Monday, 24 September 2012

Painted Lady.


For the last week we have been back at the caravan in Mansfield and most of our time has been spent on preparation for our great day in just over two weeks.We have been busy browsing ‘tinternet,trying to find the best prices for some of the equipment we are going to need.One of the first things we have to get is a licence to be on the waterways,and one of the requirements for that,apart from the cash of course,is that we have insurance.Getting the insurance has proved to be quite easy because it can all be done online,a truly paperless arrangement,something that is great when living on a boat.Getting mail delivered is a bit of a pain when continuously cruising so anything that can be exclusive to a computer has got to be a bonus.We wish that more businesses would go down the same road and have the online option,and save a tree at the same time.

Pretty much all the furniture for Chyandour has already been ordered but we still have a tv to buy and for this we are waiting for the next Freaky Friday at one of the major chandlers.Freaky Fridays are 20% discount days,and they only have a couple a year,so we have a shopping list for the next one on October 5th.Our boat does come with everything we need to sail off into the sunset,but there are a few additions that we want to get over and above what comes with her.Extra mooring pins and hooks,windlasses and a Seasearcher magnet will all make our life a bit easier.This magnet thingy is important because if we drop anything made of steel into the cut,the magnet,on a long piece of string,will help us get it back,and ,if what we have been told is true,a few of the things that other unfortunate boaters have dropped too.

We also have to get lifejackets and an anchor and chain,all of which are a necessity on rivers,in fact,we wouldn’t be allowed on some rivers without them and sensibly, we should have them anyway.John,one of the guys building our boat, didn’t look all that impressed when I said we wouldn’t need  them for a while.Neither anchors or lifejackets come cheap though so ‘tinternet has proved to be great in our search for what we would like at the best price.I’ll let you know how we get on with some things when we get them because there can be some surprising bargains out there.Buying things from places outside of the usual marine shops can give quite a large saving,caravan and camping stores can be cheaper and yet have some of the same equipment that we use,you do have to shop around though,and it’s easy to see why some boat owners say that BOAT stands for Bring Out Another Thousand.

All our bedding and things like towels have come from a great store here in Mansfield called Textiles Direct,one of a chain of stores throughout the Midlands,Yorkshire and the North West.They have been great because they have 4ft bedding which is not easy to find,and as it was at such a good price,we’ve brought enough to last a few years.To be honest,very little of what we had in the bungalow in Perth is going to go on board with us because most of it wouldn’t fit .We also sold pretty much everything,so we are starting afresh and Lisa’s loving the challenge of having to buy everything new.

On Tuesday we went to pick our carpet and then to Trent Lock to see Chyandour in her new coat and she had changed from our visit on the previous Friday,her coach lines had been applied and other bits had been painted.Her gunwales had been sanded to give us a grip for when we need to walk along them.There were still some more things to discuss with John and Mick as well,even though we are getting closer to completion.Things like delivery dates have to be confirmed for carpets and furniture,we need certificates to accompany our licence application and the positioning of various pieces of equipment has to be decided.It really is building to a very exciting time now and sometimes it’s hard to believe it’s all happening.We only took a few photo’s on Tuesday because the best bits have still to come and we’d been told there would be some pictures on Kingfishers build blog on Friday.

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There she is on the left,all her doors off and all her paint gleaming,on the right you can see Mick as he removes the masking tape from the gunwales after putting another coat of paint on top of the sanding.Sorry about the quality of the photo’s but it’s hard to get them right in the light in the covered dock and I’m no photographer.

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On the left a view of the port side paintwork in better light,see the reflection of the paint tin,and on the right is the carpet sample book that was loaned to us to see what our chosen carpet would look like on our boat.You can see the curtain and upholstery material on the top.

On Friday,as promised by John and Mick,the photographs of Chyandour were on Kingfishers build blog and she did look spectacular.Jan Deuchar is doing an amazing job on the signwriting,we knew it would be good but what she’s doing is just what we want.I’ve pinched a couple of photo’s for here,but not the best ones,if you would like to see them then click on the link above.

