Daisypath - Vacation

Thursday, 28 February 2013

A Dog's Life?

We know that whilst we're having the bathroom done, for one night at least, we will have to stay in a hotel. This means Eddie needs to find alternative accommodation too!

He's not had his kennel cough vaccination though as he's never been in kennels before, but we know that he will need to go into one in just over a week!

Therefore, we decided to go into the local village today, Eddie included and register at a new vets so we can get him vaccinated. Luckily, we've got an appointment for tomorrow morning.

We needed a few bits from in town and decided to stop for a coffee afterwards and sat out at Costa as the sun was so warm today. Even Eddie loved it:

I don't usually like Costa coffee as a chain or many other coffee chains apart from Pret, but the one in Poynton is quite nice - plenty of tables outside and even a canopy which is great in warm weather.

Anyway, we got the bus back afterwards- and Eddie got on for free too!

I think Eddie appreciated the bus journey back up - never have I known a dog as sedentary as this one!! It LOVES to just sit there!

You can clearly see he's judging the other passengers in this pic:(!)

Admiring the scenic view:

It's a dogs life, eh?

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Wine Making

This morning involved a trip down to the butchers to get a bit of bacon and some decent bread rolls as all my efforts with the bread making lately have been bad!

I've been in a right mood/temper the last few days too and I don't know why. Today with the sun shining, I felt back to my usual self and so after breakfast we headed out to stock up.

It's been a gorgeous sunny day, although not too warm, reaching only 10 degrees at most, but we did have a coffee out on deck on our return.

It's still sunny out now as I write this and its gone 5PM. How bizarre - I can hear some sort of creature walking on the roof right now too! It must be a duck! Ha!

For the rest of the day, I've spent most of it sorting out the admin that goes along with life and a bathroom refurb! We've been trying to decide on showers, taps, shower screens, sorting things out for delivery and also my hatch glass. I've now decided to have the glass made with drilled holes in the top corners to allow me to fit mirror screws to hold it in place.

I was against this at first, thinking it will be a real effort to take the screws on and off every time we want to open and close the hatch, but after thinking about it, I think it's the safest option to make sure that the glass is secure when it's in place! Imagine it falling!? It could do some serious damage if not installed safely.
I'm also going for a toughened glass rather than a laminated one - thanks Roger for the advice!

It'll only be the top of the glass that will have the drilled holes in for the mirror screws, as the bottom of the glass will sit on the fixings that act as a ledge at the moment for the Perspex. Here's a sketch that I've sent over to the glazers: (it's not to scale!)

The glazers have given me a really competitive price too - only £26!


Wine Making...

I'm currently in the process of making some more wine right now too. My last batch of red was just too weak, so this time I'll be making it with more sugar to get a higher alcohol content.

Here I was sterilising everything:

Its only a kit from Wilkos - some are OK and others aren't. The white Elderflower is amazing! However, I find a brand of kits called Beaverdale the best, whilst these Wilkos ones always need a bit of tampering to make sure you get good wine.

They're simple enough though:

* You start by sterilising all of your equipment using a sterilising solution, then tip your can of 'juice' into your demijohn followed by adding a water/sugar mix.

* You do this by melting around 450g of sugar into some water which you will use to top your demijohn up.

* I've just done this and filled the demijohn up to the shoulder and I'm about to test the Specific Gravity now. This will tell me how strong the wine will be when it's finished. However, with this kit, I'm expecting the Specific Gravity to be a bit on the low side.... By taking some of the mixture back out and adding a bit more sugar followed by heating it (to dissolve the sugar) I can increase what the final % will be!

I don't want wine at 9 or 10% - I need it more like 13 or 14%!! I think that's what was wrong with my last batch - it was just too weak.

* I've just tested the SG and it is 1070 which signifies a wine with a final % of around 9.2%! Pathetic.

In this picture, you can just about see the reading as 1070 on the hydrometer:

(I'm going to take another reading in around 10 minutes to see if that's still the same and then I will dissolve some more sugar into the mix.)

* I calculate that I will need around 8oz of sugar - around 225g to take the SG up to around 1095 to get a stronger wine! After dissolving all the sugar, I can then add the yeast which will start the fermentation!

