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Image: The book cover art. (Buy it now!)
Click here to read the Argus newspaper interview with Wolf E Boy about his book, Bangkok to BC
Bangkok to BC: Chasing Sunsets
By Wolf E. Boy
Its hard to say exactly when it was that the book idea came about, but having returned relatively unscathed from my round the world travels with school exercise books filled with my penned exploits, the following stage was to get them all typed up in order on the computer. That done, I thought, whats the point of having written all this down for no one to see, and there was born the idea for the web site (www.wolf-e-boy.com ) to post it on so that anyone could read it. Together with a few other stories and varied pieces of my writing, I figured Id cracked it, job done. Or so I thought!
Because of the weight of hits the site started attracting and the positive feed back from people reading my stuff, I began to investigate publishing options, the upshot being that contracts were signed between myself and the Book Guild publishers on the 25th November 2005. From that point onwards, its been a long process of editing, proof reading, re reading, choosing images from the wealth of pictures taken while travelling, and finally, getting a design for the cover art, which I have to say is fantastic, thanks to my mate Russell Watts inspired imagination.
That more or less brings us up to date, with the latest stage being publicity and marketing, which began with an Argus newspaper interview over the phone, Rachel was the reporters name, and what a gorgeous voice she had. Shed clearly read up on her subject, so it was more like an enjoyable chat as I reminisced over my global journey, I really didnt want the conversation with this kitten like voice to end! Then Rachel tells me theres to be a photographer dispatched to get some shots of me to accompany the story, fair enough I thought, not overly fussed about having my picture taken, but all in a good cause I suppose.
Well when the snapper turns up, my next pleasant surprise, a proper sweetheart she turns out to be also. Kate turns up armed with all the snappers kit and off we head for the beach, me kitted up with my back pack and Quiksilver floppy hat, feeling like a bit of a plum as I trudge back and forth along the stones with my backpack on while Kate snaps away, telling me to look this way then that, look at the camera, away from the camera, lose the back pack, lets have a big smile, sit here, stand there. And in between this shes asking me bits and pieces about backpacking, as she might possibly be thinking of doing some herself, do it I told her, youd love it.
The result of all this activity was a great piece in the Argus on Friday the 13th of all days!! Not in the least bit unlucky pour moi, the very next day my website hit a new high with nearly 300 hits, and nearly a thousand hits in the three following days. Huge thanks to both Rachel Wareing and Kate Howell of the Argus.
The Argus story had been posted on its website on the Thursday, and was noticed by a producer with Southern Counties radio, he phoned me up to ask if they could do an interview with them later that day. I was working on an old barn roof at the time, so we arranged for the interview to happen at ten to five, cutting it fine to get back from Storrington in time, just scraped home with a minute to spare. Again they knew their subject, making my job very easy, ten minutes we chatted on air, I dont really tire of telling my stories because theyre such great memories to have anyway, and so went my first radio interview.
Thats the latest, the book release date is 26th April, available to pre order through Amazon.co.uk, Waterstones, Borders, and even Tescos!! I could hardly believe it when first I saw my book advertised on their sites. But now its nervous time as I await the big day, so stay tuned and Ill keep you all posted on how its all going.
All help in spreading the word about my website or book will be gratefully received, check it out for yourselves, if you like what you see then please tell someone.
Not much news on the book publicity front today, apparently the entire Book Guild publishing marketing and publicity staff are off on a book fair beano, lets hope theyre pushing Bangkok to BC!!!
The carpentry side of my life on the other hand has kicked off right now, not much work of late, then all of a sudden its flying at us from all directions. One loft conversion on my doorstep to start a.s.a.p, one in the hands of the council for approval, which with their rapier like speed should be ready to kick off in about 6 months time, another goer up near Gatwick, and two other local attic jobs. They all came up in this last week!
So today I took the day off from the Sussex barn conversion in Storrington so me and Ben could start organising our own work. After the obligatory builders brekka in town, its out with the drawings, work out cutting lists for timber and other building materials, make a few phone calls, get hold of the scaffolders, stick some dates in the diary, and generally banter with each other as we go. We have a good cop bad cop routine, which serves us well, he knows I under price, I always say hes priced too high, anticipating each others thoughts, we thrash it out until we come to an agreement. Its when we get to the customers that the routine takes over proper, Bens not one for bending to suit, whereas I give in at the first hurdle and cost us money, so he talks payments and I stick to talking about the job.
After a fairly full day of the above, with customer meetings organised, and prices pending, Ben can get on with sprucing his place up prior to selling, and I get to walk my sisters chocolate labrador, Aero, down on the beach, nice! On a glorious sunny day on the coast, what better way to wind down than by walking along the sand with the hound bouncing around to entertain you. Were on spring tides at the mo, so the tides out miles, and the glorious weather has attracted a smattering of visitors to our shores. Aero went to investigate one such family of visitors, as dogs tend to do, and got a bit of a surprise, they were playing in a little quicksand pool beneath the waterline, up goes our inquisitive hound, then down goes same mutt, wondering who took her legs away as she sunk in the liquefaction of sand and water, and as she scrambles free shes accosted by the somewhat unwanted amorous attentions of their little terrier trying to hoover out Aeros backside!
That brings us up to now, me at the keyboard, 17. 23, counting down to 6 o clock, when I take over the reins for our Monday night Waltons style family meal. Ten mouths to feed a roast dinner, so when the meat comes out at 6, from then til 7 Ill be Gordon Ramsay on amphetamines. And todays a bit special because its the old mans 80th birthday tomorrow, so hell be opening his presents with the family, grand children Jack, Hannah, and Reg included, around him.
Image: The Thakeham barn
I suppose if youve been riding high for a while, then somethings surely got to give, I ought to have had an inkling this morning when the road to Washington was closed owing to an accident. The detour took me through the single track Spithandle lane accompanied by a plethora of other redirected drivers, adding a half hour to my morning trip. It was however a fairly pleasant experience as it was slow enough to appreciate the beautiful carpet of Bluebells covering the woodland floor either side of the lane.
The days work up at the barn in Thakeham was, as usual, like a working holiday, in rural countryside, surrounded by old listed buildings, working with oak which is rumoured to have come from decommissioned ships dating hundreds of years back. Theres something magical about the thought that youre re working an old timber that carpenters from Henry the 8ths time may have chipped away at.
During the day most of the conversation seemed to revolve around slagging off an old mates chippying abilities, or lack of more like, bit comical really seeing hes supposed to be a mate, in fairness though, we give him far worse in his company. Not that it bothers him mind you, he has a quite staggering amount of confidence and self belief in his ability for someone with so little to be confident about in that department!
So with our days bitching and working over I head home to see how the books coming along, cant do too much as the marketing mob are away at the book fair til Thursday. All I can do at the mo is check the Amazon ratings, which in themselves can have you reaching for the sedatives. After the Argus story the book jumped from a ranking of over 400, 000 all the way up to the heady heights of 35, 739, followed by a plummet of about 20,000 places per day since, currently at 115, 942 as I type, lets just say that the initial enthusiasm has taken a bit of a downturn for the mo.
The nailed on local job slipped through our fingers this evening too, although that means I get to spend longer up at the barn which Im quite happy about. So I guess all in all things aint quite as dismal as all that, just negs in the head, which can soon be dispelled.
And the Aged Ps are out for a meal tonight to celebrate his 80th, with me as their chauffeur, that in itself should be reason to smile.
Tomorrow, as they say, is another day!
For a budding authors blog, there aint a lot to say on the book front, and what there is aint exactly inspiring. Checked the Amazon site again, and Bangkok to BC has dropped another 21,000 places overnight, currently ranked 136,983, hard to say how this happens before a book has even left the shelves. Maybe everyones hanging fire until the release date on the 26th of this month, I can but hope I guess.
La dee da, todays been another Brahma, glorious sunny start, walking the hound on the beach at low tide again, once more she took a soaking as she still hasnt sussed out the sinking sand pools, mind you it could also be that she knows shell get a towel down after if shes wet. Then off to the barn in Thakeham to work with the dawn chorus of varied feathered species, Cuckoos, Woodpeckers, Doves in the roof space, and plenty others I havent a clue what theyre called. Unfortunately the doves are nesting, so were having to evict and get rid of the eggs, the client doesnt want them co habiting in his soon to be new home, cant feel too guilty, if it wasnt us itd be someone else turfing them out, or even worse, trying to get hatchlings out. Mother nature doesnt play to the tune of builders.
This myspace business is taking some getting used to, new friends invites, another source of messages out of the blue, and basically one more site to keep an eye on. Itll be a while before I crack it proper, but I shall persevere, still, it keeps me off the Guinness and weed, part of the reason Im now blogging too.
Just had a couple of frames of snooker with the old man down at the local working mens snooker club, so almost ready to force the eyes shut and pretend Im not missing the vices. Cant imagine too many people reading this, but its more to give me something to do than anything else really. Hopefully speak to the publishers tomorrow and find out what the latest is regarding the book, fingers crossed for good news. Off now, boring myself, will attempt to upload some pics of the barn 2moz.
Good start, bad start day today. Still spring tides, so the tide was out miles as I took Aero for her early morning walk along the sand with the sun coming up on another cloudless day. This blissful oasis of peace ought to have had me looking over my shoulder with suspicion. Forget the book for a second (Bangkok to BC, available April 26th buy it!)
I had to make a detour from the usual journey to work this morning, away from the country lanes and through our coastal suburbia to meet up with Ben so I could pick up a biscuit jointer machine from him. Having left early to make up for the extra mileage, not a worry in my head, until I see the traffic backing up in front of me, accident?, no, road works?, no, then I spot the tell tale hi vis jackets of the old bill. Fuck sake I thought, not another bleedin random spot check, but no, far fuckin worse, its a road census!! Peak time traffic, people on their way to earn a crust, and theres an army of muppets in uniform telling whoever they like to pull over and answer some meaningless bullshit questions for an even more meaningless fuckin survey. I was fuming well before I got to them, knowing that Id be rude, waste no time with niceties, and probably be arrested purely because I dont want to speak to them EVER, let alone on my way to work. Well they didnt stop me thankfully, just slowed my journey down pointlessly, and I went on to meet Ben, told him the story whilst building up my blood pressure, grab the biscuit jointer, and move on again leaving Ben laughing but in agreement regarding my thoughts on the subject, (too foul and abusive to put online). Off I drive, calming back down, before, would you Adam and Eve it, another fuckin census stop five minutes further on, how they didnt signal to pull me over Ill never know, I must have looked like a steam vent as the irritation poured from my ears, eyes glazing over, and a general air of demented madness about me.
Only the other day in the news, we have the police force bleating about how they have to spend too much time on paperwork at the station, not allowing officers to get out on the streets and do some real work catching criminals, next thing you know the gormless twats are stopping ordinary citizens, to answer some ridiculous bullshit questions about who the fuck cares what. Whichever halfwit came up with the idea should be sacked, unbelievable own goal for public relations!!!
Well you may imagine my mood by the time I reached the relative sanctuary of work, kept the other lads laughing for some time, and took me an hour or two for the blood pressure to drop back to a safe level. The woodpeckers, doves, cuckoos, robins, and additionally today, swallows soon soothe away any stress, and we once again returned to slating our absent mates carpentry abilities, all in good humour of course.
Then after a thoroughly enjoyable day working in the countryside, drive (stress free, no coppers) back home through the country lanes, walk Aero down on the beach, back home and Allen next door asks me if Id mind sitting in with his 94 yr old dad Bill while he nips out for stuff, an absolute pleasure. Ive known Bill all my life and treasure any time I get to spend in his company; hes not been too well recently and is just recovering, so I gave him the run down of my day, talking mainly about the old barn and how its likely made from old ships timbers, what weve been up to, the variety of birds, their nests. Before you know it Allens back, plying me with their home made beer and the whole day has an infinitely rosier glow than it did at 7.30 a.m.
The book I have to say has managed to descend further in the Amazon rankings, last check 163, 654, without having reached any book shelves yet. Ive stopped trying to work it out, but lets hope that after the release date -26th April- things change. A shed load of people reckon theyre getting a copy so Ill watch with interest. Remember, www.wolf-e-boy.com will lead you to most of my written stuff, this blog included.
Signing off, W.E.B
click here to get your copy of Bangkok to BC
Friday!! Always a good day at work knowing the weekend beckons, however nice the job might be. After my mishap free dog walking down on the beach with Aero, I set about gathering breakfast ingredients for later at work, Beau was bringing in a tilly stove so we could have a fry up brekka on site. As usual the country drive up was a pleasure, got the bin fire going a way from the barn on arrival to clean up the timber debris from site, then set about the oak fascias and barge boards with Beau. The swallows have now started nesting in the barn and the double garage next door, so someones gonna have the dirty job of evicting them before they get too settled, not me though. Its great working in the countryside at this time of the year, young wildlife all over the place in the fields, trees, and barns, but sadly not in the bird boxes dotted all around us, though hopefully when they realise the barn is a non starter then they may think about occupying them.
Breakfast was a success, with moi as the chef du jour, knocking up bangers, bacon, beans, mushrooms, onions, and of course fried eggs, all done to a tee even if I do say so myself, fired us both up for the rest of the day!
Spoke to Laura, the publicity and marketing dept of Book Guild publishers, no more news at the mo regarding the book, but full of encouragement about the recent local publicity, apparently a couple of big newspapers asked for a copy of Bangkok to BC to check out. Shes waiting a polite amount of time before getting back to them with a gentle follow up to see if theres any real interest, fingers crossed again, anything in a national is not to be sniffed at.
After work today, having exercised the hound, there was enough energy in the tank to take on Beau at tennis, then a short swim, now aching every bleedin where. Some might say we couldnt have worked hard enough if weve that amount of energy left at the end of the day!!
Amazon ranking now down to 181, 716, and still six days before release, I shall watch with baited breath to see exactly what happens. Cant sit here any more, the old bods seizing up, bon soir whoevers out there, til 2moz.
