Sunday, 30 November 2014

Ulverston Dickensian Christmas Festival

Jan had been reading about an annual Dickensian Christmas Festival in Ulverston.  The town is located just outside the southern edge of the Lake District and as the festival was on today we decided to go.  However, rather than take the direct route we headed to Cockermouth and then went down the western coastline to Barrow in Furness before turning north to Ulverston.  Barrow in Furness is actually quite a large centre.

This is the 16th year that Ulverston has held the festival and it looks like it’s growing in popularity.  We’ve been rather lucky with our weather whilst in Cumbria with both days being clear and fine.  The Ulverston locals get into the swing of the festival with many of them dressing up for the occasion.  I suspect it’s also a requirement for the stall holders.

Hot mulled wine was available. Guaranteed to put a smile on your face!

No well dressed man should be seen in public without his pink flamingo!

He was a stall holder.

Basket weavers

Interesting shaped cheeses

The music budget must have been small because there was a one man woman band.

The drum on her back was beaten by her right foot and she had a tambourine on her left ankle.  Horn worked by her right elbow and horn from her mouth.

Another group of musicians were playing at the opposite end of the festival.  I hadn’t previously seen the musical instrument being played by the man.  What is it?

I enjoyed the writing above the pharmacist’s windows

There were plenty of food stalls.  Daniel and I started to get hungry.  Jan sensibly decided not to try the large German sausages smothered in mustard sauce.

Not my best decision!

Tomorrow is our last day in Cumbria.  Waiouru and the canals are calling us back!

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Cumbria

We have slipped away from canal life for a few days, renting a car and heading to Keswick in the Lake District.  Jan found a lovely cottage on the internet located very close to the heart of the town.

Today Daniel (youngest son) and I went for a local walk.  I had examined the Open Street Map before we arrived and identified a potential walking route to the north of Keswick.  It was within walking distance of our accommodation.  The route was approximately 18km in length.

This isn’t an unusual distance for me but I should have paid more attention to the contour lines.

The closer together those squiggly thin brown lines; the steeper the climb.  The objective was to walk from Keswick to the base of ‘Carl Slide’ (730m) and then up to the top.  From there we would traverse around to ‘Skiddaw’ (900m) and then around to ‘Skiddaw Little Man’ (840m).

However before we started up the spur line towards Carl Slide we passed this interesting house.

The first half of the climb was particularly difficult and I rapidly realised the lack of hill work over the last three years had resulted in a serious decline in my level of fitness.

Carl Slide is the second hill from the left.  Skiddaw is the high ground in the middle and Skiddaw Little Man is to the right.

We had the path leading up to Carl Slide to ourselves, however we could see tiny figures on the skyline where walkers were heading towards Skiddaw Little Man.  It seemed so much higher (and it was!). Eventually we reached Carl Slide.

I asked you to stand in the photo… Not pose!  Keswick and Derwent Water.

Another very steep climb up to the ridgeline leading to Skiddaw.  By now my thigh muscles were burning.  Daniel was still looking fresh!  We traversed from Skiddaw to Skiddaw Little Man.  By now the route was rather well populated with walkers.  They must have taken the easy way to the top!

Looking back to Skiddaw from Skiddaw Little Man

From here is was a long downhill walk.  It wasn’t all that steep, but the walk was long which meant my quads got a real workout.

The ridge leading up to Carl Slide

We started to get buzzed by a very large mozzie.

You wouldn’t catch me up in one of these things.  Being held 1000 metres in the air by a lawn mower engine just doesn’t appeal.  Further around some large human bats were loitering.

Paragliding joins hot air ballooning on my list of not to do activities.  Age is making me extra cautious. Smile

Some great views to the west from the ridge below Skiddaw Little Man.

Two thirds the way down off the top and there were further good views to the west.  This time it was possible to make out the lime washed cottages.

It was then a matter of walking back across the fields (using the footpath) to reach Keswick.  Between us and the cottage was the River Greta.  Fortunately the OSM showed a footbridge.

