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"

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.





Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Hitting The Ground Running


Dear Blog-Readers,

I am sorry that I have been away from my post for so long. You see, the annual calling of Le Petit Chateau  was certainly calling 'Erindoors and me, and so although it was a tough job and someone had to do it, we thought it may as well be us.

That left me with a void of A Boat For My Potplants. I couldn't climb aboard for three whole weeks. It's only now that I can take stock of it and the other Stories From Wivenhoe, and I pray you will see that I haven't been sitting on my proverbials, no Sirree - I've been mighty busy, even while on holiday.

Here's a brief encounter with what's been occurring recently...

...Top motorhome magazine MMM have said they will be featuring our very own Tallulah in their January 2015 issue. Don't miss it folks.

...Speaking of Tallulah, I have been busy painting her exterior with some Hammerite Cream and Hammerite White. She's looking gorgeous, even if I say so myself.

...Alfonso The Second has sadly been in the hospital for all the time we were away. essential welding, don't you know, for the passing of the MOT. Well, it's now back and fighting fit, ready for the central console veneer that was kindly sent to me from another 124 fan, in Holland, and a little drive out to the Farm Shop at the weekend.

...The Boat For My Potplants is about to come up against some turbulent waters I fear, regarding its mooring. It will all come out in the wash. My favourite programme is Only Fools And Horses.

...Speaking of the boat, I am temporarily officially renaming it 'Writers' Retreat', as it becomes home to my tome creation. 'Muddy Water' is now in its Nineteenth Chapter, and I am hard at work, e'en as I write this.

That's all for now, folks. It's good to be back!





Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Alte Opel


Tallulah is going to be in Alte Opel (Old Opel) magazine, possibly even featuring on the cover. What a great opportunity to extend the hands of friendship between our two nations and plan to take the old girls there sometime. Old girls? Tallulah is one, and you know who the other is.

Monday, 11 August 2014

Stolleried


Cheeky Chappie Andy Stollery has pledged the grand sum of £250 to the Wivenhoe Royal British Legion if only I would include him in my book Muddy Water what I'm currently writing on board my Boat For My Potplants. I'm already up to Chapter 12 and Hollywood will soon be knocking on my canopy to buy the film rights.

That's very generous of you Andy, but I'm afraid I just could not think of a plot line where you might comfortably fit in.

I was scratching my head (in thought, not the flees) and then he sent me a clue, as per the term STOLLERIED, found in the Urban Dictionary. Honest Guv, it really is there.

That's given me plenty to work on, so now the Legion's dosh is safely in the bag.



A most charming and generous chap frequents The Station Pub in Wivenhoe.  
His favourite pursuit on a Sunday, early evening, is to stroll into the bar and buy the entire pub (especially if it's full of females) Zambuccas.  
The clientele embraces this largesse with abandon:  Zambuccas downed in one, pronto. Often unsuspecting tourists are informed that it is said gent's "birthday" in order to facilitate their willlingness to hurl themselves like Lemmings into their forthcoming total inebriation.  
As soon as the first round is consumed, said gent buys another round and the clientele chuck the next one down their necks.  This continues for several hours until the entire pub is in utter carnage.  
At which point said gent (also known as The Zambucca Fairy) chuckles to himself, says "goodnight turnips" and leaves.  
If you are ever in The Station on a Sunday and you manage to make it home without an ambulance, you haven't been properly "Stolleried".
(stollery: noun) (to stollery: verb) (stolleried: past tense)

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Regatta Day in Wivenhoe

The best ever regatta day

Several people may be nursing their hangovers this morning following what must have been one of the best regattas in the history of regattas.

The sun shone, the wind blew, the band played and Punch punched Judy.

And we were privileged to have been invited to not one but two of the coolest parties, the first being in the afternoon at Denise and Graham's with the best view of the proceedings, and the second being in the evening at Sally and Graham's with the best music performed by Simon.
Mark's caravan




Canoe-man Jon and my fellow Haggis Committee member Snod The Sailor

Me in between my two favourite ladies (exccept for 'Erindoors, of course)

Punch and Judy packed away for another year
Great view of the proceedings from Party Number One

Great music from Simon at Party Number Two
In between the parties the drinks flowed on the Boat For My Potplants, and just about everywhere else for that matter.

