Wednesday, 31 December 2008

New Years Eve 2008

During the day we had a good natter to folks, we were surprised at how many of us were staying here tonight! Tony smashed some of the ice at the back of our boat so we could have a nosy at how thick it was. He lifted out a heavy block that was like bullet proof glass, the ice in the marina almost looked solid enough to walk on, but no one was willing to test that out.

Later we had a little "impromptu" party (of sorts) on the back of the boat, Tony brought round cups of tea and free "Wagon Wheels" for us, do you remember those? They were MASSIVE when we were kids, but appear to have been trimmed down somewhat since then.
Note of shock,, Tony The Mop actually made a brew for us! Normally it’s the other way round, even so, it has to be said it was a fine cup o' char indeed so it must've been a special day...!

At night we would've gone round to the local pub for a tipple or two, but they were charging £35 to get in! Hotpot supper and (hopefully) free drinks for the rest of the year at that price! Needless to say we boycotted it, and we don't know of anyone else who went. Shame really.
Some folks were hoping to go out on their boats, but seeing as we are all well and truly "set in" there's been no movement either. Anyway we stayed warm n’ cosy inside the boat, and drank a bottle of wine --- each.
Took these photos earlier, I've never seen swans slip sliding on top of the ice before, they look totally befuddled don't they? Until yesterday they could make a channel through, and the ducks found that very useful, but not anymore...
Paddy from next door on guard, he and swans don’t get on well, and they’re a bit higher up than usual at the moment…

Tuesday, 30 December 2008

More Pratting About With Practice Shots

This weather is deceiving, the marina was frozen yesterday, but today it's back to normal.
Thing is though we all know this isn't going to last long because it's forecast –3 degrees tonight.
So we made the best of things and took lots of photos on different settings, I think it was more a case of testing out what we were capable of taking, not the camera itself...
Here's a nice one that Dave took, doesn't it look warm? Believe me, it wasn't...

I took this one of the swan in front of the island, (wow that's zoom). It would've required having the ability to walk on water to get this with the other cam...
From a rose (above) to a thorn (below). Tony standing in for Alan on neighbourhood watch and taking it all way too seriously...
What more can I say...?

Sunday, 28 December 2008

First Scenic Photos With The New Camera

I took my first steps "into the unknown" today with the new camera, so I’ve matched some views which I think show up just how naff the old camera was:
Old camera trying it's best, doing its worst...
Same view with the new camera on auto, keeping it simple for now...!

Old camera trying it's worst again...

Same view with new camera on auto (again)...

Not perfect perhaps. some adjustment with zoom and focus helped, but what a difference!
We're still figuring out best settings in best light, plus all about ISO.
ISO wish I could get it…

Friday, 26 December 2008

Boxing Day At The Office

Wait… I've still not finished off Christmas Day yet! At night we went round to see our best mates Ju and Fran. (They live just round the corner from my sister's, AND just round the corner from our house that we don't live in anymore). We had a right good laugh and it was really nice to see some of Ju's family who we haven't seen for years.

So while us ladies were in the dining room "catching up" and having a good natter with a glass of wine or two. (Or even three). Dave and Fran were in the front room having a play about with the camera. Being as they're a couple of blokes, rather than take a photo of us all having fun, they each took one of Ju's Christmas tree instead. It still deserves a viewing because it's so beautiful and infinitely better than ours...

Later on when we got back to the boat Dave could finally sit down and have a drink, he'd had to go without one all day because he was driving, ah...

Meanwhile back to today: It’s a Boxing / filing day:

We've accumulated a mountain of paperwork that's just got stuffed away in various folders recently, but NOT very neatly and NOT very orderly.

This made us both realise that we had to do some "orderly filing" so we don't spend ages looking for stuff in future. Why did we choose today for this task?

I've no idea, because whilst it's tradition to sit down, relax, put your feet up, drink some more wine, and watch that crappy old Christmas film that you've seen about a million times.

We on the other hand got embroiled in what can only be described as a confusing mess, that took 10 times longer to sort than we predicted. But it was a stubborn case of "now we've got a system going, we've got to see it through" and it took ALL DAY.

