A Boat For My Potplants

My nautical project had taken me to places I’d never previously been. Metaphorically speaking, that is. Despite renovating the boat that was given to me, and even receiving a free new motor along the way, I admit to being too scaredy-cat to venture out on the open river. My goal is to one day conquer that illogical fear.
In the meantime, I saw an advert for an old motorhome. What an excellent home for Churchill, our nodding dog, I thought.
Being very nervous of driving such a large beast, (and the fact that it's 35 years old, and needs a bit of fixing here and there), I reckoned it should be just perfect for taking to music festivals in, although we've never been to one before.
This, and other stories from Wivenhoe, (including the tales about Alfonso The Second - my deliciously beautiful poor-man's classic car) is all about my mid-life crisis well and truly kicking in.







Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Over To The Albion

Across the river from Wivenhoe is the beautifully proportioned village of Rowhedge, where lies Ye Olde Albion public house.

After working, yes WORKING, on a bank holiday Monday, 'Erindoors and I went down to sit on the Boat For My Potplants. We'd only been there a few minutes when we got itchy feet.

'Let's go over to The Albion for a pint, and let's go on the canoe', The Lovely Jane suggested.

Who was I to disagree? So off we went, had our pint of Shalford ( a local brew from my sister's village of - you guessed it - Shalford), and very nice it was too.

Then, it was a quick paddle back to Wivenhoe, another village that is even more beautifully proportioned.

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Tallulah, The Star Of the Show

What a day it was on Thursday! Firstly, the wonderful and excitable Andy Harris from The Motorhome Channel and his cameraman, the cool and calm Julian, turned up at chez nous. From there The Lovely Jane ('Erindoors) and I set off to see Tallulah The T-Reg in its secret storage location. Once there, we spent TWO HOURS filming a five-minute segment that will be broadcast in just a couple of weeks.

When Andy interviewed 'Erindoors about what plans we had for the interior, she remarked how brown it all was, and that we were planning to paint the cupboards.

Andy (left) and Julian capture the action
'NO NO NO - YOU CAN'T DO THAT' was Andy's reaction. I thought he was going to blow a gasket. He was so enthusiastic about Tallulah's original '70's decor. He even described how he'd happily wrap the plastic shower curtain around himself.

I was quite disturbed by this image, despite the shower and curtain never being in contact with water for at least 29 years. Even so, there's only so much a man like me can take.

The day finished up with some links being filmed outside my Boat For My Potplants. After that we were all so hungry we could have eaten a horse, but we made do with simple fish 'n' chips.

To round things off, I returned to the boat later in the evening for a meeting with the lovely Alison Kent. Alison contributes a regular column in The Wivenhoe News, a most charming local rag, and she wanted to do a piece about yours truly under the guise of 'Workers Of Wivenhoe'.

Well, I can't honestly say I got much work done that day. But who wants to work when all this is going on?

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Excited As An Excited Thing

I'm as excited as an excited thing about the prospect of Tallulah and me being filmed for the television on Thursday. Fame at last for the proverbial fifteen minutes? More likely to be fifteen seconds, but what the heck - it's all in the name of, well, I'm not quite sure.
So, my mate Ian and I went over to bring the old gal out of hibernation. And I'm not talking about 'Erindoors, no Sir-ree, I'm talking about our 36 year-old motorhome. With the battery reconnected, she fired up beautifully.

But most importantly, I made sure that Churchill The Nodding Dog was comfortable after being woken up - having been in slumberland since before Christmas.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Never A Dull Moment

A late and great night was had at the Wivenhoe Sailing Club, where our mate Simon did a sterling job as musical front-runner for the Ferry Fundraising event. The ferry that runs between Wivenhoe and Rowhedge needs costly maintenance, and Paul and Nenah Knew just how to raise it by putting on a night to remember.

At the beginning of my winning streak, my raffle ticket came up trumps.

Early this morning I went off to B&Q to get paint for a new job beginning tomorrow. My winning streak continued with the chance meeting in the car park of top chap and publisher, and writer of the outstanding Rock Atlas, David Roberts and his charming wife. We have arranged to meet on Wednesday to discuss my next 'project'.

At midday the sun shone and I enjoyed time on the Boat For My Potplants working on the windscreen, whilst admiring the gnomes. I thought I ought to try starting up the engine in preparation for a trip out on the river in a couple of weeks with boat-donor Neil Rowland and his squeeze Angela.
I think I'll spring that little surprise upon them just after they arrive.

Then this afternoon my mindset shifted towards Tallulah The T-Reg Motorhome with an out-of-the-blue phone call from Andy, presenter of the Motorhome Channel. My lips are sealed at the moment, but if I were to say the words 'filming', 'Tallulah', and 'television', you might get my drift.

