Daisypath - Vacation

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

A busy day off !

Well, it's around 10PM,as i write this and the thermometer outside is showing the temperature as being minus 4! This is the coldest night so far this winter.

I've got the stove loaded up to the hilt so its nice and warm, I just hope it stays in all night and keeps the back cabin from getting too chilly. We had attempted to instal central heating last year by using the back boiler off the stove in a gravity fed system but it kept blowing off the wall(!) (oh we know why now as well!) Anyway, a lack of time and funds means that it might have to wait until next year to be fitted!

I was off today and P was off this morning so we got up early and decided to take Eddie for a walk and ended up going a bit further than we intended. It might sound stupid, but we don't often go for walks and a lot of the area we are in, we have hardly seen. I took some pics and it was just nice to be out and about exploring.

Can you guess whereabouts we are?!

It really was a lovely walk and it almost felt like I was in some remote german or austrian country side!

P headed off to work in the afternoon, so i did some odd jobs, as well as "finishing" the wine off, which involved putting some stabilisers into the demijohns and then adding the finings to help the wines clear ready for bottling. We will bottle it all (for Christmas!) in around a fortnights time.

Our batteries still aren't great, so we think we are going to get a small 12v inverter that we can have on a 12v cable that we can just run the TV and dongle on rather than having the main inverter on which uses around 3.5amps just being on! That will help save the batteries depleting overnight and give us something less to worry about!

I guess that's all for now!

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Dog woes!

The dog, Eddie keeps 'doing a runner'! It happened a couple of days ago when we'd let him off the boat and a few minutes later he'd completely disappeared.

It turned out he'd followed a jogger into the local village (around half an hour of a walk away for me) and a couple who had recognised him as being from our boat returned him to us.

It happened again tonight as I was washing the dishes. I'd had the door open as with cooking and the stove on, it had gotten too hot. Whilst I was busy with the dishes he'd snuck out and again I couldn't find him. It took me half an hour to locate him sniffing around the bushes quite a way down the towpath from here.

I'm really not sure why this is happening as Eddie normally stays within distance of the boat, only getting slightly excited if someone walks past. He'll follow them a few paces but then return to the boat. The sad thing is, I don't feel I can trust him any more as he used to sit outside the boat for hours on end, especially in summer, and never stray but I now think those days are over for him as I can't have him outside unless I've got a close eye on him.

We have another animal problem too lately! There's a squirrel who is ransacking the bird feeder and caused quite a bit of damage to one of the fat cages. Here it is in action:

Hmmm. As cute as it was to be able to watch this out of the porthole, its now becoming annoying as he's quite destructive!!

I took Eddie for a walk this afternoon and we enjoyed a sunset scene...shame he's had to ruin tonight by doing a runner again!

Not much else to report. Tomorrow I'm off work, so plan on making some ice cream (not the weather for it i know but i want to try a coffee/vanilla idea I've had in mind since the summer) and "finishing" the wine that we make.

By Christmas we should have 18 bottles of wine! that should be around 12 of an elderberry red and 6 of an elderflower white. Mmmmm!

Its quite late and getting quite cold, so I'm heading off to load the stove up with coal and get ready for bed.

Remember, life is...One Thing After Another!

Monday, 26 November 2012

Rain rain and rain !

Well, not much has been happening really. The weather has been awful, and when I returned home last night from work, the wind was really bad and was blowing on to the side of the boat rather than up the back end like it usually does in this mooring spot.

The boat was moving around quite a bit and the rain was really heavy all night and early this morning.

Despite us keeping the stove in all night now as well, it felt a little chilly during the early hours of the morning and once or twice I got up to put extra coal on the stove.

I'm a little worried as the forecast for next Saturday evening shows a temperature of -6 degrees! Last year was our first winter on the boat and we were treated well as temperatures weren't that bad, but even then we had to have an electric heater for the back cabin, something we won't be able to use this year now we're not on shoreline electric.

The other day we finally got the additional glass shelf for the cabinet we had made so that's all finished now and looking good :

Today did brighten up over lunch and me and P went into the village for a coffee and a teacake :) and to do some food shopping. P left me do that while he went off to work though!
I made a simple dinner tonight , just pasta and pesto using a long time pesto recipe:

- 25g/1oz parmesan or any mature cheddar if you have no
-1 garlic clove or a small blob of garlic paste
-60g/2oz fresh basil, this is a good two handfuls.
- 50ml/2fl oz extra virgin olive oil
- 50g/2oz toasted pine nuts
- Salt and pepper to taste

Basically, I have a mini chopper , really cheap from Argos. I think it cost around a tender and its great for preparing things like this. Put all the ingredients in like so...

...and blitz...

Cook some pasta and stir though the drained pasta, adding a little of the pasta water so that it turns the pesto into a creamy like sauce.

I served mine with a little extra cheese and some oven roasted cherry tomatoes.... and a glass of red wine of course! (Can you spot the cork in the picture below !?)

If you need to do it by hand, chop the basil and grate the cheese and pound everything together in a pestle and mortar.

