Tuesday 20 February 2024

More delays to Percy

We should have been on Percy for our 39th Wedding anniversary - in fact it's one of the few years lately we've not been aboard. All was planned then v2 of this covid type cold virus hit me so I wanted to be near a bath instant hot water and stable heat - yep a complete wuss ! 

We have so much 'on' at the moment it's hard to get the time to give Percy our full attention. It'll get easier as we progress into spring as odd overnights arn't so bad as temps make overnighting easier. Many years ago I blogged about big decisions and we need to make one soon,  we need to be able to get to Percy more often and make Percy a priority rather than a standby.... that's on us. 

I've just watched one of the you tube channels I follow - Gone with the Wynns  - they have just taken their new catamaran over and have sailed away from China. The reason for the mention is that they were on the Llangollen canal I think last year while the boat was being built... small world. 

Their channel and others inspired us to get a sailing holiday ( tick)  for two weeks around the Ionia seas.... truly fantastic but not for me long tern, there was a time I thought it might be but heat and other things put me off... but a great thing to say we've done.

Anyhow Percy is booked for a blacking in May at Overwater  - I'm discouraged from doing it as it wasn't pleasant last time with nearly being overcome by fumes in the dock.... so we will have to be there and ensure its done properly.... 

Some random photos to make this blog make sense; 

Thursday 8 February 2024

I visited a canal

Lots of stuff on however  impacted and restricted by me tweaking my back in the garden.... moved a ton bag of top soil from the back yard to the front garden - ok. Cleaned out the pond snd filters - Ok, last job just move that 20kg bag of top soil - hinged and twisted and pop went my back !! 

So two weeks later I was able to get in to the garage and get the wheels off one of my bikes  - Honda NC750x and on picking Rachel up from a nice brrak in Bath with her long time friend we called and had two new tired on my 'loose wheels' £304 lighter they sat in the garage waiting for me to fit the wheels back on the bike.

In the mean time I had a rare dry day that coincided with a trip to my lads house in Chinley to meet a contractor. I went the long way via Millers Dale and Peak Forest. After a meeting and a tea in the local cafe i headed off to Bollington for another tea stop at Clarence mills on the Macclesfield canal. 

I finished the day with a trip into Macc to the Superbike warehouse massive place with so many bits of temptation for me as a 45 year + riding bikes.

A good day and I saw a canal  - hopefully more on canals and Percy next week !  

Tuesday 9 January 2024

Bucket list stuff

Sorry more bike related. I have an adventure bike  that was designed and built and tested in the Himalayas and the mountains of Wales. It is a belter and those of you who have found my YouTube channel will have seen some of its adventures. 

Anyhow a week before Christmas when I was feeling $hit with the man flu I got a call from the bike dealer I brought the bike from inviting me for a day of Green Lane'ing in early January. I wasn't sure it was for me but I said put me down as a maybe. On Saturday I was frosty and 1 degree and  I had doubts but it is times like that you have to push yourself or really start a rapid decline. So I layered up and set off in foggy 'cool' temps but was rewarded within 5 minutes of view of cloud inversions along the early part of the route.... I should have taken photos !

Got to Bob Minions in Derby and was offered coffee and a warm welcome before we ( 6 bikes - all Himalayans ) headed off to meet other like minded souls at the Square and Compass pub in Darley Dale. 

We were told it was gentle green lanes  - bit of gravel etc but we got mud, rocks 30 feet of 1 foot deep water filled trenches - a few fell off, pleasingly I didn't but we all had fun and on the return to the pub we were fed and watered - an excellent day.

Note to self live each day and take as many opportunities as you can....

A couple of pics 

Thursday 4 January 2024

First wheels turning of 24

OK not boating but another passion....