Turned out to be "BoxFile day" for us this year then...

Thursday, 25 December 2008

Christmas Day 2008

Well Christmas Day went by without anything going wrong (which is most unusual for my family). We cooked the turkey crown at the boat and arrived at my sisters on time. The turkey was warmed up in the oven with gravy, (worked just like Dave said the other day) and turned out very nice indeed. It even fed 9 of us with some to spare. There was all the usual stuff went with it of course, (no need to make a list), including Christmas pud and a bottle or two of Champagne!

Later on we handed round the presents, and afterwards tried to play a very stupid box game, (can't remember what it was called). However we soon realised it was totally unplayable.

Normally under these circumstances we can manage to work out how to play a new game, even if the rules are modified somewhat. That's part of the fun of it really because where instructions are concerned, we each tend to work individually rather than as a team.
But rather than causing hilarious conflict as might be expected, it actually had the opposite effect. The whole thing slowly descended into a huge farce concerning who can come up with the most PATHETIC way of playing the game. And that's about as far as we got, it's much funnier than the game itself could ever be – really.

We took our new Digital SLR camera with us (to show off), and these are the first (printable) photos...
Him and Me...

My mum and dad...

My sis (the hostess) and her gang...
Our daughter Tracey and her boyfriend Alex...
Not bad, but keep it on auto…

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Camtastic Christmas Eve

There’s been the odd mention or 2 about my "crappy cam" on this blog (and off it).
So I'll start off calm here and slowly let things build into a crescendo. After tea Dave was secretly scanning online for the new camera I’ve craved for ages. I caught him out and invited myself to join in.

Having done some research concerning all the tech jargon, he'd already narrowed it down to two different ones, so we agreed on the "Cannon EOS 1000D". A very nice piece of kit indeed.
The next job was to compare prices at Argos, Curry's, Comet, and we were VERY surprised to find that "Jessop's" (a dedicated camera shop), was offering it for less than all of the above??? Weird, but maybe not too strange when you consider the current financial crisis.
At one time the "expert shop" focusing on one main product, would leave you with less change in your pocket than your average multi-electronic gizmo retailer.
So it looks like the "smart move" for the specialised shop right now is to undercut the masses or go down the pan. Which works out very nicely for the shopper on a mission. All we had to do then was decide when to get it, and the conversation went something like:
Dave: Well we'll leave it till just after Christmas eh?
Me: OK, but they might've all gone by then.
Dave: Nah, there'll still be sales on.
Me: Yes but sale stock is disappearing fast, so when new stock comes in, will it still be on sale? And if so will prices be the same? It's a gamble.
Dave: Nah, there'll still be some left next week at the same price.
Me: How do you know?
Dave: Well I just do.
Me: But this is a camera we're after WITH a separate package thrown in. So what if they’ve sold out?
Dave: Well perhaps we'd better go tomorrow then.
Me: Yes I agree...

Now for you guys out there the conversation above is a classic example of something us women are very good at, (well this one is anyway). It’s called "reverse persuasion." To explain further, I wanted to get the new camera tomorrow from the start. Follow the conversation carefully, and you'll notice that although Dave set off in the middle of next week somewhere. He's the one who ends up suggesting tomorrow – not me. Clever eh?


We went to get the camera this aft, no problems (amazing), Dave / Me (whoever), was right about the decision to go today. Because the package we'd chosen included the Cannon camera and lens plus another more powerful lens. The extra one being a Tamron, and there was only one of those left.

So at last we have our dream camera, look at this beauty... 

“That's a big ´un you got there sir...”

When we got back to the boat, Dave set the camera on charge and sat down to read the book that came with it (which rivals Yellow Pages). Meanwhile I decided to take a different approach,, to “learn on demand.”
By early evening we were both getting ready to go out to the pub for a drink. I was in the bathroom putting me face on when it struck me that things had gone very quiet, but thought nothing of it.
Turned out the new toy had come to life, the red light on the charger had turned to green, and David (Bailey) out there had been sneakily setting it all up. In a flash (excuse) Dave without the Bailey appeared in the bathroom doorway. In an instant (excuse) I was the subject of a very uncoordinated, very unprofessional, "photo shoot."
We were both laughing so much it was only after the third photo I realised that my face was all I WAS WEARING. Hence the very first photo this wonderful new piece of technology produced is one of me starkers. Just for the record, it won’t be posted on here, or anywhere come to think of it!

