Twice a year, Brian on Alton runs a fender-making course at Audlem Mill. Jim has long quite fancied learning this craft - and I have long thought it would be a very useful skill to acquire, but not for my delicate little fingers! - so I hatched a plan to book him into one as a birthday present. His birthday's at the end of September, so the autumn course would be perfect. I put it in my diary to book last week, but when I rang - fantastic for Audlem Mill and Brian, very disappointing for me - they were fully booked for the autumn.
I had a brief chat to Peter at the Mill, about Chertsey, which he remembered from our brief visit passing through en route to the Port in 2011, when the boat was still in primer. We'd been booked in to the Audlem Festival of Transport last year, but had to cancel when I realised that it clashed with the East Sussex Youth Orchestra's* one annual concert - with Sebastian leading the double basses, and Izzi the cellos, we really can't miss that. So the Audlem Mill gathering is crossed out of the diary until they get too old (although bass players, being in such short supply, rarely are). So I promised to drop by again on our way down this year and show Peter Chertsey in all its painted glory, and he promised to let me know if there was a cancellation for the autumn course.
A few minutes later he emailed to say that he hadn't thought to mention, but there had been a cancellation on the spring course, the weekend of March 9/10 - would I by any chance be interested in that? I certainly was. Having checked with Jim that he was free, I booked it up.
Not having been there myself, I can't report on it in any great detail, but Jim thoroughly enjoyed it, and came back with a side fender (and enough materials to make another one, if only the cat would stop helping) and an absolutely fabulous looking button, with a proper rope core. I have impressed upon him how important it is to keep practising, so that he doesn't forget how to do it.
*Website designed by Sebastian, who probably also provided most of the viola jokes.