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. But never mind, I can do other things aboard instead, I thought - like writing a book.
So dear readers, welcome to my blog - a recipe that includes a dash of the odd ingredient of the lovely 'Erindoors added here and there to the concoction, conjuring up a small hors d'oeuvres of magical Wivenhoe.
The boat became my 'writer's retreat'. The book, called Muddy Water, is set in Wivenhoe, and features a cameo appearance of me and the boat. Well, it's my boat and my blog, so I CAN!
The book also features a number of local larger-than-life characters who have actually paid good money to see their names in print.
Blimey! They must be mad!!! But actually no, they're not. Three charities will benefit.

Muddy Water - the novel that I've written on board my boat

Muddy Water - the novel that I've written on board my boat
MUDDY WATER - is also a novel way of raising cash for three deserving charities; MIND, RNLI and Royal British Legion. People are literally stuffing cash into my mits so that they can appear as a character in the book. Click the large pic above to be transported to our Facebook page to learn more. Please click the LIKE button on the Muddy Water Facebook. Gawd knows why.

Monday, 12 October 2015

My Baby

Oh crumbs! 
My baby's born. 
I got the first copy of Muddy Water today, and I touched it and discovered that it's really real. 
It's a real thing, and it has 47 real chapters, 384 real pages, and 127,705 real words sandwiched between 2 real covers. 
There's no turning back now. 
Oh crumbs. 
What have I done? 
Now I know what it feels like giving birth.

Saturday, 10 October 2015

How To Write A Song

I asked the hugely talented Joanna Eden to come up with a song for Muddy Water, so that

a) it could be used to play on Facebook and on my blog here - as soon as it's recorded
b) she can perform it live at the book launch on November 1st
c) for the fun of it
d) for the ego of it

I previously sent Jo the plot line of the story, and she effortlessly came up with the tune, and then some initial words.

Yesterday I went over to her house to co-write with her and do some 'fine-tuning'. No, that's not strictly accurate. The ratio of co-writing, as predicted, was 99% Jo and 1% me.

There was she pouring out melodies and lyrics as easily as I pour out my Cheerios, and I struggled to even come up with a word that rhymes with 'tide'. (masterfully, Jo came up with 'denied').

Thursday, 8 October 2015

How To Write A Book

Harry The Dog
It's easy to write a book...All you need are four essential ingredients, and one extra magic one

Part One:
Have an idea for a plot (fortunately I have no
Miss Baudet
shortage of 'em).
Have enthusiasm (also fortunately I have lots).
Have stamina (that's my shortfall, but I'm working at it).
Have a supporting missus (I am very lucky - 'Erindoors is a wonder).
Part Two:
Have a boat - preferably A Boat for My Potplants, upon which to have writing sessions. (although I no longer have Los Amigos, renamed Miss Baudet, the boat was indeed instrumental in the creative process.
Part Three:
Have a very talented daughter who illustrates the characters, including Harry The Dog. Oh, she's good!
Part Four:
Find someone who will mentor you, help you, work with you, edit you, publish you, eat with you, drink with you, laugh with you. Laughing is the most important element in this 'How To' section.
In my case, this is David Roberts, author of Rock Atlas, who shares with me a love of great music.
Part magic:
Be inspired. Who could fail at this, living in Wivenhoe?

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Muddy Water Book Launch

The book's been writ.
The venue's been booked.
The wine's been bought.

Muddy Water, the novel, is coming out on November 1st.

Inspired by a true story, and set muchly in Wivenhoe

Thursday, 1 October 2015

A New Beginning

Right! Too long has gone by since my last post on my blog. That was back when my Boat For My Potplants got sold to the lovely Lesley.

I'd concluded that it was time to move on. Time to embark on new adventures - like writing a novel.

Many of us have a story inside of us, just bursting to come out. Muddy Water is my story bursting to come out, and out it will be out on 1st November - and much of it was written aboard the boat.

So, I'm now picking up my blog from where I left off - and where better than with Miss Baudet - the new name for the old boat.

