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 36 years old, and needs a bit of fixing here and there), I reckoned it should be just perfect for going to music festivals in. We've never been to one before, as we thought festivals were for young people. Well, Tallulah is doing her bit to keep us young at heart.
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.
CLICK ON THE TABS BELOW, OR THE BIG PICTURES, TO GET A GALLERY OF IMAGES WITHOUT ME IN ANY OF THEM.
"Hurrah", I HEAR YOU SHOUT.

And now dear readers, welcome to my blog - a recipe of my old things, including a dash of the odd ingredient added here and there to the concoction, conjuring up a small hors d'oeuvres of magical Wivenhoe...



A BOAT FOR MY POTPLANTS

NOW...INTRODUCING "TALLULAH", OUR T-REG MOTORHOME...

...AND THE DELICIOUSLY BEAUTIFUL POOR-MAN'S CLASSIC - "ALFONSO THE SECOND"

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Take A Gander At Our Birds


Is it Thursday? Already four whole days since Sunday's Flavours Of Wivenhoe book launch at The Royal British Legion? What an incredibly lovely event that was, with 'Erindoors and I handing out glasses of wine to the guests as they arrived to celebrate the magnificent collection of recipes submitted by the good folks from around Wivenhoe.

The book is simply superb, and it brought a lump to my throat as I read my mum's recipes for her wonderful Port Wine Jelly and Jackie's Snaffles Mousse. I can vouch for the jelly as I have actually made it with my own bare hands, and it's rather jolly good. Bless her.

And just look at the cover. What do you see? Well, Wivenhoe has adopted a trio of fine feathered friends - a pair of swans and their own adopted goose - and they can often be seen gliding gracefully on the river. There they are on the cover! And thankfully there isn't a single goose recipe inside.




Sunday, 19 October 2014

Today's The Day





Yesterday saw the launch of a new Village Guide. There I was, eagerly flicking through my first edition, expecting to find pub ratings, photos of communal gardens and bus times - and what did I see? A picture of the new Damien Hertz sculpture that's come our way. It's disgusting! It's outrageous! It shouldn't be allowed.

And then later today we'll be attending the grand launch of 'Recipes Of Wivenhoe' at the Legion, but a mere stone's throw from The Boat For My Potplants. Apparently I have my SEX ON TOAST gourmet delight included, which is equally disgusting, outrageous and definitely shouldn't be allowed.

But it's all in the name of chariddy, and on the best possible toast!

I can't wait.

As they say, you don't have to be bonkers to live here, but it does certainly help.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

A Novel Way To Raise Some Dosh

The Lovely Fiona. What dastardly deed will she be doing in her character?

Every Wednesday The Boat For My Potplants becomes the home of writers writing and concocting the latest in the series of chapters for Muddy Water, whilst taking it in turns to cook up a new and exciting culinary dish.

Last week David pulled the rabbit out the hat and hit new heights with his gourmet 'beef hash and baked beans'. I can honestly say I've never tasted anything like it in my life, and the effort he put into turning the tin opener like he did was something to be behold.

But did you know, dear blog-reader, that this 'ere book is going to be making a mint for some special charities? It is indeed a novel way to raise some valuable £££'s for the Wivenhoe Royal British Legion, the mental health charity Mind, and also the RNLI.

You see, I'm such a cheapskate, I'll do anything for a few quid, and here I am SELLING some characters of my book to anyone who wants to PAY to be in it.

My target is to raise A GRAND, and so far I have reached SEVEN HUNDRED POUNDS after the lovely Fiona stopped me in the street last week and thrust a cheque into my hands, just so that her alto ego could be included. Don't ask me what that dastardly deed will be, as I haven't mustered it up yet, but it may well be something pretty ghastly.

So far we've also got Andy Stollery as himself, Mark as The Praying Mantis, Lesley as Ms Baudet the childrens' nanny. And Helen the hairdresser has now also expressed an interest, which would bring the total to EIGHT HUNDRED POUNDS, and with only two characters left to buy.

Roll up, roll up. Hurry hurry, offer closing soon. Throw in your dosh before it's too late!



