Monday, 29 May 2017

NET framework Problem

Well there has been a slight delay with the blog posts because Open Live Writer stopped working.  I tried reinstalling it without success and eventually resorted to completely erasing it off the laptop.  That didn’t work so I also searched the Registry removing any entries.  Sadly, when I reinstalled OLW it would only appear on the screen for a millisecond before disappearing.  Finally, tonight I worked out the problem.  OLW was incompatible with my version of Microsoft NET Framework.  Once I’d updated NET Framework OLW loaded without any issues (I hope).

Today I contacted Telstra to arrange for the house phone line to be activated.  The lovely young lady in the Philippines call centre wanted to upsell me an expensive bundled plan but I pleaded retiree poverty and managed to work her down to the basic plan.  Once we get our pensioners concession card I’ll get the cost down even further.

This morning my sister and husband offered to take us to Ellenbrook.  This is a relatively new suburb inland from the Indian Ocean and adjacent to the international Vines Golf Course.  The suburb didn’t exist when we were living in Perth 20 years ago.  Their son (our nephew) has recently built a home in the area and it was a good opportunity to have a look around. 

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Our nephew’s new house.  5kW solar array on the roof and a swimming pool at the rear.

The size of residential blocks of land has certainly compressed since I was a lad.  Our house had a large back yard with plenty of room for two young boys to play along with room for a veg garden.  The smallest blocks of land in Ellenbrook were approx 150m2 and our nephew’s house is on 550m2.  Many of the blocks are 330-350m2.  Build a sandard sized residential house on one of those and you can shake hands with your neighbour out any of the windows.  We’re looking for something larger, around 1000-1500m2.  They exist, but are scarce and obviously cost more.  My bucket list requires a workshop and Jan’s list includes a swimming pool so I was taken to look at a couple of 1400m2 blocks.  We want one that has a north facing elevation to ensure there will be maximum sun for the solar array (on the bucket list).

This next block is just under 1500m2 and on a corner, so only neighbours on two sides.  However it’s on what might become a busy corner and might be why it hasn’t already sold.  The asking price has dropped $30,000

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The next block was in a new subdivision (Annie’s Landing).  The block is a similar size and only has a neighbour on one side.  The other two sides are adjacent to parklands and a cycleway.

IMG_1672IMG_1673 As you can see, Perth is built on sand!

Hi Jo,  It seems strange to be in a standard sized 3 bedroom house after six years in a steel tube.  No doubt it will fill up when our Australian and UK possessions arrive.

Halfie Aldi is across most of Australia and are certainly providing stiff competition to the “Big Two” (Coles and Woolworths).  My sister had never been into an Aldi and commented about the lower prices.  We might have a convert!  Jan thought the range of products was smaller than the UK.

Marilyn there is a possible reunion in Wellington next March.  If it goes ahead I may just be able to arrange a meeting.

Geoff I still find your comments in my Blogger spam box.  Google must hate your ISP!

I apologise to our readers who have left comments which were delayed in being published.  For some reason Google didn’t send me the advisory email.  We’ve been rather busy and I’ve only just caught up with blog maintenance.  Who said retirement was relaxing   Smile

Saturday, 27 May 2017

As one is done another appears

It seems that as we solve one issue another appears.  An example of this would be our internet connection.  We’re currently using the small amount of data on our mobile phone but submitted a request for an ADSL connection to the house three days ago.  At the time we were informed the phone line to the house was active.  Today the ADSL provider sent us a text message telling us we were connected.  But we don’t have a connection.  It appears the telephone line may not be active!  The house has been unoccupied for several months so today we borrowed a stepladder to clean all the light fittings and ceiling mounted air conditioning outlets.  Jan also managed to move some money but we have to be careful as we currently only have one working card and can’t afford to have a machine swallow it!

My sister kindly let us use her car today which enabled us to visit the nearest Aldi for a large restock of the pantry.  Food spoils much quicker here which is why we need a big fridge.  Jan also has to remember not to throw stale bred out the window.  There are no local ducks!

I went for a local walk and took a few photos to show our UK readers what a typical Perth suburb looks like.

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Wide suburban roads, palm trees and blue sky.  It’s winter and the locals think it’s cold.  I’m wearing a Tshirt and shorts!

Jan thinks she might have found a ‘back door’ way to get a credit card.  Without one we can’t hire a car and Australian public transport is nothing like England’s.

There was a moment of nostalgia today whilst Jan was watching TV.  There was a scene involving  narrowboats and living on the Cut.

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Early Start

Jetlag is still with us.  I awoke at 2.30am and never managed to get back to sleep.  Dawn was coming up when I wandered outside to take a few photos of our temporary home.  You will see in the following photos that we are struggling for room.

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Typical 3 bedroom West Australian bungalow

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West Australians are obsessive about their lawns.  My brother-in-law has been mowing these with an expensive reel mower to give them a bowling green finish.  When he heard I intended to cut the lawns with a rotary mower he promptly informed us he would continue to come around and mow them fortnightly (my little strategy has worked). 

