Daisypath - Vacation

Monday, 31 December 2012

Good for Boating?

We went into the local town the other day as our old DAB radio gave up the ghost and we missed Jazz FM ;) There's an independent electrical store down there which is a bit more expensive than getting it from somewhere like Currys or even online, but I'm fed up of ordering online and having problems with delivery and waiting etc.

Getting it from a shop is much easier - you can look at it, and get it there and then! I think shopping in store is going to make a comeback!

Not really sure why DAB radios are so expensive, but they all are so we thought we'd get the most appropriate one we could for our boating lifestyle.

We found a radio from a brand called Roberts which came with rechargeable batteries which charge when you plug it into mains and also has a built in solar panel - meaning that the radio can function just on solar alone and the panel will also charge the rechargeable batteries in good conditions. Sounds great although I don't suppose the solar panel will be much cop until the spring/ summer arrives.

It'll be great though when were out and about cruising in the warmer months. We'll be able to have it out on the deck with us ;)





A view of the solar panel - it doesn't state what the wattage is but its quite a big built in panel and apparently can power the radio on its own in good conditions:-



It's got a good stereo sound to it and good bass so it will do for us!

Here's to wishing everyone a HAPPY NEW YEAR! I'm not a fan of it myself, and will be in bed probably long before 12! P is at work but he's off tomorrow and we've decided to actually venture out somewhere new, away from the mooring. We're not going far, maybe just down Derbyshire way but it'll give us a change of scenery as we've been here at the mooring since August time.
We will top up with water before we go, and we got coal and diesel today. I later went to Waitrose to stock up on food which should last a good week or so.

I'm looking forward to it :)

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Always One Thing After Another!

I wasn't happy last night !! It all started when we had the engine on yesterday and once again the engine started cutting out. I don't think our diesel has been stolen again, but we had (stupidly!) just ran out, probably because we've only been putting small amounts in the tank Incase it DOES get stolen!

So much for a nice day with lots of scenery spotting with Eddie and trying to rest my knee which is really painful lately and has swollen up again.



Anyway, if there's readers out there who don't have a boat and are thinking how stupid we are to let the tank run dry.... It's not as straight forward as having petrol or diesel in a car.

There is no fuel indicator on a boat dashboard to tell you when you're nearly running low, or a light or anything like that which comes on. The engine just stops! You literally just have to guess how much fuel you are using/have left, knowing that an hour of engine running time is around a litre of fuel.

Hmmm. However it is still our own stupid fault as regular tank checks with a stick will show you how much fuel you've got left in the tank. Running the tank dry can be quite harmful to your engine.

Not only that but by running the engine, we generate our own hot water and electricity as we have no shoreline electricity. Everything comes from running the engine and solar panels. Electric is created by the engine by storing it into batteries to run all the lights, fridge, TV's etc.

Without the engine running we don't really have a home = no hot water and no electric as the solar panels aren't that good at this time of year with these short, dull days.

Anyway, yesterday morning we went to the chandlery to buy a quick 20litres of diesel and put it in the fuel tank. I did a "bleed" of the system and fuel lines and the engine did eventually start OK and was fine. I had the engine on after P went to work and charged the batteries upto 100%.

Everything great!

However, when I went to put the engine on around 7pm to do an evening top up of the batteries, it just wouldn't start again and the engine was just cranking over like it had no diesel or there was air in the system again.

I tried the following:

1. Bleed system again
2. Attempt to start engine - nothing.
3. Bleed system again
4. Attempt to start engine - nothing.
5. Bleed
6. Start - nothing
7. Scream on phone to P about how useless I am...
8. ...Nothing
9. Called the engine a lot of swear words
10. Bleed again
11. Admit defeat at 10PM and nearly cry!

I guessed it was a major problem. I finally left it be, leaving with a face like so:



P came in around 11 and we had a go at a few other things, but still no engine came on. A sleepless night.

This morning we got up and changed the fuel filter, but that also did nothing.

I opened up the Beta Marine engine manual (for the 10th time in 12 hours)



(Yep. That's our engine! Its HUGE!)

