I have just been housekeeping the blog and realised I had this annual review in draft but never published it - Berk ! So only about 10 month late but for my record and for any interest out there here goes....please remember this was my activities in 2018 !
As I like to do, mainly for myself and for the record, is a look back on my last year in blogland. I'd encourage you to keep a diary, or a blog, nether need to be public, but they are great for reflecting back and also ensuring via such reflections you do indeed need to 'seize the day' as they are not as many as you might think and they pass so quickly.
So here it is - of course with the executive summary first !
Significant lack of boating ...
Lots of miles and short notice trips up and down the country
Another life goal achieved (for Rachel this time)
Getting restless on the moorings
A massive 24% more blog posts in 2018 than in 2017. Part of the year was renting (hated and expensive - massively expensive). A lot of support provided - getting us up and down the country in the trusty Rover. Rachel retired from the NHS after a fantastic shift of commitment and dedication to pick up a very good job in my old University as a senior lecturer - very proud of her. Certainly not enough boating not enough biking hardly any cycling lots of nice walking far too much driving no focus on work (lovely...) just enough laughing, (comes with retirement) some loneliness and thankfully no loss of loved ones.
January 4 posts
My January start - indeed it was New Years day was an impressive 450 mile round trip to collect the cat from our Chichester cottage as due to relatives health problems our New years day return south was delayed.... it was a mad life - in travelling terms, but in being influential in out plans for living in the country it was formative. On the subject of rural living I was comparing my dainty little 13kg cylinders with the mammoth 47 kg (remember thats just the gas weight not including the cylinders) jobbies we used for heating at West Ashling... I also calculated we were spending in excess of £1400 per year just on these cylinders - we know LPG is not the best to heat a boat, imagine heating a house with it.... we did and it costs !!
I was buying gadgets for the boat (infrared temp gauge, that I left at home when I needed it most during the overheat cruise !) .... and worrying about C&RT's borrowing strategy. A varied mix of ramblings.
February 8 posts
Well here lies the truth of the 2018 Percy year - not enough time aboard. I was blogging about it in February in that I'd not visited since November... two months of just sitting at Fradley waiting for us. How different from the years before when I was living aboard ! Percy did bite back on the overheating cruise - a symptom of not using the engine - I paid the price ! It was ironic as I was retired but spending all the time down south supporting Rachel and when in Staffordshire we were between the cottage and supporting Rachel's mum in Derby.
I was getting restless on the moorings as well, blogging about changes in the area of Fradley and the impacts on the moorings going forward. As you know dear diary I did indeed scratch the itch and moved... but for now some gratuitous pictures of my boats (whenever I say 'my' I mean 'ours' of course)
Lovely Fradley that looked after us and our boats so well and was a joy to go to. Lots of great memories and nice people. It's missed but new adventures need the release of old and treasured 'locks'.
I was blogging about two passions, canals and cycling and testing my new Kalkoff electic bike with an end to end trip on the Chichester canal. I brought the bike from Southhampton and have used it as a shopping and leisure workhorse. Not yet explored much cycling around these moorland lanes but that is on the cards for 2019 !
We were aboard for our anniversary on the 14th February. Percy was as welcoming as ever and I recorded the canals were frozen.... a sign of late winters and things to come !!
I gave the generator a service - it was needed but we don't use it much. Now I know a bit more about charging batteries I will use it more for the last low amp charge routine.
I ended the month with my hand inside the cassettes giving them a service !! Not the nicest of jobs but I used the time to count the money saved and general benefits of cassettes over pump outs - needless to say it got some comments !
February ended with me back aboard - mainly to keep the boat safe as the temps were getting lower. I recorded a minus 6.5 but as ever I was warm aboard. I was in the midlands to help John my ex colleague to move house and catch up with my old boss, see my oldest son who made 30 then off to London to have a mammoth DIY session that saw us tiling to midnight in my other sons flat... that was another long day !!
March 7 posts
More blogging abut the weather and the frozen canals. I helped a hapless boater reverse through the ice, back from Hunts to the junction much to the annoyance of some long term lurkers at Fradley. Spotting someone in despair I could not leave him to it. I dd see him again in the middle of high hot summer - I do love the English climate. Never got the beer he promised !!
Ironic that the Beast from the East did not nip Percy but it did nip the plumbing in the cottage in the Staffordshire moorlands. Lesson learnt for this year - keep some heat on. Another reflection on the mad travelling was a 10.30 pm arrival on a Sunday night alone to find running water after a defrost. Good job I am handy with the tools !!
All repaired and lessons learnt.
Yes the last thing I said to my son in London was - "I'll leave the plumbing tools with you as I'll not need them for a while !!"
.... and the mileages and travelling for the record....