There's never a dull moment here in Wivenhoe.

Friday, 11 April 2014

It's That Time Of Year Again

I busied myself yesterday with creating a new look for the planters on top of the Boat For My Potplants in preparation for its inclusion in this year's Wivenhoe Open Gardens, and I couldn't help noticing the state of the windscreen.

After all that damp weather over the winter, it is the time of year again to inspect what needs doing.

So I scraped off the loose paint, giving the timber a chance to breathe and dry out.

I seem to remember doing this all before - but this time I have a cunning plan up my nautical sleeve.

Shiver me timbers - why didn't I think of it before? Instead of painting with paint, this year I'll use woodstain and varnish.

It may not appear as a Eureka moment for you, dear blog-readers, by for me it is mind-liberating sensationalism.

Oh, and by the way, my suspicions were correct - it was indeed none other than Quay Character Andy Stollery who 'planted' the garden gnome on the deck. I found his business card under the gnome's bottom.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

I've Been Hacked

Wivenhoe, last hour
Carcassonne market, last Saturday
Porto, last Wednesday
Blimey - I've only been away for a week. Something was drawing me to the waters of Porto. What a great city. And then on to the wonders of Carcassonne. And believe me, dear blog readers, it IS
truly wonderful.

But then back to the equally wonderful Wivenhoe, only to discover that my Boat For My Potplants was well-and-truly hacked by none other than Quay Character Andy Stollery (at least I think it was him!).

Quay Character Stollery
Why on earth would anyone think that a garden gnome should adorn the deck of Los Amigos? Dunno.

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Rollocks! I Have A Little Tender Behind.

I have a little tender behind. It's a corny joke, but I like it.

Yes, I am now the proud owner of a little tender for going at the rear of the Boat For My Potplants.

All I need are some rollocks and some oars, and I'll be able to pop out onto the river under my own steam with just a small step off the rear deck. And I love saying rollocks. Rollocks, rollocks, rollocks.

Maybe I can keep a couple of plants on it too, now that spring is in the air and the sun is coming out.

I can call it A Tender For My Potplants - The Sequal.

Friday, 28 March 2014

It's All In The Preparation

May the 17th is going to come round like no tomorrow, so it's best if I begin to make preparations for the Wivenhoe Open Gardens RIGHT NOW, before it's too late. I don't want my Boat For My Potplants to let the Wivenhoe Quay-side down, do I?

There's so much to do. I need to buy a flag, that's for sure, and the bunting down the sides of the planters is looking shabby and needs replacing.

The canopy is now four years old and has had four years of weather and seagull poop - so arrangements are currently underway for a spruce-up by the lovely Sarah at Sail And Cover.

There are plants to buy, and a lick of paint wouldn't go amiss either.

But at least I haven't missed a trick with getting some tasteful artificial plants and flowers - as well as the picket fence from Aldi.

All I need is the garden gnome, and I'll be well and truly sorted.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Peace And Love

All this talk about bicycle maintenance (see previous post) has got me thinking about my upcoming bike trip to Malta in May. It's a yearly thing. It's a boys' thing.

And then I just happened to notice that there are quite a few readers of this 'ere blog clicking in from good old US of A.

I wonder what on earth my American readers may think of Wivenhoe, this quintessentially English village (or is it a town?).

Anyway, I extend to you, dear blog-readers, from wherever you may hail across The Pond, a very warm welcome.

I recall a while back that some folks from the Big Country were shocked that I included the word 'POTPLANTS' in my writings. Apparently, over there it means something quite different from our innocent definition.

That gives me an idea for the Wivenhoe Open Gardens...but in the meantime...

I'll leave you with a pic of me (yes, it's all about me, me, me) in that great country of theirs when I cycled from West to East. Half way across, in Kansas actually, I met a fellow cyclist from Tokyo going the opposite way. I wonder where Yoshichika Shida is now, 33 years later.

I was indeed a little younger then, with more hair, but fundamentally the same as I am now.

Peace and love, man. Spread the word.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Zen And The Art Of Cycle Maintenance

Knock me down with a light-weight bicycle spanner - the fisherman's shed that the fisherman doesn't much care for has finally been found a use for. And what a fine use it is too!

The good people of Transition Wivenhoe are turning it into a bike-kitchen, where folks can learn how to look after their two-wheeled mode of transport. All for free. A brilliant initiative. Well done Jo (left), Jason and Ed (blue shirt), who I had the pleasure of meeting today.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Wivenhoe Wonders

There's been so much going on recently that I've had to step back and admire the view - metaphorically speaking as well as the view itself.

