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

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Today I Mean Business

Yesterday was my birthday and a joyous evening was had at our local Tapas bar in the company of our friends Rob and Sion and Nenah. After a few glasses of the excellent house wine, someone suggested we go out on the boat today.

And why not, I thought. The conditions are looking good. So at 7am, I'm up with a lark, contemplating the myriad things that need contemplating, before high tide that's due at midday.

Firstly I need to ditch the old petrol that's on board (I can pour it in the old car) and get down to Tesco's for a refill of their Finest combustion liquid. While I'm there I ought to get some milk cartons that can be used as line-floats for when we come back in to our mooring.

To say I'm a little nervous is a slight understatement. But with sensible and careful heads on our shoulders we should be okay.

So today is the day to gain some much needed experience and confidence.

No record playing. No pansy planting. No excuses.

It's real business on The Boat For My Potplants.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013


It was a full-on weekend down at the Boat For My Potplants.

On the Saturday it was Independent Record Store Day and in the morning I went to a record shop in Braintree to buy some 45's for my upcoming radio programme, soon to be recorded on the boat.

Then in the afternoon we welcomed our special guests Neil and Angela (Neil being he who got me his dad's boat way back when it all began).

I thought we'd try out the records on board. The sun came out. We broke out the bubbly. A party was had. And why not, indeed?

The following day, at high-tide, we were all set to take Los Amigos out on the river for its first trip since having the motor serviced. Alas, the tide wasn't high enough, and our window of opportunity would not have been long enough.

That is one of the drawbacks of having a mud-bank mooring. Never mind, there's always manana.

Instead, we played some more records on board. The sun came out again. We broke out some more bubbly. Another party was had.

And why not, indeed?
Well, this is Wivenhoe, after all.

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Motor Boats Monthly

What a great day! I met my V.I.P. guests at Wivenhoe Station at 10.23am, precisely as arranged.

Carl admires the view, and who wouldn't?
My special visitors were none other than Carl and Sally - the Editor and Features Editor of the great Motor Boats Monthly.

We sat on the boat and discussed things like outboard motors, pirate radio stations, and the benefits of artificial plants over real ones.

I drove them in the old 124 to see the boat sheds at Alresford Creek, the place where I spent many happy hours renovating, repairing and rebuilding.

We came back to Wivenhoe and met a few of the Quay Characters of Wivenhoe, including Mike of the Nottage Institute, Stan (who kindly allowed us to take photos from his window overlooking the river), and Dave the landlord at the Rose And Crown, who proved to us that in fact there is indeed such a thing as a free lunch. Thanks, Dave, your hospitality did the trick, because...
Mike enjoys the attention from Sally, and who can blame him?

...I can now reveal, with great delight, that a five-page story - yes, FIVE whole pages - about my Boat For My Potplants will be featured in the July edition of the magazine.

That will be just in time for the Wivenhoe Regatta. Hmm, that gives me another idea...

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Messing About

Today I had the great fortune of spending a WHOLE day down on the Boat For My Potplants, getting ready for my special guests who are coming tomorrow all the way from London Town. I'll be meeting them at Wivenhoe station at 10.18 hrs.

The landlord of the Rose And Crown has agreed to put on some food for us, and high-tide will be around lunch-time. Perfect. I hope it'll be warm enough to sit on board and chat.

After adding some pansies to the planters, pinned down the Union Jack bunting, and sorted out the record player in the cabin. I swept, cleaned and generally pottered. I played some music and made some lunch (Pot Noodle).

Martyn came over to the boat. 'Did I spot you putting some flowers in earlier, Neil? You're bonkers!' But when I explained who was coming and why, he soon changed his tune, and even offered to lend me his microphone for effect.

I decided that the stained glass windows would look nice, but they needed a trim to make them fit. As I was doing that on the quay Geoff came along. 'You're mad, Neil'.

Maybe so, but I don't care. I just got on with it and had a thoroughly nice day messing about on the river.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Tough Call

Sunday was booked for some friends to come over for lunch but at the last minute it was cancelled by the very-nearly broken bones of Mike's leg. 'Never mind Mike, we'll do it another time. Hope you get better soon. Rest up.'

My mind raced into overtime at the prospect of an unexpected free day. What shall I do? Paint the windscreen? Put up some new Union-Jack bunting? Prepare the recording 'studio'?

Yes, to all three.

But 'Erindoors had other ideas. 'You could take me out for a walk instead', she suggested, with that certain look in her eyes that I knew meant business.

Doh! My plans and intentions were scuppered.

But thank goodness I took notice of my guilt complexes, and enjoyed a thoroughly wonderful exploration of local Bures, in deepest, rural Essex. It was stunning.

And I still managed to get some time in for the bunting when we got home. The 'studio' and painting will have to wait another day.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

The Little Beauty

It's been a while.

Not since last Autumn have I ventured out with the Boat For My Potplants on the stormy waters of the Colne. Back then my little beauty of a new Suzuki motor cut out a couple of times, and particularly at the crucial moment of coming back into moorings.

That freaked me out I must admit, and caused me to lose what little confidence I had thus far been gaining in my quest for river navigation.

A few weeks ago, with the help of my brother-in-law Martin, we removed the motor and took it to those great chaps at the Suzuki dealer in Brightlingsea to find out what the problem was, and also to have the first service carried out.

A small amount of sediment had been found in the carburetor.  I hope that was the only problem, and that it's now been corrected.

Now I'm eager to get the motor back on to the boat and have another crack at seamanship just as soon as the cold weather eases.