Sunday, 1 February 2015


February 2015

Our plan for the next phase of our lives is in the process of taking a major leap forward.

Our Sutton Coldfield home of 25 years is sold (STC) and the purchase of a new, smaller, property in Aldridge has been agreed. 

Goodbye Sutton Coldfield

We moved into out current home in 1989 planning to be here for a couple of years but instead we raised a family in it, over time increasing its size to five bedrooms. But both children have moved on in their lives leaving just the two of us in the house for the last two years, rattling around in a property which is far too big for our needs. Whilst we have managed to find a use for all the rooms, the sad reality is that three are pretty much abandoned and another entirely given over to storing jam! 

Running alongside the empty nest issue we find ourselves wanting to spend more time afloat and what was once a great family home now become a maintenance millstone. To be honest, we spent so much time on the boats last summer that the garden got away from us and we started to wonder exactly what the point is maintaining a mortgage on a property which is patently ill suited to our current needs.

We therefore spent a lot of time in 2014 sprucing the place up and generally making it salable, a project which culminated with it going on the market in November. Much to our surprise it sold within a few weeks and so the race was on to find somewhere new.

But where to move to.... that was the question.

Over the last few years we have given the location of what will probably be the rest of our lives a lot of thought, and we came to appreciate the fact that friends are the most valuable asset you have, and making old friends takes time - a lot of time. Most of our friends tend to live in Aldridge, about four miles to the north of where we currently live and are focused on Aldridge Parish Church. Plus there is our boating network which is largely based around the BCN and its neighboring canals. By good fortune Aldridge is a village on the Daw End Branch Canal, an arm of the Wyrley and Essington, and therefore offers scope to keep the boats near home.

So, with the location decided there was the small matter of finding a property to suit our needs.

Our unusual requirements are a large kitchen with a ground floor store room, but we could compromise on the upstairs bedrooms, given the availability of the cabins on both the motor and the butty.  Lots of options were explored across a slightly insane price range with both old and new, large and small being examined, considered and ultimately discarded.

The problem with really new properties is the size of the rooms (tiny) and the problem with 1960's is one of size and lack of character.

In the end we opted for an end of terrace ex miners cottage, about a mile from Aldridge village centre towards Walsall Wood, a property which by definition sits close, but just outside the area undermined by the Walsall Wood Colliery, Sad man that I am, I have a map of the coal seams of the area! The property offers bags of character, and ticks just about all the boxes on our must have list - except the big kitchen for Helen and a big shed for yours truly.

However, the property does have a sizeable back yard which we will build over to make the kitchen and a decent back garden which will house all the sheds I could dream of. 

And as for canal moorings there are two choices - Longwood Boat Club at the far end of town and Aldridge Marina about 10 mins walk away. Not that staying at Calf Heath is much of a problem as its only 20 mins away by car.

As for the future, with us downsized to a more suitable property and the mortgage all paid off I will be giving up work in the spring of 2016 after 36 interesting years with the same company. We will then be setting sail into the next phase of our lives which will include six months a year travelling with the Jam Butty in tow and then spending the winter months in our new home on the bank.

So in the meantime all our surplus stuff in on flea bay and if all goes according to plan we will be moved by the end of February.


Nb Yarwood said...

Very best wishes for the new phase...retirement is highly recommended!!!
X Lesley

Sarah said...

Wow. Well done and good luck!

Graham said...

Your blogs are, of course, always interesting but this one especially so, since we are going through the same process. We have the same thoughts about our current house and the characteristics of modern houses. However, we do like the efficiency of carefully designed and built modern property - if only we could find one!

Our needs are, naturally, similar but different. We are looking for a big ground floor, so that if we end up in wheelchairs we can manage alone for as long as possible. We also want to stay in Scotland for the safety of the NHS.

It's actually quite depressing when you realise that these are the type of criteria which must now be considered. As they say, youth is wasted on the young.

Good luck with the move! Must go now a few things need to be listed before supper.

Ian and Karen said...

Hard to leave a family home behind, but with lots of good boating time to look forward too, a really good choice. Hope all the arrangements go smoothly for you. Enjoy this new season of life together. Our love and prayers, I & K

Andrew Tidy said...

Thanks for your comments guys - all three of you have been or are making transitions. You never know where life will lead you, but thats all part of the fun of it!
Our wished and prayers are with you too. Andy

seadog said...

Very best wishes for your move.Hope all goes smoothly.Hard to leave somewhere you have stamped your identity on.Chris and Marilyn

Keith Astley said...


Good luck with the house move!

Following that since seeing the 'Jam Butty' at the Black Country Boat Festival I've been pondering building something very similar, would it be possible to come and have at look at her in the nearest future.

Brgds/Keith Astley

Andrew Tidy said...

- by all means. Contact my by e-mail

Nev Wells said...

I was pondering the bloggers lifecycle just last night. I have been reading and latterly blogging for some while and pleasingly few do less most do more - blogging and boating that is. The main ingredient is time, and that is the one thing you can only buy if you retire early - if that makes sense. So i think you have both made the very best purchase of your life....We will be selling hopefully this year and downsizing. Good luck with the move and the 2016 plans.

Linda Gifford-Hull said...

Good luck with the move and enjoy joining us summer cruisers. We downsized last year and it was lovely not to have to worry about the garden last summer.

Linda and Richard
NB Mary H

Adam said...

Excellent news. And we're not jealous much at all...

MortimerBones said...