How to get your motorboat to start

Some of you know I am a fan of boating and yachting, while to others, this will be a surprise. I’ve been on inland motorboats and seafaring yachts, and this article aims to cover how to start a boat with a motor, as well as a little overview of the rules of the waterways. Barges are a little different (I think; every time I’ve been on one, somebody else has sorted it out), but if you’re on a canal holiday in a barge, you should be shown how to work the engine.

1. Does it have a key-protected ignition? If so, put the key in and turn it.

2. Now find the engine. It’s usually a big, boxy thing at one end of the boat, or if it’s an inboard motor, they can be hidden behind a hatch or panel.

3. Find something that looks like a handle with a piece of string attached to it.

4. Pull it firmly. If you’re too gentle with it, it won’t start. If you pull it too hard, the string could snap. The engine might have a couple (or more) false starts before it catches; older engines or those which have stood idle for long periods of time have the most trouble with this. There’s a knack to pulling these so they catch more easily, which you will get the hang of with enough practice.

Rules of the British inland waterways:
At narrow passes in open water, canals or rivers, you should be on the right hand side when you’re passing another boat (the opposite side to where you drive a car, if you’re British). This is also true if you’re at sea and navigating a marina or other narrow area.
Approach bridges slowly, and ensure you have enough height and width for your boat, particularly if you’re not on a barge, as those are what the waterways are generally designed for and there’s some very, very low bridges.
The person closest to the bridge (or other obstacle) has right of way!
The speed limit on canals is 4mph. Any faster, and the wake (ripples) from your boat could cause problems for other water users.
To stop your boat, put the gear lever to the opposite of the direction you’re currently traveling: If you’re going forwards, put it into reverse, and vice versa.
Further information can be found from the Canal and River trust here.

£250 car update: Recycled Home-Made Cupholders

I made these cup holders by recycling some cylindrical containers (they used to have Timmy’s Pro Fibre supplement in), which I painted gold:

Johnstone's metal paint gold car invoke delight and inspire

home made cup holders part way through being painted invoke delight and inspire
Home made cup holders part-way through being painted.
home made cup holders part way through being painted invoke delight and inspire
Waiting for them to dry.

Once they’re finished I’m going to drill holes in the plastic around the dashboard and screw them to it with small screws. No car should be without cupholders in this day and age, and mine has literally none!

It doesn’t matter how you vote, you’re fucked anyway.

I’m going to discuss the UK General Election, because someone has to put a stop to all the nonsense about it.

So Theresa May, the UK “Prime Minister” (that gets inverted commas because she’s had the job for 5 minutes and she was never voted in), has stated there is going to be a general election in June. We only had one last year, but since she wasn’t voted in, you’d think this was a good thing. In reality, that means that all the other political parties have under two months to campaign. Current polls show that Conservatives (sort of our version of the US Rebublicans… maybe) have a lot more support than any other party: 45%, compared to 27% for Labour (sort of our version of the US Liberals… ish) who are the next nearest party (we have about 5 main parties and a load of others, besides).

The news of this election has filled the 18-30 demographic (my age group) with lots of false hope that they might be able to prevent Brexit, despite the fact that it’s irreversible at this point. It’s sort of like someone trying to stop a car crash while the car is flying through the air at 90 miles per hour, claiming it’s going to be fine because the vehicle hasn’t hit anything yet. I mean, there are a crazy amount of things this past year that our age group has clung to and gone “Brexit can’t happen because of X, Y or Z” and it’s still happening.

Now, the thing is, everyone’s spreading around this “Here’s how to vote to stop Brexit” spreadsheet, where someone’s basically checked what political party is voted in, for every given area of the UK. If the party in your area is Labour, you are supposed to vote for them. If it’s Liberal Democrat (also sort of liberals), vote them, green party (kinda liberals too)… and so on. It’s not very clever or revolutionary, and to be perfectly honest it’s not going to help.

See, there’s this glaring issue with this plan. Labour are NOT GOING TO STOP BREXIT. Nor are they going to be better placed to get us a better deal. That’s like saying that one pimp is going to get us more money for being assfucked than another pimp, because the other one talks to the common people occasionally.

