Wednesday, 27 December 2017

Hitting 50 lots of miles and stoves

...I wish is was years of age but I need to drop a post in before the end of the year to get to 50 for the year. Obviously less than one a week which is poor but in my defence it’s been an busy year.... I will of course do a recap ( mainly for myself ) of the year as I find it engaging to remind myself what I have been up to.

Certainly this Christmas has seen over 1500 miles of A34/M40/M42/M6/A52 travel. Far from ideal but my lovely mother in law Christine is having a hard time of it in and out of hospital. Its a hard time of year for our great NHS - last week I could not pick Rachel up easily as they had closed the roads near the normal entrance as they had 7 ambulances queuing to drop off at A&E

Back to boating, as I noted in my last blog I need to fit another stove so while I have some relaxing time (at last) I have been Googling !

The back cabin really deserves a proper range type stove. I did quite like the Tomlow stove but it seems they are no longer sold?

I guess it'll be a more standard glass fronted stove but I'd like something with character not just a square undecorated box  - any suggestions of links or even pictures of what yo have ?

Thursday, 21 December 2017

Boat jobs for 2018

2018.... wow that seems like a lot of years. 18 years since we celebrated the millennium (well me and the lads and my mum as Rachel was working ) Anyhow, back to the title topic.....

One thing that is a joy is I have time to get those jobs done on Percy that I can plan and undertake with time all around. So what needs doing;

1:  A back stove needs adding back in. I do have a nice guards van stove - similar to that which was in when we brought Percy back in 2012. It was there but not connected when I had the boat safety and the surveyor said if it was installed he could not fail the boat but just add an advisory. So I could add it in but it is not a sealed type and we have slept in there with the stove on so it really needs something a bit safer, plus in my workshop at the cottage there used to be a copper for washing clothes - you'd have to be over 50 to know what one of those was.

Close to what I have in my workshop - minus the coper (no doubt weighed in for scrap some years ago) I intend installing my guards stove here so I will need a replacement for the back cabin. I may tie this in to a trip up the Macclesfield to get a chimney made for when I have the stove in. I think they do this at Bollington wharf - or I could nip to Streethey just round the corner on the Coventry as part of one of the trips that way. However I may have a go myself. I have an arc welder so may practice in the workshop chimney.

2:  There is some paint touching up needed - not my favourite job but it needs attending to - a crack in the roof paint in annoying but needs attention.

3:   Two floors in the kitchen and bathroom need laying  - I have the Karndean.

4:   Might replace the cooker- one with a drop down lid will give more cold prep in the kitchen

5:   Will need to tile the kitchen  - not a lot but they will need some sourcing as they will be imperial size

6:   I need to complete the bilge inspection hatch I had to cut when Rachel tried to sink the boat from the inside !!

7:  I need to address a bilge pump issue 

8:   Replace the central heating water

9:   Replace the engine coolant

10:  Paint the poles 

11:   Re roof the log store 

12:   Landscape the mooring a little to make it easier to mow the grass

Thats about it but I'm sure there will be a lot more pottering to do  - plus I have nine cruise routes all planned varying distances/times/locks but cruising I need to do.

Monday, 18 December 2017

What were you doing this time last year...?

I've commented before the blog, this blog is a great way to remind myself what I was doing in past years. As I come to think about this year, I like to do a resume post at the end of the year, I looked at what I was doing last December.

We were due to exchange on our property in early December last year, an optimistic target set by the people wanting our house no doubt with a Christmas occupation in mind. So we rather sportingly emptied the whole place into store in late November. The result was me coming back up to the Midlands at the beginning of December on a very clear frosty morning to live aboard again leaving an empty house in Derby.

I've said before living aboard in winter is a hard task, much more darkness than light, 24 hour stove operation  - a real test of the boats systems, however simple. Also a test of the boaters resolve. It does make me think sometimes how new boaters with the 100k plus boats with all the home comforts manage. I guess like most new things they operate well, but 5 years down the line ....?

It's not all bad of course, living so close to harsh nature is a real privilege, you are so aware of the seasons, the impending weather is always on your mind as is the changes going on daily  around you. It is also a feeling of being in a unique hardy club.

We also spent Christmas aboard which was nice  - even though I was down with flu and called by work Christmas day and in work on Boxing day.

So this year is so very different, but more of that in my year round up.

For now ... this is how I came to Percy last year ....

