Tuesday 30 November 2010

It's "Snow" joke this weather

It's "Snow" joke this weather, I walked the dog just before first light and there was just a light powdery dusting. Returned home and had breakfast - half-a-hour later I look out of the window at a blizzard and two inches already on the floor!              Global warming - what global warming.

We watched a large almost full grown cygnet trying to climb up an icy bank yesterday. He kept getting about half way up and then sliding back onto the ice. - He was very persistent, but he eventually gave up after a while - So I suppose its "Swan" mistake he will not make again when he grows up!

The marina is all iced in and the boats with stoves all have curls of smoke rising. Everyone is doing their best to keep their boats snug and warm. As we don't live-aboard I am having to make regular trips to light the stove to warm the boat through. For peace of mind I have to check that everything is OK.  We have an Alde central heating boiler as a back-up which I have set to the 5C frost setting to keep the cold at bay. I have also installed a couple of those tubular heaters on mains thermostats as a back-up, back-up to the stove and central heating boiler. I am now on the lookout for a couple of furnace bricks that can be warmed through on the stove and then transferred around the boat and placed on skillets for more localised instant heating. 

A tree with one almost lost trunk from the strong winds a week or two previous to the snow which fell.  - Creative Commons Licence -  Copyright Pam Brophy 

Whilst doing a search of the Internet, for a nice wintery photo (as above) to illustrate the blog. Sometimes the search engine will throw up people with names that seem fit the search and sometimes even the season.

Meet, to Marina Snow, she is founder and CEO of Eve Italia and now is the Bailo for the Venice Foundation here is her blog.

If you want to view some amazing photographs, click on the National Geographic's

National Geographic is once again holding their annual Photo Contest, with the deadline for submissions coming up on November 30th. For the past eight weeks, they have been gathering and presenting galleries of submissions, encouraging readers to rate them as well. National Geographic was again kind enough to let me choose some of their entries from 2010 for display here on The Big Picture. Collected below are 47 images from the three categories of People, Places and Nature. Captions were written by the individual photographers. (47 photos total)
 Later ......

Monday 29 November 2010

Out of the mouths of babes.

Whilst riding our motorbike into work, I came to a stop at a set of traffic lights in the city centre. There was a London style taxi passing the other way. I could not help but notice the taxi was being driven by an elderly gentleman of Asian origin, who sported a very significant white beard and what I call a Taliban hat which I think is called a Pakol or Sawati Pakol. 

Being a bit politically indiscreet - I'm a bit like that, as I tend to open my trap and say something and think about what I said later. Into my head and straight out of my mouth came the words "Look an Afghan Father Christmas"!

The Memsahib who was travelling as my pillion passenger rather than on her own motorcycle had a chuckle. (We have a two way helmet to helmet radio system, so that we can chat away even when we are on separate bikes)

Thinking about this minded me of a few incidents that happened when my daughters were both small children. Our two daughters were born less than a year apart, one was late in arriving and the other somewhat premature. But they have grown into adults and each have their own families now.  But I digress.

Picture the scene:  We are travelling into Sheffield on the bus, when a man of east African origin climbs onto the bus. We are sat in opposing seats looking at each other and glancing out of the window from time to time. Up pipes the oldest daughter who would be about five "Are you a doctor"? The man was not sure if she was talking to him, he chose to ignore her. A few moments later, in a very loud voice she enquires again. "Are you a doctor"?  Somewhat flustered he said "no - I work in the steel works" and the conversation was left at that. A while later she says "Well you look like a doctor". He smiled and I cringed!

A few weeks later, we are travelling into Sheffield again on the bus, when a man gets on who has a problem with one of his eyes. My daughter says "look at that man's eye - it looks very poorly" I whispered that it was not very nice to draw attention to his eye and left it at that. A few moments later she says "but it looks very poorly" again I reminded her about not saying anything. A few moments later the other daughter pipes up "I know we are not to say anything but his eye does look very poorly" The man got off the bus!

The third bus incident was when the youngest one was practicing her words (they had been doing sound-alike-words at school) and asking the meaning of those she did not understand. "Duck" she says followed soon afterwards by by "Luck" this was followed by "Pluck, is there such a word as pluck daddy" she says. So I explain the meaning of pluck. She starts to search for more words. "Muck - Luck - Tuck" follow soon afterwards. The bus by this time has grown very quiet - everyone is listening. "Suck - Stuck" she says and I heave a sigh of relief. "Vuck" she says and then asks me if there is such a work as "Vuck". I assured her that there was no such word - you could have heard a pin drop!

