A Boat For My Potplants

My nautical project took me to glorious places, metaphorically speaking. There were parties on board. There was The World's Smallest Pirate Radio Station. Of course there were plants. And one day even a gorilla.
The boat also became my 'Writer's Retreat'. I decided to become an author, writing my debut novel aboard the boat. The book, called MUDDY WATER, was naturally set in Wivenhoe. Amazingly, several local people paid good money to have their names appearing in the book, and a lot of cash was raised for worthy charities - the RNLI, MIND, The Samaritans, and The Royal British Legion.
Now, my next multi-singular selling novel, FLORIDA KEY, is in 'production', due for publication in October 2017.
I'm sure to be visiting writers' block along the way, as well as euphoria, self-doubt and inspiration.
See how my book goes through all the stages - from initial concept to final print. I'll take you with me on my personal journey as I work on the words, on the cover, on the marketing, and on the publishing.
Maybe it will inspire you too to have a go at bringing out THE BOOK IN YOU. Everyone has a story in them, just waiting to be told, and after all, if I can do it, anyone can.
(Click on the tabs below to see more about the Writer's Retreat In France, the old Boat For My Potplants, Tallulah the Motorhome, Alfonso the Car, and Jane the Woman. And to find out more about MUDDY WATER the novel, click the cover to be transported to its Facebook page)

Saturday, 30 November 2013

But What On Earth Is It?

I'm not an expert in the world of motorhomes - or campervans if you'd prefer (I don't know what the difference is either), and in fact not being an expert is an understatement of the highest order.

In fact I know nothing. Zilch. Rien. Pas.

All I had an inkling about was that I wanted a Hymer. I'd seen more modern examples here and there, out an about. They looked so, er, I'm not sure. I liked their quirky shape, allowing for the double bed to be stored above the driver and passenger seats, and then lowered when required, so that a mere step up is all that's needed for a good night's kip.

No ladders to climb. No hurt feet. No claustrophobia.

But Hymers don't come cheap. Unless of course it's 35 years old and has a number of things wrong with it (as we later discovered).

And it's based on that bastion of British engineering from yesteryear, the faithful old Bedford CF van, which in it's day was Vauxhall Opel's answer to the wildly superior Ford Transit.

So here we have what's called a Bedford Blitz Hymer, on a 2.3 ltr petrol engine'd Bedford CF chassis.

I had to keep telling myself - "It's a classic". And I'm sure it is. Time will tell.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

The Deed's Done

The price was agreed, and the date was arranged to collect the van from darkest, deepest South London. Our friends Ian and Sue kindly agreed to come with us. In fact they took us in their car, and Sue would drive their car back while Ian would drive the camper back - that is if we went ahead and bought the old gal.

Ian knows a thing or two about motors, and I was very grateful for his offer to check things over before we parted with the spondoolics.

We met the mechanic man, and Ian asked appropriate questions about things mechanical. His pre-arranged secret signal (a shifty thumbs-up) meant that I then spent the following twenty minutes arranging insurance. I later discovered that that premium rate number cost me over fifteen bloody quid!

But that didn't matter at the time, 'cos we were now the proud owners of a 'T'-reg campervan, with all mod cons included. Whether the mod cons worked, we'd sort out later.

For now the only task in hand was to get her home.

"Yes, We'll Have It"

So, after looking around the interior and taking a few pictures, I went back home and decided that we would say 'yes'. The old Hymer would need to be MOT'd, and I guessed that any major problems would be shown up at that stage.

It was a slightly bizarre situation.

The man who had owned the van for the last 28 years had recently passed away, and it was his widow who was now selling it. However, not being internet-savvy, she enlisted the help of of a friend to advertise the van. But it was yet another man with whom I ended up being given the number to call, and to subsequently visit. He was the mechanic who knew the van and had arranged the MOT.

He called me to say that although it had passed the test, there was an oil leak, and that it would cost a few hundred pounds to fix.

So I thought it would be reasonable to ring up and negotiate the sale price with the lady to take this into account.

Unfortunately she wasn't having any of it. 'Don't you know what a good price you're getting this for?' I was being told off for asking such a ridiculous question.

That was my next error - I didn't put the phone down.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

It Seemed Like a Good Idea

It did seem a good idea at the time. I answered an ad, and ventured south of the Thames to a strange place called Streatham.

The campervan sounded interesting. It was a Hymer which is what we (I) wanted, so that the bed would drop down over the front seats.

It had been owned by a family for the past 28 years, had been taken to Germany many times, and for the past few years had been stored in a garage.

I was expecting it to be out on the road when I went to view, but it wasn't.

Inside the campervan, inside the garage, it was cold and dark, but I was already beginning to fall in love.

I took several pictures with a flash. It wasn't until I got home and loaded them up that that my heart went truly all of a flutter.

That was my first mistake - letting my heart rule my head.

Monday, 18 November 2013

A Nod To My Dog

'Aah, YES', says Churchill. 'I love my Tallulah'
Well, dear blog-readers. I'm taking a slight deviation away from my Boat For My Potplants for a while. It's the winter evenings, you see. I can't get too enthusiastic about sitting on the boat while it's drizzling outside.

So, in the meantime, let me tell you about Tallulah, our 'T'-reg 1987 Hymer Bedford Blitz motorhome (or should I say 'campervan'? - it sounds a bit cooler, eh?).

Why did we get a campervan? It seemed like a great idea at the time - and I'm sure it will be.

Whilst Los Amigos (the boat) was fundamentally MY project,  Tallulah is a passion shared between The Lovely Jane, (aka 'Erindoors - but now often 'Eroutdoors).

Whereas my boaty goal is to sail to Brightlingsea and back, thus overcoming my nautical fears, our campervanny goal is to attend a music festival next year.

After extensive research with a bottle of the red stuff, we've settled on Latitude, in Southwold, Suffolk.

Actually, the extensive research is a bit of a fib. We don't know where or when Latitude is.  But it sounds like fun, all the same.

And Tallulah does need some attention. It's a bit scary to drive. I can't find the gears.

Never mind.

It'll be a great home for our nodding dog, Churchill.

Aah, Yes!

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Which One's First?

OMG! What have we done? Gone and got a campervan, that's what.

But 'Erindoors won't drive it - and I don't know how to.

I'm sure First Gear is here somewhere. It's only a matter of finding it.

What could be easier?

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

High Tide

High Tide today along the quay

Floats my boat

Lots of work

Keeps me afloat