The Story of the Shower Tray

Aye Aye Landlubbers,
This is the story of the shower tray.
If you are not up for a long read then the condensed version is
“Bought shower tray online. Collected it. Put it upstairs ready to install.”
The longer and wider ranging story is as follows:-
One of the main reason we built the sheds was so that we would be warm and dry and clean at the end of a day’s graft. At the time we had no idea how homely and “amazingly fit” for purpose they would be, but anyone who has stayed with us will confirm that the sheds are mighty.
YeeHaw trebles up as a kitchen, shower and guest room, and for the last 7 years this has been our shower.

That one large saucepan of water is enough for a good cleansing shower and the method is simplicity itself.
Heat the saucepan of water.
When water reaches the desired temperature place the big saucepan on top of the other one and pop in the pump (12 volt bilge pump from a shipping chandlers shop 15 quid)
Get naked and get in (or, if you are prudish, get in and get naked)
Turn on shower and get hair and body wet.
Turn off shower.
Soap and shampoo yourself up.
Turn on shower and rinse for about two minutes.
Emerge to take warm fluffy dry towels off of radiator.

The dimensions of the shower are 1100 x 1100 and when we designed the main bathroom the shower was always going to be at least 1100mm wide and about as long as it needed to be to suit the space and getting on for 2 meters was what we had our eye on.

I can’t stand piddly little showers that can only just about take one person, or that have been shoved into spaces not quite big enough, as you often find with “en suites”. I find that with piddly little showers I am always knocking my elbows every time I turn around, or if the soap is dropped your arse ends up pushing the door open or hanging out into the cold when you bend down to get it. Even worse is the piddly little shower combined with a shower curtain (aaarrgh) that with even the slightest contact results in it stuck to you requiring the slightly queasy process of peeling it off. So as you may have guessed I like a “big” shower.

We had dismissed the idea of “en suite’ in the very beginning of the design process Ask yourself, “what is an ensuite anyway”? other than a wife’s own private bathroom, normally installed at the expense of space in the bedroom. If you don’t believe me then check out how much more spacious you bedroom would be without the ensuite (especially In a smaller property) also check out the sort of reception you get if when “sharing” the en suite you decide to “coil one down” first thing in the morning just before your wife or girlfriend (or husband) goes in for a shower or to brush their teeth. IMO one of the golden rules for harmonious co-habitation is to never have toilet in the same room as a shower/bath, and if you are going to have a “his and hers“ anything then don’t fuck about with poncy double sink units (are you ever really likely to stand next to each other as you brush teeth, shave, apply makeup, scratch bollocks squeeze sports etc) but do make sure you have two bogs.

I am fully aware that some would argue that you can only use the space you have, but I think that is feeble bollocks as far as justifications go and I would counter with “spend some quality time thinking or planning and come up with better design”.

Ok I admit that maybe I am being a little bit unfair and uncompromising, and perhaps there are some people who like bashing their elbows and knees and having to touch the cold walls when they shower, but I am not one of them, I also don’t like the flimsy feel of plastic shower trays.
So we have always had in our minds a big shower cubicle with a solid base and an easy to use control and a mighty torrent of water when it’s running.

We arrived at the required dimensions of 1100mm wide x 1810mm long, due to the placement of the studwork inside the walls (for fixation of the glass block wall that will form one side), and our idea of the general dimension of the bathroom, ie how it looked when we laid it out with a mock wooden framework as a practice indication of how it existed in the space, how close to the door it would be, how the lights worked in it, and how it worked in cohesion with the bath and proposed sink in terms of scale and placement etc. On a separate issue, the plug hole needed to be placed exactly where we wanted it due to the position of floor joists below, which is 200mm from the end and 550 in from the side.

We searched over 5 years in every brico shed and bathroom showroom, not only in France but also when we were in UK, for a robust shower tray, preferably in ceramic, but drew a blank. We had one sniff of a possibility about 6 months ago when I saw the sort of rigid re-enforced foam templates that you tile yourself when installed, however we couldn’t find anyone who would make one where the plug hole was in the right place for us. In fact one chap went so far as to say that they should really only be used on a concrete base downstairs (although why eludes me). PointP also had on display a resin based stone look-a-like tray that could be made to the right dimensions but the plug hole would still be in the wrong place. Laypeyre was the same story as with everyone else
It should be noted that the bathroom floor is 18mm marine ply doubled up (ie 36mm thick) and cross laid on joists between 250 and 300 screwed every 250mm. It isn’t moving anywhere.

Eventually with a deadline to get the bathroom fitted and operative by November this year we searched online for bespoke shower trays. We had three hits and duly e-mailed out the dimensions of what we wanted.
One reply came back from this outfit who make trays out of a resin product. First they make a mould (any shape any dimension) and then pour the resin. They do specialist jobs for super yachts etc and prices started at about 3,000 pounds. (eeeeeek)

One didn’t respond to our inquiry, and then we had a mail back from Alexander MacKintosh from Birmingham who suggested we gave him ring to discuss the shower tray.

What a lovely chap he was, calmly explaining that the size we wanted would be no problem but that it didn’t need to be “all “tray”. The first bit would be what’s known (in shower tray parlance) as a “lead in” which has grooves in it, like a draining board, and then the tray. He sent us a diagram and a quote to make it out of quartz-stone or marble but he recommended the quartz stone as a better product for what we wanted. 1500 quid including the VAT. For a bespoke piece that will look splendid in situation we didn’t consider it to be over the top, so we ordered it for collection in mid March and paid 750 quid deposit. Decision made. Job done.

At the same time we had been looking for some unusual bathroom floor tiles and had decided on something like the old Moroccan or Victorian patterned style but couldn’t find anything that caught our eye. MrsB was having a browse on the webnet and found an interesting mosaic of old style patterns laid in a random configuration, which now I read this back sounds a bit whacky, but is actually going to be very groovy when laid. Probably not everyone’s cup of tea but then again they don’t have to be because they are ours, and they float our boat.
Here is an idea of what to expect. (as an aside you can also see the waterproof coating between the two layers of marine ply.
They are just laid out roughly in these photos to give an idea of the effect, and when in place they have a 1mm spacer gap and a special coloured grout that goes with them.

