a fishy aroma ( think it must be the glue)

Friday I chopped some of the sawn wood into kindling but my progress was a bit hampered by the bruised ribs I had acquired the previous evening when I took a tumble & landed on the sofa arm (hard wood, not nice soft upholstery!) & I had to eventually admit defeat as just too sore. But the kindling box is full giving us plenty to be going on with.

Whilst on the subject of fires, I had a bit of a flash of inspiration the other day. I have been wondering how I was going to deal with hot ash once I am able to keep the fire in 24/7. I had been considering a Tippy although they seem quite expensive then I looked again at the box I bought for kindling on my last visit to Ikea,

it's a rectangular metal box with a lid & handles, measures about 10" high by 14" wide & cost around £6, ideal I think for hot ash. So the kindling is now in a plastic box & the 'Ikea' box awaits for the morning when I have successfully kept the fire in all night !

Saturday was Hull Fair day. When we lived in Hull the fair was just a few minutes walk away & it became a bit of a family tradition that we met up at ours for tea then went onto the fair. As 2 out of 3 of my children (& grandchildren) live away it was one of the few times when we all got together & the grandchildren love seeing each other.
This year we met up at Rob's ( who does still live in Hull) & were able to meet the newest member of the family, Billy, an English Springer puppy & absolutely gorgeous!


So tiring being the centre of attention!

Then it was on to the fair & a good time had by all

A chance to get a family pic, though the Manchester branch were missing.

Sunday was the boat jumble at Snaith so dragging Phil & Gina (nb New Directions) with us we went in search of bargains. The weather was glorious making it a pleasure whilst we rummaged about - well Phil & I did - Mark & Gina not being much into rummaging. I got a few bits & bobs - some non-slip treads for the back deck, a syphon to reduce the water in the radiator so as to add some antifreeze & a crowbar - always useful!
We also were keen to look at some generators as although we solved the problem of batteries not charging we feel it is a good idea to have some backup. I had seen the 'Kipor' suitcase gennys on Ebay & wanted to see one(& hear one) in the flesh, as it were.
We found a stall selling them & had a demo of the 2600 model - which quite impressed us so we have now ordered one off Ebay ( much cheaper than the one at the boat jumble!) although they are currently out of stock, delivery in 3 weeks - so watch this space.

The Ecofan I had ordered arrived yesterday & is spinning away as I type, hopefully when the cold weather sets in it will help warm all the boat not just the saloon.

Ooops !! I have just inadvertantly given Poppy her 1st ducking! Whilst typing I heard her (3 bells on her collar) coming along the gunwhale so went to open the side hatch to let her in as usual but didn't realise that she was on the otherside so in she went. I shot out with the big net but she managed to climb out onto a tyre & then ran off into the hedge so I've been standing there, towel in hand for the last 10 mins but she refused to come out then just as I was feeling my guiltiest she came out with something small & hairy she'd just caught so I reckon she can't be that bothered!

She has just come in for food & a warm so think all is well. Phew.....

One soggy cat

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Keeping the home fires burning.......part 2

Back in April I made some attempts to keep the stove in overnight with dissapointing results & had not mastered it by the time the milder weather set in so until the last few days I had not really given it any more than a passing thought, but now that autumn has set in it is top of my list of new skills I need to learn.

I have been asking anyone who has a stove if & how they manage it & everyone I ask has a different solution ( or they have given up trying!)
I thought it may be the fuel I have been using, smokeless nuts - yellow bag, cheap at £2 (tho prob gone up for winter) for 10kg & Colin, fellow resident who seems to know the score being a seasoned boater uses 'ovoids' in a blue bag " just bank it up & turn down the damper" does it for him. So I order half a dozen bags @ £3.20 for 10kg then another resident says he uses the smokeless nuts & it works fine for him. Mmmm......

I might add that I have also checked the Canal World Forum which can be really confusing as everyone seems to have a different favourite fuel - but basically the recommended method is much the same -' bank it up & damp it down', which I did last night but out this morning, only just mind as embers still warm.
I shall just keep trying, bothering all & sundry for their suggestions till I have got it sussed.

Still on fire matters, the electric saw we bought has been a godsend - we scavenged a few logs on our recent trip so have been supplementing the coal with logs - I love the smell of wood smoke & even more so when it's free!

We have some new neighbours, Scott & Sharon & they also have 2 cats, not livaboards yet but planning to be eventually.
They have bought nb Cameo that was up for sale after its previous owners decided to become landlubbers again. I was a bit taken aback when first meeting Scott as he knew a bit about us as he reads my blog!
First time I have met anyone who actually reads my ramblings apart from family & friends.

No recent pics to upload ( sorry Albert!) so here is one from our last trip, spotted under motorway bridge.

Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Holdups, hassles ect continued

Sunday 13.09.08

The moorings at Clarence Dock are superb but after 2 days we had had enough of city life so with fully charged batteries & the charging problem solved (thanks Harry!) we were keen to get moving & Sunday morning saw us heading up towards the Leeds Liverpool.

