Had a good weekend this weekend.
The first Radio Rally of the year always kicks off with Canvey Rally, I haven’t been for a couple of years and as I queued up in the wind and then squeezed into the main hall I remembered why I haven’t been for a few years. It is always ram packed and of late it really doesn’t warrant it. I tend to use the Rally’s to socialise, once a year is what suits me as far as keeping in touch with people these days. The other thing that worries me with the radio hobby is that so many hams give up on personal hygiene. The smell is often overpowering, it may be that these old fellas are widowed and Radio is there only outlet, but they should know better. I went there with the intentions of not buying anything and came away with a Yaesu 2 metre radio and mobile antenna. On the way home I phoned my friend, he asked me how many radios I have, and I really had to think about it. Including transmitters I have built myself I have 13 radios! It surprised me, its easy to get carried away. I know that I can’t use them all the same time but they do all have a purpose.
I managed to get some morse in over the weekend and managed a new entity, I managed to work a station in Gibraltar, although not a great distance, there are so few hams in Gibraltar that it is a rare entity. I then went on to work Alf in Maryland on 15m. It looks like the bands are on their way up again.
We are now all booked up for our trip to Florence in a couple of weeks time, Mrs H doesn’t fancy the drive so we are flying. We have got a nice hotel booked in the city centre and we will be there for 5 nights. I am going to fit a trip by train to Rome, It’s been 30 years since I’ve been there so am looking forward to it. Lesley has never been to Italy before so this will be a first for her. I know Lesley can’t wait, this is the longest she has ever been apart from Toni, even when she was at University she managed to get back once a month or so. She is getting on well in her new job and has been to Berlin in January, is off to Iceland in March and Houston in June, she is also coming back to London in April, and all this is business. I think this has been a good move for her.
Over the weekend I was having a poke around the various internet tools that my webhost provides, I have noticed recently that this blog has been receiving an increase in visitors, when I say increase you have to remember that two visits is an increase on bugger all. I was curious as there is nothing on this blog of interest to anyone except myself. After about an hour I came across a report that shows me where visitors were viewing the site from. There are always a few random visitors from odd countries which have probably found me through QRZ.com a ham radio site. However I noticed no fewer that 25 visits from Suffolk, Horham to be precise. It didn’t take me long to work it out who, the thing I ask myself is. At this point in the game I can’t for the life of me understand why the visits, someone’s just bubbling away looking for something to make himself feel better, which will only happen if something bad happens to me or my family. It’s not healthy. Anyway keep reading away if it makes you feel better although you’ll never find peace with yourself if you don’t move on, but that’s up to you. Me, I don’t give a monkeys what you think or what you feel.
We’re now into the thick of the new year and work things are starting to settle down. The period between Christmas and new year sees a real down turn in bus service with a Saturday service operated during this period. The downside is some buses don’t move during this time and we end up with a mad rush the day after new years day with non starts etc. Things are quietening down now however.
After a few weeks off the air with work and antenna problems I am back again. I put a new antenna up last year and intended to try it out for portable, when I’m out and about. I was so impressed with it’s performance that I left it up, which is fine. However I hadn’t sealed the connector and box for the weather. A few weeks ago I noticed that the antenna wouldn’t tune and that’s when I realised my mistake. The Unun box had water in it and rain water had also got into the co-ax which kissed good bye to any insulation required. I have now replace the feeder and dried out the box and we are up and running again. I had two 599 contacts into Spain and Slovenia yesterday evening, so I know its all working again. I like the antenna because I can tune from 80m to 10m, so it is a useful antenna.
I should have been up at the boat this weekend gone but didn’t manage it, I had a few jobs around the house to do. We went up over Christmas but the boat looks a bit neglected at the moment, due to the mild weather there is quite a bit of algae covering all the boats up there so I do need to get down and give the old girl a wash. Plus I could do with a tinker, with a boat, unless its a year old there is always something that needs tightening adjusting or replacing. The worst thing you can do with a boat is neglect it as it will bite you back at some stage.
I went to the radio club on Friday, I ended up staying until half eleven, I haven’t done this for ages. We had a good laugh, I actually enjoyed myself up there for the first time in over a year.
It’s been a month since my last post so I thought I’d bring you up to date.