Then this morning, whilst taking down the boat bunting, old chum Mark came past and invited me to become his first ever tea guest on his new caravan that he's been building. There's never any shortage of things to get up to around here. Like for instance next January's Burns Night, for which I have a vague recollection of forming The Haggis Committee yesterday with Snod the Sailor.





Monday, 28 July 2014

A Blog About My Blog


It occurred to me that some people may actually want to see pictures of the old Boat For My Potplants, old Tallulah The T-Reg Motorhome, old Alfonso 2nd Fiat Coupe and even the old woman 'Erindoors, so I've been busying myself with updating this 'ere blog with some gallery pictures without me in them.

Whilst beavering away I couldn't help notice that the view count is coming dangerously close to 50,000.

Who would have thought that so many would have bothered to click their mouses, (or should that be mice, or even mices?) over A Boat For My Potplants.

I'm wondering what day the count will reach 50,000, and I wonder who will be the 50,000th clicker to visit my story.

Whoever you will be, WELCOME ABOARD!

Thursday, 24 July 2014

The Power Of International Goodwill


This week the Netherlands have been truly in the news for terrible reasons. On a lighter note I would like to thank Rene from that country for responding to a Facebook message I posted about the central console needing a repair job on Alfonso The Second.

He sent me some veneer, beautifully packaged and free of charge, despite me asking where I could send payment to him.

My poor man's classic is currently at the garage awaiting some welding work to be done in order to get this year's MOT certificate.

As soon as it's back with me I will be fixing the central console with the new woodgrain, thanks to Rene.
Veneer, ready to be cut into shape for the central console, thanks to Rene from Holland




Sunday, 20 July 2014

Rollocks! Saturday Night And Sunday Morning


Friday evening on the back of the Boat For My Potplants I met with Alison my health lady. I'm on a free NHS course to help me bring down my cholesterol level and reduce my alcohol intake. We sat and discussed what I ought to be doing as we downed a cheeky bottle of Rose and consumed a packet of pretzels. That wasn't quite the right idea in mind - but it was the end of the week, so that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.
Saturday evening

After Alison had left, Jane came down and we decided to take out my little tender behind. By the time I'd walked home to get the buoyancy aids from the garage and we had faffed about with untying the ropes, finding the oars and ROLLOCKS, and all that mullarky, we sat in the dinghy about to cast off.

Sunday morning
No sooner had we settled down with oars in hand we could see that the tide was rapidly departing, and that was that. We barely had enough time to clamber back aboard the big ship and dash off to the pub where I proceeded to not do much good to my health campaign for the rest of the evening.

Sunday morning came, and I began Tallulah's make-over with a paintbrush. What a difference a few drops of Hammerite can make.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

The Sound Of Noisy Silence

I was concerned that my little tender behind was perhaps not tied up as well as it could have been. I awoke early this morning and decided to go down to my Boat For My Potplants at high tide so that I could adjust the ropes.

I wanted to wait for the tide to go out and make sure that I hadn't tied the ropes too tightly, so I sat on board and waited.

Usually I have some music on, but at 5am I was content to sit in quiet.

Although I can tell you that at that time in the morning the silence is very loud

I listened attentively to it.

There were the gulls and egrets. I'm sure I could hear fishes popping up here and there. In the distance I could hear a plane. Or was it some rolling thunder? The air was still and it began raining - gently to begin with, and then harder for a few minutes. The birds' calls became louder as if they were competing with the noise of the heavy rain drops splashing on to the river's water.

The beauty of it all was deafening.

It was a magical silence.

 

Monday, 14 July 2014

Music And Words

The future international best seller was created here
I had a couple of hours spare, so I used them wisely and went to the Boat For My Potplants armed with my iPad, upon which I am furiously writing my first novel, called appropriately Muddy Water.

