Archive for December, 2012

Torrington Christmas Caper

Sunday, December 23rd, 2012

Liam and John all clean before the muddy race

The posh mansion we rented over Christmas. It even had a washing up machine!

The River Torridge was over its banks

23rd December 2012. For the Christmas period this year a group of 12 of us are staying in a mansion in Torquay. Selma managed to find the place and it is pretty swish with a billiard room, chandeliers and a sweeping staircase. To avoid the usual over indulgence is was decided that the Christmas break would be an active one with runs, walks and a “Military Fitness Style” session on Chrismas Day. We also booked ourselves into the Torrington Christmas Caper held on the Sunday before Christmas. I have been really looking forward to it because it has a reputation for being very hilly and very very muddy. Sadly I damaged my calf muscle doing a fast little run in Greenwich Park on the Friday morning and was worried about entering it. I decided to go ahead with loads of Ibroprufen gel and a compression bandage. I promised myself to run through discomfort but to stop at pain. There were 350 people at the start and it wasn’t raining, although it had rained heavily the day before. The River Torrige was in full flood.  There was a great local atmosphere with most people knowing each other and a lot of runners dressed as fairies. However even in fancy dress they did look like a serious bunch of runners with quite a few people wearing tee shirts from Ultra Races.  The start gun went at about 1111am and we seemed to run downhill for a long way. That obviously means having to run uphill a long way too. It is a bit disheartening running behind a fairy and not being able to overtake! It wasn’t long before the race began to live up to it’s reputation with fairies and Santa’s wading thigh deep through muddy flooded roads. I like these conditions and my left leg was holding up well so we continued and a moderate pace. The race is only 9.5 miles so the half way jelly babies and water came nice and early. My second jelly baby got splashed with mud but in it went in any case. The second half was more hilly and had a little sting in its tail. At a checkpoint about 8 miles in they directed us over a fence and down what I can only describe as a deep muddy gully with a mini torrent in the bottom.Then there was a pretty tough long climb over soft heavy ground. Bizzarely my bad leg was great but by now my good leg was playing up with exactly the same thing. I wasn’t sure if I could run through it but I reduced the pace a bit and carried on. It finally packed up as I crossed the finish line with John. Now I just hope it will recover quickly so I can enjoy the rest of the Christmas activities

I’m not sure what our time was because we forgot to look but around 1hr 35 minutes seems to be the nearest guess. Thanks to all the organisers and marshalls for making it such a fun race.

We ended up in the Black Horse Torrington for a well earned lunch. Little Anna (3 years) entertained the whole pub by confidently, calmly and clearly explaining that she wants a pink tortoise for Christmas. They wished her luck.

The actual result  was1hr 31min 26 seconds. There seemed to be 215 finishers so I doubt my 350 starter figure was correct.

The full results for the Torrington Christmas Caper are below:

Brantho Kurrox 3 in 1

Tuesday, December 18th, 2012

My Christmas Preparations – de-rusting the engine block!

Brantho Kurrox on Sump Pan

Brantho Kurrox on Sump Pan December 2013

As Christmas looms closer and most people are finishing their Christmas shopping or decorating the tree I seem to have decided it is the ideal time to tackle the rust on Sumara’s Kubota engine. Sometimes the saying “If a jobs worth doing it’s worth doing properly” just has to be put aside. There was no way that I was going to take the engine out and get it on a bench so I would have to do the best I could with the engine in situ. In this respect it is not a proper test for this wonder paint – Brantho Kurrox 3 in 1 but it is a realistic one. I normally touch up any rust with some convertor, a bit of metal primer and some Hammerite but I haven’t had the time for the last few years because the boat has been left in Scotland over winter and certain tasks did not happen. The result was a pretty sad looking engine block – cared for internally but a rusty lump externally. This paint looked ideal. It needs no primer or top coat. Just one, two or three coats depending on the harshness of the environment. They recommend it for painting road gritters and give it a 15 year life expectancy with three coats! Furthermore there is no sanding between coats and it goes on like a dream with total obliteration in one coat. I prepped the engine by cleaning with Awlgrip T0340 cleaner and a stiff nylon brush. Wiped down with Blue Roll. Followed by a heavy stainless steel wire brush and some chipping away with an old screwdriver. Then a bit more cleaning and more wire brushing until I got bored. Too be honest I could have carried on for a day or two but actually I spent five hours cleaning and brushing before applying the paint with throw away budget brushes. I found one small corner where I had failed to clean out properly so I will tackle that in the New Year when she will get a second coat. The paint had a great feeling about it, lovely adhesion and good flow out. It can be applied in -10C apparently. The soft sheen is fine with me and means no sanding between coats. There is a gloss additive that you can buy but the joy of this paint is you only need one product so there is less waste. 750 ml cost £17.50 but with VAT and delivery it came to £32.40. I bought it from but it is made in Germany. We will have to wait until next year to see if it lasts (with my slightly sub-standard preparation) but I am very hopeful. And a Merry Christmas was had by all!

