More technology: Mobile Internet

Another techy alert!!!

Back in February mobile broadband contract with EE expired, it had been costing £27.00 per month for 64GB but I had found that we never used anywhere near that amount.

So I found a ‘Triple Data’ deal with Virgin with 30GB data, 2500 minutes of calls & unlimited texts for £16.00 per month. [The deals have change regularly] This works just fine and unused data rolls over to the next month. The only problem was that as the SIM card is in a router I couldn’t make use of my 2500 minutes of calls, which was disappointing (OK I’m just tight!)

I was reading Canalworld Forum when I came across a discussion which put an idea into my head.  The information was this:

If you get a Huawei 4G router NOT supplied by Three you can connect a domestic phone using a BT to RJ11 adaptor and make use of the unlimited calls, texts can be made and received via the routers set up webpage. I use the Huawei B525.

After a false start with one router which had ‘crippled’ firmware which didn’t allow phone connections. I ended up with a Huawei E5186s-22a which seems to do what I want and when connected to a cordless phone I’m now able to access my ‘free minutes’.

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Phones – the march of progress or maybe not!

Honor 9 Lite

So… The phone signal here at King’s Bromley Marina isn’t great, but Joy has always had a better signal than me, so when she was in hospital before Christmas I thought I should upgrade my phone so we could, reliably, stay in contact.

We favour dual SIM phones, as while out boating we can have two networks to chose from in poor signal areas, so while visiting Tesco I was shown the Honor 9 Lite. It’s an attractive dual SIM phone in Sapphire Blue made by the Chinese giant Huawei, with quad cameras (2 lenses forward facing and 2 for selfies) and the latest Android 8.0 Oreo operating system.

I made a decision to buy it, but then they found they didn’t actually have one in stock!

On getting home a spot of Googling showed that Argos stocked them at £40 less than Tesco so the next morning off I went to Rugeley and bought one. Back on the boat it was un-boxed and set up to my satisfaction, however I was disappointed to find that the signal strength seemed little better than my old phone.

I soldiered on with it but when Joy came out of hospital we found  that her 2½ year old Motorola still performed much better than my new Honor, she can make phone calls from the comfort of the settee while I had to have my nose pressed against the window to make a call.

Needless to say I lost patience with this performance and took the phone back to Argos where they arranged to have it checked out by the Huawei service centre. So after being without my phone for 4 days (not too bad) it arrived back with no improvement.

Another trip to Argos where I demonstrated to the manager the difference in signal strength between the Motorola & the Honor and I had my money refunded.

Nokia 6310i

I can’t say that The Honor 9 Lite is a bad piece of kit but they seem to have lost sight that it’s primary function is a phone, if you are always in a good signal area it would be fine, but on the canals often we are not! To be honest I could get a better signal on my old Nokia 6310i (years ahead of it’s time).  Another gripe is that while it will accept a second SIM card it is at the expense of being able to insert a memory card (it’s one or the other)

The upshot of this saga is that I have bought a Motorola 4g (like Joy’s) and a pretty red case from eBay and now I can sit in comfort to make my phone calls.

There and back again

Tuesday  26th February

Shugborough Hall

A late start today and a short journey, up through Colwich Lock (heard pronounced ‘Colic’ today) we passed Shugborough Hall and moored at Essex Bridge. A short walk up to the village allowed me to post a parcel and after lunch we we continued up through Haywood Lock to Great Haywood Junction.

 

We filled up with water at the services then turned at the junction and returned back to the visitor moorings and shoehorned ourselves into a gap next to one of our neighbours from the marina.

As we were chilling out during the afternoon we heard a ‘hello’ and found it was Penny, a boater we have met many times on our travels, she had only time for a quick catch up but it was good to see her.

Colwich Lock

We spent a peaceful night here, despite the nearby railway line and we were in no hurry to get away as we only planned to return to Wolseley Bridge were we found a sunny spot again and spent some time sitting outside chatting to the guys from the adjacent boats.

 

Wednesday  27th February

Colwich Farm Buildings (love the brickwork)

Up a bit earlier this morning and we made our way back to Rugeley for lunch  and shopping and then after enjoying a bit more sunshine made our way back to King’s Bromley concluding a nice break in the spring-like weather.

In the evening we met up with friends, Diane & Ellis, and took part in the pub quiz at The Chadwick Arms where we neither distinguished nor disgraced ourselves, but D & E both won prizes in the raffle which they kindly offered to share with us.

 

Escape from the Marina

After a prolonged period of blog inactivity we are out boating for a few days, taking advantage of a window of nice weather.

Our inactivity has been occasioned by:

  1. Winter
  2. A stay in hospital for Joy
  3. A dog bite on the hand for me.

We’re taking it in easy stages, yesterday the first hop was in bright sunshine down to Rugeley, where we visited Tescos and stayed overnight. We had a surprisingly peaceful night for a town centre and awoke to the sound of birdsong in the hedge alongside.

