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

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Two Little Boys

Steve, Daniel, James, Karen,
All the hard work done on board the Boat For My Potplants was worth it when my sister Karen, her husband Steve, and their two little boys Daniel and James came to visit us in Wivenhoe.

Of course the day wouldn't have been complete without a visit to the boat.

James Watson
Daniel Watson
It was agreed that the boys would come and stay with their Uncle Neil and Aunty Jane some time next year, giving their parents a chance for a well-earned rest away by themselves.

I don't know whether Daniel and James are excited by the prospect, but I know for sure that I am.

We can eat sweets, make a camp fire, go on the canoe, sleep on the boat, have a bike ride, visit the beach, MAYBE even take the boat out, and, and, and...anything and everything.

Either they'll grow up, or I'll grow younger.


Monday, 28 October 2013


We were warned about the storm. Yesterday I took some precautionary measures and hoped for the best. I had dug in the kedging anchor and checked the lines. And I had moved the planters away from the deck sides.

This morning, from the comfort of our flat I wondered what all the fuss was about.

That was until I ventured out. 'I'm just popping down to the boat to check it's okay', I said to Jane. 'Be careful', she said. 'It's only a bit of wind, I said jokingly.

Well, what a fool I was. As I walked along the quay I was literally nearly blown off balance by a gust as strong as anything I'd ever encountered.

I noticed Pete The Roof coming off his boat. He'd slept on it last night just to keep an eye on it. Luckily no problems, but the gusts were now getting stronger as I approached my Boat For My Potplants. As I got closer I could see a couple of the canopy fastenings had broken free. I knew I'd have to walk the plank, climb aboard and close the catches before a gust got underneath and ripped the whole thing off.

As I balanced on the gunnels (I think that's what you call the side bits), I suddenly felt vulnerable to the elements, and decided to get off as quickly as I could before I got blown off.

The next high tide will be this evening. I certainly hope the gusts will have died down by then. 

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Baton Down

Today's the day that it's been predicted that we're in for a bit of a stormy time, with strong winds coming our way across south east England.

It's also been the day that my two nephews, Daniel and James, came to visit us in Wivenhoe, along with their parents Karen (my sister) and her husband Steve.

What a nice time was had walking to the beach and having stone-throwing contests with the boys.

Then it was back to the Boat For My Potplants to make sure the canopy was fastened and the lines were secured before the bad weather broke. I noticed my kedging anchor could have done with being sunk deeper in the mud - so off I went with spade in hand.

I very nearly got stuck in the glutinous gunge, but fortunately my brainy nephew shouted instructions to me from the boat telling me how to ease myself out of the quagmire by angling my heels upwards before trying to lift my feet.

He was right. It worked. And I was free to live another day.

Friday, 25 October 2013

The Circle Is Unbroken

Well, it all began in the OEG. That's the Old English Gentleman to you and me - a great pub in Saffron Walden, Essex, England. That's where I was having a pint with my old friend Mark (ex-Radio Luxembourg and Capital Gold dj) Wesley, and I came up with the great idea to create the World's Smallest Pirate Radio Station on board my Boat For My Potplants.

The circle is unbroken.

This week we met up again, and I admitted my fear of taking the boat out on the river, and how I'd like to overcome it.

I also mentioned how I'd like to sit in the corner of a studio belonging to a proper dj, and watch and learn.

Thanks to Mark, two of those dreams may come true..

...Firstly he kindly offered to take my boat out with me. Being an experienced nautical maestro (he had to go out to sea a few times during his pirate dj years), he knows a thing or two about boats.

...Secondly he kindly invited me to a Capital Gold dj reunion coming up shortly in London.

Yes, yes, yes...pleeeeeeease, Mark.

But based on his performances at some of my previous shindigs, I'm not too sure if it's a good idea.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Go Go Go

It's amazing what a difference a good sleep can make.

Today, despite the rain, I'm full of beans and ready to get on with my latest riverside project.

A while ago, and in partnership with our great Wivenhoe friends Rob and Sion, we purchased a Pelican 3-man canoe - but since then we've been using our garage to store it.

This means that Alphonso The Second (my beloved old 1968 Fiat 124 AC Sport Coupe) has been languishing outside in the elements.

Today is the day for ACTION. It's time for Alphonso The Second to come in from the cold.

So, I have designed a special canoe rack. All I need to do is make it.

It's Sunday morning and B&Q opens in a few minutes. I'm off to get the timber.

It's all go, go, go around here


Saturday, 19 October 2013


Normally I'm up with the lark and ready to do whatever's in store for me.

But today I was up before the larks, waking at around 3 in the morning and not going back to sleep.

So all the plans for today's jobs have gone out the window. Tiredness prevails.

I went down to the Boat For My Potplants to get some inspiration, but for once all I could see was a workload that I had no energy for.

The canopy needs cleaning. The mud from when Jerry fell in needs cleaning. The hull needs cleaning. The step needs repairing. The kitchen needs tidying.

Even the thought of the boat 'extension' that I've got my eye on didn't inspire me - especially when I realised my plan had a major flaw in it. I realised that I can't tie it to the flat end of the big boat because there's a bloomin' motor in the way!

