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

Sunday, 30 May 2010

I Hope They Work

Now, dear bloggees, it is time to bore thee with the subject of RUBBING STRAKES. Not rubbing strips or rubber strakes...No, sirree...Now that I am a member of the boating community, no less than a member of the Norman Boat Appreciation Society (even though technically I don't have a Norman Boat), and also a member of the Alresford Creek Boat Owners' Association (even though technically I don't live in Alresford), I am, nevertheless, now slightly knowledgeable in the terms of things used on boats. Such as RUBBING STRAKES.

RUBBING STRAKES are the bits of wood down the side of the boat, generally to protect the boat from damage. And my Boat For My Potplants didn't have any. No, technically, that's not did have them, but they were so rotten that they actually had weeds growing out of them. Not just any old weeds - mine were king-size.

So, off they had to come. And replacements had to be fitted. 'How much???', I asked, shocked at the £400 price tag associated with teak. 'Anything cheaper?', I asked. Iroko was still unaffordable at £200. I finally settled on PINE SKIRTING BOARD from B&Q, at a price of around £10 each side.

I HOPE THEY WORK, and that I don't have to do it all again next year. The method in my madness is that, despite advice from all and sundry, I have used a softwood, due to its cheap price-tag. I have coated it with wood-hardner. I have Dulux SuperGrip Primed it. I have undercoated it. I have silicon-sealed it along the top. I cut it in to sections to fit around the boat-side. And I have top-coated it twice with "Totally Cocoa" Dulux exterior brown paint, similar in shade to mahogany. I HOPE THEY WORK, 'cos I don't want to be doin' all that again in a hurry.

But, you see, my wallet is thin, but my time is fat. I have no deadline to meet, except my own. And I'm always willing to learn by my mistakes - but on this occasion, I HOPE I DON'T HAVE TO.

Friday, 21 May 2010

I've Got An Idea

This week I bought the June edition of Essex Life Magazine, and my eyes popped out when I got to page 13, and read by own blog, there in full-on black and white. They used the one where I'd described going to a wedding with paint on my ear. But what stood out for me is that it included two references to Dulux SuperGrip Primer.

Now, call me old fashioned - but do I see an opportunity opening up here before my very eyes? I see product placement and sponsorship deals galore. All I have to do is to include some well-chosen desired brand-names, contact their PR agencies, and I could be floating my boat in decadence in next to no time.

So, to prepare for this new direction in my venture, I shall practice here and now with a new-style of blog. Here goes...

"As I bring My Boat For My Potplants up the river, using my powerful new Yamaha 10 hp motor, moor up outside the fabuloso gastro-pub, the Rose And Crown (great for lunches), I look at my accurate Breitling watch. 'Goodness. Is that the time already?' It's Pimms o'clock. That cool, refreshing drink that goes so well on these occasions. So I break open several bottles, but one of my guests prefers Bollinger Champagne. Or could that be Crux? One can't be too fussy, you know".

By jove, I think I could have the jist of something big here. But before I get too carried away, I must concentrate on fitting those new rubbing strakes today. I check the meagre contents of my wallet, and decide on using pine skirting boards, costing a tenner from B&Q. I'd better go and collect them in my second-hand van before the exhaust falls off again. I'm sure the journey in a Bentley Mulsanne would give such a better driving experience.

Oops. I'm off again.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Getting there

Slowly but surely, the task of breathing new life into an old boat that has seen better days is gradually progressing. My thoughts are being diverted for a few days ahead, away from stripping, painting, pulpits, antifowling and windows. Alas, I must go to Istanbul for my annual bike ride with my mates, Paul, Martin and Mike. It's not going to be easy, I can tell you, tearing myself away from The Boat For My Potplants, but these things are sent to try us.

Unbelievably, I've been granted permission for us to hurtle by pedal-power around the F1 race track, scene of this month's Turkish Grand Prix soon after our Easyjet arrives tomorrow afternoon, subject to strikes and volcanic ash. Then we'll be crossing the Sea of Marmara to the beautiful island of Buyukada where no cars are allowed. And I've just been informed by Steve, another friend who's currently there, that we should prepare ourselves for the 30 degree heat. It's going to be a tough job, but someone has to do it. I of course will take my boat pictures with me so that I don't get too homesick. And a picture of the wife too, if there's room in my rucksack.

I'm already torn between being on that boat tomorrow evening as we sail into the sunset, and being on my boat in order to complete whatever the next job will be. But I'll be back by Monday, subject to strikes and volcanic ash, ready for the final push to get the Boat For My Potplants finally upstream and outside The Rose And Crown.

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Mud, mud, glorious mud

There was something great about today.

Despite it being cold and drizzly, and to be honest there were more comfortable ways of spending a Sunday morning, but there was indeed a great sense of mucking in together for a common cause. It was a dirty, rotten job, but someone had to do it, and fortunately many hands made light work.

We had all been invited to turn up with the incentive that at 10am we could enjoy Alan's mugs of tea, and bacon and sausage baps with lashings of tomato sauce. After stuffing ourselves we set to with the serious task of clearing the slipway of mud and sludge ready for launching our boats into the creek during the coming weeks.

The Boat For My Potplants is coming closer and closer to that magical day, so I felt it was only fair that I joined in. After all, I'd be wanting to use the slipway just like everyone else, so I turned up to do my bit.

I'm glad I did. There was something great about wallowing up to my knees in mud, but more than that there was something great about being among all these boating enthusiasts.

Yes, there was certainly something great about today.

Sunday, 2 May 2010

It Seemed So Reasonable To Me

'Can't you even make yourself look decent for a special occasion?', said my wife, at yesterday's wedding of our friends Cathy and Andrew. It was too late to do anything about my ear by then, which she had noticed was covered in paint, just as we were about to go in to the ceremony. A minor mistake that anyone could have made, I thought.

You see, it was no ordinary paint, and I tried to explain how necessary it had been that I'd used Dulux SuperGrip Primer (and I discovered that SuperGrip Primer doesn't scratch off from skin very easily. Well, not at all, in fact), and that it had been essential for me to quickly nip to the boat just before we were due to leave home, so that I could put a coat on the window surrounds. It simply had to be done, I said in my defense, so that I'd be able to get the undercoat on in time for the top coat to get dry before the windows were due to go back in on Monday. My explanation didn't seem to improve the situation. Maybe trying to justify my mistake was also a mistake.

Countless fellow guests came up to me, 'helpfully' pointing to my ear asking 'Is that paint on your ear?'

I offered what I thought was a perfectly reasonable story that I'd had to paint my Boat For My Potplants shortly before leaving home. 'Your what for your what?', came the response. I decided to cut my losses, concentrate on my canapes, and just say that my wife had failed to noticed the state of my ear until it was too late.

For some reason that proved to be my worst mistake.