Sunday, 12 October 2014

Sex Sells


I've got books on the brain, I have.

Not only am I writing the novel Muddy Water on board my Boat For My Potplants, there's another book about to be launched in only SEVEN days from now!

And it's not all about me, me, me, you know.

The OTHER book is the Recipe Book cooked up by some special people at The Royal British Legion (Wivenhoe Branch), including top girls Julia, Sue and Jane.

We're all going down to the official launch of the book next Sunday. And with 'Erindoors and me being contributors (me with a recipe for 'sex on toast' *, and Jane with some art), we'll be sure to get to the front of the line for our own copies.

I can't wait.

* 'SEX ON TOAST ???', I hear you ask in astonishment?

I told them that sex sells, and that's why they've had to order in extra copies to cope with the curious crowds all wanting to know the secret ingredients.

Friday, 10 October 2014

All Trim And Proper

Leather trim arrived in the post

Down to the metal after removing old cracked veneer
You may recall, dear blog-readers, that a while back I was bowled over by some international good will in the form of Rene from Holland, who is a member of the Fiat 124 Coupe Fan Club on Facebook (yes folks, there is indeed such a group, with 1,266 members and counting!).

Make a template from paper and cut new veneer to size
I had posted if anyone knew where I could get some veneer to replace my cracked and damaged console material that surrounds the base of my gear stick in Alfonso The Second.

Lo and behold, Rene went to all the trouble of sending me some, and despite my protests he refused to accept any payment!

Glue it down and add a little varnish, and trim to follow soon
That was a while ago, but sadly since receiving it, Alfonso The Second was in the Fiat hospital for quite some time, in need of some surgery (welding) in order to pass the MOT.

Well, I am delighted to report that Alfonso The Second is now fully recovered and last weekend I fitted the veneer, but to finish it off nicely I sent away for some nice leather trim to put around the edges.

That's just arrived in the post, and so I now have a very exciting Saturday to look forward to when I come to fit it.

It doesn't take a lot to get me excited.


Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Go Faster Stripes


I wanted to make old Tallulah go a little faster, so I thought some nice stripes would be just the ticket.

I took a great deal of care getting them nice and straight, and what with the new hand-painted cream and white paint, she's coming along quite nicely.

I could have spent a fortune on having her sprayed, but being the skinflint that I am I was very happy to buy a few tins of Hammerite and do it myself.

I'm just a boy-racer at heart.


Sunday, 5 October 2014

Saturday Night And Sunday Morning

Saturday Night. 

Plastic cup of whisky.

Genesis nice and loud.

Snug as a bug in a rug.

Sleeping on the Boat For My Potplants.

Sunday Morning.

Waking on the Boat For My Potplants.

Wee in bucket.

Coffee, strong and black.

Black pudding and fried tomatoes.

Good day to the world.




Saturday, 4 October 2014

In The Beginning


Genesis. In the beginning there was the greatest prog-rock band going.

And my Boat For My Potplants has played a huge part in Phil, Steve, Tony, Mike and Peter getting back together.

It was on one of my book-club evenings with David Roberts (where we discuss how my forthcoming novel Muddy Water is coming along) that he disclosed to me that he is to have a starring role in the forthcoming Genesis documentary.

My, how I rolled my eyes with envy, as I enthusiastically played my favourite track nice and loud on the boat's sound-system.

"The carpet crawlers heed their callers. You gotta get in to get out". Magnificent, we both thought.

So when David was being filmed in some seedy Soho studio being asked what his favourite Genesis song was, immediately the song we'd been listening to with such relish only a matter of hours previously instantly came to mind.

And when he mentioned the pivotal role that the Boat For My Potplants had played in his choice, the producers of the film were so sold on Wonderful Wivenhoe, that they decided to shoot the opening title sequence on the boat, with all the band members playing their instruments on the deck amongst the real and artificial flowers.

Mike Rutherford was overheard saying: "You really can't tell the difference", and Peter Gabriel elaborated by saying to Steve Hackett how he admired the picket fence. Tony Banks even began pruning the geraniums that were still flowering. "These geraniums are still flowering", he said.

