Retirement Blog

February 3rd 2021

Today I have uploaded the first of two members of the Monk family that I have recently found who fought in WW1, I have been researching the first one for the past two weeks or so and what I have found has been included in the document. The other I am about to start researching, so expect that in a week or two.

As for the rest of life, well, I am still here and finding things to do. I have sown some seeds for hanging baskets and pots and they are geminating, the dining room that was a studio during one of the lockdowns (Lost count and all sense of time) is now a plant propagation centre. I have obtained a large raised planter in which I intend to grown some vegetables in once it stops raining, I need to make a few runs to the garden centre at some point to get enough compost to fill it, about 700 ltrs of the stuff, and I have yet to construct it too which again will happen when it stops raining!
Further family research taking place and data cleaning has kept me busy with the beta testing of the new, as yet unreleased version 8 of Roots Magic genealogy software.

Take care, stay safe and I’ll be back on here soon.

January 27th 2021

Been doing quite a bit more family research this week, strange how when you think you have got as far as you can get; you discover more.
I have found a couple more bits about Pte 7824 George Brown and while drilling down further into the Monk family I have found two more who were in the forces and one of them was killed but no body ever found, as such his name is on the Menin Gate, so there is a Monk on the Menin Gate.
Next time we are over there I’ll search it out, quite handy as there is a nice bar just opposite.
It is going to take a good couple of weeks to research more and type this new found information up, it will then be added to the Family research pages on here WW1 Family Research – stevemonk.rocks
Other than this I have continued to beta test Version 8 of roots magic, it has had quite a few updates and bug fixes. I am using my new found distant family to test the software out.
Stripped down and clean mine & the Rocking Nuns bicycles this week, taken delivery of a nice big raised planter for the garden to plant this years Parsnip and Swede in once the weather improves. I’ll keep you posted.

January 21st 2021

The last week or so has kept me busy, I have stripped down cleaned and serviced two petrol mowers, replaced oil, blades, spark plugs and general bits and pieces that have taken a clobbering. One of the mowers belonged to my Dad, so I have got that ready for my son Tom who needs one.
My own I had to replaced the blade even though the existing one wasn’t too bad, I can file that up as a spare.
Talking of Dad, we are getting close to completion of the sale of his house, every time I go over I wonder whether it will be the last time I walk around the house I did most of my growing up in. We did consider moving into it, but although there is nothing wrong with the house, in fact it is better built then ours, it would need a lot of modification and I have done my fair share of that in the past, I’m almost retired don’t you know.
I have started planning and planting seeds for the spring. Just bought a “VegTrug” which basically is a raised planting bed, there are some cheap alternatives out there but I went for the best I could, it does look really sturdy and should last quite a few years. The obvious Parsnips & Swede will get a place, might grow a few sprouts too. You can’t beat home grown.

I have also been Beta testing an as yet unreleased version of Roots Magic, a genealogy program that I put all my family research into, quite a few bugs in it at the moment but each released update brings it nearer to a viable product, still a while off yet but keeps me busy.

I spent a couple of Saturday evenings up at AHBS replacing some Radio Ashford kit, slowly but surely some improvements are getting done. It’s a bit difficult as we are locked down and I am not going out unless it is absolutely necessary but the replacement of the Sustain computer was, it was dying daily.
More news when I have some, until then Stay safe.

January 10th 2021

Spent the last week decorating, storm Bella caused rain to be forced under tiles out the back and gave us a damp patch on the sitting room ceiling, so I waited for it to fully dry and treated and repainted the ceiling. Had a good look outside and can’t see any damaged tiles but will get a roofer in during spring to check it over.
Also painted the walls in the hallway, as you will know the thoroughfare of any house takes a hit, so I gave it a spruce up and it looks better for it.
Today I booked our next trip to Ypres, October 1st – 3rd, staying in The Old Tom in Ypres Square, ferry booked, they have ramped up their prices, but luckily as last years trip had to be cancelled we have a bit of credit to go towards it.
Planning where to go and explore on the trip is currently occupying me, it is a case of getting around and seeing things that although reasonably close, you don’t know how long you will be there for, but then that’s half the fun.
It will be as the past trips, planned with military precision.
Next week I will be continuing to tickle walls and ceilings with a paintbrush and I have an important IT job to do for the Radio Station, I attempted it yesterday (9th) but technology failed so I’ll be trying again soon having resolved, I think, the problem. Its all fun, but not as much fun as getting up in the morning knowing I haven’t got to go to work. Keep safe and thanks for taking the time to read this.
I have continued to research my past family and some documents on here will be updated soon having been added to and some grammatical and spelling mistakes rectified.

