How this blog began: Boat, garden, party venue and writer's retreat.

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Rain Stops Play

So I gets up in the morning, bright and breezy, with a spring in me step, all ready to get crackin' on the Boat For Me Potplants. Being nice and sunny, today'll be perfect for paint-strippin' and sandin', in preparation for primin' and glossin' some day very soon. Then I'll be able to brings her up river to the mooring right outside the pub.
But the wife says 'Darling, how about we go out for a coffee and croissant at the local cafe, being that it's such a nice day?' So I keeps her sweet and goes along.
Then I thinks I should gets me some sanding belts, so I phones round and decides to go in to Colchester to get some. Ker-ching! Another fifteen quid down the hole.
As I drives back I notices the sun going behind some clouds. Undeterred, I goes to the boat shed at Alresford to get crackin'.
12 noon
I pokes the plug of me 30m reel of cable through a hole in the wall and walks round to the door and clambers over heaps of junk to plug it in, and walks back round again to discover that it's not long enough to reach me boat, so I borrows another 30m reel and plugs it in to the first one. Someone chats to me and I don't wants to be anti-social, so I chats back. I then clambers up the ladder at the side of the boat, carryin' the cable and sander.
I starts up the sander and I gets going. But the small white clouds of earlier are now large black ones, and it begins to rain. So I climbs down the ladder and runs to cover up the cable reel. Then the shower stops and the sun comes out and I climbs back up the ladder and carries on where I left off.
Then I looks at the time and remembers that at four o'clock friends are coming up from London for the weekend. After a few more minutes sandin', the rain comes again, this time more than a shower.
So I decides to call it a day. I gives up. I packs up me things and goes home. I wants to play on me boat but today it's just not meant to be.


Monday, 22 March 2010

And the winning song is...

Well, dear bloggees, I could hardly have imagined such a huge response to the search for a signature tune for The Boat For My Potplants, especially from the members of the Norman Boats Appreciation Society ( Thanks to all who put on their thinking caps. I particularly liked Strangerover's suggestion of The Boatman by The Levellers for its lovely poignant lyrics...

If I could choose the life I please
Then I would be a boatman
On the canals and the rivers free
No hasty words are spoken
My only law is the river breeze
That takes me to the open seas
If I could choose the life I please
Then I would be a boatman
Buccaneer's entry of Messing About On The River is just brilliant, and wholeheartedly deserves a place on the podium.

I was going to award top prize to DF's idea of the theme from Hawaii Five-O, which I can just imagine blaring out from the early '70s stereo that came with the boat, as I take it on its maiden voyage from Alresford Creek to its new mooring in Wivenhoe, about a mile away.

But today I spent eight hours non stop scraping, scraping, scraping and scraping. A multitude of different coloured paints lay beneath layer upon layer. The paint-stripper mangled them all together like the colours of a rainbow.

There was Red and Yellow and Pink and Green. Orange and Purple and Blue. By jove, that's it!
I can sing a rainbow. Excellent!

Saturday, 20 March 2010

It's just not fun any more

It's just not fun anymore.

In the good old days of the mid '70's around the time that the Boat For My Potplants was built, it would have been fun to sit at the captain's table, glasses of rum in hand, trying to think up boat-related songs to adopt as the boat's 'signature tune'.

Many hours would have been pleasantly passed, recalling the likes of Michael Row The Boat Ashore (Harry Belafonte) or Rock The Boat (Hues Corporation). Or how about Moon River by Andy Williams or Many Rivers To Cross by Jimmy Cliff? And if one was feeling less than optimistic about the boat's future there's always Six Months In A Leaky Boat by Split Enz, or, God forbid, Wait Till Your Boat Goes Down by XTC!

But nowadays it's simple to look things up on the computer. Hours have been turned to seconds, and a bottle is now a thimble. It's just not fun any more.

But as for the Boat For My Potplants - well that's a different matter.

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Virtual Tour Guide

Welcome to the first YouTube Virtual Tour Guide of The Boat For My Potplants, thanks to chief film-director Oliver Watson, my 17-year-old son. BAFTA nominations for Best Director and Best Actor will surely be flooding in quicker than we can say '...and CUT!'