She started again "*uck, she says - is there such a word as *uck daddy" The bus was in uproar, I was trying to reassure her that there was no such word. However, she had noticed the reaction of the people on the bus. So rather than carry on with her search for words. She says "*uck is a very nice word though, are you sure it is not a word" People are convulsed and falling about with laughter - my daughter is completely transfixed by what's going on. She digs a bit deeper "everyone is laughing at *uck" she says. No I said, there laughing at that squirrel that just got off the bus. I am dying on my feet - I want to laugh, but I managed to keep my face straight. Soon the whole search for new words is forgotten and the conversation turns to one of squirrels travelling on the bus. Later, she suddenly says  "Do you like the word *uck daddy" This time we got off the bus and had a short walk home!

Later when we arrived back home - mother asks daughter how she got on today. "There was a squirrel on the bus today" she says. Mother says "what colour was it - was it grey or was it red?" "I did not see it, but me and daddy learned a word that makes people laugh" she says. I am gesticulating behind her back, but mother asks what the word was that made everyone laugh. "*uck" she says - mother was not laughing.....


Sunday 28 November 2010

Preventative Diesel Treatment

For some time now I have been looking and reading about the effect of changing to Bio-diesel as an alternative to fuel oil, red diesel, derve or whatever name is used in your area. There are the usual doom and gloom postings on the forum about the end of the world as we know it. There are a few thought provoking articles in magazines and web publications. From all my reading and research - I still don't know much more than I did before I started.

Petrol engines can ingest a certain amount of water with the fuel without serious consequences, but if a droplet of water in diesel fuel makes it all the way to the cylinder, the sudden steaming of the water can blow the tip right off an injector. This is the reason for having a water-separating filter. Contaminated fuel is only one way water gets into the fuel aboard boats. It can leak in around the fill cap or it forms inside the tank as condensation. (that's why I keep the tank full of fuel in the winter)

There are test kits available to measure a sample of your diesel and to highlight what contaminants are there and to indicate the amount of contaminant. However, before going down the route - I suggest you have a read of this test kit review.  See Review of  Marine 16 Diesel Bug Test Kit Here.
Avoid products that contain alcohol, which attacks O-rings and other rubber parts in the fuel system.
So the way forward for me is to think preventative rather than cure. To the best of my knowledge, diesel bug is not present in my boats diesel tank. If it is in the tank it has not reached epidemic proportions needing expensive remedial treatment. In time the truth will emerge about the effects of bio-diesel and diesel bug boat tanks.

My preventative plan consists of :-
Keeping the tank full during the winter.
Adding a diesel bug treatment additive.
Adding a Water Dispersant.
A using mechanical Water Eliminator

So what's available to use as an additive to reduce or prevent diesel bug contamination.

StarTron Diesel Treatment.

Eliminates algae and fungal growth without the use of poisons.
Reduces all emissions.
Prevents fuel oxidation and stabilises diesel chemistry for at least 18 months.
Lowers fuel system maintenance.
Eliminates carbon build-up from burners, injectors and exhaust components.
Treats 1938 litre of Diesel.


StarBright Bio Diesel Additive

Prevents microbial growth
Kills existing bacteria, algae and fungus
Stops corrosion caused by micro-organisms 
Prevents plugging of filters due to organic growth
1 fl.oz. treats 60 gallons of diesel fuel
Works up to 10 times faster than other diesel fuel biocides


Fuel Set Diesel Bug Treatment
Blocked filters, stuck injectors and even engine failure can be caused by a microscopic fungus, that is present to varying extents in all fuel oil. Fuel Set Liquid is a complete fuel conditioner, which will reduce running and maintenance costs, and it absorbs any water present in the fuel, so you don't experience rough spots or misfiring. Treats diesel, petrol and 2 stroke fuel, and is completely harmless and environmentally friendly. It dilutes with fuel at a very economical 4000:1 ratio. Treats 2000 Litres.


Marine 16 Diesel Bug Treatment

Marine diesel bug may be killed completely using this treatment which is added directly to the tank before re-fuelling. In nearly all cases there will be no need to clean out the tank as the dead bug masses are reduced to fine particles that are either picked up in the fuel filter or passed harmlessly through the engine. For slight infections use 100 ml per 2000 litres of fuel, for mild infections use 100 ml per 500 litres fuel and for heavy infections use 100 ml per 100 litres fuel.