26th December 2013

Well it is a year on since I repainted the engine and it still looks super smart. However the dripping water pump did cause a bit of rust damage on the starboard side which I will sort out this year. I took off the sump tray and it was also showing some signs of corrosion but this was never treated to the Brantho Kurrox last year. It has now got three lovely coats and a brand new gasket. To stop future corrosion by the stupid leaky pump (which no one knows how to stop it dripping) I have now made a drip tray out of a thermoplastic called Wonderflex. It will divert any drips straight into the bilge. The Brantho Kurrox is the best paint I have used on metal work – tough and easy to apply with no special primers needed. I’ll update next year!

Visiting Iceland for Christmas?

Tuesday, December 11th, 2012

Snaefel from Sumara leaving Reykjavik for the Westman Isles

Sadly I’m not spending Christmas in Iceland this year but quite a few of my friends are, so I asked Gudrun if she had any tips. Well Gudrun has come up Trumps with a huge list of sugestions and advice which I have attached below.
Thank you so much for this I’m sure everyone will have a really great time.

“First of all – do not assume “things” will be open from around midday on the 24th until midday 26th – less than 5 years ago there were no or very few restaurants and shops open and the public transport didnt run at all! this is changing, but I dont quite know to what extent, so worth a warning!

As I dont know your interests or timings im just going to brainstorm!!!!

you have probably found these already, but : – these are the busses – maps times etc. – this is the official reykjavik sight, with all services etc – but allso events (probably the same set as on

My favourite spots in town are
Perlan – nice 180 degree view – self serv caffe where you can get ice-cream – restaurant in the glass “pearl” , which is said to be quite good, dont know about the cost – then there is a wee “forest” around the building, with paths and short walk down to the sea.
Nauthólsvík – is by the sea beneath the Perlan – there is a this is Reykjavik´s beach and people do go swimming there all year round and there is a special christmas/New Year mega swimming event. there is also a small pool which has an aditional hot spring source . there is also a nice new caffe/restaurant nearby
Harpan – nessesery to view and visit – caffe which im told is fine, and a restaurant, which is grand both food and price!
Hallgrímskirkja – you can go up to the top of the tower – great view and a bit more of the Reykjavik rooftop view than the Perlan.
Grasagardurin, Laugardal ( plus the Zoo) – its a bit of a botanic garden and next door is a Zoo (I think a small collection of Icelandic animals rather than a traditional Zoo!!!) but a nice area to walk around, Cafe Flora )sorry cant find enlish but this is the location) is an excellent café and do great food and close to one of the large swimming pools and ice-skating ring . a bus ride from the centre.
The National Museum is quite new and nice, with a caffe – its very good on the early history, but:
Árbæjarsafn – the open air museum is better on how Icelanders used to live – got a couple of “mud”-houses and a -church where i got married once up on the time
If you like walking – one can walk from Árbæjarsafn down to Perlan without crossing a road (took me about 2 hours) and then on the coastal path, round the peninsular , past villas and a golf curse, Grótta light house, which you can walk upto on low tide and need to be careful not to get stranded, then along the north coast , all the way to the harbour – or of course you can get the bus to any of those places and do a smaller part of the path.
SwimingPools are I think all good and all heated with geothermal water – most of them are outside
Its lovely to walk around the lake in the centre – surrounded with old houses and some of the older “public art” – and one of the art Galleries
On the eve of the 23rd – Þolláksmessa – all the shops are open til midnight and Laugavegur – the old shopping street is closed to traffic and heaving with people, walking, singing, shopping, playing instruments, possibly giving away hot chocolate. there is usually “classical concert” on the balcony of “Sólon Íslandus” ( a caffé close to the town centre end of the street)

restaurants – caffes

Sægreifinn – by the harbour – definitely worth a visit! got a great story to it – these seam like icelandic sushi – small tasty tasters – easy going surrounding has been suggested to me as a fun/good bistro
Cafe Paris in the centre is one of the older ones and is steady good
Grandakaffi – Grandavegi 10 on the harbour – this one is one of my old favourites – it has not changed since the 70´s 80´s – uesd to open at 5 in the morning and only fishermen and eccentrics go there, but it has a great view of the fishing boats and more active part of the harbour – do old fashioned cakes and “kleinur” – also open sandwiches
Mokka kaffi – is also one of the old favourites – tiny – usually full of old eccentrics form the art scene – the nations favourite for “hot chocolate and waffles with jam and cream”
Laundromat Cafe | Austurstræti 9, 101 Reykjavík – a bit trendy, arty – based on a Danish concept and has a laundrette and a children’s playground in the basement
Geysi- this is in one of the old houses in the old centre and I think very popular and reasonably prised – there are lots in thos old houses but I dont know them – some are quite expensive, but probably good – one is opposite where I am staying and I have only been in for a glas of wine called :
Fjalarkötturinn – nice bar area atmos
Fiskfélagið – has been suggested to me, but I havent been – “the fishing association”
Þrír Frakkar – – “three overcoats” – this is one of the steady good ones – set up by one of our Jamy Olivers and has been at the top for a long while, but i am told quite reasonably prised