Monday, 8 March 2010

A little step at a time

I've figured it out. Instead of looking at the whole boat and the huge task that lays ahead, I will from now on focus on a small section at a time. I'll set myself a target, and reward myself if I achieve it.

So on Sunday I focused on the rusty old screws sticking out of the sides. They had to be removed somehow. Each one needed to be hack-sawed off and each one would take several minutes to do. Balancing on one leg on the ladder and leaning over to get the right angle for sawing was not ideal. There were around forty to do along the top row.

That meant a lot of sawing. My arms ached. I just worked away on those screws until they were all gone.

I've still got the same number to do along the bottom row, but that's for the next day.

My reward? To stand back and admire my Boat For My Potplants in the bright sunshine and allow myself a daydream of one day sitting on its deck outside the Rose And Crown drinking a cold beer.

Saturday, 6 March 2010

A source of comfort or consolation.

A source of comfort or consolation. That's the definition of 'Solace', and that's the name written on the Boat For My Potplants.

And that was most certainly how I felt yesterday while I tirelessly worked morning till night busying myself with pulling out sodden planks and floorboards, rotten cushions and damp curtains. I pondered about the dozens of people who must have previously experienced solace and happy times during their holidays.

I wondered what the boat could tell if it had a life of its own. What could it say about its years of being hired out to folks, possibly on the Norfolk Broads

But of course it does have a life of its own. It has merely been in a deep sleep, and now it's being woken up to its new life in Wivenhoe.

Thursday, 4 March 2010

It's all in the planning

If I plan this right, with the aid of CPA (Critical Path Analysis), which is something I vaguely remember being taught at school in Business Studies, I should be able to get my Boat For My Potplants ready to sit on by the middle of April, just by the Rose And Crown pub.

By scientific planning, I will get the anti-fowling done, and the paint-stripping, re-painting and essential repairs. It is now that I place my finger in the air to arrive at a completion date, which, Sunday 18th April.

The art of scientific planning starts right now. Here and now.

My plan is to take some sandwiches with me so that I can get a full day's work in. But I'm just not sure whether to take cheese and tomato, or ham and mustard.

Hmmm, I wasn't taught that at school...I've got so much to learn when it comes to The Boat For My Potplants.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010


Today something was different - the warm sun was on my back for the first time in weeks, and I felt like I could conquer the world. So at 5pm I quickly packed up my work-things and dashed off in my van to the boat. I set up my step-ladder and climbed aboard. It didn't seem to matter that what I saw in front of me was a complete wreck.

At 6pm dark skies descended and I went home.

I poured and drank a glass of wine to celebrate my renewed enthusiasm, and then went in the bathroom to run myself a hot bath.

As I drank another glass of wine I reflected on how a sense of calm had come over me on the boat while I was sorting out the rotten flooboards. I also reflected on how Paul, the boatyard keeper, had kindly turned up and showed me where I could hook up electric power from inside the boat-shed. And then I reflected on how just a few simple words of encouragement from some buddies had turned negative to positive.

Due thanks go to old school chum Neil Hart in California; to Nick-Two-Pots, my new friend in Wivenhoe; and to Neil Rowland, the Rear Admiral of The Boat For My Potplants.

Five minutes later I went back to the bathroom, only to discover that I'd forgotten to put the plug in the bath. Too much reflecting? Too much wine, more like. Doh!

Monday, 1 March 2010

Oh God, what have I done?

That's another fine mess I've got myself in. After the euphoria of getting the Boat For My Potplants to Alresford Creek, I went back to look at it sitting forlonly on its blocks. I climbed up my stepladder and peered inside. Where there was once a canopy, now there isn't. Where there was once a windscreen, now there isn't. Where there was once a floor, now there isn't.

Everything had to be chucked inside the cabin so that the boat could safely be towed along the road at 50mph. And now I can't even clamber inside. To call it a mess is an understatement.

It was raining les chats et les chiens. I was tired after having been up all night. The realisation of what I had done suddenly sank in. That's not all that will be sunk if I don't get this wreck sorted. Oh God, what have I done?

Life was simple before I got a Boat For My Potplants. Will I ever learn? Naah! Probably not.