Retirement Blog

7th June 2022

Welcome to Summer …. well June anyway. I have a bit of catching up to do here, so lets start with our trip to Santorini, I’ll spare you all the photographs of the exceptionally beautiful scenery which you can see on any website. Suffice it to say we had a wonderful time, hired a Quad bike (ATV) for three days to get about although I have to say I have lost my nerve, I didn’t feel as confident as I have in the past, I guess it’s an age thing, but we got about. We found some nice secluded villages and beaches as we have done all the domes, churches and volcano viewing on previous visits.


We stayed at the Sellada Apartments in Kamari and our hosts were Dimitris and Fortini who both looked after us wonderfully, we also met people who were staying there from Canada and The Republic of Ireland. Dimitris was like a dog with two tails when he found out I was a Rock DJ on the radio. He insisted on having the show on in his bar. Lovely people and good friends made. (Pictures below)
On the home front, the shed storage extension gains momentum, largely made out of reclaimed timber and new when I can get some at a sensible price. (Pictures below)


Other minor projects have been making some shelves out of pallet wood for our Son Thomas and I have started making a prototype memory box, that is a project I am going back to, doing a bit then leaving for a while. I want to make them look smart so just taking my time and trying new ideas.
We went to a Jubilee street party in Tom’s road, where he lives and had a great time there, as usual I ended up in charge of music for a while, busman’s holiday!


Rock Hard passed the 11 year milestone on 31st May and there were some rather nice buns left in the studio for me. There are no buns left now though 🙂


One or two pictures below if you’ve reached this far, one other thing, I am covering Daytimes on Radio Ashford on Monday 13th June should you wish to tune in and join me, if not, maybe on Rock Hard on Tuesday evening.
Until next time, take care and speak soon
Steve X

24th April 2022

Well this year is racing by here we are near the end of April, Spring has been kind to us so far weather-wise. I like that and long may it continue.

So what have I bee up to lately, well I am now the proud father of some carrots & Parsnips, they have germinated and are growing, more to be planted and swede and others to be sown soon.
In the Mancave work continues, I have started making a floor for a small extension, mainly to store wood an garden tools to free up some more space in the shed. It is a slow process as I am trying to use reclaimed wood wherever possible and have to wait for my needs to become available from wherever. However the base frame is made out of reclaimed fence posts and the floor will be pallet wood.
I have finally finished the top tray for the old chest I have my decorating bits & bobs stored in, pictures below.

I have also got around to making a grave marker for Twix the cat who went to sleep almost three years ago now, we still miss him so much, but the mice don’t! below are some pictures and one of a little mouse sitting in the sun on the decking in the garden. If Twix was still alive the little mouse wouldn’t have come near.

A while ago I was asked if I would like to go over to Rolvenden to see the opening of the Sound Museum, a converted old phone box. In it is a machine that plays back pre-recorded dialog with Rolvenden people about their experiences growing up in the village and the Layne. Many during WW2. My Dad is amongst them and my second cousin who was my Dads best man at my parents wedding.

Due to Sue’s Dads funeral I couldn’t attend the official opening of the Sound Museum, so we went over yesterday (Saturday 23rd) starting in Rolvenden Church yard we walked across the church fields around the back of Great Maytham down to the Layne, a walk I have not done since I was a teenager, we ended up at the old phone box and I heard my Dads voice via the recording. It was a very touching moment.

In a few weeks time, all thing being well we will be in Santorini Greece, the first time we’ve been abroad for a good couple of years, probably three, I am so looking forward to getting back in the swing of unbroken sunshine.
Before that I’ll be doing a couple of days cover for daytimes on Radio Ashford, Tuesday & Wednesday 3rd & 4th of May, so for one week the return of Two show Tuesday 🙂 We then go up to the Peak district for a few days and then Santorini. A busy month ahead.
Stay safe & we’ll speak soon I’m sure.
Steve X


31st March 2022

Again sorry for the delay in this update, sadly we lost Sue’s Dad, he was certainly a character and the world has lost a typical Yorkshire man who we both had a deep affection for. Obviously this has changed our routine for a few weeks now, we have his funeral to attend and hopefully we can get back to some sort of normality.
Santorini is booked for May and we have booked a holiday in the Dominican Republic end of August, somewhere Sue has wanted to go for a while and so we’re going. I am seeing it as a special retirement holiday as August will be the first payment of my state pension, Gulp!.
Well the weather has been a little strange lately, last week it was like summer and this week we are back in winter but at least the evenings are drawing out and the plants are budding.
Talking of plants, I purchased a mixture of trailing fuchsias for the many hanging baskets around the place, planted them up and have now bought them back inside during this cold snap along with my large pots with geraniums in them just in case “ole Jack Frost” pay us a visit.

In the codgering department, I have built another slightly smaller planter for the garden out of pallet wood and continued to sort the shed out (Mancave) and been planning an extension on the shed mainly for garden tool and wood storage, an ongoing project as I need some of the flagstones on the patio as a base and the patio isn’t going to get re-laid until at least June.
I have repaired Sue’s car window, it wouldn’t open or close so half an hour out there and a couple of pop rivets and it was fixed.
I have also spent a fair bit of time at Toms (our Son) house, he is busy re-decorating and need a hand and some guidance from time to time, we spent two days laying a new laminate floor in his spare bedroom and painting walls etc. He can do a lot himself but just needs a little support at times.
I have stripped and re-oiled the decking, love that job, not the cleaning part but the oiling, it always looks so fresh once it is done, and the smell is nice too.
Whilst digging around in my decorating chest for bits and pieces I had and idea on how to make it better and use the space inside it better. Now bearing in mind this has some history, I believe it to be a chest that was originally made and use for the emigration of children back in the late 1800’s early 1900’s to Canada from Britain, I am still trying to tie down exactly which type of chest it is, anyway I don’t want to destroy the original chest or paint it and lose the patina on it so I have made an upper tray unit which would have been in these originally, but this one had been lost somewhere along it’s route to me. Anyway I have started to build one and a picture of it is below along with a few others should you be interested.
A picture of the old chest and new tray will be on here somewhere once I have completed it.