They were available from a tile manufacturer in Kettering which I figured was about the same distance “ooop north” as Brum so we ordered and paid for them online and I arranged to collect them on the same day as the shower tray.

LOGISTICS (Bentley style).

I was considering buying a new pick-up truck and with the old one coming close to the end of its MOT I decided to combine getting that done (to enhance its re-sale value) along with picking up the shower tray, tiles and stocking up on other hardware. I had measured the back of the truck and had 1155 mm between the wheel arches so the tray should slide in sweetly albeit with the tailgate being open. No problems.

I took the overnight ferry on Wednesday from Caen to Pompey, drove down to Bridport to Dorset Vehicle Rentals where I did the paper work for hiring a transit and then dropped my pick-up for its MOTat Scruffs. (an old mate of mine whose garage has looked after all my vehicles for several years).
I had some pottering about to do for the rest of the day including stocking up on all sorts of goodies from the Bridport Building Supplies (the builders merchants I use in UK).
This included two bags of “tanking slurry” (which will be mentioned in another post) screws nails and assorted hardware likely to come in handy.
I had booked into my favourite pub for B&B that night, spent an early evening in there and took an early night ready to be off with the lark in the morning for my run to Brum.

Other organized activities that I had factored into the trip included a blood test on the Monday morning at the health clinic to check out my sugar levels because a routine job related medical in Malaysia had picked up spike in my levels. This meant fasting for most of Sunday. l also had my annual seafarers medical booked for Southampton at 4 pm on Monday and the overnight ferry to St Malo at 8pm.
I had also arranged for Saturday afternoon to take my daughter MissB for a “Waggamamas” lunch in Dorchester before she headed back up to London after a visit to Bridport.
So there I was “SORTED’ (an anagram of Dorset) and ready for my mission.

It is about 50 a minute plod from Bridport through the lanes up to Taunton and then onto the M5. It is about another 2 and half hours to Brum. I set off at about 7.15. and stopped for a coffee and sarnie up past Gloucester.

I’d had a brainwave on the way up and took the opportunity to call a comedian mate of mine, Paul B Edwards, who lives in Letchworth. I had realised that because Ketteirng was just a bit “ooopp north” from him, I could work on the principle that if he wasn’t gigging he would, be right up for going out on the lash and I could doss at his place for the night. If not I would just trundle back to Bridport on the Friday afternoon and go out for a few beers there.

When PBE answered the phone I asked if he was about and fancied a pint and he said “Yes I am about. Yes I do fancy a pint, but more to the point do you fancy doing a gig because it’s my Hitchen shows 20th anniversary gig tonight and I would love you on the bill.”?
“Oh Yes I do” says I “See you later this afternoon”

While I finished my coffee ,made a quick set list for the gig so I could rehearse a bit when I was driving, and then the set off towards Brum arriving at Alexander MacIntosh’s showroom / workshop at about half 10. (Thanks Tom Tom for taking me to the door)
Tucked away on an industrial site up near the airport I thought at first glance that it was just a workshop, but I was absolutely gobsmacked at the huge showroom and the quite magnificent display of fine quality marble and natural stone tiles on display. When you look at the front of the building there is no indication to the marvelous treasures hidden inside. If you are looking for something a bit special then check it out but IMO the website photos don’t do the showroom, or the quality of product on show, justice.
On arrival he showed me out the back to the workshop where the shower tray was sat in its glory. To say I was as chuffed as nuts with it would be close to the truth, and in the flesh it looked much bigger than I expected, even though we had chosen the measurements. He took me back to the showroom while he sorted the paperwork and I had a good mooch about collecting ideas for the next project and marveling at the stuff on display and how it was displayed.
I paid the owing amount and we had a quick chat about him making me a one off marble or quartz stone piece that would surround our sink (see previous post) and also act as draining board, but he said because of the waste involved it would be cost prohibitive and we would be better off speaking to a stone kitchen worktop supplier. I thanked him for is candour (and the wonderful job they had done on the tray) and then took the hired transit van round to the loading bay.

This is where a small spanner was thrown into my works because they told me it was not possible to transport the tray “flat”, it has to be transported on its side or it will crack. I was in the transit so no problem as far as transporting it goes “but” I did notice (and filed away under ‘sort out later plan b c and d) that it was a major struggle for the “three” of us to get the thing into the van. Once in we then packed it out with polystyrene to keep it secure. It probably weighs close to 200 kilos. I only had two ratchet straps with me but with some fancy rigging I managed to secure the load, upright against one wall of the transit and off I went in the direction of Kettering.

I stopped after about 5 miles and 8 roundabouts (tense and listening for odd “cracking” noises as I negotiated them) just to check the load was OK (as it was) and arrived in Kettering about an hour later and picked up the tiles from the massive manufacturing plant on the outskirts. Just opposite was a Tool sales place so after procuring a couple more ratchet straps (and some flappy paddle sanding discs and some other bits and pieces. (Well it’s a tool place innit? )) I then “double lashed” the tray and set off in the direction of Letchworth.

I arrived mid-afternoon and we set about the business of catching up with our latest gossip after about 4 years of not seeing each other (those of you who like punk music may like to catch his superb long running podcast on We then got ready for the gig and off we went. Suffice to say the gig went very well and it was a good buzz to be back on stage, microphone in hand, making people laugh. One very pleasant surprise after the gig was that although I had told him I didn’t want paying he slapped a healthy wad of cash in my hand. Top geezer, although he knows I would have done it for the laugh anyway. After the show we set off on an extended laughter and conversation filled pub crawl of the late night drinking haunts in Hitchen. I finally crawled into my pit at about 4ish and slept until about 10.
We had said cheerio the night before as I had to be away early to meet MissB for lunch in Waggamamas in Dorchester abefore she headed back by train back to the Big Smoke. I had a quick teeth brush and cold water sploosh, grabbed my bag and was out the door. As I was setting myself up in the van (feeling a tad “peaky if I am honest”) when the phone rang and it was MissB telling me not to worry about getting back for 2pm as she was staying the night in Bridport so we could go out for dinner instead. Bloody hell!! I could have had another 3 or 4 hours in my scratcher, but as I was up (and now locked out by the security gate) I thought I would just grab a coffee at the first petrol station and plod on. (A fortuitous decision as it turns out)
I was flagging a bit by the time I made it to Fleet services on the M3 so I stopped for brunch, more coffee and made my way back to Bridport, via Dorset Reclamation in Bere Regis where I bought some old decorative ridge tiles to cap a flower border wall that MrsB was intending to build (see a previous post)

Feeling rather pleased with myself (if not little jaded) at the successful nature of my mission I arrived back in Bridport at about 2.30pm.