Well, there went another weekend of the Bangkok to BC sailing down the Amazon rankings, currently at 234, 000 ish with 4 days to go before release. On Saturday the Aged Ps and self plus bros Anthony and Simon went up country to Small Dole visiting family friends so they could celebrate the old relics (Da) 80th birthday. Barbecue for scoff eased down by a good supply of Guinness, watch the kids, Ross and Tegan racing around the garden on their quad bike, and generally keep us amused as children do. Pete and Debs updating us on the work in the pipeline on the house, Ross and Tegans progress at school and various sporting activities, Ross with his kart racing is shaping up to be the next Schumacher, while Tegan could be the next kung fu kid by the sounds of it. Finished the evening at the bottom of their garden in the shed me and Simon built for them a few years back, first time wed seen it in its finished state. Half of it is now a pool room and guest accommodation, while the other half is for Petes engine tinkering, a liquid night meant no stellar pool playing, but a mighty fine evening in good company.
On the Sunday I took a wander down the Waterside pub on Shoreham Beach, and theyve got a drum band, the Shoreham Beach Batteria bangin out tunes and dancing girls entertainging the crowds, all in aid of St Georges day. Talking about the up coming book to Steve Feniuk and Tim Martin, two local band members of Carlos Sandblow and theyre up for playing if I get a launch party going, so now the pressures on for me to deliver the goods! Theyre also into helping to promote the book, fantastic, all and any help will be gratefully received, as well as John Ellman Brown who owns Stormriders kite and windsurfing shop in Ferry road, also fan-bleedin- tastic!
Feeling fairly light headed having been off the beer and weed during the week, I gently ambled home for an obscenely early night, good effort with work on the horizon..
Storrington again Monday morning, roofers in to start stripping the tiles off ready for us to insulate over the old rafters, while we get on with fitting the oak fascia boards around the barn. Fairly easy day and all done by 1.30, so a short day, which me and Jason didnt mind too much, I had bills needed paying, J has work at home to attend to, all good.
Back home and bill paid, then on to Laura regarding publicity, Im thinking STA travel, who sold me the round the world ticket, but apparently its better if I approach them myself. Also mentioned the band playing book launch idea and she said shell send some order forms for people to fill in to get their copies, and by the way, have you had your author copies yet?, I let her know I hadnt. Then lo and behold, minutes later theres a DHL delivery, and my books were at the door, well what can I say?, the realisation that Ive actually done it, and here in my grubby little dirty work hands were the first copies of Bangkok to BC: Chasing Sunsets. I felt great, then nervous, shit!!!, people are going to read this, now youre out there for real, giving them a chance to have an opinion on your stuff/ life/ writing, and I dont know what else. Having dished out a copy each to the Aged Ps, I set off down the road to farm a copy out to John Ellman at Stormriders, but they were closed, so round to brother Stigs place and proudly and tamely show him the fruit of my labours. He had a couple of mates round so they all took a look and then got on the net and ordered their own copies to help me in the Amazon rankings, I shall watch them with interest after Thursday and the official release.
Feeling as nervous as a really nervous thing, Im brought back down to earth by Monday night dinner a la Waltons, so its back home and get out the oven gloves, and swing into action Jamie Oliver style. That did the trick a treat, calmed me down completely as theres no time to think when cooking a roast for the brood. On top of my game today, everything served up, devoured, cleaned away, and a happily sated family ready for their cuppa tea to wash it down after the desserts.
Now that I have time to dwell on the book, Im too knackered to be nervous, so its worked out fine, just the right day for it to happen, otherwise Id probably have descended on the Waterside to celebrate and made life difficult for work tomorrow.
Soon will be the time for whoever has invested in a copy of Bangkok to BC to decide if it was worth it, out of my hands completely. I have to say I feel quietly confident, at the very least, happy with the end result, one more little ambition achieved. So now I think Ill finish the day off with a big cigarette and a can of Guinness, and allow myself a few self indulgent dreams of what might, or might not, be.
Good night folks
Wolf E. Boy
Image: Our 'Spiderman' tiler, roof stripping
Well, todays the official release date for Bangkok to BC, and the Amazon rankinbgs have been up and down like a bleedin yoyo all day. This morning its up to 17,524, five minutes later its down to 20,501, and by this afternoon its back down to 67,000 ish, then blow me if it aint back up to 18,000 ish by this evening, whats it all about?!!?
Still, people are buying it I guess, and soon enough theyll have an opinion, which I await, nervously. One reader I know of though had a tale to recall to me, Sarah, a girl I met travelling while in New Zealand, told me about how proudly she showed her parents this book which shes mentioned in (Bangkok to BC), unaware that one of the stories shed told me was actually in there. Id told them (Sarah and the group she was with at the time- Henry, Rowan, and Jennie) about my Ayers rock (Uluru) experience, and she tells me how she not only climbed the rock against the expressed wishes of the local Aboriginal tribes people, but shagged her boyfriend of the moment at the top of it. And there it was in print for her beloved parents to read, she thought it was hilarious, so do I for that matter, what a girl.
I went along to STA travel in North Street Brighton yesterday, armed with book, newspaper cuttings, and blurb, to ask if theyll consider advertising it in their shops, seeing as I bought my ticket for the journey through them in the first place. Spoke to the manager Kat Murdoch, and shes gonna give it a read and get back to me, once again, fingers crossed.
The barn job continues, making the Doves homeless unfortunately, thats the problem with converting these old barns, theyve been home to wildlife for so long, that even if you dismantle it completely, they dont know where else to go. This is not an aspect of the job I enjoy.
Currently K- nackered after running around like an eejot on the badminton court, so this will end todays diatribe. If youve got the book, I hope youre enjoying it, but if you havent got it, then click this link and get it! (or copy and paste into your browser)http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_ss_w_h_/203-1258212-4354332?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=wolf+e+boy
Til the next time readers,
Wolf E. Boy
Well folks, its out there now, and people tell me theyre enjoying it so far. It could be a collective conspiracy not to hurt my feelings, but I hope otherwise. No word from Kat at STA travel yet, but shes only had the book a couple of days so far, so no need to worry too soon.
Working on my own at the barn on Friday, roofers finished stripping off the tiles on Thursday, and thankfully the Doves have at last decided to relocate to the Dovecote on the roof of the building next door. Although they also now seem to have taken up residence inside that same building during the day, which is a little awkward as thats our tea room too, so its hands over cup when theyre flying about in there!
Ive been adding oak extensions to some of the rotten roof rafter ends, ready for the fascia and soffits, a nice enjoyable day up on the scaffolding with the current bun on my back, and the Doves seemingly watching over me as they fly all around their old home.
The Bluebell carpets are gathering in size and colour throughout all the country lanes on the drive there and back, and also fields of bright yellow dotted here and there, Spring is launching itself towards Summer with haste.
My position as author now appears to have taken second place to Marketeer as I try to promote Bangkok to BC, and create awareness of it. The internet has to be the best way of doing that, but Im up for any suggestions on the subject, anyone with any ideas, or that feels like they could help, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org . One thing I know for certain, everyone Ive spoken to loves the look of it, so at the very least, its gonna look good on your coffee table, but I reckon theres something in there for anyone to appreciate.
Its early Saturday morning as I write this, my alarm back having once again woken me up, so now I think its time to go and stretch it off. Wishing you all a fine weekend, lets hope the weathers good too.
Andy, aka Wolf E Boy
Image: Barn roof half stripped
Well here we are again, one more birthday to tick off the old life span, and what a gorgeous day its been too. Over the weekend I ramped up the Bangkok to BC promotion, handing out flyers around the pubs, promising to sign any copies bought, hitting everyone on my mobile contact list, and sending another e-mail to all doing the same, basically pleading for all and any help, loads of responses, so it went well. Up bright and early despite the thick head, owing to the fluid intake over the weekend, and off down the beach with Aero, we have the little brown bomber for the week while Lizbet gets her house ready for sale. True to form the mutts only five minutes out and shes found a rotting bird corpse, I just got there in time as she was leaning in with her shoulder ready for a proper roll in the putrid remains. Then she spots the seagulls in the waters edge and shes off and running, starts slowly, but if no movement on the part of the birds is detected then she goes into bound mode along the sand, ears flapping up and down, and body language in general saying bog off.
Get to work up at the barn, and I come across Ali, the sweetheart that lives nearby, coming towards me on the one track road which leads to the place, so yours truly hastily sticks it in reverse for a quarter mile and is rewarded by a beaming smile of appreciation, nice start.
Dean, the governor, had his Golden Retriever Dylan with him today, so plenty of attention seeking from said soft mutt, barking as soon as he was left alone. Its not like being at work, I should feel guilty taking wages here! The shot blaster man came in to do the old oak beams, cleaned them up a treat with the Doves looking on before checking his work out afterwards, quite funny to watch, you had to be there. I finished the oak fascias, with some amazing shapes as we follow the old barn contours, like lovely boat curves, should be quite a feature when the scaffolds struck, all done shirt off in the glorious sunshine again.
Then back home to give Aero her evening exercise, once again the tide is down well past the sand, so she could have a good romp along, incident free, despite the attentions of someones excitable boxer trying to get a rise out of her.
Now contentedly full having cooked our Monday roast, only seven at the table tonight, not that that makes any difference to the amount cooked, so me and the aged Ps will have another roast tomorrow on the leftovers, nice.
Remember, Bangkok to BC: Chasing Sunsets at Amazon.co.uk, check it out readers.
Well my beloved friends, another fine week continues, spring tides make dog walking even more of a pleasure as me and Aero hit the sand morning and evening, and work in the countryside carries on in the blistering heat. Life is good!
Plasterboarding, and celotex insulating over the oak rafters today, sweat dripping from every pore, and I wish life could follow this pattern for ever. Ben joined the crew today, so were motoring now, with Dean happy to see the job progressing, while getting the basis of a fine tan to start the summer off.
Get home and check out the cyber world, pleasantly surprised to see Bangkok to BC leapt up the rankings to 6,950. Not that Im any closer to understanding how they work, but up must be better than down I guess. Currently a bit frazzled by the days heat, so this scribe will be a short one.
Plenty of assistance offered regarding the book promo, so now I have more missions to carry out in the marketing business. An impartial review on Amazon is my latest quest, a couple of hopefuls so far, I wait with baited breath.
Now intend to set myself up with big fag, Guinness, and watch the footy on my new TV, a birthday present from the Aged Ps, come on the Pool.
Hello all again,
another blinding day of sunshine up at the barn, with a nice cool breeze to keep the old bod regulated. Me and Ben got started on the other side of the barn roof, setting out for velux windows, while making them fit to the original roof shape, not entirely straight forward, but weve cracked it between us, and the joy of working in both glorious weather and surroundings continues undented.
Bangkok to BC has been dropping on to many mats this week as the postal service delivers the early sales, and I start to wonder whether I should go and hide or face whatever music might be coming my way! I dont think it would make any difference what I thought of the book, Id still be crapping it, dont ask me why.
Its the Aged Ps wedding anniversary today, so theyre out at their fave restaurant in town, with a couple of snifters at some local hostelrys either side of the meal, yours truly playing chauffeur for the night. Hopefully theyll have as nice a night as they did for the Old Boys birthday.
In between all of the above, me and the boys managed an hour of badders at the leisure center, just what you need after a good days work in the current bun, running around like a loon, chasing a shuttlecock. And not forgetting of course, the brown bomber Aero, walked morning and evening down on the sand at low tides, she also tried to get in the car with us on the way to the restaurant. I could see Squire (Pa) looking for her, then I turn to my side and there she is looking up at me in the driving seat, soppy mare, you gotta love her.
STA travel have said they cant really promote Bangkok to BC because of its lurid content, understandable I suppose, but a little funny when you think about the amount of people they sell trips to that do exactly the things I was up to while travelling, I know, I met plenty of them. They did thank me for mentioning them in the book mind you, a little ironic I thought, but there you go!
Thats all for now folks,
Here we are at another Bank holiday weekend, the glorious weather at an end for the mo, and a relaxing Sunday on the cards pour moi. Ma and Pa had a lovely evening for their anniversary meal on Thursday night, arriving back home with merry smiles on their boat races. Squire (Pa) took a tumble late on and creased his barnet on his glass, more concerned about the glass than his bonce, both of them giggling like kids as we stuck a plaster on the wound, bless em!
The sunshine continued through Friday, making work, dog walking, and the country drives all that much more of a pleasure. The barn roof cracks on, with the tilers in to paper and batten in the south facing side which weve plaster boarded and insulated over, while the Doves appear to be setting up home again inside, as if our efforts were for their benefit. Weve spotted them arriving with what looked to be very uniform pieces of straw in their beaks as they land on the old oak beams, I tried to get a picture but they dont hang around long enough to get a snap, I always carry my little digi camera in my pocket, you never know when a picture ops gonna come along.
Me and Ben began work on the north side of the roof, removing the old oak rafters on the lower section, ready to re roof in new timbers and frame out for three velux windows prior to celotex insulating over the new rafters. Come Saturday, feeling not a little weak and nervous after an unexpectedly heavy Friday night session, as we worked our way to the mid section oak beam plate, we noticed markings on the top section rafters, they were numbered in Roman numerals, so Im guessing this place was built before our present number system arrived. We were also noticing more and more that the Doves continued to arrive with these perfect pieces of straw, then the answer to our puzzlement presented itself, theyve been looting the thatched roof of the outbuilding just along from us, never a dull moment out there.
I hadnt been able to walk Aero in the morning because a thick head caused me to be late, so in the evening I took her for a longer walk down to the Widewater lagoon, where she loves to sniff, frolic, dunk in the wet stuff, and chase all things feathered that stand still long enough. Trouble is with the dunking, the lagoon has algae everywhere at the mo, and it stinks, so Aero stunk, I didnt notice until I got home, river mud was the aroma, and it took a few towels, cloths, and no short amount of water to clean the old bag up, which she also enjoys, the old back leg flicking away furiously when you hit the spot. Its a dogs life.
As for Bangkok to BC, Waterstones in Brighton have sold out of their stock, Amazon.co.uk are down to one copy left again, with more on the way apparently, and the Amazon rankings are down to 55,000 ish. I have now discovered how the rankings work, its on a weekly basis, according to sales of whichever book in that week, not the overall sales, so not really that much help, but I remain optimistic. If theres anyone reading this blog that has read a copy of Bangkok to BC, do you think you might consent to posting a review on Amazon, I realize the books only been out for a week and a half, so many may not have read it through yet, but you would earn my undying gratitude.