The new owner - Lesley - is featured in my book as Alberta Louise Baudet. And last weekend I met her on her boat in order to remind her how the motor works.

While I was there my breath was taken away by the incredible job she has done, along with her husband Graham, in improving the interior even better than I could ever do.

Just look! It's incredible. And to think that six years ago it was ready to be towed away for scrap.

I take my hat off to Miss Baudet.

Thursday, 16 April 2015

The Boat Moves Into Muddy Water

So my old boat will live on, with new careful owners. It's been saved from the scrapheap - I would say forever - and mighty glad I am too.

It's been the source of enormous fun and countless good times, but it's only right and proper that someone else now gets to take over at the helm.

Lesley, the new owner, has also paid me to be included as one of the characters in Muddy Water, which - surprise surprise - is set in Wivenhoe. In the story she (aka Miss Baudet) comes down from Leeds, sees the boat with me working on it and decides to buy it. She changes its name to 'Miss Baudet', and lives happily ever after. Or does she?

And thanks to her and a number of other good folks, a total of £1,500 has been pledged. At the book launch in October this will be equally divided and donated to three charities - MIND, The RNLI and the Wivenhoe Royal British Legion.

There's still much work to be done on the book, so I'd better get cracking.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

What The Heck's Going On?

Saved from the boatyard in the sky

The next book
What the heck IS going on, you may well ask.

The astroturf has gone. The planters have been removed. The geraniums have been tossed in the river. "It actually looks like a proper boat now", someone recently remarked. The cheek! How very dare they?

There had never been a game-plan. I never thought I'd sell it. But dear Miss Baudet came along and made me an offer I couldn't refuse just at the right time.

You see, I want to be an aufer of words, and at the moment I'm concentrating on Muddy Water, what will be out in October. All this writing mullarky takes time, and time costs dosh.

But now, thanks to Miss Baudet's spondoolics I have some freedom to leave my paint brush and ladder in the van, and concentrate on the first draft. And the second, the third, fourth and fifth. In fact as many drafts and re-writes as it needs until it's ready.

The one what I'm doing now
Then when that's been done, a book called A Boat For My Potplants will be next. 'A story of how a gorilla came to sit on a boat in Wivenhoe' just has to be told.

I'm jolly proud to have saved one of these lovely old 1970's Norfolk Broads cruisers from going to that big boat yard in the sky. It will now live on for many more years to come.

I know the new owner is going to love and look after her boat as much as I did since I brought it to Wivenhoe five and a half years ago.

I've had many wonderful adventures with the boat and its flowers along the way - and I daresay Miss Baudet will have many more - even without its garden - or the gorilla.

Monday, 13 April 2015

The New Miss Baudet

Miss Baudet and her beau Graham keep a watchful eye on me as I beaver away aboard their boat

I'm such a soppy old sausage my hanky has hardly dried out from all my tears recently.

I've been away from my blog for a long long time, and there's a mighty good reason for that.

I couldn't think what to write!

No - that's not quite true. I did know what to write, but I couldn't bring myself to write it without feeling overwhelmed with emotion.

You see, dear blog-readers, the boat is no longer a Boat For My Potplants.

And not only that, it's no longer MY Boat For My Potplants either.

WHAT? WHY? - I hear you cry out in shocked horror. Not as loudly as my own cries of disbelief, I can tell you.

But it's true! The real Miss Baudet has bought MISS BAUDET, as it's now called, and I've been busy working to bring her up to scratch, nice and shiny like, just the way she wants her to be. Without the plants. Sob sob.

Stay tuned blog-readers, for tomorrow's thrilling instalment, when I will reveal what the heck's going on

The plantless Miss Baudet with its new paint-job is nice and shiny again

Saturday, 14 February 2015

The Magic Carpet Ride

The new carpet, without shag

The old, much more tasteful shag pile 
Muddy Water - my forthcoming best-selling novel will of course one day be available from major retailers around the entire world, translated into many languages, but initially Wivenhoe Book Shop may stock a copy or two, in English.

