... feminist, atheist, autistic academic and historic narrowboater ...
Likes snooker, beer, tea, rivets and solitude, and is strangely fascinated by the cinema organ.
And there might be something about railways.

Monday 22 February 2010

Roses in the snow

As part of his Christmas present (along with some rather fine new dungarees) I sent Jim on Phil Speight's 'roses and castles' painting course. And here is his report (well, part one of it), in which we don't even get near a paintbrush, so I have the comfortable feeling that this will keep me in posts for a few days yet.
(Please excuse the buggered up formatting; it's because it was written in an email and then pasted in here, and no I'm not going to go through and weed out all the extraneous returns, sorry). Over to Jim:

My nervousness regarding venturing to the Northern Wastes to take part
in Phil Speight's weekend long 'flowers and landscape' workshop was
heightened by the time it took for the eventual date to arrive. Several
changes caused by the "unseasonably cold weather" had made matters worse
and by the time Friday came I really did not want to go. I am not a
'joiner' by nature, in fact I don't like people much at all. My
previous experiences with 'courses' ranging from first aid through VHF
to NVQ 4 Training for Trainers and 'Partnership Working' had lead me to
expect being confronted by a room full of fools bleating nervous
inanities and inconsequential 'jokes' whilst the facilitator or trainer
worried more about the assembled company feeling "safe" than imparting
any of their usually very limited knowledge.

I travelled up on Friday afternoon so as to settle in to my digs for the
weekend, on the living room floor of the marvellously named
'Wrigglefingers' very temporary landbase in Bridgnorth. I was somewhat
early so I phoned ahead to organise meeting Jill Wrigglefingers at
Dadfords Wharf, the home of all things wonderful to the connoisseurs of
inland boating, where she is having a seriously great boat Cobbett
very properly made by David (not Dave you understand) Harris, worth
every penny no matter what it cost. Dadfords Wharf itself is just a
fantastic place just to wander round, for apart from the almost mythical
Mr Harris, it is inhabited by the as mythical Ian Kemp and a person whom
we should apparently call 'Jesus'*, the aforementioned Phil Speight. The
building and its environs alone, an old canal warehouse in original
condition, would take a day of anyone's time, piled high with the
detritus of proper boat building and sundry proper engines of all kinds
as well as numerous moorings for several ex-working boats. The smell
alone would be worth bottling and selling a aftershave. As exciting for
me or should that be us, was that I met Ian Kemp who apart from being
the a boat builder/restorer of renown is THE Petter PD2 guru and holder
of most of the available stock of spares as well as 2 brand new
engines!- absolutely not for sale. Ian was simply marvellous and very
helpful, so we shall both be up there for several 'consultations' before
very long I am sure. He also ran Chertsey as a teenager in the early 70s
as well as having rebuilt the engine during his brief tenure, that seems
a bit to much of regular feature for my liking but hey ho! The last (and
the first) time that we had seen Ian was a sort of 'Fist Full of
Woolwich' scenario when we all went to view (and it turned out to buy)
Chertsey and it was a bit like a reverse Mexican stand off - the first
one to blink bought it.

Whilst Jill finished off her painting I looked at Swan's new iroko
gunnels with Ian and his son and saw that it might not be such an easy
task as I first thought, but doing things properly on a boat never is
but at least I have seen iroko in action although somewhat strangely the
joints were butted and not lapped in any way but this is a question for
another day as Ian had wandered off. What I did learn, from Mary Gibby
the long time owner, was that originally the gunnels were held in place
by cheese headed bolts but that these were no longer available so
perhaps some might have to be made as it seems to be a much better way
that using domed coach bolts and plugging the holes. Just as we left Jill
said that her house was somewhat untidy as she had been working on
Cobbett for several weeks and worse she had just had a book avalanche. I
though that this was something like a baby shower or possibly some
unknown to me fundraising wheeze but on arrival, armed with the next two
days 'makings' of lunches for 12 hungry painters and ambushed by the
lurking Bones, I saw what Jill meant........several floor to ceiling
piles of currently homeless books had fallen over and lay scattered over
the tiny floor of the small cottage in hurriedly assembled, random
smaller piles. Whilst Jill cooked a marvellous meal, cognisent of the
various constraints placed on her by both Bones and me, Bones and I set
to and made the rolls and pittas for tomorrows lunch, accompanied by
much giggling fuelled by copious quantities of red wine but it was
certainly early to bed for tomorrow brought a need to be very bright
eyed and bushy tailed.

*This was apparently the nickname for Phil used by Ron Hough (god) when
talking to a customer in the 'Nelson' at Brauston.

1 comment:

  1. Hope were going to get lots of photo's of your work Jim.