My nephew was staying at my mother in law’s and had agreed to give me hand to transfer the shower tray from the transit to my pick up. Once I opened the back of the transit he took one look at the shower tray and said “It isn’t going to fit” which confirmed the niggling doubt I had been ignoring for the last 24 hours and sure enough the back of my pick-up is only 900 high and the tray is 1100, and as I had been told there was no way of transporting the tray flat or at an angle I now was the unwilling owner of a 200+ kilo, 2 square meter problem. Oh BOLLOCKS!!

So time for some quick solution focused thinking and onto plan B (or C or D if required)
I now needed to hire the transit for another three days to let me take it to France on the Monday night, ferry back to blighty on the Tuesday night from Caen, then back on the overnight to St Malo Wednesday night to France with my truck “Unless” I could convince my nephew or daughter to come and drive the Transit over on the Monday night and come back Tuesday night, but both were working.
My son had just finished filming on feature film so I called him and asked if he fancied a little jaunt to La Belle France and as ever he was right up for it so I arranged to pick him up from Dorchester station on the Monday lunchtime ready for the trip that night.
He then asked if it would be alright to bring his new girlfriend along for the trip which I could hardly say no to. It meant I had to book an extra cabin because I am sure she might have freaked out a little at having her boyfriend’s dad sharing a cabin with them.

It would cost me the overnight fare for the van (and extra cabin) to St Malo and then Caen to Pompey with van and cabin on the Tuesday night. Ok so it was an 480 quid of extra expense ()plus dinner for three) I hadn’t planned for but I wasn’t going to risk 1500 quids worth of shower tray for the sake of scrimping and trying to shove it in the pick-up and ‘hoping’ for the best.
I nipped into the hire place to finalise the details with them but it was shut ()slight rise in stress level) however I called the head office who said that we would have to change vans for a newer one, but to pop in Monday and all would be OK. (lowering of stress level) The good news being that as I already had paid for 4 days it was the same price as if I had hired it for a week and as I was a fairly regular customer (and he used to come to the comedy) it would only cost an extra 20 quid for the Europe insurance cover. Happy days for stress level.

The other good news was that the pick-up truck had passed its MOT (albeit with new wheel bearing). During the trip I had pondered long and hard the pros and cons of a new pick-up truck but had decided not to spend a load of money on a new one as we still have the second project to complete and the truck will definitely get bashed up.
Why not just continue bashing up the one I have as opposed to bashing up new one. IMO it is pointless owning a pick up if you are going to get all lah de dah precious about bumps and scrapes and making the inside a bit dirty. This change of heart would mean registering it in France, which apart from some minor bureaucratic hiccups on our part passed off smoothly enough (it is now “Le” pick-up on French plates) and I save over 350 quid a year on the insurance. (lovely jubbly)

So what ensued was an enjoyable few beers and nosebag with MissB on Saturday, followed by a booze free fasting day on Sunday, blood test early Monday morning, then off to pick up MasterB and his girlfriend to do the paperwork for the transit and change vans.

It was at this “van change” time with the vans parked back to back with the doors open, and as my son and I tried to shimmy the shower tray between vans (which isn’t as perverted as it sounds), we realized that there was (to use my own words) “not one flying fuck of chance that we would be able to maneuver that heavy bastard up the stairs without breaking it, or us, or both” I decided we would worry about that after we had arrived at the house but already had in my mind to hire manitu and send it in though the office window.

After securing the load in the new van I shot off in my pick up to Southampton for my medical and said we would meet in the bar on the ferry. The medical went without a hitch and we actually met just before boarding, we checked the load was good and on we went.
A nice big posh dinner in the A le carte followed by a few drinks watching the singer croon his stuff and (for me at least) a well deserved early night.

I set off to the house first followed an hour later by Master B as he wanted to take his girlfriend for a coffee in the “Freaky Dolls” bar in St Malo. If you have never been, the bar stools are swings, and the toilets are disguised as an old wooden hotel phone booth and there are thousands of dolls covering every square inch of space, and a magnificent ard deco odd light fitting. Check it out if ever you fancy a drink or a coffee in unusual setting in the ever lovely St Malo walled town.

I nipped into Ploermel to hire a Manitu but Locormor (my usual place) didn’t have one so I nipped round to Loxam who said they had one but rather than deliver it would cheaper for me to just drive it as it was only about 18 kilometers. All fine and dandy but as I hit the open road I realised two things No1 I should have had ear defenders No2 15KPH was flat out.
Ah well I arrived home mid-afternoon after a rather uncomfortable drive where I was even over taken by 4 old blokes on push bikes. I then secured (with ratchet straps) a few scaffold planks to the prongs of the Mainitu to create a solid platform and then nailed piece of wood to that which helped hold the wood together and also would act as a stop for the tray to lean up against when we lifted it to the office window.

The first job was to do a risk assessment of the process in which it was decided that zak would ride the tray up to the window so first we needed a practice run.

Then remove the balcony

Lift the tray out of the van and get it balanced on the manitu platform.

Had it been another 10cms longer it would have over balanced but we now had it so that the tray was stopped at the bottom and it was easy for MasterB to maintain his balance using the weight of the tray as stability.

Then with hand and shouted signals down to me guide me into the office window

Once in the window I then had to park and get up the stairs to help slide it into the office room

Then with the assistance of his girlfriend put the balcony back on

Then while MasterB and his lady had a joy ride around the village and farm tracks in the Manitu MrsB and I took a couple of shots of the tray at last in the bathroom and then made dinner.

