The Big Chill

Holy shit, Trish, three posts in a month? Well, yes, my overwhelmed internet friend, this is apparently what it looks like when stuff is actually happening on Gwen.

Since the tree came down I have had two glorious weekends back in Gwenland, split up by the not-unpleasant wind down of office work in Plymouth. Here begins my last week of gainful employment and nothing lined up… oh, this is a mistake I have not learned from plenty of times. Seems nobody in the pubs and cafes of the Shire wants to quit their job just before Christmas. Sensible of them, but upsetting for me. Rich urges me not to worry, but I imagine that will change when I present him with egg on toast for Christmas dinner.

Anyway, back to her very highness, the Big G. Last weekend, after a day and a half of spreading what little aluminium primer we have left all over the backs of the headlining Rich has cleverly shaped, I was allowed a reprieve from painting. I did some smashing of rust around the bits that hold the rudder to the boat and enjoyed it so much that we hoiked the whole thing off so I could attack it further. This was achieved using Rich’s pulley system, which usually carries gubbins on and off the aft deck and now held the whole weight of the mighty rudder, and me, leaping around like a bell ringer, clinging to sturdy rope. The rudder was laid down on the tressles and its deconstruction, sanding, glassing and painting was designated my pet project, which is very satisfying as I get to lie on the floor pretending to be a mechanic from time to time.

At this point I'm saying "the autofocus doesn't work, darling"

At this point I’m saying “the autofocus doesn’t work, darling”

After a view of my workshop area, here's Rich's. Tidyness is not our forte.

After a view of my workshop area, here’s Rich’s. Tidyness is not our forte.

Sadly that was the end of that weekend, and over the coming week Rich, among a lot of annoying little tasks whose swearing accompaniment I was lucky to miss, performed two jobs that made him proud. One was a surprise gift for me – the replacement of the skanky mushroom-growing hatch that sits above my side of the bed with a modern one with a much bigger window. It needs a new pane putting in, but when finished it will grant us a huge, brilliant view of the stars under which we will float. The existing hatch, I was relieved to hear, has been retained for farming purposes, and this weekend we ate the first batch of delicious oyster mushrooms from its late autumn crop.

The other more impressive job was the attachment of the bowsprit fittings and the bowsprit itself. Because I am possessed of a very immature sense of humour I have for some time been suggesting that the bowsprit is some sort of physical statement of Richard’s masculinity – a mid-life crisis extension of his organ, and one that trumps the traditional sports car by a few pointy feet. He has taken this on board, and now that it has been (pfffff) erected, it is referred to most commonly by anatomical slang. Even the gammon iron has been renamed “the cock ring”.

New hatch and new appendage.

New hatch and appendage.

This weekend we were not quite so productive. I may have mentioned Maker heights before, a wonderful community facility that houses artists’ studios and creators’ stores and hosts a festival most years and a lot of great music nights whenever a party is required (quite frequently). Well, they also have Friday club, run by our lovely friend Jo and frequented by a few of the more outgoing boat folk, among others. This weekend, it destroyed us. There was wine, there was cider, there was 75% proof rum, and later on board there was some nonsense blethering and throwing up. Saturday was spent planning and sorting, quietly, with lots of fluids and sandwiches, and brought about a new design for the galley and plenty of decisions about lights, electronics and not drinking that rum ever again.

Yesterday, Sunday, I painted. All day. All the headlining, again – the other side. With music blaring and Rich popping about working on this and that, we got to experience the satisfaction of a good day’s work together and the treat of an evening with a heater, which Rich has previously only used on nights when something important like epoxy needed warming, not merely its human owners. It was a bitterly cold night and in the morning the tin roof evaporated drips all over Gwen, turning parts of the lidless aft cabin a muddy, soggy brown from our footprints. While Rich shivered and made preparations for my move back, some cupboard amendments and vents in the wardrobes so my clothes will stop moulding, I grumbled my way through painting cupboard insides and headed back here to the infirmary, glad of some bus rest and warmth.

Some pieces of the ceiling jigsaw I've been painting.

Some pieces of the ceiling jigsaw I’ve been painting.

Shower tray in the aft cabin, or the holodeck as I am trying to remember to call it.

Shower tray in the soggy aft cabin, or the holodeck as I am trying to remember to call it.

I started running again on Friday and have kept it up all weekend through both hangover and frost. So here I sit, back in the comfort of the infirmary, really quite exhausted. My legs complain when I try to sit down on the sofa, my shoulders groan, my right wrist bears a strain known only to people who use paint rollers. As I write this Rich texts me a picture of the nasty side of the galley we redesigned, which he is happily destroying for his evening’s entertainment. I look forward to getting fit and used enough to maintain the kind of energy he manages to give to this project, day and night, but am also relieved for once to be in a room, next to a heater, typing about hard work while doing none at all.


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