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The formal lounge room

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Galley Kitchen

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Laundry

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Casual Room.  We are going to spend most of our time in here

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Pergola and backyard.

Full sized oven, double fridge, washing machine and large TV.  Plenty of gas and electricity with unlimited hot water.  We should manage until our effects arrive.

Hopefully the internet will be connected either tomorrow or Monday.  The electricity is now in our name, which means we will have an invoice with our name on it and this address.  That will enable us to apply for credit cars, seniors cards, etc.  We can’t hire a car without a credit card so plenty of exercise at the moment walking to the nearest supermarket!

Today our lovely niece kindly drove me to the car dealership which enabled me to do an initial check on available vehicles.  Despite having told me they had what I was looking for in stock…… they didn’t! <grrrr>.  Looks like there might be a two week wait for more stock to arrive.

Jan has been busy cleaning (the house has been empty for several months) and even managed to squeeze in some baking.

ABNB have been in contact to advise there have been a number of viewings of Waiouru.

Both of us were saddened to see the Manchester bombing on TV.  So many unnecessary and pointless deaths.  When can we expect to see the senior figures in ISIS blow themselves up to make a statement about their beliefs, rather than sending disillusioned and indoctrinated cannon fodder?  They will not win!

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Long Day

The location of the Travelodge adjacent to Rugby Railway Station meant we had an early start to our departure day.  After breakfast we repacked and weighed our bags confirming the total weight as 37kg.  Although it’s a very short walk to the station, I was pleased we had our cheap folding luggage trolley.  Without it would have involved multiple trips.  Of course I had purchased cheap tickets which meant we were on the slow train.  But then that made it all the more nostalgic.  Watford Gap, Buckby Locks, Whilton Marina, Weedon, Wolverton, Milton Keynes, Leighton Buzzard, Grove Lock, Berkhampstead,etc, etc.  Jan needed to get out a tissue and wipe her eyes.  In the second half of the journey we may have seen nb Oleanna, but unfortunately no sign of Mick & Pip as we raced past.

Our cheap luggage trolley suffered a hernia at Euston Station when I dragged it over the gap between the carriage and platform.  Heath Robinson repairs enabled us to use it for the remainder of the journey to Heathrow.  Jan wasn’t keen on experiencing the claustrophobic effect of the Tube so we took a taxi from Euston to Paddington where we then caught the Airport Express to Terminal 2.  Our flight departure time was 8.50pm which meant we had eight hours to fill in at Heathrow.  The plan of inquiring about an upgrade failed when we realised the check-in was self service so we resigned ourselves to the thought of 12 hours in cattle class!   There seemed little point in waiting around outside the secure zone and we went through security.  Immigration was a non event being self-service.

Most airports are only a slight variation on a standard theme so I wont write much about Terminal 2.  Jan bought a few items, but mostly we just sat around waiting.  I had attempted to book good seats two weeks ago only to discover most of them were blanked out leaving the impression the aircraft was going to be full.  Actually I couldn’t get us seated together.  However I made a second attempt whilst at the Travelodge and did managed to reserve two co-located seats.  It was a pleasant surprise to discover the third seat in our row of 3 was going to be unoccupied.  We ended up with an empty seat between us… Result!  However if I had booked seats further towards the rear we might have scored a row each as there were plenty of vacant seats.

I might have managed six hours sleep during the 13 hour flight to Singapore and Jan got slightly less.  But any sleep is better than none so I’m not complaining.  The in-flight food was OK which shouldn’t be surprising as we were flying with Singapore Airlines.  It was only a one hour stop at Singapore, which didn’t particularly bother either of us.  We once lived there for two years and have been through Changi Airport on numerous occasions.  I was determined not to sleep during the 5 hour flight to Perth.  This would assist my body to adjust to the new time zone and as our arrival was scheduled for midnight I wanted to sleep after we arrived and hopefully until dawn.  There we no issues transiting through arrivals.  Probably because Jan was keen to report she was carrying confectionery.  The Ag & Fish lady just waved us through.  My sister and brother-in-law Paul had kindly agreed to collect us from the airport.  It is particularly good of Paul to come as he had a 5.30am start that same morning.  They delivered us to our accommodation by 1am and by 2am we were showered and in bed.  The subsequent four hours sleep was most welcome.  I’ll write more when we get better internet.

Saturday, 20 May 2017

A Couple of Solutions

We were rather annoyed when a text message was received from the courier company collecting our unaccompanied boxes advising collection would be between 7.30am and 6pm.  That’s not the advice we received from Pickfords who told us it would be sometime between midday and 6pm.  Eventually the courier arrived at 3pm grumbling about the number of boxes.  Things improved slightly when our son did all the carrying out to the vehicle.  Both of us then appreciated the irony that after six years in the UK we are back to living out of three bags.  Actually the 3rd bag is so empty we spent a full day shopping for more shoes and clothing.   I then did a test pack and weigh.  Our three bags collectively weigh 37kg, so we are well under our allowance of 60kg.

The second irony is we are now in the Travelodge at Rugby for our last night in the UK.  We’re actually in the room opposite the one when we arrived here back in May 2011.