And of course the story will also be turned into a blockbuster film starring Tom Hanks as central figure Leslie Markland and Sandra Bullock as Silvie the sex-goddess. I've already given Tom Cruise my blessing for him to to play ME, on account of his height, in a cameo role, and Dame Helen Mirren will be playing Miss Baudet.

I nearly had a sheer heart attack
Miss Baudet is a leading character who has bought her way into Muddy Water. In the book and in real life, she comes aboard my Boat For My Potplants, and to my utter shock and horror she doesn't care much for the flowers OR the shag-pile carpet.

I nearly had a sheer heart attack right there on the spot, but Miss Baudet is not a lady to be messed with, and so it was off with the old tasteful rugs of before and down with the new ones sadly having no shag.

Miss Baudet is not a lady to be messed with
And just like shagpile carpets, all great things can come to an end - or at least a change of course set by the compasses of life, and as      life follows fiction, so can fiction  also mirror life.

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

The Merging

It's funny how fiction and reality sometimes merge. Miss Baudet is a fictional character within my Muddy Water book who visits Wivenhoe, falls in love with the Boat For My Potplants and wants it - but without the flowers. Some people are so strange. How could anyone not want the flowers?

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Boat Without My Potplants

I invited Paul, The Caravan Man onto the boat this week so that he could fit a new leisure battery for me. I can't complain - I've had the old one for five years now, but it was only managing about 45 minutes of life, even after a full sun-charge from the solar panel. I had my money's worth out of it, especially when I look back at some of the wild parties we've had on board.

Paul previously helped me with bringing Tallulah The Motorhome into the twentyfirst century, so I knew he was a jolly good fellow, and he didn't let me down this week on the Boat Without My Potplants.

Not only has Los Amigos now got a new battery to enable more partying well into the night, but he also fitted a new lamp and strip light.

After he left I continued to give the interior a bit of touching up with some white paint here and there, some wood stain where it needed it, and then a good old clean on the exterior.

And why oh why had it taken me FIVE YEARS to make the gang-plank more easy to walk across without risk of falling in the mud? I suppose it just never occurred to me until now.

My next job: A NEW NAME for the Boat Without My Potplants. What could it possibly be?

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Where Have All The Flowers Gone?

Indeed. In the name of the Great Spring Clean, where have all the flowers gone from the Boat For My Potplants?

Infact, I can hardly call it my Boat For My Potplants anymore, can I.

What'll I do?

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Back To The Beginning

Today I went back to where it this began - on The Boat For My Potplants.

The new year brings with it the need for a good spruce up, inside and out, so today I made a start.

Inside the cabin I had a right old tidy up, sorting out this and that, tit for tat, and I confess that I metaphorically shed a tear as I looked around at some of my favourite things. But nobody saw me, so that was alright then, eh?

As well as that silent tear, I also enjoyed a loud chuckle as I recalled the many hours of bringing the boat to life after it had lain dormant and damp for years on the River Ouze.

For example...there was the mermaid picture sent to me by Chelmsford artist Cherry Ann after she read about the boat in Essex Life magazine...

For example...hanging the skull and crossbones for when we did the World's Smallest pirate Radio Station...

For example...fixing my Fungus The Bogeyman mirror to the wall...

For example...finding a special place for my son's ceramic tile that he made me...

For example...bringing a bit of up-market decor with the plastic leaded light windows...

...and of course arguing with 'Erindoors and the rest of the world about whether to have artificial or real flowers on board The Very Special Boat For My Potplants

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Top Gear

Next week I will be working on my Boat For My Potplants - again. There's always something that needs doing, and this winter is no exception.

There's an awful lot of painting to be done, and it's about time I replaced the leisure battery. The battery was fitted new, about five years ago, and it's lasted all this time without any maintenance, so I can't complain. But now when I play my hifi it gives up the ghost after only half and hour or so, even when it's been a sunny day and it's been fully charged up from the solar panel on the deck.

So, now that I'm in the mood for spending some spondoolics (after all, I've just had to pay my tax bill), I thought 'to hell with the expense - let's buy a battery'. It will keep me in music while I work.