Later .....

Saturday 27 November 2010

Happy blog day to me, happy blog day to me

Remember - remember the 27th of November, its a day that will go down in infamy.

Our "Rose of Arden" blog is one year old today. Well, I must admit when the blog started we did not have a boat - and when we did we were going to call the boat "Wits-End" the same name as the house. Then the name Rosie grew on us. Why, we even started to look a bit like Norman Vaughan (who he?). His main catchphrase was "Swinging" (before the more modern meaning) and "Dodgy", accompanied by the appropriate thumbs-up or thumbs-down sign, to denote good or bad news.

Why, it only seems like this time last year that we made our first posting. Time passes by so quick when you are enjoying yourself - this old adage is so true.

Norman Vaughan: His 1969 advert for cadbury's Roses chocolates slogan was "They say that roses grow on you, They seem so nice it must be true, They say that roses grow on you, Roses grow on you"  Well Rosie has grown on us! So the name just stuck and Rose of Arden is still unique.
                                                                       Norman Vaughan  1923-2002

Some first year Blog and Boat statistics
Miles                                    123
Locks                                     79
Swing bridges                         9
Blog postings made.           157
Blog word count            88,292
Largest Posting                3,898 words
Picture Count                     414
Total number of visitors  3,597
Number of countries             31

The blog was started with the intention of documenting our experiences (plus the trials and tribulations of early retirement) of becoming proud boat owners. In this quest we have eventually succeeded and we now have Rosie who is our pride and joy. The blog was extended to include looking at all the paraphernalia associated with narrow boat ownership - solar panels - wind driven generators - shoreline electrics, ropes - anchors and satellite TV. We digressed to motorcycle ownership as well as my early life living alongside the canal. Add to this the search for suitable moorings and documenting our early voyages. During this process we have met many supportive and helpful people over the last year.

We have by chance come across some nice people along the way, who have become canal acquaintances, if only for a short-time. We are looking forward to meeting up with them all again, from time to time a little further down the canal. The real joy for us is that some of the people we have met have now become confirmed friends. These are people that we know we would be happy to spend more time in their company and we would welcome them in ours.

During this time we have met a few people along the metaphorical canal towpath that we assumed were friendly, but it eventually turned out to be otherwise. We have also met the odd one or two who were so full of their own self importance that we felt the need to shake our heads and look away. However, we actually came across one group who were hived off into several different cliques. Where withering comments that were whispered behind each others back was the norm. In some instances it was plain open warfare, with clear hostile opposition to each other, even to the point of great mutual irritability. This was a group of people who could never agree collectively, left from right. However, what was patently obvious was the all consuming jealousy they had for each other. That under pinned the whole charade and they have the brass neck to call themselves boaters.

Life is peppered with individuals with problems. Some with what I think is acute loneliness and others with very large chips on their shoulders. So what have I discovered from this first real exposure to the canal.
I have learned that the canal is no different to anywhere else, it is peopled by the same people that you would find on every road and street in Britain. Some of them are obviously bound to become care in the community cases. However, some of these individuals have no real interest in the boating lifestyle. Their only interest is in - peer group - mutual back-scratching - in an exclusive self appreciation and aggrandisement society. At the same time all this is augmented by a total loathing and detest for all others who don't share their warped idea's.

Theirs is such an aimless, sad and boring life and they would not understand if you tried to explain! But enough about the canal ne'er-do-well's - onwards and ever upwards and into our second year!

Kitchen Area

Here are a few pictures of the interior of Rosie. She doesn't always look so tidy, well that's what the Memsabib says. You can click on them to enlarge the view.

Saloon and back steps

Our boat shell was built by Price Fallows in 2004 using single piece base, side, cabin and roof plates. The boat was then fitted out to a high standard by Richards Narrowboats


Rosie has a pump-out toilet but we have a cassette for whenever we just want to spend the odd day on board.


Kitchen looking forward


Rosie is a very comfortable boat to be on and as the time gets ever closer for our retirement we are looking forward to the spring arriving. Just so we can get out on the cut and get some cruising miles under her keel.