The photos don’t really show the markings and colour in the stone however after its epic journey it is now just two meters away from where it will end up

Unfortunately the total cost now is getting on towards 2200 pounds (including transport and van hire and extra cabins and posh dinners etc) which some people will no doubt consider to be absolute fucking madness for a shower tray. Ho Hum. But please remember, it isn’t your money we are spending.
Once we had decided that this project (when it came to the fittings) was not going to be one of those “scrimp and save” ghastly B&Q cheapo job, this sort of “extra” is just part of the deal, , we have to take it on the chin.
Although we don’t have to justify it to anyone I will just say that we haven’t spent all this time, effort and money to end up having to take a shower in a piddly little plastic thing shoved into the corner of the bathroom as an afterthought.
Suffice to say that we are well chuffed with the shower tray and are looking forward to the finished shower room.

Love and peace

Loved Right Up “2”

So there I was with two evenings in Bridport to fill, so for the Thursday night I had booked myself B&B at the Tiger Inn and called up my nephew who I hadn’t seen for a while and checked out his availability for pint when he finished work.
Although not blood relatives (SiL’s son) our relationship has developed steadily over 30 years or more and it is always easy to spend time with him. I always enjoy the time I spend with him and although his irreverence towards the bullshit of stuff like religion and the foul sleaze of politics is perhaps a little more cautious than mine, I will keenly miss him and his acerbic wit when he eventually emigrates to Oz.
It was good to catch up and hear of his progress on obtaining a residents visa for Australia (so he can move out to join the love of his life) and also of his latest boat building adventures. He was just back from a launch of a new row boat that is being used for a single handed row across the Atlantic. He was rightly proud of having used his best skills as part of a team building a boat which will help protect the life of a single handed rower as she takes on the perils of that vast ocean.

One pint led to several and we ended up wandering into the George in the center of town to check it out after its re-vamp. It used to be a great old local to have, but it had been allowed in recent times to fade from its former quirky glory.
Unfortunately the local brewery in their infinite lack of wisdom and taste had decided to give it a make-over.
As is normal, with the local brewery whenever they get involved in the remodeling of one of their pubs, in their cynical blind pursuit of profit and misguided, mistaken ideas on what they think is “trendy” they have managed “yet again” to tear the guts and soul out of a place and leave a pale amorphous shadow of what it once was. There is hardly even a homeopathic trace left of the great boozer it once was but it is starting to become busy again which is good thing.
I do understand that things change (whether I like it or not) even though sometimes one has to question the benefit and purpose of such change.

I will digress for a moment to share a story as The George was the scene of one of my favourite observations of human interaction which occurred there late one afternoon.
It involved a new barmaid who was a particularly pretty and shapely young woman and was doing a couple of trial shifts.
She had been coping admirably with the normal badinage of the eclectic mix of drinkers that frequented the establishment, when in strolls one particular well-known local who had a reputation as being a bit of a “smooth talking bastard”.
As he sees her he slips into a slightly lascivious tone and said
“Heeello!!, and where have you been hiding all my life?”
Quick as a flash and without breaking stride, or a smile, she said
“Well for most of it I wasn’t even born fatty, now what would you like to drink”
Quite rightly she was hired on the spot.

While Will bought the pints I was attempting to cast an open minded yet critical eye over the new décor and layout when I heard a familiar shriek and “Oh my, it’s Bentley”
The voice and shriek belonged to a regular of The Cavity (the groundbreaking bar started by Mrs Bentley and me in 1995 and sold in 97) who I hadn’t seen for years.
It was a heart leaping joy seeing her beautiful, honest open face, that as ever was quick to break into a glorious beaming smile that I am sure could contribute to global warming, and is normally accompanied by a guffawing laugh that could curdle a sailors rum.
Although she was enjoying dinner with her delightful sister we still managed to chat for long enough to bring each other up to date with our lives.
At the time of the Cavity she and many others of her peer group who used it were between school and university or had started uni already. They were a creative and fun bunch all full of excitement, enthusiasm and inquisitiveness as they made their first tentative scrawls on the pages of adulthood.
Fast forward 17 years and she is now a lawyer for the United Nations working in Phnom Penn helping refugees from that country, and when I mentioned that MrsB is out that way (well Vietnam) for a few weeks in June the invite to show her the town was instant and heartfelt. When I told MrsB she adjusted her travel plans immediately to include Cambodia.
It was heartening and satisfying to hear the how the Cavity had been a creative and inspiring place for so many of them and how much of a warm and secure place it occupies in their hearts.
Although not graced with as much wisdom and intuition as MrsB, I have always been able to recognize strength of character and compassion, and Jenna, even as a young maid, always made me feel she had great reserves of those special and often rare qualities, and her current work and general good company is testament to that.

I eventually left them in peace and wandered off on a little pub crawl (alone now Will had gone home as he had work the next day) but I was invigorated with the genuine warmth of the contact and the many wonderful memories it ignited. It was a wet Thursday evening without many people out and about and so after visiting a couple of old haunts I let the clock gently wind down, ending up in The Tiger for last orders and pootled off to bed with a big smile on my face and slept wonderfully.


Much to MrsB’s concern I have recently opened an account on the interweb’s very own center for narcissists known as Facebook. It isn’t that I am out and about very much now, nor do I have any great desire to discuss what I had for breakfast, the size and consistency of my last turd, nor take lots of arm’s length photos of myself pouting in alluring poses and post them for people to marvel at my magnificent yet modest beauty. No, I joined so I could get my blogs out to a wider audience.
When I was “making friends” (if that is the right vernacular to use as opposed to asking people if they wanted to be my “friend”) I was contacted by an old mate (one time HGV driver, pub landlord, property developer and now acclaimed photographer) Shane, who missed last year’s 8 Bells reunion. He was insisting that to make up for it the next time I am in UK we get together for a pint or three.
I posted up on the open site that I would be in the Tiger (now the best pub in Bridport) from 5pm onwards. He said he would see me there at 6. Session on.