Without the ability to prepare and cook our fresh food we’ve been living on processed food for the last few days.  I dare say we now have more preservative than King Tutankhamun.

So much for the boring stuff.  Now for a couple of suggestions some readers might find interesting.

The laptop keyboard is starting to play up yet again and I don’t have any tools to pull it apart and fiddle fix it.  That will have to wait.  However I have an interim solution.  We are going to need a portable wireless keyboard for the planned media server system (on the bucket list) so today I managed to buy a Logitech wireless keyboard on special.   It has a usb dongle that plugs into the laptop similar to the mouse.  Thus far it’s doing a good job of being an alternative to the laptop keyboard.

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I think you will have realised I’m becoming paranoid about protecting our internet privacy.  Anyone using the internet is probably using a browser.  And almost every browser is “free”!  Of course the company that supplies the browser earns money by selling your browsing history and other information you give them.  Google Chrome is an excellent browser but Google does collect huge amounts of data from users.  So I was very pleased to discover a new browser that looks almost exactly like Chrome and appears to be just as effective.  It’s Epic.  The browser is currently only available for Windows and iOS but an Android version is coming.  Epic claims to protect users against the majority of tracking and data mining. 

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Busy Day

It’s been all go today. But first we must thank readers for their comments.  Quaysider, of course Jan is taking all her tools back to Oz. She particularly likes the cable crimpers and believes the bright yellow handles will contrast nicely with her pink concrete mixer!

I found our old baggage scales and did a test weigh on my bag.  Only 8kg and we each have an allowance of 30kg.  Perhaps we can fit in more shopping?  The last of the baggage returning by sea was packed and the boxes sealed and labelled.  We accepted the lowest quote (Pickford) and completed all the documentation which has now been emailed to them. Payment was made in full and the boxes will be collected tomorrow.

This morning I decided on a significant change.  For the last five years I’ve been using an electric razor.  I don’t mind a morning wash in cold water but the soap and stubble won’t wash out of the razor if cold water Is used.  Five years out in the weather has resulted in a brown, wind burnt, craggy and leathery face.  That’s Jan’s; mine is worse.  Yesterday I bought a £2 safety razor in Tesco.  It had one of those security tags attached!  I didn’t think a £2 razor was that attractive.  There’s no point in buying aerosol shaving foam as they either take it off you at the airport or it explodes in your case during the flight (don’t ask how I know). So for the first time in 5 years I blade shaved.  The sharp blades proved to be very effective at removing the bumps, pimples and other irregularities leaving behind a smooth pink surface.  Well actually it was more blood red.  Imagine my surprise when I looked beyond the dotted red jowls to see George Clooney. I received some interesting looks as we passed through the hotel lobby with my face dotted in pieces of toilet paper.   I put Norman Gunston to shame.  

We’ve received several emails from ABNB regarding Waiouru. They have valued her at £85,000 which is exactly the same figure we had decided upon.  There are a couple more steps we have to complete before she appears on the ABNB website. Hopefully that will be done by the weekend.

A different route back to the Novotel today.  Suddenly we knew where we were…… beside the Bridgewater Canal and very close to the Duke’s mine entrance.  I might try and fit in a local walk to get another canal “fix”.

We also researched buying rental car insurance prior to leaving the UK.  The annual premium in the UK will only buy the equivalent of 3 weeks coverage in Australia.  However the fine print states it can only be purchased by UK residents.  The entire rental idea became redundant when I realised in Australia a credit card is required to rent a car, and we don’t have one (yet).   

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

The joy of arranging shipping

It has been an interesting couple of days attempting to organise the movement of our unaccompanied baggage to Australia.  Every removalist website appears to offer an online quote but after having provided all your contact details things start getting messy.  My assumption is they are ”data mining” in an effort to maintain contact with potential customers and then ”upsell”.  Our approach has been to select and contact three by phone where we have some semblance of control with the process.  The best quote is just over £470 and the worst £1500. Then comes the “upselling” (collection, packaging, two levels of insurance, storage, etc etc).  Having overcome (ignored) all the upselling I discovered in the fine print that no box could weigh more than 70kg and there was a £30 surcharge on every box weighing more than 30kg.  That resulted in me having to remove some freight from our two large boxes and add another two boxes to the consignment. This (of course) increased the price.

The shippers insurance cost looked high at 3.5% of the consignment value for total loss and 5.5% if damage is included.  Going through an insurance broker will probably cost us around 1%.

As mentioned yesterday, the suitcase we bought with us six years ago went to suitcase heaven when we moved onto Waiouru.   It was a very sturdy case that had made numerous international trips.  However it wasn’t until we were planning our move to the UK in 2011 that I first weighed it empty.  You might imagine my surprise when I discovered the empty suitcase weighed 7kg.  33% of our 20kg luggage entitlement was taken up by the case!  Back in 1981 we bought a small collapsible luggage trolley whilst living in Singapore and used it to carry our bags back to New Zealand.  It wasn’t used again and on each successive house move I considered dumping it.  But I’m loathed to get rid of anything that might prove to be useful.   29 years later I rubbed the rust off it and we used the trolley to transport our valises from Aust to England.  Well there was no room for it on Waiouru so the Biffa bins got fed.  Now we’re in the situation of having three valises to transport by rail down to London and then Heathrow.  That 25 year old collapsible trolley would be useful.  I did a quick internet search and found the same trolley was available at Go Outdoors for £14.99 and I wanted to buy one.  However Jan had been doing her own research (Farcebook) and read they were available on special at B&M for just under £6.  So today we made a trip to the nearest B&M.