Approaching the river lock - 1st lock on the Leeds & Liverpool

Negotiating The Office lock (no 2) The BW office is the stone building in the mid of the red brick.

After St Ann's Ings Lock is the Oddy 2 at which we were pleased to find a lock keeper as being newbies we had only ever done single locks. All fairly straightforward enough, Forge 3 & Newlay 3 were also manned by lock keepers making the whole process very easy.

Being Sunday there were quite a few walkers about & on the locks with no keeper & the swing bridges there was usually the offer of a hand, always welcome! Got chatting to Shaun & Mandy at Newlay locks, they are looking into getting a narrowboat so had lots of questions. I shall look forward to seeing you on the L&L one day!

We pressed on to Rodley & by 4pm had found a spot on the visitor moorings which are adjacent to the 'Rodley Barge' so once tied up we popped in to sample the real ale & to see if any food was on offer.
No food as they had stopped serving at 3pm so we had a swift half then popped across the road to the 'Owl'. Yes, they did food until 5pm ( it was 4.50!) yes, they did a veggie option - they couldn't have been more helpful, so at 5.15ish we sat down to veggie meatballs in tomato sauce with a selection of fresh vegetables. Just hit the spot after a busy days cruising!

Monday 15.09.08

Just a short trip up to Apperly Bridge, not much point in going any further as needed to be 'home' (seems silly as the boat is home) in Bluewater by Saturday pm & wanted to have a leisurley trip back.
We winded just past Calder Valley Marine & called in for some diesel (82p) & a spare cassette for the loo, something we thought was a good idea after being stuck in Ferrybridge with no sanitation station. I was also able to exchange the voucher from Isuzu for a spares/servicing kit which had received after sending off the warranty card.

We then moved a few yards & moored by the Harrogate Rd bridge so as to stock up on a few essentials at Sainsburys ( approx 1km - uphill!)
Once fully stocked we headed back towards Rodley & moored in a pleasant rural spot just after bridge 215 ( a bridge which is usually open to canal traffic & appears to be just used by cows on their way to being milked)

The hedgerows were laden with brambles so we enjoyed a few for dessert. A lovely spot, popular with runners & cyclists but still very peaceful.

Tuesday 16.09.08

A leisurely start today as we were only going back to Rodley - a matter of half a hour or so. Now what we did with the rest of the day I have no idea! I haven't written anything in the log apart from 'raining' so I assume we just lazed about, we were on holiday after all!

Wednesday 17.09.08

An early start as we wanted to get through Leeds to Lemonroyd, misty & chilly but dry.

Leaving the Forge 3

As we approached Leeds we were tempted back into Clarence Dock to moor up for an hour or two so we could nip to the Palace pub for lunch. And it was just as good as the 1st time, by 3pm we were on our way again.
Leeds Lock
Arriving at Lemonroyd at 6.15pm we found plenty of space on the visitor moorings, in fact we were the only visitors as the boat behind us was practically derelict & looked like it had been sunk at some point so no noisy neighbours!

nb Poppy on visitor moorings Lemonroyd

Thursday 18.09.08

Misty morning at Lemonroyd

We awoke to a misty morning which soon burnt off leaving behind a warm sunny day. Deciding to make the best of the sunshine we went for a walk crossing over the canal & followed a footpath which is part of the Trans Pennine Trail & is the result of a restoration scheme turning the former colliery site into attractive landscaped wetlands and woodlands.
Our route then took us into the village in a fruitless search for a newsagent, we did find a Post Office cum village shop but no Guardian (just sticky buns!)

So back to the boat for a spot of lunch & at 1.15pm we set off for Whitley Bridge arriving at 5.45pm.

Friday 19.09.08

We were not in any rush to get up & doing as we were only going to Pollington but awoke at 7 am to the boat violently rocking & smacking the pilings, looked out to see a commercial barge going past at some speed followed shortly by another 3 barges (!) & if you haven't seen one of these close up believe me they are big, luckily no damage done apart from loose pins.
Anyway it was a lovely sunny day so we got cracking & made the short trip to Pollington

Poppy in one of her favourite cruising spots

& enjoying the sunshine at Pollington

whilst Soona prefers to stay aboard

As we arrived at the visitor moorings nb Silas was just getting ready to move on after having a lazy morning. They have rented out their house & hope to cruise most of the system & in a year have done 600 miles - so could take some time !

We knew from a previous visit that the George & Dragon no longer do food so we decided to try the Kings Head but on arrival at the pub (at5pm) it was closed so back to the boat to raid the fridge.
It was a lovely evening & very pleasant sitting outside - until the midges started to bite !

Saturday 20.09.08

Another lazy start for our last day setting off at 10.30 am on yet another warm sunny day.
We arrived at Stainforth at 3pm & as we had planned to have our evening meal at the New Inn we lazed about for a couple of hours before enjoying a superb meal. This is an excellent canal side pub, real ale, great food & moorings in front of the beer garden.