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On the left are  the coach line panels that will be filled by Jan Deuchar when she does the sign writing and on the right is Johns workshop with our cratch board all primed and ready for the top coats.The cratch is at the bows of our boat and when the cover is fitted we will have another “room” in effect.Something similar to the picture below.

                             cratch cover

This one is on the sister to Chyandour,she’s called The Cats Whiskers and her cratch board is slightly different.It will give us a nice little covered space outside our lounge.The cover can be up or down. 

Today we went into Sawley Marina to the Canals & Rivers Trust office to pay for the licence,we have to pay so much per foot for our boat and the licence is like council tax in that it is our contribution to the upkeep of the canals and to provide things like water,toilets and waste and rubbish disposal.we also had a good look round their chandlery to compare prices.From there it was over to another couple of Chandlers that are not too far from Trent Lock,again ,to look at prices ready for Freaky Friday.We think we have everything covered but you know how it is when you have that little niggle at the back of your mind that keeps saying “forgot something but don’t know what it is”,well that’s how we feel.We’ve got lists on bits of paper all over the caravan and still go out without them.My iPhone is handy,if I remember to use the notes app that is.We’ve ordered the anchor and other bits too so it’s been a bit of a pay out day.

To finish the day off we went to see Chyandour and she looks fabulous.Jan has almost finished the sign writing on her and John and Mick are now busy getting the last bits and pieces done.Here’s how she looked today.

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The left is a view of the stern on the port side where you can see Jan’s handiwork and on the left is the good lady hard at work,she’s doing an amazing job for us.You can see Mick on the roof as he sets about fitting the solar panels.

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Chyandour is number 14 out of Kingfishers yard and on the right is what Jan has painted to reflect the meaning of Chyandours name,”Home on the Water”.Good,don’t you think? We like it,but then we would wouldn’t we?

Right,that’s all for this week,we will be back to Trent Lock on Friday for another look because Heather and Steve,Lisa’s sister and brother in law,are stopping off on their journey “oop north” and they want to see Chyandour.They are the ones we had a week in Yorkshire with and who helped with the Tiller Pin as well as putting up with us for five weeks after we left Perth.Take care everyone.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Chyandour’s new coat.


Well,we’re back here in Mansfield now,at the caravan,counting the days till we can get back on the canals again,the next time with our own boat Chyandour.Our holiday over the last two weeks has gone way past any of our expectations,we’ve met many very lovely people who we hope to keep in touch with in the future.There’s been Sheila and John on their own boat, WaterRatz, with Rekha,Angela and Scotty,their friends,on our first week,and Shaun and Lorraine on a hire boat from Hapton Valley,on our second week,and there has been lots of others who’s names we didn’t get but who have also added to a great holiday.

After leaving Gargrave last Tuesday we gently meandered our way along the Leeds & Liverpool canal and bumped into,not literally,a widebeam boat from the same company as the one we had hired our boat from.Obviously the crew were going to be people with good taste and so it turned out,Shaun and Lorraine and their dogs,Archie and Monty,proved to be great company.Their boat was wider than ours,hence the name,and so we were unable to share the locks but we managed to achieve a compromise.Our passage through the first few locks was assisted by Lorraine and her trusty windlass and then Lisa was able to return the favour later in the day.Our boat Ruby,was a narrowboat with the usual narrowboat width of 6ft 10inch.On the wider canals like the L&L it’s possible to have boats up to double that width,and Vintage,their boat,was 10ft wide,comfortable,but not a “go anywhere boat” like ours.A windlass is used to wind,as in wine not win, the paddles on the locks,opening and closing the paddles is what lets the water into and out of the locks,simples.

We Moored overnight in East Marton again on Tuesday and then left there before lunch the next day.We left late ‘cos it was raining,and so,suitably attired in waterproofs,we set off believing that the weather would improve.Our intention was just to get to Foulridge Wharf some 6 and a half miles away with only three locks in between.The three locks were done in quite persistent rain and then we stopped for water and a snack after the top one.