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

We Have A Date

We have finally found out when our bathroom refurb will be done by Rob! He's coming on 11th March to start the tiling, completing all that first followed by building the two corner units I discussed HERE

All we have to do now is order the tiles, shower screen, shower to be installed and new flooring!?

We have finally decided on an accent tile too. It looks like this:

It'll go really nice with our plain coloured tiles -a contrast and definately an accent ;)

We'll just have a strip of them going along the wall where the bath is - just about mid-height. I can't wait! I only wish it was next Monday he was starting rather than a week on Monday!

Rob is coming over next week to start taking measurements and things and he also wants to us take some of the existing cladding off for then as well as he needs to see what the walls are like underneath. I'm thinking that for the next few weeks, the place is going to look like a bomb's hit it!

Today we topped up with water, diesel, coal and got a new gas bottle so it's been a bit manic all day with having to take the boat to the water point and chandlery etc and then bringing it back and re-mooring. At least it's kept us busy - we'll certainly be ready for dinner tonight, put it that way!

Nothing else is really happening lately, I guess this is the calm before the storm. Some other good news is that Rob needs us to be away for a night or two when he first starts the job, so we shall be in 5 star luxury during those two days in a lovely hotel. :D

Can you tell I'm excited!?

Monday, 25 February 2013

To All The Advertisers...

....who keep posting shit in the comments section - please stop!! Your comments go straight to spam:

Not only that, but can anyone explain to me why someone would post a comment advertising "wedding dresses" (in America, might I add) for example?!

What custom do you think you will get from a blog about a narrowboat in England?!? Us boaters are more likely to wear a bin liner than a wedding dress.

Stupid people.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

What Brilliant Headlines!

This made me laugh, that's for sure! It's better than reading about crime or immigrants.

I didn't get a copy of the paper (unfortunately!) so not sure what all the fuss is about to be honest - although I have to say we have sheep on a field next to the boat and they can be noisy sods at night!!

Nothing much to report really. Today I did a food shop to get stocked up for the week, including a trip to our butchers which usually ends up with a 20 minute natter about this and that. We had a quick coffee in town too, along with a pastry, as it was quite early still and we only had some yogurt for brekkie.

We keep having the odd snow flurry which usually stops almost as soon as its started but its still as cold as anything, meaning I can't get on with anything that I need to do that's boat related. However, I think the batteries are due for an electrolyte top-up so that'll be done tomorrow hopefully.

I won't do anything else today now apart from cook dinner, with Dancing on Ice and a glass of red wine as my company as Pawel is at work!


Saturday, 23 February 2013

Glass Design Idea

Here's a quick draft design for my hatch glass with the bevels. It's a bit hard to make out but it gives me my design idea - I'm quite impressed with it.

The lines that you see in the drawing above, will be done with leading. Inside the leading, in the border area will be coloured film to give the impression of leaded lights .

Sanding in This Weather!?

Well I got my sanding discs yesterday to attach to the drill so I can sand off the gas locker, but its way too cold to even consider doing anything like that!

I just got a light grade paper as I don't want to take the paint back completely to a polished steel. Ideally, I want to leave the undercoat on so its ready to just paint on top of - thats the plan anyway!

We've actually had snow this morning and its been quite heavy. Therefore, it looks like I won't be doing any sanding or painting until after next week now, as the weather is set to be like this until the end of next week :(

Everything I seem to be planning for at the moment is having to be put on hold for one reason or another, and I'm an incredibly impatient person! I feel fed up!!

* No sanding/painting due to weather
* No planting/gardening due to weather
* Bathroom refurb delayed until mid-March when it was originally
supposed to be end Feb

Grrr! It will all come together in the end I'm sure.

This afternoon I'm going to draw an illustration of what design I might go for on the hatch glass - wish me luck, I'm no artist!

At least designing the hatch glass is something I should be able to do with no delays!



Here's a quick draft design for my hatch glass with the bevels. It's a bit hard to make out but it gives me my design idea - I'm quite impressed with it.

