Saturday, 25 June 2022

Making memories

Took my mum to the boat today. She’s been on holiday on it and our other boats in the past. She’s 87 now and not as good on the memory front as she used to be so it’s important we use any triggers we can to get her memory exercised. 

Percy is a sorry looking mess, we really need to spend so time on her but Leia is close to the end of her life and can’t do the boat anymore so we are struggling to get the time to get over  and give Percy a good clean. 

Sad on two counts.

At least I  was able to bring all my tools back so the inside of Percy is looking good as Rachel has carried out a small makeover of the back cabin … as well as curtains in the boat. She is deserving of a decent cruise …..


Sunday, 12 June 2022

Percy is moving again - oil changed for the record at 917 hours

 ... it's only taken me 7 months. 

November 2021 and all was well bringing Percy back to Shebdon from blacking at Stone. However as I neared Great Hayward the engine started knocking which I thought was fair to say was a worn big end bearing - bugger. Not wanting to damage the engine I pulled into Great Haywood marina and we have been there ever since. Sadly having had to give up our lovely Shebdon mooring as we could not afford to keep two moorings and seek repair of the engine.

Lots of excellent advice and guidance from the Lister forum as well as being let down by one engineer at the last minute and getting expensive advice from another engineer pushed me to opening up the engine and replacing the shell bearings myself. Fear not, the advice given to use Plastigauge  see here for all info on this interesting stuff and parts from Stationary engine supplies with the advice above from the lister forum. I set to over many months of check and double checking, holidays, other DIY, blood biking, helping others, holidays etc etc I got the job done. 

As an aside and timely it is a maintenance task for the engine to open the crankcase door  ( means draining the engine down, removing the starter motor and relay, alternator and water pump. Just to get to the engine crank door. However once in there you can get access to the big end shell after removing the con rod caps.








So all cleaned out correctly gaped and shimmed re filled with just over 8 litres of SAE 30 oil and all the above put back on after referring to copious photos I gingerly turned the key and on the first turn the donk set to ticking over quite nicely thank you.

That was a relief I can tell you. I let it warm up at tick over for about an hour then shut it down. A few hours later we were heading out of the marina for Rachel's tentatively promised birthday cruise. I felt a bit sorry for the fella who was mooring up just to the left of the marina entrance as I'm sure at about 7pm he was not expecting any boat movements ! We cleared him but if we'd been much longer than our 60 feet he'd have had to have moved....




We only cruised to just past fancy bridge having dropped down Great Haywood lock. I slept soundly that night !

As our mini holiday was being cut short due to needing to help a family member pack for a house move we had decided to venture off towards Rugely, not having done this route since I moved Percy from Fradley to Shebdon. So the next morning we headed off, did Colwich lock with a small wait to go down, past Wolsey bridge and checked the moorings which were just a couple free and proceeded to wind at bridge 68 having past a very different pig (not) farm at bridge 69. 

Now a moan, its ok for the wildlife not cutting the tow path but it makes it bloody dangerous risking stepping off the boat into three foot high veg not knowing if there are holes or worse you are going to step or jump off into ! For that reason Rachel was not keen for me to get off the back of the boat to pull the stern round - one of our winding techniques when the wind isn't favorable. So with the unhelpful actions of an impatient boater who came past while we were winding we ended up pinned across the winding hole. It took some serious pole work from yours truly to get the bow pointing the right way to get up back to Wolsey bridge. 









That's Comet our first fully owned boat. It seems to live around Great Haywood now having previously seen it around Fazely junction. Nice to see it in such good condition - a credit to its new owner 



We had another good meal there, good service and food after visiting antique shops and garden centres ...all part of the birthday experience.

Friday the 10th June saw up away just after 8.30 am to get back to the marina to drive home to drive to Derby to do a lot of packing and sorting and moving !!  It was a sublime cruise with nothing in front or behind so to aid the running in of the new bearing we went at tickover through the two locks and back into the marina with some trouble with the wind again - I do hate marinas for that, you almost need to fire the boat into its berth  - we went in forward as the next maintenance job is a clean and polish of the whole boat, the gas locker needs a paint and the regulator and pig tail  really needs replacing - a job for the boat yard here - one of the benefits of the marina (hopefully) 


So that is another chapter in our ownership of Percy. Going into year 10 now. We are on the waiting lists for a couple of farmers moorings, I am ok in the marina at Great Haywood but they will soon be destroying its selling points when they start the construction of the HS2 route and bridge over the canal so we won't be staying for sure but not clear on that timescale. A real shame for the marina  as I like it despite the price and the lack of privacy if the other boat owner is on their boat. 







Tuesday, 31 May 2022

My Brother-in-law Kev Booth

We met today and listened to his life, celebrated his life and laid him to rest. 

Life is not all roses and adventures but the big picture should be life is love and happiness.  I'm so pleased to know that in life Kev had both in abundance sprinkled with another essential ingredient  - laughter. It is clear to all that knew him he could find humour in the most interesting of places. 

