Thursday 30 June 2011

Albert Green

Well. The great and much anticipated day arrives - Erroll is 'Game On'! Dad says the day was a bit weird and the Errollness has not really sunk in yet. He has spent all day with all the work lot being really nice to him, telling him they'll miss him and the place won't be the same without him and so on.

They had a bit of a whip round and he got loads of cards, with people not really knowing whether to settle on a 'happy retirement' card, a 'sorry you're leaving' card or just a 'good luck' card with shamrocks etc. There were some nice gifts as well as a very silly one - they had latched onto the fact that this 'project' involved Ireland and probably an increased amount of gardening, so a green gnome had been purchased.

The ladies in Dad's team decided this gnome needed a name and looked a bit like a (naughty) Albert, so he was named Albert Green. He sat on the window sill all day till about 3pm when Dad was looking to escape, where-upon the fire alarms went off and they all had to evacuate to the mustering points. Unbeknownst to Dad, one of the girls had snaffled the gnome and taken him down to Reception, where they had persuaded to Security Guards to produce for the gnome a proper access turnstile card with ID, photo, name and status "colleague".

This they'd fitted into a clip with proper logo'd lanyard and strung it round his neck. They still had him in their clutches when the alarm went off, so they took him down to mustering and made Dad hold him while his name was called out on the fire register. He (Albert) is now on a charge for not having ticked in on the fire register sheet.

Dad had a great hour working his way all round the depot bidding all the various teams farewell in the offices around the site, with many hugs, kisses, good wishes and handshakes. Finally, returning to his own work area he bid that lot adieu and , on exiting, turned round and raised a great cheer and a riot of clapping by saying "OK Here I go, clocking out for the last ever time! A round of applause please!", holding his card to the 'prox-reader' with a flourish.

Now he's home and is believed to be heading into the Jennings "Cocker Hoop" (beer) at a bit of a rate, so I better sign off before he's incapable of helping me type this. Anyway, Mum's doing steak and chips, fizz etc.

It's going to be a blast


Wednesday 29 June 2011

Erroll minus 1

How bizarre is this behaviour from the Hoppers camp last weekend? They barbecued a Ukulele. I have to stress that this is not some expensive rare, hand made musical instrument, not the Stradivarius of Ukes. These guys have got into Uke playing over the last few camps/years and are now getting quite good at it, as well as moving upwards from the cheap instruments they bought to try it out, up to some sensible quality equipment capable of producing a good toon.

The guy pictured here just right of centre is also a brilliant engineer and craftsman and has made several of his own ukes with designs inspired by the bonnet of the Citroen H-Van, or built around cigar boxes etc. This sacrificial uke was one of the first £3 Chinese made cheapo ones they owned and had long since become disgusted by as an instrument incapable of producing any music so, feeling a bit silly half way through the camp's communal barbecue, and almost for a bet, they decided to see how long the poor old thing took to burn on the barbecue.

Oh - by the way, the enormous bulbous guitar-ish weapon being twanged by the guy on the left is a Mexican "Guitaron".

Dad is now looking at his last day at the old place before Erroll cuts in for real and has been trying to cram as much info as possible into the new bloke against a viciously short deadline. Tomorrow he's in early to bid adieu to his old mates on the night shift and then to do the last day before clocking out for the last time. He's feeling very weird and disconnected. It has not really hit home yet.



Tuesday 28 June 2011


Tonight's post is very strong on the 2CV theme following the camp at the weekend. The grassy picture is taken at the 2CV camp and shows, as regular readers will be aware, Dad's and Andy's 'project car' Mademoiselle, one time twinning gift from La Chapelle d'Armentieres to the N Kent town of Birchington.

Behind Mmle are two kit cars derived from 2CV mechanicals, known as "Pembertons". Although three wheelers, they are based on 2CV running gear and suspension fixed to a 'space-frame' chassis, bodied in sheet aluminium with the engine left mostly exposed at the nose to aid air cooling but also to give the car a 30's Bugatti feel. Dad will verify how much work these guys have to do to build them - the nearer car is owned and was built by one of Dad's mates, Ian, who was one of the four who built Mmle but then sold out his share to buy this kit about 3 years ago - he's been building the Pemberton ever since.