A lot of people believe in Labour because They Supported the Trade Unions in The 1970s and 1980s (also sometimes explained as, “My Dad Was A Coal Miner/Steelworker/Factory Worker…”). The trouble is, most of those politicians are dead and the party has changed immeasurably since then. This is the political party that took us to Iraq then pretended it was all Tony Blair’s idea and was never properly held accountable. Nobody ever gets held accountable in politics, and they never will, despite all the posturing of the 18-30 year olds on Facebook. We don’t live in a world of justice, good doesn’t triumph over evil, and democracy isn’t automatically better than a benevolent dictatorship. Sorry.

The other issue with the Labour party is that, since Jeremy Corbyn got made party leader, they have NEVER STOPPED INFIGHTING. I mean, seriously, they are the most unstable and argumentative party, so at this point they stand for literally nothing. Look at what happened when they called a leadership election barely 6 months ago (because some people in the Labour party with positions of power don’t like Corbyn) and, when the polls revealed that Corbyn would be voted leader again, someone in the Labour party decided to get rid of 300,000 members — or more, the true extent of this was never proven — because those people had all joined in support of Corbyn. The whole thing made no sense and went against their own rules. They also excluded those people from party meetings and then increased the cost to join the Labour party so only people with a particular amount of money could cast a vote. I don’t know who has decided to do all this, but it has culminated in the suggestion that the Labour party will demand ANOTHER leadership contest either at the same time or immediately after the general election. Don’t delude yourselves. A VOTE FOR LABOUR IS NOT A VOTE FOR CORBYN. It’s a vote for some catty, bitchy little girls who will not lead Britain into stability, and are not interested in reforming welfare or social care or life prospects for all us 18-30s who have been systematically fucked over by two consecutive political parties. Don’t forget that they started it.

Also, voting Labour is a vote for racism. I remember, when I was a child, the shit put through my door on a regular basis by Margaret Moran Labour MP (I think that’s our version of a senator) and the Lib Dem opposition when I lived on a gypsy site, and I remember all the shit both those parties used to say about us in the local newspaper, blaming us for everything that ever went wrong in their constituency because it was illegal to blame any other races any more and they needed some fabricated enemy to make up drama about. They have been cashing in on Anti-European sentiment ever since Brexit and, given that I’m married to a European, I can clearly see a vote for Labour is a vote against my own husband. He has found it nearly impossible to find a job since Brexit because of our surname, because of the assumptions people make about him being Eastern European. Labour won’t fix that, because they’re the party of the imaginary Common Working Man (and The Common Working Man voted for Brexit, remember? Because The Common Working Man reads the Daily Mail). Actually, Labour only WANT you to think they’re on your side. They’re actually the Petit Bourgeoisie CLAIMING to be For The Common People because they’re scared of being up against the wall come the revolution* and they all read The Guardian really. Anyway, in the unlikely event that Labour gain power and ride into Parliament on unicorns and try to stop Brexit, the country will degenerate into civil unrest and disorder due to the loud outspoken hooligans and yobs being all the ones who voted Brexit. Think this through: You REALLY don’t want them to stop it now that it’s been started. It’s the same reason that Trump cannot be removed from office by legal means. People will take to the streets and riot, which nobody wants. The situation is completely impossible.

*Which got canceled.

I cannot support a disorganized party, who have been locked in an unwarranted power grab since they got rid of Milliband. I cannot support a party filled with institutional racism. I cannot support a party who is outspoken against the SNP in Scotland, and if I was still in Scotland, I would not hesitate to vote SNP. But I am currently in England, which means I don’t have that choice. I feel really bad, but I physically cannot support Labour, I genuinely don’t think they will fix the mess in this country. A vote for Labour is a vote for everything to carry on the same as it currently is, only there’ll be a smiling face to sugarcoat it all for you.

So what about the Liberal Democrats? Um… that would be like voting for a vampire to run a bloodbank. They can make all sorts of claims and promises in their manifesto, because they are completely safe in the knowledge that they will never have to fulfil ANY of it. The closest they’ve ever come to running things was when they were in the coalition government, where the Conservatives ran things really and the Lib Dems could say they didn’t fulfil their promises because of the Conservatives. Just like Labour, they stand for nothing.

