The sky is not the Peninsula’s friend this winter. It has unleashed destruction through wind, rain and wave and taken the foundations of our local clock tower (the beloved iconic building of Kingsand and regular venue for snooker, yoga and gallery lovers alike) and caused untold misery for the Cremyll ferry and anyone unlucky enough to live on the seafront. Attacks have ranged from isolated incidents to repeated days and nights, and rain is never far, even on a nice day.
On Gwen we haven’t had it so bad. The main annoyance in stormtime has been the boat that has been rafted up to us since the pre-Christmas installment, whose ropes yank Gwen in irritating creaky jerks and whose fittings whistle and grumble. In Rich’s absence a neighbour helped me to loosen off the most annoying connecting rope without endangering their boat or mine, and I have pretty much acclimatised to my home rocking, bouncing, banging and moaning when the sky fury kicks in. On the worst days I arrive home late because the local transport has gone to shit, soggy and battered, and dance a delicate blustery sprint down the pontoon before kneeling before the fire, praying for the kindling to take to warm my innards and dry my sodden socks. Still, in all this, Gwen feels like my bolt hole, my safety. Like Rich says, we don’t have anything to worry about, our street’s already flooded.
He went away a week after new year and was absent for most of January, three and a half weeks. At first I missed him terribly, just like last time, and then again had a week or two of instense activity – socialising, organising, working, revisiting the gym and doing my tax return like a good girl. We chatted when possible, mostly via email, and he found his own spare time distractions in learning to make string knot bags (for which I have mercilessly ribbed him, but which has turned out to be rather handy now that his skills have turned to making us slings with which we can have fun walks hurling stones from the beach). We also quit smoking, something that we can only do when apart because close proximity + nicotine depravation = almighty barney.
Soon I thought I’d better give Gwen some love, and maybe surprise Rich for his return, by doing a bit of painting in the saloon. I move a load of stuff in to the shed, found an electronic screwdriver-type tool to take down some shelves and invited Harry over for the afternoon to help me with the first coat of primer. This was great fun – music and kettle on, paint everywhere, yabbering away. It took a while, but sod it. Soon everything was white.
That night, coming back from the pub, I found that the first coat had dried and in half-pissed exuberance did most of the second. The next day I finished it off, cleaned out a cupboard, sanded and painted that, sanded and painted some shelves, and then seeing that I was almost out of primer decided to get rid of the last of it on the table, the mast pole, and by painting a bunch of big stupid lovehearts behind the fire. The boat was unbearably white, the perfect clinical environment for a girl who is beginning to go a little beserk with paint fumes and maniacal decorating obsession. It was not to end, and by the end of that day I had done the first coat of the green wall between the saloon and the bedroom.
The third day came, and another 24 hour period without leaving my painty prison saw me balancing the computer screen in all manner of odd positions to keep sane in the company of American drama television. Toni Colette refused to kill the president, Woody Harrelson struggled to relate to Matthew McConaughy and I painted the off-white walls and three more layers of the green ones and sides of the sofa area. I doodled on the table and passed out quite early, not really recovering from paint-saturated confusion until the end of work the next day, when I got home to find that I’d actually achieved something quite nice to which I could return the possessions I’d stashed in lockers and around the bed. Rich returned a frustratingly long few days later to something that didn’t look hugely different to what he’d left, but with a very nice greenness about it.