Thursday, 24 January 2013

Thursday 24th January 2013
I've mentioned several times in this blog of the troubles we are having with our Hurricane Heater. In case you aren't familiar with the story I will just say that over the last few months the compressor in it has been becoming noisier, and recently the temperature of the radiators has been dropping. This drop usually means that the air filter needs cleaning/replacing, and the combustion chamber also requires a bit of a clean out because  it's been burning rich and dirty.
I've done both several times now to try to get the temperature up, but to no avail. I suspected that the noisy compressor wasn't pushing enough air to atomize the fuel properly, resulting in all the aforementioned problems.
Monday night it finally happened, there was a sudden dramatic change in 'the noise' and the heater stopped. Out with the back up fan heater (we don't have a solid fuel burner) and get back into bed.
In the morning I clambered into the engine hole and took off the cover plate to see what had occurred. It was fairly obvious, the vibration had finally overcome the mounting plate and it had sheared off leaving the compressor free to jump around like a demented kangaroo.
A call to the dealer and they arranged for an engineer to come out, but not until Thursday.
Today he arrived and after a cup of coffee dived into the job. Confirming what had happened he produced a new compressor, the new model, which hopefully is much more reliable than the last design (of which we have had 2 in 2 years). After about 3/4 of an hour we were once again purring along, the radiators getting hot, and Cath saying "Is it running? I can't hear it".
The quietness is wonderful. It isn't exactly silent, but certainly an improvement, and the rads are getting much hotter now.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Sunday 20th January 2013
With Cath's birthday fast approaching we had both eyes on the weather. The forecast snow fall looked as if the Met Office had got it right for once and with folk coming from several directions we began to worry about people either trying too hard to get here and getting stuck in the bad conditions, or if we'd have only a couple of them join us in Mumtaz on Saturday.
Paul and Jacqui set off from Bristol on Friday morning in very poor conditions. It took them about an hour just to get around the Ring Road, but once they reached the motorway it wasn't too bad and the going was at least smooth.
Brother Nick and family weren't due to set off until Saturday, but with the snow continuing and son Zack stuck in London they decided not to chance it. Brenda, coming from the Newcastle area and suffering from hip problems also decided that common sense should prevail.
Terri and Carl had already cried off, but we still hoped for Gail and Derek to make it from Barnsley. After a phone call to check conditions they too thought it wouldn't be a good idea to chance it.
So, from and initial party of 15 we were down to 8, plus of course Daniel.
Saturday morning Paul and Jacqui took us to Harrogate where there is a Lakeland shop. Cath had wanted a Remoska for some time now. The hope was that we would be able to roast things like  chicken using a lot less power than our combi oven, which requires the engine running. After a bit of a clear out of the cupboards we decided we could find room for one, so off we went full of expectation. However, when she finally got her hands on the item it turned out to be a bit smaller than hoped. Even the large size one looks too shallow to take a chicken without cutting it up, so we reluctantly decided not get one.
Finally Saturday evening rolled around and the guests started to gather, I was even persuaded to wear a tie for the occasion and Cath wore a lovely pendent which Jacqui got her.
The meal was up to the usual Mumtaz standard and everyone agreed that the food was superb. Unfortunately it was getting a bit late for Daniel, and Liz finally had to abandon us to take him home because he was just too tired. After the meal Mumtaz added a sparkling firework to the cake and brought it out while the pianist played happy birthday. They also presented her with a small gift box of their sweet meats.
We then retired to our boat to open the sparkling wine kindly provided by Liz and Damon.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Tuesday 15th January 2013
The weather continues to get cooler, the forecast is promising -3 tonight so now is not the time for the heating to give trouble.
Damon rang yesterday with the news that their central heating unit had done just that. It certainly looks like troubles come in threes. That's the washing machine, tumble drier, and now the heating have all packed within a few days of each other. Luckily he managed to get a service engineer out quickly and a faulty air elimination valve was diagnosed and replaced, and with the system refilled heat is once again available.
This morning he came around to pick us up and we had a busy morning checking out replacement laundry machines. We settled on a Bosch washer and a White Knight drier as the replacements. Later we did a bit of shopping, and then removed the old machines from their kitchen ready for collection. I also managed to give Cath the slip long enough to order a birthday cake for this weekend's celebration of her 60th.
Last night I got a phone call from my cousin Gail with the news that Terry and Carl wouldn't be able to make it for Saturday's party, but to balance that my brother called just after that to say he would be bringing both his kids Ella and Zack. That was a pleasant surprise as we haven't seen them for a long time. Zack is especially difficult to pin down as he lives and works in London.
On the subject of brothers, Dave, one of my siblings living in Canada has just started learning to fly gyro-copters. I expect he will enjoy it, I miss flying myself, but have many happy memories of the times I had.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Wednesday 9th January 2013
Back home on the boat, and the routine has settled again. First a few pics of our celebrations.

