Monday, 25 April 2011

The Paintathon continues...........

The unseasonably fine weather over the Easter weekend has seen much more rubbing down, priming and undercoating of nb Caboodle.

Am I allowed to say that I am heartily sick of it and would dearly like to stop for a bit?



Actually, the weekend proved a bummer in more than simply the 'painting-sodding-narrowboats-while-the-sun-shines' department.

We were supposed to have the weekend off!

My parents' best friends (who are also my sister's in-laws....yes, she really did marry the boy next door....) Hazel and Bernard were celebrating Bernard's 80th birthday with a slap-up luncheon at an hotel near Emsworth. The Pippins, along with the rest of the extended clan, were invited.

Unfortunately, Jackie pranged a muscle in her back while working on the aforementioned sodding narrowboat on Friday. Saturday dawned. Strong painkillers were having little noticeable effect. The idea of Jackie having to endure a three hour-plus car journey was just not going to make it to reality. With a heavy heart, I called Bernard with our abject apologies for having to cancel at such short notice as to be no real notice at all.

So Jackie spent Saturday trying out a long list of sitting in the sun positions (none of which were that comfortable for her, poor thing), while I tinkered with stuff. (The sodding narrowboat was off limits due to the noise and dust factor, it being a holiday weekend, and the all important fact that I couldn't actually be arsed to go near the damn thing....)

The stuff tinkering actually yielded some positive results:.....(A great surprise to me, as I'd already written the entire weekend off as a total loss)...... I mended a puncture and replaced the knackered tyre on our wheelbarrow, thanks to our landlord's generous provision of a puncture repair kit and a good used high quality trailer tyre.

Incidentally, non-boaters may be puzzled by the relative importance of this.

Fact is, if you live aboard, then a wheelbarrow, sack truck, trolley, or some other means of manually propelled wheeled conveyance is a well nigh indispensable bit of kit.

So that at least was a result.

I spent the rest of the day working on the Raleigh Superbe bike I am rebuilding for Jackie.

Didn't get as far as I would have liked with this due to the bits of scavenged Pashley looking like they could be persuaded to fit, then resolutely changing their mind....

On Sunday, Jackie was still feeling sore, but her range of movement was much less limited and less punctuated with the sort of expletives I will, perhaps rather coyly, refer to as 'Workshop Esperanto'...

So we pressed on with painting the snb.

Don't ask me for any details: it's all a blur of interminable rubbing down, painting, rubbing down, more painting, repeat ad nauseam, (which, in case you were in any doubt, I am...)

Today, I went to work for the usual 07:00 start. I got home to more nauseam. We have just finished. Jackie's back still hurts, we are both tired and grumpy, and I never, ever want to paint a boat again.

Not even if I am asked ever so nicely.......

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Painting parties and refridgerated Ducks.......

So much great stuff has been happening , it's difficult to know where to start.

The beginning is always a favoured jumping-off point, but, being me, (ie middle-aged and awkward), I'm going to start with the most recent and work backwards.......

The weather here has been absolutely glorious over the last week or so: Not so much Spring, as Summer bursting in on the tail-end of winter and catching us all unawares.....

We have nearly finished the undercoating of nb Caboodle, our chum Becky's boat!

(This job was begun during the last knockings of good weather last autumn. After interminable amounts of sanding with angle grinders and a row with the Silly Ignorant Little Twerp (SILT) from the Conservancy, the bulk of the job was in it's second primer coat. It hadn't faired too badly during some really extreme winter weather, and Jackie's week off last week was devoted to rubbing down the grotty bits and re-coating. I then undercoated one of the superstructure sides with half-and-half primer/top coat mix.

This left the roof.......

Yesterday was a day off for me. I was up at the crack of sparrow-cough to commence a day of solo hard labour. Then came a call from my chum Mark, the gist of which was:

"On leave: bored."

'Want to come and do some angle grinding?'

"Oooh yes!!!!"

We were just getting ourselves organised and supping the first of many cups of tea, when James Duck appeared over the flood bank. He was instantly tea-ed, and needed no prompting to join the work detail.

We got stuck in, and many hands lightening the work, soon had the roof and stern bulkhead/hatchway ground back where needed, while the other side of the superstructure was hand-sanded ready for it's first half and half coat.

By now it was around 12.30. It was so hot, trying to apply paint would have been pointless: it would have just baked on, only to flake off again with depressing rapidity.

So we all jumped in the old Suzuki Vitara and headed off to Jones's Boatyard and chandlery in St. Ives.

I bought 60 litres of generator fuel and 3 x 750ml of International yacht primer.

James bought a beautiful Shoreline 12 volt fridge and an accumulator for The Lucky Duck's water pump.

Neither of us whimpered hardly at all when paying and Mark marvelled at how much money boats can cost.......

We then motored back to The Parish, loaded the fridge aboard the Duck (no, we didn't plug it in: that's a job for Thursday when all the gases have settled down....), and while James tinkered with the necessary kitchen unit adjustments, Mark and I set to painting the other side of Caboodle's superstructure with it's first half and half coat.