Fuel Boat Dexta

Today we had a late start, leaving about 12 and arriving  at Wolseley Bridge in time for lunch.

As we passed Taft Bridge we were surprised to see fuel boat Dextra up on the bank, so I’m not sure what’s happening there as they were a good supplier of diesel & gas.

It was misty on our journey but now we are moored up in the sunshine with farmland to one side and the River Trent on the other. The only downside is the A51 just behind us but that will be convenient for our son & his girlfriend to visit us later.

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Maintenance Matters

Since my last report we’ve been holed up in the marina as

  1. I have had some maintenance tasks to do.
  2. Joy’s sciatica has been giving her trouble.

IN HOT WATER AGAIN!

Back in June when we spent some time at Sawley Marina I was looking forward to using the electricity supply to heat our water but as soon as I connected the immersion heater, it tripped the electricity supply to ALL the nearby boats on the same supply pillar. Fortunately someone quickly reset it and I discovered that the immersion heater element was faulty.

When we had our central heating system replaced back in December 2012, a new stainless steel ‘calorifier’ [hot water tank] had to be fitted to comply with the manufacturers requirements for preventing corrosion.

It came with am immersion heater element ready fitted but we have only used it a handful of times so I was disappointed that it had failed, not least because a replacement was £80!

The immersion element seems easily accessible under the black cover in the manufacturers picture BUT our one is mounted vertically with just 6 inches of clearance between the bottom of the tank and the floor. To gain access I had to remove the rear steps, the wardrobe and airing cupboard doors and the side of the airing cupboard.

To cut a long story short I cut a hole in the floor so I could drop the element out and found the the thermostat was set to the maximum of 85° C. No wonder the water was scalding when plugged into to the mains and it might explain the failure of the element.

We obtained a new element from Jannel Cruisers at Burton-on-Trent then had to buy a 55mm socket to remove it, but eventually the job was done and we now have a constant supply of hot water at 55° C. Luxury!

WIRELESS WONDERS

Part of our bedtime routine [it’s OK, no need to cover your eyes] is to listen to The Paul Miller Show on Radio Oxford via internet radio, but sometimes it does lose the signal from the router in the front room, so last week I decided to try and resolve it using an old ‘mini router’ I had in my ‘come-in-handy’ drawer.

After spending quite some hours faffing about I got it to work, ran an ‘ethernet’ cable to the bedroom and started to install it there. All went well until I plugged in an USB adaptor to power it, when smoke issued from the adaptor and neither that or the router would work any more [quelle suprise].

Some research on  the ‘net suggested an old broadband router could be made to do the job, so being the old skinflint that I am we decided to look for one at a car boot sale.

We found a boot sale was on at Uttoxceter on Saturday and we located it in a corner of the racecourse, first impressions were that it was quite small and unlikely to yield anything useful.
How wrong I was, we found a lovely guy who not only had a router, but also an ‘extender’ which did exactly what I needed and also practically gave me two ip cameras to play with (they had been used as security cameras) charging me £4 for the lot.

The extender is now working fine and I’ve even hidden the cable in trunking, which Joy has promised to paint to match the woodwork. Why didn’t I buy brown? Because Screwfix don’t stock it and at Homebase it was seven times more expensive!

 

 

One of the cameras is set up so we can be nosey and look around outside via a phone app, even being able to control which direction it points.

VISITORS

Gill & Trev

We have had some visitors, Linda & Cookie, from our old mooring have been to see us (twice!) and our old friends Gill & Trevor from Gloucestershire, whom we have known since we were all newly-weds in our twenties, made the trek up the motorway to see us.

JOY’S SCIATICA

I’m pleased to report that Joy is much improved after a combination of rest, heat patches, Voltarol and massages with baby oil, she isn’t quite right and is frustrated by not being able to do all that she would like.

THE NEXT JOBS

Tacking the rust spots on the roof is next on the agenda, but despite a work-bay being available in our marina, the use of angle grinders and powered wire-brushes is banned so we will have to take the boat out on the cut where we won’t annoy anyone, to do that work.

 

 

 

 

 

Back to Base

Warning! Excuses & Techy Alert

Another big catch up I’m afraid as I’ve been busy installing Linux Mint on my laptop after deciding I’ve had enough of Windows with it’s constant automatic updates which caused me some considerable data loss a few months ago.  It’s been a steep learning curve but I’m fairly happy with it now, I now have a ‘Dual Boot’ system which means I can still use Windows for the one program for which  there isn’t a Linux version, my favourite genealogy program, My Family Tree!

Our journey this episode

Saturday 4th August

Today we met up with our fellow boater friends, Jane & Gordon and walked down  to Penkridge Market where we spent an hour or so then stopped at The Star Inn on the way back for a very reasonably priced lunch.