- Tuesday 27th February - Chichester to The Boat (fire lit) Fradley to Derby to see my oldest son who birthday it was on the 28th, then back to Fradley 220 miles
- Friday 2nd March Fradley junction to Chichester through the snow in Oxford, a very slow but traffic free journey 178 miles
- Saturday 3rd March Chichester to London and ending up tiling sons bathroom to midnight !! 101 miles
- Sunday 4th March leave London at 6pm to Derby to drop Rachel off so she can stay with her ailing mum then me on to our Staffordshire moorland cottage - 180 miles
- Monday Back to Derby from the cottage to see my mum and my other son then back to Chichester - 224 miles
So the total for that week was ....903 miles !
I was making the most of our cottage in Staffordshire with walks to see the train set in the valley
More vehicle bite backs as the car alternator expired resulting in a 13 hour return journey back to Chichester. It was the worst of all the trips we have done and the only time my trusty Rover 75 tourer let me down so far in its hard life.
It was not all hardship in the south. We had a lovely walk just after the clocks went forward around Bosham harbour and nature gave us one of its treats with a lovely sunset.
Summer was on its way and what a summer !!
April 5 posts
I was still frustrated about the lack of time aboard Percy. But I was now getting out and about on my bikes, I only have one now (at the moment !!) but a good reason the put a picture up of the 700 Deauville I wish I'd not sold - I would have also liked to have kept the 650 but no space at the moment was the driver there....
Yes that was the view from our lounge window
Now I believe that when we die we die, no heaven or hell. I would like a faith but I cannot fall into the mainstream and I object to the control and influence religion has on people and the world. Why the sudden drop into such deep thoughts, well I do believe people are kept alive by talking about them. Sadly Alex died aboard her boat in Stone in a fire, I never met Alex but she featured in this video I have repeated here so we can remember her and celebrate her life afloat.
Mid April it was still silly driving with Rachel arriving at the boat at 11pm on a Thursday evening. It did enable us to host our growing family for a vegan Sunday lunch !
It also enabled me to stay at the cottage and do a job I'd wanted to do since owning Percy - lift the back cabin floor and see what was there. All good, a bit of water but nothing to worry about so it was cleared and the area painted for another 20 years !
I ended the month out and about in the Valley walking and on my bike in Staffordshire and Derbyshire - lovely. Plus it was my grandsons first birthday - a theme for my retirement is how time flies.... please please make the most of your days.
May 5 posts
It was always going to be a busy May and June as we had holidays planned.... and so it was.
There is no better (in a very sad way) to realise how important it is to live this life that what was fought for by so many who gave their tomorrows for our today by visiting their graves and seeing their sacrifice. I have a great group of friends in the south who have established an early May tour of Europe focussing on the battlefields as one of them John is a Battlefield tour guide and a very good one at that. In May we were visiting the WW1 battle fields and memorials on the bikes.
Again I was getting itchy feet. My neighbour Mandy had took a mooring on the Shroppie she had passed on her summer cruise. So I was pondering the benefits of stying versus moving off to a marina or another on line mooring.
Then the great if a little sad news was we were 'coming home' - the Chichester life had an end date and a new job for Rachel back in Derby saw us planning the return and hopefully more time aboard Percy. Some gratuitous images of the places we lived south.
June 1 post
Well my excuse was I was in packing, planning and in logistics mode for the move back.... I only blogged once about how sorry Percy was looking - very bad.
July 1 post
Well we did move this month and had been on some holidays that I blogged about later.... This was all about getting back 'home'.
It was like drawing a pair of curtains across our adventure. I was doing the packing and doing what you do to end a tenancy (a lot). Rachel was ending her 4 years in Portsmouth as a Nurse Consultant - top job.
Here is how I captioned my last pictures from the south
Then off for a late evening cool down walk to Funtingdon church across the corn and pig fields.
Very apt as the sun set on our time south.
I had a last beer on the bench in front of the cottage as the twilight eased off to allow night to fall.
The mill pond going to sleep
BANG.... we were back in the midlands. The logistics all went well and we were in the cottage and walking to the 'local' the black Lion at Consall that Friday night - on the Caldon BTW so there was/is a canal connection.
A Sunday at my eldest sons house then back of down south for a lonely night in the empty cleaned cottage (sleeping on the kitchen floor as the carpets were all wet) ready to hand it back after a tearful farewell with our lovely neighbour Gillian.
Happy, exciting but hard slog times for both of us. Would I do it again, not sure but I am pleased I did as it drove us out of the city and into the wonderful farmland we now live in.
August 3 posts
I was being aware what dribble of blogs I was writing ! But therein lay the focus of my thoughts, all I have now - country cottage etc, do I still need the boat. Conclusion, only if I use it for cruising!