Saloon looking forward

Friday 26 November 2010

The Haunted Tinsley Flight

As we are now starting to enter the winter season. A time when we should all be snug and warm in our boats. Stoves glowing with a deep red heat. Listening to the lap - lap of the water again the boat sides. listening to the stories from along the canal. My story is one about the canal route into Sheffield. Which is located on the River Don, however the upper reaches of the river have never been navigable. Proposals to link Sheffield to the navigable Don at Tinsley were made as early as 1697, but these came to nothing. In 1815, the Sheffield Canal Company obtained by Act of Parliament an order to construct a canal. The surveyors' route was to leave the River Don at Jordan's Lock, along the south side of the Don Valley, to terminate at a basin near the city centre. This would require a series of locks at Carbrook and Tinsley to raise the level from the river for a level flow into the city centre.

There are many stories told of dark deeds perpetrated along this canal. However, there is no story worse than the tale of the boat people, whose long lost souls are still to this day haunting the Carbrook and Tinsley flight.

T'was the night of all hallows; all along the canal;
Was heard the eerie calls, of the night bird chorale;
Startled fright at the noise, my back a cold shiver;
Was it the owl in the oak tree, down by the river.

Could it be Kit Crewbucket, come to give you a fright;
A shrieking bogart, stalking you this moonlight night;
Look in Harecastle Tunnel, for that's her usual abode;
Cooking up your breakfast, with frog newt and toad.

But I was here at Tinsley, in the pound betwixt the locks;
Far away from Harecastle, was the noise made by a Fox;
But reynard stayed underground; in a much safer place;
He knew that something bad, was happening at this place.

It was a ghostly creak, that had given me such a shock;
As the unmanned gates open, to reveal an empty lock;
A faint sound of a horse, along the tow path run;
The whistle of the old boatman, one known as Gun.

Clip-clop getting louder, hair standing on my neck;
My feet are just frozen, by fear to the deck;
Ripples cross the surface, the water deep and black,
The sound of the boatman's whip, crack - crack - crack.

In to view slowly, came the hard working horse;
Tight tow line behind, showed the effort and the force;
Hot breath was streaming, out from its nose;
My heart skipped a beat, in fact I think it froze.

Clip-clop past me, the horse just walked on by;
A fire deep inside, came out through its eye;
Behind the horse, the ancient boatman walked;
His dog at his heel, as wolf like it stalked.

Cold the boatman's breath, rising up into the air;
Head turned my way, his hot eyes in a vacant stare;
Onward he silently walked, into the dark cold night;
Cold shivers down my back, it was a terrible sight.

Then into view the boat, came upon the water;
Steered at the back, by Gun's sombre daughter;
Ghostly face creased, into a crooked smile;
Her moans and groans, sounding oh so vile.

Into the distance they went, away from the lock;
Fast fading the sound, of horse clip and clop;
With a wolf like howl, and an odour strong;
My fear ever growing, as they passed along.

Another creak from behind, gave yet another shock;
Gates slowly swinging closed, on an unmanned empty lock;
Clattering sound of paddles, as they raised inside the gate;
Water rushing out of the lock, at an ever increasing rate.

Fear and dread now gripped me, when would this all end;
My thoughts are all shattered, I still can't comprehend;
I hear the sound of a Bolinder, at a steady pulsing pace;
Smell of the hot engine, on the breeze straight to my face.

Rising into the lock, came a boat all sleek and black;
Carrying a cargo of timber, piled up high in a stack;
The gates once more open, this time there's no sound;
And standing at the tiller, a number one long since drowned.

Gliding past me at, a slow but steady pace;
Facing straight ahead, never looking at my face;
Into the dank dark night, engine sound slow fading;
The narrowboat continuing, its ghostly way of trading.

I turning in fear to get away, from this haunted place;
I tripped on a mooring rope, and fell flat upon my face;
Scrambling to my feet, I was now wide awake;
T'was just a terrible dream, the memory's now opaque.

Climbing onto the deck, cold air to clear my mind;
Snow flakes are falling, on last night's frosty rime;
Startled with a fright, in the snow I clearly saw;
The outline of foot prints, a hoof, a foot, a paw.

The Tinsley flight is haunted, it was said to me before;
The story being told at the time, then seemed such a bore;
Of a time when boat cargo, was shared by man and wife;
Working boats and their families, found it hard just to survive.

T'is a story told by the lockies, whenever you go up or down;
Of the old time number one, and of the way he drowned;
And of the daughter of old man Gun, who was to be his wife;
The way she ended her broken heart, suicide with a knife.

