Friday, March 30, 2007
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
We eventually reached the top. The views were magnificent. The colours would have done a Dulux Colour Chart proud. After a further hour we reached the pub and the pint tasted like the pint of your dreams : creamy, full-flavoured and marvellously refreshing. It was a very agreeable day. A day which will live long in the memory. The hills were alive with the sound of my racing heartbeat and, as Mark said, that's a good thing.
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
Monday, March 26, 2007
Thursday, March 22, 2007
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
Ever since being a poor boy I have liked boxes and now for the first time I can tell the story. Having squandered my resistance to the charms of boxes for nothing more than a pocketful of promises, I discovered that we were being told nothing but lies and jests..... But that is another song.
Monday, March 19, 2007
My wife is on holiday this week and therefore I am first on-call for any shopping trips when a more serious shopper is not available to accompany her. Today we went to Redbrick Mill in Batley. Redbrick Mill is "a lifestyle shopping location" which means it's a converted mill full of posh furniture and French antiques. With their vast open floors, old textile mills are ideal for conversion into such emporiums and Batley has become something of a national centre : Redbrick Mill is just one of several recently converted outlets located on something called "Mill Mile" which boasts, and I quote, "an inspirational shopping experience". Now I am going to try very hard not to be diverted down the path which examines the strange concept of the words "inspirational" and "shopping" sharing the same sentence. That would be tantamount to moaning, and I am attempting to restrict my "moaning posts" to just three a week.
So, there we were exploring the four floors which are home to "some of the biggest names and cutting-edge brands in interior design" (in case it means anything to anyone, there is - amongst others - Habitat, Heal's, Tansu, Fiori Bacchanalia, New Heights, and Feather and Black). After two floors of distressed leather footstools and gourmet kitchen pasta-coolers my eyes were beginning to glaze over and I found myself entering that near-trance like state that is equally known by Tibetan monks and husbands forced to go shopping. And then we got to the third floor.
We both immediately caught the smell which seemed to permeate the whole floor, but it was Isobel who identified it first. It was the smell of wool : the lanolin aroma that had been soaked up over the decades by the wooden floors and beams and was now being returned to the inspired pilgrims to this lifestyle shopping location. The looms were long silent, the bales of wool just a memory captured on sepia photographs. The clanking belts that drove the thrusting, shafting frames were long gone. But the smell of the wool remained, fixed in the very fabric of the building. It was enough to spark a torrent of memories. Isobel was face to face with her father again, transported back to the mill where he used to work. I was back in the West Riding of my youth when the wool mills were still the driving industrial force of the region. Once again it reminded me that, of all the senses, smell has perhaps the greatest capacity for stirring memories back to life.
The day out at Redbrick Mill was an enjoyable one. It was a day which left an impression. We discovered a destination we can take visitors to which illustrates how Yorkshire has now come to terms with its post-industrial status. We can show them Bo Concept, Bollingbrook and Cole's, Le Boudoir and Ice Interiors. But I am going to take my son there. I am going to take him up to the third floor. I am going to say "take a deep breath and smell". I am going to say "that is the smell of your past".
Saturday, March 17, 2007
Friday, March 16, 2007
The moment all the more poignant because when we tried yesterday, um, nothing happened. Lacking an instruction book we'd cavalierly removed a bit we shouldn've. (A flurry of emails and phone calls to the parts supplier eventually revealed our error.)
At full ahead, the boat leaps forward like a racehorse from its stall. Almost. Strangely enough there's a slight delay as the motor builds up speed and then the boat suddenly shoots forwards. In our case restrained by the mooring ropes.
And even at full power, you basically can't hear the motor except nearby and with the deckboards not in place. The noise of the water is greater than that of the motor.
What now? Well, some wiring for the generator and ancilliaries to be completed... but in a week or ten days, all should be ready for sea trials. On the canal (not even the river until that's stream subsides a bit!)
And a big launch party? Ah well, sadly one can only take ten people on board at a time... so several smaller ones, I guess!
Thursday, March 15, 2007
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
However, something is going on. Our narrowboat is very nearly converted to run electric. The engineer called me in just this morning to confirm that we've no idea if the boat will go forwards when you push the lever to forwards - it may go backwards. And vice versa. This had caused him to wake up with a start in the night. Madly enough, I happened to realise just last night that this would be true. Talk about coincidence!....