Due to family commitments, a horrid virus and then Rachel getting the virus my time on two wheels lately has been limited. Today was the first day when I got the chance to turn a wheel. It was a Screwfix visit to buy another angle grinder and disk to remove the old mortar on one of my chimneys as its got a leak !! Normally a 20 minute run to Ashbourne ( or Leek) but todays was Ashbourne but it gave me the opportunity to go the longer way via Ilam and Dovedale. As to be expected there was a lot of surface water on the lanes and a lot of mud. Tools acquired then a slight reverse but I added in Wetton the Manifold valley Grindleford then Foxt to home. 

Descending into the Manifold valley the mist dropped the temp to about 3c. Back home just after sunset. Felt a bit bad the Himmy was a bit messy but I'm due a ride on Saturday with the Royal Enfield peeps with a couple of the new 452's. Set up by the dealer who I've got a reservation on the 452 with and the run on Saturday has some light green lanes to a pub in the peaks where RE are providing lunch. Not done such before so subject to frost looking forward to it. Then the Himmy will get a clean!

One thing the 452 has to be a good step change and more better than my humble 411 as today it was the perfect bike to be out and about on. O and yes when getting fuel in Ashbourne got two fellas talking to me about their bikes when they saw the Himmy..... 

Did you get out today boat or bike ? 



Manifold valley

Looking right across north Staffordshire, on a clear day you can see the Wrekin 

Saturday 30 December 2023

Licence fees and 2024 costs

Short post to record the costs for  boating into next year. It was triggered by my licence renewal that followed my insurance renewal which both were before us trying to book a blacking slot. Our mooring fees are now paid monthly with no additional charge for the monthly payments  - thanks Emma. 

So out 2024 license fee is described as this ...

Further to the announcement made by the Trust on 2nd August 2022 regarding an interim price increase of 4% for all leisure and business licenses effective from 1st October 2022, please note that the annual price increase of 9% will also apply from 1st April 2023. We’re having to increase licence fees to secure the maintenance and repair programme required to help keep the waterways safe and navigable in the face of soaring inflation across the economy. The rapid growth in inflation has led to even greater increases in prices for energy, fuel and materials, leading to a projected shortfall in our finances. Unless measures are taken urgently to address the budget gap, works would be affected, and we would have to cancel some planned jobs and scale back non-essential maintenance’We will do all we can to support those who may be struggling with the nationwide cost of living crisis.
The amount that you will need to pay for your next licence depends on when and how we receive your correctly completed application. The lowest price available is when you pay in full before the start date using our website:

When and how you pay

Standard Renewal Price (including Surcharge*)Discounts/Charges applied

Amount you will pay

If you pay in full by card or direct debit before the start date of the licence using our website**

£1,258.52Online Prompt Payment (5%)


If you pay in full by card or direct debit before the start date of the licence but don’t use our website**

£1,258.52Prompt Payment (2.5%)


If you pay after the start date of the licence using our website***

£1,258.52Online (2.5%)


If you pay after the start date of the licence but don’t use our website***



Costs are therefore;

Licence  - £1,195

Insurance  - £242

Mooring  - £152.50 x 12  = £1830 ( C&RT get half of that )

Blacking  - £14 per foot  = £840 (maybe plus slipway another £260 if so )

Total a massive £4107 ( not including slipway or any repairs while the boat is out of the water ) 

As a reference re the mooring it would have been £889 a quarter at Great Haywood making it £3556 a year !! 

We (I) often ruminate over selling Percy as she does not get the use we have put her to in previous years. ironic really as we now have the best mooring and the most time  - well I have, it just seems life gets in the way. It really is true what they say when you retire you have less time to do all the things you did when working!!  

Hopefully we will have the blacking booked and that will springboard up to getting up the Macclesfield fully and onto the Peak Forest .... time will tell ! 

Tuesday 26 December 2023

December family big push

My eldest son and family have had a difficult time in trying to live post pandemic. The banks really stitched him up with arbitrary rule changes about loaning against property that abuts industrial estates. He has/had a lovely cottage with land and planning permission on the Erewash canal in Ilkeston that due to the changes noted above resulted in it being difficult to sell normally. It's really his story to tell but the result is they sold it and had a short window of moving opportunity. I was asked to help and hired a van and did some prep work on the new place  - very nice it is and they have done well in sorting it and getting in before Christmas. We are very proud of our two sons and their wives. 

