The time has come for a trial sail with ‘Pike’. Tomorrow’s
forecast looks good, and high water at Burnham-on-Crouch should be at 13.18.
There couldn’t be a better opportunity; therefore I’m planning a fairly early
start for having several hours on the water before returning home.
Hopefully, I’ll be able to report back tomorrow evening with
an account of how things went.
There are still a number of things that require doing before
everything in the garden is in order. One job that was on the list was ticked
off this morning after I assembled a Keter Borneo Storage Box that arrived
yesterday, courtesy of Amazon, only one day after ordering it!
I was amazed how well the components were manufactured. All
the main parts precisely slotted together to form the box, and the lid was
attached with two self-assisting piston operated hinges to aid its opening and
closing. Forty-five minutes after removing bits and pieces from the packaging,
the box was assembled. The only tool required for doing it was a Phillips
I can recommend the box for watertight storage, as
enthusiastic Amazon reviewers confirm that items within their Borneo Boxes have
remained dry and well aired. A few reviewers say that care should be taken when
opening the lid after a heavy downpour, because water can lodge in crevices on
the top of the lid, and it may trickle into the box as the lid is opened.
After assembling the box I was able to do three more jobs,
and there are no pressing ones to be done. The forecast for the next few days
is looking good. Therefore, I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to take ‘Pike’ for a
sail - most likely on Friday, when high water at Burnham-on-Crouch will be at
I finished building the patio a few days ago. Today, my wife
and I gave it the finishing touches by adding six solar lights, a candle
lantern, a hanging basket, a cordyline plant and a dwarf palm tree.
The solar lights were designed with short supports that
could be stuck in the ground, but I mounted them on metal rods that I attached
to the patio wall. This makes them more visible, and dare I say it, more attractive.
At night, the light they emit gradually changes, simulating the colours of a
rainbow, i.e., red, orange, green, blue, indigo and violet.
I made their supports
from chromium plated hanger rods - the sort you find in wardrobes - and I fixed
them to the wall with homemade aluminium brackets. My wife arranged the hanging
basket, and she planted the cordyline and dwarf palm tree in large, square-topped
pots. She also put a decorated candle in the lantern.
Cole and Bright (Manufacturers of the Solar Ice Orb Light)
Before I can take ‘Pike’ for a sail I must check that her
stern buoyancy bag does not leak. When I bought her I found that the bag was
deflated, and I presumed it leaked. It is a 1998 Crewsaver 27 kilogram (60
lbs), 760 mm x 230 mm polyurethane nylon, pillow-shaped bag that is held in
place by two straps.
The cheapest new replacement would cost £33.50 from
Sailboats.co.uk, including free delivery. Altogether I looked at nine online chandlers,
and I thought that Seamark Nunn would be the cheapest, but when I added the
delivery charge of £4.99 it worked out at £35.90. The most expensive was
CrewSafe at £38.45.
I tested the bag for leaks by submerging it in a bath of
water and I couldn’t find any escaping air. Over the next few days I’ll monitor
the situation to see if it gradually deflates.
I’ve just purchased the ‘Ship Finder’ AIS App for my iPhone
which works a treat. There’s a Dutch yacht named ‘Cine Mara’ in which I have an
interest. She’s currently stormbound at Alderney awaiting better weather, and
with the App I shall be able to track her, know her speed and course, her exact
location and destination if programmed by her skipper, along with her ETA. All
of this information is updated every 3 minutes. At just under £3 for the
advertisement free iOS App, I think this is good value for money. The free
version has limited information, and it is spoiled by intrusive advertisements.
An advertisement free live chart showing the positions and
movements of vessels may be had by visiting the Live Ships Map – AIS on a
computer. (See Link below)
There’s an alcove between the garage and the shed which is
large enough for an outdoor storage box, and as I had a number bricks left over
after building the patio, I thought I would use them to make a suitable surface
for supporting a storage box. A Keter Borneo Storage Box would fit quite
nicely, and it could be used for storing the garden furniture cushions.
