Thursday, July 24, 2014

How's it going?

By Roy's workshop at Braunston Turn

We've had a number of text and email communications with Roy and Lee, working on Kantara's new galley, and we visited today for the second time in the past eighteen days, to see how they're getting on, and to discuss fine details of the build. It's all coming together well.


When Roy originally said the job would take four weeks, we reckoned he'd revise that up in due course. Today, Lee said five!

We took with us today a sample of the door and drawer handles, and power sockets and switches we had in mind, and they all look fine. The cooker, fridge, washing machine, sink and taps have all arrived. Now it's all been marked out, and the bulk of the cupboard and drawer skeletons all constructed, they'll be able to complete the job without any more input from us. Now we'll be able to get away for a few days next week, for a bit of a break.

Having done the Roses and Castles course back in May, Grace is now practising the art, with the possibility of her painting designs on the sides of the boat after it's been repainted next April. Today, she took tracings of the flowers currently on the sides, to help her as she practises.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Stock Car Racing, Floods and Folk!

Some time around fifteen years ago, I stopped going with Steve to Banger Racing at Bovingdon (former) airfield. Neither of us can remember why it stopped, but it probably had something to do with Steve finishing school and filling his life with a new set of things. But we'd been a good number of times, and loved every minute of it.

Chatting with him last week, we wondered if Bovingdon was still host to such meetings. Looking it up on the web, we found it wasn't, and hadn't been since 2008. However, we discovered that there is a stock car racing track in Northamptonshire, PR1MO International Raceway, and that's where we went yesterday. It turned out to be a far bigger site than Bovingdon, and the meeting was the second day of the European Championship, with races involving F1 and F2 Stock Cars and a formula they call "Rebels".
Formula 2
It was a day of exciting driving, thrills and spills. The weather was good to us, and we both had a really good day out together. Just like the old days!

We left a bit before the end of the event. There were several hundred cars there, and we didn't like the idea of spending an hour or so getting out of one of the two small gates when the races came to an end. As it happened, that decision was wise for another reason... No sooner had we arrived home, than the heavens opened. It poured! And I wouldn't have liked to be at the races in that, or on the M1!

The last time it rained like that was five or six years ago. The, as this time, the road outside our house flooded. The flood water then ran down next-door's front drive. They have a problem with this, inasmuch as the drain gully at the bottom of the slope can't cope with the volume of water, and it runs under the garage door. The garage is used for storage, not cars.

However, there's still too much water with nowhere else to go except sideways along the front wall of their house, under the hedge and on along the front of ours. At this point, the level's higher than our airbricks, so we have to block them as best we can as the rush carries on to our side gate and down the passage, turning off under the fence onto our other next-door neighbour's patio, and onto her garden, where it disperses.

Steve, Naomi and I got sodden, along with Graham and Pat next door and several others from neighbouring houses. Graham's approach was to sweep the water at the bottom of his slope down the side passage of his neighbour on the side - with their approval! So we joined in the effort. The garage was saved from a soaking at least.

Jess spent the day at "Folk by the Oak", in the grounds of Hatfield House. Said the Maiden played on the Acorn Stage there last year, but this year Jess went with brother-in-law Eddie, purely to enjoy the numerous acts. The rain pretty much missed them. Grace and I drove out to pick them up, arrived too early and sat in the car in the dark, enjoying about forty minutes of Seth Lakeman, and a firework display. A good way to end an eventful day!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Getting down to gardening

It's taken us a few days to settle in to being back in the house, and we've had a few jobs to do to make it feel like home again (ish!), but this afternoon I got down to doing some gardening. Everything has grown amazingly, and it all looks wonderful, albeit rather ill-disciplined. Tomorrow I'll get out the electric hedge-trimmer, but I started the pruning job today with secateurs and loppers. I've never been much of a gardener really, but I'd love to be, and, if we hadn't moved onto Kantara, I think I'd probably have been doing lots more work in the garden that I'd ever done before.

And then there's the bits where Naomi's growing vegetables. It all looks amazing, and tastes great.

As I've reported before, not content with having her own allotment and the beds she's built in our garden, Naomi is also one of the founders of a new community supported agriculture project, with a plot of organic land at Hammonds End in nearby Harpenden. Nome has an administrative role in the project, as well as putting in many hours of hard labour there.

To find out more, see their Facebook page, Twitter account @FoodSmilesStA and website at

 The Food Smiles plot started off looking daunting - well, to me, anyway!

Stony soil, and lots of digging needed
Poly-tunnels, but needing repair
But the new members of this collective worked long and hard to turn it around.

Local garden centre Aylett Nurseries were very generous in their donations of essentials,

and children from a local art club presented Food Smiles with two scarecrows they'd made.

Everything's very well organised,

and, as the various produce becomes ready to harvest, it's all shared appropriately.

In the few months that this project has been underway, they've made great progress, and are now literally reaping - and eating - the benefits of their commitment and effort.

If I had a hat, I'd take it off to them! It's all very impressive.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

The job starts

On Monday morning, we were up and ready early to move across the canal, to moor up by Roy's workshop, but there was still a boat there, a job still in progress. Roy rang to explain. The job had over-run a little, and he needed the owner to take it out for a short spin, to test if all was OK. The boat duly left, winded, and returned an hour later. Work still needed to be done, so it was just after we'd finished lunch that we were able to take Kantara across and moor her, ready for work to commence.

Roy drove me back to the marina to collect the car, while Grace emptied the galley of pots, pans, crockery, cutlery... everything! When I got back, there was a carful of stuff to to be loaded to take back to the house with us. Roy spent another half-hour or so with us, making sure he fully understood the work to be done, and Grace left him with drawn plans and detailed notes. We finally left at around 6:00, fortunately missing the worst of the traffic rush.

So here we are, back in St Albans, with a to-do list as long as my arm! We're hoping the job will be complete within a month. Fingers crossed!