Unfamiliar as I am with the mysterious vagaries of the Facebook phenomenon, and unbeknownst to me during the day, I was in for a very pleasant surprise in the evening

MrsB would not be accompanying me as she was in France, however it should be noted at this stage that a pub crawl night out on the piss with some of my old mates would probably not figure as a highlight of MrsBs social events calendar for the year.
It isn’t that she doesn’t enjoy the company of some of the people I was likely to see, it is just that she has always been a much more private person than I am and prefers smaller quieter gatherings. Part of it is also that because of me being the loud front man for the comedy for over 20 years and also the loud night face of the Cavity, lots of people know me (or should I say more accurately) ‘recognise’ me. Among the general “out and about pub crowd”, unless I am with her, they hardly ever acknowledge MrsB.
It isn’t that she is a shrinking violet or cold & aloof (far from it she is the most warm hearted and wise woman I know with a mighty circle of good friends who relish the time they spend with her) but she doesn’t enjoy the company of loads of bawdy people (especially me) out on the lash getting louder, talking more and yet saying less, with the occasional “Aye Aye Bentley” thrown in .And that’s just when it’s just me and I have taken her out to dinner.!!!!
For me a night like this it is a rare treat and because I have changed my habits (and location) it is so rare that it remains a treat.

So back to the Friday

During the course of my meanderings through the day I popped into to see Jill who runs the Fancy Dress emporium and who was also a comedy club (and Cavity) regular with her husband Ray (who runs a thriving international antique and curios business). As usual it is always great to see either of them and I received a lovely warm welcome.
It was fun catching up on each other’s news and I mentioned I was off to the Tiger for a few and she said she would contact Ray and see me there later for one .
As I left the shop I had a phone call from a long standing friend Mark who said he had heard I was about and was driving down from Dorchester for a couple with his wife Claire. Our friendship has developed and been easy and comfortable over the years and although we don’t get to spend much time with each other the sun always seems to shine bit brighter whenever I am in their company so it was great news indeed that they were setting a course for the pub.
I also received a text from a good mate of mine Leon who (with his lovely girlfriend Tess) has spent many a mad night with us in France, saying he was heading to the Tiger as well. Will also confirmed he was up for an early doors session.

If I had been a sailor at sea watching this weather pattern form I would have taken in a couple of reefs on the main and possibly broken out the storm-sail. Ahhhaaaargh.

T’was with my traditional sailors swagger that I rolled through the Tiger’s doors at about half four and to my delight seated at the bar were some mates of mine who are builders having an early finish Friday jar. Tom John Mike and Nick (who now spends most of his time out in Greece or Cyprus). It was good fun to have yarn with them and tell of the renovation in France how it was coming on, and also pick up some tips of what I was planning to do next.
Will arrived and we began to discuss him coming over before he goes to Oz to create a bespoke “gentleman’s dresser” out of the old oak and chestnut I have saved.
Mark and Clair arrived next, and very soon later I had agreed to do a comedy gig for them at their fund raiser in late august. They were swiftly followed by Leon with tales of the plot of land with stable they have bought up north near Sherbourne, (it was good to introduce M&C to Leon as he has a established band called Sketchy Dog and also agreed to gig at the fundraiser. Then Shane was there with hugs and big laughs and after I had nipped out to the bog I came back to find Gibbers from Lyme Regis sat there grinning like a cheshire cat saying that his wife had seen a session developing on Facebook and thought he would like to come as well so she drove him over and dropped him off. (Cheers Alicia see you in August)
Then Ray and Jill turned up and the conversation and laughter, like the beer, was flowing like a river for a couple of hours when some had to go home and other commitments called.
Shane Will, Gibbers and myself decided to visit the Hope and Anchor which has been a notorious drinking den for as long as I can remember and one that we just knew we would bump into people we would know and sure enough we were not disappointed. Once again the conversations laughter and general “hoo haa” was on as we reconnected with old pals from our younger days. One of our old mates had recently lost her partner of many years and was visibly moved to see three old faces perhaps reminding her that life did go on and that it was OK to smile again and enjoy life.
The Hope & Anchor has often attracted scorn from some people in the town, accusing it of being just an old cider heads hang out, and while there is a grain of truth to that it is a much bigger picture and more diverse story than that. It is a thriving local for many people for whom gadding about the world, or moving to new towns, has for whatever reason never been an option or a want. It holds countless memories good and bad for many people of the town over the last 35 years that I have known it, but one thing it has never been is “dull”.
I know that’s some people may consider that my sentimentality has got the better of me and I am romanticizing the place, but I am just telling it as “I” see it.

We had a couple in there and then made our slightly weaving way up behind “Scummers” (used to be Summerfield supermarket but now some other supermarket company) to the Ropemakers run by our old pals John & Geraldine.
Going in through the back garden we were met with the hearty roar of Paul who had “heard on Facebook” that we would be in the Ropey’s at some stage and had come to meet us there.
So with a table in the garden procured and pints poured we continued to natter.
It was great to be sitting about with a group of confident, articulate, accomplished and experienced middle aged men rolling back the years and catching up with each other’s shenanigans over the last decade or three and filling in the gaps we didn’t know.
Our revelry was often interrupted by people coming up to the table to shake hands have hugs Whaaay Haaays and what have you’s as the night progressed.
The warm recognition by so many people, old faces from the day of past, as well as mates of my kids, was quite marvelous.
We noticed that some of the “new young blades” were wondering who the very loud very popular but very scary looking old fuckers were holding court in the garden.
I guess it is sign of the times in that 35 years ago when we were the young blades, we would have known everyone and who to steer clear of or who not to piss off.
The town didn’t seem smaller then but it was definitely less “Islington buy Sea” in those days.

These new youngsters finally found out who we were (not that we gave a fuck if they didn’t and probably neither did they) and some came up to say “Oh Hi I am Joe Blog’s son. I remember you from years ago at my aunties wedding” or whatever.
We would grin and shake hands and all say “Oh yes that’s right he married Patricia Smith so is she your mum then?? Great to see you and send our regards”
And “How is your auntie Gloria these days haven’t seen her for a while?” etc etc.