30th December 2020

We reach the end of another year and still here. First of all if you are reading this may I wish you a very Happy New Year. 2020 has been one of the worst years I can remember, but not going to dwell on it. Instead I am looking forward to 2021 with hope.
We are past the Winter equinox and spring will be along soon.
Today I have uploaded an updated version of Robert James Bliss Seniors document with a few updates including where he is buried. It is my intention to go and find it and photograph it.
I have now completed Robert J Bliss (Junior) and Great Gran & Step Great Grandad Coveney’s grave markers and will get over to Rolvenden to place them on their graves in the near future.
Next projects will be repaint the lounge ceiling as during storm Bella the wind and rain were so intense rain has somehow got under the tiles and made a damp patch on the ceiling, not a massive patch but it’s there. I can’t see where the rain has got in but will have a good look in spring. My feeling is that it was just a one off. Once they build their 5000 houses out the back they might protect us from the worst of the south-westerly winds that travel miles over the fields before hitting our house.
It will soon be time to get the lawn mower in the garage for a service before I start cutting again, usual service, oil and plug change, a good clean and lubricate, then look forward to the wonderful aroma of freshly cut grass.
Stay Safe!

21st December 2020

So, this is Christmas as someone far richer and more talented than me said (John Lennon). Well Tier 4 is here, scuppered Christmas plans of a family lunch with Tom our son and his partner, the good news is I have plenty of beer and spirits and as alcohol kills virus’s, well it would be rude not to.
I write this just ahead of my Rock Hard show on a Tuesday, this weeks is number 501 which is a Glam Rock show so should be a bit of a singalong.

I have nearly completed the two grave markers I have been making, one for Robert J Bliss and the other for Gran and Step Grandad Coveney. Both Robert and Great Grandad Coveney were involved in WW1 and I wonder what they would make of this ridiculous period in our history.

The markers will be placed on their respective bare plots in the spring, they are nothing extravagant, but they are made with my hands. Rather than just a bare plot with just a flower vase on them I have made a square block out of wood for both in which a flower vase is fitted and a brass plague with their names on. After what they did they deserve better than a bare grave. Neither families had any spare money when they all died in the 60’s so no gravestones were ever planted, well soon anybody will be able to see where they are resting, which gives me a feeling of warmth.
Have a wonderful Christmas and lets hope for a far better New Year when we can all get out and enjoy our freedom once more, the freedom that many fought and died for.

9th December 2020

The end of an era today as I sold my company Ashford Rocks Ltd, I originally set it up to protect the brand and the name of Ashford Rocks.
But as it has been dormant for years and with no prospect of it ever starting again I decided to sell it. Sad day really but we have the memories.

5th December 2020

Uploaded another much improved version of L/7824 Pte George Brown, Including the first few months of his war, more information and details gleamed from Capt. W.S. Bahram’s diary. Plus updated maps.
Uploaded an updated version of Robert J Bliss’s document as further information has been found.
Started work on the two grave markers I am making, one for Robert J Bliss and another for Great Step Grandad and Kate Coveney.
Still keeping out of harms way (hopefully) and not going out unless necessary, that said we do go out for a drive round occasionally but keep away from other people.
If I don’t update this site before, have a wonderful Christmas & New year and stay safe!.