Radio wise, I continue to present Rock Hard on a Tuesday evening and work on the IT system and make slight improvements as and when I can. I should be appearing on the Daytime show at some point in the future for a day or two, more on that at a later date.
I was due to introduce The Rec & Fate the Juggler at Revelation Ashford on April 2nd but due to family commitments I have had to withdraw from that, but I hope all goes well for them and it is a great gig, which I am sure it will be.
Until the next update, do take care and look after your health, speak soon.
Steve X

13th March 2022

Firstly apologies for not updating earlier, this last four weeks or so have not exactly been the best, however one major thorn in our side has been resolved and dealt with.
On another note, Father in Law is very poorly and Sue has temporarily gone up to help out, I’ll say no more, but things are not looking good, so she has gone to spend some time with her father and support her mother during this awful time.
I have been reasonably busy, I have cleaned and repainted the Man Cave (Shed), I decided that I was tired of the bright orange and painted it grey, I have also painted the bottom fence behind the shed. The last storm brought down three fence posts so I have removed the stumps and replaced with nice new posts.
I have been fettling stuff in the shed, making gadgets and rearranging storage as you do. I built a nice new planter for the gooseberry bush out of an old pallet, picture below, made a holder for my stapler and staples. I have also in the last few days advised and helped our son with decorating.
The grass has been cut and various other garden tidying carried out.

I have booked Santorini for May, this is subject to Father in Law’s situation of course, but to be honest I don’t think he will still be with us then bless him.
Anyway, as Spring is due to spring on us this week I should have a busy one and will try not to leave it so long before the next update, until then, take care and stay safe, Tom our son is just getting over covid, it is still there.
Steve X

10th February 2022


We went up to Sherwood forest for a few days the first week of February to visit the outlaws, all as well as it could be there, took Father in Law down the pub a couple of times whilst Sue and her mother talked for England. Whilst in the area we try to take them out to different places locally, this time we went to Rufford Abbey Country Park, there are some lovely walks there and it gives an insight into how the other half lived in bygone days. Stunning grounds, large lakes, Ice houses in the woods, of which there are acres.


We spend a good day at the Newark Air Museum, a fascinating place to visit if you like aeroplanes and flight, particularly the history side of it. Truly a wonderful little place to visit. A few pictures below.
We also met up with other members of the family for a meal one afternoon which was a nice treat.

On the home front, I have now given the back lawn it’s first cut of the year, the Daffodils are almost in bud, the snowdrops are out but the Hyacinths are still only about two inches out of the ground, but growing.
In the shed I have continued my quest to use every bit of space I can and continued with getting some thing up on the wall using the French cleat system, I don’t want everything on the walls but it is handy for often used stuff and small sets of things that normally end up in the back of draws and you struggle to find them. I have obtained two more pallets that I have broken down and now planning on making a large planter for our gooseberry bush which has outgrown its current home. It will take a day or two to build and then paint, so a picture may well appear here in the next update.


More tools and bits & bobs have found their way into the shed too, having the right tools for the job certainly makes it easier. I must learn how to sharpen my chisels though, there is an art to it which I have not yet mastered. I am now using many of my previous projects, the router bench is a good example, now I have made it I use it much more than I thought I would. I have upgraded the security, adding much stranger hinges, window bolts & locks and fitted an alarm. The band saw is now running and cutting like a dream, so that is getting more use, I have a few projects in mind for that too.
As I sit here typing this I am still eating the Christmas chocolates.


I’ll put a few pictures below as a reward for you reading through all this, It might be boring, but one day someone will love reading it.
We are now looking at booking a holiday or two, Sue asked me where I would like to go, I said Santorini or Almeria in Spain, it looks like we could be going to Menorca, oh well I tried, but to go anywhere after the past two years is going to be so welcome. We need a holiday with all the other things going on in the background.


It is so nice to see the slightly longer days now, II am so looking forward to Spring & Summer, but for now take care and look after each other, speak soon
Steve X

24th January 2022

Here we are then, nearly the end of January and hopefully just a few weeks away from Spring. Just a few lines to bring you up to date with what has been going on in my retirement world.
Lets start with the 1921 Census, well that threw up a surprise, My Great Grandmother Bliss Eliza and Gran Doris May (Still Bliss then) were living in Rolvenden, I knew that, but after searching for Eliza Bliss, nothing appeared in Rolvenden, so I tried searching for Doris May Bliss (my Gran) and found her, but the strange thing was Eliza was calling herself Foley on the census and working in the local laundry. As far as I am aware she never remarried after Great Grandad Bliss died. There was no Mr Foley at the address, only Gran & Great Gran.
Now I have a bit of a theory as to why this could have been ……

Codgering, This is going well, I am still moving stuff from on wall to another and compacting and tidying up my workshop. Since the last post I have redecorated the downstairs washroom and the upstairs family bathroom, neither needed much but Sue decided she wanted them to be redecorated and so I obliged. Nice to have things to do indoors during these cold dull days.
We did buy a decorative shelf display thingy from Wickes for the Bathroom, when it came it was absolute rubbish, it did only cost a fiver in a sale, but even so you would expect it to be fit for purpose. Well it wasn’t, but I fettled with it, slightly redesigned it and now it looks fine.
Wickes asked me for a review of my purchase so I gave them one, needless to say they emailed me back to ask if I would revise it as they couldn’t publish what I had written. I think they objected to the term “Pile of cheap Chinese rubbish” I have not revised my review, that was the truth.
Also changed the window blinds in the kitchen and bathroom too.