PS: We had a great night out, (minus camera), more jolliness and general silliness with our friends. Start as you mean to go on where Christmas is concerned eh?
Now all I need to do is learn a whole new way of taking photos...

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Christmas Cheers!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all readers, family, friends and fellow bloggers…
Have a lovely time and thanks for following our jolly story...!
From Heather and Dave
 Gift with a bow

Monday, 22 December 2008

A Swan On A Mission

I took these photos of the "teenage swan" this aft. It's very tame, maybe because it's used to being near our species so much it now thinks it's one of us.

Here he is patiently waiting outside the office because someone else jumped the queue...

Here he is going in the office for an electric card and 30 days worth of Wi-Fi...

Here he is leaving afterwards...
No doubt, he'll be back in the new year to pay his mooring fees.
Apologies for lack of ZOOM, that new Cannon camera I've babbled about is coming this way soon, via my hubby. No nagging required either...!

Monday, 15 December 2008

Today It´s The Breakfast Bar

Dave got to work on today's job agenda and within seconds the place looked like a bikers yard. He’s methodical and well organised when he's working. Unfortunately his grand array of tools don't do methodical and definitely aren't organised!
As a knock on effect this creates a tendency to forget where he's put things, either that or something just gets buried completely and temporarily lost. I played "gopher" for a while, retrieving requested missing items and administering cups of tea.
There was nothing much I could do to help (honest there wasn't). So I put some washing on and escaped for a visit with some friends on their boat. Cakes all round so “Dave the worker” took a break and was presented with one too.

He was just putting the finishing touches to varnishing the edges of the breakfast bar and the job was done. So the big toolbox clean up began. It's quite fascinating to watch really because how he manages to stuff so many items in different boxes is beyond me. I'd end up with a surplus to throw in the cupboard for sure.
But what makes it work (and makes me laugh) is the way he places things neatly together in a toolbox. Then when he discovers he can't close the lid, there's a highly skilled "shuffle" goes on. Whereby almost everything is emptied out again and put back together, a bit like a jig-saw. He gets there in the end.

I've seen this particular talent in operation before, when I've been packing a suitcase and can't fasten it because there's stuff bulging out all over the place. My night in shining armour comes along and with some swift swapping about manages to close the case easily. It’s amazing, everything’s still intact and there’s no creased clothing. He calls it "getting a quart into a pint pot" he he.
Moral of the story: Always keep your tools in order, at least until you get them out...
(Oh really missus!).
Later on I offered to hoover up, well I had to show willing didn't I? And no, I didn't find any more tinsel this time.
Anyway, back round the breakfast bar, it's now got a nice angled edge to it instead of a rounded one that stuck out a bit too far.
I should've put "before and after" pictures together here. The ones I took on Saturday show the (carefully measured) tape in place, I remember a geometry lesson came into that somewhere.

And I should've took a photo of the corner as it was before the tape. Ah well, I guess it's too late to stick the discarded piece of wood back on now.

Finished product at the end of the day...

Had to crop my slippers and socks out of this photo...
Nice one dear…!

Saturday, 13 December 2008

Slicing Up The Front Staircase And The Breakfast Bar

I know winter is traditionally the time to change / improve / work on a boat & yes we had (still have) plans for more changes. But they keep changing because one job generates another. At the moment it feels a bit like a juggling act, but it's worth it. Much more satisfying than juggling jobs in a house (great big yawn to that one).