The Green Party are just confused and make more wild promises than the Lib Dems. It’s hard to take them seriously when they never even TRY to consider how they’re going to pay for all the things they claim they’ll do.

And the Conservatives and UKIP are evil bastards.

This leaves me in a quandary. I want to vote to change things, and I have never before been unsure about which way to vote, but no party is worth voting for this time. I know the danger of “protest votes” or not voting. I once skipped out of work on my lunch break to vote, because I wasn’t going to finish work until the polls closed (we only get one day to vote over here), it has always been important to me as a woman and as a member of the lowest social class in the UK, because of how hard men and women had to fight for people like me to be able to vote. But this time, I’m honestly not sure I can vote for anyone. Anyway, if I don’t vote for the prevailing party in my city, the ridiculous nature of the UK voting system means my vote will have been wasted anyway (it’s impossible for us to have a Liberal majority in Parliament, unless we also have a Liberal Prime Minister). So it’s with a heavy heart that I stare at the impossible situation and wish they’d called this election for 2 months later, so I’d be living abroad and therefore wouldn’t have to get involved in all this nonsense.

I’d like to reiterate that the adverts below this article are nothing to do with me. WordPress wants me to pay them to make the adverts go away for you all, but I can’t really afford it, so they keep putting more adverts here and making them more annoying and objectionable. Sorry.

Review: Dracula and Frankenstein: Penguin Clothbound Classics

I spotted these Penguin Clothbound classics on Amazon, and I decided to take a look at them.

penguin clothbound classics review frankenstein and dracula

I’m a voracious reader. I always thought I would be the last person to embrace the new trend of eBooks. I still write some of my books on paper before I type them up, and I do all my planning on paper, too, and type that up. There’s something reassuringly solid about a nice book, with pages that can be turned. However, there’s distinct advantages to ebooks when you read in the quantity that I do. If you only have 1 chapter left, you don’t have the dilemma about whether to cram 2 books into your handbag for the day, or whether to risk having nothing to read at lunchtime. Physical books take up far too much room if you can’t afford a large house. Before I moved in with my husband, I moved around a lot, because I didn’t really have anywhere permanent to live, which meant that about once every three months, I would have to fill up a stacking crate or two with books, and carry them (I didn’t own a car) to a charity shop. I feel sad when I think of all the books I no longer have, books I liked, and would like to read again, because I simply didn’t have the space to keep them all. I still remember dragging those heavy boxes of books, my arms nearly falling off under the weight, to make sure they found a new home.

I had a very strict rule, though; if I couldn’t carry it, I couldn’t keep it. That was borne from being homeless and destitute a few too many times, because when you get somewhere to live after being homeless, especially if some charitable agency donates clothes or books to you, it’s easy to accumulate a lot of things again in a short space of time, but not necessarily the most useful or appropriate things. You feel bad about getting rid of them, though, and so I wouldn’t. Then, every time I ended up homeless again, usually because my mother hadn’t paid our rent, or she’d threatened to stab the landlord/lady who owned the place we were living in, or she’d been offensive or violent toward another resident in wherever we lived, we’d end up homeless again. And when there were so many objects, it was hard to know what to take when we had limited space and only very short amounts of time.

As an adult, then, I held fast to that rule, and because I had to move so frequently for work, I found it difficult to let the books go, but sometimes you have to make hard decisions when you haven’t quite found a place where you and things go together (shameless Breakfast at Tiffany’s reference… another book I no longer have).

Then, one day, about six and a half years ago, I found a place where I and things might go together, only my husband had already filled it all with his things and there wasn’t really any room for me and I didn’t feel it was my place to say anything. So about eighteen months later, when we had to move to a different city for teacher training, we upsized and rented an enormous house, many times the size of the one we have now. That house had about 4800 feet of floor space excluding the garages which the landlord retained. It had two kitchens, a laundry, servants’ quarters (we kept the bunny down there), and the sort of staircase with a huge sweep to it. We accumulated a lot of stuff but I was still reluctant to indiscriminately bring things into the house. I will never forget the time I came home from a long day and found that my husband had ordered eight enormous bookcases to turn one of the huge rooms of the house into a library for his 2000 books. To match, he added a handmade wooden dining table which seated twelve. I was initially apoplectic at all this unexpected furniture, but I got used to it.