I wanted to make Phil Collins especially comfortable so I brought the gorilla out of hibernation as he played a magnificent version of In The Air Tonight whilst munching on some Dairy Milk.

You can see the whole darn thing on BBC 2 this evening at 9.15. Don't miss it!






Thursday, 2 October 2014

W.O.R.C.

It can only be in Wivenhoe where a meeting is called to discuss the future of The Wivenhoe Drinking Club,  er, I mean The Wivenhoe Ocean Racing Club (please note: there is no ocean and there is no racing, but there is a club, and it is in Wivenhoe, and sometimes drinks are had there).

It can only be in Wivenhoe where a motion is carried that another meeting is deemed necessary to discuss the future of said Wivenhoe Ocean Racing Club.

That's why I love it here so much. It's bonkers.

I wore my W.O.R.C badge with pride when I went to see the nice man at Suzuki to ask if they could let me have a motor for my Boat For My Potplants, and it certainly brought me good luck back then, because the nice man said yes.

Has W.O.R.C. sailed its course? We'll have to wait and see. Whatever happens in the future, it has been a fantastic concept, which has financially helped with maintenance of the lovely Royal British Legion building here on the quay.





Monday, 29 September 2014

That Time Of Year


That time of year has come round again, oh so quickly.

They say that time passes more quickly the older one gets, and for Alfonso The Second and me, we must be getting very old indeed.

I am 55, and Alfonso The Second is catching me up with a younger 46 years.

The time has come to prepare Alfonso's home for his winter hibernation. I don't want him outside in all weathers, the poor thing, and the wind around these Wivenhoe parts can be very cutting.

So from now on until the Spring, he will only be coming out on sunny days to get a little run around up to the farm shop and back.

But maybe I will venture forth and also take him, weather permitting, down to The Ace Cafe in Wembly for the once-a-month Italian car meet.

It is somewhere that Alfonso The Second has been begging me to take him to do for ages, and one of these days I may just surprise him with a little treat.




Saturday, 27 September 2014

Another Secret


Last Sunday 'Erindoors and I
travelled all the way down to
London Town to the Royal Albert
Hall to see the great Nitin Sawhney.

Do check him out if you get a moment.

We wanted to stay overnight but I feinted when I looked at how expensive the hotels were around that area.

I mean, we were wanting to be in one of London's poshest areas after all, so it was hardly surprising, but I became a quivering wreck as I counted out the coins I'd saved up in my piggy bank and realised I only had enough for breakfast, let alone a bed.

BUT, all was not lost, thanks to University Rooms Dot Com. We found a room in Imperial College, quite literally NEXT DOOR to the RAH, and it was only seventy something squids - including full breakfast for us both AND use of the swimming pool and gym.

Well, knock me down with a feather, that's a good price I thought to myself, and so being a bit of a skinflint I went and booked up - but surely the room was going to be nasty and dingy and smelling of youngster students that don't know they're born.

More importantly, was I going to get a flea in my ear from 'Erindoors for being so tight with my wad?

No, Sir, it was just as good as, if not better than, any budget hotel room, except it didn't have a telly, but that
didn't bother us as we hadn't gone all that way just to watch Crossroads, or whatever they show these days. It was impeccably clean, the shower was great and powerful, everything worked, and the bed was really comfortable.

Honest, guvnor, they're not paying me to write this. It's all true!

And being just next door to such a magnificent venue meant that it didn't matter how long the missus took to get her make-up on as I knew it only took five minutes until we'd be in our seats eagerly awaiting the first performer to come on stage - who happened to be brilliant as a matter of fact (EVA STONE - check her out too - if you have another moment).

All in all it was a superb evening.

One of the best concerts I had ever been to. Certainly in my top five. And that's no lie!

The following morning we mosied on over to the uni restaurant and enjoyed mixing in with the youngsters. What a life of Reilley they all have. Not a care in the world. to be sure.

Students. They don't know they're born, do they?


Friday, 26 September 2014

Secret

Inside the Little Rabbit Barn

Listen, do you want to know a secret?
Do you promise not to tell?