Until the next time readers, enjoy your extended weekend.
Image: The Granary 'before'
Well, there went a turbulent week! Theres no easy way to mention the death of a loved one, but Id like to say a few things about our recently departed neighbour Bill Byford, who died on Monday 7th May at the age of 94. Ive known him virtually all my life, a wonderful character, always full of life, down to earth and happy. When we were younger Bill would tell us of his time as a loco driver at the Beckton gas works during the second world war, and also how it was after the war was over, as children we were captivated, and now I know how lucky weve been to have been given such an insight into a world we couldnt even imagine now. They used to carry on driving the locos through all the bombing raids, day or night, unexploded bombs scattered around them on different occasions, taking a different route to work each day because the previous route had been bombed out, incendiary bombs lighting the place up like a firework show at night time, and many more recollections which can be read if you copy and paste the link below into your browser:-
I shed a few tears for Bill, but hopefully hes at peace now, and with his beloved wife Doris, who passed away herself some years back. As always with a death, its the ones left behind that have to carry on, and my thoughts now are with Allen, who cared for Bill and Doris for over 20 years so that they didnt have to leave their dream home, and Brian his brother. Doris family were pub landlords from Essex, and they used to come down to Shoreham Beach for their summer holidays from as far back as 1910, so when, having saved every spare penny over the years, the opportunity came to buy a bungalow down here, it was their dream come true. They are part of Shoreham Beach history, and will be sadly missed.
The barn in Thakeham has taken a back seat owing to weather, and to make way for the Granary refurb which me and Ben have been on for a week now. Using the old oak rafters which we removed from the main barn, were converting the Granary into temporary accommodation, with free reign for our imagination as to design. Inside work while the rains stop play outside, good enough.
As for the book, Bangkok to BC seems to be moving along nicely as best I can tell, it even has its first customer review on Amazon, shown below:_
Suprisingly captivating and inspirational, 13 May 2007
Reviewer: Marty (Sussex, England)
I started reading this journal with the idea of just reading the sections set in places I have been, however, a page or two in and your surprisingly captivated. You feel a real bond with the author in his honest approach to writing.
Up for anything (literally!), Wolf E Boys dives head first into travelling, half planned and organised, half drunk impulsive decisions which leads to some crazy situations. But as he staggers around the world he still manages to educate you about the things he learns for the first time about people, places and different cultures.
I dont know if the journal was written just for himself, or with a view for others to read it but, if you have been travelling this may help to relive some lost moments, if you are planning to go, this book could act as an honest guide, if you have no plans to go, it may well inspire you into the travel agents!
I remain quietly optimistic about the book, but realise theres still a lot more work to be done to create awareness, but at least its nice to know that its being read and enjoyed, its much easier to market something if you really believe in it, so with every review I grow in confidence.
Follow this link to Bill's story on the WW2 peoples web site
Image: Dean and Pip spreading the concrete
An interesting week so far up in Thakeham, pouring 20 tonnes of concrete on Tuesday, this chippy was not prepared! I hadnt been told Id be expected to get involved, so there I was, up to me knees in wet concrete firing out from three mixer lorries in succession as we covered the barn floor in just over two hectic hours. Dean and Pip were like a double act as they talked all the way through the process, Dean repeating the word horrendous every 20 minutes, Pip saying all day long about the same amount, Ben telling Dean to leave that phone alone when it rang, and always the concrete kept coming, firing it into the barrows and getting it laid. It was good fun getting stuck in with wheelbarrows, tamps, rakes, shutter gate to stem the flow of concrete from the lorry down our shute, and general mayhem for the duration, but as Ben said after wed finished, that aint the way its meant to appen Boy, it got done nonetheless though, however messy. So now I have a concrete encrusted pair of work boots, and work clothes, plus the washing machine needed a rinse through to get the dust and gravel out of it afterwards.
The Granary is coming along nicely now, Ben came up with the idea of a bridge between the mezzanine galleries at each end, thus doing away for the need of a second stair case. This proved a highly popular move with Deans kids when mentioned, and arguments between them later over who should have where for their bedrooms when finished.
The wildlife flourishes all around us, Dean came in to the Granary yesterday carrying a Bluetit chick which had fallen from its nest in the barn, still alive. After a brief search, we found their nest in one of the oak knees which join the main uprights to one of the big crossbeams, theyd nested in one of the old tenon join cut outs behind the oak knee, Dean got up there and rolled the little fella back in with the rest of the brood. And soon enough we witnessed mum or dad fly in with food, then off again for more, and the chicks were chirping for England, they make a lot of noise for such small creatures, but its a pleasant sound.
Bangkok to BC continues to plummet down the Amazon rankings, but since Ive been looking into the various posts regarding this phenomena, Ive come to the conclusion that no one should take any notice whatsoever of such a capricious census of data. That said, its hard not to look, and therefore disheartening. Ive been told that new books from unheard of authors tend to be slow burners, because word has to spread through recommendations, my fingers remain crossed. The events of my life mean I dont have too much time to dwell on such things for long, which is fortunate.
No work today, its Bills funeral, cant really believe Ive just typed that line. His face and voice still fresh in my memory, I can hear the car doors opening and closing outside as the cortege gathers now. I dread these moments, theres no right or wrong way of approaching it, just a sense of loss which nothing can undo, I consider myself lucky to at least have such fond memories of him throughout my life.
Image: The Granary, floored out, framed, sealed, and posts fitted
Bangkok to BC had an interesting few days according to the Amazon rankings, up as high as 15,000, and as low as 234,000, there really ought to be a better way to gauge how a book is selling. But word seems to be spreading quite well now, as people I havent seen for ages have been coming up to me and talking about it, and more importantly saying theyre getting a copy, all good.
Mayhem! Plumbers, sparks, diggers, chippies, chaos. All in trying to get the Granary ready for habitation, and Im trying to mark out and build the staircase with sparks and plumbers around me first fixing, all this with a foggy head after another liquid weekend, no good.
Bills funeral on Friday went well, without any religious mumbo jumbo involved, just a small knot of friends and family at the funeral directors chapel of rest, images of Bill from down the years shown on a big screen, and Bill and Allens opera singer friend Johnny Fryatt gave a nice personalised eulogy. Im sure Bill would have approved greatly, and the wake was a nice quiet affair of reminiscing over a beer or two.
Sean full on, for sure surfer, our mass murderer labourer, or as he likes to put it, coincidental mortician, apparently hes discovered 6 dead bodies during his tenure on this planet, either washed ashore or caught in the nets of the trawlers he used to work on. As hes clearing the site with Ollie the boy, hes calmly telling the lad about his extraordinary finds, Ollies looking bemused, and soon were calling Sean the next Fred West, dont upset him Ollie, turn your back and youll end up in the footings boy.
Still a little weak and nervous owing to my weekend over indulgence, so signing off now in the hope of some much needed R&R and recharged batteries for the morrow.
Bangkok to BC:- Chasing Sunsets Spread the word!
Image: Ben at work, the Granary taking shape
Another week slides by, and Bangkok to BC achieved its highest ranking Ive seen so far on Amazon, up to the heady heights of 5,998 at 13.34pm on Saturday 26th May!, so a few copies must have shifted this week I presume. More people are approaching me to ask how its getting on, I cant tell them much really, but do my best to put as positive a spin as I can with the limited info at my disposal.
Work at Thakeham continues apace, dodging between Barn to Granary as weather, materials, and fluctuating work force allow. Ben shot off to Spain on Thursday, Adrian and Eddo stepped into the breach, during which time, the barn roof north face has now been plaster boarded, celotex insulated, and weathered in, while the Granary has been first fixed plumbing and electrics, plaster board tacking completed ready for taping and jointing, kitchen delivered, and staircase straight flight section constructed, both ready to be fitted some time next week, all, I must say, looking quite impressive. Good effort from everybody involved, even young Ollie jumping in and learning new skills under the ever watchful eye of the rest of us. All the new workers immediately impressed with the gorgeous surroundings and general countryside ambience, even more so when the sun decides to shine.
On Friday morning Squire (Da) set off in Crazy Daisy across the channel to Fecamp with my brothers David, Stig, and Simon, plus extra crew Ben and Lisa, in the Royal Escape race, not much wind so they had the donkey (engine) on fairly soon and managed to win line honours in the motor sailor section, which Squire proudly texted to inform Ma. She would normally have gone with them, but this year the race coincided with one of Mas pilgrimages, shes off to Rome for a bit of a religious restorative, sight seeing, and general god bothering. Ive just waved her off as little sis Lizbet is driving her up to the pick up point with her boy Reggie on board, Mas a bit nervous about being late and missing the lift, so theyve set off three quarters of an hour early to be certain, bless her cottons.
Late Friday night I was at a party on board the Fische houseboat on Shoreham Beach, spreading the word about Bangkok to BC in the wee hours as well as having a fine and liquid time of it, glow sticks and high vis jackets seemed to be the theme, with nineties dance anthems played to curious imagery displayed up on screen, all very surreal on an ex German minesweeper. And still made it to work the next day with no hangover, then on to the wedding of my mate Graham to Jodie in the afternoon, and yet more beer in fine company at the reception held at The Green Jackets pub by Buckingham park, being referred to as published author much to their amusement.
Today I feel rudely refreshed, and after this typed effort I think I shall repair to the local hostelry for some more well earned bevies, all the time keeping the name Bangkok to BC fresh in peoples minds, though to be honest I dont have to try too hard as Im quite regularly asked about how its coming along anyway.
Remember folks, Bangkok to BC, spread the word
Image: The Granary ready for taping and jointing
My word, what a day! First off, I went out again last night and ended up in Brighton til later than would be deemed sensible for a school night, had to walk half way home because couldnt flag a taxi til well past the King Alfred complex. Too many late J.Ds robbed me of my sense!, do I learn ?, of course not.
With that in mind, today shouldve been a struggle, on reflection I think it was, but the surrounding mayhem meant I didnt really have time to dwell on it, which was probably a good thing. Me and Ade got started on the Granary kitchen, being closely followed by the plumbers, Greg and Col, who liberally spread their tools and masonry across half the Granary floor, as plumbers do. Somehow we manoeuvred our way round each other and work progressed during the day, moving on to finish the boiler cupboard and the staircase, only bothered by the irritation of a radio failure, cause for tools down in most situations, but still we all soldiered on, cant do too much for a good guvnor I keep telling Dean, which he says makes him nervous. He shouldnt have told me, now I repeat it at every given oppo, this is a site full of grins.
Deans boy Ryan is on his half term hols, so we have the ever inquisitive little fella keeping a watchful eye on us, reporting back to Dad, and keeping the fire going throughout the day, can I burn this? may well become his nickname if hes not too careful. He also seems to have taken a shine to the fair trade of chippying, carpentry looks fun he informed me and Ade.
Ollie told me on the way to work today that hes decided to enrol on a college course for carpentry, Jesus was a chippy I told him straight away, despite my healthy disrespect for all things religious. So perhaps Ill have to start training the boy, hes a good lad so it wont be an arduous task, we even mulled over what sort of joins wouldve been incorporated on the crucifix at tea break, feckless heathens that we are.
While the Granary storms on, the roofers were in battening up the north face of the Barn, so me and Dean had to scale the beast to cut the ridge for them so they could gauge their battens out. Theyll have some fun running that wavy ridgeline in, its like a rollercoaster ride, cant stand to see a grown man cry I told them as I left them to it, at least the sun was out.
During all this chaotic work fun, Bangkok to BC would appear to have shifted yet more copies, its Amazon rankings yesterday had been down to 90,000 ish, and when I got home from work shed risen to the not quite nose bleed height of 29,000 ish. I wont be dancing in the street about it, but its not bad news and I continue to remain optimistic about its chances.
Bangkok to BC, spread the word readers
Feeling guilty right now, shouldve gone in to work today, but shattered so slept instead and had my first Saturday off in quite a while. Turned the phone off last night so I could enjoy a beer in the garden with dear old Da in the evening sunshine, him telling me snippets of his courtship with Ma back in the seventeenth century when all cars and motorbikes were made in Britain, imperial ruled over metric, everyone wore a hat, and if you watched football you wore a flat cap!
The Granary has edged closer to completion, plumbers and sparks second fixed now, me and Ade got the kitchen worktop mitres done, staircase and cupboard under finished, tapers and jointers got the first layers on, and during all this, Ollie stuck a pick axe through the water main, first swing!, much to the amusement of Jez, who was working with him at the time, I could see the look of panic in his eyes he said later. Ollie comes running into the Granary looking for the plumbers to tell them, more laughs all round, all good fun.
The Barn roof is now ready for the tilers to finish, so hopefully well be tiled in soon and work can crack on inside. Me and Ade finished the Barn ends Friday morning, then back into the Granary for window boards, door linings, and Bridge oak apron, followed by a good clean out ready for the tapers and jointers to come in and finish.
Tea break Thursday morning and the gossip is on, the taper/jointers had moaned about the Granary tacking not being too straight, its a barn Dean told them, get over it, short of knocking it down and building a new straight shape, thats the way it is. Then were on to the Ryan Express, Deans boy is a bit of a whippet by all accounts, and Dean tells him to keep up his training, you make Ryan run do ya? I asked him, yeah I do, did your Dad make you run?, yeah he did, silent pause of half a second, runs in the family eh?, Ollie cottoned on first and nearly spat his tea out, and I smiled as I watched their pennies drop one after the other, little things eh?!
Regarding the book, Bangkok to BC is truly international now, copies sold in Norway, Canada, Australia, and the U.S.A, and the feedback has been fantastic to say the least, but Im still no nearer to finding out exactly how many copies have sold.
And below is the latest comment from Kitty, one of my fellow travellers.
my book arrived... LOVE IT!!!
you are a talented awesome writer.