It's been a long week with some 14 hour days and early starts late finishes and lots of weight being moved. Nearly all done and completed house sales in what is in my estimation record time. A good job.  

As I said their stories to tell but a couple of photos for posterity. 

To get up to date we had a nice siblings get together at the weekend before Chrsitmas. Good to met up and look back on life and forward also. 

All still smiling that's all that counts ! 

Only downside is we all seem to have succumbed to a cold virus doing the rounds. One of us brought it to the party ! Such viruses always flair up the fibromyalgia I am blessed with but its not too bad and there are many many people who suffer much much more so nothing for me to moan about.   


Saturday 23 December 2023

My latter year catch up

I was out on the tools some of them my old dads bricklaying tools that always make me feel he's sitting on my shoulder watching !!

When we had the oil boiler serviced the local plumber suggested more support for the oil tank. It was on my to do list but got brought forward. It's been as it was for a good year or two and was never  picked up before but for my peace of mind I set a small strip foundation to build up some high density blocks on. Not the prettiest but very functional and in the spring I intend boxing it in with trellis to also cloak my amateurish bricklaying where I removed the window that was part covered by the oil tank. 

Overall quite pleased with the work and outcome 

We have a sump pump I installed a while back to take ground water from the fields that rises near the garage foundations and in the past this water has penetrated the garage. the sump collects it now and the pump puts in into the drains - a simple but effective solution. However it was running excessively a few weeks ago and I tracked it back to a blocked inspection pit on the road outside out back gate. Luckily Severn Trent have this on their system as one of theirs to maintain as the cover got broken by a tractor pulling a 14 tons tank full of silage the other year.... they came out within 24 hours of me reporting it - well done Severn Trent.

More afternoon blood bike shifts also on the 28th November. Picked this BMW RS1250 from County Hospital in Stafford. Rode to Stoke for path lab stuff to go into Birmingham and also picked up a Heart tape from Birmingham Children's hospital that went to the open hand of a doctor back in Stoke Royal University hospital about 6.30 pm then back to Stafford then home - a long day.

Back to Callum's in Chinley to fill his central heating and pressure test our joints... a few weeps that were nipped up and we ran it for a few hours to check it all - so far so good. Just three more rads to add now his floor has been laid downstairs and when we install the bath and sink toilet etc in the bathroom two up there. 

It was Rachels works Christmas party same day but the weather forecast was for lots of snow so at the last minute we booked a room in the lovely hotel the party was being held at in Chesterfield. A good time was had by all and I got a restful evening in the room !

On our return the fires were lit at home including the big bugger that heats much of the house ! 

Mandy our good boaty friend sent us a picture of Percy waiting in the snow for us 

The cold brought an unforeseen problem in that my 11.6kw of house batteries were restricting their charge as they protect themselves in the cold. So a trip to B&Q in Derby while Rachel was at her choir got me the required insulation board a small greenhouse heater connected to a smart plug and some ply to make the install saveable for next year ! All works and the batteries are working away in their little hibernation space very efficiently. 

We were still getting out for walks essential for our health the Caldon canal is always picturesque in the cold especially with the steam trains running the Santa specials in the valley. 

Percy got a check visit early December. I tried to run the genny but I think it needs a tad more oil as it kept cutting out despite fresh fuel with stabiliser in it. My thinking is there is low oil pressure being detected?

We have half a plan to get on board over Christmas ....but family stuff might get in the way again. 

I have mentioned in the past about our batteries and solar. I am ever more aware of the need now not only to keep physically fit but also mentally fit. I challenged myself to get a Home assistant server running on a Raspberry PI to show all the inverter and solar detail. This included making a serial link to my home network.... I enjoyed the challenge and got it working. It is a bit of a rabbit hole project as I now want to add all the other smart home stuff Ivy Cottage is blessed with ! 

Its a good way to spend these darker winter months while stretching my metal capability.