Retirement Blog

30 April 2021

I thought I would get another update in before the month of May is upon us.

Last Friday 23rd April I spent the day moving my Son & his partner into their new abode, they have been so looking forward to moving in to their own house and what with the pandemic and some slow solicitors it has taken four months, but they are now in and I am sure I will be called upon to do a few “Little” jobs.
During the week I have build some shelves for one of their cupboards, which took a couple of days, Thoroughly cleaned and polished the car, only for the builders dust from the field behind us and some kind birds who can’t use a lavatory to mess it up in a few days, but I suppose I can do it again.

With all our sons clutter now removed from our garage where it was being stored, I now have the room to potter in there again, you know moving stuff from one place to another, one shelf to another, as you do.
The shed has also had the same treatment, it is a rather large shed, well 10 foot by 8 foot with a pillar drill and table saw and numerous other things in it. I am always looking for neat convenient storage ideas to keep it tidy, I made a couple of brackets up to store the steps in the roof rather than have them perched against the side of the shed which gives me another wall area to fill with more stuff.

As far as family research goes, I continue to search and scour various sources, I have another three or four military histories to write up after I have researched them further. It is surprising just how many relatives I have found, albeit more distant relatives that were involved in both world wars.
Today I sat in on Radio Ashford for a colleague who needed time off, so I did the Daytimes show, had great fun and really enjoyed it, but I still enjoy retirement more. It was really nice though to hear from some of my old listeners from my spell on Hometime.
I have fitted new outside security lighting to our house, much neater light fittings and LED lamps too, also a nice new shower room mirror, again with nice LED lighting that you can dim and change the colour and colour temperature, very snazzy!
We have a few trips planned, but I will leave that for a later post., take care everyone and speak soon.

22nd April 2021

Recently back from a few days up north, we hired a holiday bungalow in Ollerton a few miles from Edwinstowe where Sue’s parents live. This was the first time she had seen them in months. Luckily the weather was kind to us, a little chilly but fine and we were able to sit in the garden a fair bit of the time.
Visited a pub garden for the first time in months too, I had almost forgotten how good a pint tastes.

Whilst there we had a few little trips out, nowhere spectacular, garden centre, which you would think would be a little cheaper up there, but no, southern prices, so left empty handed.
Sue visited an old school friend one evening, so rather than play gooseberry I went over the road to the local pub, that was an experience, lovely staff, cheap beer compared to home but some had been there for many hours and made me a little nervous, they were very friendly, perhaps too friendly at times.


We stayed in a place called Acorn Cottage in Ollerton, if you are ever up that way and want to stay in a nicely kept holiday bungalow we can recommend this place, really nice and clean and beautifully look after with a lovely garden and big fish pond.
We have been busy booking up a few trips to parts of England for this year, no plans to go abroad as yet with the exception of Belgium in October. We’ll wait and see what happens. So Ilkley for a few days next month, then Cornwall early July.


We are still sort of on standby as Father in law isn’t in the best of health and may have to dart up there again at anytime if required.


Spent a lot of time faffing in the garden these past two weeks as it’s been so nice, Relaying the upper patio, levelling and reseeding parts of the lawn, talking to plants etc, you know; pottering as I like to call it.
Parsnips and carrots planted, swede to be planted next month. Still busy, still loving retirement.
Tomorrow (Friday) our son is moving house so that’ll keep me busy for the day and probably several days after.
Done quite a bit of house maintenance too, nothing major but the house is 20 years old this year and as they don’t make anything to last these days, I am replacing bits that are worn out, bit like me really.
Speak again soon.

4th April 2021

On Saturday 3rd April I went over to Rolvenden Church yard to install the two grave markers I had been creating over winter. I had already enquired as to where the unmarked graves were, so off I went and put them in place. Whilst there I cleaned up a few other family members graves as best I could. Met a chap in the graveyard I haven’t seen for many years and we had a socially distanced chat. He remembered Kate & Thomas Coveney as he used to live down the Layne. He was there visiting another grave.
When I left I had a strange overwhelming feeling of accomplishment, both of these graves were from the mid sixties and had been unmarked all this time. Both the men were WW1 veterans, Robert J Bliss (My Gran Browns brother) & Thomas Alfred Coveney and Kate Coveney was a WW1 widow as her first husband was my Great Grandfather George Brown. It moved me a bit, and I only hope that somewhere, somehow they are aware that I have not forgotten them.

1st April 2021

Seems appropriate I should update this today, so what have you been up to Steve? well I’ll tell you shall I.
I have been busy, renovation on the old model steam engine is going fine, bit of a wet weather project that one so I have reverse engineered it (took it apart) and got some new bits for it ready for the reassembly. Started polishing all the copper and brass parts removing a few years grime. Rubbed down and resprayed the base and burner housing, a bit more refining to do and I can start putting it back together again.