I even posted some cruising pictures to remind me what we have !!
All taken from the retirement cruise
... and then we took the boat out for a cruise !! I was at the moorings to help Mandy move to Shebdon on the Shroppie. I was a little jealous of her cruise and her new mooring - little did I know !!
We only went to Fazeley junction (well just short) on the Coventry, it was nice and not too busy for the time of year. I do recall it being a late evening set off so we had a great cruise into the dusk. We had a great few days and returned early on Saturday to beat the Fradley rush, and did so perfectly, having watered and de rubbished at the services and cleared the locks for just after 9am. There is something quite special about being on the canals last thing and firth thing.
Just nice to be cruising.
I finished the month blogging about the internet,... 3 have taken the lid off 4g data now so all quite irrelevant but show the passage of time and technology.
September 4 posts
I did record we had had a couple more mini cruises by mid September. but we were in the main maintaining the mooring and cleaning the boat. You have to expect some of this after all !
However the hemmed in feeling was still very present - the third significant blog I'd done about it this year... so something was afoot.
Mid month I was up in Scotland on my bike visiting my friends John and Carrie. They have a beautiful home and location. I should visit more !! Plus John is a clever fella and has a great insight and use of technology. I always learn a lot while with him.
These trips are what the ST1300 pan European are built for. Not sure why but I took it to Luxembourg and Scotland this year but did not blog about those trips ....
We also took a few days to visit Wales where my late father in law lived for 40 years. We both like Wales and see a home there in the future maybe.
Good value property with land and views.... maybe ??
Charles last resting place overlooking his beloved Conwy valley. Nice that the stone where some of his ashes lay was still undisturbed, but it is just off the little used footpath.
Mid September I was down to one bike as I sold my NT700 Deauville. Not the best bike reliability wise I have owned, my 650 was more reliable, but I did not have space for two bikes. i then set to building up a shed to hold my pan over the winter while we sought planning permission for a proper garage and porch at the cottage (not got - another spring project)
It's all painted and guttered now - looks good for when we sell it !!
Now the big news of the boaty year - we were moving mooring. Ok not a big deal in many lives but we had been so happy at Fradley we needed to make sure it was the right decision.
I did my deliberations and took the plunge....
- Our new mooring is cheaper ( over £300 per year... which helps )
- It is about 5-10 minutes closer and a few miles closer to
- We can park our car next to the mooring
- With the above and Fradley's remote ( and increasingly busy) boater car park it can add 10-20 minutes to our arrival and departure times, depending on what we are bringing and taking back as many times it results in two journeys.
- It’s much much quieter
- We have an end mooring so no dogs passing through the mooring. Not the dogs or people issue at Fradley more Leia’s attitude to other dogs. Plus Lillie the cat was never comfortable and neither were we as we did not want her chased or caught !
- The grass is cut by the farmer, but not up to the boat
- There is water on the mooring - almost by the boat.
From this ....
.... To This
So I set to plan this move !
October 8 posts
Once committed I was planning the move, the actual boat move and the Fradley mooring clearance. The latter was a matter of offering up bits I did not want and they got snaffled by the other moorers. The decking went straight away - shame as now I need some more !! The slabs were also in demand, to the point one cheeky blighter took the slabs that made up the steps !!
Looking back we had some lovely days in October.... I used a couple to give Percy her winter wash and wax/polish. Flippin hard work but worth it for the protection it affords
I do like to live and learn. I have a small weep from the stop tap on the day tank. I closed this while away which (unbeknown to me added a bit of air into the injector pumps ) resulted in a one cylinder donk. So I was educating myself with trips to Sheffield - by bike as it was still so nice in October to get the pump checked.
I also now know that Stationary engine parts do not like receiving returned goods - one to remember and pass on ! No doubt it will get used in about 50 years time (I brought a spare thinking there were problems with the one fitted when it turned out all was ok and it just needed a bleed - in the correct way) I would have paid a restocking fee....
Then I was back to Fradley for wood chopping and removal back to the cottage. We have a wood burner and an open fire there so the wood will be used up - I prefer to burn coal on the boat.
I am not missing this !!
In the middle of October I was getting ready ... the wood got moved and other bits got dismantled and driven over to Shebdon. I winded Percy for the last time at Alrewas passing some of the marina development on my way - another cracking day by the looks of it.
I must have had some form of 6th sense as I was blogging about carrying spare parts - shame I did not have an impeller !! How I wished I could have seen the problem before I set off....