22nd November 2020

Still here alive & well, This last couple of weeks I have had some brass plaques made for two garden benches, one for the bench I recovered from Dads garden and one I bought years ago with some money my Gran Brown gave me.
I have been busy stripping and sanding down wood work and metal frames, repainting where needed and fixing brass plaques to both benches.
Also tarting up the door between the garage and the house and finishing off to a much better standard the the builders left it in.
Managing to keep busy doing IT stuff for Radio Ashford in the background and picking up thousands of leaves from the garden.
I have also delved a lot deeper into the first few months of L/7924 Pte George Browns WW1 history, results of which will appear on this website under Ypres Trips – WW1 Family History in the next few days. Oh and still loving this retirement lark. Stay safe everyone.

26th October 2020

It looks like I’m going to be back on the radio during the day again for a few days. 107.1fm Radio Ashford Daytimes from 28th till 30th October 10am to 2pm. Join me if you can.

22nd October 2020

Four weeks in to this retirement lark and I thought I had better put something here.
When I stood down from Hometime (25th September 2020) I had a list of jobs to do, well I am pleased to report that the list now only contains one item to do, although several have been added to the original list as I seem to have developed a liking to looking for things to fix.

Firstly lets deal with the one I haven’t done yet. I have two grave flower vases, the idea was to mark two unmarked graves, one is the grave of my Great Step Grandad and my Great Grand mother (Thomas Alfred Coveney & Kate Coveney formerly Kate Brown nee Bryant) They are both buried in a double grave in Rolvenden Church yard and as the family had little money back in the Sixties the grave has been left as it was.
The other is the grave of Private Robert J Bliss who; if you read his story elsewhere on this site, had a very sad life basically from start to end, again buried in Rolvenden Church yard.
After thinking about it I decided to do something a little better than just dig a hole and drop in a plastic vase to mark their graves.


So, now I am making two wooden blocks around a foot square in which I will drill a large enough hole to tightly hold the vases, get some brass plagues engraved and screw them to the wooden base so that anyone walking by will not just see a plastic vase, but will be able to see who’s graves they are. I am currently thinking on how to fix these things to the ground once I have made them, they will be pretty solid and of good weight, but gluing them to the grass doesn’t seem like a good ideas, so a system of spikes needs to be designed and added.

Jobs I have completed include paint the inside of a cupboard door that seemed to go dull for some reason, putting new mastic around the kitchen worktops. Fitting a new set of bath taps to the main bathroom.
I have had a good clear out of both mancaves, the shed and garage and done a couple of tip runs, also rearranged the garage, painted the inside and added some more electrical sockets.

Still sorting out stuff from Dad’s estate, got to say just because I can that all the agents, services and anyone else I have had to deal with during this period has been wonderful, with the exception of Ashford Borough Council, why do they make things so complicated?
We have had a few days out on the spur of the moment type trips, last Thursday (15th October) at 14:30 we decided to go down to Dungeness, why? because we can now. From there we went in to Lydd airport, I haven’t been in there for years, in fact the last time I was there they were still loading cars onto old Bristol freighters when it was Silver City airways and the airport was called Ferryfield.
I have also done a lot of pottering around the garden when the weather has allowed and have a few projects for that in the planning stages too.


On Sunday 11th October we went to Folkestone and had a lovely walk along the Leas reminiscing about all the bands I had seen in the Leas cliff hall over the years, all the famous faces that had adorned that place.
We spent some time at the top of the road of remembrance, I was looking for a name on the memorial who is distantly related to a second cousin of mine, found it.
Then the day turned badly, we went to Primark, well I say we, Sue spent some time in there, I just went in straight to the jumper counter bought three jumpers as I believe winter is coming, then I went and sat in a coffee shop and waited for her return.

I still haven’t quite adjusted to getting up in the morning and not having to be somewhere and answer to someone, I must say I am so far really enjoying that.
I have in the background been doing a few IT projects for Radio Ashford, the fruits of which will become apparent in due course.
Anyway, if you have reached this point, well done, I’ll wrap it up for now, lots of other stuff has been done and visited but I thought I would make a start.
Ta Ta for now.