I'm going to switch off now, as the leisure batteries are at 67%!!


Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Breakfast Muffins and Battery saga!

Well, not a lot new with the battery situation. It's still hit and miss and seems to be worse if we have the 12v lights on as well as the 240v stuff. Maybe the batts are just knackered!?

What I have found is that having the engine on to charge for even just half an hour seems to 'stunt' how quick the percentage drops on the Smartgauge. So I'm still not sure if perhaps this issue is actually Smartgauge inaccuracies rather than the actually being a problem!

As I think I've said before, because of having the Smartgauge, and having that information to hand at any given time about the state of the batteries, it can make you paranoid! I think if it blows up again any time soon, I'll rip it out and not bother having another. There won't be anything to get paranoid about then!

Well, this morning I made some muffins for breakfast, and I thought that this blog could also serve as a way to sheer some recipes with you too.

They really are my favourite "breakfast muffins" as they're not overly sweet and sickly and incredibly light textured. The hint of orange in them really does give a continental breakfast feel.
They're really easy to make especially first thing(!), the most difficult part being melting the butter!

They're equally great on a summer morning or a winter morning and fantastic eaten straight from the oven and caked in strawberry jam! Don't make them the day before, make them fresh and enjoy!

Today I made them to cheer up a miserable morning, weather wise.
Sunrise Breakfast Muffins:
- 250 g self-raising flour
- 75g butter
- 25 g ground almonds
- 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 75 g caster sugar
- zest of a large orange
- 100 ml orange juice from the orange you're taking the zest
- 100 ml full-fat milk
- 1 egg
Preheat the oven to Gas 6 and get all your ingredients together

Melt the butter in a pan first and leave to the side to cool.
In a large bowl, mix the flour, ground almonds, bicarb, baking powder, sugar and orange zest together.

In a jug, measure the orange juice and milk and whisk in the egg. When the butter is cooled, pour in the melted butter. It's ok if its a little warm still, just not red hot or it will scramble the egg!
Pour the jug of liquid ingredients into the bowl with the dry ingredients, and mix. It will look clumped together, but don't over mix this as this is what makes it a light airy muffin.

Spoon the mixture equally into the muffin cases and cook for 20 minutes, turning the tray around half way through cooking to and the back ones burning!

Once they're done, remove from oven and eat them whilst they're still warm!

What I do, is split them open and smother them with a strawberry jam! There is NOTHING better than these in a morning and a good strong cup of coffee :)


Monday, 19 November 2012

Fed up!

Well I am sat here writing this and it is midnight and I feel like maybe I won't sleep again tonight. This ongoing issue with the batteries is really pissing me off and is always on my mind!

I don't think the fact that a storm is coming in is helping with my sleep tonight either! The wind is really getting up out there in the last hour or so, and the forecast on XC Weather (www.xcweather.co.uk) states that overnight, wind speeds will reach 51mph here! It'll continue all day tomorrow too and into the week.

Its strange, but you really are more aware of the weather when you live on a boat. Especially storms! When the wind reaches the 30MPH+ , you can feel it swinging into the boat. i think we are also a bit more worse off than a lot of boaters as we have 3x huge solar panels (the type you have on houses) sitting on the roof on a ball-mounted tilting system we made which means when the winds are up the panels move around and can sound like they're bouncing off the roof! They are safe though as they're also strapped down with security straps.

We had a busy day on Friday with many visitors. Tim from Bourne Boats arrived with our tempered glass shelves for the glass cabinet we had built but we've only got one shelf in at the moment as the other shelf was too big as it hadn't been cut to the correct template size by the glass people. Grrrr. So that means more waiting whilst the glass is shaved so it fits! He also fitted the correct bolts for the door and tested our gas for us as we suspected a leak.

Next, we had a lady measure up for some curtains for the new doors and she's going to get back to us with some samples and prices etc.

After that, we had Ed in who did some electrical work for us earlier this year and who we decided to call back regarding the issue with the batteries as we were impressed with his work st time. Seriously, if anyone needs a good electrician and someone who understands about batteries, heating and a range of other things, check Ed out. (Www.fc-marine.co.uk). He's really fair with prices And will definately put your mind at ease about things too.

Our Smartgauge arrived back on Thursday and we fitted it on Friday ready for ed coming.

He replaced our start alternator as our leisure alternator was on a split diode and we suspected that might be causing the sharp drops in battery capacity we're experiencing every night for the last few weeks. Ed fitted that and tested the batteries by doing a drop test using an electrical meter. The batteries were at approx 97% capacity which is great.

He checked over all the wiring and all that seemed ok too, so no one is sure what could be causing our batteries to drop 10% every hour with just limited things on ,adding up to no more than 10amps!

Last night was still just as bad and we'd hoped that by last night the Smartgauge had re-synced with the batteries. However, tonight has see the percentage only dropping by about 6/7/8% an hour roughly with quite a few things on.... So maybe the problem has resolved itself?!