This was when we had money, and prospects, and all sorts of other wonderful things (like a future). Those things have all been in extremely short supply for the last few years.

We moved to this (much smaller, but still fine for 2 people, at 600 feet square) house in late 2013 and because we were both working 14 hours a day, five days a week, we had to move overnight (we did it ourselves as we had no money for a removal van) and we literally just moved everything with no thought as to what to keep. I put in a lot of hard work clearing out our house over the last couple of years to declutter it of all the things we had accumulated when we lived in that proper house. One of my hardest tasks was to read the first three chapters of every single book in my husband’s 2000-book library to decide which ones were worth keeping. I pared it down by about 60% (and ended up reading most of the books we kept). The thing is, those 2000 books (now about 800) were all sci-fi and fantasy novels, of varying quality and noteworthiness, so we didn’t have copies of quite a few very common books, but we did have duplicates of Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams, amongst other things. Since my husband came with such an enormous library, I haven’t felt able to buy books for myself. Ebooks came to the rescue, on that score, and before I got Kindle for PC/iPhone, I missed so many new book releases because I felt bad for adding to the unmanageable collection of books we already had.

So with all that in mind, it feels a little bit ridiculous that I recently realized the value in having a nice set of decorative novels around the house. So when I learned about the Penguin Clothbound Classics, I was very taken by the design. I took a look through the list to see which books had been clothbound, and imagine my surprise when I found they’d picked Dracula and Frankenstein.

penguin clothbound classics review frankenstein and dracula

Frankenstein is a book that made a big impression on me when I first read it at fourteen (ditch the popular version retold a thousand times in film). It’s about a construct whose story reflects the otherness and isolation of trying to live in a world which often seems as though it’s made for a different type of person.

penguin clothbound classics review frankenstein and dracula

What I really love about this version is it has anatomical drawings on the cover, of hearts, but they’re not pretty puffy hearts, they’re biology diagrams of hearts. I thought that was especially appropriate for the subject matter.

penguin clothbound classics review frankenstein and dracula

Bram Stoker’s Dracula is a story I started reading on my Kindle for iPhone about a year ago. I love that you can get free ebooks of all the great classics, but the Kindle version of Dracula that I got was really badly formatted and I gave up after about 30 pages. I think some books are better suited to being in paper form, so I’ve bought this version. The cover is all black, and while the design is not as inspired as that on the Frankenstein, I still rather liked it:

penguin clothbound classics review frankenstein and dracula

penguin clothbound classics review frankenstein and dracula

Here’s the title page inside each book:

penguin clothbound classics review frankenstein and dracula bram stoker

penguin clothbound classics review frankenstein and dracula mary shelley

Here’s a page at random from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, to show the text size and layout quality:

penguin clothbound classics review frankenstein and dracula mary shelley

I’m really looking forward to reading Dracula next!

I’ve got a bunch more of these on my mental wishlist, but at £11.99-£14.99 I could only let myself have 2 this time. Perhaps I’ll have the whole set before we emigrate, which is very likely to be August now, but probably not. There’s about 40 of them all told, which is £800-£1000, and there’s no way I can spend that much money on books!! I can’t talk about where we’re emigrating at the moment because it’s all working out, for the second time in my life something is actually working the way it ought to, and I don’t want to jinx it all, but I promise I’ll tell you all before we depart.

Here’s Dracula on Amazon.com. Apparently Frankenstein is out of print in the US but it’s here on Amazon.co.uk.

Review: Outlandish Scotland Journey Part 1 and 2

When I read Diana Gabaldon’s “Outlander” series (Outlander, Dragonfly in Amber and Voyager)*, I thought to myself, “I really want to go to those places and see those things.” I often wish it was easier to find stuff in Scotland but there’s so many things in Scotland that it can be hard to know where to look for anything specific! Anyway, that was before they made a TV show out of it, and now there’s even more Outlander locations in Scotland!