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It might even make the trip all the way back to Australia and live another 25 years! Smile

Whilst shopping we visited M&S.  My jeans have been falling down. I’ve been kidding myself that I’ve lost weight, whereas the truth is they were always at least one size too large.  As I can no longer show a scruffy boater indifference to the wider community I’ve invested in a pair of jeans that don’t have the tendency to sneakily attempt to visit Antarctica whilst I’m in a public place. 

We arrived back in our hotel room to discover the toilet wouldn’t flush.  Either we called maintenance or fixed it ourselves.  Boater know quite a bit about toilets so it was only a matter of ripping the top off the cistern and making a few simple repairs!

Monday, 15 May 2017

Unlimited Hot Water

Second night away from Waiouru and the bed no longer rocks or has a list. 

The major task today was to complete packing the boxes which will return to Australia by sea.  We had previously decided we would keep the Kipor generator rather than sell it.  It will fit in one of the larger cardboard tea chests, but I was concerned the vertical weight might result in the base of the box collapsing, so we drove to a timber merchant this morning and purchased some 3.6mm thick plywood which I then cut to fit in the base of the box.  That was followed by more corrugated cardboard and bubble wrap which will hopefully act as a cushion.  More cardboard and plywood was then packed around the sides and top of the Kipor before taping it all with duct tape.

I’d originally estimated we would need 7 tea chest but then panicked reconsidered and bought an additional 10.  In the end my ‘tight packing’ of the boxes resulted in us using 8 boxes with a further two being ripped up for use as packing.  Squeezing everything into a 6ft diameter steel tube for five years must have been of some assistance.  I was going to take a photo but then thought our readers my be overcome with emotion looking at a pile of brown cardboard boxes.  The remainder of the day was spent phoning around removalists for quotes. 

We drove back to our accommodation and i noticed I’m already starting to adjust to life faster than 4 mph.  English drivers are SO courteous.  I will need to be particularly alert when we return to Australia where it’s the law of the jungle on the roads!  The shipping inventory has now be produced and we have just under 1½ cubic metres of boxes to move.

One current luxury is the unlimited 240v electricity, internet and hot water available in our accommodation.  Long, hot showers…. bliss!  I’m a bit pink and wrinkly at the moment

In May 2011 we arrived in the UK with a suitcase and two vinyl valises.  There was no room on the boat for the suitcase so that “disappeared” years ago leaving us with the valises.   Our flight hold allowance is 60kg which far exceeds the capacity of the two valises.  Looks like we will be buying a third and do more shopping.  Use it or lose it!

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Blog posts will continue

We want to assure all our readers that the blog will continue.  The banner and name might alter slightly sometime in the next couple of months as it will no longer be about life on NB Waiouru.  But we are slightly addicted to blogging so it will continue.  It will mostly be about my bucket list, which is ever expanding.  Currently it comprises:

  • Build a base for our new king size waterbed.
  • Sell our house and build another
  • Jan wants a swimming pool and a scullery
  • Tom wants a solar array and large workshop
  • Get the new house electrically “off grid” by building a large lithium battery using old laptop batteries.
  • Buy a 4x4 and modify it for outback Australian expeditions
  • Build a rugged outback camper trailer to carry supplies
  • Outback expeditions through the following deserts.  Great Victorian Desert, Gibson Desert, Little Sandy Desert, Great Sandy Desert, Tanami Desert, Simpson Desert, Strzelecki Desert.Sturt Stony Desert.  This should take me across Australia through the middle and back.
  • Visit Canada and China

So back to the here and now.  We spent last night in the Day’s Inn at Watford Gap Services.  I just had to get a canal “fix” and crossed the M1 to reach the Leicester Branch of the Grand Union.

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It was a very restless night with both of us missing our crossover bed.  The room was hot and the duvet thick.  I swear the room had a list to starboard and rocked!  This morning we headed north on the M1 and then M6 reaching our son’s house around midday.  The afternoon was spent packing cardboard tea chests.  I’ve been doing the physical packing whilst Jan is the scribe documenting the inventory.  It’s a ‘tight pack’ as we don’t want to pay to ship English air to Australia.  The task is now 90% complete.  Hopefully we will be asking for quotation tomorrow evening.

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Tears

As you have probably guessed the lack of blog updates means we’ve returned to Crick.  The internet was more off than on which meant only the odd email was received.  There was a hell of a racket when we arrived with the Biffa bins bouncing, rattling and jostling each other in anticipation of being fed.  At least two of them are likely to now be suffering from clogged arteries!