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The left picture has us moored beyond the Water Point at the top of the Greenberfield Locks having a cuppa.On the right is the view down to the 2nd of the 3 locks as we waited for Vintage to catch up,and then,as we helped them through the last lock,the rain got heavier,executive decisions were made,and we all decided to continue as we couldn’t get any wetter.Wrong!!!!! I have seen heavy rain,mostly from the comfort of shelter,but I can’t recall being out in it,this was torrential,a fantastic experience that I couldn’t photograph and still have a workable camera afterwards.The rain was running off the boat roof like a waterfall,and the waterproofs just couldn’t cope.The rain did stop though,and we cruised gently into our mooring for the night in warm sunshine,the forecast being right but somewhat late.Just off the wharf at Foulridge there is a Limekiln that was built in the late 1700s to supply lime for the construction of the canal and it looks as though it could be used again today with the minimum of effort,just a couple of firelighters would have it up and running in no time.A great night was had by all in the New Inn at Foulridge,where we enjoyed good food and drink and I would recommend it anytime.

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Top left is a view as we approached Foulridge Wharf,it shows just how the weather had changed in less than an hour.The top right and bottom left are of the Lime Kiln just off the wharf and bottom right is the north portal of the Foulridge Tunnel as we waited for the lights to change,Lisa looking out from the stern of Ruby.

Thursday would be the last full day of our holiday,Ruby and Vintage having to be back at base on Friday morning.Our first objective on Thursday was Foulridge Tunnel which has traffic lights and is timed so that north bound boats enter after the half hour and before twenty too the hour.It takes twenty minutes to cruise the mile through the tunnel and then south bound boats go through after the hour and before ten past.We went through at eleven and got to the Barrowford locks an hour later,seven locks in relatively quick succession and not easy.They are all due some TLC as we found out at the sixth one,where we found Canal & River Trust men repairing one of the gates that had it’s balance beam broken off.The balance beam makes it possible for just one person to open the heavy gates,without it it would be impossible to move the gate,this one had rotted through.It’s just one of those things we encounter on our travels around a 200 year old system that doesn’t have enough money spent on it,and probably never has done from the very first day it opened.Your intrepid adventurers got through though,with the help of the C&RT guys and Lisa and Lorraine with a windlass each, we then made our steady way to Reedley Marina and a couple of well earned pints in the cafe/bar to round off a great holiday with some great people.

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Above is a couple of pictures of the interior of Ruby,she was a comfortable home for the two weeks of our holiday.On the right is the bedroom and on the left we have a view through the lounge into the galley.

On Friday morning,after emptying Ruby into the boot of our car,we said our farewells and set off for Trent Lock and our first look at Chyandour for two weeks.Quite a difference,she was in the covered dock and Mick and John had been busy sanding and painting,making the most of the good weather they had enjoyed while we were away.The roof is cream,which will help reflect the sun and stop our home becoming too hot inside,the cabin sides are a lovely shade of Midnight Blue and all the paintwork gleams.On the inside of Chyandour we could see where the lads had been busy fitting the appliances in the galley and building the wardrobes and cupboards  in the bedroom.Everything looks amazing and is on course to be ready for our launch date on the 12th of October.We called on Jan Deucher  while we were there so that we could finalise our requirements for the sign writing.The sketches and ideas that Jan has are just what we want,the end result is going to be brilliant so watch this space.

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Here are a few pictures of Chyandour as she was on Friday moored in the covered dock,her new paint like a mirror.Mick and John are doing a fantastic job,she really will look a picture when she is finished.

Trent Lock also has another attraction for us at the moment and so,after having got in everyone else’s way,we went to see our friends Janice and Dai on their boat Jandai.After being welcomed at the door by Foxy their dog Janice made us one of the finest cups of tea I have ever tasted and her homemade Peach Flan is to die for.We enjoyed a few hours chattering and then we just had to tear ourselves away and get back here to Mansfield,feeling that we really had had a very memorable holiday.