He was waiting at Jordan's for his love, to come to his side;
Walking across the weir, a hurled stone broke his stride;
Falling in the deep water, he was carried into the rough;
Tumbling over and over, until his body cried enough.

Who threw the stone, no one found to take blame;
Gun with a steely heart, that could never feel shame;
Never could work a boat alone, daughter needed at the tiller;
But she knew full well, that her father was the killer.

Dead at Peacocks bridge, her belongings scattered round;
Hear her moan and groan as you pass, her legacy of sound;
A locket with a faded face, with a small sprig of jet black hair;
She travels the canal each night, in search of her illicit love affair.

So now my fellow boater, if you're feeling quite brave;
If its ghostly excitement, that you seem to crave;
Climb the flight if you dare; but count them every one;
Confront your darkest terror, and feel your fear rerun.

Come and see the number one, as he pursues his long lost love;
Come and hear the Bolinder, smell the exhaust smoke above;
Come and see Gun and his dog, the horse walking on alone;
Come and meet Gun's daughter, a withered smiling crone.

To the South Yorkshire Navigation, you must point your bow;
Go straight forward to the end, why you could do it now;
When you get to Jordan's weir, if your soul you would save;
Don't forget to doff your hat, at the drowned boatman's grave.

Take care to count each lock, as you ascend up the flight;
If the count is less than twelve, for you a restless night;
The twelve lock climb at Tinsley, is only for the very brave;
Ghosts and ghouls will gather round, the ones who misbehave.

Take heed of the warning, that I now give to you all;
The way of the Ghosts and Ghouls, is not a story tall;
If you would not spend eternity, along the night towpath;
Don't upset the Ghouls and Wraiths, don't invoke their wrath.

Thursday 25 November 2010

The cruety of Fire Bulls.

Sometimes words fail me - today is one such day. So today's usual posting is given over to a guest blogger Andrew Rowan, President & CEO Humane Society International

Just over a week ago, in the town of Medinaceli in the Castilla y León region of Spain, a bull had flaming torches attached to his horns as part of El Toro Jubilo festival, a “fire bull” fiesta. Late in the evening, the bull was roped to a post in the town square. He was held down whilst flammable materials were attached to his horns and lit.

Then, with flames leaping above his head, the bull dashed about the square tossing his head again and again, turning in one direction then the next, trying to escape the flames above his head. As the fire burned loud firecrackers exploded above the square.

It is simply not acceptable to torment an animal in this way. Please help us put an end to this terrible spectacle. Animal suffering is never acceptable as a form of entertainment. Join us, and compassionate people from across Spain, in calling for an end to the torment of animals at these fiestas.

Please join us -- sign our letter to Alfonso Fernández Mañueco, at the Ministry of Interior and Justice in Castilla y León, asking him to stop the use of animals at El Toro Jubilo and at other fiestas.

Thanks for all you do to help animals.


Andrew Rowan
President & CEO
Humane Society International

Wednesday 24 November 2010

Will you be in the Grip of Winter

The winter will be upon us very soon. Snow and ice are predicted before the week is out. A slip can easily mean a broken bone or even worse if you tumble into ice cold water.

In those sort of conditions, the towpath and gangplanks to the boat are not the safest of places to be walking. But help is at hand. You will have seen people on TV climbing up frozen waterfalls using a pick axe and with crampons on their boots. Whilst I can't see a need for a pick age along the canal I can see a need for using crampons. I'm not talking about the big "Everest climbing crampons" I'm talking about mini-crampons that can be fitted in seconds to your boots and shoes.

If your winter walking doesn’t take you up Ben Nevis or Snowdon you don’t need proper crampons – but if you still have to deal with icy paths and slippery snow then Kahtoola Micro Spikes look a good choice.

They also make a light weight for carrying. They consist of a stretchy upper that fits over the shoe and eight very short spikes that are linked by flexible stainless steel chains. Fitting them to different footwear is easy. There are no straps or screw fittings. They are held in place by the tension of the lightly stretched uppers and there are four sizes available.

Priced at about £50 a pair from climbing shops.

There are other options available on ebay. The lightweight pocket sized mini crampon for use on most slippery surfaces such as ice and snow. Gives you the confidence to stay active outdoors all Winter. This grippy, durable, slip-on traction system features strategically placed stainless steel spikes connected to a dynamic flex-chain with a tough elastomer shoe harness. The unique "microspike" chain adjusts itself to grip nearly any surface - from ice and packed snow to wet rocks, concrete, and scree. durable spikes require no special buckles or straps. This pocket-sized traction device is the answer for people of all ages who want to stay active in the winter with convenient, effective foot traction. Securely attaches to everyday shoes, and boots.