Mind you (says Dad) he is the world's most fussy perfectionist and takes all the time in the world to make sure every pop rivet is exactly aligned and at an exact spacing from its neighbours, and that every widget and grommet is just so. He took Dad out for a blat in it and Dad can also attest to how scary this is, how exposed you feel with no bodywork around you, how exciting the exhaust noise even at 50 and how hot the exhaust is if you lean out like a sidecar rider and rest your elbow on the straight-through tail pipe.

My other picture is, you will also have spotted, one of Dad's and 2CV Pete's 2CVs as seen through a bow fairlead on the good old SB Cambria. More on a possible Cambria development soon.

Day Erroll minus two and counting


Monday 27 June 2011

Sump Oil and Waffles

2 more silly stories from the Hoppers 2011 camp. When Mum and Dad last deserted us to head for La Chapelle d'Armentieres one of the missions they go on is to a deli on the road to Belgium called Wez Macquart (or something sim'lar). This is an olde deli which goes in for horse brasses, stuffer wildboar heads on the wall, agricultural impliments hanging up and , in one corner, an old fashioned waffle iron which intrigued the shoppers.

Comprising of 2 irons with stippled faces which squash together in the heat of a fire, squishing the waffle mixture out into a circular, stipple-surfaced biscuit. The deli was selling these by the packet, but we were guessing that they were now made by some new, pristine, stainless steel industrial process in a big biscuit factory, rather than by some buxom farm wench squishing them individually in her tongs. Sorry. Dad made me put that bit in.

Later in the weekend, Andy (co-owner of the Mademoiselle car) found such a device in a huge flea market at only 3 Euros, so just had to have them. Our hostess, Anne was very amused at the thought of Dad and Andy trying to coax an edible biscuit out of this rusty relic. Not to be outdone, Andy brought them back to his workshop and wire-brushed them to within an inch of their lives and googled Belgian waffle mix recipes (under their English and their Walloon names).

At the camp communal barbeque, after everyone had done their meat and main courses, we gave them a try, the irons hot on their supporting ring dropped onto the coals, the dough squished out flat between the irons, the butter bubbling out and melting and evapourating from the backs of the irons. The biscuits were delicious, like a dense version of ice cream wafers, all sweet from the cane sugar and slightly cinnamon-ish.

And then there was me showing my usual keen-ness to dive under 2CVs to get out of the sun and coming out with a slick of sump oil all down my back. 2CVs are just the right height and I can't resist. Improvement on horse poo, I guess.


Sunday 26 June 2011

Hoppers 2011

Did you miss me? We've been away with Dad to the 2011 version of the annual 2CV club camp organised by the local group of 2CVGB, Kentish Hoppers, at 'our' farm in Preston village, just east of Wingham, near Canterbury. This is a quiet little relaxed camp as these things go, with none of yer wild partying, loud music of heavy drinking, just lots of sitting around in the sun, checking out the Citroen cars which show up, reading, chatting and (for some) plinking away on the ukuleles which seem to be taking over one corner of the site. Lots of chillin'.

We also coincide with the Preston Steam Rally, which is a big meet of traction engines locally, so that campers can, if they wish, walk the 10 minutes across the fields to visit that with all its hoots, whistles and fairground noise, classic cars and bikes, olde agricultural amd military kit, stalls and trade stands, like a mini Kent Show.

We dogs get to drive around in a variety of old 2CVs, including Dad and Andy's "Mademoiselle" car and this bizarre one painted up like a Sebastian Loeb rally C4 (no competition parts - just the paint job!). We sleep with Dad in his little tent and we join in with the chilling out. More on all this though, over the next couple of days. It seems I rolled in a bit too much horse poo and wiped my back down a few too many oily 2CV sumps (I go under them to get out of the sun), so although I did get washed immediately in one of the horse drinkers with just washing up liquid, I am due a proper shampoo.

Byeee.... splosh


Wednesday 22 June 2011

Brail the Sail

As we slide inevitably into the last fortnight and last week of normal life, prior to Project Erroll kicking off, Dad is starting to go through the last chance to see stylee events. Colleagues who are off on a fortnight's holiday for example, are doing that "Well, if I don't see you again..." thing that people start to do at Christmas from about the 15th Dec onwards. Today he bids farewell to much his boss for the last 3 years and to another colleague who he may not see again. Meanwhile the estate agent is on the blower discussing ways to get more viewers through the door.

