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

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Finally recovered

There were so many things that could have gone wrong, but someone was obviously looking down on us last weekend, because with almost military precision the operation went without a hitch.

It could have rained, but the sun shone instead;
The boat was loaded on to the trailer and it didn't fall off;
The tractor pushed the boat into the river and it didn't sink;
The tow-boat pulled us up to Wivenhoe, and didn't break down;

We triumphantly came into our mooring and the crowd witnessed our special welcome from our new nautical neighbour. Something along the lines of "You can't park there, gov". It was all a bit of a storm in a tea cup and perhaps he wasn't aware that The Boat For My Potplants was coming to town.

And now the dust has settled and I've finally recovered from the traumatic ordeal. So it's now onwards and upwards with the continuation of the renovation. So much to do. Fortunately so much time.

A beautiful moment of calm was grabbed last night as 'erindoors and I shared our first bottle of Moet onboard.

The tide came in. The boat floated. The sun went down.

Monday, 19 July 2010

This and That

"Come on Jane - we've got a bit of time before dinner. Let's go down to the boat and get some jobs done. There's this and that, and this and that, and this and that to do", I said.

"Okay", said 'erindoors.

We arrived, after two minutes' walk from home, with watering can for The Pots On My Plant Boat, and we climbed aboard, with the on-lookers from the pub watching us from behind. We dutifully nourished the geraniums that friends had so kindly brought for us the day before.

Then we went to the back of the boat (or stern, as I've been informed it's called) and prepared ourselves for the tasks that lay ahead.

"First, I'll just have a sit down and taste this bottle of wine that Andy gave us yesterday", I said.

And this was that.

We Did It!!!

On Saturday we moved the boat from its blocks on to a trailer.
On Sunday afternoon the tractor pulled the trailer down to the water's edge.
By four o'clock the tide was enough to have us floating.
At 5.30 our tow-boat arrived.

At six o'clock on Sunday evening on the 18th July 2010, The Boat For My Potplants arrived at its new home outside The Rose And Crown Pub in Wivenhoe.

We did it!!!

Sunday, 18 July 2010

How did they do THAT?

On the day before the launch of The Boat For My Potplants, final preparations were busily being made - the most essential of which was to load the huge vessel from its blocks onto an old trailer.

How did they do it? I still don't know - and I was there all the time helping (well, watching at least).

As if by magic, a couple of hours later, the boat was already to be towed down to the creek this afternoon, for its maiden voyage up the river to Wivenhoe.

I've got a "to do" list as long as my arm, so forgive me for making today's blog short. When the boat finally gets to its mooring position outside The Rose And Crown, I'll be able to breathe a sigh of relief, and crack open the bubbly.

Fingers crossed!

Friday, 16 July 2010

Attracting all nice things

I can't help reflecting on some of the great people I have come in to contact with since my friend Neil asked me "Do you want a boat?" last autumn.

There's Neil's dad Ron, for a start. He kindly gave me the boat in the first place when it was in serious danger of complete deterioration. I hope he's pleased with what's been done so far.

There's Andy from Colchester Motor Glass, who stepped in to sort out the broken window and perished rubber seals, just when I was giving up.

There's Sarah from Sail And Cover near Ipswich, who will be making me a new multi-coloured canopy. Most people would have run a mile from such a challenge.

There are all the folks at the boat sheds in Alresford Creek, especially Alan who makes great tea, and Paul, whose tractor and trailer will be used this weekend for the launch.

Of course there's 'erindoors, although I did already know her. She's been busily making some nice bright cushions, but more importantly, has never complained about being a boat-widow every time I've said "I'm just off to the boat, dear".

And now, my faith in human nature has escalated even higher, when fellow blogger and Essex artist Cherry (check out her website at, contacted me and offered to send me, without charge, something for the boat. Yesterday, the postman arrived with a package from her, along with her good wishes.

Today it will be my first job to find a hanging position in the cabin for her unique piece of art called "The Mermaid" on this penultimate day of final tasks prior to launch on Sunday.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

A Boat For My, er, Hifi

Crikey! Opinions are split over whether I should use artificial (my suggestion) or real plants ('erindoors' insistance). I never knew I could cause such a stir with the words 'plastic plants'.

While the fierce debate rages on, with the populist vote due to be counted real soon, my attention has been diverted to other very important issues.

I am moving in to the unchartered waters of electronics, and am leaving it all to old and trusted top bloke Andy Harris of the excellent RoadPro company (google them out - they do all sorts of 12-volt things for boats and trucks and things). I've known Andy for years and if he says I need a QC7622 then I believe him.