I managed to buy a second hand bandsaw at the market a couple of weeks ago, built in the 1990s it is now obsolete and spare part are rare. How ever with a bit of fiddling and a new drive belt fitted after a couple of day emailing belt firms, drive belt services came to the rescue. I have it working. A couple of bearings need replacing but I’ll get around to that, a new blade would also help. A few picture of the strip down and rebuilt are below.

Due to the age of the bandsaw it was also a little unsafe in the electrical department compared to todays standards, so I built an NVR (No Volt Release) switch unit for it and any other of my old power tools that would need it.
Itching to start cutting the grass today I got my mower in to the garage ready for it annual service, so that will be done over the next few days. I also pruned most of the garden plants ready for their growing season and topped up the flower pots with fresh compost. The Daffodils, Snowdrops and Hyacinths are all popping their heads up above ground now, so Spring; I am ready for you!

Stay safe, keep well and Ill speak again soon.
Steve X

2nd January 2022

Happy New Year to you all, I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and New Year, lets hope we can get back to some sort or normality as soon as.
Really not a lot to report back with since the last post, we went up to the outlaws for Christmas. We hired a cottage for a few days and they came over on Christmas Day for their dinner, all very nice. The journey up there was fine, but the return on the Sunday was a nightmare. It is becoming a real bine now on the roads, you just can’t seem to go anywhere without a delay or a road full of nutters.

On the codgering front still re-organising my shed at the bottom of the garden into a more roomy workshop and making shelving and racks. I have just upgraded my Table circular saw, it is that old it has very little of the modern day safety features on it, or at least it didn’t have, so it is not more up to date with a nice big emergency stop button on it.

I started taking the external Christmas decorations down today, will finish them tomorrow. I usually like to leave them all up until the 12th night, but to be honest there is quite a bit of bad stuff going on at the moment I don’t feel very Christmassy and just want to get back to normal.

Anyway, talking of normal Rock Hard will be back live on Tuesday 11th January 2022, so join me then if you can.
Take care and hopefully the next update will be more interesting.
Incidentally, I am looking forward to the 1921 Census release on 6th January, I have a list of people I want to research so that’ll keep me occupied for a few hours.
Speak soon.
Steve X

19th December 2021

With Christmas around the corner I think it’s time I wrote a bit more. We will be visiting the outlaws over the festive period so plans are being made as to what we can fit in the boot of the car as usual I will have about 1 square foot of space, you can guess who has the rest 🙂
I have not really been anywhere lately except the Rock Hard studio, preferring to stay out of the way, I am still paranoid of Covid despite having been jabbed & boosted. However I have been tinkering and fettling with bits & bobs. It is too cold and damp to make anything major at the moment as I like to do that when I can get my circular saw, router table and planer/thicknesser outside, mainly because of the dust they create, but I have made a couple of things.

Many shed and professional woodworker seem to us a French cleat system to store their tools etc on the walls, I have storage boxes for most of mine, it keeps the sawdust and dirt off them. However I have succumbed to a small system for everyday items and those I don’t have boxes for and made a start. First thing to get a holder was my glue gun and glue sticks. I also wanted to make a stand for it when in use, so the design I came up with was a wall plate and separate stand for when I am using it on the bench with could be returned to the wall plate after use, pictures below.

Also on my list of things to make was a sanding block with is also below, quite crude in design but it does the trick, I just cut off a new length of sand paper and sandwich it in the block and tighten down the two wingnuts.

Another little gadget I need is a lazy Susan, so handy when working on something or spray painting something small, so I thought I would built one, nothing too big and fancy but I have acquired some pallet wood and one or two other bits of timber that need using. I have not finished it yet, varnish seems to take a long time to dry this time of year, but the small base is done and I have the bearing, the larger top plate is currently in the mancave waiting for glue to dry and then I can flatten, round over the edges with my router and sand it. I can then varnish and assemble it, but I have included a couple of pictures below.

I have been collecting wood and bits and pieces for other bigger projects which I can start in spring but now Sue (The Rocking Nun) has seen how nice pallet wood can look she is compiling a list of things for me to build out of it, Cheeseboards, trinket boxes etc. I need to make myself a box joint jig too. So much to do.

Jury is still out as far as Rock Hard is concerned, so for now I’ll continue with it for the foreseeable future. Thank you to those that continue to listen.
Nothing much has happened that I can put here, so it just leaves me to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, thank you for everything and I’ll speak again soon.
Take care, stay safe.
Steve X

5th December 2021

Well here we are in December already, on the bright side in another three weeks we’ll be past the shortest day and on the way to spring with lighter evenings, slowly, but surely.
Today I put up our Christmas tree as it brightens up these dull dank days, I still need to put up the exterior lights on the house, but waiting for a dry day, it could be a long wait looking at the forcast.

We will be visiting the outlaws at Sherwood forest at some point over the festive season, the prospect of father in law still being here next Christmas is slim I’m afraid, so we intend to see them as much as possible whilst we can.

Due to the cold and damp weather trips to the mancave (Bottom of garden) have been less frequent, I do have heating in there but not a bottomless pocket, but still tinkering and using the garage as a second workshop for over winter repairs and maintenance. I have recently given the decorative wheelbarrow a good dose of creosote, you can’t beat it even though they try and stop you using it, none of the other products on the market seem to give as good protection.

