Saturday, September 26, 2009

Carpe Diem

On a more serious note than my usual postings, the little lady known as Project X has been named. Just over 12 months ago a good friend of Clare’s lost her battle with cancer. Lisa fought her battle with courage, dignity and with a spirit rarely seen in today’s world. Lisa’s motto was “Carpe Diem”, and she was and still is to all who knew her an example of how to face this life and all that it throws at us, good and bad. So for all of you, who read this, raise a glass, think long and hard about your life and what is truly important, and when you see my little lady, Carpe Diem, spread her wings over mill pond calm waters, smile and seize the day.

To Lisa, may we all learn from you and your courage.

Every silver lining....

Well here I am again, but at least this week’s debriefing is not a tale of woe and despair. The formica kick boards for the kitchen have been replaced, using planed, kiln dried, soft wood and Colron “Jacobean dark oak” beeswax. Which, despite some earlier reservations, did produce a suitable (albeit light oak) finish. But as usual every silver lining has a cloud and the downside here being that now the remaining skirting boards look some what, how you say – ah yes that’s it, crap. So now said skirting boards are to be replaced this week to match the kick boards before I can say that the job is finished and collect my much needed brownie points.

Speaking of brownie points I’ve also fallen into negative equity with these little ‘time in the garage’ vouchers. My friend, Chunky Monkey, has come up with the rather good idea of going halves on the purchase of an apple press and associated equipment with the view of producing our own cloudy cider elixir instead of paying through the nose for it. Too which Clare has sort of agreed to (well the word no was not heard to pass her lips upon this occasion!), which means that more brownie points are required to make up for this unexpected turn of good fortune. It also means that this autumn’s foraging will now include apples and pears as well as the usual chestnuts, sloe berries and wild mushrooms. Oh yes that also means that I’ll be scouring the car boots sales for that elusive fruit, the demijohn. Ah home brewing, you know it makes sense.

So it appears at first glance that little, if anything, has been achieved upon project X this week. But fear not my friends all is not as it seems. For a start, earlier this week I’ve managed to ‘acquire’ all the necessary materials to produced the supporting yolks at a very reasonable price (free again – you’ll notice these two words a lot in future postings!) which means that I’ll hopefully have the little lady the right way up at some point in the very near future. Also I’m not being frowned upon quite as much by Pops (he needed some stainless plate that I happened to be able to acquire), which means that I’ll be picking up that small Seagull outboard motor some time this week, well at least before I but my black wool coat on and start bleating again. And to cap off what has been a reasonable week without actual touching project X, me mate, Jim Lad, seems to think that he can lay his hands upon a set of sails in better condition than the ones that he’s already provided, plus some rigging that I appear to be missing. So even though the only progress that I seemed to have made this week were a few longing glances at the little lady from the workshop side of the garage, the truth is that project X is flying along, well in an upside down, still on the axle stands sort of way.....

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

To a Mouse......

Do you ever remember that saying “The best laid schemes o' mice an' men / Gang aft agley?” taken from a Scottish poem, ‘To a mouse’ by a certain Mr. R. Burns. Well I bloody well do! Project X started off so well, a wooden dinghy, with sails and at a great price (free that was), Clare happy with my excursions to the garage, (lots of brownie points scored including, dare I say, housework and ironing), finding myself in rude health, the sun shone brilliantly from above, the fact that everybody in the whole wide world seemed to love me, and God seemed to pat me on the head saying ‘good boy John’. Oh yes life was good.

Did you happen notice the word ‘was’ carefully hidden within the previous terminal line of the above paragraph? You did? Well I guess you have some foreboding of what’s coming next then. A cautionary word at this point for the next paragraph is not for the squeamish nor those faint of heart.

As I was saying it all started off so well until firstly, about 3 weeks ago, I was struck down with one of those embarrassing conditions which are quite humorous until your good self becomes the victim. Yes I’m talking hemorrhoids' here. Oh you may mock, you may well even titter a wee bit, but I’m here to bear witness that I’d rather suffer from severe toothache or even have a couple of digits removed via a rusty hack saw, than go through the personal hell that hemorrhoids' bless a person with. So began 2 weeks off work sitting on inflatable furniture, unable to do bugger all on Project X, in fact unable to do bugger all point blank that is apart from applying medication and potions to the unmentionable area of my body! Did I also mention that everybody in the world loved me? Ah silly me, just so over confident again, I’m now officially the black sheep of the entire Wooldridge clan due to some issues of not being a best man at my brothers wedding (best man? I didn’t even go) and enlightening my aged parents with some hard, truthful facts about said brother (the golden child that is). Ah well I could go on about this for some considerable time but me mate Rob would just shout at me, call me Mr. Angry and tell me to let it go – cheers Rob, you’re a star.