Toni has now been in Italy two weeks and is settling in nicely, she loves the city, and the job and everyone is really friendly.
On Friday this week me and Patrick will be taking the rest of her stuff out there by car. Fifteen years ago I wouldn’t have thought much of jumping the car and driving for 15 hours straight, however as I get older I am beginning to understand my limitations. So the itinerary is thus.
Friday Harlow-Dover-Dunkirk- Ulm overnight
Saturday Ulm- Austria – Florence 2 nights
Monday Florence – Dijon overnight
Tuesday Dijon – Dunkirk – Dover Home
I’m looking forward to the drive and will be re-visiting places I have been to and spent some time at in the past.
As expected things are very quiet at home without Toni, but I do keep in touch with her through the half a dozen apps at our disposal, but its not the same. Toni has lined up some places for us to eat next weekend and from what she tells me you can’t really go wrong.
This week saw the club AGM, and I couldn’t be bothered to go, strange really but although I still enjoy the radio and am as active as I can be, I’m really not bothered with club activities.
Work is still busy and we are looking at around June for the last bus to roll off the line probably LT800.
That’ll do for now
Tomorrow sees my 55th birthday putting in an appearance. Last year I took a long look at my life and made a few decisions to change some things.
The changes I put in place are working out quite well, I am learning to let go of things that cause me grief or affect my mood or well being. I have had some family issues which were in the main caused by me, however the reaction from my mother and younger brother were not what I expected. Forgiveness from them is now out of the question and this hit me quite hard at the time. Over the past year I have come to terms with this and I am now comfortable with their decisions and am happy that I will never have anything to do with them again.
I also made the decision to get out more and I have taken up photography again and this is helping me do this. I can see this continuing at a good pace.
We have also made more use of the boat this year than we have for a number of years. We’ve even managed a week on the water and we have another 5 days coming up this week. We were considering selling Martha this year due to the lack of use, so this was our make or break year, I am pleased to say that Martha will still be a fixture and fitting for a few more years. Spending time on the broads also figures into my photography.
I renewed my Leyton Orient season ticket also this year, and so far I haven’t missed a game.
So I aim to continue upping my activity in a bid to reach retirement in a condition that I might be able to enjoy it.
In other news I was preparing Odin, my Land Rover, for MOT today. Unfortunately I have found some bad corrosion on the sills which is a bit of a showstopper as far as the MOT goes. So expect some photo’s in due course of my progress in welding in some new sills.
I am sitting in my living room having a glass of wine pondering my birthday, and the past year and I think I am altogether in a better place. So I raise a toast to the people who never made it through the last 12 months, and there have been a few.
Here’s to the next 12 months! Prost!
Another weekend at the boat, nice and peaceful
I decided after last weeks fiasco at the boat that the engine needed a service. So during the week I gathered all the parts together needed to carry out an engine service. After a hectic week at work, on Friday afternoon I set off up the boat, a little later than I normally would, but was pleased that the by-pass at Thetford had relieved the normal traffic jams of the past. I arrived at Tescos Stalham by about 19:00, after a buying some provisions I boarded the boat and it was nice to be back. For some time I have been struggling with the boat as it seems every time I go up there I always have some work to do. However that said this weekend I had some work to do, but it wasn’t work that had to be done and that is the difference.
The weather was cracking, in the high 20’s and I opened up the canopy and settled in for the evening, in the knowledge that I had a busy day tomorrow.
Being a very light sleeper and suffering from Insomnia for more than 20 years I was really surprised to have slept in till 10am the next morning, I never sleep this long normally. I set about servicing the engine and changed all the filters and the engine oil. I also cleaned out the engine bilge, this had filled up recently when the water pump dropped all the coolant out. I have always prided myself on a clean engine bay but of late I have not been too attentive in this area. this took me most of the day and I’m pleased to say everything went to plan. On Saturday evening I sat on the front of the boat looking out into the marina listening to the birds and watching the Swallows diving and darting about picking up insects for their young.
I came back home on Sunday morning safe in the knowledge that the boat is shipshape and ready to go out when I come up next week.
I haven’t done much radio recently, unfortunately there has been a very large solar flare which has knocked most of HF radio comms for about two weeks now, however I did work my mate Bob, about half a mile away on the key today.
