Saturday, 29 September 2018

Giving it up....milestone post for the blog

One thing I have learnt in the recent past is regret is greater if you do not seize the opportunities rather than regretting seizing the opportunities. Life has taught me to take a few risks, they pay off and to do something and realise it’s not all bad in fact it can be very good, is worth the risk.

Obviously I’d caveat the above with a ‘within reason’ and 'with some research', investigation and planning, take the plunge !!

So what are we giving up.... well I sold one of my motorbikes the other week, sad but I am getting less and less attached to possessions, less is more for sure. But that is not the what hits post tile is about. Most may have guessed with my last but one blog. We are leaving this ....

To go to this

This is bridge 44 on the Shroppie. Yes I know one of those long lines of moored boats that some say blight this canal. I like them  - plenty to look at and as we are no quick boaters we enjoy plodding by them admiring the difference that represents all that is good on the canals.

Why, well read this post for a starter but that is not the main reason.

Here are some of the reasons, not in order of importance but I’ll give the decider at the end...

  • 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

.....but regardless of all the above we wanted a change of scene and more critically the cruising routes are different and in my mind better.

We like the Shroppie ....our share boat Sylph was based at Norbury for a couple of years. We also like the  Staffs and Worcester and as you know Autherley junction just happens to drop us out in the middle of the Staffs and Worcester. We are a couple of days away from the Llangollen canal and when repaired the Middlewich link. Plus there is Chester to explore.

The mooring has winding holes well placed so we can have short medium or long cruises. It has to be better cruising to charge batteries than sitting moored up with the engine running.

I have said a few times we could if needed spend the rest of our days cruising the Four counties and their directly connected canals and be very happy. We prefer the northern narrow canals and have little desire to visit London other than to go under Tower Bridge on Percy....

Don’t get me wrong we have been very happy at Fradley and when we lived in Derby it was the perfect location. I lived aboard for a couple of yearsish and have some great memories. One thing was apparent to me recently that was reflected in the last but one blog and that was how much time we spent maintaining the mooring when we should have been cruising.

To go back to the top of the blog about decisions, the learning is they can adjusted or changed. If it does not work out we will move elsewhere, maybe even a marina, who knows, but for now the adventure is on.....

Now about planning the move ........

Tuesday, 25 September 2018

From two to one

Really to record dropping a bike to be a single bike owner again. My nice Honda NT700 Deauville was sold 15th September to go down south to be a commuter bike. Not the most reliable of bikes I have owned - not the engine but the other parts - no doubt feeling the strain of 52,000 miles.

Anyhow it allows me to get rid of the 'shed in a box' on the parking area and the remaining bike will live in some comfort in a 10x7 temp shed while we wait for planning permission for the garage - busy few weeks really.
Anyhow the NT700 Deauville

The shed is temp but still dictated a proper job with a strengthened floor and light and power added - all done in three days. Now got to paint it to blend it in a bit  !!

Saturday, 22 September 2018

What keeps me away from the boat - an energy insight

Looking at my counter on the right there... it tells me I've been retired for a year now. I can honestly say I've not regretted a minute of it. I miss some colleagues and some of the banter but I think I am a remote soul at heart and like my own company. I really like being my own time manager and not having anyone tell me what I should be doing.

Just for my memories when I am no longer able to enjoy a mobile lifestyle - it comes to us all so get out as soon as you can !!......

....I was up in Scotland early September visiting my friend John who has helped me greatly in moving the boat and drinking beer (a lot) while doing so. He has a fantastic location overlooking Loch Ryan. He also has a very interesting insight into future energy use. Tesla power walls, wind turbines and photo voltaic's. In essence he describes the living off grid I did for two years !!

It is an interesting  subject and one that is much needed for the country and the environment. How much more sensible to invest the money from HS2 into powering the country for the future with environmentally sustainable sources.