I don't mean that I was furious when writing it, just that I was writing quickly as my fingers on the keyboard struggled to keep up with the words appearing before me in my tiny brain.

To calm myself down I put on some soothing music, thanks to the new inverter that I recently installed to replace the one that bust a few months ago.

Now I can listen again to my on board hi-fi as I 'become' the characters in my book.

I was Stanley Markland the horrible wealthy landowner's son, Tristan Thomas the gay politician, and Constance Markland who's desperate to have another baby. All at the same time.

It's a confusing and tiring occupation being an international best selling author. Or so I'm told.

The soothing music was listened to here (the round thing is one of the speakers)


Friday, 11 July 2014

Coded Message


I was up with the larks, up to the Co-op, and bringing back the bacon. And the beans. And bread, butter, tea, milk, mushrooms and tomatoes.

The Boat For My Potplants opened its doors, er, canopy, to its first (and very probably last) paying customers this morning.


Four gentlemen left with their bellies full, ready to face their day of trekking across the Essex countryside after sampling the breakfast, cooked exclusively for them by Yours Truly.


I was pleased with myself that I managed not to scramble the eggs (they were in fact supposed to be fried), but it was jolly difficult bringing everything together, having only the one ring burner.


They must have been happy 'cos they gave me a tip! It was 'don't give up your day job, Neil'.


But as I pocketed their payment(*), and grinned for becoming a few pounds richer, I'm now thinking of renaming the boat 'Cafe de Los Amigos'.

(*) =  coded message...THE DO MAN TAX NOT TELL







Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Our Maiden Voyage In Tallulah - The Big Blog Post

Our first night's dinner, after a trip to Tesco's
Six days and 300 hundred miles may not sound much of a maiden voyage to you, but to me it represents a major excursion, especially in a 36 year old lumbermobile van with a gear stick that feels like it's set in pea soup, no power steering and a top speed of fifty mph.

Jane's cousin's civil ceremony to her partner Sarah gave us the perfect excuse to have a holiday and travel up to Lincoln Registry Office for the wedding of the year.

The glorious Secret Garden
This was our very first experience of staying at motorhome campsites and I feel it's my duty to pass on my unbiased opinions about each place we stay in from now on. It may come in handy to other motorhomers.

After calling in to Wivenhoe Autos to find out EXACTLY where the oil and water goes, we set off on Wednesday for the first leg to Thetford Forest Camping and Caravan Club Site, the most expensive one on our tour at £31.90. It was an open plan field affair in the middle of nowhere, but within wonderful countryside. The nearest shop was Tesco, about seven miles away (their own 'shop' was nothing to write home about) so off we set for our provisions.

The next morning, keeping 'Erindoors 'appy was the foremost thought on my agenda, so we went for a bike ride within the aforementioned wonderful countryside. On our return we packed up and drove off on our second leg to Wisbech.

Ta dah! Awning success.
The two sisters before the wedding
On arrival at that evening's destination, The Secret Garden, we nearly passed out at how spectacularly great the place was. Our choice of plot was in its own secluded area, the showers and toilets were immaculate, there was a micro-brewery (their superb beer sold on site) and also lots of lovely piglets waiting to become grown-ups so that they could become our breakfast (sausages sold on site). We were met by the friendliest of hosts (Leslie Pollington) who showed us our plot. I would give this place a ten (out of 100). No, only kidding - it was a definite 10/10!

Being there also gave us the perfect opportunity to work out for the first time whether we had all the things for our awning that came with Tallulah when we bought her. Have you ever seen two adults staring confusedly at a variety of poles, ties and materials, not having a clue as to what goes where? But eventually we succeeded.

Me with the two sisters at the wedding
The morning after - pop up concert BBQ
We were there for a wedding at Lincoln, and it was undoubtedly the wedding of the year, of the decade and very possibly of the century, but for now I will leave details about the wedding for a future post. This 'ere post is about the motorhoming experience.
Huntingdon, and we arrive in time to catch The Clones
We had a lot of fun at Oakhill. My sis-in-law Ann joined us, and that was fun in itself as we discovered whether Tallulah was big enough for all the three of us (it was), and on our hastily put-together BBQ for our last morning we accommodated some of the previous night's wedding guests for a pop-up private uke and guitar concert.