That’s all for this week folks,we are off to see Chyandour tomorrow afternoon and we are going to pick a carpet for the lounge and bedroom on our way.We are going to try and get the insurance and licence sorted as well,so tomorrow will be a busy day.All the other little bits and pieces can now start coming together too,ready for our launch day,Lisa’s going on a shopping spree,it’s getting exciting now.Take care everyone,we will be back again next week with all the latest news.

Monday, 10 September 2012

Swing Bridges.


Lisa has finally done it,she has taken control of the boat on her own and she did it well.We’ve been out since last Friday on the Leeds & Liverpool canal with a hire boat named Ruby,and,as always,Lisa has got off the boat and worked the locks or the swing bridges while I have the easy job of controlling the boat,please believe me,I’ve tried,without much success,to get her to change places.We met a lovely couple at the weekend with their boat WaterRatz,and we cruised with them till Thursday,sharing the locks and swing bridges.Now,there are a lot of swing bridges on the Leeds & Liverpool,some have traffic lights to stop the traffic,some don’t,and some of them can be very heavy and need a lot of effort to operate.While we were in company with John and Sheila,and Sheila’s sister in law,Rekha,who joined us for a few days,it was good,’cos we could leapfrog each other and share the work,but when we were heading back,we were on our own,and one particular bridge gave us cause for concern.This time though,Lisa took the boat,letting me do the bridge,and she handled Ruby like a pro’.Things now look good for when we have our own boat and we can “share the chores” so to speak.The girls did like the traffic light controlled bridges though,Lisa holds the record for keeping one bus and fourteen cars waiting.

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On the top left,Lisa has hold of one of the manual swing bridges,and on the right you can just about make her out at the control panel as she holds up the traffic at a bridge near Riddlesden.I had to include the lower pictures because this particular swing bridge has a memorial to 7 polish airmen who sadly lost their lives when their Halifax bomber crashed onto the canal shortly after take off on September 23rd 1943.

On Tuesday we left Skipton,after filling Ruby up at one of the water points,and headed for the Bingley Five Rise locks.No locks till we got there,but there were plenty more swing bridges.We had one stop to make on the way,and that was because on both Sunday and Monday nights we had been in the company of Paul and Angela as well as John and Sheila,now Paul has a Burger Van near Farnhill on the A629 which runs alongside the canal so we stopped for lunch with him.I have to say his food is excellent,so if your ever in the area,give Paul a visit.

The Leeds & Liverpool canal has some stunning scenery in all directions,so here are some pictures of what we enjoyed.

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Below is a couple of photo’s of the Five Rise.On the left is at the top when we arrived on Tuesday and on the right is John and I as we entered the top of the flight on Wednesday morning.

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The Bingley Five Rise locks were built in 1774 and are a world famous flight of staircase locks,which means,as you leave one lock you enter the next,the bottom gates of one lock being the top gates of the lock below.Conventional locks each have their own top and bottom gates with a length of canal called a pound between each lock,there are no pounds on staircase locks.We spent the night moored above the locks and walked,with a very friendly police escort,into Bingley itself where,thanks to Mr. Wetherspoon,we all had a great meal and the odd drink or three.

Wednesday morning saw us making our way down the Five Rise,and just beyond those the Three Rise, ably assisted by David,Mike and another lockkeeper whose name we didn’t get.The Lockkeepers are a mixture of volunteers and permanent keepers who work for the Canals & Rivers Trust and so far,on all our travels,all of them have been great guys and ladies.All of us are probably world famous ourselves now,judging by the number of photographers who snapped our every move through the eight locks.From there we continued on our merry way through a couple more locks,and a few swing bridges,to our first stop of the day,at Saltaire.This was the one of the places we were keen to see,along with the Bingley locks,it’s just one of the hundreds of sites connected with the Industrial Revolution that are close to our canals,and which make our travels so interesting.Saltaire was the vision of Sir Titus Salt,a wealthy mill owner who wanted to improve the living and working conditions of his employees.Built in 1850 and named after him and the nearby River Aire,it had every amenity his employees needed,including a hospital,but no pub.It is all built using that lovely, honey coloured sandstone that makes so many of the buildings in this area so attractive.