It would have been cruel and to have said
“So you are “Joe Shitypants Bloggs” boy then?”
(so called after he fell asleep on the town square public benches and shat himself after a night on rough cider and barley wine mixers),
“So that would make your mum Patricia the Pussy then?”
(so called as she had an unusually hairy pussy and wasn’t shy in who she let in it.)
and that would make your auntie Gloria the giggling gobbler, (so called because.. well you get the idea)
Those sorts of old time secrets belong to a different time, (and in more private reminiscences) and in a small town they are best left to the occasional knowing glance as old eyes meet, or the cheeky tipping of a wink followed by a slight blush.
They are the happy mischievous memories of a time when the restraints of responsibility were still a rarity for most of us. We were having too much fun and never sat still long enough to give a flying fuck about what may be said in the future and neither should we have.
I sincerely hope that is how it is for the new wild bunch of today, however it would seem from what I have observed recently that it is more important now that every moment has to be recorded, as opposed to actually experienced.
Maybe that’s just me being a bit older now and averse to having my every hug and handshake and guffaw, or every misheard conversation, photographed and splurged up on Facebook before the hangovers even had time to develop.
I see no great leap forward socially in that. I can see no improvement of enjoyment nor merit in it.
I know I digress here but I feel a sense of sadness when I see people at events and nights out, be it music, social gatherings or anything else, holding up their poncy fucking phones, recording and photographing, rather than leaving the phone in their pocket and actually enjoying the moment for what it is. I don’t see why people are in such a desperate panic to tell everyone where they are and reading text about where their other mates while they all are wondering what they are missing out on as the giddy carousel of life whirls unnoticed around them.
That isn’t experience its journalism.
I can’t help thinking that they are missing out on so much of the raw, real, emotive power of experience by falling for the illusion that some bad photo or shitty wobbly footage with piss poor sound reproduction will in anyway replicate what they should have been talking part in.
In years to come I fear that all they will be looking at is what they missed.

BEEEP BEEP BEEP “Grumpy old twat climbing onto high horse ALERT”.

Back to the night in question which (as any good session “getting pissed right up” in Bridport should) ended up with me in shorts and flip flops at Ali’s kebab shop at fuck knows what time in the morning and nearly locking myself out of my hotel as a result .
I have to say it was a wonderful night out, full of contact with people who I knew and just wanted to say hello or shake my hand, or buy me a drink and hear of my exploits and just to have a laugh with me.
I felt bizarrely like some sort of hero returning to Homesville, but from doing what or where I will never fathom. As good as it felt I wouldn’t want to return to doing it every week nor even every month as the novelty would wear off.
It was humbling, and at the same time immensely enjoyable to be received with such genuine warmth by so many people.
My ego is normally fairly “large” in any event (some would say too large) however that night it received a turbo boost of love to enhance my sense of well-being and confirmed my condition of being “loved right up”.

Love and Peace

Ps, you know who you all are so if I didn’t mention you by name thanks for the laughs, the love and the general good vibe.

Loved Right Up

What a glorious 6 weeks at home that was and I am still glowing from the experience.
My love batteries are fully charged.
I am “loved right up”.

From the moment MrsB met me at Rennes airport, all the work we did together, the laughs we had together and all the times we just were at one with each other, it was a quite incredible and joy filled leave.
However as is often the way with life there is always a down side to that much of a high, there has to be a ying to the yang, and for us it’s when I have to go back to sea.
The morning I fly out to go back to work is always fraught with emotions barely concealed. Our deep love simmers below the surface as we both put on the brave face of pragmatism prevailing over passion.
It is our coping mechanism.
It is how we have learned to deal with the gut wrenching emotional turmoil of parting, particularly when we have been in such close harmony.
On the last morning we carry the demeanor of two people heading to the gallows, desperately hoping to hear the phone ring with a last minute reprieve, but at the same time putting on a front and carrying on as though it was normal day. As though I am just popping out for a while and not flying half way round the world for 6 weeks.
Once we have checked the lottery numbers (one more time just in case) it is the drive to the airport full of chat, reminiscence, “don’t forget to’s”, and affirmations of love.
With the “I love you’” lingering in my ear and tingling of the last embrace still with me, I shoulder my bag and head to departures and MrsB drives away.
I wander into departures where I adopt my “travel mode” which enables me to cope with the 3 or more days it will take to get to the ship. For MrsB it is the lonely drive home to the sheds and a massive therapeutic tidy up to prepare for 6 weeks of her “other life” ahead.

Over 30 years we have developed our strategies independently for this lifestyle of 6 weeks on and off, however, no matter how well practiced we appear to be, it doesn’t become any easier when one has to be separated from the half that gives you light in the darkness. It is an enforced solitude however we are soul mates not “sole” mates.
There is no substitute for being in the company of your chosen ‘life partner’.
There is no prosthetic for that.

My usual routine is to fly into Southampton, pick up hire car, drive down to Bridport to sort out any business that needs to be attended to and say cheerio to mother in law, then drive up to Somerton and say cheerio to my mum and then drive up to my preferred Holiday Inn (Simpson Way) at Heathrow for the flight out to Singapore the next morning.

Because I needed an MRI scan on my knee I had a couple of evenings more than normal in the UK and will cover them in my next writing of “Loved Up stage 2” but for now we leap forward from Thursday afternoon to Saturday morning,