Down at the quayside, more final preparations take place for the barge to sail away. The main sail gets "bent" on to the mainmast and the main mast, now with its shrouds and forestay attached, is hoisted up. At one point they 'set' (deploy open) the sail and everyone is really impressed by how good it looks.

These big sails are not hoisted and lowered in barges; they are pulled back (or "brailed") like a set of curtains, with the brails acting like curtain tie-backs. This is a big heavy sail, so the brailing is done using a big beefy winch which should be attached to the deck by the main mast base. Only ours isn't yet. So our lads had to brail our sail by hand, 6 beefy shipwrights all pulling on the same rope to haul in the breadth of the sail. Amusing.


Tuesday 21 June 2011

You're On CCTV

This is Cambria's container down at the Standard Quay. You can't get the Graffiti artists now, can you?

Boris seems to have survived his week with us and is reported to be coping OK without our "help". Needless to say we were reverted back to sleeping downstairs so that Mum and Dad could get some peace at last, and we didn't really mind as we were both tired out too, trying to keep up with the little beggar.

This is Mid Summer's Day, so the last day of the much contested tenancy down at the Quay which has seen most of the shipwrights and marine workers evicted from their workshops, causing much chuntering in the town (but not on the Town Council!). Cambria has managed to remain there, along with our Master Shipwright, but even we are due to sail away on July 3rd, the barge off to become a proper grown-up business chartering and stuff. This will be the end of a lovely project which Dad has thoroughly enjoyed being part of since 2007. It's sad, but also kinda timely what with Project Erroll


Monday 20 June 2011

Bye Bye Boris

After driving 400 miles across France to get home very tired last night, 2CV Llew calls to say he will collect Boris tonight rather than last night. Boris gets another night here and we get another night of being allowed sleep upstairs. Today, though. Llew is back in business and texts Dad to say he'll be here at about 4pm after a visit to our local boating chandlers. He's driving his newly finished 2CV pick-up, which looks like a 2CV front half with a wooden farm-cart bolted on behind.

In an amusing role reversal Dad has to go rescue Llew's 2CV from the chandlers because he has a flat battery. Normally it's Llew rescuing Dad.

We have never seen such an enthusiastic welcome as Boris catching sight of his Dad (Llew) - all that bouncing around on rear feet and tail wagging. Dad was left saying "Ahem... I came home too!". Having left the 2CV running in the street because of the dodgy battery, Llew didn't hang around. He grabbed the dog and dropped off a thank-you bottle of Calva, chatted a short while about how Boris had got on and then headed off, at which point Boris had the good grace to look round and say "Oh... is Deef's Dad not coming too?" as if he might miss his new 'bestest mate after all.

It seems very quiet around here without him nand I expect we'll be confined to Kitchen sleeping once more but it's at least a chance to relax. It's been nice having you to stay, Boris. Look after yourself. We'll miss you.


Sunday 19 June 2011

Parting Gift

Who can remember the story of the Commando Raid through a rainy Dublin, where Mr Silverwood went on a secret assignation to covertly capture an unloved westie pup of unknown name and bring it home to their house? Well, that pup became known as Maxwell as "Maxwell's Silver Hammer" was the song Mr Silverwood was singing as he came in the front door with the pup in a bundle. Well. that pup has lived in interesting times since then, having been at one stage returned to the 'unloving' owner who thought they might like him back but then thought twice.

From there was moved to Steak Lady where it didn't work out because SL's own male pup (a Yorkie) was also growing up big and strong and full of male hormones and the two were starting to fight. Maxwell (by then reverted to the name Charlie as per unloving owner) being rather bigger was starting to bully the Yorkie (sorry, none of us can recall name of same - perhaps Mr S will enlighten us?), so Charlie is now back at Silverwoods and is once again known as Maxwell. We all hope this is now permanent or the poor little mite won't know whether he's coming or going. Anyway, with Boris-Pup returning to his real home tonight as 2CV Llew comes back from his week in France, we'll all miss* him and it'll be good to know that the Silverwoods have a young westie pup for us to beat up as we did with Boris, whenever we chance to meet..... Project Erroll; Bring it On!