Priced at about £20 a pair.

Another ebay offering is the The Magic Spiker.

Keep your feet firmly on the ground. The Magic Spiker is a uniquely designed footwear accessory that helps everyone walk with "slip free" confidence. Ice, snow, mud, sand and wet grass will stop being a hazard to you, giving you the confidence to venture out in any weather conditions! The Magic Spiker is designed for everyone; from children all the way through to adults. With a pair of Magic Spikers you will walk with complete confidence. Works on snow, ice, mud, wet grass and sand. Unique design allows rear heal to grip with rubber thread and front to grip with studs. Fits just about any boot or shoe (even high heels).

Priced at about £10 a pair.

If you decide to use a pair of spikes on your feet. Get yourself a small square of wood sheet or one of those perforated plastic mats to protect your boat deck. You need this to stand on whist you get your spike/cleats/ crampons on or off your boots or shoes and to save damaging your boats deck.


Tuesday 23 November 2010

An evening with

Last night was a bit of a kerfuffle for me and the Memsahib as we made a dash from work to our home. First to take the dog out. Second to snatch a quick cup of tea. Third to rush back to work to spend an evening with Howard Webb. Whilst I have a number of football hero's Howard is (as a local lad) held in similar esteem.

Howard Webb is the bald headed football referee who has reached almost cult status after he refereed this years world cup final in South Africa. 
Howard also broke a record during the contest by issuing 14 yellow cards as well as 1 red card.

Howard spoke of one of the low points in his refereeing career. After managing the Poland Austria match. After the game ended, fans in Poland raged against Web, with hate-filled videos and images. One article on Soccerlens profiling Howard Webb received around 300 comments in the 3 hours between the end of the game and the point where comments were closed and subsequently removed. The comments were full of hate and vitriol, aiming sexual abuse and death threats towards the English referee and claiming that Webb had taken bribes to give that penalty.

His love for football and for refereeing was obvious. Evidenced by the passion that came across as he spoke of his refereeing experiences. There was little time left for questions at the end. However, the big one was asked about the use of new technology into the game. In a well reasoned argument, he supported goal mouth technology. However, he opposed other forms because "it would disrupt the ebb and flow of the game". Howard was in my opinion spot on!

As it happens Howard Webb is no stranger to the University as we have a very good sports fitness department and Howard is a regular visitor. I do hope they invite him back very soon. I have about 50 questions of my own that I would like to ask.

Questions like, "Is a referee who sends off Peter Crouch actually doing football supporters a favour" and "apart from get yourself some glasses - what other bit of advice have you had from football supporters"

Went out at lunch time for a walk round the city centre when I spotted a copy of  "Canals and Canal Boats" Narrated by Brian Glover. It was for sale in one of those charity shops that now seem to fill every high street.

Priced at a bargain 49p  I shall enjoy having a watch of it tonight.


Monday 22 November 2010

Having a ball.

Saturday night we went with friends to a ball, me in the old dinner suit and the Memsahib in her posh frock. A good time was had by all - it was very early in the morning by the time we returned home!

The after dinner speaker was "Geoff Billington" who is a two times Olympian with his legendary horse "It's Otto" together they formed one of the UK's best show jumping partnerships competing all around the world.

I know that I am against all blood sports - but this ball is organised by a trail hunt - where the dogs follow a scented trail. I also go to the ball and in my way I encourage them not to support fox hunting. Most of the people are into horses and the hunting element is just a by-product of their love of riding. I love to see the girls in their finest clothes - slowly get rat arsed - and the whole ball ends up as a bunfight. It is just good clean fun where everyone gets to let their hair down and have a good time.

I learned to ride many years ago - and although I enjoyed it enormously - I have to admit its been many years since I last sat in the saddle.  The after dinner conversation was very good at bringing back memories long suppressed. It did make me think about having a day or two out riding with the Memsahib. I still have my jodhpurs, hat and boots. Though I think the jodh's might have shrunk a bit since I last had them on!