The lines will be done with leading and inside the leading will be coloured film to give the impression of leaded lights

Friday, 22 February 2013

More Prospective Boat Jobs

At the moment, we just have a piece of Perspex in our hatch, whereby we can open the hatch doors even on chilly days, having the Perspex in place so it stays warm inside!

The Perspex is a bit scratched now though and looks a bit shoddy - it doesn't do the new woodwork that Rob did for us any justice either! Rob re-fitted our hatch doors HERE

Basically, the perspex goes over the whole frame of the hatch as in the picture above (the pic is to show you the frame, not the Perspex as when I took that picture, I'd not put the hardware back on to keep the Perspex in place!

Anyway, my plan now is to replace the Perspex with a sheet of glass - approximately 62 x 55cm as the Perspex can scratch easily, even when cleaning it with a bit of window cleaner and kitchen roll!

I am then going to get some beveled glass decorations which you can then 'bond' to the glass to give a decorative effect. Something like this perhaps:

In one of my very first blog posts, I had mentioned how our new front doors were going to have the beveled glass decorations, but there wasn't time in the end and the boat builders didn't have the right equipment to apply the bevels using the special curing lights and bonding adhesives. However, I have found a company where I can buy the tools to do the job myself, so will have a go on the hatch glass to make a nice decorative, unique piece.

Here's a bit of a better look at how the bevels look:

You bond them to you your glass pane and then simply apply some leading to where the join of the bevel meets your pane of glass - don't they look pretty!?

Anyway, it will give a piece of glass in the hatch a real wow factor and will be great for summer! It will also be a lot cheaper than having a stained glass piece commissioned!

My only problem now, is that obviously glass is a lot more heavier and more fragile(!) than Perspex! This is how the Perspex is held in place at the moment:

Here are the fittings, at the top:

At the bottom:

The bottom fittings are fine I think, as the glass will just sit on those, but I need a solution for securing the glass at the top as the fittings used at the moment just swing over the top of the Perspex to keep it in place, but can move about quite easily. I wouldn't want a piece of glass at that size falling out!

Also to note, the glass won't have a wood frame all the way around, only some corner protectors ( so the corners don't get bashed and chipped when taking it in and out)

Any ideas, readers??

Thursday, 21 February 2013

I've Got A New Friend!

He's at the hatch whenever I open it and he walks a bit funny.... Maybe he has a bad knee like me?!

He even takes food from my hand, he's not afraid at all.

The approach:

Gonna get it:

It's one of the things I love about being on the boat - being able to feed ducks and other 'creatures' from the hatch!

It's absolutely freezing again today and I'm sure I've actually just spotted a few random snow flakes coming down!? It's not been any more than 2.5 degrees all day unfortunately! I was hoping the warmer weather we had earlier this week would continue as I have a new job to do...

The other day we tidied up outside and re-jigged a few of our plantpots around. We had one on the gas locker but it was all chipped and the design of the pot had come off during winter (I'm guessing it wasn't frost proof!).

Anyway, we repotted the plant into a larger pot which now lives outside our boat and did away with the old pot, deciding not to have anything on the gas locker as it's a bit of an inconvenience when needing to get gas bottles or the hose out etc

But this is what we're left with:

The gas locker is all scratched so needs sanding back and repainting. I think I'm going to paint it in a deep burgundy colour which we have elsewhere on the boat (it's also the same red colour as the hinges on the gas locker in the pic above!)

The area around the gas locker lid is also scratched so I'll attempt to do that too.We have some spare green paint leftover from when the front bulkhead needed repainting when we had the new doors put in so that will do for that!

I want to get it done ASAP though as it makes the boat look a right mess! For now, I will just have to wait until it is a little bit warmer!

I have to say I'm a bit nervous about putting paint on the boat as we have a lovely paint job everywhere else that has a mirror-like finish. I don't want to apply any paint and make it look a right mess, where you can see all the brush strokes etc!

There's some YouTube videos though on how to apply boat paint, so I will watch a few of those before attempting anything!
The key is the preparation so lots of sanding first me thinks!!

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Nothing Much Happening

Well the weather has returned to a bitterly 2 degrees all day! I knew it was all too good to be true!

