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.