Monday, 4 December 2017

The catch up ... ending with a broken nose

No I'm ok really, but I do need to update my blog with a few bits that were missing up to today as I close in on my first three months of retirement. Plus is minus temps outside and I am waiting for the heating in my little workshop to heat it up so I can wire in the outside socket - if that makes sense !

By the way, anyone tells you you will be bored in retirement  they are either;

1. Jealous
2. Have no hobbies or interests

It is the best job I have ever had .... I am sure I was born to retire !

So back to the end of October I was invited  by good friends up north (Leeds, Middlesborough and Hull) to have a few days in Bewdley so we could ride the Brecon Beacons roads. We based ourselves in a Weatherspoons where the food is plentiful and beer is cheap - one night we had four nightcaps !!

Not too many photos but the little blue 650 did me proud as we wended our ways around this lovely part of mid Wales.

Early the next week I was up at silly o'clock on a bike buying adventure. My good friend Les from Scotland had purchased a new bike and I was to have his old bike - well 8 years younger than my little 650 !

I was to meet him in Oxford where I'd go pillion over to Gloucester then I'd ride his (my) bike back to Chichester while he rode his new bike to Dunoon in the west of Scotland  - Lovely place.

So I was up at 5.20 am and my long suffering wife took me to Bosham station for the 5.55 or so to Southsea where I caught a train to Winchester then a train to Oxford.

Not a view I normally get  - on the back of a bike.

Old and new together - my new (old) bike is the red Honda NT700v Deauville 

I took it to see the South Downs 

Then introduced it to its half brother....

Later that week I took a lovely walk to Stanstead house to order the free range turkey for Christmas - you see, retirement = organisation

  I had wondered why the farmers round here were planting Sunflowers !

Leia missed a gate and I walked on - only to hear her 'Yelp' her concern as I walked away....Just added to my lovely walk 

More South Downs Riding was done - I think this was a 70 mile round trip to the Coop - via one of the Meons (not sure East or West)

Catching up with this little fella at Tom and Courtneys place - He is motoring on up. 12th November was the date....

Back down south and it was a strip down time as the pannier catch on the 700 had broken, such poor design and half the bike to be removed to replace one small spring !

Of course  the OEM part was no longer available (a spring !!)  so I had to make one

My Lovely Honda ST1300 Pan European was written off after a bump on the way back from Germany earlier in the year. I tempted myself with this F800GT BMW and got within £50 of buying it but the dealer would not deal so he got a no sale !

Yes boating  - that thing most may read this blog for ....

C&RT made an assessment of the tree that partially came down in one of the Autumn storms and decided to remove it and leave an ugly stump..... no matter it won't fall on our boats now - the wood disappeared as quickly as it was cut apparently !!

I stayed aboard for a few days  - added some water and checked Percy over. Last winter I was living aboard... and working but had a solid retirement plan. Since then we have sold a house brought a house and retired (me) 

Fradley visitor mooring completely  empty !

 Boaters gold they call it - free wood 

C&RT were dredging the Coventry and spreading it over the farmers fields - good work and they are making a difference  - albeit slowly 

Part of the reason for being on board was to use the boat as a base to visit the NEC Motorbike show. I came away a little disillusioned as most bikes were 'adventure ' styled - all thanks to Ewan Mcgregor and Charlie Boreman who did a round the world trip on 2 big BMW's now everyone thinks they have to have the same adventure bike to go to the shops on ! These bikes are tall and I am not.  

This is an £18,000 bike - lovely but would I enjoy owning it at that price ??

I think after the show I had decided what I wanted.....more later!

On the way from the boat back to the cottage I called at a wood yard in Stoke who I had passed a cutting list to for a workbench I wanted to make  - a quite easy jigsaw puzzle 

Starting to become a proper man shed !! - Just need to get my bikes in there (well the other side)

Then I spent time sorting a weep from the fuel pump for the Rayburn - us retirees have to DIY to save money  - plus it is a great way to keep the grey matter active  - beats puzzle books my colleagues kindly brought me as a retirement present  !!

Earlier this week I had another 'big' drive after dropping Rachel off at the railway station in Stoke. Up to Macclesfield to look at three bikes - nope, then to Beaston to look at two bikes-  nope, then to Chesterfield to buy this one.