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Above is the inside of Salt’s Mill,now restored and used as an exhibition building with some beautiful exhibits and there’s Ruby,moored between two of the  mills.

From Saltair we continued our cruise till we reached the Field Locks,it was our intention to descend this staircase and go a bit farther but the locks were “locked” for water conservation reasons,so we pooled all our resources,made a meal from the results and had a great night moored at the top of the locks.The next morning Lisa and I “Winded” Ruby and headed back,leaving our new found friends to continue towards Leeds.Now,Winding” is not putting Ruby over our shoulder and patting her back,it’s a canal term for turning the boat round and gets the name from the horse drawn days when the wind was used to assist the turn.There are places at frequent intervals on all the canals called “Winding Holes” that are simply wider places that allow boats to turn round .We stopped at the foot of the three rise on Thursday night,ready to head up the flight the next day.These locks can only be used when the keepers are in attendance which is from 08.00 to 18.00hrs in the summer.

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The picture on the left is Ruby approaching the bottom of the Five Rise,the boat ahead is another hire boat,this one from Silsden Boats with a crew of lovely people from Edinburgh.We do meet some nice people on the canals and we shared these locks with them,and later in the day,some of the swing bridges,on our way to Silsden for the night.The picture on the right is to try and give you some idea of how deep the locks can be.

On Saturday we took a walk around Silsden and found it to be a delightful little place with plenty of shops and interesting features.From there we had a steady cruise back to Skipton,in the company of another boat,again,sharing the swing bridges which made things easier.We arrived in Skipton where,after mooring Ruby,we enjoyed one or two of the local hostelries.My favourite,the Narrow Boat,is one that serves a variety of real ales,and then from there,it was just a short walk back to the boat via a fantastic Fish and Chip shop called Bizzie Lizzies.Sunday was also spent in Skipton, where we enjoyed a pleasant walk along the Spring Branch,a small canal beneath Skipton Castle that was built in the 1700s to transport limestone from a nearby quarry.The quarry still exists but the canal hasn’t been used to transport limestone since just after the second world war.A couple of pints in The Narrow Boat rounded off an excellent weekend.

We left Skipton on Monday morning,after filling Ruby with water again,and gently cruised for about 4 hours to Gargrave,another pleasant little village close to the Leeds & Liverpool canal.The first rain of our holiday fell overnight on Sunday and when we arrived in Gargrave there was another downpour so here is where we will stay for the night,no sense in getting wet.We managed a couple in the Masons Arms before settling down for the night though.

That’s all for this week I’m afraid,we end our holiday on Friday at Reedley Marina,Ruby’s base,from there we intend to get to Trent Lock to see Chyandour to see the progress that has been made on her fit out and painting.Take care everyone.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

The Stove.


The last week has been an interesting one for us,on Thursday we went down to see Chyandour to get a look at the progress that John and Mick have made since our last visit.The stove has been placed on the hearth and conforms to all the new regulations,it’s not quite finished though,the flue will be taken out when she goes into the covered dock,and then refitted when she comes out.The guys at Kingfishers take all the bits and pieces off,including the flue and the window frames,when she goes into the dock to be painted,so no part of the steelwork is unpainted.The shelving and cupboards in the lounge have been made and John was busy fitting the skirting while we were there.This is a bit different to other boats we have enjoyed ‘cos they usually have boxed in pipes running along the skirting.On Chyandour,Mick and John have managed to keep all the pipework etc.closer to the hull so there is no need for any boxing.It all looks so much tidier.The lounge and galley are almost finished,just the doors and shelving to be added,when we get nearer to the completion date.The steps at the bow doors are almost done too,as well as our means of to getting in and out,these steps have lift off treads so we that can use the insides for storage.While we were there,Mick was laying the flooring in the galley and the bathroom,not an easy job when you consider how cramped a narrowboat can be,and that was all finished before we left.