With tributes like these my optimism remains buoyant,
Remember readers, Bangkok to BC, spread the word!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
click here to check out W.E.B's myspace group
Image: Granary taped and jointed
Image: Kitchen units, and worktops mitred
Feeling refreshed after a weekend off for a change, and Bens returned from his latest holiday to join the fray, like a little excited schoolboy back with his mates in the playground, such is the air of contentment that envelops this job. He read Bangkok to BC while he was away, Im honoured, the boy dont read much, and he says he enjoyed it so Im double chuffed.
I let him know how Ollie had kept his shit in the paper flag flying, on Ollies first day Ben walked up to him by the fire with a fresh one hed just turned out in the barn, all neatly wrapped in the previous days Sun newspaper, ere boy, feel how warm this is gesturing at the coiled paper, but Id already mentioned that little aspect of Ben to Ollie on the way up in the morning, Im not touching your shit he told him as he reared away from the offending article. Wetting himself with laughter as I looked on from a distance, he placed his present on the fire, and from that moment on thats just how Ollie disposes of his own presents, gleefully informing anyone new to the job that thats their only option should they wish to take a dump! youll go far boy Ben told him.
When all said and done, we are just kids at work really, I cant remember when it was any different. Me and Ade are often reminiscing about our days as boat building apprentices at Watercraft on Shoreham Beach, and its only really the humour that we go back over. Bens humour is of a far more brutal, earthy variety, and much funnier as a result, like an eleven year old with a sub machine gun.
Anyway, the Granarys absolutely flying now, painters are in, Bens slated the taping and jointing, but the painters said theyll get over it. Me, Ade, n Ben are cracking on with the rest of the chippying, oak shavings all over the place, newell posts, oak aprons, and general last touches being applied. Dean out on the digger laying pipes, and even Laura and her mate Caroline mucking in and staining the skirting boards and architrave prior to fitting.
Its all taking shape now and should look really smart when its done.
Not a lot to say about the book, other than I had a couple of copies thrust under my nose over the weekend, the owners wishing to have them signed, always a pleasure, never a chore!
Bangkok to BC: Chasing Sunsets:- spread the word
Image: Old barn oak newell posts in, with new oak rails fitted, ready for balustrades.
Image: Balustrading completed, and carpet fitted. Almost there!
There goes another job finished!, the crew still hard at it up til yesterday evening, capping a somewhat busy week as all the trades worked around each other to get the Granary ready in time. During the week me Ben and Adrian laid the solid oak floor on the ground floor, followed by fitting the oak stained skirting boards, put the finishing touches to the kitchen, hung the ledge and brace doors downstairs, to be oak stained sometime later.
On Thursday evening me and Jez had a birthday beer to attend in town, catching up with some of the old crew. Brett Carter giving me the low down on this years Scumball rally, his team being the Holy Rollers, an interesting time by all accounts, involving a rectal search in Italy among other experiences as they careered around Europe in the old banger, upsetting border guards wherever they went with their anti religious irreverence in dog collars, may god not bless them and do they care?! I think not. Check them out at www.holyrollers.co.uk . I snuck out before the Jack Daniels took hold, Jez wasnt so lucky and got Wilsond by the bday boy til 1.30, feeling decidedly ropey when I caught sight of him Friday morning to go to work. Weve all been there!
The carpet layers arrived late Friday evening to get the upstairs carpeted and the bathroom vinyl laid, all looking fine on Saturday morning as we set about the final snagging.
Havent updated the blog as regularly as usual, Ive been slacking it in the garden every day with a couple of beers after work. Nice way to finish the day, but no good for getting anything done afterwards. Hope to get around to a bit of character assassination next week to liven up the story, also well be back on the Barn so itll be fresh news re building work.
As far as Bangkok to BCs concerned, well its jumped up and down in the meaningless Amazon rankings, more mates have called to say theyre getting copies and would I sign them. And it now appears that at least 5 copies are in circulation down under, from Perth to Darwin, and over on the east coast in Queensland and New South Wales, this can only help, I hope!
Remember readers, Bangkok to BC:- spread the word!!!
Another week just flew by again, Id swear times speeding up!!
The barn at Thakeham is moving along now, tilers getting the roof tiles laid and velux roof lights fitted. While we begin framing out inside, fitting windows, walls and suchlike, overseen by the fledgling doves and swallows cheeping away, Dean cracks on with the landscaping outside the Granary. All we need now is for the long awaited steel fixers to come in and fit the mezzanine frame so we can carry on with the upstairs sometime soon.
The weekend just gone was Beach Dreams on Shoreham Beach, a liquid affair for all as we got to watch our local talent perform up on stage while we necked beer. A good time had by all, though a little too bleary for much recall Im sorry to say, but the bands were excellent, especially Carlo Sandblow and Absent Elk, both putting on great sets and rockin the place, pictures of that weekend now on Facebook.
More copies of Bangkok to BC signed in the last couple of days, but as always still no clue as to how its going. Had a crappy review from Alan Lush of Real Travel last week, but it was childishly written so Im not too upset, what can you do?, one mans meat is another mans poison. Bangkok to BC is a journal, meant for fellow backpackers really, and students, or any one else that might be thinking of travelling to enjoy themselves.
Anyway, to whoevers reading this, I apologise for the lack of any riveting detail at the mo, I kind of phased out of the typing business for a bit, hopefully as the job moves along again therell be stuff of a little more interest to write about.
Nonetheless, remember, Bangkok to BC:- spread the word!!!!!!!!!!!
A nice lazy week of doing whatever I felt like just gone. What can I say, weve had Aero again this week, so dog walking on the beach morning and evenings, highlight (or lowlight really) of which was finding a washed up dead dog, a whippet I think, with no front legs or head. It mustve been in the sea for quite a while as it looked a bit like a carcase you might see hanging in a butchers shop, I had to shunt the ever inquisitive Aero out the way before she attempted to roll in it. Lots of rain and wind this week, so lots of sails out on the water, either wind or kite surfing, always good to watch, especially the kites when they pull big air and flying, great visuals.
Thursday was a nice day, strolling through Brighton with no game plan. Went into Waterstones in Churchill Square and found Bangkok to BC in their travel section, with a tag underneath with local author written on it. It was still quite early, or at least Brighton didnt seem to have woken up properly by then, (9.30 a.m ish), all the shops and stalls were setting up tables, chairs, putting out stock, filling shelves, it made me feel a bit like a tourist, and the sun was out between the intermittent clouds which were vaulting across the skyline. Another thing I love about Brighton is how, youll be ambling along, say Western Road, then hit a crossroad, look down the hill and theres the sea. West streets probably the best example of that, but any of those roads heading down to the sea, I dont tire of that view. Im rambling again, but if anyone reading this comes from Brighton, or visited, youll know what I mean.
Thursday evening I trotted down the Waterside pub to see local band Carlo Sandblow performing an acoustic set, minus their drummer Rowan, whos at Glasto this week. As always they were awesome. Steve (lead singer and guitar), Tim, James (guitars), and Anna (vocals), playing a variety of styles, mixing up quality ska tunes, a bit of contemporary country western stuff, and plenty else besides to keep the packed house happy as the beer slid down. Great night.
Saturday me and Ben made a trip up to the barn to drop off some materials from his lock up, as his departure to Oz draws ever closer and ends need tying up. I took the camera with me as I havent been up there much this week, and was pleased to see the progress made by the roofers and welders. The north face of the barn is all but done, looking great, and the mezzanine inside is ready to get cracking on now that the steels are in, so were in for a busy time next week, which is just how I like it. Bring on Monday.
Bangkok to BC:- spread the word people
Image: Mezzanine up and studwork started
Image: Mezzanine floor studwork
Hello again readers,
where to start, well my last scribe brought you up to the 24th June, so Ill try and bring things up to date a bit. With the mezzanine steels fitted in the barn, me and Ben cracked on with the timber joisting at almost production line speed from Monday 25th June, and the heavens spilled open from above in biblical proportions. While we were joisting, Adrian was working on the mastercrafting of some heavy duty oak work on the entrance, giving it a good coat of looking at (an Adrian saying), as he made and assembled his work of art woodwork, all done old style, using mortice tenons, half laps, and wooden dowels (wood nails), and to his own exacting standards. As it was entrance work, he took a fair soaking through the day, looking the definitive drowned rat by the end of play. Jez even had his time cut out bailing out to stop the waters flooding in to the lower level of the barn, gulleys not yet put in.
Through the week we finished the joisting and caber floored the new area out, and were all prepared for the stud walls to go up. I had a stag do in Poland to attend for a mate I met when travelling, Donny, from Ireland, so Id be absent for the early cream of the studwork while Ben and Eddo crashed it out, very tidily I might add. There was a decent amount of interesting stuff left on my return though, filling in between the oak beams right up to the roof, satisfying stuff.
While all this goes on, we have our own bird watch wildlife sanctuary to keep us amused, the Doves have a nest right where the mezzanine floor starts, and weve been watching with interest the progress of the two chicks coming along. Just Friday we saw them open their wings for the first time, and feeding with mum and dad seems always to be a frantic affair as they launch their little beaks into the parents gob to suck out the regurgitated goods, wonderful stuff to witness.
I have to confess, Im afraid on Wednesday I killed one of the Doves, not deliberately, but its dead nonetheless, so I dont suppose not meaning it matters a great deal. They crap all over our tools, work, and on occasion us, so every now and then we try to move them on, one such way is to fire the nail gun nearby to frighten them a bit. Unfortunately they dont frighten easily and often dont bat an eyelid, well I aimed to give them a fright, but instead took one out with a shot straight in the head and it dropped instantly to the deck but was still flapping, I felt quite sick inside at what Id done, but the poor little fella still had to be put out of its pain. Its not a pleasant experience having to stove a four by two timber into the head of a creature that was happily cooing only a minute or two earlier, and it took more than one go to finish it. Then I wrapped it up in a newspaper and put it on the fire to cremate, the smell that filled the barn from the smoke was an unpleasant reminder of just what Id done, Doves revenge perhaps.
Youll see by the pictures how far the barn has come along, were already waiting on the plumbers and sparks, with Paul having come in and plaster boarded one side of all the walls, and a cracking job he made of it too, following all the lovely shapes that the four hundred year old oak has to offer.
Regarding the book, Bangkok to BC seems to be in a downward spiral at the mo, although its still being talked about warmly, to my face at least. The Irish lads said theyd mention it when they returned home, though whether theyd remember anything after that weekend is anybodys guess. I felt poisoned afterwards, these boys have beer for breakfast, and quickly noticed what a lightweight I am in the drinking stakes, with comments such as do you want a knife and fork with that beer Andy? sure and youre making a meal of it so you are. What a great bunch of lads they were, collectively and individually, but I think Id die if I had to drink with them on a regular basis.
Anyway, thats the story so far, if I could keep myself off the bassett I might manage to update this a little more often, well see. If you are reading this, would you mind telling someone else about it, and the book,
Bangkok to BC
Spread the word readers
Image: feeding time for the nippers
Image: and again
Image: mezzanine gallery wrap around floor, stud walls, tacking
What can I say?! Slackness is the only word for me, over two weeks since the last update, and shedloads has happened in the meantime. Me and Ben have formed the downstairs studwork walls, and built a gallery floor out from the mezzanine, wrapping around the rear barn entrance to create a balcony which will overlook the oak extension which were some way into now. During this, Paul has all but tacked (plasterboarded) the upstairs after the plumbers and sparks had finished first fixing, plenty of interesting shapes for him to scribe around with those lovely old oak beams everywhere. Dean is with us full time at the mo, tying in all the brickwork, groundworks, drainage etc, and generally the job has moved along quite nicely thus far. As Ben gets ever closer to his immigration date, his time on the phone seems to increase as he organises the big move down under, no small task from what Ive observed. He continues to favour Adrians saying of giving things a good coat of looking at, sometimes two or three coats!, in between all this he also finds time to crack down on the boy Ollie under the guise of whipping him into shape, for is own good Boy, hes right but you cant help but wince every now and again as he cranks up the ginger growl factor on the lad.
The bedroom and bathroom floors downstairs have been blackjacked and screeded now, with plumbers pipes boxed in and screeded up to, outside weve begun cladding the barn with oak wainy board, which youll be able to see in the pics easier than me explaining. And currently me and Ben are building the oak extension to the rear of the barn, a pleasant enough contract top be on, but a bit of a head fuck, especially on a Monday morning following a Sunday sesh!, but we soldier on Boy, suffering in silence, not ones to go on eh!.
The wildlife in the barn continues to thrive, and crap, all over the place, we have two sets of Dove chicks now, and they dont look far away from being able to fly about and add to the ever increasing guano piles we daily have to scrape off timber, floors, tools, you name it. Theyre industrious little breeders, continually at it!
As the building progresses, choices are having to be made regarding design and suchlike, so Laura has to be dragged away from Richard and Judy, Trisha, or other such compelling daytime TV which she somehow fits into her punishing schedule, dont know how you find the time boss we tell her. I think as long as she knows that we know that she is the real boss then were ok!!!
Today, being Monday, Im happy to have survived, now sat comfortably in front of the keyboard, the family Waltons with swearing dinner out the way, belching sounds echoing down the corridor let me know the family digestive systems in full working order as they all depart after their bout of Mastermind and University Challenge viewing.
Regarding the book, Bangkok to BC had a mini boom over the weekend and flew nearly 300,000 places up the rankings, at the same time as this web site got flooded with hits. I dont know what triggered it, but lets hope for more of the same, although I still have some major marketing to do if Im to really get people to know about it. So once again peeps, :- Bangkok to BC- spread the word !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! PLEASE.
Oh yeah, HI ZAC, hope youre still reading this mate!
Image: 8" by 8" oak posts in position, tenoned into the oak plates, heavy shit man!
Today I shoot over to Ireland for a wedding, the follow up to the Polish stag do a couple of weeks back, so heres the barn up to date, chicks n all.