Anyway on to more pressing and important concerns, Project X. From what seemed a promising beginning project X has taken a slight turn for the worst. After closer inspection I’ve decided to replace both fore and aft topside pieces on both port and starboard sides (tis becoming quite nautical this is...). This being down to the fact that the little lady was stored belly up outside for the previous couple of years. The upshot of this is that water has seeped up the edges of the ply between the gunwhales’ causing to much rot to repair and leave a sturdy support for the rigging and rollocks etc. unfortunately this will mean removing all the horizontal deck pieces to affect a decent repair. Secondly I’ve stripped the multiply layers of paint from the lower using Nitro Morse craftsman gunk (lovely stuff just avoiding splashing it on anything you value!). This has revealed 4 previous repair patches none of which were too healthy, so these are to be redone. At the present time the plan is to construct a couple of supporting frames to support the hull right side up to allow the decking strip down to commence. So that’s where I’m at, work’s going to be delayed for a tad whilst I notch up some more brownie points, cause according to Clare I’ve reached my limit. So it looks like kick boards for the kitchen then……

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Early Days

Early days

01- 09-2009. Project X has safely been installed upside down upon 4 axle stands, (cheers Rob), within my garage. The majority of loose and peeling paint has been scrapped off to accelerate the drying process. The plan is to allow the hull time to dry, without heat, for several weeks to avoid warping. Oh and allow me time to complete point scoring household jobs so that I may become a hermit later in the year. Some areas of rot and damage can now be seen to be more severe than originally thought whilst other areas are in better shape than was first thought. At this point in time there is nothing apparently so severe that cannot be overcome, happy days.

Project X

Mirror Dinghy Project Log

After some time searching for a project to while away the dark cold evenings of winter, project X has arrived. Initial projects included a Mirror dinghy hull (complete with large hole) which was, after 18 months being home to several spiders, cruelly sawn in two and removed to the local tip, also arrived was a metro which firstly was to become a trike and then become the donor car for a Freestyle off road buggy and then became 20 pounds worth of scrap, ho hum. Several more hair brained ideas raised their heads (hair brained according to Clare) over the last few years only to be cast aside because of frustration, lethargy or for just been simply downright stupid (again according to Clare).

So I found myself without a project which didn’t making the house smarter, warmer, and tidier or more environmentally friendly! What kind of shed head could I aspire to be without a project that would be testing but fun to complete and then even more fun to use? But then it happened, the world indeed did tip upon its axis and fortune began to slide my way. It began in a small, inconspicuous way as these things tend to do, Clare and I began to get fit, dieting and exercise began to dominate our lives this summer. We started walking, swimming and badminton amongst other things. Up to this point Clare has shed nearly 4 stone and me nearly 3. But then autumn has started to loom in the very near future which will soon be followed by the shroud of winter. The project twitch started to show along with that feral gleam in my eyes and the garage sirens’ were calling me once more.

Clare made an announcement, “Oh yes John, you may have a project”, wait for it, “as long as it adds to our new, outdoor and active lifestyle”. Mmmmm a toughie that, until my mate Jim Lad announced that there was a second Mirror hull at his sailing club within my budget (free that is) Yes I know I’ve already trashed one but it was truly knackered. So the idea was put to Clare of how about a small fishing boat that could be rowed and or motored or even sailed on lake or inshore sea? Success! Hook, line, sinker and a copy of the Angling times! The idea was stamped, er without actually mentioning that it was another Mirror dinghy.

So after several attempts to organize delivery the little boat arrived in the last week of August. Clare shot me a slightly sideways look when it turned out to be a Mirror and worse that it was the exact same color as the previous rotting hulk with graced the garage with out actually doing anything except take up space. Other negatives include a damaged front end (stem), several holes and areas of rot, no trailer and yes it is the same color as the previous dinghy. On the other hand there are some positives too, the rot and holes are confined to the top of the boat where it has drawn water up from been upturned on the ground for a couple of years, the mast along with the centre board and rudder were discovered under the boat, Jim Lad has come up with a set of sails, a seagull 1.5hp outboard has been donated by my father and Clare likes the damn thing, result. The little beauty is of yet unnamed but arrived without a name so bad luck can be avoided by renaming her.