I have drained down, flushed through, refilled and added inhibitor to our central heating system, still a little air to vent out but on the whole it’s working.
Slowly putting together a list of projects to do in spring, some tool jigs to make, projects to build and a major garden re-hash are all in my mind, obviously my fitness and the weather will play a part but you’ve got to plan haven’t you.

It looks like getting abroad is going to be a right pain for a while, was hoping to get to Lanzarote in February but can’t be bothered with all the upheaval of testing and restrictions, so might just stay at home, I love it here despite all the building eyesore and noise in the field at the bottom of the garden. Once this is covid thing is out of the way I can plan my trip back to Florida, Kennedy Space Centre and the Florida Keys, I am going to get there one day.

Anyway thanks for reading, stay safe and I’ll speak again soon.
Steve X

15th November 2021

Nice to get out to a gig on November 6th, Rock 4 Remembrance, it was poorly attended but great to get out into the music world and have a few beers. Well organised and great bands.
We didn’t get to go up North again as other things kept us at home, we have another trip planned soon to visit Sue’s parents as her Dad continues to be a worry health wise.
We went out for a ride in the motor car last week on the hunt for graves and war memorials. It has been on the list of things to do for a while. I was looking for the grave of Isaac Monk born in 1797 and died in 1869, buried in Northiam, lovely little church and a small set of gravestones to look around but unfortunately we didn’t find his grave, it may be he hasn’t got a headstone.
From there we went to Beckley Churchyard, now Beckley has a bit of history for us, Sue & I met in a pub; The Royal Oak in Beckley many years ago. Sadly the pub no longer exists, but we have some very fond memories of that place.
Anyway to the church yard, we were looking for William Monk born in 1763 died in 1841, just the opposite here hundreds of stones and William & his wife Hannah have a huge stone, picture below.

We then went down to Peasmarsh to the War Memorial there in the churchyard. Two Monks appear on this, James William Monk (James Monk on the memorial) he was a grandson of Isaac Monk above, killed in WW1 out in France/Belgium, his body was never found and as such his name in engraved on the Menin Gate in Ypres. The other, Harry Monk I can’t find any reference to him within the family, it might be a different family of Monks or just one I have not found yet.

In the mancave, still tinkering, bought a few more tools and made a few others, got my first pallet the other day and busy thinking of things to make with it, I have some ideas but not decided yet.

I have also been thinking of giving up my last Radio Show Rock Hard and fully retiring from everything except codgering and travelling, the jury is out on that but I’m thinking along those lines at present. I just love the freedom I have at the moment although the dark and dank days depress me it won’t be long before the shortest day and then we will have Spring & Summer to look forward to.
Take care of yourselves and stay safe.

1st November 2021

Not a lot to report since my last update or maybe I just don’t remember it all. It is surprising just how much time I spend fettling and tidying this up, but each time I manage to find more stuff to dump and more space for new toys. I have recently bought a Planer/Thicknesser but will have to wait until the summer to use it as it is so noisy and dust producing that I daren’t use it in the shed. I could move it to the garage though, but the price of timber these days I won’t be buying any soon. Pallets I could use it on but still waiting to get my hands on some.
I have also replaced my angle grinder for a nice new one and acquired a second cordless drill, only a cheap one but it will save keep swapping drill bits for screwdriver bits when constructing.
Another recent purchase is a palm router, this smaller router will mean I can keep my larger one mounted to the router table I build a month or two back. I have also bought a new Mitre saw to replace my old one which to be honest was a little dangerous.

As far as making stuff goes I have now sorted out my storage space for my clamps with space for more, you can never have too many clamps. Sorted out storage for the various sanding disks, belts and sand paper. My last piece of construction was a small tray for the side of my Drill stand so I can temporarily put the chuck key and any drills I am using in it rather than on the bench amongst other stuff only to be hidden from view and I have to search around for them. I’ll put a picture below. Also made a drill press clamping table which is still in stage one, which is usable but trying it out to see how I can possibly improve it with tracks for clamps and guides.

I am compere for a gig on Saturday 6th November, Rock For Remembrance (R4R) which is being held at Sandyacres from 12 Noon to 11pm. Looking forward to that, it’ll be like old times. Great to hear some live music too.

We are coming up to another wander up to the outlaws at Sherwood Forest, not quite sure when, but I’ll be told in time I’m sure.
I have stripped, sanded and re-treated one of my garden benches, known as “Grans Bench” it is looking good and in storage until spring when it can go back out into the garden. “Dads Bench” was given some good treatment last winter and is still looking good so it will get a clean but that’s all for this year.

Very shortly we will be under a foot of leaves from the trees at the bottom of the garden, looking forward to that (Not) but hey it gets me outside in the fresh air. Talking of which, I have my Covid booster jab this Thursday and Flu jab on Saturday, so that will be those out of the way.

I have had a little solar light in the shape of a bird sitting on a log in the garden for years, I can’t remember how many. I bought it in a shop in Hastings when we were a lot younger; I needed some change for a car park and went into a shop and bought this thing just to get some change. Anyway after many years out in all weathers it had failed. So I have taken it all apart and re-soldered joints, repair the electronics and reassembled it making it water resistant again. So it now all works again.

Keep safe and speak soon I hope. X

20th October 2021

Crumbs! where did that month go?
A bit of catching up to do. We went on our travels up to Matlock in the middle of the so called fuel shortage, it was worse down here in the south east, once we got up north things and people were a lot better. During the week we had no problem getting reasonably priced fuel anywhere, some garages were shut, but many were open and with fuel and no exceptional queues.