I was still rattling on about the long Fradley walk - something I never really minded until the last few months, especially carrying all the stuff off the mooring. The forecabin was packed (and still is as this will be a spring job) and we were ready(ish) for the off
Then I put up a really long post about the move. I called it the heaven and hell cruise, it should have been heavenly but the batteries opted out and the engine overheated at the end of the Staffs and Worcester. Before that I was blogging about the inauspicious departure on a drizzly Monday Afternoon - I watered up and never went back !! I'll put in a few of the pics I used - it was a long blog post.
I fully intend doing this in reverse sometime soon. Maybe not all the way to Fradley but certainly to Great Haywood. The welcome was worth it .... apart from what was to come !!!!
The last post of the month was an update on mobile broadband - it is all going the right way and the fact we have fast (ish) unlimited internet at the cottage and now at the mooring is a real bonus.
November 6 posts
What a welcome to the new mooring - the boat was broken into. Reading back I was still sore from the problems with the engine but I have since reconciled myself to the fact I had more than someone else and hopefully what he/she took helped them. But I was in a low mood over boating in general I can see that.
Then it was advice over batteries. As I type this in early January (posted in November !) I am still not sure what I will go for, but I have brought the fancy monitor for whatever I will eventually install. As always I received good advice from those that read my ramblings.
Every cloud has a silver lining I guess. Due to the involvement of a good friend we got moved up the moorings into a great space. Previously occupied by Richard a marine engineer who knows vintage engines. He and his wife left much of their garden for us so we dropped into a ready made mooring with water right by the boat and nestled in between much of the activity (not a lot) on the moorings. The real icing on the cake was I commissioned Richard to do some work on the engine so it was a win win for all.
In the spirit of learning I posted the pictures of the impeller I took off and the cause of my overheating. I am sure 9/10 engineers would have diagnosed this and sorted it, but now I know and I did it myself... and it has sorted the overheating problem - look away now if you are an engineer !
I was still in repair and replace mode having damaged the solar controller with an unforeseen water ingress. At least I now have some up to date kit and know how well made the Victron kit is.
I still fancy boxing this in in the spring time when its a bit warmer. Plus once again more good advice from those who know more than me about the location of the fuse on the battery side - needs to be close to the battery. When I redo my batteries I intend making a space for this and other items that are connected to the battery bank.
Then it was a sad bit of news about a friend Jaq who had stoically maintained a life aboard NB Valerie after the sad passing of her life partner Les. She had decided to sell the boat and return to family and other friends in the US. The boat sold quickly and she is planning her move back. Good luck Jaq x
I love this picture so much happiness in it and so much love on that boat.
December 10 posts
It was tidying up time at my old mooring at Fradley in early December, sad but right to have moved. As I type this still not been back but I will do friends to catch up with there, although some subsequently moved on. Still a happy place and my home onboard for a couple of years.
On the 12th December I was on the boat, exploring the new winding options, wet and windy but cabin fever saw me out single handling to the two winding holes north and south to get Percy back the way she was facing at the start. It was also a test for the heating working ok after the impeller change - all good, another learning point picked up and stored for the future.
One thing that was noted was my sealed wet lead acid batteries were on their last legs, they had served me well but needed replacing so started my next phase of education on how batteries charge and what is needed to know when a battery is fully charged. This all turned out to be essential learning and new parts fitted that have been very useful.
Then I got engaged about the busyness of the canal I'd moved to to the one I'd moved from. I'll do a blog about the list of lock movement recordings for 2019. One thing that has been delivered and its such an antisocial observation is that we have no had a single boat moor opposite us - Looking at pictures of the Fradley moorings someone posted recently the bank opposite where we used to moor now seems to have become a 14 day stay point (absolutely ok and allowed) for Fradley visitors and it'll only get worse when the marine opens and those boats want to get out of the marina for the pub....!!
Mid December I was shaking the money tree for parts for the engine - two head gaskets - £100 and new batteries needed plus tech for the engine room battery monitoring .... BOAT - Bring Out Another Thousand !
In the end I did not use them as the Indian lister has two less engine block studs - so they went and thankfully cheaper parts were obtained.
Christmas eve I was sharing my decision tree on the move from Fradley to Shebdon - I missed the section on boat break ins !!
Then I went into blogging overdrive, post Christmas relaxation I guess. I was deep into research on battery care and selection....all good stuff that I hope got me to the right choice....
Then I found another draft blog I'd written and not published regarding my career as I was at that point relaxing into retirement ..... I have unashamedly copied a link to it as I like to read this one ....
My last post of 2018 (post 62) was on New Years Eve while we were aboard at Shebdon, I was reflecting on how different our New Year was this year compared to 2017.
So that was a year of my published life in 2018 - it should have appeared January 2019 as I have done before but it was not due to no reason I can think of.... it'll be interesting to see what I was doing January 2019 that deflected my attention from my usual review blog.