And so to the photo. The seat of power is visible top left. If it worries you, this has a cushion tied on it when in use - and is quite comfortable. Dead centre is the all-important control lever - at last in place (but not quite yet connected.) Just visible below is the over-ride cut-off manual switch to hit if everything goes pear-shaped.....
Hence the title. It's (going to be) the seat of power - power control or power shut-off, in emergency....
It's all very exciting. Because when it all works (electric drive is incredibly quiet) we can ambush anglers in the morning mist. Have people quizzically wondering why on earth the boat goes at all... (I bet the first comment is actually "So you're the boat that was converted to electric?" Or "So you've got electric drive, I thought about that but decided it was a waste of money. And wouldn't have the power in emergency.")
Ah, but we have twelve kilo-watts of searing power under the bonnet. Well, the deck. Never mind that if we actually ran it at that we'd probably just cause an alarming fountain at the stern (it's called turbulence and cavitation. Something propellors do if spun too fast.) Or that the battery pack would only last 20 minutes... at that power.....
Actually, it should just use a twenty-fourth of that power (on average)... and the batteries run for eight hours, therefore. Not that they have-to, if the whim takes one (or the meters reveal it's a good idea,) you can turn on the generator.
Which brings me neatly to the grey plastic bit on the right. No doubt you have all been wondering endlessly what it is. Ah, that's the siphon break. If you'd asked me three weeks ago I would have gone "uh?", also. I'd no idea how complicated the generator's exhaust system is to make it whisper-quiet. They say - I've not heard it yet! Now, actually, having at last read the generator's manual......
Firstly, I had to be wiped off the floor because it's translated from German and some of the errors of translation were so wonderful....
Secondly, I could write a thesis on how the exhaust system works. Fear not, I won't. Let me just explain that without that siphon break canal (or river) water can potentially be siphoned right into the generator's diesel cylinders causing about £6,000's-worth of damage, if not more.
I don't like money being a reason to do (or not-do) something... but I guess I'm glad the siphon break is fitted!
It may be as soon as Friday things actually "go".... pass me a tranquilliser... I've been wondering about this idea for at least eight years.
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
Friday, March 09, 2007
Wednesday, March 07, 2007
I received an exclusive invitation to a conference which will change my life – the “Own Your Life Weekend” event which will take place in Manchester in June. Now let’s just pause at this stage and consider those three magic words : “Own Your Life”. For months now I have been struggling in search of a meaning, desperate to identify a purpose, anxious to focus on a goal. I have found no answers. But someone has managed to take all the elements which constitute my mid-to-late-life crisis and distill them down into just three words. I want to own my life. According to the blurb, the “Own Your Life Weekend will be a unique, life changing opportunity to challenge the ground rules you’ve grown up with: how you earn your living, how you feel about money and how you feel about your life in general. Bringing 4 of the world’s greatest motivational speakers together for the first time outside of the US, Own Your Life Weekend will show you where you are, where you could be and, most importantly, how to get there”. Well Hallelujah brothers and sisters.
And for just £1,397 I can have privileged access to the weekend event . I can be “at platform level in the arena within feet of the action”. I could “receive the power and insight of these life-transforming wealth coaches full on, close up, for both days”. Oh my. I could even receive an invitation to network with speakers and other successful entrepreneurs at an after-event party. Praise Be.
One of the keynote speakers at the event is Phil Laut, the world's foremost teacher of Money Psychology who in 1979 brought to international attention the link between a person's thoughts, attitudes and feelings and his or her bank account. Read his biography, see what he has done, and marvel. He has written books on money psychology, re-birthing, vivation (the “science of enjoying all of your life” seemingly), and love, sex and communication. And I could be sitting within a few feet of this titan. Rejoice. If you Google his name you find hits in association with almost every school of human thought and activity. There is scarcely a cerebral pie he has not had his finger in. I did, however, discover one chink in his all-embracing armour. If you Google his name along with the word “bonkers” you come up with no direct links. The title of this posting has therefore been chosen carefully to remedy this gap in the cyber wallpaper.
Alas, after carefully consideration and a brief discussion with the wife, it was decided that I couldn’t afford to own my life. It will have to remain mortgaged. However, I was just heading back to the drawing board when I received an e-mail from a lady in Nigeria who would like my help to release the fortune her late husband had accumulated. Now that’s serendipity.
Tuesday, March 06, 2007
Monday, March 05, 2007
Saturday, March 03, 2007
I use an electric shaver and therefore have no need for shaving cream. But five minutes later I left the chemist shop gratefully clutching my bottle of pills ... and my tube of Erasmic shaving cream.