Sunday, 21 December 2014

bunkering on the canal

Spencer and Victoria came by yesterday on nb Aquilo, their arrival heralded by the clanging of the handbell. They're based at Hilperton, and travel between Bath and Pewsey with fuel and chandlery.

I bought some Calor gas and coal; there's still plenty of diesel in the tank from their last visit, and of course I'm still burning the ash wood that Jim dropped off the other week. So that's the fuel supplies sorted till the new year and beyond...

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

the bicycle thieves

My lovely and very distinctive Strida bicycle was stolen last night from the back of my Morris Traveller, which was parked in Bradford on Avon.

Observe triangular frame, with release mechanism at the front of the lower cross tube allowing it to fold up. Also belt drive, drum brakes, and, the one thing that distinguishes it from other Stridas, the handlebars which have been recently been repainted with Hammerite gloss black.

Here's the mess the thief or thieves made when forcing the back door

....and this is the quick repair I did to allow me to use the car again....

Sunday, 14 December 2014

like some watcher of the skies

Jim was paddling by the other day, because his Seagull was out of fuel. I lent him a cup of petrol, and off he chugged, delivering firewood to someone up Avoncliffe way.

He called by later with my own order for firewood, a nice pile of ash for a tenner. 

Then we had a glass of Jaegermeister, because it was that time of day. As we sat putting the world to rights, a moth wandered over from the back of his beret to the front edge, peered out, then ambled off around the perimeter, for all the world like the Little Prince on his asteroid, or Major Clanger on his; if, of course, the Little Prince and Major Clanger were moths, which they aren't. 

Then off they puttered, Jim and the moth, leaving a slight sheen of Seagull in their wake.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

getting the water to run smoothly on a narrowboat

In spring, I put an accumulator on the boat water supply. This is a tank positioned between the water pump and the taps; there is a head of air in the tank, whose pressure is adjusted through a Schrader valve on the top of the tank (a Schrader valve is like the ones you get on car tyres). The pressure in the tank with the pump switched off should be the same as the cut-in pressure of the pump. Then, when the pump is operating, it pushes water into the tank until it reaches the cut-out pressure. When you open a tap, water flows smoothly out until the pressure has dropped to the point that the pump starts again, and refills the tank.

The pump had begun stopping and starting much more frequently and for shorter periods than usual; so I decided to add more air.

I switched off the pump (top picture) then drained off the water in the tank.

Then I connected my bicycle pump to the valve on top of the tank

...and pumped it up to about 15 psi. My bicycle pump has a useful gauge on it.

...and now it is working as well as it used to. My friend Philip, who knows a lot about pump systems, suggested that the diaphragm in the tank may be ruptured, and suggested replacing the tank under warranty. But for the moment, I'll see how long this recharging will last....

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Uffington Hare

The new picture, following on from the Questing Vole, shows a hare looking up at Lepus, the constellation of the hare, below Orion and pursued by Sirius (though you can't see them in this pic, just in case you were looking). I drew the picture then scanned it and coloured it using Paint Shop Pro. This is good for those deep, smooth colours, as you see; I'd made two starts at this picture using watercolour, and put them aside as it just wasn't the medium for the picture I had in mind. 

As several people asked if it was going to be available as a card, I thought I'd better get some printed up; the cards won't be ready for a few days yet, but I've just picked up some prints and they can be got here on Etsy

Saturday, 29 November 2014

dhobi day on the boat

An article in the Guardian a couple of weeks ago looked at people who live on boats, particularly in London, as a solution to the housing crisis of availability and expense. A couple of comments I read as a response to the article reckoned that boat dwellers are smelly, which accords with my (thankfully limited) experience of the attitude that some people have to boaters as some sort of underclass, disreputable and probably on drugs, yadda yadda....

Anyway, some people are smelly, and some people aren't. And that ain't got much to do with where they live. Still, as part of my occasional series of blogs about Life On Narrowboats, here's how I do my washing.

the bathroom pump

After I've showered, on a washday, rather than pump the water overboard I bale it into a basin and add it to my twin tub washing machine.

Meanwhile, over on the Morso Squirrel, a kettle has been simmering, and I add the water to the mix to bring the temperature right up

Then I put the Honda generator out on the back deck, and set it running. This is an opportunity to charge the 12V domestic batteries, too.

I can then set the washing machine going. The spin drier is very effective, more so than a normal automatic machine, and two rinses are usually all I need to do

And then I hang the clothes in front of the stove. The atmosphere in the boat is a bit heavy with heat and moisture for a few hours, but then it becomes far more bearable and the clothes dry very nicely.

Friday, 28 November 2014

Questing Vole cards

The Questing Vole cards are proving popular... I was distributing them around Bristol on Wednesday, and this morning was in Devizes and Seend, and sending a parcel of them off to Australia! If you'd like some, they're available in my Etsy shop. I've also had some printed up as giclee prints, and the picture is available in a limited edition of 50. You can get one here,  again in the Etsy shop.