Then it was just a short cruise back to Bluewater arriving back just as it was getting dark at 7.15.

So role on next spring when hopefully we will actually get to Skipton - it will be the 3rd try!

Monday, 22 September 2008

Holdups, hassles & headaches but still a great trip!

Poppy & Soona enjoying the view from the cratch

I set off on our Autumn cruise with every intention of updating this blog, if not daily at least every couple of days. Mmmm........ The best laid plans & all that. Ah well.

As friends & family know only too well I do have a problem with headaches & migraines, one of the reasons I retired early & when they strike I can't look at a computer screen.
Just before the trip I decided to change some of the medication I was on - it seemed to be working okay but the weight was (is) piling on so blaming the medication I decided to lay off it for a while but I ended up having alot of headaches & a few migraines . Needless to say I am now back on the tablets & having a good day today will attempt to bring us up to date.

Monday 8-09-08

We left Bluewater at 9am stopping just past Kirkhouse Green on the New Junction for lunch in warm sunshine & arrived at Whitley visitor moorings at 4pm. We couldn't find a space on the visitor moorings so we moored up a few hundred yards further along the towpath but not before a chat to the lock keeper informed us that the flood lock at Ferrybridge was closed.

Kirkhouse Green
Tuesday 8.09.08

Woke up to the sound of rain so a leisurely breakfast before donning wet weather gear & making the short trip to Ferrybridge- found plenty of space on the visitor moorings although we were soon joined by three other narrowboats. After a walk up to Morrisons to get some supplies & a paper we settled in for the afternoon. The sat signal was poor but we had quite a few programmes saved on sky plus so watched an episode of Rebus.
Just before bed we noticed that the cabin lights were dim & the waterpump seemed to be struggling. We assumed the batteries were low as we had only done a couple of hours cruising & decided to run the engines am if still unable to get up to Castleford.

Wednesday 9.09.08

After running the engine for an hour or so giving us lots of hot water but doing nothing to enliven the batteries we decided that as the flood lock was still closed for at least another 24hours & we were in need of a sanitary station ( no facilities at Ferrybridge) we'd go back to Whitley lock, use the facilities then cruise back to Ferrybridge & that would surely charge the batteries.

No it didn't. b****r.

At this point our ignorance of boat electric systems was all too apparent & we were considering buying a generator but to be able to do this you need to know were the generator 'shops' are & we didn't have the power to use the laptop to do a search & my phone battery was almost flat so I rang Hannah to see if she can find us a dealer via google but no joy. They all seemed to be suppliers of industrial gennys.

But good news on the flood lock , we were told the lock would be open at 8.30am Thursday :)

Ferrybridge Visitor Moorings

Spotted this on the walk back from Morrisons in Ferrybridge - Note the broken seat in the background.

Thursday 10.09.08

We were at the lockgates 8.30 sharp somewhat relieved to be on our way again.

Leaving Ferrybridge (hurray!)

Dwarfed by tanker Rix Owl at Bulholme lock

We joined 5 other boats to go through Castleford flood lock (it is huge!) & got chatting to a couple on nb Luna Tiara. They were pushing on to Clarence Dock in Leeds & as the moorings have shore power we decided to to the same.
Castleford lock

We arrived in Leeds at 4pm & were soon hooked up to the mains & then wandered of in search of tea. 1st place we came to was the Palace pub & enjoyed a excellent meal & then back to the boat to enjoy watching some TV, messing about on the laptop etc etc. Anything that required electricity really!

Clarence Dock

Friday 11.09.08

Shopping & washing day, took advantage of shore power to put the washer on & then went into Leeds in search of some sealskinz gloves as handling wet ropes was making my hands sore.
Found just what I wanted in Millets, they are now on a long piece of elastic to thread through my coat sleeves, without this precaution I will surely lose one & at £25 I'm not taking any chances!
Also got a folding trolley from maplins for carrying the thetford cassette that has already been earning its keep.
On passing a pet shop we decided to treat the cats to a new scratching post as the old one was definitely shabby,

old scratching post

Poppy trying out new one

'this will do nicely, thanks'

Saturday 12.09.08

Having still not resolved the charging problem we decided to spend another day in Clarence Dock leaving the batteries to get topped up via the battery charger on shore power whilst we had a wander round Leeds.

On returning from a potter round The Royal Armouries Museum we spotted a boat I thought I recognised moored up a couple of pontoons down. It was nb Marbeck Phoenix & I certainly recognised the couple sat in the front deck enjoying a glass of wine as I had seen them around Bluewater Marina. We paused to say hello & introduced ourselves & before long the sorry tale of the batteries was mentioned at which point Harry let on he is an electrician & without much ado was in our engine compartment checking the batteries & it didn't take hin long to find a loose connection. Problem solved!! Thanks Harry ;)

So that was our 1st week, only got to Leeds as held up 2 days because of the floods & another 2 days because of the batteries not charging....

Week 2 tomorrow, hopefully