Living With Our Rapido 963f Le Randonneur Motor Home.

Monday, 31 December 2012

Our 2012 Review

Here we are again at the end of yet another eventful year, one which has seen the most awful weather, and has restricted the use of our own boat. The early months were spent abroad, cruising again in a much different way, while at home I had left the boat in capable hands, rectifying multiple electrical problems left over by the previous boatyard when we had new heating fitted during 2011. Towards the end of the year in November, saw me in hospital after suffering a TIA, which left Margaret a little worried over the three days I spent there undergoing tests. Here is how it all panned out in pictures...........

Oriana berthed at Port Said
Immediately after the new year started we were in Southampton to meet up with our friends from Brisbane, who had flown in to join us aboard MV Oriana for our world cruise. They would leave us once back in Brisbane, but we then carried on for the full 97 nights aboard, visiting dozens of countries and exotic locations. We arrived back in Southampton on 10th. April.

The early Spring then saw us back in London, visiting our daughter. Preparations for the Summer Olympics were well under way.

Tower Bridge dressed for the Olympics
Then, back in London again for my birthday in July, where I was treated to afternoon tea at 'The Wolseley'. A highly recommended indulgence! It is named as such due to the building's first use as an early showroom for Wolseley cars.

The Wolseley, Piccadilly, London

Interior of the Wolseley
Then, it was time for what has now become an annual event. My brother uses our narrowboat ownership to his advantage and organizes a cruise for four of his friends, which is hosted by us. We usually put on a buffet lunch on the boat, before casting off and heading for Wrenbury, where we enjoy a dinner together at the Dusty Miller. We provide lunch and the drinks for the cruise, they club together and buy dinner for us. It works well, and this year was no exception, we all had a great time. It was another first for Margaret - she plucked up the courage to take the tiller for the first time in over 30 years of boating!

Moored at Wrenbury
A very unusual event!
Before we knew it, it was time for our own late Summer cruise on K-L. This year we decided to take her for a visit to the Montgomery Canal. The Monty is not yet fully re-opened, but the 10 or so miles that are navigable from Frankton Locks on the Llangollen Canal are well worth the effort. Entrance to the canal is strictly limited, and has to be booked, but you are then rewarded by very peaceful cruising amongst beautiful scenery. We were then further rewarded by a lovely meal at the Navigation Inn, built into a converted canal warehouse, just before Gronwyn Wharf and the current limit of navigation. After an overnight stay we headed back towards Ellesmere again.

As we headed towards the Autumn, an unexpected opportunity came up for another cruise courtesy of P&O Cruises. This time it was a two week Mediterranean cruise on one of their larger ships - MV Ventura. The itinerary included places such as Monte Carlo, Rome, and the Isle of Elba. Another fantastic time was enjoyed, and it was a very welcome break to the generally atrocious UK weather.

Ventura berthed at Monte Carlo
In the area of the casino at Monte Carlo
As we then headed towards Winter proper, after settling back in at home, we decided we would again visit K-L for weekends during the run up to Christmas. Nantwich is a great place to be at this time of year, with many activities taking place in the town square on Saturday mornings. Unfortunately our plan was cut short on our first weekend there when I had the TIA event, resulting in a short stay in the Leighton Hospital, Crewe. I am now fully recovered, and while in hospital had many tests, which all proved to be negative, so I will probably never know what the cause of this was. One thing that has come out of the event has been - always know your location. We were on our home mooring when this happened, but when I became disabled, and couldn't speak or move, Margaret was left to contact the emergency services. Imagine what it would be like if she hadn't a clue where we were.

K-L's home mooring
A cosy night in.....
....ended in a short stay here!
I have now received the all clear for further travel, and have managed to secure another annual travel insurance package at a reasonable price, so it is next stop India and UAE for three weeks or so come March. Been there, done that before, and the locals are expecting me...........!

The Grand Mosque at Abu Dhabi

We hope your 2013 cruising year proves to be everything you wished for.

Happy New Year!

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas everybody, and a Happy New Cruising Year for 2013.

Sunday, 16 December 2012

What the papers said in 2012.

It is traditional at this time of year to review the news stories of the previous year. Here are a few headline clips of some of the more amusing ones..........

Friday, 14 December 2012

The Costume Party

A couple were invited to a swanky costume party..................

Unfortunately, the wife came down with a terrible headache and told her husband to go to the party alone.

He being a devoted husband protested, but she argued and said she was going to take some aspirin and go to bed, and there was no need for his good time being spoiled by not going.

So he took his costume and away he went.

The wife, after sleeping soundly for about an hour, awakened without pain and, as it was still early enough, decided to go to the party.

Since her husband did not know what her costume was, she thought she would have some fun by watching her husband to see how he acted when she was not with him. She joined the party and soon spotted her husband cavorting around on the dance floor, dancing with every nice woman he could, and taking a little touch here and a little kiss there..

