Friday, 28 April 2017

Feels like a year but its only been a part month !

The longer days are truly a blessing. It means we can achieve more and experience more. The early part of April did see us get a bit of warmth but the rest seems to be accompanied by a cool wind that is stopping the true warmth of spring being enjoyed.

It did not stop me getting a bit of fishing in on the mooring.

Getting my bikes prepped for another summer of commuting/riding meant two MOT's and as the plate on my bigger bike was an MOT fail I swapped it and took the opportunity to account for Brexit and any Scottish departures !

I also explored my possible next bike, it looks gorgeous but I did not enjoy riding it ! 

We took advantage of the South Downes and took a picnic for a walk through the woods of Stansted House, improvising a picnic table.

The next day we were up at Newlands Corner on the bike for what is called the SBC  - Southern Breakfast Club. A run out to a full English breakfast on the roads of Hampshire East/West Sussex and Kent.

We ended up at Brighton Airport , beautiful art deco building and a great if a little expensive breakfast

Back on the boat for work and it was such a lovely evening I walked to the Trent at Alrewas with Leia

The next morning the walk was as enjoyable with the mist rising off the canal from the warming sun.

At the end of the week I was off to collect the keys to the new house. This is our new back yard, I suspect their is a lot of walking in those moorlands ...

While waiting for our furniture to be delivered on the Monday (10th April) we were back on the boat and a much loved boat passed us - Sylph our ex share boat, a few exchanged greetings and she was off towards Alrewas

I took the opportunity to make up a new gasket for the hand pump that lifts fuel from the main diesel tanks to the day tank. The old ones on the left were letting in a small amount of air which stopped the lift of fuel. I brought thicker gasket material to help make an air tight joint.

When I ordered the service kits for the motorbikes I also ordered enough Morrisons oil for the next two oil changes on Percy plus three more auto greasers for the stern gland. Next time I have a few days on Percy I'll do an oil change.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

If you could select your two locals (pubs)

We are in our new cottage. It is in a small Hamlet in the Staffordshire moorlands. It is beautifully peaceful and the location is perfect. Now I know I write this as my diary to myself and hopefully a record for my children and grandchildren (any day now) of what their cranky old dad got upto. But this post does have a boaty connection. That being my two locals.

We moor at Fradley so our local is the Swan - or the Mucky Duck which it is more widely known as.

Our 'new' local is the Black Lion at Consall

I am sure you can spot the connection !

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Two years down the line and a plan completes - we have our next home

Pictures are a great reminder of what you did and when.

One significant aspect of living down south for Rachel's job is the two cottages we have rented. We decided that if we were going to rent we would rent something nice, and nice being rural. Now I was a city boy and if I had a three square mile blanket could cover  most of my school home and work life in one area of Derby so moving away was a challenge. But the challenge was rewarded by an appreciation of the joys of country living. 

So when we decided the four bed detached Derby home was just too big we had four requirements;
  1. Country living
  2. Scotland, Wales Derbyshire/Staffordshire, Yorkshire
  3. If it had a garden it would be a 'natural garden - no bloody grass !
  4. Ideally detached 
I think I maxed our at over 200 saved properties on Rightmove !

So Derby home had to go and so the start of my DIY'o'thon 

The garden was hit first, We had the three large conifers removed and despite a few weekends of me trying with my chainsaw and weak muscles to remove the sizeable stumps I ended up getting the right tool for the job - a man with a stump grinder (and builders bum)

Then the front lounge. The previous owners had not set the cabling deep enough so we always got cracks - not ideal when selling so I cut out the old plaster, re set the cables properly and replastered. 

We had a living flame gas fire in the same room that when installed was not correctly vented so when on it drew too much air out of the room. So I core bored through the wall and added a ventilation duct. (very dusty job.)

Next the living flame fireplace was removed and I made up a new one with slabs and cement. Got some bargain tiles from B&Q (I became a good customer) and reset the whole job

A bit more modern than the sandstone fireplace I took out.

Front lounge done then it was off upstairs to the bedrooms.... The house was a 70's design and had two built in wardrobes that basically took space out of each room and made them not so useable especially if free standing was used. So I took them out and plaster boarded them up. Not a good H&S look from Callum !!

I could not get a plasterer to skim the plasterboard so I educated myself with YouTube videos and did it myself !