Firstly, on Tuesday Paul liberated the oldest two chicks from their nest at about 8 in the morning, they flew five or ten yards down on to the floor outside, stood around cheeping for a bit, then waddled off into a bush and stayed there for the rest of the day. At the end of the day, having realised mum and dad werent gonna track their nippers down, we coaxed the chicks into a cardboard box and reintroduced them back on to the mezzanine under their old nest position, now cleared away. As we stood back and waited nervously, ma n pa came along eventually, and re established the parental bond, quite a satisfying moment. Next morning I was pleased to see the chicks up on one of the main oak beams, so the wee fellas are flying ok, a little bit anyway, ma n pa trying to encourage them to fly from beam to beam but the young uns seem to be like lazy teenagers and just watch mum and dad gormlessly. All great to watch though.
Amid the birdwatch entertainment, the oak extension has progressed nicely, with all the posts and beams now in place, ready for us to cut and pitch the roof when I get back next week. Dean continues to tie in the brickwork at the rear of the barn, Paul is now boarding the downstairs, while Sam has started the taping and jointing upstairs, robotically walking around in his stilts yesterday as he joints up the higher areas of the barn walls, all starting to take shape nicely now.
Cant write too much now, as I have to get my shit together for Ireland, but just a swift reminder of why I bother with this blog, Bangkok to BC-Chasing Sunsets my book, please spread the word!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Ill be back next week some time
Image: the chicks hit the outside world! then dive under that bush!!
Image: oak work taking shape
Image: 'wainy' edge oak board cladding finish
Hello again peeps,
now where were we?, last time I scribed I was off to Ireland for a wedding, and what a grand time I had, lovely place and people. First off, Donny is a sound lad I met when travelling through S E Asia, and have remained in contact with, so when he invited me to his stag do in Poland I knew it had to be done. Then, having met his Irish Brotherhood of friends and hit it off, Donny asked if Id like to come over for the wedding weekend, when hed make an honest woman of Sara, no contest considering it would be my first visit to the Emerald Isle.
Quite handily I snagged a lift from Dublin airport with Donnys brother and sister in laws to be, David and Ruth, a lovely couple, also recently betrothed. So there I was in Ireland for the first time, being driven through the extremely verdant, lumpy, and winding countryside, getting a potted geography and recent history tour guide from the newly weds, informing me about the Irish drive to encourage new car ownership with a 2000 euro incentive per car owner to ditch their old bangers and buy new, and the story of a railway line built on marsh land which sunk, wish Id been able to witness that one! All the time accompanied by the relentless rain, as if us Brits hadnt seen enough of that just recently. David and Ruth had their own story of just desserts to tell me too, when house buying not so long ago, they were gazumped and had to look for somewhere else, and the place they were beaten to just happened to be in the middle of the worst hit flood areas of England, near Tewksbury I think, Im sure I detected a wry smile on their faces as they told me the story! David I should tell you, is not your ordinary fella, got a first at Imperial College London in engineering, then head hunted, and now designs nuclear reactors, while Ruth is destined to be the next great thing in interior design from what I could make out, I dont take lifts from just anyone!
So anyway, we arrive in Edenderry, County Offaly, and so begins my initiation into all things Irish, jayz n thats a fierce deadly task so it is. Beer and humour seem to be the national pastimes, and I was happily on the receiving end of both for the duration. Luckily I wasnt as much of a letdown drinkwise as I had been in Poland, though I still wont be winning any prizes for it.
Its a bit like being thrown in at the deep end when you arrive in a new country, but Donny and Saras friends and relatives made me so welcome, and so easy to talk to, with ready wit never far away. Remembering names was my worst fear, but I think I got away with it overall, although there werent as many Patricks as I might have expected! Other than the wonderful hospitality, friendly people, excellent Guinness!, and overall geniality, Id have to say my highlight was listening to the boys jamming in the marquee on the Saturday night, playing banjo, ukulele, guitars, and drum, while singing lovely old Irish folk tunes, a fitting finish to a grand day. Lots of pictures taken to assist my ever ailing memory.
When I returned, it turns out that there are stories galore to hear, the old man cracked his bean on a winch as they sailed back from France that weekend, caught in severe weather in the channel, the old man pokes his head up into the cockpit to see why the course has altered, sees Ben at the wheel with an oh shit look on his boat race, just as a huge wave crashes over them sending the aged Da smack into the winch casing, resulting in a healthy shiner and a few cuts, not bad for an eighty year old eh?! And on the same day, my sisters boy Reggie came off his trusty treader while two up with his mate, hits the deck face first with his mate Joe landing on top, kiss goodbye to Reggies front teeth, roots n all, poor little fella, hes only 15.
As I half expected, on return I needed the Monday off to recover, which actually turned into two days off, so there I was back into it by Wednesday, starting on the cut and pitch roof for the oak extension at the Thakeham barn, all being done as old stylee as poss.
The barn has moved on a few stages since I last posted a blog, with painters starting some of the rooms ready for decorating, Paul taking care of any dry lining work, Dean has the chimney under way, and it looks like itll be quite a feature. Also the shot blaster man returned last week to clean up the rest of the old oak, and distress the new stuff so it doesnt stand out so much. We have young Reggie with us during his school hols, preparing himself for a life on the tools perhaps, a fine worker hes proved to be so far and his tea making is pukka too, most important.
While the building work carries on, the wildlife continues to keep us entertained. The Doves have been moved out of the barn now, but the Swallows are still in the garage gable peaks, and their four chicks are now flying, amazing us with their aerial acrobatics as they swoop and swirl in and out, sometimes just inches from your face, as if its a big game to them to make us jump, just great to see.
Financial advice:- watch me, do different. I wont charge you for this advice.
I bought my house in the late eighties just as the market crash began, then managed to sell it in 2002 just prior to the biggest jump in house prices ever in this country. With what little proceeds I came away with, I was advised to invest in ISAs, which promptly crashed and lost £1500 in its first six months. So now, 5 years on I decide its time to cash the ISAs in and guess what, in the last month alone, £500 has been wiped off their value because of the stock market crash!! And to cap it all, as Im talking to the Legal and General operative at his call centre, he says, you ought to seek advice from an independent financial adviser, if I hadnt listened to a financial adviser in the first place, Id be much better off mate. Oh well, as I said, watch me, dont follow!!
Remember folks, Bangkok to BC, its my book, tell someone about it, spread the word
Image: The oak extension at the rear of the barn
Image: Deans wood burner hearth
Good grief !!, I hadnt realised just how long its been since Id posted an update for this blog. Where to begin ?. Well, Ben, my long time work mate and great friend has emigrated to Australia with his family, T and Josh, at present travelling around that gorgeous continent in a 4 by 4 with caravan in tow. More about them after Ive caught up with the barn.
Today the glass men arrived to glaze the oak extension at the rear of the barn, when last I scribed, I think wed barely got the main posts in, masses has happened in between. Upstairs on the mezzanine floor is second fixed throughout, with oak skirting and architraves, door heads clad in old oak, salvaged from the original rafters we took out from the bottom half of the catslide roof section at the front of the barn. The doors are ledge and brace oak beauties with black iron furniture in true olde worlde style, handles yet to be fitted. The bathrooms have been fitted out and tiled very tastefully, and, more or less, upstairs complete and looking quite impressive.
Deans feature chimney looks magnificent in its completed floor to roof finish, sectioned off with oak rings for extra character, again using the reclaimed oak courtesy of ex rafters. Also the painters have been moving along nicely, thus showing off the barns glory as the paint contrasts the old oak everywhere to such great effect. Day by day the little differences may not so easily be seen, but now as I write, checking back through the multitude of pictures Ive taken, I can see what a huge overall improvement has come about since I last blogged.
Most of my time just recently has been taken up with the oak extension, inside and out, but the old garage has been taking shape as the various trades have done their bit to bring it along, it T bones the barn, and will house the kitchen eventually, as well as a wonderfully spacious dining area, very open plan. Currently the decorators are in there putting the final coats on the walls and ceiling, and staining up the exposed beams. Its hard to express just how roomy the whole place is, but nowhere comes across as claustrophobic, yet a homely feel emanates throughout the building, maybe because of the low oak clad windows, which give a Hobbity touch, or the huge oak beams that are two stories up yet seem close enough to make you duck. Either way, it all appears to work, so far anyway.
Weve had a little addition to the workplace, in the shape of Rolo, a choccy Labrador pup, and Ive been hard pressed to keep my camera away from the little fella, what a bundle of mischievous fun. If hes not stepping in paint trays, nicking our breakfast, attacking the broom, ripping up the family wardrobe, or keeping Dean, Laura, and the boys awake, well, whatever he hasnt already done, Im sure its in the post!!
I know I cant have done proper justice to the last couple of months in this update, but Ill try and add bits retrospectively from now on, while keeping the blog alive as I go. Hopefully, some of the pics I put on the web site will help to visualise some of whats gone on.
As regards my book, Bangkok to B.C,- Im afraid its ground to a halt at present, so Im considering my option with that small matter. But if anyone would be kind enough to keep its memory alive, Id be mighty grateful. Whoevers reading this, hi and thanks for taking the time, Ill endeavour to be a little more regular from now on. Bonjour all.
Image: Dean's completed showpiece chimney
Image: Upstairs, Hazza's bedroom 'window wall', 'Hobbit' stlye
Image: Laura's 'Porch'!! tiled and glazed
Not so long to wait this time. Speaking from an English sport fans perspective, that wasnt one of the greatest weeks to have disappeared over the horizon, but I guess if youd suggested at the start of the year wed have our boy racing for the chance to be world champ, the funny shaped ball lads in the world cup final again, and the footy team playing Russia on the back of five straight victories all at 3-0, Id have probably told you to lay off the drugs. Im not too despondent, things may go for the better on another day, as much they might have done last week but didnt, Id been enjoying the ride along the way!
These autumnal/ wintry mornings certainly stiffen the old bod up on site, the barn is like a giant outdoor freezer, actually colder inside the damn thing than out!! But were moving on nonetheless. Gradually all the holes are being filled by glass and doors, and the wood burner is constantly kept going from the moment we arrive, somewhere to bring back the feeling to our extremities during the day, and sit in front of at tea breaks.
Out the back Glenn and Reggie have been grading and spreading soil, tidying the look of it up considerably, Glenn in the digger and Reggie on the barrow. No doubt Reggie will benefit from, and enjoy Glenns humorous outlook and witty one liners, depending on how much the poor lad can hear with his dodgy ears.
We have 2 Sis on site at the mo, big Si the sparks, and medium Si me bro, a jobbing chippy. Light fittings, sockets, underfloor heating, outside cupboards, wood dowels, window beads, sealed glass units, its all happening. All hands to the pumps as we try to close in on the final push, me and Greg (tiler) are currently working alongside each other in the icepit of the barn, trying to get the downstairs bathrooms done, Im on the oak work while hes putting the finishing touches to his tiling. During all this, Dean, whilst involving himself in various jobs, marshals the trades as best he can, while Laura, his Uber lieutenant watches over both him and us.
Basically were coming to a stage where a lot will seem to happen very quickly, but itll just be the culmination of the efforts put in lately, when the oak flooring arrives for fitting a massive change will appear.
Among the mayhem, we have the boys on half term in and out the place keeping us amused, never forgetting Rolo, always snapping around foraging for any food. Simon glazed one of the sections next to the front door and Rolo promptly ran into it with a thud, much to his confusion, soon forgotten as he bounded off with the echoes of laughter ringing behind him.
Then at the end of the day, as I inform the crew its time to bog off, Deano snags me with a wind up, whats this? You leave earlier every day, dont know a proper days work, blah, blah, yours truly bites, then the airs blue with abuse and old muggins here has been reeled right in much to everyone elses amusement. Bloody bricklayers! I should know better, ah well.
Right peeps, that was longer than I intended, hope you dont mind. Remember what this is all for ? Bangkok to BC spread the word. Im hoping to actually get round to sorting a night out for it, down at the Waterside in Shoreham if anyones interested. Ill let you know more soon,
Mashed potaters folks!
Image: 'Chuch door' on, glazing almost
And there goes another week, dont they just fly by as we get older!
Another busy week at the barn has seen the kitchen tiled and ready for grouting, Dean and Gregs handiwork. Quite a turnaround from the garage it once was, formerly home to the nesting sparrows, sparrows that are doubtlessly sunning themselves on the African continent now, hopefully enjoying a well earned rest after their long flight over. Also this was our windswept tea room when first we arrived on site, looking out through the opened garage door to the apple orchard, lawn, and ploughed fields beyond. Now its a hugely spacious, soon to be, kitchen diner, with dark stained beams and purlins contrasting with the white painted walls and vaulted ceilings. Darkened bronze mini chandeliers hanging from the apex, east and west aspect French doors, north and south aspect windows, all woodwork dark stained to improve the contrast. Overall a really great look, and when the kitchen is fitted, marble tops n all, I think the whole effect will be quite stunning.
Outside Simon has been building and oak cladding the boiler housing, keeping the look in line with the barn, while Glenn and Reg have quite literally moved mountains (of topsoil) to landscape the surrounding grounds, Glenn even letting young Reggie have a go on the digger, which he loved every moment of. The painters, John and Rich, have been coating the barns Wainy boarding (oak cladding), and the oak extension (Lauras porch!) with Danish oil, giving it all a richer, more orange hue to its appearance. Im impatient for the scaffold to be struck, to fully appreciate the view.
Master Reginald has taken to totting copper since he was made aware of its value, so never a scrap is seen about no more, while each evening he has a booty bag filled with his days swag to take home. All doubtless going towards some addition to his recent acquisition of a small cabin river cruising boat, bless him, he slept on it the first night he Steve, ( his mums fella), bought it, such was his excitement. Lizbet (mum) got a call from a discomfited son at 6.30 the following morning, please can you come and pick me up mum, Im freezing. He also has a new scarf now, told Grandma of his stiff neck, and during that same evening shes knitted him a scarf to combat the cold. Shes something of a human dynamo really, dear old Ma, rarely stopped still for long, and nearly always manufacturing something for someone.
Back to the Barn, since wed fired up the wood burner in the Barn lounge for the first time, its become our tea area, constantly fed to keep the worst of the chill out of the place until all the holes are plugged. And this week its been fed with some fairly special timber, an old oak rafter from the 11th century building next door, a 6 inch by four inch, woodworm destroyed beauty of a piece, possibly even from the time of the Mary Rose. Well you may say sacrilege!, but it was taken out because of its dreadful condition by their roofers, and left on the skip, I couldnt see Baldrick and his Time Teamers coming along to investigate it, so in the woodburner it went, and much appreciated it was as it crackled and hissed alternately as we devoured our sandwiches whilst keeping the ever hungry Rolo at bay with our outstretched feet.