All he asked was what I wanted to do on my boat. And of course I want to play my 1970's top quality Grundig hifi, complete with Grundig Audiorama spherical speakers, all of which have been languishing in the garage for ages, just waiting for the Boat For My Hifi, er, Potplants to come along.

So very soon I should be rigging up the solar-panel, leisure battery, fitting kit, regulator and inverter, so that I can blast out Steely Dan, Harry Nilsson and ELO to my heart's content.

Hmmm, I wonder who else could I play to the good people of Wivenhoe?

Sunday, 11 July 2010


With only a week to go before the launch of the Boat For My Potplants, it's not only the controversy surrounding whether or not I should wear my new Captain's hat that rages on.

No indeed, there's a new eruption that's affected the Watson household, with 'erindoors declaring that she won't be setting foot on deck if I decide to go ahead with my plans that were casually brought up in conversation last night.

And I'm not talking about the Eyjafjallajökull eruption either.

I thought it was perfectly reasonable, now that I have ordered made-to-measure planters from Barry of Saffron Walden, that I should become concerned about the practicalities of daily plant-watering, and that my solution would be to use artificial plants - which are really quite life-like these days.

Well, you could have knocked me down with a feather. The room went deathly quiet. The atmosphere could have been cut with a knife.

"Artificial plants!!??!!", my wife shouted. "Yes, it's a great idea, and it would save having to carry water to the boat every day", I reasoned. But maybe I'm wrong. I'm so confused.

Who is right? Artificial or Real? You decide. I'll democratically go with popular opinion. Please advise your vote.

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Full Steam Ahead

Jay's bringing the motor.
Martin's coming alongside with his speedboat.
Gerry's ready with the tow-rope in-case of breakdown.
Adam's coming from miles away.
Martyn's taking command of 'driving'.
Jane's making the cushions.
Sarah's stitching the canopy.
Andy's sealing the window leak.
Neil's bringing his tools.
Paul's revving up the tractor.
The pub's open.
Ann and Ed got me the Captain's cap.
Alan's making the cuppa.
I've put a floor down.
The 18th of July is only two weeks away.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Exhilaration, Confidence, Trepitadion and Excitement

I've been able to remake the bunk area. The old wood was completely rotten and had to be completely removed. It was extraordinarily hot inside the boat and I was producing more sweat than I've ever known. I didn't think I had the skill to do it, but I'm exhilarated that I did - all by myself.

Martin from Wivenhoe has given me the confidence that it is indeed possible to bring The Boat For My Potplants up-river to Wivenhoe under its own steam, using its own low-power outboard motor, along with the incoming tide.

After being in my comfort zone of working on the boat on dry land for so long, I'll be navigating unchartered waters - for me at least - by bringing the boat into the river for the first time. I do hope that my feelings of trepidation are unfounded.

This started out as an open invitation to the boat's launch on Sunday afternoon on 18th July, and I didn't really expect anyone would actually come to it. Now, apparently, many people will be turning up to witness the arrival of the boat at its new home outside the Rose And Crown pub. How exciting!

It's jolly lucky that I've just found out that I've won something! Last week I randomly put my business card into a prize draw jar on the bar at said pub. And I've just received notification that I'm the winner of a £50 bar tab.

So, if you get there before the boat does, go and get a drink on me at the pub - first come, first served. If you get there after the boat arrives, don't worry, I'll be bringing plenty of bubbly on board with me.

Mmmmm, delicious Lambrini!

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Why Didn't I Think Of That?

Top Bloke of Wivenhoe, Martyn Carrick, was chatting to me the other day and said that he thought I was doing it all wrong, when he asked me how I was planning to get the boat from Alresford to Wivenhoe on July 18th.

'I'm going to be towed by my brother-in-law's's speedboat, my step-dad's motorboat, or Paul's sailing boat, or perhaps all three', I said.

'Pah', said Martyn. 'You should bring The Boat For My Potplants under its own steam'.

'But I only have a 4hp motor', I explained.

'Then we should borrow a larger one', retorted Martyn.

I was slightly taken aback. I was in my comfort zone of thinking that by being towed it was all down to someone else. Martyn brought me out of that comfort zone, by making me realise that, yes, actually, he's damned-well right. Now why didn't I think of that?

The Boat For My Potplants is worthy of more than being simply towed. After all this hard work, it bloody well ought to make it to Wivenhoe on its own.

On Saturday I went out on a boat to get some practice for all this mullarky. And now, I've got to find a motor...