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Here you can see the stove on the hearth.The silver flue is what has been giving John and Mick the sleepless nights,the new reg’s say it must be double skinned which makes it 120mm in diameter instead of the old 100mm,and it will be painted black when it’s refitted after the outside painting has been done.The cupboard and shelving are top right,minus the door and shelves for now,and you can also see the front steps here.

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Above is the flooring in the galley and the bathroom,if you look top left you can just see Micks hairy legs as he places the last couple of pieces of flooring around the vanity unit and radiator in the bathroom.The photo’ to the right shows the result of his efforts.

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The finished flooring along the corridor outside the bathroom and a view of the bow doors showing the stove,the steps and the cupboard and shelving in the lounge.

On Friday we set off from Mansfield and made our way up too Reedley Marina,near Burnley in Lancashire.There we took over Ruby,our home for the next two weeks,she is a 50ft Cruiser stern narrowboat that we have hired from Hapton Valley Boats.It is our intention to cruise to Saltaire and back in the two weeks we are on Ruby so there will be more about Saltaire,if and when we get there,in the meantime,a bit about our progress so far.We did cruise for a few hours on Friday and that saw us get as far as Barrowford Locks on the Leeds and Liverpool canal.It was raining quite a bit as we went through the seven locks,and it was hard going ‘cos we were on our own and these are wide locks,big enough for two narrowboats side by side.Also,there seemed to be a bit of a shortage of water,in spite of the rain,and this slowed us too.

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Above is the Captain as she guides Ruby on our journey along the canal and,on the right,the approach to one of the Barrowford locks just before we moored for the night,damp but happy.

On Saturday we set off with the intention of going through the Foulridge Tunnel and using the services at the far end,where we could get a shower,this saves us using the one on Ruby and having to replace the water.Foulridge Tunnel is 1640yds long,and,for those who still use old money,that is just short of a mile.You can see right through,but,as it’s narrow,it’s controlled by traffic lights.After showering we decided to walk over the top of the tunnel to see what was there.There is a footpath ‘cos there is no towpath through the tunnel and in the horse drawn days,horses were led over the top to join up with their boat at the other end.

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The entrance to the tunnel,all the green stuff is weed apparently,though,to be honest,it looks more like spilled paint.On the right you have me,posing as usual,and behind me is the sluice from Foulridge Lower Reservoir which is above the tunnel.After leaving Foulridge we carried on for another 6 miles and through another 3 locks,not so hard this time ‘cos we shared with another boat,and then moored up at East Marton for the night.Sharing the wide locks on canals like the Leeds and Liverpool make life a lot easier as well as saving water.

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On Sunday we left East Marton,the left hand photo’ is the double bridge on which the main road through the village crosses the canal.I think the road was raised at some time,that’s why there are two levels.The one on the right is us sharing the Bank Newton locks with a delightful couple who continuously cruise with their own boat Water Ratz.

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Here we are at one of the last locks we did on Sunday,this time at Gargrave.As you can see from the two pictures,the weather was glorious.The second pic’ is us following Water Ratz through the beautiful countryside of the Airdale Valley on our approach to Skipton where we intended to stay for a couple of nights.

Monday is Market Day here in Skipton so we wanted to spend a bit of time in this lovely little town and also,the couple on Water Ratz,John and Sheila invited us over for a real Indian Dinner on their boat in the evening.Sheila,not her real name,I’m not sure how to spell that,is of Indian origin and she cooked us all a wonderful meal,a couple of their friends joined us,and we had a great time.One of the things we have found,on all our narrowboating holidays,is just how many great people there are on the canals.Our Christmas card list just gets longer and longer.

Ok,that’s all for this week I’m afraid,I will be back again next week with more of our holiday on Ruby,take care everyone.