River Greta

Meanwhile back at Corner Cottage Jan had an interesting job giving the cottage washing machine a good thrashing.  She had even found the Keswick Laundrette and dried the first two loads.  As you would expect, she was eagerly expecting our sweaty walking clothes.  Two more loads through the machine and we all wandered down the the laundrette where we watched the latest soap on the round screen.  Well Jan watched the program whilst Daniel and I wandered hobbled over to the outdoor clothing shops to do some browsing.

We are both going to sleep well tonight!

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Very Briefly

This is a very short post because we are busy entertaining a special guest.

I mentioned modifying the TV antenna in the dark last night in order to get a signal.  I took a photo this morning to show you what it now looks like.

The paint roller extending pole is proving to be quite a success.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Playing with my dongle, and extending the length

Oh dear, your mind has gone into overdrive.  It’s certainly not THAT!  I’d better change the subject and allow you to recover.

Tonight Jan cooked a casserole containing NZ lamb and kidney.  She had purchased it from Tesco in two small sealed plastic bags.  I must digress and mention the casserole and meat was delicious.  Back to the subject; you might think the meat is packed in these small plastic bags back in NZ.  But I doubt it! My first trip to the UK was with my parents in 1957 when my father was transfered to London.  At that time you could purchase small blocks of NZ cheese and butter in the the UK which were wrapped in greaseproof paper.  We travelled to the UK by sea.  Air travel was expensive in the 50’s.  I remember looking over the side of our cargo/passenger ship when we were docked in Panama.  Some cargo was being transhipped and very large blocks of NZ butter had been lifted from the refrigerated hold onto the wharf.  It certainly wasn’t in small greaseproof blocks.  I can vividly recall some of the local dogs wandering up to the blocks of butter and cocking their legs.  I guess it added to the flavour!  My assumption is nearly all this produce is shipped in bulk and repackaged in the UK before being distributed.  So now you know why your foreign butter has that special tang.

Today I extracted the can bus dongle out of the cupboard and connected it to the laptop.

The dongle lives behind the switchboard

It plugs into the laptop usb port

I can then load the software and analyse or change the boat 12v systems.

Today I wanted to change a switch allocation in the bedroom.  Rather than operate the floor lights I wanted the switch to control the ceiling lights.  In a conventional system I’d have to physically change the wiring.  But with the can bus system it only requires the software to be changed and then sent to the boat.  It will probably be the last change to the system because the switch labels should be available tomorrow.

Now for the length matter.  You may recall an earlier post where I mentioned Jan had to stand in the rear right corner of the boat for the TV to pick up a signal.  We’ve winded the boat which meant the problem solution was now on my side.  I (correctly) guessed the TV antenna didn’t have sufficient height.  When the boat listed it pointed the antenna further skyward which is why we received a clear signal.   The solution was to extend the mast height.  But the coaxial cable wasn’t long enough.  Today I made up a new length of coaxial cable twice as long as the original.  After fitting the new cable and extending the pole we now have a good signal without me having to stand at the back of the boat with one arm in the air.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Quiet day and start of a sad tale

Another frost this morning,but not as severe as yesterday.  We decided to fill the water tank and wind Waiouru so we cruised down to Hillmorton and used the very slooow tap to fill up the tank.  It was such a slow tap that we managed to have a leisurely lunch and rest whilst it filled.  I’m still very annoyed with the new hose.  It might state “reinforced” on the label but it kinked after the first use and has now split in one spot <grrrr>.  We winded below the locks and slowly made our way back to Rugby. 

Later in the afternoon I plugged the laptop into the boat canbus system and modified the configuration of the switches in the bedroom.  The boat surveyor who assisted us achieve the RCD requirements suggested I label the switches where there was more than one switch co-located.  We have a 6 gang switch beside the bed and a 3 gang switch at the foot of it.  There’s also a 2 gang switch in the bathroom.  Today I produced a scaled labelling template for each switch and then walked into Rugby to arrange for them to be manufactured.  Jan has suggested the labelling plates have a brushed aluminium finish with black lettering.  This has now all been arranged and they should be available for collection in two days.

Now for the sad tale.