So Matlock Bath to start with, lovely place, our digs were superb, absolutely superb and right beside the River Derwent. We spend a few nights there and got about a bit, some of the pictures will be below. but in short we did a lot of walking particularly up to the heights of Abraham, High Tor and Matlock Dale spectacular views from up there of Matlock Bath. We visited Cromford Mills, an old mill complex, over the road to Cromford Wharf where it started raining so we quickly had a scoot around and got back in the car.
Another day we went into Bakewell, first stop the tart shop, we had a wander around and sat by the River Wye for a while then on the way back called in to Matlock for a walk around. I found a shop there that was a real Aladdin’s cave a sort of retro mancave, I spend a good hour in there just looking and could have spent a fortune, but resisted.

The highlight of the day trips was a trip to Robin Hood Stride, a rock formation where Sue’s Dad carved all their names in the rock when they were children. We have visited this place before, but never found the carvings. This time we did! and there is a photo below. It was quite a climb up the rocks in poor weather but we found them.

Evenings were spend sampling the local hostelries and their ales.

From Matlock Bath we travelled over to Edwinstowe to pick up the outlaws and then made our way to Skegness (Skeg-vegas) our digs there were booked by Ralph (Father in Law) after the luxury of our digs at Matlock Bath these were a bit of a come down, but hey, it was different. A Typical English seaside town like most, arcades, fish and chip shops and pubs with the usual array of shops and crazy golf. Enough said.
We did go the the seal sanctuary (there is more than just seals here) for a hour or two and that was a lovely little place. Photos below.
We also had some nice walks and visits to Ingoldmells and Mablethorpe, nice market in the former, but other than that just like any other seaside town except they talk different.
The main reason for this little foray to Skeg-Vegas was so that Sue could spend some time with her parents.
We stayed there for a few days and then headed back to Edwinstowe to return the outlaws to their home. We spent a night in the Dukeries Lodge in Edwinstowe a big step up in comfort from the Skeg-Vegas holiday let, we then travelled home the next day.

Still Codgering during the day but as Autumn approaches I have moved to the garage from the shed; which I have now just about tidied up and got things where I think I need them, Autumn projects included cleaning up and re-treating my Gran’s memorial bench, Garage tidy up and maybe reorganising and re-shelving, the jury is still out on that one.
We bought some nice new LED lights for the hallway, so at the moment I am redecorating the ceiling there ready to install the lights in the next day or so.
Several other things in the pipeline but this time of year it just depends on the weather.
I mentioned in a post earlier in the year that I had removed Pte Robert James Bliss’ grave marker as the weather had taken its toll, well I have repaired it and given it a few coats of good varnish and taken it back to Rolvenden Church Yard on his grave
More updates soon, until then take care, speak soon X

25th September 2021

Well, where do I start? I was going to have a rant about today’s society, but decided not to, suffice to say I am very disappointed with the behaviour of some.
Now on to the important stuff, We are off on our travels again shortly, back to the Peak District, Matlock Bath to be precise. There is a pub crawl waiting to happen there but also a lot of walking and scenery viewing. We only went there for a day last time but that was enough to make me want to return for more, it is a beautiful part of the country and we have rented an apartment for a few days right in the middle.
From there we will travel over to the outlaws in Sherwood Forest, pick them up and drive over to Skegness (Don’t ask) there is nothing there but they want to go there and as it is Mother in Laws birthday we will be going.

Last week we went down to Dungeness for a waddle around, we walked right along the coastal side of the power stations, as I recall you used to be able to see the seas water cooling pools, but you can’t anymore, it looks as though they have added another security fence along the beach side although it might be my mind playing tricks, it was a long long time ago I seem to remember seeing them.
From there we went and had some lunch at the Pilot public house, we have driven past it on many occasions but this time we thought we would call in. Glad we did they serve Korkers sausages, probably the best sausage in the World!.

I have kept busy in the Man cave, continuing to tidy and dump stuff that I have no use for anymore, well until I have dumped it and then realise I could have used it.
Two more small projects completed, I have made a Drill vice for hold the smaller stuff securely whilst drilling it, and also a cross cut jig/fence for my table saw, I’ll add a photo or two below.
I have already started planning my next project which will be a Box joint jig which will enable me to make lovely joints on wooden boxes, a passion of mine. I can’t go by an antique or bric-a-brac shop without looking at wooden boxes, well once this jig is made I can make my own.
Wood is like fuel at the moment, ridiculously scarce and mighty expensive, but it keeps me busy and my mind working.
Keep safe everyone and speak soon. Oh incidentally if you’re missing me on the wireless I am covering Daytimes on Monday 11th October 10am to 2pm, so join me if you can.
Speak soon X

10th September 2021

Thought I would bring you up to date before I forget what we’ve done.
Last Monday (6th Sept) we went on a little run down to Herstmonceux to visit the observatory. As a youngster I had passed it; as had Sue, but neither of us had visited, I remember seeing on TV that Sir Patrick Moore had been there and I believe even broadcasted at least one episode of The Sky at Night from there. I also met him when I went to the Planetarium in London as a secondary school boy. Anyway we went and very interesting it was too. Well worth a look although not functional now there are some thought provoking exhibits.

From there, as the castle was right next door we decided to visit that too. Now, castles are not really my thing, neither are churches, to me it is just people showing off their wealth. However the gardens were of interest. I was mesmerised by the robot lawn mowers they were using to cut the lawns. I sat there for quite a while trying to workout how they worked as the seemed rather random, not the nice striped lawn I prefer, but they seemed to work albeit in a rather ad-hoc manner.
We had booked a room for the night in Hailsham, another town I hadn’t been to since I was a youngster, how it has changed. The room was in a pub in the high street called the Crown, we can recommend this establishment, well run, clean and lovely staff.
The following morning we had an appointment with Meerkats. We had been waiting for two years for this, Covid got in the way, but finally we were going to meet and feed them. What a wonderful experience, they are such lovely creatures, they ran all over us, sat on our shoulders and heads, sat on our laps and nibbled away at the food we had been given to feed them with. A really wonderful thing to be able to do.
We then travelled home Tuesday afternoon, a lovely little two day break.