His wife sidled up to him and, being a rather seductive babe herself, he left his current partner high and dry and devoted his time to the new babe who had just arrived. She let him go as far as he wished ... naturally, since he was her husband.

Finally, he whispered a little proposition in her ear and she agreed. So off they went to one of the cars and had a quickie.

Just before unmasking at midnight, she slipped away, went home, put the costume away, and got into bed,

wondering what kind of explanation he would make for his behaviour.

 She was sitting up reading when he came in, and she asked what kind of a time he had.

 He said: "Oh, the same old thing. You know I never have a good time when you're not there."

 - "Did you dance much?"

 - "You know, I never even danced one dance. When I got there, I met Pete, Bill, and some other guys, so we went into the den and played poker all evening......................

(c) imagerymajestic,
But you're not going to believe what happened to the guy I loaned my costume to..."

What a way to propose!

Thursday, 13 December 2012

'Tis The Season To Be Jolly.

We have all had an EMBARRASSING moment.
Here are six reasons why you should think
before you speak.
Have you ever spoken and wished that
you could immediately take the words back...
Here are the testimonials of a few people who did...

I walked into a hair salon with my husband and three
kids in tow and asked loudly,
'How much do you charge for a shampoo and a blow job?'

I turned around and walked back out and never went back
My husband didn't say a word...he knew better.

I was at the golf store comparing different kinds of golf balls.
I was unhappy with the women's type I had been using.
After browsing for several minutes, I was approached by
one of the good-looking gentlemen who works at the store.
He asked if he could help me.
Without thinking, I looked at him and said,

'I think I like playing with men's balls' 

My sister and I were at the mall and
passed by a store that sold a variety of candy and nuts.

As we were looking at the display case, the boy behind
the counter asked if we needed any help. I replied, '
No, I'm just looking at your nuts.'
My sister started to laugh hysterically.
The boy grinned, and I turned beet-red and walked away.

To this day, my sister has never let me forget.

While in line at the bank one afternoon,
my toddler decided to release
some pent-up energy and ran amok.
I was finally able to grab hold of
her after receiving looks of disgust
and annoyance from other patrons.
I told her that if she did not start behaving
'right now' she would be punished.
To my horror, she looked me in the eye and said

in a voice just as threatening,
'If you don't let me go right now,
I will tell Grandma that I saw you
kissing Daddy's pee-pee last night!'

The silence was deafening after this enlightening
exchange. Even the tellers stopped what they were doing.
I mustered up the last of my dignity and walked
out of the bank with my daughter in tow.
The last thing I heard when the door closed behind me, were
screams of laughter.

Have you ever asked your child a question too many times? 
My three-year-old son had a lot of problems with potty training 
and I was on him constantly. One day we stopped at Taco Bell 
for a quick lunch, in between errands It was very busy, 
with a full dining room. While enjoying my taco, 
I smelled something funny, so of course I checked 
my seven-month-old daughter, she was clean. 
Then realized that Danny had not asked to go potty 
in a while. I asked him if he needed to go, 
and he said 'No' .. I kept thinking 
'Oh Lord, that child has had an accident, and 
I don't have any clothes with me.' Then I said, 
'Danny, are you SURE you didn't have an accident?' 
'No,' he replied. 
I just KNEW that he must have had an accident, 
because the smell was getting worse. 
So, I asked one more time,
'Danny did you have an accident ?
This time he jumped up, yanked down his pants,
bent over, spread his cheeks and yelled

While 30 people nearly choked to death on their tacos laughing,
he calmly pulled up his pants and sat down.

An old couple made me feel better, thanking me for the
best laugh they'd ever had!

This had most of the state of Michigan laughing for 2 days
and a very embarrassed female news anchor who will,
in the future, likely think before she speaks. What happens
when you predict snow but don't get any! We had a

female news anchor that, the day after it was supposed
to have snowed and didn't, turned to the weatherman

and asked:
'So Bob, where's that 8 inches you
promised me last night?'

Not only did HE have to leave the set, but half the crew
did too they were laughing so hard!

There ain't much boating going on in my world at the moment, so I have to keep occupied somehow!

I think I met this lady on the canal last year! Doh!

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Rip-Off Britain!

I have used these pages to highlight my disapproval of the way we are forced to pay more for our cruise holidays than our Australian friends who are always able to buy the same product, from the same company, but thousands of pounds cheaper than the company is prepared to sell to me, being from their British market. See: 2012 world cruise review.

I now turn to the UK banking and insurance industries.