I drive up through the glorious and eye pleasing Dorset and Somerset countryside from Bridport via Beaminster (not forgetting to parp the horn twice going through the tunnel and not look in the mirror) through Crewekerne and up to join the A 303 at the “holey tree” (so called as it has holes in it not for any religious nonsense) and then up to Somerton and pop in to say hello to my mum.
As ever she is really pleased to see me and shows me how much she has been doing in the garden and the newly painted shed and the bags of gravel and peat she has been hauling about.
All this form a 85 year old woman with dodgy knees, a bit of parkinsons and who gives up every millimeter of her physical independence with fierce struggle.
Her mind, as ever, is as sharp as a tack and we catch up on the progress of the house in France (that she would adore if she were well enough to visit) and news of my half siblings and their spouses and children.
Her latest cat (a male seal point siamese) looks at me for a while and then deems me worthy enough to offer me its back for a small stroke as mum tells me of his latest exploits.
I remember with great pride my mother’s earlier years as she became a renowned breeder of Siamese and foreign coloured cats in the UK, with numerous grand champions to her name. She was often invited to cat shows not to enter her cats but just so people could see them.
The same woman who would jump into her car and drive (“fast” as was her liking) all over the country with her latest champion in the making. I remember her receiving phone calls from the UK and Europe where she would be consulted on pedigree and blood lines etc
Because of this visits to my mum over the years have usually meant finding an exquisite example of an exotic cat that normally with the demeanor of a super model or an oriental royal, which in the cat world they often were.
With her they live in heated lambs fleece luxury and enjoy a diet of only the best freshly cooked chicken breast or salmon.
Had she been born into better circumstances (rather than a Banardo’s foundling) and had she been given a better emotional and educational start in life as opposed to the awful, inhumane and emotionally starved treatment of Banardo’s children homes in the 40s, I have no doubt she would have been a roaring success at whatever she chose to focus her mind on. As it is now she is an old lady who although has much wisdom and insight to offer often feels alone, isolated and uncomfortable in a crowded room or other company. It’s who she is and I can do no more than love her for that.

While we were sat there nattering away I saw this chap coming up her path with two young children and then my half-sister whom I haven’t seen in 7 years or more. It isn’t that we don’t get on, it’s just that we live in different countries and we just don’t get it together to see each other that often.
As a family unit (siblings) we have always been a bit disjointed which was compounded with me going to sea as soon as I was 16 and rarely being in the UK for the next 8 years, therefore I never really filled the “big brother” role that perhaps she and her younger brother might have hoped for,(or could have done with) having been estranged from their father when they were still young. I was more interested on traveling the world in party mode. As a teenager and I didn’t have the emotional intelligence to understand, or recognize, that potential responsibility. By the time I was old enough to be less selfish they were already grown up individuals making their own way in the world. That said we all get on without any animosity. It is what it is and we are who we are.
Although 5 years younger than me she is already a granny (ha ha) and so I got to meet for the first time my grand niece and grand nephew and although the niece was a little shy of the big loud beardie man ,the nephew was most keen to show me his new pirate ship and when he found out I was a seafarer and noticed the gold earrings, tales of derring-do on the high sea had to follow.
It was lovely visit with mum and great to catch up with sis and her new chap who is a lovely fellow and hopefully they will get out to see us in France next year.

So I then jump into the easy to drive and natty looking E class Merc (hire car) and drive it like I stole it (which is how I drive hire cars) up to the Holiday Inn Heathrow where my son and daughter and her partner have arranged to meet me for dinner.
I absolutely adore and admire my children for how they are living their lives and for being the quite remarkable, striking and enjoyable people that they have grown into. I am constantly proud and am happy to just sit with them while I listen to the updates on their lives and the stories of what they got up to when they were children that like any parent I had no idea of.
I am (as they are without knowing) eternally grateful for their mothers unrelenting love, wisdom, intelligence and gentle warm grace that was their foundations as human beings.

Our gatherings are always full of laughter and easy company and my daughters long term partner just blends right in with us and knows that he too is accepted as part of the family and admired for his work ethic and his determination (currently training to become a helicopter pilot) and most importantly of all for his respectful and total love of my daughter.
A dad (or mother) can’t hope for more than that.

All three (and MrsB and I) are enthusiastic gourmet foodies and each meal will be marked like an episode of Master Chef, and as to be expected the Holiday Inn, while perfectly acceptable for a snack, would have been out in the first round, but it served its purpose of allowing us to spend some prime time together, which due to our various commitments and work patterns might not happen for at least another couple of months maybe even longer.
The get together was full of love, laughter, bawdy jokes, outrageous tales and beaming smiles (along with bemused but intrigued waiters) and it served to top up my love batteries to absolute brim full for my ensuing 6 weeks of work on my ship in the middle of the Gulf of Thailand where I now sit and type this .

I can say with complete honesty and accuracy that I am “loved right up”

Love and Peace

Mrs B Weaves her stone magic

Aye Aye Landlubbers.

So we had camouflaged the septic tank and filter and then laid the concrete block core of what will become our front area of the house.
It was all set for Mrs B to weave her stone magic and create something to which I can then make and fix a low lying palisade style fence to complete the picture.
MrsB has just sent me the photos of the progress so far and I think it is absolutely superb.

So it started like this

And when we had camouflaged the septic tank and put in the concrete walls, it looked like this.

And now MrsB does her thing!!

Being watched as ever by the old farm dog ‘Hercule’ who just adores her.

And our jack ‘Minnie’ who also adores her

Post box and newspaper slot

And now with a few pots in place and the flowers already happy in their new home in the wall

And now you should be able to get an idea of how good it is going to look with a low wooden fence (about same height as the slot for letters) running along the front both sides of the gate on the back of the wall

Here you can see the stones that will be used in the yard area and also some of the multitude of old reclaimed materials from the house used for pot stands on top of the wall.

I guess it is reasonable to say that there has been something of a significant transformation to the fornt of the house and we think it still retains the original character of a little French farm cottage (although perhaps a well cared for one.

In the beginning it looked like this

and today it looks like this

Its coming along!!

Paix et d’amour.


How to camouflage a septic tank and filter

At the front of the house we had to come up with a plan to camouflage the septic tank micro filter and pump housing that also gave us easy access to them when required.

We have always planned to have a small (breakfast & coffee) terrace outside and to the left of the kitchen window (the one with bars) and to have a flower bed running along the dividing wall to the right of the house as you look at it.

We used blocks to create the flower bed and found some old clay ridge tiles from the UK (bargain at 6 quid each) to create an attractive and quirky flower bed and painted the wall the same colour as to match our lime and mud pointing and the stones on the front of the house.
Here is MrsB setting about painting the wall and blocks to colour

And here with the ridge tiles applied

MrsB that came up with the idea of forming a raised area of decking (L shaped) to surround and cover the tanks. This will eventually be covered in pots of various types
We have plenty of old oak beams sand blasted, treated and dry stored from the original roof. We have always put back in to the house what we have taken out, where possible, and this was just another way of doing that, so we decided to check out the stock for suitable pieces and found a few gems.
It was then a case of cutting them to shape and leveling them up as best as possible.