A few small highlights are...Jon getting his head stuck down the Houdini hatch...my attempt at sushi being quite successful...seeing my friend Ian's joyous face with his new toy...waking up and looking out the window...putting my feet up with a beer

Simple, cheap, effective.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Mark - A True Wivenhoe Quay Character

Yesterday, faced with blue and cloudless skies I thought to myself 'Shall I go to work today?'

After a few moments contemplating the consequences of letting a customer down, I decided to go along as planned to paint windows in a flat along the quay, here in Wivenhoe.

Thank goodness I did, because - as usual - my job isn't like real work. It was in fact a pleasure to do.

No more "tough days at the office" for me - no Sir-ee. Those days are long gone.

So I breathed a sigh of joy as I enjoyed the view.

Then on my way home at the end of the day I drove past Mark, a true Quay Character Of Wivenhoe.

Some may say that Mark is slightly eccentric? Maybe. Many would say that he's friendly and a pleasure to acquaint? Most definitely.

He is a thoroughly decent chap, whose craftmanship is well sought after around these parts.

And it's easy to see why when you look at his brilliant miniature 'paint your wagon' being lovingly created by his own fair hands.

When it's finished, I'm sure everyone is going to want one.

Get back - I'm first in the queue.

Friday, 14 March 2014

Eruptions, Part Two - Artificial or Real? That Is The Question

Dear Blog-readers.

Type in the word 'ERUPTIONS' in the search box (top right of this blog), and you'll be transported back in time to 2010 when I wrote about the battle of minds between 'Erindoors and me, when you may recall I was in favour of using ARTIFICIAL plants on my boat, and 'Erindoors wasn't playing ball at all.

You can read the comments and laugh mightily due to the hornets' nest that I so vigorously stirred up.

Never before has opinion been so strongly divided.

Until now, that is, because that old chestnut is about to be resurrected with my invitation by the Wivenhoe Society to include my Boat For My Potplants in the Wivenhoe Open Gardens in the middle weekend of May.

What a ruse, I thought, it would be to place some ARTIFICIAL plants in and amongst the REAL ones, and invite visitors to stand on the quayside an see if they can tell the difference!

How brilliant is that?

So, off I will go this weekend, to the artificial plant capital of the England (IKEA in Thurrock) in search of prime specimens.

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

And The Sun Comes Out

Is it really early March or am I dreaming? The sun comes out and so do the crowds.

How could we resist taking the canoe out for a trip up the Roman River for a pint at The Whalebone?

Up with the tide coming in, and back with the tide going out. That's the way to do it.

Those of you familiar with this 'ere blog will know that our good friend Canoe-Man Jon plays a big part in quenching our thirst for all-things-a-paddling. And Saturday afternoon was no exception.

And thanks to Jon, I learned the beauty of the 'J-Stroke', helping to make light work as we made our way to the landing stage at the end of the river.

We tied up and then walked along the track towards the pub, taking in the wonder of the mill.

Thank our lucky stars for living in such as place as this.

And to cap things off nicely on Sunday, Jon joined us for a beer on the Boat For My Potplants, when he shared his words of wisdom to us.

They are as follows...

"Why go somewhere else on holiday when we're already here?"

Monday, 24 February 2014

On That Day

An extract from my story that was featured in last year's Motor Boats monthly magazine, describing my World's Smallest Pirate Radio Station broadcast from my Boat For My Potplants to the people on Wivenhoe Quay, just a few feet away...

On that day there were hundreds of people gathered on the quay and at the British Legion building. Requests came in from far and wide by text and email.

For me the most bizarre moment was when I was in full flow with turntable and microphone and I looked up at the crowd on the quay and then at my mother who had decided to squeeze herself down the Houdini hatch with a glass in one hand and an unlit cigarette in the other. All in all it was a mad evening.

Good old Mum - she knew how to party alright.

Sunday, 23 February 2014

A Little More Of My Favourite Tut

I am lucky to have a boat upon which I need not worry about what tut I keep.

It may well be ordinary tut to anyone else, but to me it's special tut.

Painting of flowers by my mate Paul, aka 'Intrepid', as he often does mad intrepid things during our yearly bike ride together

Welcome Aboard from car boot sale in France

Painting of boat by 'Erindoors

Photo of my boat with Quay Fireworks

Barometer that doesn't work

Fungus The Bogeyman mirror I've had since 16

Bottle with sand from beach in Cannes

Dominos set that I really should play one day

Badge from Harry Nilsson's 'The Point' play 
Wooden Gonk from Majorca when I was 7

Blue bicycle from when I was a real cyclist

Surf board and wire man

Silver cup commemorating my bike ride across USA
Ceramic tile made for me by son Oliver when he was 8
Tin Tin's dog Snowy from antique shop in Maningtree soon after we moved here

Lucien The Captain from car boot sale

Victoria Police badge from Liz in Oz 

Rasta-Man on my Boat For My Potplants, appropriately with pot