Archive | October, 2014

What’s in a Name..?

30 Oct

By definition, a boabird likes boats.

And this boatbird likes this boat…IMG_20141028_183924_87

A lot.

Isn’t she splendid? I want her.

I’d be very proud to tow her along behind Hobo when we are a’cruising and she’d make a superb little run-around. Imagine arriving at the pub in this (leaving could be fun). She’d go where Hobo won’t, can’t or shouldn’t and would make a great tender too, especially if we want to moor up somewhere a little inaccessible.

She does, however, require a little work on her interior…004

But that is the way with boats.

Raggety Ann is a new arrival in the yard here and the owner seems to be assembling a bit of a collection…002003001

The large yacht beneath the blue cover is, funnily enough, another concrete boat so sort of related to John’s little boat.

Speaking of which, I am expecting a flurry of activity there soon. Potato harvest is now all but done so John has a chance to get busy once more on this project, then I’ll be able to report back here with pics and progress. I know, been said before but we’ll get there.

Lots to do but with a few dedicated days, without too many interruptions/sidetracks/wild goose chases – one can live in hope – the little boat will soon take shape I’m sure.

I’m really looking forward to seeing it being transformed into a fully-functioning river-going craft and doing some river going with her.

Perhaps we’ll even address the naming issue. You never know.

Of course one has to bear in mind that boaters are often referred to by the name of their boat. We have chaps around here that answer to Ellen Rose and Ellis Chicken and I’ve also known a Jonjo, a James Waterlily, a Wooden boat Jim and even a Nobhead (his spelling as marked in the grinding dust on the side of his work-in-progress.)

We met a Volendammer and a Bag Lady on the Thames and John’s Dad addresses his emails to me ‘Dear Hobo.’

There’s more if I could call them to mind but by far the best in my view is Tinkerbell – I don’t even know his real name! I’m not sure many do as he is universally known by this name, sometimes Tink for short.

I rest my case.

So John is being, unsurprisingly, reticent in the naming of the little boat, which seems to have stuck at The Little Boat. We’ve had some very acceptable suggestions but none have gone ‘ping’ so far. And whilst he did like Phoebe… 

Well I ask you, does he look like a Phoebe?100_1071


This was taken after a good old mud splattering down on the farm and not a nasty case of measles by the way.

Maybe I should just start calling him Little Boat…

And yes, I could live with being known as Raggety Ann…IMG_20141028_183924_87

There’s been far worse.

And Now for Something Completely Different…

23 Oct

Cue brass band…BrassBand-Fairey-Tuba[1]

De de der der der de de der…

Get it?

You’re as old as me then and grew up with this lot of utter nutters…

monty python

And that tune – so evocative of all those years ago.

The something completely different I want to talk about though is the writing side of my life; that which I hope one day, in some form or another, to scrape a living make my fortune  from.

Whenever asked what my ideal profession would be, I used to always say ‘anything I can do in shorts and flip-flops’, implying something casual carried out in sunny climes. (That does still stand but I’d add pyjamas to that criterion these days.)

Being a writer fits this bill very nicely: Get up when you like, dress as you please and drink coffee for England – or iced coffee if I luck into living somewhere hot. Working from home means I wouldn’t have to join in with the rest of this crazy, bad, mad world, could opt right out of the daily commute and revel in the total lack of office politics.

Who needs all that shite in their life?

Not I, being a lazy, unsociable sod simple soul.

I have, to some extent, achieved this, by managing to get fired…alan-sugar-youre-fired

To date I’ve been binned thrice in my life ( if you don’t count two redundancies or the time I quit in the nick of time) and that’s because, when I lose interest, I am utterly unemployable.

That said, I am a grafter, have half a brain, held several jobs for four + years – one for 20 years – and run my own business for eight years or so. OK, so neither of the last two ended particularly well but both taught me invaluable lessons and were largely tremendous fun.

When sacked my contract ended at a firm in Papworth, back in 2009, John encouraged me to take a comprehensive writing course in lieu of finding another job. He was convinced I could make it in the literary world and gave me the confidence I lacked to give it a go.