A funny sort of a day yesterday was, the weather was neither here or there. At least the wind has dropped and the nights are a few degrees warmer than of late. The log burning stove at home has been in constant use for the last week. Looking at the long range weather report we can expect some cloud free nights over the next week, so we can expect some sharp frosts. So I made another visit to Rosie to light up the stove, burnt a few logs before stoking up with solid fuel and damping down the air supply.  That should air out any damp that might be building up inside.

At long last I finally got round to fitting the front cratch cover. The number of visits to do this where I have ended up doing other things is a big one. So now its done. next one is to take down the pram cover of the back and replace it with a tonneau cover.

So I am going back again today to fit the recently purchased electrical anti frost heaters and to top-up the electricity meter. We put in £10 for 25 units back in July and there is still around 5 units left so the mooring electrical supply seems to be quite economical.  I want to start up the engine and let her get up to her normal working temperature. Just to let the oil lap round all the nooks and crevices. We also have an Alde gas central heating system fitted on Rosie. However, we have not used it so far this year. I might even give that a go as well, by way of a test and to check it out for any operational problems.


Sunday 21 November 2010

Burning recovered wood on your stove?

Another interesting topic that has raised a few interesting questions. You can read the full story about poisonous wooden pallets, here on the Nb Universe Blog.

Tony on Nb Universe wrote "At one time, the roof was piled four pallets high along its entire length, and I had to stay put until I’d chopped enough of them up to allow me to see where I was going. While I was doing this, a woman cycling along the towpath stopped and asked me whether it was ok to burn pallets. She was under the impression that they were treated with something nasty that makes them give off poisonous fumes. I didn’t know whether she was right or wrong but I thought I’d better check. What I found out is that pallets have to be treated to ensure that they cannot carry insects or plant diseases to other countries. Usually this involves heat treatment but some pallets, mostly from the USA, have been treated with a chemical called bromomethane, also known as methyl bromide. This is a seriously nasty chemical that damages various parts of the body, may be carcinogenic and attacks the ozone layer for good measure. Apparently it has now been phased out, but some pallets are still in use. "

I never knew that some of the wooden pallets you can find scattered around are poisonous. I have chopped up and burnt a large number of pallets in the past. I never gave it a second thought. I wonder how many pallets get burnt each year on the 5th of November for Guy Fawkes night. I tend to use pallet wood as kindling for starting the stove on board Rosie and also on the log burner at home. I shall take much more care to check for the markings in future.

This reminded me of the story in the paper a while back of a local man, who's dog was fond of carrying sticks. The dog became very ill and it was eventually diagnosed by the vet as having Labunum Poisoning. Laburnum is a popular flowering tree planted in many gardens. 

Wiki says:- "All parts of the plant are poisonous and can be lethal if consumed in excess. Symptoms of Laburnum poisoning may include intense sleepiness, vomiting, convulsive movements, coma, slight frothing at the mouth and unequally dilated pupils. In some cases, diarrhea is very severe and at times the convulsions are markedly tetanic."

Take care out there...


Saturday 20 November 2010

Life can be such a bitch.

Yours truly woke up a bit later than normal this morning. I was soon feeling much better after enjoying a good scratch. Accompanied by a good stretch, just to relieve a bit of muscle ache. Scratching and stretching is something we all do, even if we don't like to admit it. I was now ready to face whatever another day at Wits-End might bring. Looking out of the window, I could see that it was a typical late autumnal morning. Dreary, grey and damp so there is no change there then. However, the weather could never dampen my enthusiasm for day, "carpe diem" I say.

Carpe diem is usually translated from the Latin as 'seize the day'. However, the more pedantic of scholars may very well seize you by the throat if you suggest that translation. 'Carpe' translates literally as 'pluck', so a more accurate rendition is, pluck the day.
"Pluck the day" now where have I heard that before!

I did not fancy breakfast, to be honest I tend to eat only once a day, with the odd titbit in between. I must admit to being something of a faddy eater, well that's what everyone else says about me. All this talk of the food I eat is enough to give you a complex. Why does everyone take so much interest in what I do or don't eat. Its just that I can only eat when I feel hungry and I'm not one for eating just for the sake of it. I know what I like, so my diet tends to be a bit repetitive. But each to their own and as those sheep burning froggies would say - c'est la vie.