During the week, as Simon, Reggie, and ones self were driving down the lane on our way home, coming the other way was a timber lorry, the oak flooring being delivered. As I pulled in to let him by, with a wide smile I turned to Simon and said to turn his phone off, doing the same myself, and off we went happily home. When I turned the blower back on a little later I was greeted via text, by a mild stream of invective from a semi irate Deano, him and Glenn had the unenviable task of unloading that lorry. They were not a little annoyed, but saw the funny side too. As I said to him later, weve all had it done to us at one point or another, so you just cant let an opportunity like that pass, now can you?. Yeah Im a rotten swine, but Im a likeable rotten swine, and Im sure that makes it even more annoying.
Right my dearly beloved readers, signing off now, til the next time,
Mashed potaters (laters) folks.
Yep, illness is here, along with the dodgy hat rack, wiping out Monday. But as I usually find, Id rather be ill at work than at home, so my week began Tuesday for a change.
I first got involved in this project, way back in April (for a couple of weeks he said), through a mutual mate of mine and Deans, Beau (Mark Blackwell). Then, two weeks after having brought me in, Beau then bolted to another of his own jobs and hasnt been seen or heard of since. Til now that is, his other work completed, hes coming in to take some of the chippying weight off my shoulders, and mighty grateful I am. So Beaus fitting oak doors, skirting boards, and architraves downstairs, as well as tidying up any loose ends as he goes, all good.
Im also working downstairs, on the burnt effect oak flooring, the same stuff we avoided unloading last week, so were coming to a semblance of a finished look inside. Outside, Deans been laying the brickwork to form an entrance to and from the oak extension at the rear of the barn. Hes also struck the scaffold so we could step back for the first time and admire the unobscured view, all we need now is the turf laid! Glenn and Reggie continue to barrow and flatten mounds of MOT across the grounds, preparing the walkways and driveways.
Amidst this hive of activity, a new source of entertainment has arrived, in the shape of Chloe, Glenns ten week old Rottweiller puppy. Along with Rolo, the pair romp about the place, play fighting, and Rolo is already the bitch in this game, Chloe clearly too much for this playful pup. He over does it, she snarls, he yelps, and thats it, pecking order marked out. And shes still only half his size, hilarious. Its just as funny listening to Dean make excuses for Rolo, hes just biding his time, or Glenn thats my girl, all obviously tongue in cheek in case some tree hugging animal welfare aficionado is reading this.
So there you have it so far, if youre reading this on Myspace, you can check out some of the barn pics on my website:- www.wolf-e-boy.com on the barn and granary page.
I think over the next week or so, the pictures will say far more than my words will manage.
Image: 'Garage' kitchen, tiled n ready to grout
Up early n feeling rough, flu is shit. Reggie arrived with Aero on time, but I was still all over the place, forgetting stuff and generally getting the start to the day all wrong, any road up, eventually we got away after last minute sandwich making, filling the car with water to combat the previous days overheating, dumped all the recycle stuff, filled up with petrol, got the papers, and picked up Simon from his place. Same as most mornings, but in a fluey haze it all seemed much harder, what fairies we are when a bugs around.
The drive up is as inspirational as ever, with seasonal changes affecting the colourscapes of the tree leaves, all yellows, reds, purples, and oranges, well lit by the low winter sun. This is still a journey Id take for no reason at all, to just see.
Up at the barn its a hive of activity as pretty much all the trades are represented while the big push is on. Mark is working his carpentry magic, weaving old and new oak together as he continues to second fix the downstairs bedrooms, some tricky stuff going on there, but to a grand effect. The sparks, Big Si and Steph, plus lad, seemed to buzz about the place with tools, wiring, and fittings, but I didnt have time to spot what they were on, doubtless important. I continued with the oak flooring and French doors to Lauras porch, Simon (bro) carried on with the troublesome guttering, not so easy with the unhelpful levels of the barn roof plates. Deans patio work is taking shape nicely still out back, brickwork and slabs combining well. Painters upstairs, kitchen fitters in the old garage area on their second day, Glenn and Reg making light work of the pathways and driveways, and Laura hovering occasionally to check on progress. It all makes for a busy, productive, but fairly enjoyable days toil. Apparently the job has admirers, which may lead to more work after this one, well see if they can afford us!.
The pups, Rolo and Chloe continued where they left off yesterday, scrapping playfully all around the barn and granary, eating things they shouldnt, and entertaining everyone all day long. At one point we had Dean and Lauras youngest, Louie, feeding Rolo MOT (wet gravel) from Deans pointing trowel, and the same daft mutt later shat out a piece of celotex insulation! The fool animal eats absolutely anything, hilarious. Mind you, its not just the animals that want attention, Louie calmly lobbed a bolster, narrowly missing Deans head as he was slabbing, then decides hes not into being told off so turns tail, bottom lip a quivering, and the chase is on as Dad sets after boy to mildly rebuke him for the act. Never a dull moment up at the barn!
Image: Rear of barn now the scaffold's struck
Image: Inside, looking out of the 'porch'
Remember remember the 5th of November! Here it is again, except now we cant even have a bonfire for the occasion, just as some numpties banned the bonfires from being built on the beach a few years back, now theyve even put a stop to the main event bonfire opposite the Church of the Good Shepherd, this time citing the beach as a conservation area. When we were kids we were all involved in the building of bonfires, ready for the big occasion, and thousands of people came from far and wide to witness our efforts go up gloriously in flames, best night of the year by a mile. And all those wild beach plants managed to survive not just that one day in the year, but all the weeks of building up to it, otherwise they wouldnt still be around now then, would they!
I despair of all these interfering know nothing gits, doubtless theyll do away with the day completely eventually, and replace it with that sickening beggar fest which is Halloween. One more reason why this place is going to hell in a hand basket, its easy to see why so many vote with their feet and bugger off abroad.
Right oh, thats my rant out of the way (for the moment). The barn is well and truly motoring along now, with bodies everywhere, painters, plumbers, sparks, chippys, brickies, and labourers, all doing their bit. During this increased effort I still combat the germs racing around my system, not very successfully mind you, not that Im one to go on you understand, keeping it under me hat, suffering in silence n all that. Dont like to mention it really, you know, the great fight, the will to battle on regardless, well maybe a little! So, the barn, well all the holes are now plugged and glazed, so the place retains some semblance of warmth that the woodburner kicks out during the day. Me and Mark are eating away at the list of chippy jobs, Im still on the oak flooring, Marks completing the second fix downstairs, while the other trades likewise home in on the finish, so a real end is coming into view at last, and who knows, maybe I might even get some time off before Shitmas hits us, possibly even escape the damn thing and hoof it off somewhere warm, I live in hope.
Just returned from the Bonfire night firework display on Shoreham Beach, nice ten minutes of aerial pyrotechnics, and then? Some band called Diablo playing what seemed to be country and western music on the roof of the Beach toilets! Call me old fashioned, but I cant see how tonights efforts could even begin to compare with those fantastic, unorganised bonfire nights of yesteryear. Bonfire night used to last most of the evening, fires all along the beach for as far as the eye could see, people brought their own fireworks, and the fires went so long that many were still going the next day. Wed even come home from school the day after, and stir them up as we foraged for any unexploded fireworks that had been left or lost amongst the beach pebbles, simply fan-bloody-tastic!!!! Sense needs to be restored here.
Thats me lot for the mo, the pics will say more:- ( www.wolf-e-boy.com ) (if youre reading this from Myspace). Wherever you are, I hope you had a better Guy Fawkes night than I did.
Image: 'Laura's Porch' full frontal !
Gday again folks,
Its been a pretty mild week weather wise, and the Barns been like a snowball gathering pace as we home in on the finish line. The boiler was fired up on Tuesday, and has been left running on thermostatic control since, so the place is toasties now, I was actually working in my t shirt today for the first time since the summer. Mind you, considering the whole place is wrapped in a 4 inch blanket of celotex insulation, it ought to be warm once the heatings on, probably got better thermal values than a walrus.
The oak flooring in the main lounge is nearing completion, despite a few headaches over which lines to choose to follow when laying the floorboards through the barn. Much scratching of heads, and plenty of coats of looking at, and Im still not happy. The problem is, that with a barn conversion, part of its appeal is the very fact that it isnt all straight lines, parallels, squares, and levels, but weve been programmed in our worklife to seek out all these things as a matter of course. Here youre actually encouraged to create shapes and ignore the rigid constraints of usual building practice, but nonetheless produce a quality looking finish and built on solid groundwork. This probably sounds like a well versed line in bullshit, even to me!, but when you look at the lines and curves of the Barn, I think youll get my drift.
Mark has finished second fixing the downstairs bedrooms and hall way, joining me in the lounge where hes using the flooring to make skirting boards out of, no straight forward affair to fit either as he also has to follow some oceanic wavy lines. But with a myriad of cut lines on the back of the boards, he got them to follow the waves.
Outside, Dean, Glenn, and Reggie have grafted continually to shift dirt, lay turf, and create some of the features which will define the surrounds of the property, always followed by the ever playful pups Rolo and Chloe, scrapping almost every minute of the day, except that is for tea breaks, when theyll be doing their utmost to convince us theyre starving to death. I just caught Chloe in time today as she was dragging my home made flapjacks off the shelf, they aint shy!
Stress:- big couple of days for stressing out, (on top of my flooring dilemma), since the heating was fired up, damp patches have begun to sprout about downstairs, so floors and boxing channels have been coming up as we turn leak detectives, a common enough occurrence, especially in a job going on as long as this has, but until you locate the source of your leak, its sweat time.
And the sparks have had their version of the same problem, cables not pulled through the walls by the dry liners, so theyre having to cut holes in the walls by guesswork to locate where the missing cables should be coming out for their sockets and switches. Fortunately by the end of today, most of the riddles had been solved, but not before a few brows had been well mopped. All this stuff takes minutes off your life and adds lines to the boat race Id swear.
All in all its been a big week really, we have running hot and cold water, heating on, electric sockets live, lighting rigged (temp), and the marble guys were in today to template for the worktops in the recently fitted kitchen. During all this activity, weve had a respite from Lauras ever watchful eye, as illness has beset the Granary, so shes nursing the nippers, temporarily we are spared the wrath of her cracking whip!
What else?, well next door, in the even older building, Trevor wants me to sort some roof lights out for him, not a massive task, but when youre dealing with hundreds of years old buildings then nothings straight forward, me and Mark will put our heads together for that one. Then Trev tells me Dean says youve had a book published, Bangkok to BC ?, having told him he could Google Wolf-e-boy, or the book title to find it, Ive tried to talk him out of purchasing a copy, but I think he feels obliged to shell out in return for my time, dont blame me was all I could say as I left, I will rang the reply. Oh well, one more copy I suppose, its a nice thought so I should be grateful, if a little embarrassed. I may elaborate further on the subject later.
Tomorrow Im hoping to have a massive clear out at the Barn, ready for a photo session, so check out wolf-e-boy.com over the weekend to see how things are looking, til then,
Image: Patio done and turf laid, looking good!
Image: The 'burnt oak' Barn lounge floor. Bigger pics to follow!
Image: oak floor down and looking good
Image: Oak steps from kitchen to lounge
Today was a bad day! Sometimes you just know it would have been better if youd stayed in bed, today was such a day pour moi. Da had come down first thing to be greeted by two large dog deposits on the lounge carpet, and the strap on his favourite watch had busted. So there I am, across the table from him drinking me tea, thinking shame about the watch, and glad you got to the crap first, but not -are these bad omens for the day ahead. Well, I guess those into the astrological bullshit might be laughing at me now, cos that was a lousy effing day just disappeared over the horizon, if I had a shred of decency about me Id refuse wages for it. Fortunately I suffer from a conscience, but not outright stupidity, so Ill worry as I bank the cheque.
The Barn is edging ever closer to completion, with Mark carrying most of the chippying burden at present, leaving me to bumble around some of the easier tasks (mostly). The oak ledge and brace doors have been his mission today, as he creates blocks, and patterns to take the olde worlde black metal door latches to the bedrooms and bathrooms, and all looking damn fine so far.
Big Si and Stef have overcome most of their nightmare scenarios with hidden wires, and lighting has been flickering downstairs for the first time. Poor old Stef was tearing his hair out last week as he played Shirlock Holmes to track these elusive cables down, then Si comes in the following day and after me and him putting our heads together, finds two switches straight off. We had a little giggle, for which maybe today was my payback!
Bro Si and the Slim King Jez cracked on and completed the wainee boarding at the east Barn end, so theyll be indoors tomorrow pearing off oak dowels and throwing a bit of Danish oil about the place as we try to get Lauras porch ticked off the to do list.
Deano struggled with boredom putting the aforementioned oak dowels in, there are hundreds of them, you can finish these if you like, Im losing the will to live he said to me at one point, I was tempted as I was struggling with my own issues and just ready to rev the engine up and head for home early. Luckily Beau saved my bacon and sanity at the same time, coming up with an answer to my headache, and jumping in to help sort it out, he could probably detect the air of lunacy and bewilderment about me, and realised I needed saving. Maybe when the jobs finished and Im elsewhere I might divulge the details of the dilemma, but not yet.
Still, no one died, Ive still got all me limbs, and tomorrow just has to be better than today, (famous last words?), so Ill go in and make the effort, but I defo need a holiday!
I think Ill have a beer tonight, aye, appen I will!
Hmmmm, that last blog was a little more than prophetic!