As I worked my way through the assignments and, with the guidance of my (quite impressed) tutor, I submitted several articles – most of which were published. Great, I think, I can do this. But (and there always is a but) the wait for a decision is interminable – your average monthly glossies will sit on an article for up to four months before giving a yea or a nay. They may send a note of acceptance sooner but this is no guarantee they will publish. The pay is poor and very slow in coming, usually 30-60 days after publication, so pay-day might be six months or more after submission. And that’s just bonkers.

I don’t think either of us realised it just isn’t that easy, even if you have talent, are committed and actually put in the hours (many of which are spent chasing a decision or payment). The only way to make a living in this game is to be very lucky prolific, constantly churn stuff out – a real numbers game – and then probably end up selling your soul or ‘prostituting’ yourself by writing all sorts of crap that magazines want. Not for me I’m afraid; I’d rather write my sort of crap.

So, the gaps between submitting my work got bigger, assignments were taking me longer and I was getting poorer and poorer; hence the need for me to forfeit the retirement fund by selling the house (just) before events became critical.That allowed me to mess about on the river, spend a couple of three month spells in South Africa and generally do as I pleased concentrate on the coursework and hone my chosen craft, without work getting in the way of my life.

Assignment 9 took a whole two years to complete, shame on me. My article submissions all but stopped and, four years on, financial meltdown was once more on the horizon.

This may go some way to explaining why I now have two part-time jobs…


But it’s not that onerous in the scheme of things: total time at work only amounting to 20.5 hours a week, so there’s plenty of time to get writing. I’ve taken on another course – proof reading and copy editing – from which I hope to be able to give up the dodgy jobs find well-paid work, which I can do at home.

Despite my tendency for serious procrastination and willingness to be distracted, I am desperate excited and strongly motivated to make this work, and, so far, I’m going great guns. I’ve submitted my principal proof reading assessment for grading (there’s a certificate of competence on offer if I achieve a B or higher) and about to start the copy editing (more creative and better paid) part of the course.

I’m even back into the original course, the assignment I stalled on now done and dusted, and working on the next step. This is to write a non-fiction book (submitting details of chosen publishers/ research/synopsis and sample chapters). The subject is top secret at this stage so if I told you, I would have to kill you. Once this is done, I can start on the fiction side of the studying – the bit I’m most looking forward to.

I belong to a writing group, and have committed to write a book in a year. I’ve started to enter writing competitions and have won one already! The prize wasn’t that much-needed cash though but, ironically for a seasoned boatbird, a one day helmsman’s course. Been there, done that so I have donated it back to them.

OK, so I lied about the jobs. It’s more like this…21-Cleaner

But hey, it’s all a means to an end at the moment. I am enthused, motivated and that end is almost in sight…1light-endtunnel

But in the meantime, BB is enjoying the now and making the most of every moment, especially as this turned up today as quote of the week in another wordsmith’s blog I follow…pin-happy-monster

I’ll go with that. What say you?

My words, pictures from t’internet.

Live and Let Live

16 Oct

This may be a bit of a departure from the  feel-good feature that’s normally here. Forgive me.

But I’m a smoker and I refuse to apologise for that…fag ash lil

Yesterday’s announcement of a proposed ban on smoking in outdoor public spaces has me incensed…bench

For now, it’s the London parks. But that won’t last. It will soon be nationwide plus in your own car, your own home… police that if you can!!

FFS !! Leave Us Alone…smoking-in-park

And let us smoke in peace.

We’ve toed the line with the indoor ban – little choice really – and how about the huge contribution that we, as smokers, make to the pot by way of the enormous duty placed on tobacco? And where are those that blather on about human rights/civil liberties – are we smokers not human too? Is this no longer a free country?

Maybe, just maybe, second hand smoke is harmful. I can actually see that, in confined spaces, this could be a danger and may be unpleasant.

But, for pity’s sake, how does this apply outside? How can it be a health hazard, out in the open?

They say this act, if carried out in parks and so on, supposedly takes away from the promotion of health and fitness; the reason we have green spaces. Maybe we should ban fatties too – surely not a good advert?

They say it puts strain on the NHS: It has already been shown that overeating/drinking puts a far bigger burden on our health service.

They say it influences children to take up the habit: There’s plenty of things that take place in front of the children that no-one sees fit to impose restrictions on. Give kids some credit.