* We will all miss Boris except perhaps for Mum whose slipper is depicted here from 10 minutes ago on the landing after Boris got bored waiting for Dad to come back out of the shower. My other picture is, of course, Barge-Dog Kess smiling as she looks over the rather tall port bow rail of SB Cambria. Also the neighbours now we have all just been out for a good shout at long haired Goldie, Alfie who was visiting next door. The Nerve!

Look after yourself


Saturday 18 June 2011

Enough Women?

Aside from Mum and myself, he protests, Dad thinks this picture contains his three most favourite women - Clara Bow, Cambria and SB Greta! That should be enough women for any bloke!

Today he's mainly being Treasurer at the Hort Soc Rose and Sweet Pea Show but he's rescued by Mum at Lunchtime and taken to the China Village restaurant for some lunch and (tadaaaa!) turns out to have his painting overalls in his Treasurering bag, so sneaks off to the Cambria for a spot of bulkhead painting. The barge is a-buzz with workers, volunteers and the paid electrician and kitchen fitters all racing to get enough of the boat finished to enable it to sail away and become a charter boat on, apparently, the 3rd of July.

This will be the end of a very nice project for the volunteers who have come together as a very nice community during the painting phase, December 2010 to the present. They are going to be lost and bereft, wandering around the silent Quayside on weekend days, paint brushes in hand, wondering what to paint next, like lost sheep with no shepherd. If you have a boat that needs painting and you can get it to Faversham by July I should moor it up and paint the word "Cambria" on the back. You'll make a dozen wandering lost souls very happy!

Part way through today's painting stint there's a shout to come up on deck - the crew of SB Henry are winching their mast up for the first time in at least 3 years. It's not the newest and shiniest gear on the fleet, so they are taking it very gently. Midway through the task the most enormous black cloud looms over and it starts to bucket down, so Henry's crew and Dad's lot retreat below their various decks and carry on with the tasks in hand.


Friday 17 June 2011


As Dad slides into his last couple of weeks before Project Erroll kicks off properly, and it's all getting a bit scary, a significant financial event (let's call it a windfall, for want of a more detailed description) happens today. This is roughly a month earlier than estimated and predicted, so we all suspect this may be yet another foul-up by those who have become known as "Human Remains", but on this occasion, we cannot hear Mum and Dad complaining. Party time?

Boris is now so well settled in that we will all miss him when he goes home, and probably he will miss us. Morning and evening, mad , loud, scurrying playtime kicks off and all three dogs charge about in and out of the house, round the ground floor rooms, sometimes up and down the stairs and often up and down the garden. Haggis seems to have been rejuvenated by all this and enthusiastically joins in, as well as sometimes attempting to mount Boris and doing a few pelvic thrusts just to make the point that, at 14, he's still young and virile enough for Deefer (Thank You very much, Boris!). This is something no-one's seen him do for about 10 years!

We are all getting nice long walks and Boris's mission on these is to stick to me like glue, so that the two leads are the same length, the four shoulders are in perfect line abreast, and two tails wag in synchronicity, as one. Boris though, is showing a variety of bizarre behaviours which reminds the humans that he is yet, a silly young Pup. These include a desire to rip up white toilet tissue rolls under the main bed leaving them roughly spherical in shape and lying in a snow drift of tissue snow flakes under said bed. He is also prone to pup accidents, and the landing carpet may well get replaced as soon as his back is turned. There have also been similar 'events' on the spare bed.

Have a good weekend


Tuesday 14 June 2011

Curly ends

Tonight the boot is on the other foot and it's me that's 'in the poo'. Dad is glued at present to the TV series "Spring Watch" and that means we are too, as we get a chance to curl up on the sofa 'en famille'. Last night we learned that fox poo can be identified by the fact that it has long tapered curly ends.

Tonight I learned that if you roll in it at the roadside you end up being double-hit shampoo'd in the shower before supper while Boris looks on all smug, amused and superior. No matter, we all got a chunk of the roast lamb bone, Dad hack-sawing the long shank bit in half to make 3 bits for three dogs.

Sorry about the photo, if it is showing as on its side. I have tried over and over to flip it round and it looks OK on the computer but then displays on here at 90 degrees. I will come in again and try to edit it tomorrow unless it sorts itslef out.