Suffering from inordinate amounts of brain ache, I stumbled to a halt up at the Barn, struggling to manage even the most trivial of tasks, and not wishing (or willing) to get into it with anyone, jumped in the motor just after morning tea break, and hoofed it outta there. Sometimes its better that way, (for me anyway), get clear of whats frazzling your head, turn the phone off and just drive. So there I am, driving through the gorgeous frost covered countryside, noticing it more than usual for some reason, carpets of fallen dead leaves everywhere, low sunlight spraying through the half stripped tree foliage, and a trickle of something Id been pretending couldnt be happening slid down my face. It felt almost like a small pressure release, but before Id had time to think too deeply, there at the side of the road was a rabbit, up on its haunches, looking across to the other side, he looked proud in his stance, a bit meerkat like, but not so mischievous. All I could think at that moment was, dont do it mate, you see a lot of roadkill up and down the Steyning bypass, in Tasmania they told us it was a sure sign of a healthy wildlife, the bigger the population, the more roadkill you get, hopefully that proud looking rabbit hasnt added to the sleeping dead we see so much of every day.
So there you go, voices in the head saying cut it out you poof!, you aint breaking down over nothing!!, combating the twitching face muscles which seem to have a will of their own. Without any real thought I ended up at Carats café over on Southwick beach, drinking coffee as I skimmed through the bullshit that passes for news in one of the red top rags. These rags are actually good for me, the crap they print forces me to get angry, taking my mind off other things.
You cant sit forever in a café, so I jumped back in the car and decided to head for Brighton Marina, thinking perhaps a film might not be a bad idea, American Gangster even, yep I like the look of that one, dirty cops, politicians involved, all criminals together, something to reaffirm my already held views regarding these particular scumbag institutions. But, obviously still not thinking straight, driving to Brighton? Are you mad?, well not mad, but not exactly clear headed either. As any one who has the misfortune of having to negotiate Brighton by road on any sort of a regular basis will tell you, its a nightmare, not a question of whether youll get stuck in a jam, just where and when. I didnt have to wait long, just before the Hotel Metropole on the seafront, and its backed right up, barely moving, so I take a side street which leads me up the Floral Gardens, shimmy up Montpelier street, then pull a right on the road above Western road heading to the Clock Tower, stay with me here readers, this might easily happen to you!. Ive driven this route many times, but now its a restricted area to private cars, for buses, taxis, and emergency services only, but you dont know until youre actually in the damn thing from the direction I took. There I am again, steam spilling out me ears, I must look like Im demented to pedestrians as I smack my head, screaming to myself, how the fuck do I get out of here legally, camera signs all over the place, so Im probably going to get a fine in the post. You see where Im going with all this?, theres a lot to wind you up in this country, everywhere you go, and if youre already boiled over, that shit aint helping.
I made it to the Marina in one piece, but too early for any films, and American Gangster not showing until the weekend, so I went for a walk, looked at the boats, and finally alighted at some flash looking restaurant/ café, where I did what I like doing so much, people watching. Coupled with a nice mushroom concoction, followed by an omelette with side salad, and washed down with a glass of rather posh red wine, I felt a bit daft for having walked from the job, but I think it was necessary. And having seen how much else there is to annoy us in this crazy place we live in, I think I can return to work on Monday and appreciate the positives more than homing in on the negative aspects that try and fog the train of thought. Im sure there must be those of you reading this that recognise some of these situations, heres hoping you find your way of dealing with them too, personally I recommend putting distance between yourself and the problem, if its possible, and come back later with a fresh head.
Image: November arvo through the 'Porch', chandelier alight
Image: Haunting early eve look of Hazza's bedroom feature window
Image: Thinking time for Beau on the oak staircase
Image: stair carcase in place
Image: Oak staircase, newell posts, and handrails made and fitted on site, looking ace!
I dont know!, one minute Im tearing me hair out, and eight days later were almost over the line and finished, whats it all about?. Well firstly, weve had three chippies on site for the last week, myself, Beau, and, Rob Yelland since Tuesday, and what a massive difference that makes. All of a sudden, something that might be a struggle on your own, is overcome in an instant with three experienced heads put together, and I could feel the stress had gone, while at the same time the element of enjoyment in the work had returned, along with smiles and laughter, what a change around, excellent!.
When I came in on Monday, I was surprised to see the staircase had been started, stair strings (the sides) had been marked and routered out, and the newell posts were marked and ready for routing. Beau had come in on Saturday to do the mental part in peace, with no one else around, I felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. It rained all day but not once did it dampen my spirits as I set about routing out treads and risers while Beau continued with the thought process that tests the head so much on the newell posts. That night at the trough, cooking a family roast for the clan of eight seemed a more enjoyable experience than usual, possibly helped by the fact that a third chippy, would be coming up to the barn the next day, lightening the work load even more.
On the Tuesday, with the three chippy amigos on site, we all set about the newell posts Beau had marked out, each using a different method to chop out the mortises, Beau using a spade bit (after a failed attempt with an auger bit), Rob making a jig for his router, and me setting the router up with the guide and plunge routing. I wouldnt normally mention such detail but for the fact that Beau brought up the subject of Top Gear, the TV programme, likening our efforts to the three presenters racing each other using alternate modes of transport to reach the same objective. Basically, what hadnt even occurred to us at first, was then very much on our minds, if only for humorous reasons, much like the TV programme too really. My method had an unfair advantage though, as I had no jig to make, and no hand chiselling to do afterwards either, so I won the unofficial race.
After that, Rob set about making all the oak wedges to go under the risers and treads, and the balcony newell posts, while me and Beau assembled the newels and stair strings, preparing for the following day when wed all start putting the staircase together.
While all of this is going on, Dean, Laura, and young Reggie, are doing their level best to clean the place up ready to move in, its a forlorn effort really. With three carpenters making a staircase and balcony balustrade on site, dust and chippings flying everywhere, tools and benches spread all about the place, youre wasting your time trying to keep it clean until were finished, oh well.
By Friday everythings coming together nicely, staircase in, balcony newel posts, handrails, nosing and aprons in, all solid oak, and all made, shaped, and fitted on site and looking great, and Beaus lovely surfboard shaped bottom tread really finished the staircase off a treat.
Ma and Pa even made the trip up to see this barn theyve heard so much about, it was good to be able to give them the Dime tour and check out some of their offsprings endeavours. Ill never be entirely happy with anything I do, but Ill definitely look back on this particular job and remember what an enjoyable time it mostly was. Their have been some unmemorable moments, or more accurately memorable for all the wrong reasons, which havent gone down in this blog, which I may or may not elaborate on some other time, but like any story, nothings ever over until the dust has settled.
We still have a couple of days of work left yet, but I believe the pot has more than run dry, so some of the remaining jobs might have to be put on hold, as may our wages if its that bad, lets hope not eh. Either way, if you look at the transformation from April to now, its been amazing when you consider we never had a plan to work to from the beginning, and the place has to be worth a small fortune on the open market, a wonderful testimony to the ideas and efforts put in by everyone over the last eight months.
By the way, my book, Bangkok to BC, is still on sale to anyone thats interested.
Image: Balcony newel posts and handrails, mortised, tenoned, and doweled
Image: Beau putting the finishing touches to his 'surfboard tread'
Firstly, yesterday was our final days work at the Barn, financial constraints having forced the issue somewhat. It isnt finished properly unfortunately, but when the moneys run out then what can you do, hopefully in due course funds may become available to complete the last few bits and pieces needed to be done.
Beau and Rob made a considerable difference to the work turned out this last week and a half, so not only was a fair amount completed by them in that time, but to a high quality finish, which youd definitely hope for in a prestige job like this. As I said a while back, when it all comes together at the end of a project, its the culmination of efforts put in from day one, but its also the care which goes into the work at the end that makes the difference between an ok or a great finished product, Beau and Rob were that difference.
I wont go in to too much description of the work, hopefully the pictures will portray that after the dust in the building has been hoovered away. But bodies have been flying all over the place trying to ready the Barn for habitation, much the same as they were a few months back when preparing to move into the Granary, that seems a lifetime away now.
As always the dogs have entertained us all throughout, but Rolo has been the undisputed star of the show to the end, only Monday gone was he stepping in a paint tray at the same moment as Neils mistimed lunge flattens the wee hound slam into aforesaid tray, legs out and belly down like a brown paint mop turned white. And no sooner has Dean washed the little fella off, than hes chasing Poppy, Neils 2yr old Labrador cross, trying to hump her every spare opportunity he gets, once he works out what goes where hell need watching.
Si and Stef had one last Shirlock mission to complete on the wiring, a cut wire short circuiting, courtesy of the screeders by our calculations. And Laura brought in help for the cleaning up detail, Caroline, which they followed by splashing on some Danish oil to the new oak on and around the stairwell, bringing up a rich finish to the woodwork which was admired by all.
Away from all things construction wise, I received a letter from my publishers today, informing me that my book has sold just 104 copies, as virtually all of these have been bought by mates, Im afraid its just confirmed my long held suspicions that Ive been sold down the river marketing wise. So for £11,500 ish outlay, I get a pretty book published, a few phone calls made to a paper or two, then see ya later, ta for the dough, youre on yer own now mate. I definitely wouldnt have bothered if Id been made aware that the most important part of the whole deal would be left down to me, Id have gone down the far cheaper route of online publishing, with someone like Lulu, or Author House. But there you go, thats how these people make their money, they prey on the lack of knowledge, and, Im afraid, vanity, of their clients, which is obviously why theyre referred to as Vanity publishers. Encourage you to believe that they believe in your writing, then nurture that belief without committing themselves to legal recourse.
So I guess the upshot of that last paragraph is that I have to publicise Bangkok to BC meself if I want it to get anywhere, so thats me next step. But for now, anyone thats reading this who doesnt already have a copy, Google Wolf-E-Boy, see what comes up, and buy a copy!, please.
Ah the joy of no work, reading the morning paper after walking the hound down on the beach, coffee on the go, wet outside, warm inside, no set plans for the minute but time to clear a few long standing chores out the way, nice.
Yesterday I dropped Reggie up to the Barn so he could work on the big clean up, then Beau picked me up as we headed off to meet up with Rob for a game of tennis, I still ache. At our age youd think wed have the sense to rest at the end of a job, it turns out that Robs a bit of a sports junkie, into Squash, Badminton, surfing, Skateboarding, Climbing, and, Im sure, plenty else. Me and Beau have played tennis against each other for years, were no great shakes, but are evenly untalented enough to have an enjoyable contest. Rob, though clearly not a tennis player, was learning fast, and coupled with his ridiculous fitness levels and height advantage, I reckon would be kicking our arses given time, which I dont intend to do. Mental note, discourage Rob from further forays into tennis. We drove down to the Sea Lane Café on Goring seafront afterwards to grab a breakfast, laughing about the comedy racket Rob had borrowed from Beau, the grip dye had turned his hands turquoise, as soon as we arrive the two dudes are checking the swell, doesnt do it for me in this weather, but whatever floats your boat I guess, there isnt a wetsuit thick enough to encourage me into our waters at this time of year.
Beau dropped me back up to the Barn to grab me motor, so we had a quick deco around the place to see how things were going. The Barn lounge lighting looks great, uplighters showing off the rafters a treat, while the kitchen fitters were in finishing off their bits and pieces. The place looks clean again, and blinds appear to have been fitted to all the windows now, still not quite ready for me to get in there with my camera for the final shots, but not too far off.
Meanwhile, the website has hit a few new highs this last week, no idea why, but its had over a thousand hits in the last five days, equalling the daily record of 301 on the 24th, then trashing that on the 27th with 353, its a shame I dont get any financial benefit from that, but hey ho, at least it proves its not a waste of time eh.
Im off to the Concorde 2 tonight to see my mates band Absent Elk play, theyre on at 9 o clock, so looking forward to that.
If youre still reading this, then perhaps youd be good enough to google Bangkok to BC afterwards, just to see what happens, and maybe buy a copy, go on.
Oh what a lovely day, not. As I write I can hear the wind and rain screaming, whistling, and lashing down outside, although it has to be said, when youre inside the warmth of your home looking out at the bending trees and rattling fences, and a freshly eaten cooked breakfast in your belly followed by a nice hot cuppa to wash it down, well it aint all so bad really. I went down with the old fossil (Da) this morning to assist with his boat maintenance, pumping out and checking alls ok, and theres nothing quite like being amongst yachts in a heavy blow, with the rigging smashing back and forth against the masts, and a general boat clatter that can be easily heard in tune with the howling wind and rain, makes you appreciate the grim power of mother nature.
The harbour lagoon is presently filled end to end with hefty fishing trawlers, presumably taking shelter from the miserable English Channel conditions, I noticed too that half a dozen Cormorants had had the same idea, all congregated next to the pilot boats moored up by the lock gates. Its a shame I dont possess a decent camera to grab what would have been great shots in the conditions, but my little snappy was put to use, I have yet to see to what effect. Whatever else, it all goes to make you feel really alive in this turbulent weather, for me anyway.
On Friday I went down to Concorde 2 with mates Ade and Lodeon to see one of our local bands Absent Elk playing for the World Aids Day charity, Im no music journo, but they put on a good set, were clearly enjoying themselves, and went down well with the crowd. The weather was filthy that night too, so anyone stepping outside for a smoke, or waiting for taxis at the end, got a soaking. The evening took its toll on yours truly though, and my Saturday was spent almost entirely in bed trying to ignore the headache, it doesnt get any easier as time moves on, but until I have a decent reason to be sensible I guess Ill carry on regardless.
As work is over for the moment, and the unfriendly conditions negating any outside activities, I may even make the trip down to the local hostelry for a Guinness or two, and catch whatever fitba match happens to be showing. I like Sundays.
Well that was a nice surprise, gave Deano a call and find out the Barns all but done now, so I hoofed it up there to get some shots. Dean and Laura have obviously put some shifts in since I was last there, because the whole place looks fan bloody tastic. Lauras touch with the interior design is, well, she should do it for a living, never over bearing or competing with the barn for attention, just really tasteful additions here and there which compliment it. Rolo certainly seems to be loving it, everywhere is game as his bed, the kitchen floor with its under floor heating was his slumber choice when I arrived.
And poor old Deans shuffling around with three crushed discs in his hat rack apparently, so an ops in the post for the poor decaying lad, too much bending over so his quack says, Im saying nothing!
The whole Barn was shrouded in mist which framed it up nicely from outside, with all the scaffold struck and the entrance cleaned up making it look very much the finished article now, and walking in through either door has an immediate impact on you as you try and take in everything. I dont normally enthuse as much as this about a job, but this ones been a bit special, hopefully the pictures will show that off and do the place justice.