The photos illustrate what I was able to achieve today. I
shall have to buy thirteen more bricks to finish the job.
When I first heard that Charlie Pitcher was to attempt a
solo row around Great Britain I realised what a difficult task he had given
himself. I’ve sailed quite a bit along the coasts of these waters from as far
north as Peterhead, south and west through the English Channel to Western Ireland
and I’ve come across some very difficult situations on account of bad weather.
Therefore it was no surprise to me that Charlie would find the same, especially
as he would be relying on his own strength and willpower to overcome adverse
weather and many obstacles along the way.
Without a doubt Charlie is a very brave and selfless man who
takes on the most difficult of challenges for fundraising and for testing his
own resourcefulness and endurance. His ‘Day Thirty-One’ blog* tells of his
disappointment at having to postpone continuing his row around Britain, but
sensibly he put his family and business first, since he set himself a time
limit for the row and was far behind the planned schedule. He says it has been
the most difficult challenge so far, and that’s after rowing the Atlantic
twice, completing a Scottish Ultra Run, doing a hundred-and-fifty-one mile
Sahara run, plus several marathons.
Charlie is a hero of mine, and more so for taking on the
most difficult challenge of his life. I wish him success at completing the row
around Great Britain which I believe he will attempt to do next year.
At long last my labours on building a patio in the back
garden have come to an end. I can look at it with some satisfaction. I know
that it is far from perfect, since I lacked the skills and knowledge to bring
perfection about. However, what I did was my very best, and the finish was
satisfactory – good enough to make my wife happy.
At the outset I was a
complete novice, having never built a patio before, and I can honestly say I
never want to build another. Give me wood as a medium, not bricks and mortar,
for which I have little sympathy. Shaping wood with sharp tools is pleasurable,
but mixing mortar and applying it with a trowel - there is no
Take if from me, that is not the last job to do in the
garden. A garden is as demanding as a boat, and it can be just as costly to
maintain. Talking of boats, I must get around to having a sail with ‘Pike’.
When something is to be created, preparations are required
beforehand. Nothing can be made from nothing. Firstly, one must acquire materials
and tools to do the job. From that point, one is able to start creating what is
to be made, but what is made will not be complete until it has been given a
finish. Finishing must take place, because without a finish, whatever is
created is incomplete, unless one deliberately builds into it an unfinished
My patio requires finishing.
When building it, I found it
impossible to prevent the mortar from spilling over onto the slabs from the gaps between them. My
priority was to ensure that there were no voids, and the only way I could
achieve this was by compressing mortar into the gaps. Afterwards I scraped away any surplus, but that left stains on the edges
of the slabs.
Today I have been trying to remove the stains by scraping
and wire brushing them.
At last, ‘Pike’ is at home in her boathouse that had been
occupied by new garden furniture. The latter has been moved to the patio. It is
much more comfortable than the old plastic stuff that has been relocated
further down the lawn. We shall be keeping it there, at least until next month,
because we shall be having a family gathering, and if the weather is fine we
shall find it useful.
Now that ‘Pike’ is under cover, I can see to a few jobs that
have to be done to her before I take her for our first sail.
The first move towards building the patio was taken on 29th
April when I ordered paving slabs from B&Q. Shortly after their arrival on
1st May I started demolishing the old patio to make way for the new
one. My first mention of it here was on 6th June.* At that time I
had dug a trench for the retaining wall, and I was levelling the ground in
preparation for hard core.
Two months and twenty-one days after ordering the slabs, the
job is finished - apart from tidying the joins; therefore I am jubilant,
especially as my wife likes what I have done.
When the joins have been tidied and I have disposed of all
unwanted hard core, unused bricks, plus old sand and mortar I shall be able to
concentrate on ‘Pike’. There are a few things that require doing to her before I
take her for a sail. She’ll take up residence in the ‘boathouse’ as soon as I transfer
new garden furniture from it to the patio.
