Friday 29 June 2018


Erin Mae's pram hood – the cover over the cruiser stern – was made by Wilson's in 2013. Tom, who sold it to us, was a salesman par excellence, enthusiastic, keen to listen to what we wanted, and willing to throw in various extras on the grounds that our first appointment with them occurred while we were moored outside their front door. Among those extras were the "curtains" – flaps of PVC covering the transparent sections, and fastened down with velcro.

Alas, the ravages of time and weather took their toll, and the velcro no longer secured the windows as once it did. In the words of Keith Wilson when I rang him this week to talk about our plight, they had become "ineffective". But, could he fix it? Yes, he could! There are no doubt people nearer who could have done the job, but we have reason to trust him. Yesterday we drove down to Kinver with the hood in the car, and in a couple of hours he had replaced all the "hook" pieces.

Apparently the loop pieces don't deteriorate – otherwise it would have cost us twice as much. We're very happy with the result, and the cover is back in place keeping the sun off the stern – in the current weather it's infinitely preferable to do maintenance work in the shade.

While Keith was toiling away, we paid a visit to the Kinver Rock Houses.

(photo courtesy of the National Trust)

They are caves in the sandstone which had provided a home to a monastic community, but were later converted to family dwellings, and still in use as such in the 1930s. Now they are owned by the National Trust. We had inspected them thoroughly in 2013, so yesterday's visit was chiefly about relaxing in the shade in an interesting place with a cup of coffee. It was a good day!

Tuesday 26 June 2018

Biting the bullet

The bullet in question is the combination of steelwork and paint – I can't think of much else about Erin Mae's adventures that still generates equal measures of trepidation and procrastination in quite this way. But it cannot be denied – her bodywork is not quite what it was in the flush of youth. Part of that is the wear and tear of going through locks, etc. Part of it is the rust that appears for some reason or other. Last of all, it was clear from the start that some of her windows had never been sealed in properly. A few years ago we had three sorted out, but there is clearly more to be done in this area.

So we've taken some decisions. The first was that I should do something. My captain's chair is very comfortable, and the world cup is on, and the weather is exceedingly hot, but the day of excuses is past. The second decision was to paint the gunwales satin black, instead of the green with which Erin Mae was born. They will be far easier to touch up when travel-damage makes its mark. Related to that, the third decision was where the new boundary will come between the black and green parts of the paintwork, and how to achieve that successfully.

So I've started with the first stages of preparation. Fortunately (!) there was a bit of flaking paint and rust in one of the front lockers, so that has got me started with rust converter and primer in a place where bad technique won't be obvious. My first forays into the world of sander, brush and roller have left me encouraged that I really can do something to address the issues.

We shall have to see what Erin Mae thinks about my attempts, come the autumn.

Thursday 7 June 2018

Spectacular days

What with one thing and another, Erin Mae has been left lonely for the last two and a half weeks while we've been in the south – apart from a nice visit on Monday from Chris (NB Wren's Nest) who dropped in to pick up the old set of batteries from where we'd left them on the cruiser stern. Meanwhile we've watched a royal wedding, joined in a thanksgiving service for a former colleague who died of cancer a few weeks ago, and been to Norway to take part in the very happy confirmation celebrations of our oldest grandchild Elissa.

Then it was a waiting game – Daughter-in-law Sarah was due to give birth last Saturday. We thought Erin Mae would understand if we hung around here until our fifth grandchild made his appearance. The warmth and sunshine led to a great barbecue with friends in our garden on Sunday and, yesterday, to a visit to see the roses at the National Trust's Mottisfont Abbey. Wow! It's a special collection of old roses that flower just in June, and they were spectacular!

Bushes and standards and climbers and ramblers. The world and his wife was visiting.

It was while I was still lamenting my technical inability to capture with the camera the full impressions that the eye was getting that the message came through that we'd missed a phone call from the expectant parents. Mottisfont is a pretty dead spot for mobile signals, and we had to take advice and walk a few hundred yards to get in touch. It was great news – though we only got the whole story when home in the evening.

Sarah's labour had started in the early hours. About 7 or 8 a.m. the contractions were getting serious and then the waters broke and Junior started to appear without further ado. While paramedics and a midwife were on their way, Nº 3 Son started helping with delivery on the bathroom floor, one hand holding the phone through which he was getting instructions from someone at 999, and the other stopping the baby's head from coming out too fast! It was relief when the super-competent midwife appeared to manage the final phases and everything turned out well. To the point where Nº 3 Son was able to go and do his gig last night! Well, as the Tesco ad says, every little helps.

So in the last wee while there have been all sorts of celebrations – for a birth, a confirmation, a wedding and for the life of a gracious and gentle man who died too young. We wouldn't have missed any of it.