Then it was time to pack up and leave for our next venue at Godmanchester, Cambridgeshire, and to pay a visit to the Huntingdon Boathaven. Apart from the continuous drone of nearby motorway traffic, the place was another delight. The River Ouse a few yards away from our plot, the shower and toilet block had piped music from the sixties, and our visit coincided with a free concert in the park by a Rolling Stones tribute band. On exit we discovered an Indian restaurant from where we ordered a top-notch curry to be delivered to the campsite, and so we gave ourselves an evening off from cooking.

A bike ride was the order of the day for the next morning, and we found a wonderful ride alongside the River Ouze (the very same river from where I got my Boat For My Potplants nearby at St Neots.

Last morning of the voyage
Now being dab-hands at all-things-awning, we dismantled it and were ready for the off within half an hour of our return for our final leg of the journey back to Wivenhoe.

Now, I feel it is my duty and a pleasure to pass on details of our favourite campsite so far, so that fellow motorhomers can enjoy it too. It is at The Secret Garden, Mile Tree Lane, Wisbech, and I would bet a tenner of the Queen's English that you would not be disappointed! And what's more, it was the cheapest of our stays, at only FIFTEEN POUNDS sterling!

Bike ride along the Ouze










Tuesday, 1 July 2014

We're Off On Maiden Voyage


Tallulah, our T-reg motorhome will be taking us on our maiden voyage, beginning tomorrow. Or should it be WE are taking Tallulah on HER maiden voyage?

Whatever.

Jane has been busily preparing the on-board cupboards with all the things that we may be using on our travels. I will be tidying up the boot and cleaning the roof hatch.

All we really need is our toothbrushes and bottles of wine for our overnight stops en-route at Thetford Forest and Wisbech before reaching our destination just south of Lincoln for a further two nights.

First things first though, and so we will be calling into Wivenhoe Autos in the morning for my appointment with the chief mechanic.

I've asked him to show me where the water and oil goes. I know it's somewhere around the engine area, but I want to know EXACTLY where.




Saturday, 28 June 2014

Preparing For Glastonbury

Today we took Tallulah to the Little D

ragons Pre-School Summer Fayre. We saw a bouncy castle, a shiny red fire engine, some dancing children and bales of straw. There were burgers in buns and cups of tea. And lots of rain.

And next Wednesday we are setting off for our biggest motorhome adventure yet - a round trip to Lincoln for Jane's cousin's civil ceremony. It's gonna be a blast being there, it's gonna be a blast getting there, and it's gonna be a blast coming back too.

We're allowing three days for the journey there, averaging 50 or so miles each day, staying at Thetford Forest and Wisbech en route, and I'm looking forward to finding out how the awning works, if indeed it actually does.


I'm sure that 'Erindoors and I will become happy campers.

And what's more, I've been invited by top motorhome journal MMM to write something in their mag, so our mammoth voyage will be an excellent way for me to finally get the hang of the gear changing. It really is like stirring pea soup.

Who knows? If this trip goes well we could well be looking at Glastonbury for next year, being the old hippies that we are. But in the meantime I am lucky enough to have a new co-driver, Beatrice.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

More Tea Vicar? Not Likely When There's Some Wine About

If someone had told me five years ago that five years after moving to Wivenhoe we'd be invited to the vicar's garden party for wine and sandwiches, I would have laughed at them.

Ha ha ha ha, I would have gone. But today it came true, thanks to the gorilla (named curiously by Jane's cousin Melanie as Vasco de Gama! Huh? What on earth was she on??) who adorned the Boat For My Potplants for the Wivenhoe Open Gardens.

Today the cheques were presented to the church and local charities benefitting from the record £4000 raised during that weekend, and participants were thanked for their gardening efforts, including 'Erindoors and yours truly.

I particularly enjoyed the very agreeable refreshments today.

Or did I particularly agree with the very enjoyable refreshments?

Whatever. Hic.