hangikjöt – smoked lamb – must
Icelandic lamb is usually very very nice
Kjötsúpa ö is the traditional lamb stew – not easy to come by in restaurants, but worth a try if you do
fish is usually good and cooked well, but probably just as expensive as meat
a lot of places do really good substantial soups – like seafood soups, with nice bread,
Sigin Skata – Skate – this refers to a dish which is nowadays pretty much only cooked on the 23rd of Dec and stinks like ammoniac – definitely acquired taste, but an absolut must yearly experience for a lot of Icelanders.
Shark – this is at the top of the things that might stretch your tolerance! – i would say worth a try!!!
Soured whale – less smelly and not a very strong taste – more of a texture
Dry fish – I like it just with a bit of butter – very dry and a bit blunt first, but gets tastier as you chew!
then there are Haggis and Black pudding type of things called Lifrapylsa and Blóðmör
Svið – Sheap heads – these are my favoured, but I have not been able to get any of my english friends to even try.

But seriously – Generally I think the food here is excellent quality, a cuisine that has been developed from lots of different cuisines – probably a bit of a “fusion” – there are Italian, Chines, Indian, Thai, Argentinian, etc. but you might not just stumble upon one – might need to ask.

Kolaportid – is a flee market in the centre, by the harbour – only open on weekends and i dont know how its open over the
Also by the harbour is a “hot-dog bar” called “Bæjarinns bestu” “the best in town” – pilgrimage !

the art Galleries are all good an worth a visit if you are interested.

For icelandic wool or knitting there are lots of shops for that, but Handprjónasambandið – Skólavörðustígur 19 is the one Icelanders use most – “the association of hand knitters” and is in a way the most old fashioned, but always has all the colours that are produced and I think the most compatible prise, and all knitted in Iceland, still have the sort of “home-made” stamp on them – some of the other shops are selling machine knitted stuff from eastern Europe and China!!!

there are some day tours from Reykjavík, but you as the daylight is a bit limited at this time of the year, one needs to make sure they fit within that time as driving in the dark is not of much interest at all.

the northern lights have been quite jolly here in the autumn, but I dont know what the expectations for the christmas periods are, there is a site that is a bit like weather report – but i cant find it just now.

Blue Lagoon is really rather special, quite expensive, but unique and would go well with a set of northern lights”

From Gudrun x

Sumara Laid up for the Winter

Saturday, December 1st, 2012

Laid up at Chichester 2012-2013

Sumara was lifted out at Chichester Marina on 23rd November. It was my intention to get her back to London and haul out at South Dock Marina but sadly they said it was full. Strangely when I cycle past there seems to be loads of space.
My mast was accidently taken out a week too early to my surprise. I always like to be around during any lifting operation but it seemed to have taken place without mishap. The boat lift was smooth and professional and Sumara was lowered gently into a really solid cradle. The staff sometimes lift 16 boats a day which seems incredible. I was surprised to see the amount of masts left standing. That doesn’t happened in Scotland! I have to varnish my mast each year but I really believe all masts should come down each year. I remove all the rigging and inspect it from end to end. All the split pins are replaced with new ones and all the running rigging is washed. The mast is then placed on my own trestles and coved in a heavy canvas cover. You can see it just behind the boat. In effect no wear and tear takes place for four months of the year and everything is checked. That’s got to be a good thing.
The engine oil has been changed and I have run antifreeze through the block in a closed loop. I have forgotten to top up the diesel tank but I will when I go down next week. The engine block has got rather rusty mainly due to a constantly leaking water pump. It is a Johnson pump and the engineers tried out four new pumps and eventually gave up. It cools the engine fine but drips constantly. If anyone knows how to solve this I would be very grateful to hear. In the meantime I will give the engine a good going over with a wire brush and some rust proof paint. I’ve looked at POR15 but it looks over the top. I may try Brantho-Korrux “3 in 1” and see how I get on.
The inside of the boat has been cleaned with a mixture of processes starting with fresh water, then Dettox and finally Ambercleanse Foam Cleaner. I like to have a large roll of Blue Roll to hand. The bilge is completely dry now but may get grubby after the engine clean and repaint. The aft bilges will be repainted in the spring. The whole boat is covered with a heavy cotton canvas cover. It amazes me how people buy rubbish sweaty plastic dross from BandQ and tie it over their pride and joy. In the first breeze the eyelets pull out and they flap like mad. My cover does need renewing now but it is 15 years old and has saved the boat so much wear and tear that it has been a very good investment. I use an aluminium scaffolding ridge pole as the weight of heavy snow is too much for timber sandwhich battens. Key Clamps and plastic end stops make up the support posts. It is a very tough frame and capable if withstanding storm force winds.
I will off load my wonderful Aqua 70 chain chain onto a pallet. It looks as good as new with no rust signs.
I have special winter wash board with extra ventilation holes. It means I can varnish the other ones at home and the boat is well aired. I will put a small tube heater with a thermostat on board just to keep the worst of the cold away.
Snug as a bug.