Anyway here he is, the master at work, he was supposed to be chopping the end bits off the stairs sat next to him, to make them match the other side. So they have a rounded edge on the front both sides. BUT as you can see the staircase was set aside while another job came along. Insulating the cold water pipes (leading from the water tank) with some fancy lagging. The tank was insulated with spray foam when the boat was built but the pipes behind the stairs were a source of condensation.
The stairs themselves were given a short back and sides later on.
Pipework of the cumbersome kind… 

Next job, cutting the end bit off the breakfast bar, all prepped, waiting for a saw...
To be continued…

Friday, 12 December 2008

Swans Playing Duck Dodgems

The number of swans round here keeps increasing, they must be telling their friends that this marina is the finest bakery around these parts. Because over the past few days there's been an extra one arrived each day, and as you can see we're now up to four! It may not sound like a lot, but it's more than we've ever seen here.
Just sent these photos in to North West Tonight, on the programme they show photos in the background while informing us which version of grotty weather we'll get the following day. I think it's supposed to make us feel better about howling gales / blizzards / ice and snow etc. So these swish swans (and friends) could end up as celebrities. Then again are my photos worthy of being shown on a TV screen? It's questionable, but if I get an email from my agent later I'll let you know...

There was even a duck stood waiting patiently on one of my boots for a while, (I kid ye not) cheeky beggar. Couldn't get a photo because me fingers had ice forming on them by then. In fact the ducks had to help me out with getting the rest of the bread from inside the bag! Brrrrr…

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Ice Breaker Speed Limit

Last night the marina froze again, up to now people have only moved while it's been free of ice. I mean even though we all know the weather forecast is a bit dodgy at times. When it says minus 3 or whatever you always hope for the best.

So people have chosen their moments wisely to go for pump outs etc. I suppose you could say we've all been lucky in that it hasn't been constantly frozen for days on end. (Yet!)
I've read on some of the blogs about folks seeing other people using their boats as icebreakers out on the canal. I get the impression nobody minds when a boat goes past slowly and carefully, "tip toeing" in such conditions. In fact the gap that can be followed must be a bonus! So it's all about courtesy shown by whoever moves first.

This morning I was awoken to the sound of a boat going at a fair pelt through the ice with the engine being revved up high. It sent the ice crashing around the bow of our boat (and everyone else's on the pier). I honestly thought the moving boat had gone out of control crashed into the lot of us, the noise was that loud.

We all know that the bow & the engine will grind the ice up, and spit it out with a ripple effect. Which is why revs / speed should be kept low, especially in a marina it's just common sense really. Did this boat really need to be going that fast so close to other boats when the ice wasn't very thick?

I remember last year when the canal & marina was frozen for a week, a boat needed a pump out and it was used to break very thick ice, going at snails pace. It turned out later that damage had been done to the bottom of it! But what irks more than any of that is general thoughtlessness.

There, rant over..!

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Side Tracked

Well, with all the lights and decorations already up it was time to continue the on going job (still) with the back doors and hatch. But as sometimes often happens with these things. Dave changed tack and started on some new beading & edging along the bulkheads (cupboards) either side of the stairs.
Very nice too, he thought he could fit both jobs in today, but nope, so there's always next weekend. I think he’s finding the door job is a bit tedious now, and that a lack of enthusiasm’s setting in.

Anyway while my other half went off on a tangent, I stuck to my original plan and oiled the wood that goes down the stairs, both sides. Considering the wood there was really dried out, needed some tender love care, it’s a real transformation. As you can see, it's brought out the grain in the wood with style. [Nice job H]
Below the handrail...
Above the handrail, on an angle with the Preston Riversway Festival 2008 plaque...
Oh, and remember the little Christmas house I found yesterday? Ah...

In other news: The marina isn't frozen anymore (defrosted?) So the ducks are a lot happier because they can have a rest from line dancing / break (a leg) dancing.
Pathetic news: We both made a right mess today doing various jobs (the boat looked like a workshop). So later on when we finally got straight, I hoovered up (like you do), and discovered a few bits of tinsel hiding in a corner. Intriguingly some were green and some were red, but I only used silver stuff when I dressed the place up yesterday...
Nope it's not from last year.
Yes, that corner is hoovered regularly.
Conclusion: They were in a bag that once contained coloured tinsel and it fell out right? Well it's either that or I've been ripped off...