As many of you dear blog-readers know, I am rather partial to a bit of good music. I can't play anything myself, but that doesn't stop me from appreciating it.

Old mate Jay
Sam
My dream gig would be three great musicians that I've had the privilege of previously being involved with. I'd have Sam Smith on lead vocals, Joanna Eden on keyboard and backing vocals, and Jay Stapley on guitar - all performing at the best secret venue there ever was.

Jo
Don't tell anyone about The Little Rabbit Barn, otherwise everyone will want to go there, and it won't remain the best secret any more.

My hat is squarely toffed to the wonderful Jonathan and Lyn who open up their secret venue once a month to host the most amazing music imaginable. 

Here's a clue - it's not far from The Boat For My Potplants.  

Lyn and Jonathan do what they do at The Little Rbbit Barn because they are passionate about live music




Saturday, 20 September 2014

Muddy Water


I've never written a book before. Well, actually I have, but it was a factual book called Bite Size Sales Tips. It was such a rip-roaring success that I bought back all the unsold copies from the publisher so that I could do a better job at selling them myself. I was such a great salesman that they are still languishing in my garage. The word IRONY comes to mind. However, that's another story from my long forgotten past that's best staying forgotten for now.

What I'm referring to here is a NOVEL. I've never written one before, and I believe now is the time in my life that I should try it. It's one of those things that should be included in one of those 'One Hundred Things To Do Before You Die' lists.

So, with the help of David Roberts, my literary agent / publisher / editor (I love saying that - it sounds so posh, innit?), we are together concocting a magic recipe that will surely result in the movie moguls of Hollywood beating a way to our plank. "I heard you knocking", I will say to Mr Spielberg, as he leans over and rustles at The Boat For My Potplants' flower arrangement.

David lives in Wivenhoe and has written two very excellent books, namely Rock Atlas and Rock Atlas USA. No, they're not about minerals. If you are even remotely interested in music, check 'em out - you won't regret it.

So, what's all this got to do with A Boat For My Potplants, I hear you quiz? Well, it has become the venue of our 'book club', where we meet each week to drink wine, eat food, listen to music - oh, and discuss Muddy Water.

It's currently coming on a treat.

It's going to be a best seller.

I can feel it in my bones.







Sunday, 14 September 2014

Last Night Of The Proms

Andy Stollery with Cheleas outside The Station pub (Andy is the one not wearing the trousers)
Crumbs, dear blog-readers, there's always so much going on in and around Wivenhoe, that I just don't know where to start.

Well, a good place is always at The Station pub, surprisingly situated very near to the railway terminal that is also called the station.

Last night I attended the Last Night Of The Proms - not at the Royal Albert Hall though. This venue was ten times better, and Chelsea of The Station pub certainly knew how to throw a great party. Andy Stollery welcomed me in by giving me a flag to wave. Or was it Chelsea? I couldn't tell the difference by the time I'd got there as I'd already had a few cheeky glasses.


This morning I'd say I was a little hoarse to say the least. Ney, my voice was shot to pieces as I'd been singing at the top of my voice to Rule Britannia and whatever else there was. I vaguely remember trying to keep up with Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious but I don't think I was in tune, but then again no one else was either, so no worries there. And for that matter, the entire pub was out of time too, but who was taking notes anyway?

Then this morning, still nursing a mini-hangover (I never get real proper ones), I decided to venture out to deepest Mersea Island to accompany my old mate Greg and his daughter Yasmin on his boat. A real sailing boat at that.



Blimmin' 'eck - what a pullava just to go out on the blinking water for an hour. I now know that I have the right idea just keeping my Boat For My Potplants moored up on the quayside outside the pub in Wivenhoe and enjoying its stationary status. 

All them ropes and sails and things! Enough to make anyone want to jump overboard, as I thought Greg was going to do when he realised that he didn't have enough depth of water to go anywhere for a while. 

Ho hum, we really needed someone who knew what they were doing, but sadly I was by now feeling worse for wear, so I wasn't able to offer my very useful assistance and kept myself quietly to myself. I was feeling a little sea-sick.