Friday, 18 November 2011

Backed Into a Corner

We recently had some great weather and I dashed down to the Boat For My Potplants with great eagerness to get the deck painted while I had a small window of opportunity. I only had a couple of hours available, as I had arranged to go in my van to do a job on the other side of town in the afternoon.

So, without hesitation, on the boat I went, took off my jacket, and got cracking with the paint brush. Luckily, I must have been a contortionist in a previous life, as I had to hold on to dear life as I bent over double to do the side decks - but hey-ho, it was a beautiful day, and I threw caution to the wind.

Around lunchtime, the usual throng of drinkers amalgamated outside The Rose And Crown.

Oblivious to their gaze. I continued doing a sterling job, working my way to the pointy bit at the front, then clambering over on to the planks on the quayside to finish off the bow.

Very pleased with myself, I stood up, gained my balance, and walked off the planks back to the van.

Great, I thought, a good job well done, and still on time to get to my next 'proper, paid' job.

I went to start the van engine. But where's the key?

I retraced my steps in my mind, recalling how I'd left the key in my jacket pocket, the jacket being inside the boat that I'd just painted the deck of.

Please tell me that I'm not the only person who's ever backed themselves in to a corner?

(apologies to regular readers of the blog - I will be away now till 4th December. Backed myself in to another corner by agreeing to paint the hall of www.lepetitchateauexperience.com . It's a tough job, and somebody's got to do it, so I thought it may as well be me)

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Warm Cockles

Knock me down with a feather.

This is a true story that will warm the cockles of even the coldest
heart…

Regular readers will know that so far the boat has only travelled vertically with the tide, due to a distinct lack of a motor.

Thanks to the provision of paint from Dulux and power tools from B&Q, and with the recently refurbished toilet and the reinstated kitchen (complete with running water), the boat's renovation is rapidly approaching its final nautical mile towards completion.

But there's one BIG thing missing - an outboard motor.

Unfortunately I had come to a conclusion - I couldn't afford one. River voyages and picnics aboard would sadly have to remain distant mirages beyond the horizon.

That was until last week, when a local blog-reader who had been following the unfolding story came round to visit.

What occurred next was something that only happens in dreams.

This very kind person gave me an envelope.

I opened it, and inside there was a card with the words '…this is for you to get a motor with, so that next summer we can go for some picnics on the river'.

And out fell a substantial cheque for The Boat For My Potplants!

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Two Lessons Learned

When I began renovating the Boat For My Potplants, I didn't have a clue as to what pipe or hose was supposed to go where.

Anything and everything to do with plumbing is my weakest spot. and it simply leaves me cold. So I did what any normal person would do – I left it alone.

What I really wanted was for my friend Mark to just fix the whole damn thing for me.

‘Mark. I can't do plumbing. And I'll reward you handsomely', I pleaded, thinking of the decorating job I’d just been paid for.

'Sorry Neil - I'm too busy. And besides, it will help you to help yourself'.

That became LESSON ONE - help myself.

So on a blustery and dark mid-week evening, I dragged a long hose along the quay to the boat's filler cap and proceeded to half-fill the water tank.

I tried the foot-pump. Nothing happened. Not even a trickle.

After calling Mark yet again, I realised I was on my own.

‘You will have to take it all apart’, he advised, emphasising the 'you'. The prospect of ME doing THAT filled me with horror.

So, yesterday I told Jane I may be gone a while, and set off to the boat with a heavy heart. I ended up with a multitude of nuts, bolts, washers, rings, springs and bits of plastic all over the cabin table, with still more parts having fallen on the floor. I just stared blankly.

I needed to take a break and wandered across to Pete The Roof's boat down river, and told him of my problem. 'Now what you should have done was to make a drawing as you took the pump apart'. That was to be my LESSON NUMBER TWO. Er, thanks, Pete, I'll remember that.

I returned, trying to keep inwardly calm, and made a cup of tea. To my utmost astonishment, after cleaning up the washers, adding a little lubrication here and there and scratching my head some more, I somehow managed to put things back together.

I reconnected everything and pumped the pump. Like a miracle, water came out the tap, into the sink, down the plug-hole, and out into the river.

It might not sound like a big deal to anyone else, but for me it was a Major Achievement.

And now I can do the washing-up on the boat, so in celebration today I'm off to Tesco's. Never before have I been so excited by the prospect of purchasing a dish-cloth and tea-towel.