*Book 1 was retitled Cross-Stitch in the UK for some stupid reason, and they wonder why it was initially less popular over here; it’s still the same love story between Jamie and Claire.

Another rainbow in the West Highlands of Scotland on the way to Loch Ness.

The first guide, Outlandish Scotland Journey part 1, covers the Outlander sites between Edinburgh and Inverness, while the second, Outlandish Scotland Journey part 2, covers Inverness and a whole plethora of sites around the city. In both cases, the sites are marked on a map so you can see the route that goes between them all.

If that’s not enough, there are also very clear directions explaining how to get to each location, and the guides are very clear about what you will find in each place, with lots of details to help you make the most of your holiday. One thing I especially liked was the thistle icons that rated each location, and showed whether a location was worth visiting or not, so I could see at-a-glance how many sites to spend time visiting (nearly all of them… now I just need a reliable vehicle to travel in).

Another thing I liked was the author has found pictures of what the places look like, and put them alongside what the places looked like in the TV series, so you get an idea about how similar the places are in real life (for example, some buildings in Culross were painted for filming so in real life they’re a different colour).

One more thing that I liked about these guides is that they give you the disabled access information, so if you are traveling as a disabled person or if you’re taking someone who is disabled, you have a good sense of whether you can get into any specific place. I’ve talked before about why that’s important to include in travel guides as it can make or break some people’s trips.

It was also useful to know how much time to schedule for each aspect of the trip; for example, it tells you how much time each itinerary will take, depending on whether you want to do it faster or slower, so you have a good idea of how much time to budget.

Other things that you will find in these guide books include: Where to park, for sites where parking isn’t immediately obvious; whether any individual attraction is worth a visit or not (and an explanation and references showing why not, if it’s bad, so you can make an informed choice); how much they cost; and there are even lots of extras, such as places of interest that weren’t in the books/TV series but are still worth a visit while you’re in each area.

These Outlandish Scotland Journey ebook guides also really make use of being in an electronic format, by linking to additional useful information, which basically means it’s like someone went out and painstakingly researched your holiday for you, so all you have to do is follow the route and have a great time! Or, if, like me, you’re the sort of person who likes to go out and discover things, these guides have a lot of mileage in them as well; I would choose the most interesting locations, and see what turned up in the space between them while I was traveling (because Scotland has a LOT of space).

If you live in Scotland, you could do some of these locations as a series of day-trips at the weekend, rather than a long holiday, and it would certainly be a great way to spend your days off! If I still lived in Edinburgh, I would definitely do that.

These guides are useful for a wide range of readers, both locals and further afield, and my overall conclusion is that they are well worth a buy if you are going anywhere in Scotland this year or researching a future trip.

Find the Outlandish Scotland Journey guides on Amazon here: Part 1 and Part 2
Or find out more here: Outlandish Scotland Journey website

Which Easter Eggs are Vegan 2017?

For the third year running, I decided to go to all my local supermarkets and find out which Easter eggs are dairy free and vegan, so you don’t have to waste as much time tearing your hair out over ingredients. I did discuss the US options last year, and they don’t seem to have changed so you can find that post here.

Morrisons:

Most Improved 2017

The prize for Most Improved Vegan Easter Egg Collection 2017 has to go to Morrisons; they have really worked hard to develop a vegan Easter Egg range and you can find them amongst the normal eggs in the seasonal aisle (not in the Free From section) which I always prefer because then I don’t feel like a leper. If I had any money, I’d send Morrisons a trophy. They have 4 vegan eggs this year, including three from Moo Free; the “milk” chocolate one, the “bunnycomb” (honeycomb) one which has chunks of honeycomb in it, and the “orange” one which has chunks of orange-flavored confection in it, as well as the standard Kinnerton one. Full points for interesting and unique eggs this year:

A fantastic selection of Moo Free vegan milk free eggs from Morrissons.
A fantastic selection of Moo Free eggs from Morrissons.

morrisons moo free orange easter egg vegan

morrisons moo free chocolate vegan easter egg

morrisons moo free unnycomb honeycomb toffee vegan easter egg

morrisons kinnerton dairy free vegan easter egg

ASDA

ASDA have a nice set this year, there’s their Easter Egg with Choc Buttons for the kids, a nice looking one with orange discs for millennials, and a serious dark chocolate fancy egg for people who like a bit of luxury. Take a look:

ASDA free from dairy free egg vegan milk free chocolate

ASDA free from dairy free egg vegan milk free chocolate
This one has chocolate orange discs.