We figured out it must be either the starter battery that had died or blocked fuel lines which is something a lot more serious and would require a professional in.

We took the connections off the starter battery that we suspected had died and linked them up to the leisure batteries and finally the engine was working!!

It did mean though that we had to buy a new starter battery from the chandlery, but at least it wasn't anything more serious. It must have been coincidence that the battery died at the same time as the fuel running out. We never changed the starter battery when we replaced our domestic batteries (for all our appliances and general electric needs) earlier this year and we knew it was old and knackered!

So everything is back to normal, although P had to head out to work pretty much straight away afterwards. I felt sorry for him as I felt really exhausted after it all. (Get it?! "Exhausted"!!....Engine exhaust :D )

The boat is definately true to its name -

One Thing After A-bleeding-nother!

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Make use of time, let not advantage slip - William Shakespeare

Even on Boxing Day we manage to find time to do some "boaty" jobs!

We basically finished off the wiring-in of the new small inverter that we've fitted on a 12v cigarette socket directly to the batteries for the TV and aerial. We still had the thick cable hanging down the wall to the sockets which looked a bit of an eyesore and I couldn't bear it any more!

It all looks neat and tidy now and we've really noticed an improvement with the battery capacity. With everything we usually have on, using the main inverter was taking around 10-13% out of the batteries an hour, which was way too much! With this new inverter we are only using around 3 or 4% an hour which means a lot less engine running time ! It's fantastic. I think this also shows that it WAS the main inverter that was using the battery capacity and the batteries aren't knackered after all!

So if there's any people out there who are planning on getting a new inverter or are fitting a boat out etc, DON'T buy a Stirling inverter - go with Mastervolt or Victron. I know I'm not the first person to say this about Stirling inverters either. They're simply too power hungry.

We will only use the main inverter now to use the vacuum or washing machine and keep it off at all other times.

After tidying up we sat down to a spot of lunch and a film on TV - it felt like the first time over Christmas that we've properly relaxed despite P having to head off to work at 2.30PM.

I'm not up to much tonight as I'm on my own although P will be back early tonight. I'll watch some more trashy Christmas TV, keep the fire in and maybe have a bacon butty :)

Finally - here's the chilli jam recipe too. Do try it out - it really is great and we were eating it again with the cheese we had at lunch today. I've been spreading it on everything... Cheese, pâté, turkey ....mmmmm!!

This will fill a one litre jar approximately. Simply double up on the quantities to make more.

Remember to deseed your chillies as well. You only want the heat from the chillies -you don't want it to blow your head off! Don't worry about getting every single one out though, the odd seed is fine!

The easiest way to deseed chillies is to cut them in half, lengthways and scoop the seeds out with a teaspoon - don't rub your eyes after!

Sweet Chilli Jam

Ingredients:-


* 1 large red pepper
* 80g of fresh chillies
* 300ml of cider vinegar
* 500g of jam sugar
* small squeeze from a lime

Method:-

1. Place the cider vinegar and jam sugar in a saucepan on a low heat - do not stir!! Just allow the sugar to dissolve into the vinegar on the low heat. Stirring will crystallise the mixture and ruin the texture.

Sometimes, once your sugar is dissolved, some white residue may form on the top of the liquid mixture. You can spoon it off if you don't like the look of it.





2. Whilst the sugar is dissolving into the vinegar, get on with chopping up the pepper and chillies.





3. It's best to use a food processor or just a little mini chopper. I use the mini chopper and it makes light work of it. I cut the pepper into bite size chunks first and throw them in with the halved chillies...






4. Blitz until the pepper and chillies are just small flecks.... You don't want huge lumps of anything. You can do this by hand if you don't have s chopper but it takes a lot longer!

5. Once your sugar is dissolved in the cider vinegar, simply tip the chillies and pepper into the saucepan and turn up the heat until the mixture is boiling - keep it on a fast boil for around 15 minutes.

6. Leave to cool - it should get more syrupy and finally thicker, as it is cooling.

Spoon the mixture into sterilised jar (or jars!)