In May 2011 we arrived in the UK to discover we had been seriously let down by our boat fitter.  We were expecting to move onto our finished boat.  Instead we found ourselves homeless in a country where we had no family or friends. Fortunately for us a couple of complete strangers came to our assistance.  These generous people are now firm friends.  One couple that offered practical assistance were Peter and Margaret, who allowed us to live on their narrow boat whilst we attempted to sort ourselves out.

At the beginning of this year Peter contacted me and told me a terrible story about their boat (nb Kelly-Louise).  Peter has now commenced writing a series of blog posts explaining what happened.

If you own a boater or are considering buying/building then I strongly recommend you read Peter’s posts.  There are many lessons to be learned from their tragic experience.  I wont write any more as it’s Peter and Margaret’s story.

<blog link here>

Monday, 24 November 2014

First Frost and a walk to Dunchurch

We awoke to a dark and very cold morning.  When Jan looked out the side hatch everything was white with frost.  It was too dark to take a photo so we waited 30 minutes before taking the following snaps.

Waiouru was still covered in frost when I headed out for my 18km walk.  The only part of the boat where it had melted was around the mushroom vents where the heat from the boat escapes.  I was rather pleased to see frost on the remainder of the boat as it confirms how well the insulation is working.

A slight surprise when I went to wipe the condensation off the inside of the pram cover…… It was ice!

As the weather forecast was for a fine day I had planned a walk to the south-west of Rugby.  It’s the only direction I haven’t walked in the local area. I had identified there was a 300 yard strip of public footpath at the far end of the route which hadn’t been marked on the OSM.  My objective was to walk this path and record the data on the gps for uploading.

In the end I discovered a second short length of footpath which wasn’t on the OSM. 

Both recorded traces have now been uploaded.  Actually I was slightly disappointed to read today that a number of paid navigation applications for Apple and Android are using the OSM data.  This mapping data is collected by volunteers and it niggled me that they should charge for information made free in the public domain.  There are a small number of other cartographers who use the OSM data to produce specialist maps and charge nothing.

There are a few thatched rooves around Dunchurch.

I took this photo because I was fascinated by the thickness of the thatch and the walls along with the very small windows.  My guess is the home is probably very warm.

We’ve been through Dunchurch by car and bus but this has been the first time I’ve had the opportunity to walk around the village green.  Love the stocks.  Pity they are no longer used!

The route back to the boat took me past a field of long necked sheep.  I’ve eaten these whilst In Peru.  If I recall correctly they were slightly more tasty than the local guinea pigs.

The rich eat Alpaca and the poor eat guinea pig!

Could Bob Geldof have had a haircut?

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Exhausted

The TV signal was pixelated except when Jan stood in the far left corner of the boat with her right arm in the air.  Fortunately she managed to last two 40 minute halves.  I suspect the only reason the All Blacks beat Wales is because of their 16th man… Me!  I finished the game in a pool of sweat and felt every tackle.  Both Jan and I are rather shattered and will sleep well tonight! 

Ray on Ferndale……… loser!  Smile  You’re a brave foolish man walking around Auckland wearing a Wales jersey.

The damned kiwi team had me writhing on the bed at 3/4 time when Wales was a point in the lead.  Great to see the All Blacks rise to the challenge and break a few Welsh hearts.  However it wasn’t a great game.  I just wish the All Blacks hadn’t kicked so many times!

Back to more mundane matters.  The new laptop 12V power brick is working well and today we placed another eBay order for a 12V USB charger plug.  Again to be delivered to Argos. 

I had an urge to do a few maintenance jobs on the exterior of Waiouru but found if I sat down they passed.  Then the rain came.  Good timing!  I should really do some cleaning in the cratch….. tomorrow.

Message from the writer

Normal service will resume after the rugby!

Thursday, 20 November 2014

eBay comes through

Sorry, this is a nerdy post.

We walked to Rugby this morning to buy a few items from the 99p and Poundland shops.  Whilst in the mall I went into Argos and asked about the eBay collection process.  The manager informed me that when the item is received in the shop eBay automatically sends the recipient an email with a collection reference code.