We will see. In the meantime I'll continue worrying about it! Worrying about the weather....worrying about money, Christmas, jobs..... One thing after another!

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

A long week!

Sorry for not posting for a while! Everything was a bit manic in the last few days at the boat builders and then we had to focus on getting the boat back to the mooring and getting back to work etc. Thats why I've not had chance to post updates.

We are finally getting back to some normality and its strange having all this cupboard space.... I'm struggling to find things to put in them!

Well here's a few more pictures of what the place is looking like now. We're still awaiting for the toughened glass shelves for the glass cabinet....but they should be here by the end of the week.



We are definately impressed with the work, it feels like a totally different boat and definately adds a bit of class to the place ;)

As nice as the guys were at Bourne Boats though, it was great to finally leave the place and get back to a normal lifestyle rather than living in a build project! However, they are definately incredibly talented and I'd recommend anyone who is looking for a boat build or some upgrade work to go to the,.

I finally left the boat yard on Wednesday afternoon last week at around 3PM. I was cruising alone as Pav was at work and it was the first time I'd cruised alone so obviously a bit nervous. But it was fine and I actually quite enjoyed it. I had Eddie on the roof with me and it was nice just to take in the autumn scenery. I finally got back to the mooring point around 5ish and Pav was there to help me moor up.

We've got another problem now with the batteries though! Most nights they would drop around 5 or 6 % an hour with the TV, fridge , Internet dongle and aerial on and the odd light or two... However, since being back from the boat yard they are going down about 10% an hour and we cant work out why. We know they needed topping up with water and we did that on Friday!

Whilst doing that though, we pulled a wire out of the Smart Gauge battery monitor and Pav attempted to insert it back in, and upon doing so, let the positive and negative wires of the connections touch! anyway, we were then getting an error code and the unit wasnt functioning properly so we had to return it to Merlin, who are the suppliers/manufacturers! It's so frustrating, as now, we have no proper way of seeing how charged up our batteries are for our electricity! We can get a rough idea from looking at the controller for our solar panels but its not exact!

Also, we cant really tell if topping up has improved how the batteries are performing, so its a bit frustrating at the moment!
We are due to receive the battery monitor back on Thursday, so we'll know more then! In the meantime, we've just got the engine on for most of the time to make the batteries don't drop below 50% and therefore get damaged!

It really is, one thing after another on this boat!

Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, 2 November 2012

We've Finally Arrived.... To Blogging!

Hello. We're new around here despite meaning to start a blog when we first bought our boat around 18months ago ! Originally, I wanted to create a blog as a diary of us doing a self fit out of our boat back in June /July last year. However, most of the work is done now and we've done LOADS!!

Anyway, there's always stuff to do and there's always something going off on the boat, especially with the crazy dog, Edward on board!

Basically, around May or June time of 2011 we woke up with an idea to buy a boat! Neither of us had even been on a narrowboat before never mind made a home on one! To this day, I still can't remember exactly where the idea had come from or what on earth made us act on it, but I'm glad we did.

We (stupidly) bought the first boat we went to look at there and then too. We didn't have a survey and it had nothing inside, just sprayfoamed and partial lining inside, we were more than confident back then that we'd be able to fit it out ourselves on a ridiculously low budget. We soon learned! Having said that though, we did fit it out to a reasonable standard although we're never satisfied with anything and are always looking to improve things. Which is why, finally, I've started this blog now.

We're currently in a really nice hotel as we are awaiting for the first "professional" carpentry work to be completed on our boat. We are having some new front doors fitted, partially glazed and made from mahogany as the ones that came with the boat were just steel and a bit shabby on the inside. They'll look like these ones when fitted:

We will have some leading on the glass as well though just to jazz them up a bit.

Currently next to the doors we have a full length, double door cupboard/wardrobe for coats and shoes etc. However, we had that built when we first got the boat by a really dodgy joiner who ended up doing a lot of our cupboards etc in just plywood and they are absolutely dreadful. This is the reason we have now taken the boat to a professional boat fitters, just to have some finishing touches put in the boat in the form of some good joinery. So the full length cupboard will be replaced with something similar to this:

Attached to this cupboard, we will have an angled cupboard which will be contoured and fitted into the cabin walls, it will look amazing. Again it will look similar to this one :

The difference between this and ours is we will have the cupboard on the bottom but the top half isn't going to have a cupboard door on but will be open with glass shelving and a light inside for some glassware. I'm really excited about this cupboard the most.

Finally, nice carpentry done by the professionals! They're also finishing off a step for us and a piece of panelling over the water tank (internal bulkhead side)

We're heading back to the boat tomorrow to look at progress but they're a bit behind schedule, so tonight we will make the most of the hotel as it will be chaos when we return to the boat and have already been told that the mahogany doors may still not be fitted and we will just have a sheet of ply to cover the door opening!

Still, we have no choice now, as we are running outdoor funds to stay in hotels.... Oh , and we have to pick up Edward, our Border Terrier tomorrow afternoon from friends!

I will post updates :)