Monday 13 June 2011

Good Game, Good Game

Deefer invents new Sport. stop. Wait till you're in the Rec and Dad has Boris on a good strong lead, approx 5m long, then repeatedly run away from Dad in a straight line. The dog who can break Boris's neck in the fewest tries wins. Silver if you only pull Dad's arm out of its socket, and Bronze, I'm afraid, if Dad susses out your little game and bungee's Boris in before he hits full speed and full stretch of the lead.



Sunday 12 June 2011

Duffing up the Boris Boy

Yup, Boris has fitted in quite nicely and is now available mornings and evenings for some serious duffing up by both me and Haggis. These pictures show us largely up the right way and Boris largely on his back, and that's how it should be, don't you agree.

Dad has to disappear down to Cambria to do his painterly duties and they are all delighted to find that SB Beric has snuck in on the evening tide and is now moored alongside. She is in to have some repairs done to her decks and this is seen as a SIGNIFICANT development given all the gloomy talk of the landlord evicting all the shipwrights from their workshops and preventing any repairs going on after Mid Summer's Day which is now only 9 days off. Beric's appearance suggests that this may not be the end of the story.

This afternoon's walk has us down through the allotments and out across the feilds and Dad, feeling a bit brave now that we all have name collars with the new, post-Erroll phone number on, lets Boris off the lead for a while. Boris stays around, but its me who vanishes into the waist-high oil seed rape and fails to re-appear for several minutes causing him palpitations. Got to keep the old bu***r on his toes.

Good luck


Saturday 11 June 2011

The Boy Settles In

That Boy, Boris, is settling in well. He seems to have adopted me as something to shadow - he follows me everywhere. He turns out to be quite a good playmate, too, all be it, I have to gruff at him at the start of every game to make sure he knows its MY RULES we play to, and I reserve the right to change them at short notice at any time I like.

And in a complete turn-up last night Boris gets one back over on the humans and we are back upstairs to sleep. On his first night, Boris was a bit fed up to be left downstairs but his objections took the form of whimpers and crying which was quite quiet and would not have filtered through to the neighbours (although Jim next door joked with Dad, that he's heard Boris at 02:00). Well, last night Boris brought out the big guns, unleashing a fusilade of peircing, loud and non-stop yapping which half the street must have heard.

Mum and Dad brazened it out for 30 minutes thinking he'd give up, but when he showed no sign of relenting, Mum called on Dad to nip down and open the door. Boris and I sprinted up the stairs (although Haggis stayed put) and into the bed. Dad was not best pleased and threatened me with dire consequences if I even considered reverting to my old habits of pee-ing in the bed, but basically everyone went immediately quiet and we all got a good night's sleep. I suspect that this 'solution' may remain in place till Boris goes back home, but for now we're enjoying a return to communal sleeping.

Dad was off today to watch the start of the Medway Thames Sailing Barge Match as seen from Gillingham Pier, and hence these two pictures taken with the 400mm 'pap' lens. There are lots more where that came from, but we won't bore you with those.


Friday 10 June 2011

Boris for Ten Days

As this blog cruises in towards its 1000th posting it has recently passed the joint milestones of 10,000 hits and 14,000 views. Go us - we're never going to be a best seller but it's a quietly satifying way to keep you in touch with our comings and goings and I know its enjoyed regularly by family and freinds, so if you keep reading it, I'll keep a-writing it.

We have a house-guest for the next 10 days or so, young Boris, 7 month old westie of 2CV Llew who is off to the foreign. Not a secretive doggie, our Boris - makes his presence felt in no uncertain manner. He may have had 'abandonment issues' in his difficult life pre-Llew, but he's now very clingy and gets very anxious if Llew leaves him.

Llew has been trying to wean him off 100% contact by leaving him behind in the house for short bursts of an hour or two (and anyone who has done this will know the guilty forebodings that come with shutting the door and trying to ignore the crying, whimpering and yipping as it fades out of earshot, plus the strength you need not to just nip back and check on the dog). You may have also done the getting-through-the-first-night thing when you are trying to break the 'must-sleep-together' bond as we did with Deefs not long ago

So we had a bit of yipping as Llew drove away with the other dog, Rosie (she's 'kennelled' at another friend's for the week) but Boris soon settled to the fact that he still had Haggis and I and Mum and Dad. Then we had another quick upset as Dad went to bed before Mum and then it really kicked off with a couple of hours of yipping, crying, weeoing-and-wailing, scratching, restlessness and chewing of bath sponges and tissues. However, Mum and Dad did not flinch, and everyone managed to get at least some sleep through the night. Boris was very very pleased to see Dad at breakfast time, then Dad went off to work for a half day, so he thinks Mum may have had some more boldness, early hours.