ASDA free from dairy free egg vegan milk free chocolate

Sainsbury’s:

Sainsbury’s had their usual lovely collection (and I’m pleased to tell you they also now do the most DELICIOUS dairy free Wensleydale cheese AND a vegan microwave lasagne). The highlights were  the white chocolate egg and the Choices egg (I love the caramel chocolates that come with that one), both of which I bought. There were others, too, but I can’t seem to find the photos to show you (really sorry; if I find them I will add them to this article):

sainsburys vegan easter egg white chocolate easter egg dairy free

sainsburys2

Tesco:

Tesco’s dairy free range has been a bit disappointing this year, and I noticed their Christmas range was lacklustre for milk-free as well; they seem to prefer to fill their free from range with gluten free stuff (and there’s a lot of stuff that they’re selling as “gluten free” when there’s a normal, cheaper version that doesn’t actually contain gluten). So their range was relegated to the mainstream eggs that didn’t have dairy in. Here’s the set I found (with ingredients as they’re not explicitly marked as vegan or dairy free):

Tesco ff green and blacks egg mint vegan

Tesco ff dairy free egg vegan dark chocolate

Lindt dark chocolate bunny dairy free vegan
Everyone’s favorite Lindt dark chocolate bunny is dairy free again this year. Thank you Lindt, I love these bunnies so much!!

The Hall of Shame:

And now, for the third year running, it makes me sad and a little angry to discuss those eggs that look vegan and dairy free, but aren’t, in Invoke Delight and Inspire’s traditional Easter Egg Hall of Shame:

Tesco not vegan dark chocolate bunny.
Not Vegan.

Lindt not vegan dark chocolate egg.

Green and Blacks not vegan dark chocolate egg.

And the prize for the least vegan friendly Easter chocolate, 2017, goes to Nestle, for THREE eggs that contain gratuitous milk. Again. Why do I suspect that someone in Nestle has a grudge against dairy-free chocolate? Now, Cadbury’s seem like they’ve been pretty vegan-unfriendly, but I will remind y’all that they own Green and Black’s, which has at least 1 dairy free egg, even if some of their others are not, so each year they make at least some effort in this department, whereas Nestle are stuck in 1982:

Nestle, you should be ashamed of yourselves. Again. And don’t bother to contact me if you’re just going to spout some spiel about needing butteroil in your After Eights or that “consumers tell you they like milk in their chocolate” because I’m a consumer and I don’t want milk in my chocolate, and given how popular this “Which Easter Eggs Are Vegan” series of articles has been, year on year, I know I’m not alone. BTW, readers, unbranded After Eights are dairy free and they taste great; most supermarkets sell them as “after dinner mints.”

I shouldn’t be surprised by Nestle, they have always been a bit regressive. After all, they did run that Yorkie “it’s not for girls”, and later, the “this one is for girls” (get in your freaking corner, girls, OMG, like what are you doing trying to eat chocolate?) advertising campaigns.

Has anyone spotted any other vegan Easter eggs in shops? Let me know in the comments!

Reblog from 2015: I’ve Got A Job!!!!

I just stumbled on this while I was looking for something else, and was reading the comments.

Dear God I miss Blah so much. It sears my heart every time.

Invoke Delight and Inspire

So yesterday was exhausting but I tried to catch up with blogs in the evening. I was on the TV set for 10 hours and I was mostly naked and it was very cold. Overall it was a positive experience though and the positives definitely far outweighed the negatives and I spent most of the day pretending to eat someone’s muff. I can’t go into any more details due to the non-disclosure agreement, but it was for a show that airs on the BBC so it’s not porn or anything (sadly lol – I did meet a porn actor but he only did gay porn so had no advice about which straight/lesbian studios were any good).

Then this morning I overslept bigtime and my Dearest was left to make his own way to school. And my phone had 2 missed calls/ 2 messages so I phoned back and it was…

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