Sunday 5th August

Having spent our allotted 2 days on the Visitor Moorings we moved up through Filance Lock & tied up near The Cross Keys, a friendly ‘locals’ pub which although it doesn’t serve cask ales does a decent pint of Banks’ Mild and serves proper home cooked food.
We enjoyed a Sunday Roast which included a pudding for £9 each. Take note that it’s cash only as they don’t take this new fangled card payment.

Monday 6th August

We had a bit of a ‘rest day’ today as Joy’s sciatica was giving her gyp,  I ventured out and found Rana’s Convenience Store nearby in Filance Road, which was well stocked.

Tuesday 7th August

We pottered on up to Otherton Boat Haven today and moored opposite Jane & Gordon’ boat Moon & Sixpence.

Wednesday 8th August

We got a pump out and water at the Otherton Marina today and enquired about a visitor mooring overnight but they only do a minimum of a week (quite reasonable at £45) but kindly said we could moor without charge next to Jane & Gordon for the afternoon so we could see the work Gordon is doing on the boat.

Thursday 9th August

We moved back down to The Cross Keys today as they had a quiz night on which we entered, it was fiendishly difficult and of course we came last, but it was an enjoyable evening with much banter between the teams and the quiz-master.

Friday 10th August

Time to move again, and we intended to go back to Radford Bank (Stafford) but when we reached Park Gate lock the heavens opened and got soaked to the skin so tied up and lit the fire to dry out our clothes. We decided that we would stay here overnight.

Saturday 11th August

Joy’s sciatica was bad again today, but she valiantly decided we would move on buoyed up  by a stiff lemonade (well OK it may have had some ouzo in it!). The result was by the time we reached Deptmore Lock she had fallen asleep but fortunately a boat was coming up and helped us through. We reached Radford Bank by 11am and she had the rest of the day to recover.

Sunday 13th August

We ventured over the road to Aldi for some provisions, whilst Mr Google says it’s only 2 minutes away he doesn’t factor in the traffic on the A34 as it must have taken 15 minutes to get back across the road.

Monday 13th August

We caught a bus into Stafford this morning and explored the town, meeting a kind lady at the bus stop who made sure we knew where to catch the bus back.

Stafford is a nice town with a mix of old and new architecture, although suffering from quite a few closed shops.

We found the Mad Hatters Tea Emporium for a drink and a teacake, they do a good selection of Vegan/Dairy free options which we have filed away for future reference.

 

Darrell and Joy

This evening we had a visitor, Joy had traced her second cousin, Darrell, who she hadn’t seen for nearly 60 years through Facebook and they spent a great evening together, catching up with what’s been happening in their lives in the intervening period.

Time flew by, we had a meal at the pub and before we knew it, it was 9 pm and we had to say our good-byes.

Tuesday 14th August

Essex Bridge & Haywood Lock

It was onward & upwards today as we were getting low on water and it was back through Tixall Wide to Great Haywood Junction where we filled up.

 

 

The dry summer and various canal closures have put paid to our plans to visit The Macclesfield & Caldon Canals so we decided to head back to our marina and do some maintenance, so we moored below Haywood Lock for lunch and decided we may as well stay there for the night.

Wednesday 15th August

Today’s journey had only one lock ( Colwich Lock) and after a shopping stop and lunch at Rugeley we pressed on back to King’s Bromley a little anxious about the stiffening breeze as I thought it might make reversing onto our mooring difficult but in the end it was OK as the wind was coming from behind us.

 

 

 

Penkridge Bound

Thursday 2nd August

After a peaceful night at Wolseley Bridge we breakfasted on Staffordshire Oatcakes (courtesy of Morrisons at Rugeley) filled with chopped bacon, mushroom & scrambled egg before setting off at 10:30 am.

We paused before Great Haywood lock to post a package at the post office and saw Jason from our old mooring go past, we had a chat at the lock, then  after lunch we followed him through Great Haywood Junction and onto the Staffordshire & Worcester canal and through Tixall Wide (header photo). After Tixall lock we pressed on as far as Stafford and moored at Radley Bank.

Later we visited Radley Bank Inn and had a drink while tea was in the oven and brought back a takeaway portion of chips to have with our pies. Later we tried sweet oatcakes filled with foraged blackberries & apple, topped with cream!

Friday 3rd August

We were up and off just before 9:00 am this morning and twenty minutes later we were passing Stafford Boat Club and shortly afterwards we were at Deptmore Lock  which is a 10′ 3″ rise not quite rivalling Somerton Deep lock at 12′ and far easier to operate.

Next we passed through the neatly manicured village of Acton Trussell and were pleased to see nb Lady Wren looking far smarter than when we passed in 2010 when she was overgrown with brambles.

Four more locks today in the next 4 miles, passing Midland Chandlers at Park Gate Lock it was good to see Bourne Boatbuilders looking busy at Teddesley Basin.

We moored at the Visitor Moorings above Penkridge Lock just before noon and called it a day.

Life as Liveaboards