More news …
The router table I have been making is coming along nicely, although my carpentry skills are not the best, I am very pleased with the way it has turned out. A few more modifications to do then on to the next project.

Today I have had to postpone for the second year our trip to Ypres, again due to Covid and the restrictions Belgium have in place which would have cut down our time out and about there in half whilst waiting for test results before we could go anywhere. Hopefully we’ll get there in the spring.

A few photos below for your amusement.

3rd September 2021

Here we are again then, trying to remember what I have done in the past month. Ah yes I covered Daytimes on Radio Ashford for a week and a day so anything major took a back seat.
However I did make a weather vane out of old scraps of wood that I have laying around, and as a remembrance to Twix the Cat who passed away just over two years ago I made it in the shape of a cat. Ironic really as he hated the wind.

I recovered Robert James Bliss’s grave marker from Rolvenden Church yard as the weather had made part of the wood split, so I have modified the design slightly and it is now ready to go back next time I am over Rolvenden way.

This past week I have emptied out a lot of rubbish that I had been hoarding in the shed (Mancave 1) and taken it to the tip. I have had a good tidy up, built an entire bench and shelving along the third wall (two others already had benching and shelving. I purchased a new mitre saw, stripped down cleaned and lubricated all my hand held power tools, Drills, Jigsaw, Circular saw, Router, Various Sanders, Electric plane, Pillar drill and the table saw.
I have been looking at buying a router table, but instead and with inspiration from various YouTube videos, decided to build my own, it is coming along nicely. Being designed by me; I can make it how I want, so I have utilised my saw bench stand to do two jobs, hold the saw bench and the router table, it can also be bench mounted too.

It is looking as though Octobers trip to Ypres may have to be pushed back to Spring, sadly the hoops & Covid tests required to go to France, then Belgium and back to the UK would cost almost as much as the ferry crossing and Hotel for two nights, plus we would have to wait in isolation in Belgium waiting for a test result to come back before we could go out anywhere, this may not arrive until it is time to come home again.

We are however having a short break in the UK, taking in Herstmonceux Observatory and having a Meercat experience and a night away in a hotel. Still hoping to get abroad later in the year though, I need sunshine.
The vegetables, particularly the sprouts and swede have been attacked by caterpillars, it is a daily job removing them, despite this the sprouts are of edible size so we’ll be starting to eat them soon, we have eaten all the carrots I planted and the parsnips are coming along nicely.
I think I’m up to date, so I’ll love you and leave you for now. Could someone wake me when September ends please 🙂

Take care and speak soon X

12th August 2021

Where does time go?, Ok, another update for you. We went up to visit the outlaws in Edwinstowe for a few days and brought them back down to Kent for a few days too. They loved it down here, it has been quite a few years since they came down as Father in law is now not comfortable with driving this far, and I can’t blame him every time we go up there the traffic just gets worse.
We had a few days out at either end, always nice to get out for a walk about (Except when it involves shops) We visited Sherwood Pines whilst up there, it is that area’s version of Bedgebury Pinetum, lovely place although now becoming over commercial like just about everywhere now, or am I getting old.
Still doing a bit of codgering in the mancave, I have repaired and restored the Apprentice toolbox I bought in Cornwall whilst down there, also repaired and restored an old Post Office drawer set I acquired years ago, I have not over done it, the dents and patina is still there, one of the rather ornate wooden drawer handles had broken so I have made another, not an easy job, but well worth the time and trouble making it. I have modified my Black & Decker workmate, it now has a magnetic tool holder attached so any tools I have on it no longer roll away and hit the floor.
The battery in Mother in-laws iPad had died and wasn’t holding a charge, so I replaced that with the help of an excellent You-Tube video, I think Apple charge about £90, I bought the replacement battery for just under a tenner and replaced it myself. It was a bit of a nightmare, but much cheaper if you can do it yourself.

Vegetables are coming along nicely, we have had some of the carrots, but burdened at the moment by caterpillars eating the sprout plants, it is now a daily task to scrutinise the leaves and remove the little blighters.

I am covering Daytimes on Radio Ashford again from 16th to 23rd August so if you can, join me, you know I’ll thank you.
Take care and stay safe X

18th July 2021

I thought I have better update my blog having been to Cornwall and testing their first class sausage rolls. Been a busy few weeks what with the football and Cornwall and plenty of odd jobs & gardening.
Let us concentrate on Cornwall though, we left at about 04:15 hoping to get a good run before the traffic built up and it worked, with a couple of stops we arrived at Lands End around noon. What a beautiful place this must have been before commercialism took over, some lovely scenery and wildness, but just too over touristy now by the looks of it, which as you will read seems to be the theme for most of this holiday.
Having done Lands End we proceeded to find our hotel/pub in Penzance. Now this place is so quaint and surprisingly not too touristy. Our digs were an old pub with a lot of history, it is supposed to be the place that the British success at the Battle of Trafalgar was announced in, there is a room within the pub/hotel that is set aside as such and you can only enter it with a member of staff, in fact the whole establishment is Battle of Trafalgar and Nelson themed with some fascinating stuff hanging on the walls.