The current average interest rate available to savers in the UK is less than a paltry 2%, and to get the best rate, you have to sign your cash up for at least 12 months. What really annoys me, and is done in the name of 'fair competition', is the modern syndrome of 'Brand New Customers Only'. We now have to search the markets annually to obtain anything like a decent rate, where the bulk of that rate is made up of a new customers only bonus. Once the term is up, usually 12 months, the rate reverts to an amount, usually less than 1%, forcing the need to research and make annual changes. Crap!

My latest meeting with Mr. Rip Off is with Motor Insurance. We now have to make similar annual searches for the 'best deal' in the name of fair competition. But the so-called best deal, is of course made up of the new customers only bonus, and if foolish enough to continue to renew with the same company year on year (as a loyal customer), you will soon find you are being ripped off as opposed to what you can find available on the open market, and often with the same company you are already with.

It was only after I had been one of those 'loyal customers' to the same company for 4 years, having entered in to their contract with a full no claims bonus from my previous company, (which was allocated by them as being 9 years), that I discovered the new company awarded their full NCB after only 4 years, and unbeknown to me at the time, this is what my new entitlement became as I joined them.
So, after a further 4 years with them, when I decided to change company again, I found out I was now only entitled to 4 years NCB - (or the amount any previous company is willing to put into writing, even though I have a claim free record of 40 years!) Furious at this, I then went on to find that all motor insurance companies award their full no claims bonus on varying years of entitlement - some 4, some 5, and all the way up to 9. Further to that they always advertise their allowance as a percentage - i.e. 'we offer up to 60% no claims bonus'. When you buy the policy, you find that your 'full' NCB is noted as whatever years their offer is awarded at, i.e. 'No Claims Entitlement: 5 years' as written on the new certificate - 5 years being the time taken to earn their own maximum of 60%. This is all well and good until a change of company is made - to avoid the 'Brand New Customers Only' rip-off. If the new company's full entitlement comes in at say 9 years, then all of a sudden you are at a loss - another RIP-OFF!

To make matters worse, because I had stated an 'incorrect' amount of years NCB that I (thought I) was entitled to when leaving the old company before I discovered this rip-off - the new company then charged me £25 to amend the details on the new certificate and re-issue it. Blah!

On to household energy supply companies, vehicle fuel prices, leisure boat fuel taxation, ppi's, where there's blame there's a claim,....... next? Don't get me started on those!

** A further motor insurance rip off has come to light since writing this post. One of our family cars had been damaged whilst parked and unattended on the street. The damage was so severe a new tailgate was required. With no third party to claim from, our own insurer was informed, who pointed to their own small print that the car must be taken to their own "approved" repairer, and repairs rather than replacement of panels with generic ones will be made at the insurer's discretion. When your car is less than 3 years old, I for one, would expect it to be repaired with manufacturer's genuine parts, and by the vehicle manufacturer's approved agent, not the insurers. I looked this up, and found test cases had previously been filed, and won by others - so we insisted on taking the car to the brand owner's repair agent where original equipment parts would be used in the repair, and it's warranty would be unaffected. The insurer accepted this, but stated that in those circumstances we would not be entitled to a free courtesy car while ours was off the road. 'No problem' we replied, the repairer is prepared to loan one. That is all well and good, but would you believe the insurer then went on to refuse to insure the other 'free' courtesy car under any circumstances! The repairer had to provide the insurance cover as well. They said it is a growing problem in their industry, and they are losing business as a result, which of course means that there are many owners of newer cars out there that have undergone sub-standard repairs simply to save the insurance company money. It is high time these insurance sharks were legislated against, along with all those bogus injury claims that came about when law firms were allowed to advertise their 'where there's blame there's a claim' services that are probably the reason all this started.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Electrolytic Corrosion

In June last year I reported on the outcome of an unexpected early failure of the water jacket in our Alde gas central heating boiler, see: Boiler repair update. The result was we ended up scrapping the old boiler, replacing it with a new Webasto Thermo Top C diesel unit, which included remedial carpentry where the old boiler had been removed from.

Having just received the December edition of Waterways World magazine, which includes an informative article on all aspects of boat heating, I read that the Alde boiler utilises aluminium in its construction, which dictates that no copper can be used in the heating system due the the effects of electrolytic corrosion, see: for well described images of all types of this phenomenon.

A retrospective check on my heating system reveals all the pipework to be of the flexible type - so no problem there. However, the calorifier, which was installed by the boat builder in September 2004, along with the heating boiler, is constructed of copper. When using the Alde boiler, a stainless steel calorifier should be used, according to the WW article, so that the problem of corrosion doesn't occur. Here is a link to the Alde website Q and A section, where it states clearly that copper should not form part of the plumbing circuit. Alde website.

This is another one of those quirky little things that even the most astute boat surveyor might not pick up on, and I now believe this to be the cause of the perforated water jacket in our original Alde boiler. All the precautions for galvanic corrosion to the outside of the boat had been taken, but this, in the internals had been overlooked.