The second task was to collect our rental car from Enterprise.  We’d requested to be collected as told 8.30 – 9.30am.  They open at 8.30 so we didn’t leave Waiouru for the collection point until 8.40.  No sign of the car at 9.00.  Nor at 9.30.  Jan was starting to get both concerned and tired.  Then we thought the ride had arrived.

20170511_094050Apparently not!  The vehicle arrived just after 10am.  The lovely young lady from Enterprise was quite surprised at the collection time we’d been given informing us they usually collect 9.30-10.30.  The rest of the hire process was very quick and we were heading south by 10.30.  The plan was to visit our postal address and collect the last of our snail mail. 

You might think that after years on a boat the speed of the traffic might be slightly overwhelming.  That wasn’t the case as we were behind two ‘Westies’ where the vehicles didn’t have a suitable stern button.

The next day we packed everything on the boat that we’re taking back with us.  The rest will belong to the new owners.  With everything leaving the boat now in supermarket shopping bags Jan started the final interior clean under my watchful eyes.  Readers I love work…… and can watch it for hours!  From time to time I made helpful suggestions, which I know were appreciated.

After washing and polishing the exterior of the boat twice in the last month I was rather peeved when we had strong rain and wind last night.  This morning the roof was covered in leaves and twigs.  Furthermore every bird in England must have been roosting in the overhead tree immediately prior to the storm.  When they took flight the majority of them decided to do a pre-departure pump-out.  Moreover they had previously dined on a mixture of concrete and construction glue.  This morning I ended up scrubbing the roof to remove the droppings.Sad smile

Whilst Jan did the final interior clean I packed all the bags into the vehicle.  Hiring a mid sized MPV was a good decision because it has been filled to the Plimsoll Line. 

At 10.30 we handed the keys over to ABNB and spent a further 5 minutes thinking of things to tell them in a subconscious move to avoid leaving our beloved boat.  Eventually we had to depart and had only just turned the corner when not unexpectedly Jan started to weep at her loss.   Exactly six years ago we had a rough start to canal boating but the satisfaction of overcoming that and rebuilding Waiouru made our life on board all the sweeter.  We didn’t just buy a boat. We were physically involved everyday in the build.  We know where every screw is and there isn’t a single nail.  Hopefully her new owner will love and appreciate her as much as we have.

What a great five years cruising the network and what a wonderful boating community.  Thank you!

So here we sit in a motel room at the Watford Gap Services on the M1.  Both of us smiling in the knowledge we know it’s only a short distance from here to the canal.  We’re also grinning at the size of the room. It’s almost a big as Waiouru!  Tomorrow we will head north for the next stage of our journey…… packing all the ”stuff” that will be returning to Australia by sea.

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Cracks Hill and Jelly Bean

We are still in the Crick area so I decided on a local walk which included Cracks Hill.  Five years ago I’d have walked to the top of the hill scarcely changing stride. Well it’s nota very high hill!   Today, when I reached the top my thighs were burning and heart racing.  I’m seriously in need of some hill work.

Whilst not very high, there are some great views of the surrounding countryside from the top of Cracks Hill.

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Crick Village

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Looking north towards Yelvertoft Village.

Interestingly Crick is named after the hill.  The Celtic word for hill is ‘Cruc’.  Accordingly to the plaque on the summit the hill is a moraine created during the last ice age.   Local rumour has it that the hill was used as a Roman observation post.  It’s commanding location makes that quite possible.

We cruised into Crick Marina for a pump out and diesel.  All the tanks are now either full or empty.  Whilst there one of our readers introduced himself as ‘Jellybean’.  He’s in the Royal Navy and like most servicemen picked up the nickname from his workmates.  Mine was Zorro!  And I’m not explaining why.  He’s a RN trained marine engineer and must therefore have the best maintained boat in the marina.Smile  Thanks for introducing yourself Jellybean.

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Special Day

I’m almost certain that the opposite sex don’t like to be reminded about their yearly special day.  For this reason I ensured we had an isolated rural mooring well away from civilization (well as far as you can get in England).  Unfortunately this plan quickly fell apart in the morning when the youngest son phoned to wish his mother a happy birthday and then asked where I was taking her for a meal.  Obviously he is single.  No married man would make such a fundamental error!   I now couldn’t plead ignorance, which left me scrambling for a solution.  Fortunately I had a backup with the last one of these in the freezer.

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Jan did offer to share, but I unselfishly declined.  Because it was her special day I didn’t involve Jan in today’s final 250 hour engine service.  This freed up time for her to continue deep cleaning the interior.  Of course I didn’t let her do all the work, generously assisting by emptying the content of the vacuum cleaner cartridge into the hedgerow.  Jan did get to eat a delicious evening roast dinner.  Cooking it herself to avoid food poisoning.

A number of boats have passed by us today, the most interesting of which looked like it was trying to moor opposite us on the off-side.  The steerer was really struggling, and then we realised it was a short boat towing a longer boat that didn’t have a steerer. Both boats were slightly aground.  Eventually he managed to get back in the middle and moored just beyond the next bridge.

