Thursday, 2 January 2014

A reflection on 2013 bitter sweet (big blog lost of pics)

I did not do this last year, I should have done. Last time I reviewed the year I had blogged about was when we had Waterlily and a good busy year.

So what was 2013 like - in  simple words - shit. That is harsh as we have had some good times but the whole year has been covered with some sad family health challenges and some shocking work related influences. The latter I cannot blog about, the former, well, we lost Rachel's dad after a really brave fight with his condition - he was an inspiration for positivity over health problems. Rachel's mum is on a terrible decline into dementia, still with us which is great but some challenges and heartbreak as the journey progresses. Richard our ever so brave and ever so strong nephew is fighting his own battle with cancer, it upsets me typing this thinking how positive he is and how weak I am over the events of 2013.

So all that was 2013 should be dedicated to my late father in law Charles Anthony Lambert, a true gentleman.




So .... what did we do in 2013?

January

I guess January was characterised by the excitement of new boat ownership. We had brought Percy in late November and reading back my blog I was engaged in improving the charging circuits as our power demands were a little greater than Tony Redshaws.

The other significant event was the sale of our previous boat Waterlily. We had one false start, a buyer pulling out due to ill health, but Waterlily was sold very efficiently by Great Haywood boat sales and for a lot more that The New and Used boat company valued her for.

I fitted one of these....



.... and reading back I only set it for 9 months so that will need checking before we next use the boat.

I was out on the bike (Motorbike) in January, hitting the 30k and last week when up in Yorkshire on the bike I hit 35k, so that 5k for the year, not too bad I guess for a leisure rider.

Seems Percy was not moved in January....that is a bad thing !

February

Seems the electrics were the full on focus, with a split charge relay going in and a blocking diode coming out, which is still on my desk ! The Smartgauge went in and the alternator was rewired.


I fear I might be doing something similar with batteries when the new electric fridge is hooked up in the next few weeks !

I executed a motorway rendezvous for a toilet purchase, enabling the camping potty to come out and a nice flushing Thetford to go in, absolutely no regrets moving from pump out (Waterlily) to cassette, I am not sad enough to calculate my poo saving tally for 2013 but I get a good feeling every time I empty my cassette - how sad is that !! Pump outs are good so long as they don't smell, our PO on Sylph our shared boat was a stinker and Waterlily's was too small meaning frequent PO's.

We were out cruising seeing an overnight trip to Huddlesford to the Plough, which I recall was nice and we should do it more often.

I finished the month off with a special long walk we have done since that loops off towards Litchfield and brings us back to the canal at Kings Bromley. (Note the green appearing on the trees)


March 

Reading back through March I suggested other things were keeping us off the boat, sadly that was our focus on Charles and his deteriorating heath. Something that would rightly impact on our lives until the middle of the year.

We were on the bike again in early March, round the peaks to Glossop.


The good news was Waterlily was sold in early March. This was a weight off our minds and wallets. Waterlily was a great boat and a fine step in our boating apprenticeship and learning curve. She went to a nice young family with my only reservation being they did not have a permanent mooring so Waterlily is left floating on the cut towpath side somewhere.


 First dose of bad things to deal with was the loss of our 18 year old cat Tamsin. She was a lovely little creature, grew up with our family and being mainly a house cat provided much love especially to Rachel. It a sad part of pet ownership but a responsible part to help them on when the time is right, I really think they know.....very sad, but happy times.



To soften the blow and help with other emotional challenges we went out and gave another homeless cat a chance of life with a loving family. Lilly is a very different cat, younger and full of life and interested in much inside and out - only downside is the mouse population in the garden is declining



Rereading the blog I can recall the restrictions that kept us land side. It did not stop us planning internal works... which are work in progress as I type.

We finished the month by not renewing our IWA membership. Sad based on its very effective input in the turnaround of the canal system, however it like most things has lost its focus and annoyed many in its approach to the boaters elections for CaRT representation.

April

Seems April was a month of frequent visits to Percy. We started the month with a few nights aboard over Easter and I was blogging about how quickly the boating season turns on - compared to winter cruising.

Not a lot of cruising but obviously we were enjoying the boat and the mooring. Some of the old Silver Birch was chainsawed up...


... its long gone now consumed by the stove.

Other little jobs blogged about was the rear counter launch pad for Leia


It seems I was also still focussed on the electrics and the Smartgauge and solar panel. I finished the month off with a trip on the bike to the Ashby canal  - now a favourite Sunday bimble to meet a good friend Steve.


May

May was one of the best months of 2013 for me. It started with a cruise to Norbury to get Percy blacked. It was special as we took my mum and her partner Ross with us for part of the trip.


Colwich lock was its usual busy place


The trip out was characterised by warm sunny days


We dropped our crew off at Coven at the Fox and Anchor collected by my great brother in law Bill. We then had a slow cruise on to Norbury. Lily the cat was getting more used to the boat and we tested out the boatman's sleeping that worked well.




We did deploy the Shroppie wheels (thanks Sue) at a very busy Norbury.



Next time we (I) was aboard was to bring Percy back after being blacked. My two good friends from Scotland John & Mick made the trip down to help me. We crew swapped at Great Haywood with Mick going back north and Tony joining us for the night.



The end of the month we were down in the New forest area on what is know as Mega meet 8. This is a get together from an internet bike club for Honda Deauvilles. Most have moved on to other bigger bikes but the people are a great group of safe riders and we meet every year for a few days organised rides and entertainment.



The rides and the evenings are very enjoyable, some enjoy more than most !!

June

I only did three blog posts in June. It started well with a truly memorable evening at some lakes where I caught a PB carp and well over 100lb of great fish.


We also collected the memory foam mattress from Elite which is just the best and makes the sleeping on Percy so comfortable.