Voila!

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Happy Christmas!

Happy Christmas everyone!

Hope you have a great few days with plenty of food, drink and good company :)

There's just the two of us again this year on the boat so it'll be a quiet one but enjoyable all the same.

As i write this, Ive just popped our Turkey "crown" in the own which we got from Waitrose last week and also comes with some stuffing balls too - all in ready to roast tins.

Instead of boiling the sprouts I'll be slicing them finely and frying them with bacon bits and chestnut pieces in butter... mmMMmmm!

We will also be having some roast potatoes and roasted veg alongside, not forgetting pigs in blankets!

Yesterday was a bit manic as I was prepping lots of things including my chilli jam, home made mince pies and a flour-less carrot cake. We had a lovely buffet last night though and it was all well worth the effort. It was nice just to spend Christmas Eve just the two of us with nothing else to do but to leisurely make the food we'd be eating over the next few days.

The Christmas Eve buffet:



We managed to bottle a demijohn of our Elderflower white wine yesterday too which was amazing with the food we had last night. Here's some pictures of the bottling process and when they're labelled and sealed...

A few have asked how we put the seals on top of the bottles . You buy the seals and simply shrink them using the steam from a kettle - easy! It gives the bottles a really professional look too.

Siphoning into the bottles (bit of a messy job with stuff everywhere!):







Sealing the bottles:



The finished product as well as a glass of it!:




I'm made up with my christmas present from P! I've wanted one of these for ages! It's a weather station with all the gauges that you put outsider which is then radio controlled and transmitted to the touch screen display inside :)








Bring on the geek!!

Will post more after Christmas, today I'm just enjoying the time off with P! I'll also stick to my promise and post the chilli jam recipe.

Laters!

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Tired

Well I got nothing 'Christmassy' done today as we were still busy finishing up on jobs inside the boat. The new inverter needed all the cables tidying up and we had to take the boat out to get a tank full of fresh water for the next few weeks.

On top of that I decided to wash and wax the boat as it was looking a bit grubby. That takes forever and is absolutely knackering!

Later I popped into town as I needed a few bits from the diy store (again!). By the time I got back it was gone 4 and I still had the inside of the boat to clean up.

So I made no chili jam, mince pies, or carrot cake... tomorrow had better be less hectic. I really love Christmas eve,more so than Christmas day,so I really want to have a nice day which is relaxed! I'll get up early and maybe watch some Xmas cartoons tomorrow to get me in the mood :)

Right now I'm vegging with Eddie

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Back to (In)sanity

We had an absolutely, ridiculously busy day yesterday! Rob came back to fit the new kitchen top, fit the new gunnels and chop the kitchen back on the other side to give us more space on one side to allow for the larger work top on the other side.

It's basically a whole kitchen remodel!

We were up yesterday at 7AM as Rob was due by 8AM and he was spot on time as always!

We'd emptied the cupboards and moved everything out of the way and put plastic sheeting down in the saloon on the carpet. I hate it when the boat is in bits like that.

We helped Rob get the worktop onto the boat and then left him to it! We thought it was best if we were out the way so we went into town for breakfast and some last minute Christmas shopping.

My phone rang at 1230 and it was Rob explaining that he was pretty much finished so we headed back to see what had been done and what the damage was!

I was actually dreading going back as I wasn't sure if in the end I was going to like the new kitchen layout... We got back and I was stunned. It looked amazing!! It finally looks like a "designed" kitchen rather than just worktops and cupboards that are just there to function.

Here's a before and after:

Before:-



After: -



The picture doesn't really do it justice. The big "bubble" on the end gives us more than enough space to sit and have meals and we could even probably get 4 people around it at a push if we needed to, which is nice to have the option to do - it means we can have people over for dinner.

It's still not all finished off either! We are having a little chest of drawers made by Rob for the short side of the kitchen ( left hand side in the above pictures). He hadn't had time to make the drawers but has fashioned a cupboard unit ready for the drawers so we can at least put bits and bobs in for the time being.