Image: The finished Barn, shrouded in late afternoon mist
Image: Kitchen, south end
Image: Kitchen, looking south
Image: Kitchen looking north
Image: Kitchen, north end
Image: Notice the tinted glass, and wall pictures, giving the place a warm feel
Image: Hazza's bedroom
Image: Ryan's Barn end bedroom, looking west.
Image: Ryan's bedroom looking east
Image: Main louge, south wall
Image: Master bedroom
Image: More master bedroom
Image: Master bed ensuite, looking east
Image: Master bed en suite, looking west
Image: Staircase looking north
Image: Just cos it looks good!
Leaving home for the five minute walk to the riverbank, backpack full of beer and sparkling rose, musing as I crossed through the Beach Green park in the dark, I couldnt help but think how lucky I am to live in this little urban oasis, sandwiched between the English Channel and the River Adur. I was off to the Fische houseboat, an ex German minesweeper, now home to Fred, Polly, Jake, and Toby, but for this night, an impromptu restaurant, courtesy of Steve and Laura Reynolds, our cooks for the evening. Having grown up on Shoreham Beach, Ive never lost that magical feeling you get as you step on to a houseboat, its a different world from the rigid conformity of bricks and mortar. As children, so many of our friends came from houseboats, it didnt occur to us that this should be any different, or in any way odd. If anything Id say I looked upon a visit to any of my mates houseboats with added excitement, and to a certain degree I believe I still feel the same way, its an experience.
The Fische takes this experience to another level, mainly because of its size, but also because of its huge character, it feels like a venue amidships, which is where the meal was held. Every time Im in there Im in awe of its structure, ribs, beams, and bulkheads, much of it still battleship grey, and the various sections set at different levels, ideal place for a shitmas dinner.
A decent sized gathering were in attendance, 30 ish at a guess, and after a few liveners, the starter came out, a damn fine Thai green soup, certainly got this head sweating. The party poppers were shooting all over the shop, amongst other shitmas noise toys all adding to the general cacophony filling the hull with festive merriment. There was a designated smokers area between the dining area and the kitchen, and if you wanted somewhere to keep your beer cold, leave it up on deck, temperatures outside being equal to any fridge, all good.
I can tell you the main course was great, and that I opted for chicken, but more detail went, along with the brain cells, during the course of the evening. It was a great night of catching up as well as being fed well, almost like a re union really, we dont see so much of each other as a crowd any more. And, as each year passes, I can see them all getting a little more sensible and grown up, still fun, but having to deal ever more with the harsh realities of the rat race. These days the conversations revolve less around which parties, gigs, or festivals they attended last year, but more about new jobs, moving house, and, sadly, long term relationship splits. Nonetheless, for one more year at least, the outcome was more or less the same, I believe the majority got smashed, I certainly have no recollection of returning home. I woke to find Id left my hat, coat, backpack, and new camera on the boat, so that was mission one the next day. Oh well, maybe the rat race has passed me by, if Im lucky.
Happy New Year everybody
Image: Fische dinner, Shitmas 2007
Here I am again,
back working up in Thakeham, building an oak framed garage this time, so a reasonably interesting job in pukka surroundings once again. I shall certainly miss this little part of the world when theres no more to be done up here. Myself, Beau, and Prescilla are the chippies for this caper, and two weeks in to it were already on the roof construction. The finished article will have two bays for cars, one bay with doors, and one open, while the third bay will be the gardening shed, also housing the staircase up to the loft space. The front is oak framed, while the sides will be oak wainee boarded in keeping with the barn, and the roof will have two barn ends east and west, and a catslide roof at the north facing rear
The oak frame frontage was all done on site in traditional style with half laps, mortice and tenon joints, all to be oak pegged. All three of us groaning at one point or another about our aching backs as we manoeuvred those heavy 8 by 8 oak posts, and I thought poor old Beau was gonna pass out after he took a shot in the family jewels from a ball Prescilla hoofed his way in jest, I made sure I got a few snaps of him in his moment of pain!
Meanwhile, closer to home theres been some juicy news flying about. Apparently a house round the corner from me has been hosting swingers parties, advertising them on the net by all accounts, but someone seems to have laid the charge of it being used as a brothel too. So after the police stopped the house owner for a motoring misdemeanour somewhere in Brighton, they found a small amount of something they take a dim view of on his person, and proceeded to raid his house as a result. Then the bush telegraph swings into action and Woodards View is now the talk of Shoreham, why am I always the last to know! And virtually on my doorstep too dammit.
Image: New project, the oversite
Image: Oak posts and knees under way
Image: Almost ready for dry fit
Image: Up go the goal posts!
Image: Oak framing complete
Image: Three bay garage taking shape
Image: Joisting out the joint
Image: And now to the roof. Fetching pose from Prescilla
Image: Cut n pitching the rafters
Image: Looking good so far
Image: End of play Friday
Image: Dark skies shot
Image: Nice scenery too. Early morning sun spraying through the frosty February mist
Image: Beau checkin' everything's still there after taking one in the family jewels from Prescilla
Image: End of play Wednesday 27th
Well so ends another week up at Thakeham, a slightly damp one at that! Prescilla flew out to sunny Espaniola on Tuesday, and took the chuffin weather with him it would appear, hes off house hunting with his better half, one more couple thats had enough of the interfering, double standard, politically correct, criminal friendly nanny state this place has become under New Labour.
Off me soap box now. The garage is coming along nicely, roof ready for tiling, sides ply sheathed and ready for weathering, battening, and oak wainee boarding, and the scaffolders came in to set up the scaffold for the roofers to start on Monday. Much and plenty banter going on as always, all of which sails over young Reggies head while hes going underground digging for pipe laying to the soakaway. Poor lad tried to pull out first thing, saying hed been ill overnight, after a chat to his mum it turns out the boy was on the sauce round at his mates the night before and was nursing a hangover. So I hoofed it round and like a smiling assassin informed him hangovers dont get you the day off, so I kept Aero (the dog) company while Reggie stomped around upstairs, as disgruntled teenagers do when not getting their own way, and soon enough were off back to mine with one happy dog and one miserable young lad. Dropped the mutt off at home and then amused myself by being ridiculously cheerful and chatty all the way to Thakeham during Reggies silence. He was in fairness fine once he got there, and as usual cracked on with his work with no complaints throughout the day, cant fault the boy.
Beau and myself have kept busy through the week, with the roof construction completed this morning, and the ply sheathing to the sides and rear of the garage all done by end of play, despite the howling wind and rain which came on in the afternoon. Hopefully next week will see an improvement in the weather for the wainee boarding. Unfortunately I forgot my camera today, so youll have to wait til Monday for the latest pics, but I have a few from the end of work yesterday.
Image: End of play Thursday 28th
Image: As me n Beau both agree, the timber work always looks so much better before it's hidden under the tiles, boarding and whatever else
It was a funny old day, a day of two halves you might say if youll excuse the football vernacular ! Gloriously sunny start, with slightly chill breeze first thing, and joined on site by the sparks, big Si, or Ali Ahmed Beardarami as he looked today with his new facial growth, quite the Afghanistani, hes in to first fix the wiring for the garage.
As it was such a crackin day, we had our tea break by the pond next to the stream at the bottom of the garden, carp just below the surface, moorhens grazing around the grassy edges, and a squirrel, or tree rat as Beau referred to it, bounding up and down the trees. Why cant work always be like this.
Well it couldnt last I suppose, and sure enough, as the oncoming clouds became ever darker by the minute, wind, rain, hail, and sleet followed and were upon us by mid afternoon, cold, damp, n nasty. Having taken a liberal dousing we pulled the pin 20 minutes early, hopefully tomorrow will bring better weather.
Image: Scaffold up, roof and sides ready for weathering
Image: Nice place for tea break!
Image: End of play, Monday 3rd March
Image: Si 'ali ahmed' on the prayer mat?!
My word, 388 hits on this site yesterday!, and 269 on the first day of this month. I dont know whats going on, but whatever it is, it aint bad. All I need to do now is for some of those hits to turn in to book sales and Im laughing!! I live in hope.
After another fresh but glorious day up at Thakeham, were now weathered and battened out ready for tiling the roof. While inside me and Beau are ply cladding one side of all the stud walls ready for insulation, and begun the loft flooring. The early frost made for a picturesque start to the day, and other than a few short spells, the chill never really left your bones. I spoke to Ben on the phone the other day over in Queensland, Australia, and he was telling me theyre sweltering in 40 degrees and hed love to be able to roll around in that frost he saw in the pictures Id uploaded here, so Im gonna upload a couple more for the Boy.
Image: One more frosty morning
Image: Garage weathered
By Apollo !!! what a week. Ive not checked the site for a couple of days, tending towards after work early beers followed by early nights. So imagine my surprise when I find wolf e boy.com has been breaking records in my short hiatus, the 388 hits in one day has since been bettered by 441 and then 446, currently standing at over 2000 hits for March so far. Whats causing this I dont know, but hopefully itll continue, and with the assistance of this audience maybe I can shift the rest of the Bangkok to BC first edition, who knows?
Meanwhile, back at Thakeham, the garage has moved on. Me and Beau are ply cladding the interiors, with Reggie and Stig insulating ahead of us. The staircase arrived on Thursday, so thats now fitted up to the loft space, not huge headroom, but fine for the storage space its there for, whilst leaving maximum floor area below for the gardening tools and machinery.
Spring in the English countryside is a beautiful thing, and Thakeham is possibly one of its finest examples, especially our little corner here, cloaked on all sides by trees and fields, with an abundance of wildlife to watch and listen to, woodpeckers rat a tatting their morse code first and last thing, moorhens in frisky mood around the ponds chasing each other, wings splashing the water as they fly after one another across it, wood pigeons grazing the lawns in flocks, rabbits everywhere, and occasional squirrels bounding up and down the trees, this is Bill Oddie territory.
The sadder aspect of the healthy wildlife population is the roadkill, mainly badgers of late, its hard to evoke the old Wind in the Willows mindset when you see what was a fine adult badger, guts out, in the middle of the road, or by the side of it, there are now five Ive counted on the trip up in the morning. Always makes me sad.
I just have to mention this, AC Milan-0 Arsenal-2 at the San Siro stadium, one of the best games of football Ive seen in recent memory. From beginning to end Arsenal played electric flowing precision football, and took apart the cup holders in their own back yard, it was a lesson in how football is dreamed of, in fact Id say it was so good that many people arent even capable of dreaming up that fine a display. I emptied seven cans of Guinness down my throat during one of the most enjoyable 90 minutes of footy Ive witnessed, gripped by tension as they poured forward again and again for so long without the reward of a goal. And then the tireless magician that is Cesc Fabrigas pulls the trigger and shoots the heart out of the home fans, followed by the introduction of the home grown whippet Theo Walcott, or should I say Hare to their Lurchers, these ageing Italian legs were never gonna catch this pedigree sprinter. Having hauled him down once, the second time he was in a different time zone before they knew what was going on, and he crossed in from the right for Adebayor to stroke home the second. It was a dream performance from the entire team, and a better advert for football youd be hard pressed to find. And by the way, Im not an Arsenal fan, West Ham and Brighton are my boys, but Im a football fan first.
Image: Loft floor going in, framework still on view
Image: The carport area framework. As I've mentioned before, this is when it looks its best, before it's all covered up!
Image: Celotex city, jam nitty gritty!
Image: Staircase fitted
Image: Shoreham harbour big mess day, Monday 10th March-'08
Image: The cauldren, same day
Image: Little breezes stokin' the waves!!
Image: Car port area nearing completion
On the drive up to Thakeham each day I pass farmland and small holdings galore, with Spring declaring itself in the shape of lambs, calfs, and fledgling birdlife, as well as the budding flowers adding there colour to the landscape, all perfectly natural and one of the wonders of life, but Ive never known so many of my friends to be sprogging all at the same time. I cant possibly reel off the whole list of new nippers over the last six months, but three popped out in the last couple of weeks, Finnian, followed by Jacob, and the latest addition is Jasmine Rebecca, all firsts to Tree n Jodie, Ed n Maz, and Stv n Beccy. Last weekend proved particularly messy as a result of this activity, the wetting of two babies heads on Saturday left me nursing a considerably thick head next day, the wetting of Jasmine Rebeccas head to be arranged, so one more headache in the post.
The oak framed garage is all but complete, with just the oak wainee boarding to clad the exterior left, and a set of doors to be made up for the gardening section of the building. The tiling has moved on at a lick, with nice bonnet tiles up the barn end hips in keeping with the surrounding buildings, I think once the weather wears the newness out of the tiles then the place will look as if it always belonged there.
We didnt go in Monday because of the wee breeze blowing in off the Atlantic, so I hoofed it down to the Shoreham Harbour arm to grab some shots of the hostile sea, it was like being shot blasted, but the pics above will give you some idea of the power that wind was generating in the water.
Despite all the doom and gloom surrounding the economy, there seems to be a healthy groundswell of work coming up, Ive had almost as many enquiries about loft conversions as my friends have been spilling babies out! If just half turn into work then Ill be kept busy for some while, fingers crossed.
And heres one for you all to keep an eye out for, Absent Elk, a good mate of mines brother Rick,(drums) and his mates, 'best mate Mick'(bass), Ross(lead guitar), James (guitar), and their Norwegian lead singer Kjetil, have just been signed to a major music company, Sony I think. Theyre soon to be whisked off to some country house to record some tunes for a debut album, by all accounts for the same people that put the Hoosiers out there. So keep an ear out for Absent Elk, or google them and download some of their stuff, theyre shit hot, Ive seen them play loads of times down the years and can only say that its about time some of the wealth of talent that Shoreham has is at last being more widely recognised. On a more selfish note though, itd be quite handy for me if Rick became famous because hes in my book, Bangkok to BC, when he stayed with us at the backpackers house on Bower St in Manly, so anything that helps shift the rest of the first edition is fine by me.
copy and paste this link to find Absent Elk on Myspace to download their tunes, http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendid=27517784
Image: Tiling almost done, just the oak wainee boarding left
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