My new pedals arrived for my bike while I was away, these are Look KEO pedals, I have always used Look after trying Shimano and SPD. My old pedals are about 15 years old and the cleats are quite worn so its about time I got a new set. I am nearing the wait I feel comfortable with on my road bike and expect to be back on the road with it in about 7 days time, watch this space.
That’ll do for now
Friday saw my annual visit to the nurse, except that I have missed three appointments. So once we got the bollocking over she went on to read my results, advantage Honey. She was very surprised to see my recent blood test results. My HBa1C and fasting tests were down considerably on the previous results, she said I don’t know how you are doing it, just keep doing it. I have to say the biggest factor in my success is the Paleo diet. 20.5lbs lost so far.
After my visit with the nurse I was quite pumped up so I got home, cracked on with work and got finished by about half past two. Me and Alf then jumped in the car and set off for Norfolk.
You may remember that on my last visit my water pump failed on the boat. I ordered a replacement on ebay, this turned up and was the wrong one, so I ordered one from ASAP a very good boat parts suppliers in Beccles, like an idiot I went by the picture on the site and not the blurb and when trying to fit the pump on Friday night I noticed that the impeller was larger than the original pump and would not fit the engine.
Norfolk is like going back in time, and don’t get me wrong I wouldn’t change it for the world, but it is frustrating at times. ASAP the biggest parts suppliers on the broads doesn’t open on Saturday. I then spent the whole morning driving around Norfolk visiting boatyards trying to locate a replacement pump. I eventually found one at Thorpe at Kingfisher Cruisers. Really nice people!
Problem No 37!
I got the pump back and fitted it to the boat only to find that the impeller seemed to be snagging when turned by hand, not something you want when the engine is driving the pump at 1000rpm. So on closer inspectionit turned out the impeller was 80 thousandths of an inch to wide. I then spent the next 2 hours taking with a fine grinding wheel taking metal from the outer edge of the impeller. Eventually I managed to fit the pump and it turned freely. So I topped the coolant up adding anti freeze to the mix and started the engine up. The engine got up to temperature pretty quickly which is never a good sign. You guessed it, I had an air lock, this was borne out by the fact that I had no hot water from any of the taps. After a great deal of faffing around which involved getting burned I eventually got all the air out and managed to get some hot water. I had intended taking Alfie for a walk on the beach but unfortunately by low tide the rain was bucketing down, I had had a bad day and decided to go home, which we did.
The HF bands have been rubbish lately so I haven’t done any radio worth talking about.
Back to the boat again next Friday.
This weekend I took a trip to the boat, I was very surprised to note that this is only our second visit of the year. In my mind we have been up about 4 times, however when I looked in my diary the first trip of the year was 3 months ago. The boat didn’t look too bad considering and once we had loaded her up I started her up, the engine hadn’t been running long when I noticed the temperature was up at about 90c. This is very high considering the engine had only been running 10 minutes, I felt the hot water tank and it was cold, not a good sign. I then checked the header tank and that was empty. In the ten years we have had Martha I have never had to top the coolant up. After some frantic checking I found the water pump had actually rotted through, this may have been a consequence of putting fresh anti-freeze in last year or it may have been the fact that the pump was probably 15 years old. I was dreading taking the pump off for fear of having bolts breaking in the block, but my fears were unfounded as the pump came out no problem. I have ordered the new pump and will be making a trip next week to fit the new pump.
A tranquil Sunday morning at the moorings
Sunday morning I left Lesley asleep on the boat and set off for an early morning drive around the broads. I came across a nice church near Barton and had a walk around the graveyard. I always find this an excellent way to think, no distractions and as soon as you start feeling sorry for yourself you remind yourself that all the bodies under the ground would probably swap places with you in a heartbeat.
I took the 897 up to the boat and my new Hi-Mound key, the conditions were rubbish. Coupled with that there was a great deal of interference on all bands. I have had this before sometimes it pulses and runs up and down the bands and sometimes it’s a constant buzz. While mooching around on Sunday morning I came across this place:
Neatishead Radar Station
I am pretty certain this is where my interference is coming from. So no QSO’s this weekend.
All in all a good weekend