Bonfires, Benches and Beating the Bounds

I love a good bonfire!
I love a good bonfire!

I love a good bonfire! Clearing up the winter pruning and other debris that seems to self generate here is so satisfying. The crackle of the fire as it starts, then the roar as the wind rips it up through the pile of dead brambles and leaves, warms body and soul. Apple smoke takes me straight back to my grandparent’s garden in Oxted where there always seemed to be a fire smouldering at the bottom of the garden. That, and the smell of old creosote on weather boards and I’m back in the 70s, spinning around in the ancient summer house that rested on rails so as to perfectly angle it to the sun. Or rummaging around to find the croquet set for a game on Grandpas manicured lawn.

In between trips to stoke the fire I carried on with the mast step. First job, clean the rust of my jack plane and sharpen it. One of the problems of living in frost pocket with a stream running through it, is the damp seems to get into everything and all my tools suffer. This jack plane was in a bucket of tools some family friends turned out when I was about 16 and has served me well. (Thanks Paddy and ‘Topsy’ Margaret)

The disadvantage of living in a damp valley...
The disadvantage of living in a damp valley…

McTavish is singularly unimpressed with my sharpening activities as they are using up valuable sunbathing space…

Full name Mr McTavish Pinkerton on account of his investigative powers and ruthless execution of his duties
Sharpening tools under the watchful eye of McTavish

Of course once the plane was razor sharp… yes razor! Note the jewellers loupe for examining the edge…. look its either sharp or it isn’t. I’m not a pedant, I just like it to be perfect… anyway, once it was sharp I decided that what I really needed was a workbench rather than the floor to work on, so, in the style of one of those irritating DIY programmes where they build a floating pub out of scrap wood for no money whatsoever because they had two canoes, 16m square of brand new decking, a bunch of 8×2 all the fixings, and an old gazebo just ‘lying around’, I simply fitted this old bench with some fence post legs and hey presto! A lovely solid workbench right next to the boat!

Working on the ground has its limitations so I've put this old bench up.
Working on the ground has its limitations so I’ve put this old bench up.

Planing Oak is really hard, even when your plane is razor sharp (yes razor!) So little progress made on the step I’ll have to post pictures when I can see a difference 🙂

Meanwhile, in another part of Hundred Acre Wood (ok 3 acres) Chester poses for scaling purposes on some recently felled Larch that we are planning to use as a deck for the Cabin in the Woods… although… I wonder if larch might be a good substitute for Pitch Pine…. mmm.

Chester helpfully providing a sense of scale
Ready for turning into a deck for the Cabin in the Woods

Mother has added to her ‘estate’ and bought a bit more woodland so she and I ‘Beat the Bounds’ and discovered two Redwoods growing in the new plot.

Discovered two Coast Redwoods in mother's new plot!
Discovered two Coast Redwoods in mother’s new plot!

So the weekend came and went, Mother’s Day saw us pottering around the Walled Nursery, a beautiful walled garden near Hawkhurst. Then on to the Brown Trout for what turned out to be a surprisingly good carvery. Delicious beef! More work in the woods this weekend, weather permitting.


Fame for Flamingo

You may have noticed a dearth of activity from the orchard boatyard…. My enthusiasm isn’t waning but even though the days are lengthening there just never seems enough time. Last weekend was no different and despite the glorious sunshine all I managed to do was pop up to the field and note the tarpaulin is just about surviving, poke my head down the companionway to check we weren’t filling with water and that was it!

One bit of news though, I’ve been published! OK so its only the letters page of Classic Boat and they called me Jonathan Weir for some bizarre reason, but still…. Flamingo is in print. Last month’s magazine included an article about a Windfall Yacht from Kiel also called Flamingo which prompted me to write this letter.


Looking forward to lubricating the work with a drop of Old Pulteney!