Then it really went downhill, Rachel's Dad passed away on Rachel's birthday and the rest of the month was consumed by funeral arrangements and grief. RIP Charles.

July

Early July and we were on the bike into France, Belgium and Luxembourg. Due to the loss of Charles it was a difficult decision to go but we did and it turned out to be a good tonic for us both. It was the first time I had ridden abroad and I enjoyed it. 

I like this photo, taken as we were waiting to go onto the shuttle (another first)


Later in the month I was called by my neighbour Kev as Percy had got bored and gone off on his own.... a snapped rope.




August

Early in the month we were aboard sorting mooring ropes out. then in the middle of August we were up in Scotland on the bike on my birthday with a good group of safe but fast riders.... I don't think I have ever ridden my bike so quick!!



I should mention Alan who organised the trip. He is a top bloke and has provided some great biking for us since we have know him.



We did not ride back with  the rest preferring a few more days further west to Kirkcolm and our friends farm house overlooking Loch Ryan... a great birthday treat.


On returning we went back to Percy for the last few days of my holiday (Rachel was back at work and commuted from the boat bless her) I did some tidying on the mooring and some boat painting. I added in some steps that still need setting in - a spring job now I think.


We also went walking to Streethay for a painting price with plenty of boats passing us on route.


It says something that we were boating on August Bank Holiday. It was a day trip to Huddlesford junction and back. We met Sarah and Jim on Chertsey on route. Busy but enjoyable all the same.


September

I was blogging about our life plans in September - they are progressing but with many external influences -  watch this space.

We were due aboard with Rachels mum but she declined at the last minute so we went to London instead to look at flats for our youngest who has a junior stockbrokers job down south, both very proud.

The middle of the month we were aboard cutting grass again... and it seems Rachel was commuting from the boat as I was in the pub on a Wednesday. I like the Swan, my dad would have liked it as it is a drinkers pub for sure.


I was obviously spending my new holiday entitlement as we were aboard again the weekend of the 22nd and I was preparing the boat for a trip up to Stone the following week. I recall it was a beautiful morning ...


We were also reflecting on what lay ahead, It had been a challenging summer enjoyable but sad also.

My blog entry....
So now it leaves us looking forward to the next stage of our life journey. Work has some questions to answer for both of us that may form part of our decision making. Our home is now a large house that we need to spend some time on to get it at least ready for the market if we decide to sell.... Then it could be anything from reinvigorated careers to chucking the lot in and doing something completely different. All bets are off so we could do anything .... Who knows.
October 

We were off on our autumn cruise to Stone -we only got to just past Great Haywood. I was in a seemingly reflective mood but I blogged about our trip outward.


The canal was busy as it was a great early October week. Colwich lock was as normal busy as was around bridge 69 ....



On the return journey the canal was a lot quieter, the weather was closing in, perfect for the antisocial boater.


The rest of the month was spent off the boat but blogging about various things. I got an all time record of over 800 hits on one post about Allen Mathews so it must have been cross posted somewhere?

November

Two trips characterised November... boat first. Our plans are fluid and therefore our options need to be reactive. Accommodation will play a big part of 2014 as we plan to put our house on the market. If we sell and have not found a place to buy we will decant to the boat. To do this we need the saloon and the kitchen to be a little more functional. So after establishing availability for work to be done at Aqua at Mercia marina - (see my previous blog about where this went wrong) we set the bow south and headed back homeish to Willington for a price for the work.

We had a good cruise to Mercia and moored up waiting for an agreement of the work and price.

While at Mercia later in the month I fettled the engine and fitted an oil gauge on the pump... still some work in progress on this which I will blog about later...


I got tempted by Marian life whilst moored up on Aqua's moorings and got creative with a little video from the counter one late afternoon in November. We were to realise that marina life, certainly at Mercia was not for us.


The end of the month saw me go to Scotland on my own to visit my good friends John and Carrie and take the opportunity to test fly my Quadcopers. My medium term ambition is to get some canal related aerial footage. For now this is what I achieved looking up the west coast of Scotland. As I took so much stuff this trip was done in a car not the bike.


December

Early December was blogging about being in London with our son moving him down as he works there now. The contrast between Scotland and London was not lost on me.

The following weekend we were on board pondering the options for refitting the kitchen. With some work under way removing the old gas fridge - against my better judgement but we need the space so a smaller electric fridge was planned and purchased and installed in December - pics to follow as a separate blog.


We also overnighted mid December and removed the fixed saloon furniture, taking advantage of the closer location to home to move bits to and from the boat.



 We also realised that marina life was not for us as we were both missing the more open on line mooring.

We were getting concerned about the desire to undertake the work at Mercia, so we met Adele for her thoughts on the work on Percy.... to be continued I hope!

I also visited a boat painter to agree a repaint for Percy.... more on that shortly. The trip took me to the Stourbridge canal.


Unbelievably when compared to 2012 we were on the bike mid December to meet a good friend Steve for lunch.


On a whim I was also back out on the now dirty bike, mid December for a meet up with other biking friends in North Yorkshire. (My Pan 1300 in second left.)


We ended the year on the boat bringing it back from Willington to Fradley. It cost us two months marina fees to find out we do not like marina life, 'canal time' is evident all over the system, the canal do not always freeze in November/December, (they did when we tried to bring Percy back in 2012) and we like our Fradley mooring.


There is a lot not documented as it is personal and not for the blog that made 2013 a challenging year. To be honest despite all the good stuff on here we were glad to see the back of it. 2014 has the same promise to be a good/bad year. In the main we have little to moan about.

So my first full year of blogging on Percy saw me make 94 blog entries compared with 111 for the last year we had Waterlily.

Lets see what 2014 has in store for us ?

Happy New Year to all who read my blog.


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