Dog walking with Boris is also an interesting experience as he seems to have no idea of direction. Admittedly he does not know the area, but even so, he shows an alarming tendency to suddenly turn 90 degrees off the pavement onto the busy road, or up someone's drive. He is also a good one for coming back by a different route, thus entangling the lead round bits of gate, fence or street-furniture. He is also a one for 'Maypole dancing', attempting to entangle the lead round a) Dad and b) all the other leads.

We'll survive though, Boris - you'll not defeat us!


Wednesday 8 June 2011

Take Three

Three strong contestants for the role of 'Cute Barge Dog' here. You may recognise Alfie, a yorkie who is part of the furniture on the SB Greta and visible on any visit to the Greta website. Alfie has been around ages and was there to welcome Megan and Haggis aboard when they chartered her for a day's sailing.

Alfie's new young companion is Ludo, tricolour short haired JR, here challenging the cameraman from the deck of Greta, which was moored alongside SB Cambria. Finally another old chum, Kess, faithful chum of one of Dad's fellow volunteers on Cambria, Mark.

Meanwhile, in Project Erroll land, it's all gone a bit quiet. Our most recent viewer was perhaps the most hopeful-sounding, a single middle aged lady with no small child-shaped encumbrances, who seemed delighted with the garden and was talking about bringing her grown-up son back to see the place a 2nd time. Despite themselves, Mum and Dad allowed a glimmer of hope to start to glow, but it was not to be - word came back that she'd decided it was too small.

I love the pictures in the brochure taken by the professional lensman with a very wide angle lens (certainly wider than Dad's widest lens, which is 18mm focal length) as they show the rooms as if they were massive, but I guess when people then see the spaces in real life they might be forgiven for being disappointed. For "We could hold a party for 50 in there!" read "We might manage a small soirée for 6 or 8 guests". Ah well, it's early days yet - we've only been on the market a few weeks.

22 days to go, and counting


Friday 3 June 2011


2 quick catch-up pics of the Cambria taken this week, one of another coat of 'Rosy Glow' undercoat going onto the foredeck and starboard deck, the other of some of the bunks being put together by shipwright Ryan down below.

Last night, though, Mum and Dad, having done their wanna-bee Londoner bit with the Pie and Mash, get a bit glammed up and go to the opening night of an arty exhibition in support of keeping the old traditional shipwrighting skills in the town (and at the Quayside). All the 'great and good' of the quayside and bargin' are there. There is food and there are drinks free of charge, and there's a superb, hour long documentary film capturing the Quayside and the work that goes on, plus some very telling interviews with the local shipwrights and workers, the main protagonists in the Planning battle (especially one 'elected representative') - you can see bits of it on

But now it's the weekend

Look after yourselves


Wednesday 1 June 2011

Pie and Mash (Twice)

AS part of neighbour Jim's ongoing 75th birthday celebrations, he and the Angel Betty are off to re-live their London-bred youth with a traditional Pie and Mash meal at local pub The Ship in Ospringe. Betty hails from Dagenham and then Westham, Jim from Customhouse, so they are London through and through, both having made trips down here at hop picking time along with thousands of their neighbours while they were young and then moving down here to live and to own pubs in the area.

Bet and Jim are going with some friends locally and when Mum and Dad express an interest in this trad food they get invited to join in. In fact many of the London-born but now local folk enjoy these nights, and descend on the pub for this, once a month, including Bob, who used to own a Pie and Mash shop in Canning Town. There is plenty of banter between tables as they all know each other.

The food is (Meat) Pie, with, Mum and Dad, a water-based flaky pastry, mashed potatoes and a greenish-white parsley sauce which was traditionally made with the liquor from stewing eels - this is called 'liquor'. Bet says you would sprinkle vinegar over the mash, and Jim also adds pepper. So delicious that Dad piles through it, starving and then when some of the guys decide to go round again (leaving out the mash), Dad goes round again including the mash. Respect!

The beer is good too, says Dad (Fuller's London Pride) and it's great company so they all enjoy themselves and have a thoroughly good evening.

Who ate all the pies?