At the moment, the new gunnels he's put in end at the kitchen, but he'll be following those through into the saloon so they all match (you can see the join of the two different gunnels at the end of the "bubble" in the pic above if you look closely!)

We were really impressed with the work and how quickly he'd done it all but had lots of cleaning up to do and I also wanted to get a start on varnishing the new top and the gunnels etc.

We realised we had to go back into town to accomplish some of the DIY but then had a call from Ed Shiers about some cigarette plug sockets and wire we'd asked him to get, so that we can wire in a new small inverter just for the TV, Internet dongle and aerial. We still have our battery problem you see and a lot of it is caused by our inverter which converts 12v into 240v, using too many amps from the batteries. It's basically using 3.5 amps just by being switched on - that's before we start using any appliances, which is too much!

So we bought this small inverter earlier this week:



It's obviously designed for a car and to fit in the drinks tray but we'll just have it on the TV unit. It's quite a smart little thing!
Anyway, with everything else that had been going on yesterday, after Ed had dropped all the stuff off for us, Pawel decided to just get on with it and feed the wires through the whole boat to the battery bank and wire it all in....

I was varnishing, sanding, putting things away and cleaning up and he was doing that... We were finally done with everything by 9PM, absolutely knackered and sat down to a nice dinner I'd made at the new "bubble" breakfast bar!

Ugh.... We didn't even move this morning until around 11AM - we were so tired. The new worktop still needs another coat of varnish on but I'll do that tonight and then the whole thing is finished then!

Tomorrow I'll be getting on with feeling a bit more in the Christmas mood by preparing some of the food we will be eating!

We actually did all our Xmas food shopping on Thursday so no last minute rushing around for us! Tomorrow I'm gong to make my chilli jam which is great with meats and cheeses.

I'll post the recipe.

Laters!

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Just Another Day...

Since around 6AM this morning the 40MPH winds have returned. It died down over lunch time but has returned with a vengeance now! The boat's moving quite a bit as I type this, but it's a little bit exciting as its one of those moments you think "yep, I really live on a boat!"

I was at the doctors this morning having some blood taken to test for arthritis related problems that could be causing the swelling and pain in my knee (yep, I'm really only in my late 20s!) so I was out the door quite early this morning and on the train about 830.

I didn't get back onto the boat until around 1130AM by which time, P was up and had cleared the boat and took the old "tiles" off the gunnels ready for Rob arriving...



Ugh!!!!!! It looked a right mess but at least I know it's going to look a lot better and function a lot better when Rob has finished.

Basically, on the right hand side of the kitchen in the picture above, the worktop is coming out and being replaced by a wider one which will be cut into a rounded shape on the end so it will be a bigger/wider breakfast bar where we can have meals at. At the moment, its not that wide and is a bit of a squeeze even for the two of us. When Rob has put the new top in, it will be a lot wider and look a lot more funky with lots of curves and we should be able to fit around 178 people around it...OK maybe 3 or 4 at the most!

To accommodate the increase in the width of the right hand side, two cupboards are being taken out on the left side of the kitchen and the worktop being cut right back.... The two cupboards on the left side will be replaced with a small 250mm wide single drawer unit for us to store utensils etc in rather than having them strewn around a big cupboard where the space isn't utilised that well anyway.

The "gunnels", where the tiles used to be, are being replaced and will fit down to the top of the worktops, meaning no gap between the worktop and the upper wall, so will require no tiles over the top of them.... Overall it should look really nice and finished off a lot more professionally.

Rob won't be back now until Friday even though I thought he'd be here most of today, tomorrow and Friday. This is good as I've cleaned up for now and it basically means that he's just here for the whole day on Friday meaning its less invasive than I thought it would be and just one evening of cleaning up afterwards! On Friday P is off again so we'll just head into town for the day and have a long lunch or something to keep out of his way and let him just get on with it!

I can't wait to see the finished result!

Nothing else new really. P is off tomorrow so we're gonna head into town, have a coffee somewhere and chat/decide about what food we will be having/making over Christmas seeing as it will just be the two of us again this year.