I heard the milkman call, the clink-clink of the bottles followed by the clunk of the gate! I don't know why he doesn't get a trumpet and make an even bigger noise. Otherwise, the house is extra quiet this morning, it being the weekend and all that. Everyone else, like me is enjoying the simple pleasure that a bit of a lay-in can give. An hour later and the first stirrings of life occur. Family members start to shuffle bleary eyed from their bedrooms to the bathroom and back. I heard the faint click on the central heating system as it kicked in. I knew the radiators would soon be warm and cosy. I headed downstairs to the living room to check on the stove. It was still lit but ready for a few more logs to be added.  Jasper, the venerable and smelly old cat was in his usual position laid on the back of the settee curled up into a ball. I don't know what it is, but I can't get enough of watching the flames and feeling all nice and warm at the same time. Staring into the flames is a simple and very relaxing way to spend an evening.

When I went back to the kitchen, the family were all up and around and feeding their faces as they prepared to face the day. As for me, I was ready for my morning constitutional which includes a nice long walk. At the weekends I tend to go a bit further afield than the usual quick walk round the local recreation ground. So, being the weekend today was not going to be an exception. When everyone was ready I put on my new waterproof coat and we eventually set off down the road. Soon joining up with and going onto the Trans-Pennine Trail. Once on the trail we had a steady walk down towards the Old Moor Nature Reserve. We met up with a couple of owners and their dogs along the trail. Where everyone dogs and owners alike would pause for a quick greeting. Soon we were following the trail along side of the Bulling Dyke until we reached the point where the dyke joins into the River Dearne. There was plenty of wildlife around, I could clearly hear the calls of Coots and Widgeon on Bolton Ings, Old Moor lakes and River Dearne long before we arrived there.

I made my way down through a gap in the undergrowth to the waters edge, where I disturbed a Grey Heron who had been fishing for his breakfast. I watched him as he slowly flapped his way up river and disappeared round the corner. The heron did a few squawks to show his disapproval as he went.  It's at this point along the trail where we now join the old disused railway line. Its starting to get much lighter now and the Gulls and Geese are returning to the Old Moor reserve after a night spent foraging in the fields. Now we are heading towards Cat Hill and I can hear the steady drone of the traffic on the Dearne Valley Parkway. Why do people rush around so much, rushing off to their work or rushing to do their weekly shopping.

I noticed that the wind had stripped all but the most tenuous of the autumnal leaves from the branches. It feels good to shuffle your feet through the piled up leaves. Continuing to follow the course of the River Dearne,  passing under the parkway we make our way towards Wombwell Ings. I always enjoy seeing all the different birds on the Ing. Plus there is always a selection of gypsy horses in the field to observe. The River Dearne at this point seems to have a good depth of water. Maybe one day in the future we might be able to come this way on the narrowboat. The Dearne and Dove Canal ran in the past for almost ten miles from Swinton on the River Don through to Barnsley.  Passing through nineteen locks along the way. We continued to follow the course of the Dearne as we went round the lake. Walking along on top of the flood bank until we reached the end of the Ings. Its at this point where we leave the river and head off towards Broomhill village.

There is a small nature reserve at Broomhill Flash including a birdhide. But we choose to view it from the road. There are plenty of ducks and geese to be seen on the lake. A few boring old sheep in the fields. But there is also the amazing aroma of Pig. I love the smell and sounds of the Pig. Depending on your sense of smell and what you might find to be an interesting smell. The piggery is a pretty powerful place. I find it to be an attractive smell but others find it to be a bit too "agricultural" for their delicate proboscis. The sows and their piglets snorting in the troughs looking for any bits of food that might have been overlooked. Then there is the squeal of the little piglets which I could watch for hours. Seems a shame that we will be enjoying them for breakfast, in the not to distant future. I know that I am a faddy eater - but where sausages and bacon are concerned. I can always find my appetite renewed.

We are almost home again now, just a short distance more. We have to cross a couple of busy roads and we will be back at Wits-End once more. My feet are a bit muddy but most of that will clean off as we walk through the last of the grass. Its been an enjoyable time and I can't think of a better way to start the day. Well to be factually correct I can. That's when we get the boat out and go and potter along the canal for a few weeks at a time. But my morning constitutional is an acceptable replacement for the time being. Now that my feet are clean I'm ready to go and check out on the stove, to see if someone has thrown on a few more logs. Just so that I can enjoy staring into the flames once more. So that I can re-live the sight, sound and smell of all the places we visited this morning.

Some people complain about their life, moaning that their life is a bitch Well in my case, that is very true. But you will hear no complaints from me on that score.

Love from Poppy the pooch.