All I could do was look and ponder. And when I finished pondering I went home.

Sunday, 13 October 2013


Quay Man Mike - top chap
As the latest video (on the right of this page) shows, I have a special hiding place for the Lambrini, no less.

But I don't think the bottle will ever actually be opened.

Now I have a decision to make that will solve the question of how to get out on the open river more easily.

The answer, my friends, will be blowing in the winds, in the form of a DINGHY - attached to the rear of my Boat For My Potplants.

And I can pay for it from the 'writer's fee' I got from the Motor Boats Monthly feature, thus ploughing the money back into the project.
Inflatable or solid

But do I get an inflatable, or a more solid variety?

I still have the old 2hp motor that came with my boat, and as it was serviced and checked over by Quay Man Mike, it should be fine. Shouldn't it?

I saw Mike last night at a party and mentioned this latest wheeze to him.

But for some reason he had a fit when I asked him if there would be somewhere on a dinghy for some more potplants.

Come on Mike - get in the spirit, ol' chap!

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Here's Why...

Today the tide was okay, the weather was okay, but no one was around to come with me. At least I turned the motor on - and it started first go. I left it purring sweetly for fifteen minutes while I gazed out at the calm water and the other boats passing by.

...Here's why I don't really want to take my Boat For My Potplants out on the river...

(There! I've said it. I admit it. I'm a cowardy custard. I didn't want to face up to my demons, but my shrink said it would help me if I did. Only kiddin' about the shrink, but the rest is true)

Reason 1: The river is tidal, and the spring tides are only high enough for long enough occasionally

Reason 2: I need at least one other person with me, and most people are busy with their own lives

Reason 3: Going out and coming back into my tight space, against the tide and wind isn't easy

Reason 4: I'm often away at work when the tide is actually high enough

Reason 5: I do NOT want to hit my neighbour's boat

Reason 6: What if the motor cuts out like it has done previously?

Reason 7: Undoing and redoing the lines is a right old pullava

Reason 8: I'm lazy (very slightly)

Reason 9: I'm lacking confidence (very much)

Reason 10: I am a Cowardy Custard

BUT - I have come up with a solution to help me get out on that lovely, beckoning river...

My brainwave hit me between the eyes, and I can't wait to put it into practice. All will be revealed soon.

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Mud, Mud, (Not) Glorious Mud...

'Bye Darling. Don't wait up for me', I said to Jane, as I was on my way out to meet Jerry on the boat at seven o'clock this evening. She was 'Erindoors, as I was preparing to become 'Imoutdoors - and go off to discuss how to develop my mad regular radio programme idea that could be broadcast from the boat every Friday evening. Or any evening they'll have me, to be frank.

Jerry is Top Dog at Wunnerful Wadio Wivenhoe and it is he who helped me to put on The World's Smallest Pirate Radio Station last year. Oh what fun that was.

We had an appointment to work out what equipment I will need so that I can invite local musicians and friends to take part in my "Riverside Sessions" on the back of the boat. It will be great, but I really need Jerry's input to help me pull this off - 'cos (like normal) I don't really know what I'm doing.

I got there a few minutes earlier than Jerry, and got the canopy open, the lights on and the whisky in the jars. Soon I heard his footsteps climbing onto the fore-deck. Listen to me being all boat-speak.

'Ey, Ey, Cap'n', he called out. I leaned out to welcome him aboard.

Then one second he was there, clasping his own bottle of whisky. The next he wasn't - as he slipped and fell into the deepest of mud. And not a drop of alcohol had yet passed our lips.

But he held on to, and saved, the bottle. Well done Sir.

The evening was aborted, and I drove Jerry home. On my way back I reflected on an old idea I had to build a wide walk-way side-deck.

Maybe it's time to re-draw the plans.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

How I Get Music On My Boat (even more cont'd)

In the third of this mini-series, I promised to explain what speakers I use to get 'Some Music For My Boat', so here we go then.

We plug in the old Grundig amp, and connect it to two separate sets of speakers, switched on the amp with the buttons marked 'Speaker 1', and Speaker 2'.

The cabin pair (Speaker 1) is really cool, in my humble opinion. They are Grundig 'Audiorama' spheres, from the '70's, and are omni-directional, meaning that you get a different sound depending on how they are hung, because the sphere contains four separate drive units, each facing a different direction. The boat has brilliant natural acoustic properties from all the wood and cushions, and it's possible to crank up the volume to Number 11 without distortion. Excellent.

And now to the rear cabin.

My mate Mike gave me a pair of Cambridge Audio bookshelf speakers, which I originally had up on the bit behind the windscreen. But then I discovered they fitted perfectly in the voids at the back. Great! Except that whenever someone came on board and sat on the rear deck, their bums muffled the sound.

Recently I had a Eureka moment of inspiration, remembering an old Bose Acoustimas system that my sister Emma gave me and I'd been keeping in the garage for a rainy day. The rest of her system didn't work, but I thought I'd try connecting the Boses to the Cambridges, giving me separate bass down below and treble up above.

I put the Boses up behind the windscreen, and Hey Presto, what a result! Thanks Mike. Thanks Emma.

So there we have it. How to get music on a boat in three easy parts.