Bye for now!

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

The Final Day in Sanity

I've not posted in a few days, partly because I've been feeling a bit under the weather and also because I've been busy arranging things for the final kitchen modifications which are taking place....oh....tomorrow!!

I feel a bit stressed about it as this is going to be slightly more invasive than the Welsh dresser style cupboard we had fitted the other week, as it involves a lot more work on the boat itself rather than a cupboard being built in someone's workshop and then just fitted in situ.

This time there's cupboards being taken out, cupboards added in, worktop changes.... and we're getting new gunnel trims from the kitchen end of the boat to the saloon end as the ones currently leave a gap between the work top and the wall above and generally look tatty. We attempted to "tile" over the gunnel to hide the gap with some tile transfer stickers but these have started peeling away and basically look a mess!

I'll detail more in tomorrow's post, but basically from tomorrow until Friday things are going to be manic on the boat and there's going to be a HUGE mess everywhere. Dreading it in a way but I know Rob is good so it will look amazing in the end. It's just so much going on just before Christmas.

I decided to make my own ice cream again yesterday as I made it a few weeks back ( maybe a few months now!?) and it was amazing and really simple to make.

This is a recipe using blackberries, which, when I first made it back in October, I'd picked from the many blackberry bushes from around here. This time, I've had to buy the blackberries!
The great thing about this recipe is that with most ice cream recipes you have to "churn" the mixture every hour or so to stop ice crystals forming. I'm guessing in this recipe that its the condensed milk that stops this from happening somehow although I'm no scientist! Easy and simple to make, this the best ice cream you will have....I guarantee it!

Blackberry Ripple and White Chocolate Ice Cream

Ingredients:-

* 600ml of double cream
* One of the small tins of condensed milk
* A one pint jug full of fresh or frozen blackberries
* A good fistful of white chocolate chips ( don't bother
measuring, you can't go wrong with this!)
* A dash of vanilla flavouring
* 5 tablespoons of icing sugar

Method:-

1. Put the blackberries and icing sugar in a pan on a low heat and cook until the blackberries just start to collapse and you can see a liquid in the bottom of the pan from the juice of the blackberries and the dissolved icing sugar.




2. Put the blackberry mixture through a sieve to remove all the seeds and any fleshy bits from the blackberries. You want the "ripple" to be a slick glossy sauce. Collect the juice in a bowl underneath the sieve.



3. Empty the double cream and condensed milk into a bowl and whisk with an electric whisk until it goes thick. You don't want it to go fully whipped, just thick and just enough so that the peaks will hold their shape.



4. In a 1litre, or better still, 1.5 litre tub with a lid, literally dollop spoonfuls of the cream mixture, white chocolate chips and blackberry sauce, swirling the sauce around so it 'ripples' and keep alternating until you've used all your ingredients

5. Pop the lid on and freeze! It really is as simple as that...



Mmmmmmm!!!

I really want to try and make an espresso version of this soon as well, I just don't know how I would make the coffee sauce yet!
Maybe after Christmas now.

I'll keep you posted about how life turns into insanity tomorrow!

Friday, 14 December 2012

Wine Tasting!?

Not much has been happening really. P was off work yesterday so he went into town with me when I headed into work so he could do some Christmas shopping. He ended up waiting for me to finish work and we went for a coffee and a cake together and then didn't end up getting home until nearly 8PM!

We were both off today, so did a few jobs around the boat, mostly just general clean up stuff but we also put handles on the new kitchen cupboard as Rob had left us to choose our own.

The weather has been awful all day with 40+MPH overnight which woke us early and rain which hasn't stopped all day so we didn't have much else to do.

We also did a final de-gas of the wine that we make. We thought we had finished with the de-gassing a few weeks back and had added the finings to clear it, but I tasted the wine the other night and it still tasted fizzy. When you make wine, the reaction of the yeast with the sugar (which turns it into alcohol) also causes air bubbles. Obviously, you have to get these out before you bottle it or it'll be like sour champagne!!