The whole day was spent with the youngest grandchildren. I
could hardly call the experience relaxing or restful, but it was fun and quite
This morning there was a special service of thanksgiving at
the church for God’s provision and faithfulness to one of our elders who has
stepped down from eldership after many years of dedicated service. Afterwards,
and into the afternoon, we enjoyed a fellowship meal. The children, along with
others made their own entertainment by happily playing together in a separate
Before returning to their home, we took them to the local fire
station where there was an open day with supervised activities for youngsters.
They loved having a go with a fire hose and dressing up in fireman’s clothing.
Back at their home I played lawn football with them.
Needless to say, they ran circles around me and I had to pace myself so as not
to get out of breath. They also played with their toys and they had a game of
Monopoly. A final meal and a bath brought their activities to an end, at which
time they were reunited with their parents.
I’m glad it went that way, because I had a good break from
building the patio, but there are a few more bricks to be laid, and tomorrow
might see me in action to bring the project to a close.
I’ve been very attentive to finishing the patio, but this
morning my wife wanted me to take her to the National Flower Show at Hylands House,
and of course, I obliged. I love flowers, particularly roses, of which there
were few. The fine weather must have encouraged many people to come along,
because even by the opening time of 10.00 am there were thousands there. We stayed
for most of the morning and we saw practically every stand. I was amazed at the
variety of exhibits, but even more by lots of rubbish, including garden gnomes
and so-called garden sculptures.
I was pleased to be on my way home shortly before mid-day,
and by one o’clock I was back on the job of mixing mortar and laying bricks.
There can only be less than a dozen to lay, and the job should be finished,
except for tidying joins between the slabs.
Anything built without a firm foundation is likely to fall.
Architects know full well the structural importance of having a sound base upon
which to build. I recollect that when I was on holiday in Cyprus a good many
years ago, one thing that took my attention was the depth of trenches for the
walls of new buildings. They went down to solid rock. I can only assume that in
that part of Cypress at Agia Napa, the terrain is composed of rock upon which
there is a deep layer of reddish soil.
Today I made the foundation for a single course of bricks
that will act as a retainer where the patio adjoins the shrubbery border. In
addition to preventing the escape of sand from under the otherwise exposed edge
of the patio, the bricks will match others at the top of the wall adjacent to
Parable of the Two Foundations – Luke 6:46-49 Principle
verse 48: He is like a man building a
house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on a rock. And when the flood rose,
the stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, for it
was founded on the rock.
I’m nearly there - nearly where? - Almost at the end of the
Necessity has caused me to temporarily deviate from working
on the final part of the patio which will be a brick edge that will separate it from the shrubbery border. It will match the visible top part of the wall
on the lawn side.
My deviation of necessity today was to attend to a bay tree
that was impinging on the pathway to the patio. It had grown so large that it almost
completely blocked the pathway. I hadn’t cut it for a long time because
blackbirds had nested in it and I’ve been occupied with building the patio.
Because of being so preoccupied I let things
slip in the garden and at this time of year the growth of plants is prodigious.
The lawn at far end of the back garden looked a bit like a hay field,
especially in the vicinity of the pergola. In part this was due to running out
of line for the grass strimmer, which meant I could not attend to trimming the
grass. However, when I was at B&Q the other day I bought a packet of line
for replenishing the empty spools of my Qualcast strimmer.
Now that the bay tree has been attended to and the lawns
cut, the gardens look attractive once again. There are still more jobs to be
done, but they are not so pressing, which means I can focus on
finishing the patio.
Jobs Nearly Done (Info about my Qualcast strimmer)
All the patio slabs have been laid, but to give it an
attractive finish I’ve decided to build a brick edging where it adjoins the shrubbery
border. When that is done and I’ve tidied all the joins between the slabs, the
patio will be truly finished.