Mark then went off to fetch his wife Sheena from the park and ride, James headed off to the 48's at Clayhithe to moor-up for the night, and I started priming the roof. (It was now early evening and quite cool enough).

I was very nearly done in time for Mark and Sheena's return, so after a brief bank-side, beer-drinking hiatus while I slapped on the primer, they joined me aboard Pippin fro a chug down to The Bridge at Clayhithe for more beer and some excellent steaks..

And I was up and at 'em at 05:45 this ack emma!


Tuesday, 12 April 2011

On Faith.......

We take much on faith, when you come to think about it....

Faith in medicine, faith in political ideology, faith in each in ourselves.

My last post was a cheeky little reminder to those who have, by dint of extreme intellectual rigour, cast aside faith in the non-rational, non-scientific and put all their eggs firmly in Mr Dawkins' "No Faith" basket......

Now, Jaqueline, you are a friend, and you flattered me extremely with your lovely comment, (and please don't let me dissuade you in any way from continuing so to do.....), but I ain't that clever...

Not even half as clever as the lovely scientist who wandered in to The Hole-Making Shop to have a hole made.

Martin, I could tell you all about Hole-Making, its theory, (pure and applied, general and specific.....), but my employers would probably sack me for breaching The Hole Maker's Code.

We deal with very private information from those who wish to have a hole made: Breaching this privacy is a very, very serious offence in Hole-Making.

Suffice to say, holes are transient: They are here, then they are gone.

Hole made, hole patched.

End Of.

If this is now any clearer, then I've got this post badly wrong........

I too have absolutely no problem testing a theory.

It's when a vast, multi-million pound construct is called into being to prove a theory that I start to get worried.

They are looking for evidence of what they expect to see. Or even what the current credo in theoretical physics says should be there.

If they don't find it, what then?

Build another, even bigger, (more expensive!!!!) Collider to seek out the elusive particle?

Europe is littered with such constructs.

They are called Cathedrals.

To the faithful who built them, they were not only an expression and celebration of the Divine, but an approach to it: an attempt to understand it.......

Sound familiar?

You may not think much of their theory now, but it was the best one going in the 12th century.

(It still has a lot going for it now: See Bones's blog about Holy Wells.......)

Thing is, not even the most rampant Dawkinsite has managed to replace Faith, they have just put it in something other ( 'No Faith' in dear Richard's case).

So the beautiful sciencific faithful will continue to spend the GDP of Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Spain.

May they find what they are looking for..............

Thursday, 7 April 2011

"The Hunting of the Snark", or "Mr Higgs and His Remarkably Elusive Boson....."

One of the truly great things about my job at The Hole Making Shop is that one encounters all sorts of people from a huge variety of walks of life.

A week or so ago, a theoretical physicist came in to have to have a hole made....

We started to chat, as you do.... It soon came out that she was working on the same project as Brian Cox, the new darling of telly science programmes: namely, The Large Hadron Collider at Cern.

'So, how's it going then?' I asked. "Found it yet?"

"What?", she replied, nonplussed....

'Well, Higgs boson of course! I mean, here we are, millions of quid down the gurgler and still not a sign! Are you sure it's there?'

"Of course we are" she said, in a way which, while not actually being pigeon's-bum-hole-faced, was certainly on the continuum......"It fits the theoretical model...."


"And lots of other particles which we have found do too! So we're sure it's there...

"You just haven't actually found it yet, then..."

"Er, no."

I decided to leave it there. I didn't want to annoy my (truly) brilliant scientist guest.

I am a failed actor who now makes holes in things for a living, so I must be humble.

But, hang on.

Surely, looking for empirical evidence to support a theory is not just bad science, it's truly dodgy science at it's dodgiest on a particularly dodgy day!

Viz: The Flat Earth Society, supporters of The Phlogiston Theory, and those who reckon The Book of Genesis is a factual account of the formation of the universe! They're all looking for evidence to support their theory too!

Obviously, in theoretical physics, one is dealing with particles so small, and concepts so mind-bogglingly large, that the act of observing the former will affect them (our cat, Thomas, was very nearly called Schroedinger.......) and attempting to grapple with the latter will leave mortals like me with the kind of week-long head-ache that I endured, having, halt and lame, struggled across the vastness of Stephen Hawking's vision in 'A Brief History of Time'. (String Theory? Dark Matter? Sheesh!!!!)

And yet........

And yet I wonder.......

Will, in five hundred years time, pilgrims visit the huge complex at Cern in the way that they now flock to Santiago de Compostella, Canterbury, and Rome........?

Theoretical Physics?......


Whichever you choose, you are going to have to have Faith...............

Tuesday, 5 April 2011


Some lovely comments on the previous post entitled "Lamping" have really bought home to me the positive power of the interweb: People who feel the same way I do about cruelty and violence voicing their agreement and their anger.

It's good to know we are not alone.

It is empowering to have people from half a world away who I've never met share their feelings about those who indiscriminately harm wildlife to satisfy some deeply twisted notion of 'sport'.

Perhaps they are indeed the diaspora of an ancient and rational civilisation, one in which one only killed what one would eat, took only what was needed, and left the rest for the future....

This world is in sore need of such a leavening.