You usually do this by shaking the demijohn many times over a few days, however, I've also got my own method using a drill and a giant plastic spoon with the end cut off....

:D





It makes light work of it to give it a good wizz with a drill!





So, we finally think that this should be enough now. Hopefully, even though this has put us behind schedule with it, we *should* still have a good 18 bottles of wine ready for Christmas.It shouldn't take more than 10 days for the demijohns to clear again, especially now all the gas is (hopefully!) out of the wine!




I think overall we drink more red than white but this time I made two demijohns of a white elderflower and only one red - an elderberry. We both really love the white elderflower though and I'm not really a fan of white wine, but this is really nice.

Each demijohn makes around 6 bottles so this should keep us stocked up for a while! (OK, maybe a week or two!)


Wednesday, 12 December 2012

More fitting out...

Hi everyone

I know I've not posted for a while but the Internet has been down for the last few days. I don't know why, but it is a mobile broadband connection and these days, rather than getting angry at it and wanting to throw the iPad into the canal I just turn it off and enjoy the TV, the crisp weather outside and keep busy with general jobs on the boat that I need to get on with!

So basically, our Internet connection is temperamental and can go "off" for days at a time! I'm guessing it is because its mobile and because we're on a boat in the middle of nowhere!?

I've been quite busy anyway the last few days so wouldn't have been able to post so much. Saturday I was at work all day and then it was my work Xmas party which we had at a Thai restaurant in Manchester city centre. There was only four of us for the meal which was really nice ( and all paid for !) and then I had to get the last train home whilst the others went out for a night on the town!

Sunday came and we had Rob Shone come over to fit the new kitchen wall cupboard for us which is a nice "welsh dresser" style cupboard over the porthole in the kitchen.

I've been looking forward to this piece of carpentry for a long, long time and it was meant to be done at the same time as the other cupboards/doors we had fitted by Bourne Boats at the end of October....

Anyway, a picture is worth a thousand words, so here's the before and after:

Before:






After:



With the lights on from the other side:








It really looks more amazing in reality than in these pictures and Rob has done an amazing job. This was hand built by Rob and he definately has an amazing talent. I wish I could build something as magnificent as this.

I'll have to get a picture taken with the lights on at night so you can get the full effect!

It's nice to have the LED lights inside this cupboard and underneath downlighting onto the worktop below, as it gives us more light (obviously). They are also LEDs which use a lot less energy, meaning we can have the lights on at night and it doesn't effect our battery bank as much as normal lights (like the ceiling lights). The plan is to change all bulbs eventually to LEDs just because one of our ceiling lights uses the same amount of energy of 10 LED lights.

These new cupboards with lights in also create some "mood lighting" within the boat creating a cosy environment.

Future plans with Rob are some kitchen modifications which are to be done in the next few weeks and the bathroom to be tiled when funds allow, probably in the new year now....

All this work is modification of things we've done ourselves as a stop gap and are now having the time and funds to re-do properly with a professional (as we've made an abortion of certain things!)


On Sunday, we also had the curtains delivered back to us by Carole... they're looking much better now too and give some privacy from the glazed doors. You can see them in the pictures above too. (Just!)

Everything is coming together!

We woke up this morning and the temperature outside was minus 7!! Despite the fact that stove was still going with the air flows shut down it was a little chilly in the back cabin. I think tonight I'll be leaving the air vents open so that the stove burns at full capacity all night. Ill just really load it up with coal and that should do the trick as apparently tonight will be even colder than last night. The canal is already frozen solid tonight and has been all day. We smashed some of the ice today in the canal and it was over half an inch thick. I don't think we'll be topping up with water on Friday unless there's a big thaw!

Don't get me wrong, I LOVE this weather!!! The colder the better! I really hope we have snow for Xmas and temperatures drop to all time lows!! I love it when everywhere is frozen....it's less messier too when you have a dog to walk in the country when all the mud is frozen solid!

What do you think Eddie?



Hmmm, think that says all!

A mince pie is warming in the oven and a coffee is waiting for me, so I'm going to head off now! The stove is roaring, the tealights are lit and there's a film about to begin on TV, so that's me done for the night!