Specifically for us at the cottage and the boat - well the boat is a simple but efficient solution. It has one solar panel that keep the batteries topped up while away (and conditioned) and does help some during the brighter months when on board. It can keep us on board without the engine running for 2-3 days with the fridge on. Obviously this depends on the amount of sun!

The batteries are sealed lead acid type - a couple of years old now and three 110amp/h with a starter. We could drop in a couple of Lithium Ion but they are expensive and not really needed for our type of boat ownership. When the time comes we may drop to 2 AGM 135a/h which will mean we can dispense with the battery box for the starter and the engine room will be a little less cluttered. Other than that is is about right for how we use it.

The cottage will at some point get solar on the workshop roof. I am sure also maybe in 2-3 years it'll have a battery wall to both help us and help the national grid. We also plan for an electric car, but not at the moment. My friend has a Leaf, but with only 80 mile range its good but not right for us. At some point we will drop back to one car  (and a few motorbikes !) and at this time we hope 300 mile range will be the norm  - it is for the Tesla 3 but they are on a long back order and cost £30,000 ish.

Anyhow it was a good visit to Scotland and I hope I'll be back and not leave it so long again.

Not a bad view from your back door is it?

 Portpatrick is a beautiful little town  - one we considered buying a house in 

My friend Mandy off NB Don't Panic has a blog called 'My view from the loo' this was my view from  the loo !!

Another view from that back door - beautiful.

The trip back was via the New Galloway forest  - beats a good section of the A75. The Pan European was very much at home here  - and yes the rain did come but the bike is very capable and keeps the rider reasonably dry. 

That was Scotland. We were on the boat in between to sort out the mooring and clean part of the boat - see my other post here

Then we had a brief but enjoyable couple of days in Wales... We stayed at the Sychnant Pass Country house  - very fine place as a base. Part of the reason was to visit the place my father in law's ashes were spread. A beautiful location overlooking Conway.

This was the view from our terrace 

 The stone where we spread Charles' ashes

Wales was also a place we considered to live before we stayed local in the Churnet valley. Maybe another move down the line - I'd prefer Scotland but it's such a distance for family and canals.

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Mooring works, feeling hemmed in - not cruising (yet)

Its been a while since I updated the blog. We have been to the boat a couple of times and rather than cruised the boat we did the maintenance work on the mooring that we have to do as we can't trust Fountains to do it safely.  You may recall they broke two windows on Waterlily on separate occasions and damaged the paint on Percy literally 24 hours after we returned to the mooring after being painted. So we do the 'gardening'. 

It can be quite enjoyable but it means we don't cruise when we could I guess and the boat gets less cleaning. It's nice working away watching all the boaters cruise by, not sure if they are envious of us or us of them.... I think on the balance of probability (thinking why we own boats) they are having the better time.

So it was grass cutting and Willow weaving and general tidying up and a walk down the Coventry for food later in the day. 

We also took a walk down to Common lock to see what the marina progress was.... it brought it home to us there would be another 60 boats on our doorstep - amazing when I asked about this land C&RT said it did not meet the mooring reduction policy criteria so it would be unlikely to get permission for one boat.... now there is 60 going in plus no doubt the business on the bank that fits out boats. 

The houses are making their slow and unstoppable march towards the first/last bridge on the Coventry - the pig farm is now derelict, waiting to be consumed  on Daisy lane 

The gravel extraction is imminent, or so I am told. That will totally ruin the ambience of the place.

This is what it all looks like on Staffordshire planning map  

 Out new neighbours have moved in, not seen them yet

A bit of amateur Willow weaving  

It's been as busy as I can remember here over the last few months, usually we get one maybe two boats but I am told we have had up to five moored opposite. Not a problem unless they are noisy !

Here is that housing marching up the Coventry 

Don't think owning a boat is all relaxation, this cupboard needed a good clean as did under the bed. Both dry but dusty. Any work on a boat means major upheaval 

Another mowing session done 

Fradley as I like it, free from all the people who come to see the boats  - we should get an income  !!