Its a Honda ST1300 Pan European the same as my last one only 2 years younger and 25,000 miles less on it. A £500 seat and lots of other bits I wanted - very pleased as this will take me to Scotland, Belgium and Luxembourg next year (at least three trips and I'd like to do Scotland a couple of times) 

So up to date as of a few days ago and the broken nose reference. This is my lovely Rover 75 Tourer in bits. A local Derby garage failed to sort the A/C  - now I have time I did some research and diagnosed the fault - I took it to a real Rover guru in Colwy Bay who sorted the A/C by adding a new thermistor re-gassing, sorting a small leak out plus lots of other little jobs - and cheaper for a days labour plus parts. He replaced the two belts that should have been done 7 years ago !! (so much for getting a proper service done !)

We had a lovely meal with Teddy two spoons who is leading the field on baby led weaning - he chooses what he wants to eat and he knows he likes Grans sweet potato mash.

Finally we lit (tested) the open fire a the cottage - burns and draws lovely and I have not stopped burning stuff on it since !!

Thursday, 23 November 2017

Wow a real rockin'n'rollin tonight

Getting a little in front of myself as I still have plenty to blog about to getup to date. However I am on the boat now and Percy is riding our quite a storm. The boat is rocking and rolling - so much Leia is getting a little scared and has adopted her 'under my feet' location.

The last storm that blew through brought down part of the Willow tree between Percy and Sam's mooring.

Well C&RT have been down and removed the tree completely... plus a few others. Made a bit of a mess if truth be told but it could have been worse if my neighbour Mandy  had not helped move the boat and more importantly re secure the boat. 

This is the view now...

That was last night, today being retired and close to the NEC I went to the Motorcycle live show.... disappointed to be honest. Nothing there to compare with my now lost to me Honda ST1300. Closest was the BMW RT1200 or maybe for something lighter the BMW F800gt..... well I do have a little time to test ride the replacement. 

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

The missing activities

This retirement lark is quite tiring and I don't think I have been so enjoyably busy for such a long time. Best job I've ever had !

Q.  Do I miss work ?
A. Not for one moment and I really do mean that.

Many I spoke to told me retirement was great but did have that wistful look. I think it is all about having

  1. Hobbies
  2. Ability to do stuff
  3. Fitness to do stuff
  4. Money to do stuff (not as important as you might think)
I am a serial hobbyist and wanna be fixer. I see the cerebral challenge as well as the time and project planning  of working out how to fix, mend and improve as well as  acquire things. It is a singular joy to have the time to do all the above and not have anything niggling in the back of your mind. 

I am even enjoying being the home keeper - cook and cleaner. I can do it my way and it helps Rachel as she can relax a bit more when home from what is undoubtedly a stressful and challenging job.

So  - I'll not detail all I have been up to, for my diary as this blog is I'll drop in the bits along the line to hopefully catch up. I use my Photo library as the reminders of what and where I have been - it's very useful for that.

After we (I) returned from the retirement cruise(ette) family was visited - here is the future Mr Wells ... I was the only son of an only son of an only son - I have two sons and this little fella is the custodian of the Wells surname for the future - Good lad  

Time allows my vehicles to get some TLC - this is my 650 Honda after its clean. The cars are getting done once again by me. I even had the chance to polish the cars headlights to get it through the MOT - more of that later....

Every time we go into the garden down south this little bird appears.

Walking is a simple pleasure that is free and saved gym membership and the views are so much better. I have a staple pack of a flask of tea and cheese sarnie.... This was a beautiful walk 10th October stopped and diverted by a field full of cows a bull and lots of calves  - experience says with a dog, avoid.

The pig farmer had moved his pigs across into the fields nearer the church - they are less interested but also behind electric fences and off the footpath.

Lots of empty countryside especially during the week - all to myself !

Ok, back a few days to a great trip early October with good friends who I ride motorbikes with in the south. It was to Bovington tank museum and then to Yeovil Fleet arm museum. This was over a few days and we started with a visit to Clouds Hill, the retreat of T.E. Lawrence, the person who Lawrence of Arabia was based on.  Most met at Loomies cafe for the obligatory full English  breakfast.

Also the church where TE Lawrances' funeral service was held and he was buried nearby.

On our way to the tank museum  - this is Dorchester, very pretty but ruined by traffic

Reminded me of my action man tank 

 This is the tank used in the film Fury  - good film IMHO

 The group shot - good men all of them 

The Fleet arm museum was better than the tank museum for me - but I like flying things. No need to introduce this plane - it was interesting to walk inside and feel how small it was.

More trips been had and accounts will follow....