Laters

Friday, 7 December 2012

Ecofan-tasia!

Well, me and P have both been off work today, so we've been doing a few jobs around the house (boat!), one of which was to top up with water. We're getting into the habit of doing it weekly now despite the fact that our tank usually lasts us, maybe 3-3 and a half weeks usually. The main reason for this is if the canal freezes over like it has been doing, but then gets worse and worse we won't have water after 3 weeks!

Apparently, last year, everyone up here was frozen in for 6-8 weeks which would be a real problem if it happens this year. Not only that but last year was quite a mild winter and the forecasts for this year aren't so positive!

After doing that, we popped in to Andy at the Trading Post to finally buy our Ecofan. It is expensive, but we figured its definately worth it. I was talking about it a week or two ago on here.

Basically, it helps circulate the air from the stove so you get a more even distribution of heat from it rather than hot and cold pockets (heat rises after all!)

Apparently, it can help reduce fuel usage (coal, wood etc) by 14%.

Despite it being only about 1 degree out this morning, we decided to sit outside at Andy's for a bubbly hot chocolate and make the most of the sunshine. Despite it being cold, it was quite nice. We got some coal, kindling and firelighters too whilst we were there and then took the boat back to the mooring where we ripped open the Ecofan!

Anyway, we are a bit sad(!), so this was a bit of an exciting time for us. Here's P unable to contain his excitement at an early Christmas present!!




Cant wait to rip the box open....




And the Ecofan out of its box finally, and then another showing it in action on the stove (sorry, bit blurry)







So we're quite happy today and excited about seeing if we'll have warm feet quicker than normal!

We're just in a coffee shop in town now as I write this so better head off as we need to do a bit of shopping and head to the post office and DIY store for some bits.

Bye for now!

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Not a lot

Hi all

Not a lot happening to be honest. I called the police yesterday to report the diesel being stolen, they were quite good and told me that they were going to send a police presence to the area and late afternoon yesterday, I did see policemen walking around the towpath.

I don't ever expect them to find who took my diesel specifically but hopefully it might put someone off doing it again now, but we'll see!

My knee is no better and is still swollen and really sore. It's difficult to work on my feet all day when it's like this so will be heading back to the docs soon.

It was another chilly start this morning at minus 6 and apparently when P came in during the very early hours it was minus 7. Nice and toasty inside though with the stove kept in :)

Will keep you posted on any news. I'm off tomorrow so it ill be a case of finishing off the wine so it clears ready for bottling. I was meant to do that last week !


Monday, 3 December 2012

Thick as thieves...

This morning was another chilly start at minus 6 again! I got up with Pawel again and headed out at 630PM to take him to his work taxi and to give Edward a quick run about. I took a couple of pictures and then a few more as it was getting lighter.... Lovely morning









View out of the porthole:








The view out of the front doors and a frosted covered table!



Nothing else has happened really although a theft has occurred!

I had the engine running this morning and after around an hour and just as i returned from a walk with Eddie, the engine started "hunting" (the rev speed going faster and slower all on its own)

I really started panicking as I assumed it was something serious ( we really don't know much about engines!!!) and we've had so much expense recently with renovations and battery problems (!) it's something we could do without .

Normally, I would have checked the fuel level as we did something similar like this last year where we let the fuel tank run dry(!) but I remembered we'd only put 40 litres in the tank about 6 days ago...

Hmm... I started reviewing the Beta 38 manual and panicking at all the possibilities that could be wrong with the engine...

I called our engine expert, Ed, who looked at our batteries the other week. By this point the engine was slowing down and then cutting out completely. I turned the engine to ignition whilst Ed was on the phone and it was just cranking / turning over and not starting.

He suggested this was definately a fuel problem and asked if I'd checked fuel levels. I told him no, as we only topped up a few days ago and that usually lasts us ages. He advised that I check anyway.... So I did....

...There was less than an inch on a stick I put into the tank.... I called Ed back to tell him I felt really stupid, but he told me the reason he asked me to check is because he's been doing some work on another boat around here and they've had diesel stolen from their tank!!