Before I started I did run it up and although it worked fine there was a bit of dodgy soldering in places so will be cleaning that up and soldering anew on the next phase. Possibly over the Easter weekend as the weather is predicted to be second best.


With the fine sunny and warm days we have been enjoying I have been garden projects, including grubbing out the small front flower bed, removing the aging ferns and rosemary bushes, digging in some compost and plant a few new plants to brighten up the bed a bit.


Around the back I have taken up the top patio which after 15 years or so had sunk in places, so I levelled off the ground and re-laid the patio, I am going to try some new stuff on the market to fill in the gaps between the pavers in the hope that it doesn’t crack up and allow the weeds to grow up between them like sand and cement does.
Last time I wrote on here I had just found a photo of Elizabeth brown, my Grandads sister who disappeared and lost touch with the family years ago, well since then I have had a contact from her daughter, yes that’s right you read that right, her daughter contacted me after seeing that side of my family tree on a genealogy website, sometime the internet is a good thing.
I won’t mention names but this lady was so pleased as one of the photo’s I had put up online was of her Grandmother who she had never seen and never even seen a picture of her before. I on the other hand felt so moved to think that I had been in touch with the daughter of my Grandad’s sister that he lost contact with many years ago and didn’t know where she was. If only he was still alive.
So in the space of a couple of weeks I have found a photo of Elizabeth, found out about her marriage, her children and where she is buried and have a photo of her grave.
Back to the garden then, I have planted up and hung the hanging baskets, reseeded part of the lawn, oiled the deck and even sat out and enjoyed the sunshine.

I almost forgot, I have washed and polished the motor vehicle so that all the builders dust from what was a beautiful arable field out the back has somewhere to land.


Radio-wise if you have a bit of time on Easter Monday; I am doing a daytime show from noon to 3pm on 107.1 Radio Ashford, tune in and get in touch.
Till then take care, speak soon.

18th March 2021

Well, still here, went back to the studio last Tuesday night to restart doing Rock Hard live again having had my first jab 3 weeks previous. Great to be back in the Rocking Chair.
With the weather still being a bit naff, I have just purchased an old Mamod stationary steam engine to restore. I always wanted one as a child but my parents, mother in particular, wouldn’t let me have one. It might have been because of the cost of them or, and I think this is the most likely reason, mum would have been worried about me getting burnt or scalded.
Anyway, I now have one and will be starting the restoration in a day or two.
It basically works but in need of some cosmetic love, paint and a good clean up.
I have a list of projects to do and one by one getting them done, problem is waiting for stuff to turn up, oh how I miss just going down to B&Q or Halfords and just buying off the shelf.
Today I have found, well it appeared on another website, a picture of Elizabeth Brown, she was the daughter of George Brown who lost his life in WW1 and buried in Ypres. Elizabeth was born in 1914 and so George would have only seen her as a small baby as she was born 10th march 1914 and George left for war in July 1914.
I have her bible, one of the many things I have gathered from the family over the years.
Stay safe my friends and you’ll hear from me again soon.

6th March 2021

Time Marches on, today (6th March) I have had some devastating news, the man who basically taught me my trade and under whom I was an apprentice electrician back in the 70’s has passed away. I had a lot of respect for Alan Pope, we had some right laughs and he taught me well. I’m afraid this has knocked me for a six a bit today.
Last weekend I spent giving my car a really good clean and polish, I know a weekend seems a long time to spend polishing a car but I am a bit of a geek and go well over the top cleaning everything I can find, even the bits you can’t see.
This weekend (6th & 7th) weather permitting I am painting the rest of the shed, today (Saturday) I have got half of it done, well it is a large shed, tomorrow I hope to get the rest of it done. It was a bit nippy out there, bracing some would call it and my hands were cold, but worse things happen at sea. Back soon, take care all of you please.

February 25th 2021

Here we are at the end of the shortest month of the year and March sees the clocks go forward with spring to look forward to. Recent good weather has seen me out in the garden clearing up the winter mess, doing some weeding and general maintenance on the shed (Mancave 2). Some of the wood on the gable ends of the shed had suffered the ravages of winter so I removed them, cleaned them up and re-painted them, now looking like new.
I have filled the large raised planter with compost and it is ready for planting seeds in Spring.
The first tidy up of the shed has taken place, removing some of the stuff stored in there for winter and dumping some stuff that I don’t need, I am a hoarder by the way, but thinking one day someone will have to sort it all out, I thought I would be a bit ruthless and save a bit of trouble.
Still researching family, I came across another relative (by Marriage) who fought in India and South Africa in the late 1800’s so I am digging deeper and seeing what I can find out about them.
Had my first Covid Jab on Saturday 20th February and thankfully things are beginning to look a bit more promising for future months. I need a pint.
Take care and stay safe, I’ll be back.

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.