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Actually the boats moored breasted up just beyond the bridge and on a bend.  This created a few problems for two hire boats that met at the bridge.  Neither knew what to do and there was five minutes of indecision before one boat hesitantly manoeuvred around the breasted boats and entered the bridge hole before passing the opposing boat.  All good fun!

Monday, 8 May 2017

Black hole and the Orphans

There was no blog post yesterday because for the first time we were unable to get a Three Mobile data signal.  Interestingly, the phone had three bars and we had a voice signal.  This extract from the Three coverage map shows our location at Crick.

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The light grey blocks on the map represent areas where there is no coverage.  If we had moved 100 metres it’s probable we would have received a signal. 

Yesterday evening I went for a short towpath walk reaching Yelvertoft Marina.  The moorings for this year’s Crick Boat Show are already in place.  They stretch as far as Bridge 15. 

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The canal curves around Crack’s Hill and whilst there is nothing unusual about that, it was the object on the skyline which caught my eye.  An alternative to the Three Mobile Network? 

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I’ve already mentioned the bends on this canal and this is what can happen if you’re going too fast.

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Smile

Shortly thereafter I came upon six orphans.  No sign of their mother which makes me wonder how long they will last?

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The answer is at least one more day because we passed them this morning.  We’re now moored near Darker’s Bridge and obviously have internet coverage.  This afternoon more time was spent sorting our possessions.  The philosophy that has been adopted is “If in doubt – toss it out!”

This evening there was a phone call from Three.  Because we have been such a long and valued customer we had been selected to participate in a special reward program and could buy a second mobile phone on a 24 month contract.  It was rather obvious that the call was triggered by our 30 day notification to cancel our current account.  For the first three minutes the Mumbai call centre operator didn’t give me the opportunity to explain why we weren’t interested.

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Signs

I was feeling slightly crook yesterday and spent several hours reclining in my chair examining the inside of my eyelids.  That subsequently proved to be a mistake because I was still wide awake counting sheep at 3.30am.  You can count a lot of sheep in five and a half hours.  Halfway through I was counting black vs white and shorn vs woolly.  Not that it helped!  Jan arose at 4am, which just confirms her belief she should have been a farmer’s wife!   I eventually managed to grab a couple of hours before rising to discover my tongue must have washed a hamster at some stage in the early hours.  Cleaning teeth was the first task for the day.

It rained during the night which meant the roof and port side of Waiouru that had been washed and polished now looks slightly grubby.  The starboard side was supposed to get the same treatment yesterday so my enforced break may have had one advantage.

This morning I wandered back to the Biffa bins with yet more food for them.  They started squealing and rattling on their wheels the moment I appeared.  One look confirmed they were starting to suffer from indigestion.   The water tank was topped up and then we reversed back to the junction where we winded and headed north up the Leicester Branch of the Grand Union.

It didn’t take long to reach the bottom of Watford Locks.  Jan walked up the flight to find the lock keeper and report in.  We’ve now been up and down the flight on several occasions.

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I was in a brown stare when I happened to notice the plaque on the end wall of the pump house.

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31 seems too early to go! 

We moored half a kilometre beyond the top lock so that Jan could have more time to clean the interior of the boat as we’re not in a rush to reach Crick.  After lunch I did some preventative maintenance checks on the boat.

  • Horn Smile
  • Headlamp Smile
  • Navigation Lights Sad smile??????????

The damned navigation lights weren’t working correctly.  One of the major benefits of the Empirbus system is its ability to maintain a log of activity.  The laptop was plugged into the system and I looked at the log.  Despite me physically pressing the Navigation Light Switch nothing was recorded in the log.  The most likely fault was the switch so I removed the inspection panel and felt the wiring terminals.  They are crimped spade connectors and one was slightly loose.  Just a little pressure was sufficient to resolve the fault. 

The weather forecast for tomorrow is looking promising so that starboard side might get the overdue wash and polish.   

Friday, 5 May 2017

The joy of cancelling the mobile contract

Thank you to those readers who have left comments and sent emails regarding yesterday’s post.  The decision to end our life afloat has been taken with many regrets and a heavy heart.  But you have to look forward.  In my experience those who look backwards walk into lamp posts!  However that doesn’t mean you forget where you have been and the many interesting people you’ve met on the way.  We are going to treasure our canal memories.

I phoned our mobile provider today to give the required 30 days notice to cancel the contract.  After listening to all the options and subsequently pressing the required keys to finally reach Mumbai I stumbled at the password.  It was so simple to take out this contract in 2011.  How was I (an OAP) supposed to remember the unique password from 6 years ago which you must not commit to paper.  Well I finally got lucky and was able to move to the next stage.  Maybe ”lucky” isn’t the right word.  My poor hearing and her accent weren’t a good combination.  Eventually we were able to agree the SIM would be deactivated on 4 June (30 days).  Then the up-sale pitch occurred.  No I didn’t want to keep the number or use the phone overseas.  They cover the world and I can use the phone anywhere.  A stumbled silence when I mentioned I was off to Antarctica for 12 months and not planning a return to the UK.