Then the bathroom. Homebase were re modelling their displays and had a suite on sale for just £100, including the shower screen. When I went back to buy it they had reduced it to just £50 - result.

Not the prettiest but better than the corner bath we had and only 50 quid !

Now it got serious  - skips'n'all. It was very therapeutic to strip out the whole bathroom and the bathroom was my play pen and prison for the next several months.

However before I started the reinstatement I tackled one other biggish job that had been a cause of frustration since we moved in  - the central heating. I was persuaded by a plumber friend who fitted it to use 10mm flexible pipe that routinely got clogged and over the years I had replaced many run of this stuff. So Screwfix got a tidy 700 quid order for 15mm polypipe (over 100 meters in the end) plus replacement valves and a load of new radiators for the upstairs bedrooms. Then Callum and I spend a good weekend lifting floors repiping and replacing old radiators. When we refilled the system we had just one small leak and a toasty warm house for the first time in some years. This allowed me to enjoy my last winter in the house while tackling the remaining job - the bathroom.

Photos are great as they now give you the date so I know I started the bathroom early March 2016. Yes the blue tiles and corner bath was so 1990's.

Very satisfying to have a skip to load all the bathroom into. Plus my mums old washing machine and my next door neighbours utility fit out ..... we did share skips which was always useful.

I think I used about 6-7 buckets of tile adhesive !

Sometimes I had to improvise after making a mistake on my tile planning  - top of the window was not even so I dropped the inner height so I could add in a tile cut.

 A good feeling completing full walls 

Then fitting in the £50 bathroom suite 

The bathroom did help sell the house and despite its cost in tiles time and my hands - another story there for another blog, it was worth it.

I opted out of the decorating, something I could do but time was against us and I wanted a rest so I had pre booked a well regarded local man to do it and he did a great job over two weeks to time and budget. Carpets were selected and put down with the bathroom vinyl going down last !

We put the house on the market just before we rode off to Normandy for a weeks motorcycling to re set my soul. So that would have been early June.

After quite a few viewings we took a good offer  in early October I recall  - now that was a relief.

I owe a lot to my dad here as he was a DIY'er. There is not much I will not tackle and he was the same, if not more able.

BOAT ALERT  - I moved back to the boat while we were being decorated and used Percy a lot as most of the viewings were done by the estate agents.

As to the next home.... as it has a canal link I'll do another blog, this one really is to record our old home and its selling to allow us another chapter in our lives.

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Six locks to load a mother-in-law

Getting up up to date and yes more cruising  - I must update the locks and miles travelled plus the cruising hours bit on the side...(done)

We have just had a busy Derby weekend visiting Crich Tramway Village on Saturday and took our respective mums on a little boat trip on Sunday.

My late father in law liked the tramway museum, the old Assembly rooms facade is installed there were he first met his wife.

We took a tram and then walked to Crich stand and climbed it to take in the views.

 Our new house is somewhere over that way  - more on that in future posts 

My reward for the trip !

Sunday saw us up minus one hours sleep to another beautiful day. We only had about three hours for the trip and Percy was facing towards Fradley, with winding holes at the junction - too short, Streethay on the Coventry - 4 hours or Kings Bromley - another 3-4 hours plus more locks. 

So some strategic thinking took place and we agreed I'd take Percy to the junction and wind and hold ideally above Hunts lock to give Rachel time to drive to Derby to collect the mothers.... 

Now sunny Sunday at Fradley means Gongoozlers, in fact the boats are the star of the show and the fact non or few were moving meant my up and down got some attention - as well as a few nice comments on the 25 year old tug and its engine !

Out of keepers lock, looking quiet.....

Preparing for my 'wind' at the junction, still looks quiet...?

My audience watching the 'wind' and my locking ... all interested and in good spirits as the day was beautiful.  

I did the locks without drama and held above Hunts, locking one boat up as I wanted to stay against the pound ledge to help Rachel's mum who is a little unsteady to get aboard, which she did ok and we had a great trip out and back to Alrewas.

Youngest son had an issue with his flowers order from London so asked if I'd buy something for Rachel on his behalf. She chose an Olive tree so I ended up pushing this organic dogem car around Morrisons  - I got more than a few smiles and a few pointing at me !!