We used this as our base, our room had a sea view over looking the harbour and we could also see St Michaels Mount too, which we later in the week went and visited. If you’ve not been to Penzance it has very narrow streets and is easy to become disorientated in until you get your bearings, quaint in places but you still can’t avoid the modern high street. A very interesting place to walk around with quite a bit of history if you take the time to read the statues & plaques dotted around the place.
We went for a drive to the tin coast one day, Levant tin mine and the surrounding areas, mines and the lighthouse, we walked miles along the rugged coast line, really beautiful and some good wildlife, and no shops!
Goonhilly Earth Station was on the high priority list, being interested in space I wanted to go and have a look, also back in the eighties I worked for a company that made computer peripherals and some of the kit we made was for Goonhilly.

On another day we went up to Torquay as Sue has an old school friend that lives there who she hasn’t seen for 40 years or more, so we went to find her and have a cup of tea.
A lot of the time we just headed off in a direction and explored, avoiding the stupid prices that they seem to charge to visit somewhere these days. I’ll tell you about Stonehenge later.
Another day we went to see St Michaels mount, now I had done a little homework on the tide times and we got it spot on avoiding the cost of a boat over and having to pay a tenner each to get onto the island.
We walked across at low tide and walked back, we didn’t pay the tenner to walk around once there and no doubt get ripped off for a cup of tea.
Now, something I don’t do much but Sue does; is visit Charity shops, as I said earlier it is easy to become disorientated in the tiny streets of Penzance and one afternoon we seem to have taken a wrong turning whilst on a stroll. We stumbled across a charity shop in a back street and went in to ask for directions. A very helpful man called Andrew told us we needed to be up the road and turn right if we left out of the back of his shop, which he allowed us to do.
It was a cunning plan as whilst walking through the shop I spotted a wooden box, I have a weakness for wooden boxes and tins. It was marked up at £15 including a load of tools inside it. It was a carpenters tool box, it looks as though it might have been an apprentice piece, anyway I liked it, it was in need of a little repair and TLC but liked it. I wasn’t going to haul it through the streets and possibly bars that evening so I thought I would go back just before we leave for home and buy it as a project. This I did and because of all the tools and the fact it was a charity I gave him £20 for it and Sue rather fancied a small bedside chest of drawers too as another project, so we bought that for a tenner.
I have already started rejuvenating the carpenters box and loving the project. I’ll put a picture up of it before and after in the future.
Anyway we had a wonderful time avoiding the tourists and the tourist spots that charge; in my opinion far too much money for very little. Three large sausage rolls for £2 and a pint of larger for £3.60 was more my style.
The return home, now wanting to avoid the traffic of daytime, we left Penzance at 19:00 and got back home at 01:00, yes six hours, which in my book is good going, very little traffic on the roads. We pulled in at Stonehenge on the way back, the last time we went down there you could park up on the side of the road and walk over to it, oh how things have changed, it is now more secure than the bank of England, cameras gates, you can’t get anywhere near it without paying around £20. Anyway we didn’t get there until about 10pm and it was shut. Just as well really, we spent most of the rest of the journey home discussing what a ripoff Britain has become, well it passed the time as we travelled home.

This week, July 19th I am covering Daytimes on Radio Ashford 10am to 2pm with the exception of Wednesday, if you can join me that would be nice. Stay safe & Speak soon.

30th June 2021

Apologies for the lack of updates this month, retirement is a busy time of life. Since my last update my parsnips have germinated and I am now the proud father of many small parsnip seedlings, everything else in my trough is growing nicely and to prolong the harvest I have planted a few things in some unused patches of the flower beds, these will take longer to grow in the normal soil thus spreading the harvest, I hope.
We had a trip up to the outlaws again for a long weekend, stayed in a hotel/pub, always nice to stay there, it’s not the Ritz but friendly and comfortable enough and of course very close to the bar.
Whilst there Sue visited her brothers grave every day and did a bit of tidying, not that it needed it but she can be a bit of a mother hen sometimes, don’t tell her I said that!
We had a few trips out, notably a lovely nature conservation area called Creswell Crags, well worth a wander round if you like nature and it’s beauty and a bit of peace and quiet. We went there on fathers day and whilst wandering around I was followed by a very friendly Robin who sat and posed for some stunning photos. After the photoshoot he obligingly followed me for quite a while almost walking alongside me and every now and then jumping up to the flora either side of the path packing insects off and eating them. Nature is such a wonderful thing we all take too much for granted.
There is a great shop up there (Edwinstowe/Ollerton area) called Fat Boys, I call it Fat Sam’s but it is an Aladdin’s cave of bits and bobs for all sorts of things from cars to gardens tools to fireworks, I love a wander around there to stock up the mancave with stuff.
In the next weeks or so we are off to Cornwall for a few days for a change of scenery and a different road other than the M11/A1. It’s a long trip being around six hours driving, but Hey! my time is my own now, still getting to grips with that concept.
Lots of days out planned for Cornwall, more details once we’ve been.
Garden and household projects still being planned and carried out, nothing major at present but little things that have been waiting for ages, one was installing isolation valves on every tap and cistern in the house, makes it so much easier for maintenance and repair of taps and ballcocks, all complete now.
Gave the car the cleaning of it’s life too, a day or two before the heavens opened, but it was nice to see the water globules forming on the freshly polished car. Oh well, I can do it again when the sun shines.
Did a couple of days covering “Daytimes” on Radio Ashford which was a blast, but still happy plodding about at my own speed. More updates after Cornwall, speak soon X.

7th June 2021

Good grief is it June already? Ok what have I been up to to since the last update, well we interred Dad’s ashes on Friday (June 4th) tough going but at last he is back with Mum.
I have been sampling ale in the garden this last week or so, I have quite a bit of it that needs drinking before its best before date and it would be a shame to waste it.
I can’t remember if I told you I had installed a new fancy mirror in the shower room, led lights that dim, change colour and the mirror demists itself whilst shaving. Well the old mirror that it replaced has been re-cycled into a garden mirror. I made a rustic frame for it out of some old wood I had lying around and fixed it to one of the garden fences, The Rocking Nun is highly impressed with it, I have to say it is one of my better projects.