We were then advised notification of termination will be sent to our UK address on 15 Jun and the final automatic debit taken on 26 June.  I had to explain I wasn’t going to be in the UK after 4 June and what I wanted was a reference number confirming our conversation that the contract was to be cancelled on 4 June.  She told me they don’t provide reference numbers but confirmation would be in the letter sent on15 June.  I repeated that we were leaving before 4 June and asked if I could have a confirmatory email.  She then informed me she would send a confirmatory text message to the phone.  We’ve now received the following text.

We have resolved your query. For more help go to [mobile provider address]/help from your handset or pc.  Thanks

This message is about as useful as a chocolate teapot.  My gut feeling is billing will continue and we’re going to have a battle on our hands.

Meanwhile,other activity on the boat today has been concentrated on sorting though our possessions and dividing them into four categories;  leave on the boat, rubbish, ship home and take on the aircraft.   You wouldn’t believe how much “stuff” we have managed to squeeze into this 6ft diameter steel tube over the last five years.  It took several trips to the nearby orange CRT Biffa bins to dispose all the unwanted “stuff”.  By the last trip the Biffa bin was screaming it was suffering from a serious bout of indigestion!  Moreover, looking at the shipping pile I think we will need to buy some additional tea chests.

I also have to start work on writing my ’bucket list’.  As you probably already know a ‘bucket list’ is all the things you want to do before you ‘kick the bucket’.  My list is getting longer, despite the end date getting closer.  I might have to seek an extension if I’m to get through the list.  Money might also be an issue.

I remember my father telling me “Son,the idea is to die with a zero bank balance.  It’s getting the timing right that’s the difficult part!”  He was an accountant.  I replied.  “I think your wrong Dad.  You can’t take your money with you.  But you can leave your debts behind!”

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Journey Planning

Over the last couple of weeks we have been looking at flight options between the UK and Australia.  Jan has ruled out going west via the USA or Canada.  This leaves the “Kangaroo” route (via Singapore), the Middle East (Dubai/Doha) and Hong Kong.  Price is a critical factor but I’m quite selective about airlines to use.  My “don’t use” list includes Aeroflot, Garuda, MAS and all the cheap South-East Asian airlines. 

Whilst searching on the internet yesterday I found some very cheap Singapore Airlines tickets for less than £300.  This morning the tickets were £308.  This led to a long conversation where it was agreed the RTA (Return to Australia) date was the critical milestone.  I then developed a simple project plan on the laptop using Microsoft Project which enabled us to identify the other critical tasks and dates.  By the time this was completed the airfares had risen to £325.  I preferred to purchase the tickets directly from Singapore Airlines which raised the price by a further £4.  Eventually I managed to book an evening flight from Heathrow to Singapore with a 1.50 layover before continuing on to Australia.  Opting for a night flight has two advantages.  The first is it helps keep the body’s natural rhythms so we can probably get some sleep.  The second is we won’t require any London accommodation the night before departing.  Despite Heathrow having higher departure taxes than the likes of Birmingham or Manchester the Heathrow flights were cheaper.  More competition I assume?

The next step was to select our seats.  To do this I used the website Seatguru which shows the best seats on the aircraft.  Having identified our preferred seats I went to the airline seat allocation option only to discover 90% of the seats were already allocated.  This meant we couldn’t select the best seats; but didn’t get the very worst either.

Meanwhile Jan was researching and booking our pre-departure accommodation.  I then started looking at rental cars, before realising I had paid for a flight leaving on a Sunday evening (another reason why they were cheap).  All the car rental companies are closed on Sunday!  How would we return the car?  In the end we decided to reduce the car rental by a day and return it on Saturday.  Jan rearranged our last night in the UK, which we will spend in the Rugby Travelodge beside the railway station. I booked two £10 train tickets from Rugby to London for Sunday morning.  We still have an Oyster card with enough credit on it for two Tube tickets from London to Heathrow.  What I don’t know is whether two people can use the same Oyster Card by running it through the turnstile twice?

The last major outstanding task is to pack all the possessions that will be returning by sea.  We’ve bought sufficient cardboard tea chest (I hope) and allocated two days for the task.

Everything appears to be coming together.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Paintwork Repairs

A small edge of rust had started to appear at the top of the boat recessed panel and was annoying me so it was sanded back to bare metal and given a coat of primer followed by two of undercoat.  Four days ago I applied topcoat.  To my annoyance there were brush marks in the paint so today it was masked for a third time,sanded smooth and give yet another topcoat.

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Well the brush marks aren’t as bad this time but the paint colour is two tone so I obviously didn’t stir it thoroughly.  Looks like there will be a third topcoat tomorrow.  I might have done better to leave the few spots of rust.

Rather than continuing with further painting failures I decided to do something about the faded stern tunnel bands.  After cleaning them I used T-Cut to removed the faded and oxidized layer.  If they still look good tomorrow I’ll apply some polish.  Polish!  I had to visit the chandlery and purchase yet another bottle of Craftmaster polish.  Six years ago we should have bought shares in the company. Smile

Monday, 1 May 2017

Eleanor

Some further exploring today.  There was an opportunity to go east and slightly away from the canal network.