Saturday, 6 December 2008

Saturday Night Light Fantastic

Today was memorable for the great Christmas light show "switch on," it was cold and fine outside. So work began in earnest first thing, well us, and next door's, and next door but and next door but three anyway.
Alan’s lights have already been up a week, so the rest of us had some catching up to do. There's no competitions at this end of the pier, between us we've put Blackpool lights in the shade, (which isn't difficult I suppose.)
Phrases such as:
  • "Well it doesn't go that way / this way"
  • "It won't reach"
  • "You've got it the wrong way round"
  • “Jiggle it a bit then"
  • "Where are the tie wraps?"
Good job nobody was getting that lot without the visual. 
The big co-ordinated “switch on" was originally set for 4pm. Then we realised it was a bit early, so some of us delayed it slightly. In the end there was no precise time at all. Even so we held a short carol service, 4 lines of "Noel, Noel" was all any of us could remember.
Second rate celebrities had been contacting us all day, they were falling over themselves to be part of the action, but we decided it wouldn't be fair to choose just one and turned them all off down.
Here's a few "shots in the dark" and believe me they're just that. I mean these photos really don't do our efforts any justice at all. So you'll have to imagine how thrilling it all looks, it does in real life, just not through my crappy cam!
Trying to get the lights from the 4 boats in one photo together was impossible so here's a few bits...

Our own effort...
The pagoda next door, where there's a joke or two about taking bookings for weddings  and christenings...
Tony's effort, dreary me, while we were busy all day, he spent all of 5 minutes hanging THIS pathetic specimen. (£1.50 at Aldi). Ripped off good and proper then. Later on a short string of about 10 wonky lights appeared, Bah Humbug...
 The mop…
I forgot to say I decorated inside the boat this aft while Dave was on the roof tangled up in lights. And I found a little fibre optic house, you know, the ones that sparkle inside with fake snow on the roof? Well anyway, it shows the tree up a bit...

Friday, 5 December 2008

The Puniest Christmas Tree Ever

When we went shopping yesterday one of the items on my list was "dinky little Christmas tree.” I never expected to find one, but there it was on one of the Christmas crap stuff shelves shouting out loud "Please buy me.” Aw it was so cute (and so cheap) how could I resist?
The fibre optic aspect was a bonus, so that's what swayed it for me...
When we got back to the boat I soon discovered it was in fact only half as high as the box it came in, and fell somewhat short of the picture on the front too. Oh why didn't I stop for a moment to read the DIMENSIONS???
This is a photo I took in semi-darkness so the highly technical battery operated fibre optics would show up. Yes it was switched on at the time, AND changing colour from red to yellow. But as you can see the special effects are hardly mind blowing or even visible at all:
We thought that maybe we could fluff out the branches to give it some shape. But no, they’re stuck fast, it's also wonky and won't straighten up.
So I sat it on the side while we worked out what to do? We were laughing so much Dave decided it should look a bit different. So he slapped it upside down under the breakfast bar, and the tree fell out of the base. Nice one.
After putting it back together I felt a bit sorry for it, so I've stood it next to the TV, and to get things in proportion here's the long and short of it:
We used to hide chocolates in the Christmas tree for the kids to find. This on the other hand, is "find the Christmas tree and you can have a chocolate."

Thursday, 4 December 2008

No Show Snow

17 centimetres of snow they said,, not even one ice crystal fell. I was going to take some lovely fluffy white pictures and post them today. Yes it's inconvenient stuff that causes mayhem, but it does look nice.
This is what we got instead, oh whoopee, and no I wasn't going to step off the back of the boat for a clearer view. (Did I say clearer view?)

I only took the two photos, just to prove we missed the snow. I guess we're a bit lucky here because we never seem to get the worst of the weather. The majority of the time it's better than the forecast.
This time though we thought there was no way we'd avoid the snow, well amazingly we did, but were blessed with stair rods instead...
Ahem, the photo below was taken yesterday, but I forgot to post it, so:
Here's Tony sat a' back o' TT2
Having a rest and drinking a brew,
So with no mop in sight,
He's hurt his back, right???

Anyway while the stars of the show strutted their stuff yesterday, let's pay tribute to the underlings, the reserves, sat on the jetty there. Waiting patiently in the wings while yearning for the limelight, along with yon mon over the way there...
Today there's not a duck in sight, looks like they're all still knackered from yesterday's excitement.
Well I must fly,,, got things to do...