The vegetables are growing nicely now although my parsnips have failed, it may be down to the seed being old, so I have some new seed and we’ll see how they grow. I have been titivating with some of the parts of the garden that have sunk in the 20 years we have been here and levelled parts off and re-laid brickwork where required. Whacked my little finger of my left hand with a fairly big hammer in the process, but nothing too bad, it was black and blue for a few days but it still wiggles and works.

I celebrated 10 years doing the Rock Hard show last week (1st June) the first ever show was 31st May 2011 on our 25th wedding anniversary and as it worked out our 30th anniversary was also on a Rock Hard night, but this year it fell on a Monday so I got the day off so to speak and the 10th year show was on 1st June.
Still pottering and going out for a few hours here and there, but still happy.
Take care and speak soon!.

24th May 2021

Recently returned from four days in the Ilkley Moor area, what a beautiful area West Yorkshire is once you get out of Leeds that is.
We travelled up to Sherwood Forest and picked the outlaws up and went on to a public house called the Black Hat, a cricket themed hostel where we stayed and made our base. It took most of the day to travel there, but there was plenty of time to sample the ale.
First full day we headed for the Cow & Calf on Ilkley Moor, a rock formation and somewhere where you can look out over the little towns and villages for miles. Whilst up there we saw a Kestrel swooping around and you could see it flying around for what seemed like miles, what a beautiful sight. The weather held up for the first three days and we got about quite a bit.
Another place of interest was Bolton Abbey, an old ruin, although a fair bit of it remains, set in a wonderful country estate immaculately kept.
We spent Wednesday driving around the Leeds area going to places that Sue and her parents had lived in over the past and finding Pubs and schools etc. We went and found Leeds United’s Elland Road stadium to, although I am not a Leeds fan Sue follows them and had memories as a child of being put over the fence with her brothers so her father didn’t have to pay for them to get in. You couldn’t do that these days.
The final stop that day was at Cottingley Hall Cemetery & Crematorium where Father in Laws parents were buried. We searched up and down the rows for ages, I have found a photo of it on-line but struggled to find it, just as they were giving up I found it, we left Ralph (Father in Law) there for a private moment or two, he was so happy to have been there and that we found it.
We went into a little village called Otley on Thursday and before long the heavens opened, and stayed open all day, the only really rainy day we had, never mind we were heading home on Friday morning.
Friday again the weather was bad most of the way down country with just a few brighter interludes with the wind increasing we learnt that the Dartford crossing had been closed, so we decided to go the long way around the M25 rather than either queue for the Dartford crossing or try and get through London during the rush hour.
Never again, the M25 was snarled up virtually all the way round, M1, M40, M4, M3 junctions were stationary and most parts in between. What usually takes us three and a half hours took us around seven hours to travel.

We are back into the swing of things at home now, I have a date for Dad’s interment, almost a year after he died, I have spent most of the time we have been back home in the garden, tidying up and dodging the showers.
A while ago I changed the mirror in the shower room but kept the old mirror with plans of making a rustic frame for it and putting it in the garden somewhere, I have made the frame out of some weathered timber and it’s ready to be placed wherever and whenever we can agree where in the garden it’s going.

Radio wise, back live on Rock Hard tomorrow (Tuesday) and I have a couple of “Stand in cover” runs to do, so I’ll be on Daytimes end of June and Mid August. Counting down to Cornwall in July now.
Speak soon, take care and have fun!

12th May 2021

Well here we are halfway through May and the weather is slowly picking up, I know that because I spend more time in the garden or outside than inside at present. In the past week or two I have more or less completed the shed repaint and had an even bigger clear out and clean up inside the shed. We did a tip run today and the car was packed to the roof with wood, I loath throwing anything away but much of it was rotten where I had hung on to it for so long.
It will also give me the opportunity to buy some nice new wood.
Behind the shed I have painted the existing part fence and made a new section that is not straight forward due to one of the large tree trunks that for part of the boundary, so two days I spent on and off carefully cutting and making a fence panel that hugs the contour of the tree truck..
I have raked up the old bark mulching in that area, replaced the black weed cloth under it and laid some nice new bark on top, I love the aroma of new bark that is in the air for a few days after.

The top patio has now been fully levelled and jointed using some new fangled polymer jointing mortar, this too spells really nice, it also looks pretty neat, we’ll see how long it lasts before cracks and therefore weeds reappear. It appears to be pretty good stuff, you just wet the area and sweep it in the gaps, firm it down and water it again, much easier than mixing a sand & cement mixture and poking that in the gaps.

I have started writing my life history, when I say started, I have bullet pointed my life so far as as I remember bits I make a note of them, I have not achieved anything great, but what I have done and what I have, is all down to things being or happening at the right time and I feel I have lead an interesting and to be honest good life so far. I wish more of my family had done something similar. Anyway I have started, quite how far and what detail will be in it remains to be seen.
Another little trip away is looming, we are going to Ilkley for a few days, somewhere new to go and explore for no reason, just because we can. Looking forward to that. We are picking up the outlaws (Mother & Father in law) from Sherwood Forest on the way through which is handy as we Gents can explore public houses while the ladies explore the shops. Boy is it nice to get a bit more freedom.

Now looking at other projects to occupy my time, there is plenty to do and I’m looking forward to it, it is so nice to get up and not have to do anything, I can choose what I want to do on the day and take as much time as I want to complete it. Loving life!
Till next time care care, speak soon X

30th 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.

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