The winds are easterly too and so it feels like its minus 1 apparently, but I do have to agree with that. It was so cold all day I've barely ventured outside feeling a bit miserable for it!

With it being overcast too, we've not had that much power through our 690w solar bank today either, so the engine was on early this morning. For the last few days we didn't have the engine on until around 5 or 6PM as the solar panels were charging the batteries all day and gave us plenty extra to allow us to use things without affecting the state of charge on the batteries. Bonus! I can't wait for more weather like this where we won't have to have the engine on at all!

So with nothing to do and it being cold out, we've mostly been watching the birds and the squirrel(!) on the bird feeder. We got a new seed bowl a few weeks back for it which we thought would result in the squirrel less likely to destroy it seeing as he can have free access to it:

It seems to be working! We know that we're not going to stop the squirrel coming for the food so we may as well stop buying locked feeders that he's just going to break to get into - besides, he has to eat too!

My next job on the boat is to start measuring up for the tiles for the bathroom - there's going to be plenty to blog about when that job starts!

It'll be exciting to document the changes in the bathroom too with photos as the work progresses and is then completed :)

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Edward Keeps Guard!

Today has been an amazing day. There was a heavy frost this morning and most of the canal was frozen over too but that quickly defrosted when the temperatures rose to over 13 degrees by lunchtime.

Its been that warm today that we've just been having a coffee outside the boat on the strip of land next to us and cannot believe we were sat outside and warmish in the sun in the middle of February! Just a shame the nights are still a bit cold!

So yes, today has mostly been an outdoor day, such as tidying up the pots outside etc with Eddie keeping watch over the boat all day...

Pawel also potted some garlic bulbs that he picked up from the garden centre yesterday:

And whilst we had some spare compost, we thought we'd sort out last years strawberry plants (that seem to be doing quite well for February!)

I remember last year when we got these strawberry plants. We were on a cruising holiday when it was really hot weather last March and found a country garden centre - just a tiny little place run by one woman.

Anyway, we picked up the strawberry plants then along with a blueberry bush and a few other plants. However, we got back to the boat and realised we'd got no compost so, as you do, we went to the woods near where we'd moored the boat and dug up loads of clay-like soil out of the ground (using our hands!!!) It wasn't the best and we had water logged strawberries for most of the year!

So at least the strawberries should be a bit better this Year now we've given them some fresh, decent compost!

Here's a picture of my dwarf daffodils as well (along with Pawel's garden owl!!? He loves his owl, he does!) which are now starting to flower - I hope the frosts won't kill the flowers off!

Nothing more to report, dinner later with a few glasses of wine and some TV.

We've found a new Guy Martin program on 4OD online which was originally on Channel 4 last year called "How Britain Worked" where he's involved in a few different restoration projects, so I think we'll probably sit and watch a few more episodes of that.


Monday, 18 February 2013

The Garden Centre!

The bread was an absolute failure - I'm not sure what went wrong to be honest! But if at first you don't succeed, try, try again!

After lunch we decided that seeing as Pawel was off, we should do something and decided to go to Brookside Garden Centre which is a short ride from us on the bus - we've never been before despite it only being 10 minutes away and thought with the weather looking a bit better, today was the day!

We knew it apparently had a "miniature railway" and a cafe, but were shocked when we arrived. It was a whole complex!

Here's the entrance:

I wonder if we can moor here:

The miniature railway is totally under-marketed on their website - it's so cute and amazing! There is even a railway platform with luggage left behind from mystery travellers, not to mention other old and long forgotten momentos :

A 'conductor' waving off the train!:

We really wanted to go on the mini train but both agreed we'd feel utterly ashamed as two grown men on it on a Monday afternoon!

Here's Pawel inside the 'waiting room' which is also covered in railway paraphernalia along with model trains to buy, toys and sweets:

Signage up on the ceiling:

The till:

Even Phil Collins has been for a visit - and describes the train as "the greatest little railway in Cheshire!"

Platform paraphernalia:

Coal for the train!