Carol presents her wonderful creation. the 7 bird roast
Daniel is head over heels with excitment
 J making short work of the roast.
 John provides some light entertainment as 2 loos Le Truck
Now that we're back to reality I took the opportunity of the fine weather today to have a go at a clear out of some accumulated 'stuff'.
Like a lot of us out there I'm a bit of a hoarder, not a good trait in a boater. Cath bought me battery drill for Lizzmass to replace one that went overboard quite some time ago. Ever since I've been using my mains one, but sometimes this is awkward and I missed the convenience of a good battery one. But now I had to find somewhere to store it. Isn't it amazing how much you can chuck out when you start looking. Several storage areas are now much tidier, and room for the drill was found easily.
Later today we walked up town to see the film "Reacher". We're both fans of Lee Child and his creation, so it was with some sceptisism that we went to see it. I have to report that it was good, despite the fact that Reacher is supposed to be a big fella, Tom Cruise carries it off alright.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Sunday 6th January 2013
After a fine Lizzmas Day with the family, and feeling fully replete, we were taken back to the boat by John & Sara at about 10.30.
Around 4.00 am Cath woke me up to say "What's that noise?" After a few seconds of listening it came again and I quickly spotted it as probably 'cat in the water' noises.
I made my way to the back deck, and sure enough the unmistakable noises of splash-meow coming from the water. Here in Clarence Dock there isn't an easy way out of the water for a cat, so I lay down on the pontoon and attempted to scruff it out, I have managed this before with a kitten, but this was a much bigger cat and the first couple of attempts failed and I was edging my way along the pontoon following the animal. This caused me to end up lying parallel to the edge. One final grab attempt and - in I went!
Oh hell! How do I get out of this? Luckily, Mike, whose cat it turned out to be, was working on some wood in the back cabin of his dutch barge style narrow boat (4.00 am??) and just saw my legs disappearing over the edge. He hurried along and pulled me out, and then rescued the cat.
Boy! that was a close one! there's no way I would have got out myself at that place, and whether I would have had the presence of mind to make my way to the far end of the pontoon where there is a ladder is a question I can't answer. Thanks a lot Mike. The cat's fine by the way.

Friday, 4 January 2013

Friday 4th January 2013
Lizmass is upon us!! This is becoming a family tradition, because Damon works shifts and Liz has a lot of pressure at work around Christmas the family has started postponing the main celebrations to the first weekend in the New Year.
The whole thing kicked off last night with a Chinese takeaway for 10 of us. Their dining room will just fit all of us around the fully expanded dining table, admittedly using a bit of shoe horning.
We then retired for chats and catch-ups with friends and family. I dived into a lovely bottle of 10 year old Islay malt supplied by John (thanks mate)
At the end of the evening we were driven back to our boat by John.
This morning we all met up at Leeds Market, where one of the advantages of the timing becomes very apparent: the cost of birds. This year Carol is preparing a 7 bird roast for Lizmass dinner. With Christmas over, the cost of turkey, goose and all the other birds has plummeted. For example a goose which was about £70 before Christmas was selling for £20.
Carol has now retired to her house to start the boning process. I can't wait to see this creation, and hope to put a picture on here sometime.
Cath is getting lessons from Damon on better use of her new toy (a tab) and he's also spent a fair bit of time sorting my laptop, which had picked up some malware.
Our Hurricane heater is one again making dreadful noises and I don't think the compressor will last much longer.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Wednesday 2nd January 2013
Farewell to 2012, and frankly, on the weather front, good riddance. Of course, don't knock any year you survive and remain vertical.
Cath and I went away for New Year. Paul and Jacqui decided to book a hotel in The Lake District and asked of would like to join them. With no plans of our own we were only too glad accept and on Friday they drove up from Bristol to spend the night here in Leeds before taking us over the Pennines to Ravenstone Hotel near Bassenthwaite Lake.
We all had a fabulous time. The owners and staff were hard working and friendly, nothing appeared to be too much trouble. New Year's dinner was a wonderful affair, all the food beautifully prepared and presented. After dinner there was a quiz and at midnight we had fireworks.

Games after the meal

Cath and Jacqui ready for the meal

During the weekend Paul and Jacqui indulged their favourite hobby of geocaching and we spent a fair bit of time travelling around following the GPS tags of the many caches in the area. We visited many places.

Castlerigg Stone Circle

The lakes are very full
Fine scenery to be admired (no not me)
And we both enjoyed a tramp around the grounds
Last night found us back on board Lyra, saying good bye to them. After the long drive back over the Pennines they still had a fair way to go to return to Bristol. In a week and a half they'll be doing the journey again, coming up here for Cath's birthday celebration on the 19th.
The next thing we have to look forward to is Lizzmas, our family's late celebration of Christmas this weekend. Everything seems to be in place, or on the to-do list. This morning we finished off wrapping the presents and tomorrow we'll take a bus over to Bramley for the start of 'do'.