They say a lot of things.

No, it’s purely because some people do not like to see us smoke. They want to tidy us away. Sweep us under the carpet. Stub us out.

Why else would they also be talking about banning the E-Cig?in the bar

This faux fag puts no toxins into the atmosphere and, to me, seems a perfectly acceptable alternative; a way of indulging our compulsion, when otherwise not allowed to do so. Just because it offends them.

Well there’s plenty of things that offend me and no doubt plenty of you too:

How about badly behaved children – should we ban kids?

What about dog shit in public places – should we ban dogs?

Or eating with mouth open/spitting/rudeness/bad driving/queue jumping/talking over one another – and so much more – should we ban people?

Get real!

Until we learn to live alongside each other/be a little more tolerant/consider the feelings of others/educate, we are going nowhere.

Let’s live and let live or, in the case of we smokers, live and let die…deathshead

Or not…100

And if the powers that be are really concerned for our health and well-being, then stop selling them.

Pictures courtesy of Google images and rant by me.

Perfect Doesn’t Get it Done

9 Oct

Words I read on another boatie blog recently and, believing them to be so true, stole them for here.

I used to be a bit of a perfectionist – If a job’s worth doing it’s worth doing well/Good enough isn’t good enough/It’ll do won’t do – all overused maxims in a previous life. I’m not sure if it’s living afloat, advancing years or some other strange phenomenon but I’ve had a complete change of heart on this one.

Now it seems to me that it is far better to get going on a job and achieve something, rather than constant agonising over method, materials and mastery. I’ve reduced myself to total paralysis in the past by this over-thinking process.

It is a bit of a trait of mine and, to be honest, I still find myself going down this route on occasions and have to give myself a pretty sharp talking to. Unless of course the John is around to save me from any harsh self-criticism – he’ll always delight in delivering a lecture on the evils of the maladjusted mind – mine in particular. He’d have me in therapy quick smart…test-therapy

As ever, in writing about what is on my mind, all becomes clear and that other strange phenomenon I mentioned earlier is clearly John. I’m not admitting to being easily influenced or anything here but he does have a way of making me see things differently. And that’s a good thing in my book; I like to think I am open to new ideas/ways of looking at things and never let it be said I am set in my ways or incapable of a little spontaneity.

In case you are wondering what all this head-shrinking is about, it’s just me justifying my attempts at fixing up the cratch board and re-attaching the TV aerial.

My last post told of taking the canopy into St. Ives to have the zip replaced, which was done efficiently and quickly – took less than two hours. Just enough time for me to fail to visit friends – I found their boat but was all locked up, which is most unusual; they must have seen me coming.

Instead, I had a nice chat with Caroline in the chandlery at Hartford Marina (the old home) and spent a small fortune on coffee at the nearby garden centre but managed to resist the urge to do similar at Jones’s Boatyard by only buying what I went there for. There’s a first time for everything.

So: stainless screws to replace the rusty ones that held the aerial mast and new toggle thingies for the cratch cover, by way of a treat.. 002

Not sure I’ve got them on the right way round but they seem to hold better like this.

Anyway, I’m well pleased with the service I received at S. Robb and Son in St. Ives and thoroughly recommend them if you ever find yourself in that neck of the woods needing work done on your canopy or a new one. Take a look at this link – they seem to do all sorts.

As for re-mounting the aerial… I studied it long and hard to ascertain the correct way to fit it then got busy with the screwdriver. As a blonde, I’m not allowed anything sharp or powered so this is the manual variety, making it hard work. Well I seemed to make hard work of it anyway. I struggled to drive the screws all the way into the wood and quickly gave up stopped just short of them being all the way home, thinking this would do till I have a qualified electric screwdriver operator on my roof.

Up goes the aerial, which is held by a ratchet device that is secured by rotating a lever. I’ve only put it on upside down – would you believe it? Fortunately, it does seem to still work so, with new thinking engaged, I leave it be. It is blowing a hoolie right now though so my fingers are firmly crossed.

And the cratchboard…?

I’ve had a bit of a go, looks a tad better…001

But is by no means perfect and needs more work.

And that’s where I came in – perfect doesn’t get it done.