But as I prepare for next week's boat labour of love, my attention has been drawn to this wonderful comparison of three top Italian cars from the Sixties in a classic car magazine.

And guess which one has come out on top!

Yes! And on that bombshell I would say I've been set up very nicely for the day, thank you.

Their conclusion is: " Your heart says Alfa Romeo, your mind Lancia and then mixes the Fiat in the struggle. The Fiat is actually the best choice that we rely on four things. Firstly the Alfa and Lancia have more status, but the design of Boano and engine Lampredi lift Fiat at the same level. Secondly the looks. The trapezoidal shape of the 124 is timeless elegance and is hardly inferior to the exciting Guilia . Then the engine. They have all two camshafts and all three deliver nice performance at high speeds. But the Fiat engine needs much less maintenance. And then the market value. the Fiat is the most rare and least expensive. So are we waiting ? Yeah. It's quite a quest to find one. " 

Sunday, 25 January 2015

How To Top The Gorilla

It's coming around to that time of year when thoughts about The Wivenhoe Open Gardens are brought to the fore.

I received my invitation this week to take part in mid-May, but what can I do to top last year's coup?

I mean, it'll be tough to top Gorilla In The Midst, eh?

Any ideas, please send them on a postcard c/o
The Boat For My Potplants
aka Los Amigos
aka Kingfisher
aka Solace
aka Tarka
The Mud on Wivenhoe Quay
Outside The Rose And Crown

They say it can be bad luck to change the name of a boat, but I don't believe it!

It's going to change again soon

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Goodbye Vroom Vroom

Those who know me know that I have a liking for old things that give me pleasure.

There's Alfonso The Second, the old 1968 Fiat 124 Coupe. Superb.
There's Tallulah, the old 1978 Hymer motorhome. Original.
There's Los Amigos, the old 1974 ex-Norfolk Broads Boat For My Potplants. Splendid.
And of course there's the old 1959 Jane, aka 'Erindoors, wife extraordinaire. Concours.

But this weekend I've been letting go and saying goodbye to my old set of Scalextric.

Goodbye dear tracks, dear cars and dear buildings.

You've done me proud, but you're serving no purpose stuck inside boxes in the garage.  It's time for others to have some fun with you.

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

1 / 11 Ratio

Since the summer I have been going down to the Boat For My Potplants on nearly every single Wednesday evening with my mentor, publisher, editor and all-round good-egg David so that we can 'work' on the latest chapter that my grey matter has created of my novel.

We've been taking it in turns. One week he brings the grub and I bring the wine. The following week our responsibilities are swapped around.

That was all very well during the warm and balmy evenings, but as the winter nights drew in and the evening air became colder it was sometime tempting to liaise for our 'work' session at the Rose And Crown instead.

BUT, we are not mice - we are men! So we kept at it - through the rain and cold, every week without fail. In actual fact with the heater on, the hot stew and dumplings and bottle(s) of wine to keep us cosy, the temperature outside was of no consequence.

And as a result of the 'work' on the boat, I am now pleased to report that the first draft of Muddy Water, set quite a lot in Wivenhoe, is now done and dusted, ready for doing all the error corrections.

I would say that for every five minutes of 'work', we did 55 minutes of eating, drinking, playing music and being very merry.

In my book that's a jolly good ratio.

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Yo Ho Ho!

Writing spondoolics! Christmas has come again for me - or perhaps early for next year already?

This February's edition of MMM magazine (Motorhome and Motorcaravan Monthly), OUT NOW, features good old Tallulah, our very own T-Reg.

And I have been given FOUR WHOLE PAGES in which to elaborate the story of the magnificent old Hymer and become the author of the magazine's OWNER REPORT. Yes, that's me, at the top of the page, looking like a right plonker.

But who cares about looking like a plonker when the real star of the show is our lovely home-on-wheels, freshly adorned with the rather superb looking go-faster stripes, even if I say so myself.

It's a shame that 'Erindoors doesn't much like the shade of blue that I chose, but I'm sure she'll come round to it one day - after all, I am now an official MMM contributor and of course I know what's best.