Our lives can easily be dominated by the mundane the sad and boring but look for the fun, look for the laughter and you will be on a road to a happy life. I know Kev was a joker ( he supported Stoke city after all), he liked a pint or two and he loved my sister. Now that is the most important part - he gave Trish 26 years of love adventure fun and laughter. I can't ask for much more in a brother in law and I'll be forever grateful for that.

Rest in peace Kev be assured if there is ever Peddy at the pumps I'll take a pint and raise the glass to you looking down on me and finding fun in what I'm doing.


... and don't worry mate we are family and we will always be there for Trish.

Sunday, 29 May 2022

Quite special to realise ambitions

Rachel has long harboured an ambition to cycle Hadrians wall. In doing so to also cycle right across Britain from coast to coast. No small ambition for someone who does not regularly cycle but rather leisure cycles as and when.

She (we) achieved that ambition today when we finished our cycling holiday by cycling from Ryton through Newcastle and finally via some quite interesting industrial history arrived at Tynemouth 110 miles  from Bowness on Solway where we started under a week ago. 



If you can follow and realise those dreams, do so 100%  - don't let them out of your sight, life is fleeting embrace it a live it.

Saturday, 28 May 2022

The Tyne valley - quite lovely

The river Tyne surfaces in the Northumbrian hills and makes its way to the North Sea via Tynemouth where we hopefully will be tomorrow afternoon. Much of today was following the river as it got wider and wider and we were on quiet lanes and towards the end a lovely Sustrans Tyne valley park cycle way to our final night in a lovely hotel in Ryton. 

This morning we set off at a very leisurely pace as we had an easy day miles and climb wise. Corbridge is a very nice town, obviously well to do. We cycled around it and got a coffee and a picnic for later in a very nice coffee shop. We then just sat and watched the world go by. 

Harvesting the Tyne - Professional style.


Sustrans Route 72 ( Hadrians Wall ) is very well planned to keep the cyclist off the main routes and it picks its way down some lovely lanes heading towards Newcastle. Following the river it also stays quite flat which is a good thing for our legs.

We came into Prudhoe and noticed the castle. We crossed the Tyne again and had our picnic before climbing a steep hill to visit the English Heritage Prudhoe castle.






Then a lovely ride along the river path to our final hotel for the evening. We passed George Stevensons birthplace that is a National Trust property which is sadly closed at the moment. It does look like someone is living there however ! 



Finished the evening off with a nice meal and entertainment from a singer in the restaurant who was quite entertaining.

Tomorrow we cycle to the North sea …..

Friday, 27 May 2022

Quite some 10 miles

I’ve ridden cycles  all my life from teenager to now. London to Brighton, London to Derby ( my pb for distance 115 miles in a day) Manchester to Blackpool and loads of miles in Derbyshire and beyond. Today we had a 10 mile run from the highest point of Hadrian’s wall into Hexam that was quite the best cycling or more to the point freewheeling ! 

Anyhow before that we cycled from our Twice brewed inn ( lovely) of last night to Steel Rigg to walk the wall to the “Sycamore gap tree” apparently the most photographed tree in the country. 


It was quite a hike to get these pictures, I’d love to come back and take some at night with a clear sky in the background …..


The accent and decent was steep…

The Twice brewed inn, a good place to stop 

After our cycling to Steel Rigg, then walking to the gap we rode to the largest Roman fort on the wall ( or just below it ) at Vindolanda. A very large uncovered fort showing all the buildings with a great museum (I am sure you didn’t know I am a published author on Roman architecture - isbn and all !! ) a lovely few hours of education and information. 



On leaving via a small lane we had to manhandle our bikes past a stand off  on a steep hill between a UK motor home ( downhill) and a German car coming uphill…. They could still be there ! 

Then it was a mean climb to the highest point on the trip and Hadrian’s wall 


But from this point on it was a magical 10 mile decent into Hexam with a 20 mile and hour westerly wind on our backs all the way…. Quite the best cycling I’ve done in many many years 


We were routed via the river and railway through and out of Hexam over the River Tyne and onto our destination for tonight in Corbridge….a lovely Roman  town that we explored after our evening meal.



A lovely day or exploring walking and cycling 

Thursday, 26 May 2022

Twice brewed ….

 …is where we are staying tonight. Today was out longest distance day in miles and altitude terms. 


Yes the last couple of miles felt that steep 

Started out wet again so we were pleased to reach our first stop for coffee and cake and a look around Lanercost Priory. 








By the time we had set off again it had stopped raining so we made good progress to the Cumbria/Northumbria boarder where we crossed into Northumbria to cross back to a cafe in Cumbria. 

We were also cycling the wall now ….









Cumbria weather 
Northumbria weather 

Ok last of the weather stuff….after a soup lunch ( cycling don’t half burn some calories)  We then had a lovely ride in some isolated country until we came to a farmer who waved us down and asked us to wait for his cows ….



He was an interesting fella who we (I) chatted to for far too long. A chance meeting long to be remembered.

Then the route got a bit mean in altitude terms especially as on a few turns we were cycling into the wind and my panniers were like air brakes up the hills ( my excuse). Worth the views and soon we were getting a warm welcome in the Twice a brewed inn…. We have cycled up an appetite. 




Tomorrow we hit the summit  of Hadrian’s wall but we will sleep well tonight !