After making our purchases we wandered back to Brownsover for a slightly late lunch on Waiouru. I’d only just settled down to eat when an email arrived from eBay advising the Dc – Dc converter was available for collection at Argos.  Back into town I went.

This photo provides an indication of the size of the converter compared against my Leatherman

The following is a description of how I assembled the DC to DC step up converter.

I didn’t want the converter to rattle around inside the box.  Better to have it secured.  Rather than attempt to secure it inside the box I decided to mount it on the underside of the lid.

The machine screws and nuts were surplus to another small task completed last year and I don’t like to throw things away in case they are needed at some future date.  Yes… I’m a hoarder!  You might be able to see that each screw has two nuts on the bottom.  The purpose of the second nut is to act as a spacer thus enabling air to circulate under the converter printer circuit board.  You might have also noted that they are closer to one end than the other.  The reason for this will become apparent.

Washers were placed on top of the nuts and the converter fitted.  Another set of washers and nuts were then added to secure the converter to the lid.

The reason for the machine screws being offset is now apparent.  Additional room is required at the right end to allow for the cables being fitted into the terminals.  There is a very small brass screw at the opposite end (left arrow) The output voltage can be adjusted using a small jewellers screwdriver (99p shop).  The converter has two large heat sinks (the black components with fins).  Depending upon the required increase in voltage and the load (amps) the converter may generate significant heat.  This needs to be dissipated.

I marked a matrix on two sides of the box. and then drilled a series of holes to improve air circulation and dissipate any heat.

The input and output cable connections were then made and cable ties tightened on each cable.

The purpose of the cable tie is to reduce the possibility of the cable being ripped out of the terminals.  The last step was to connect the output plug to my multimeter and adjust the output voltage to 19.2V which is the required voltage for the laptop.

The lid was then screwed onto the base to complete the project.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Two walks and a project

This morning Jan and I walked to Range, Maplin and Tesco.  The purchase from Maplin was a small plastic box for a planned project.  Range supplied a number of household items and whilst Jan was wandering around I bumped into Angie & Dave the crew of nb Lady Esther.  Angie is the clever lady who crochets mooring pin covers from Sainsbury’s plastic shopping bags.  A great way to recycle them.  We have two of her mooring pin covers and always use them when moored on pins.  After a brief chat (toilets not discussed) I had to dash off to look for the chief financial controller.  Hopefully we’ll catch up with Dave & Angie before leaving the area.

On the way back to Waiouru we stopped at Tesco for the bulk supplies.  A box of milk and several of cola (both on special).  I’m not sure how long this cheap shopping trolley is going to last with the amount of weight she has to carry back to the boat.  The wheels are starting to get slightly wobbly!

In the afternoon I walked up to the Aldi at Central Park for the items we like, but only they stock.

Back at Waiouru I rummaged through the storage lockers looking for components to use on the latest project.  Two years ago I made a 12V power supply for the laptop.  It converted 12V to 19.2V which enabled me to recharge the laptop without running the inverter.  When we purchased the 28” TV I ensured it had an external power converter.  The TV has a 240V AC input but actually runs on 14V DC.  So I modified the laptop converter and used it to run the TV.  Now I need another voltage converter for the laptop.  You can purchase them for approximately £30+ but I want to do it cheaper.

The plastic box from Maplin cost £4 and will contain the circuit board and electronic components.  I’m going to use the 12V extension lead we had previously purchased to operate the map gps on the back of the boat.  It’s now surplus because I fitted a 12V water resistant socket in the semi trad area.  I also have a surplus lead and power plug for the laptop.

£4 of components

I could make the converter but it’s actually cheaper to purchase one off eBay.  The manufacturer in China can sell them for approx £2.50 including free postage.  Unfortunately we don’t have a postal address.  However youngest son came to my rescue pointing out eBay has a “click & collect” option where the purchased item can be collected from Argos.

This is the DC – DC converter which we are now waiting to be received by Argos.

When it arrives I’ll probably write a short description on how I assembled the converter.