Thieving b@stard whoever you are!!!!

I went to the chandlery to get a quick 20l of diesel as I had to dash out on the next train shortly after, and the chandlery would have been closed on my return. Anyway, Andy at the chandlery also told me I'm about the 3rd person this week who's mentioned fuel theft so something is definately going on!

Whoever you are, you are truly scum! And I pray and hope that someone is going to catch you out at your game. Who knows?! Maybe you'll get a sugar and diesel mix out of someone's tank as a booby trap and you'll f*** your engine up! Twat!

Sorry, but I'm really angry. I estimate that someone has stolen around £40-60 of diesel from us. Which isn't a lot but its not the point. Apparently the same scum had emptied a full tank from someone!

I'm just glad we didn't have a full tank. That would have been around £150 worth! The cap will be fitted extra tight in future and only accessible by opening it with a spanner which will be more difficult for a thief to do.

I have to admit though, I was relieved when I found out it was ONLY a fuel problem!

One Thing After Another as always!!

Off to eat a ready made curry from Waitrose with P now and sit in front of the telly box with the fire going and plenty of tealights -cosy night in. It's turned quite miserable outside now and i can hear the rain pummelling on the roof even over the TV. Won't be long in bed either tonight...

Goodnight everyone.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Cold!

Well we've had some freezing temperatures here over the last few days. Last night was the coldest though as it was minus 6 when we arrived home at 745PM. We'd both been in work all day but luckily when we arrived back the stove was still alight as I'd set it all on low in the morning before I'd left - it was lovely and toasty inside!!

The previous few nights have ranged from minus 2 to minus 4. Most people hate this sort of weather but I absolutely love it! Its a really magical time of year I think.

Anyway, on Friday we topped up with water which involves moving the boat around a quarter of a mile to the nearest water point. There was only very thin ice in certain places on the canal on friday so it was our first "mini-ice-breaking" session since we bought the boat! Last year we were in a marina with no where to go so didn't get to go ice cracking! I'm hoping they'll be more opportunities this year. I think Eddie enjoyed it too... You can't really see the ice in these pics (well, I did say it was really thin!)





I don't think the geese were happy!


Ice crystals....


Anyway, i was glad we topped up with water on friday as the canal is frozen again today and its a bit thicket than friday and saturday. If we have a few more days of this, we're not going to be going anywhere for a while!

After the water on Friday, we debated about getting an Ecofan from our local chandlery. The stove is great at keeping us warm, but takes a while to feel the heat at your feet. The Eco fan is just a fan which sits on top of the stove and uses the heat from the stove to start spinning, thereby circulating the air so you don't get hot and cold spots of air.

Here's a picture of a few of them in action:

(Picture taken from stoveland.co.uk)

Anyway, I'd LOVE one but funds are a bit short at the minute as they're around £100! Maybe Santa will bring me one?!
Later on Friday we put our Christmas tree up as it was one of the few evenings me and P have together to do it.


We just went for a small one this year with battery operated lights seeing as we're not on shoreline this year. It's really nice though. It looks a bit tilted in the pic but not in reality!?

We had our curtains hand delivered on Friday as well for the new doors, but they were all wrong! The lady had made them too big and you can't draw them back as there's too much material and its too thick!

She's going to pick them up and basically cut each curtain in half ( way, way, way too much material lol) and also make them a bit longer as for some reason they were shorter than what we agreed on. This was a bit disappointing, especially as she'd had our pole to test them on too. Putting them on the pole and testing them would have shown her straight away they were too big. Never mind! Things happen and I'm sure we will have them sorted out by next week.

I'll be booking a doctors appointment next week too as I seem to be having problems with my knees! They've been achy for a few months now especially going upstairs or lifting, but last night one had really swollen up and I'm really struggling with it :( it's also clicking quite a bit and feels like its burning inside. Not a good thing to be happening when I work on my feet all day too.

Ill be resting it for today and tomorrow and see how I am on Tuesday!