The plan was to visit Lyveden, a National Trust property.

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The website states this is an incomplete Elizabethan Lodge and gardens that were started by Sir Thomas Tresham to symbolise his catholic faith.  Work stopped on his death in 1605.

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At aged 10 Thomas inherited significant estates and was much despised for his enclosure policies.  He was also High Sheriff of Northampton and after executing 50 rioters was considered by many to be odious.  He had strong religious convictions and refused to attend Anglian services.  For this and other acts of conscience he was both fined heavily and imprisoned.  

His eldest son was involved in the Gunpowder Plot but died before he could be executed.  His body was decapitated anyway and his head displayed as a traitor.

On the return leg of  the journey I noticed a large house in the distance.  It wasn’t a National Trust property and wasn’t open to the public.  Eventually I identified it as Boughton House which is owned by a charity.  Apparently it is sometimes referred to as England’s version of Versailles

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I was almost geographically embarrassed when I stumbled into the small village of Geddington to come upon an Eleanor Cross.

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For those that don’t know the story Eleanor was the wife of Edward I (Edward Longshanks, Hammer of the Scots).She left Spain aged 10 to become Edwards Queen.  She and Edward had 16 children, the first when she was 20.  This provides clear evidence there was no TV in England at this time!

Edward was up fighting in Scotland when Eleanor suddenly died in Northamptonshire on her way north to join him.  On hearing the news Edward raced south to arrange her funeral In London.  Edward must have loved Eleanor as he ordered the erection of a stone cross at each location where Eleanor’s body rested for the night on her journey back to London.  Only three of the original 12 crosses still exist and one is on Geddington.  Whilst there is no longer a cross at the final stop in London it still has a famous name Charing Cross. She was buried in Westminster Abbey in 1290.

You can see the route her body took in the map extract below.  It’s obvious from the funeral route that the modern road and rail network didn’t exist.  Actually it now appears to be a rather obscure secondary route.

eleanor

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Moored like grandma’s stockings

For two nights we’ve been moored like grandmother’s stockings.  As a small boy I can remember sitting on the floor of her house and looking at her legs which would be encased in thick stockings.  Invariably they would be wrinkled in heavy folds just above her ankles.

The pound we have been moored in gradually drains during the night and whilst we might go to bed on the level, we’d slowly develop a list as one edge of the boat settled on the bottom.  This resulted in our heads rising on the crossover bed.  Eventually gravity would take over and in our sleep we’d slowly start sliding feet first towards the bottom of the bed. Initially our bodies would brace our legs against the wall as we slept on, but eventually they would collapse and just like grandma’s stocking we’d wake in the early hours to find ourselves in a wrinkled heap at the bottom of the bed.

Last night was different.  At 10pm one of the other moored boaters walked up to the next lock and partially raised one top and bottom thereby ensuring the water leaking from the pound was replaced.    

Saturday, 29 April 2017

Well that was exciting!

Preamble.  I had filled and set the Kipor 2kW generator on the bank at the bow and connected it into the bow shoreline plug. Starting the Kipor was easy and I went to the stern of Waiouru and set the switch on the Victron Inverter/Charger to shore power.  Up until this point everything went well.

The Problem.  Thirty minutes later in an unusual fit of insanity I decided to get the vacuum cleaner out and give the carpet a good going over. When I started the vacuum cleaner the lights went out on the Victron panel and the cleaner stopped. But the generator was still running.  In a state of slight panic (unusual for me Smile) I turned the Victron off and back on. The power returned for a nano second and died again.  After that the charger half of the Victron wouldn’t work.  One of those OMG moments…… I’ve fried the charger half of the Victron by overloading it. 

Now into serious fault finding mode I sensibly started with the Victron User Manual hoping to find some clear instruction regarding a fuse.  No such luck!  The next step was to remove everything off the back bed to gain access to the Victron.  Well that was as dead as the remote panel.  So I removed the front cover from the Victron hoping to see a fuse or circuit breaker.  Nothing obvious!  It was about then that I made the transition from mild panic to logic.  Out came the multi-meter and I tested the incoming 240V terminals from the shoreline side.  Relief…… there’s no power to the Victron and our £2500 inverter/charger is probably OK.  Now I could have started tracing the 240V cable back to the fault but instead had one of those quantum jumps in logic.  Whilst the Kipor was still running maybe the fault was at that end.

The Kipor had a flashing red overload light on the control panel.  I couldn’t clear it so I turned the generator off and restarted it. Problem solved.  Obviously the 2kW Kipor can’t handle the start-up load of the vacuum cleaner.  This was a good reminder “LOOK FOR THE SIMPLE THINGS FIRST!

Now you may know that the crazy fat kid with the weird haircut has been threatening the USA and Australia with nuclear annihilation.  A very good friend has sent me a copy of the Australian strategy to ensure this doesn’t occur.  Apparently the leaflet below is being sent to North Korea.  Well I think it is downright sneaky and not cricket.  But then this is a country notorious for underarm bowling.

NZ-Oz