Along with the train and the coffee shop, not to mention of course, the garden centre, they also have a fish centre with plenty of tropical fish and aquariums for sale:

After looking at all the attractions, we then had a quick look around the actual garden centre, picking out a few more vegetable seeds and a mini greenhouse propagator which was only a fiver and means that I can sow my seeds in little pots now and get the seedlings going!

More Bread

Well I started a mix for a new loaf of bread yesterday using my own yeast that has the ascorbic acid already added.

Anyway, I decided to use a mix of 400g of wheat flour and 250g of rye flour, and I've just took it out of the oven now:

I'm not that impressed so far. It lookg good, it's just not a huge loaf and feels quite heavy so I have a feeling that its going to be a bit dough-y inside.

I think the problem is that I used too much rye flour. I've since found out that rye flour doesn't contain much of the gluten fibres that gives bread it's rise/texture. I looked at some rye bread recipes and most use a ratio of 5:1 wheat flour to rye and my ratio was more like 2:1 which could be where the problem lies...

I'm going to wait until its cooled a little and then I'll slice it to see what it looks like inside. If its more like cake or sponge, I'll chuck it!!

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Another Fantastic Day

It's been another fantastic day weather wise. We were up quite early this morning as Rob was due to arrive at 9AM and we know that, more often than not he's early!

Anyway, upon getting up I noticed how warm it was despite the stove having gone out overnight - the indoor thermometer was showing 22.5!! I opened all the blinds and noticed the sun was shining in through all the windows on one side of the boat (the way our boat is moored, the sun comes in through every window on one side first thing in the morning - east!) and it felt warm through the glass! So I think that's what contributed to the warmer temperature inside.

Here's a view from the breakfast bar this morning:

And out of the other side of the boat:

Anyway, we didn't bother relighting the fire and just got on with having a quick breakfast. Rob arrived spot on 9AM and we got down to what was going to happen with the bathroom.

There's so much to plan beforehand that to be honest, I can't even begin thinking about it, but here goes!


1. We are having the bathroom tiled in the following tiles that I've previously blogged about:

Only one upper oak lined wall will remain un-tiled and the rest will be done floor to ceiling!

We also found a tile in one of the Topps stores that we will have as an accent tile.

It's a striped design in bronze/gold/chocolate/cream about 60cm in length by 20cm in heigh which we'll have running lengthways at the bottom of the upper wall above the bath - just as a nice feature and to break up the monotony of the main tile design.

2. We're then having a new bath panel done in Sapele wood - the same wood as our doors and hatch are done in. Rob will do the bath panel in Sapele strips as well, rather than one big piece, so it will be similar looking to the hatch doors although just completed in vertical planks rather than in a 'herringbone' design.

3. New pipe work will be run off the existing pipes under our bath up the wall so we can have a separate shower over the bath with a shower screen fitted.

4. Rob will make a new vanity unit re-using parts of the old one to make a nice, fitted corner unit. This is what we have at the moment:

Ideally, it will look similar to one of these after:

We won't be having a granite top - too expensive, but again will be having a Sapele finished top to tie in with the bath panel and also a new window frame around one of the bathroom windows on the wall that won't be tiled that Rob will also do in Sapele.

5. Rob will also make a wall unit for the bathroom too, again using the door/mirror off our existing cabinet to go above the vanity unit - again the cupboard will be angled and fitted into the corner. Here's our existing wall cabinet:

Phew! That's about it I think!

So now I need to:
* Order tiles
* Order a shower fitting
* Get a new tap for the sink unit
* Find/order/get delivered a shower screen...

.....erm, I think I've forgotten things but they'll come back to me!

The work is due to start now in the second week of March because of issues that we discussed with Rob and also because he has another job on until then too.

I'm excited about it but dreading it too as I think it's going to be the messiest and most labour-intensive job we've had done on the boat to date!

Imagine the clean up needed after!?

Rob had left by around 9:45 and so we went into town for a coffee and to stock up on some food with a trip to our butchers, as always!

I also stocked up on a few different flours ready to give my Breadmaking a proper go. I have a mixed seed flour but also bought a nice rye flour today and whatever bread I will make - I'll probably use a half and half mix of both flours.

I'll let you know how it turns out tomorrow as I think I'm going to start the mix this evening, letting it rise over night in the fridge.