The great thing about this was that the big chunks of wood didn’t all look level when laid in however it did leave us a chance to lay wood railings on the inside that would be level and also keep the decking clear of the lids and vents etc. All we had to do then was treat the beams

Then bolt them together and fit in the railings (25mm x25mm)

Here you can see the bits of brick and block that have been used to bring the main beams to some sort of level

Then treat the planks and cut to size when dry (perhaps it might have been less messy to do it the other way round but we were on a roll by then

Then trim fit them into place held with one small nail each end

Where the little vents stick up will be covered with upside down pots with holes drilled in with plant pot on top. * (you will have to wait a month or few in order to see how that will work but in the meantime feel free to let your imagination wander.)

For the gates MrsB had found a couple of old chestnut veal crate doors, with the wood on one side worn smooth by countless calf’s heads reaching through to drink milk from the bucket that would hang on the other side.
I found some old oak beams taken from one of the original A frames and trimmed them up to create gate posts and buried them in the ground at the appropriate height.

Unfortunately on my very first pick swing I heard a dull hollow sound ring up the drain pipe on the house and realised I had hit the rain water run off pipe. Closer inspection revealed I had put a sodding great split in it, and that the pipe ran right where I intended to put the gate posts.

So with some deft diversion work and pipe mending I continued and installed the posts

Followed shortly by the gates that still have the hinged openings for the calf’s head

To create a dividing wall to the left of the property where the land dips down we dug a footing trench when I had the digger hanging about and compacted a load of old rubble into it with some cement footings over the top. Nothing drastic as it isn’t holding anything up except itself and at the most will be a meter high.

Then MrsB laid in the first row of blocks (first pic of MrsB loading them up) to bring it up to a height that will level up the front garden area.

Now to get the land level (ish) level with the kitchen door is about one and half blocks high but we are going three high on the right because MrsB wil then cover it in stone on both sides of the block and then continue up with stone leaving a gap in the middle above the block which will become a flower bed in the wall.

You can see the metal ties for the stone wall here

Along the front where the wall shows will be a stone facing and then a rustic picket style fence will complete the enclosure of the front garden.

You will still be able to see the big wood sitting proud and behind that are large round pebbles (up to 50mm) of the same colour as the wall and then a paved area outside the kitchen window and a paved pathways to each door.
Not sure about the form of the gate by the kitchen yet, but may well replicate a version of the veal gates.

So there you have it the front of the house starting to look less like building site and more “homely”

D’ya loike dhaaaggs?

After months of winter rain the place where we normally park had become a swamp and was no longer fit for purpose (excuse the picture of the dumper and septic tank but it is the best one I could find to demonstrate the morass).

We had been parking on the neighbours hard standing (they are in Paris for the winter) and decided that we can’t put up with the mud each year nor can we keep using the neighbours space, so we decided we had to create a hard standing of our own.
If you like ‘we had to make a stand’. 8)

We toyed with the idea of gravel but it just squashes into the ground after a while, gets caught in the tyres of the truck and ends up all over the lane, makes a horrible scrunching sound and is difficult for people to park motor bikes on (and we get several visitors who ride them) so we dismissed that line of thought.

We also dismissed concrete as (in our opinion) it looks a bit nasty and would look out of place so we decide on “tarmac” which is what has been used elsewhere nearby.

I have never been involved in tarmac-ing anything but I have watched them build enough roads and seen it done on drives a few times to get the general gist of it.

I hired a tipper truck, a digger, and a big whacker plate, and then over the course of a day dug down (fairly level) to the sort of depth I thought I would need and then dumped the spoil on on our other bit of land about 5 miles away).

That evening when light had faded the laser level confirmed my “eye” was nearly all right and I used a spray paint to identify any high or low areas which I tried to scrape level in the morning.

We then put in a sort of boundary to give straight (sort of) edges to the finished product that we could then re-enforce and blend into the garden to make it look lovely.

Then off to the local yard that not only sold tarmac but also scalpings, but unfortunately they seemed to be a bit “stiff” when it came to adhering to the rules of how much scalpings they would load in my truck and would only put in a piddley little bit equivalent to about 4 or 5 wheelbarrow loads.
Luckily the quarry a bit further out in the sticks and had no such qualms and loaded me up to the gunnels and three large loads later we had out scalping base which we leveled as best we could with the digger then ran the whacker over it.

Here it is after a whackering or two after we had tried to fill in any dips

Here we created the run-off down into the drain.

And here is the preparation finished and ready for the tarmac.(you can also see how the lean-to works on the shed in the background)

Now before we go any further I must say that at this time it is absolutely important that you have a smooth level surface. It doesn’t matter if it slopes one way or another (the water will run off) but it mustn’t have any undulations, and so another proper leveling at this time is absolutely the thing to do or else you will end up with a rubbish finished product that looks awful and always has bloody great puddles in it.
Remember the adage of the 7 P’s p!zz poor preparation precedes p!zz poor performance.

Of course you could just get a contractor in to do it but where is the fun and the challenge in that??? 😯 😯 😆

After that it is a case of get prepared for the hot tarmac arrival.
Two Rakes
One Vibrating Roller
One digger to spread the tarmac about evenly
Two people clad in boots and gloves and T shirts as it gets very very hot.
Cover all rakes and digger buckets in a liberal coating of old diesel.

Get tarmac delivered and dropped in the most convenient spot.
It is recommended that to give a 5 to 6 cm covering you need one ton for every 10 M2. We had 65 M2 so 7 tons of tarmac arrived (944 euros) and this is what 7 tons of hot tarmac looks like.

Spread about and rake as smooth as you can, as fast as you can, because you want to work it when it is still hot or else you are f@#ked and will be left with an ugly tarmac sculpture of a blob.
Trust me when I say that this is a hot and sweaty job and you have to just get stuck right in and keep going till its done. It doesn’t take long but you need to be on it and stay on it till its done and ready for rolling.
Trust your eye to get the levels.

Rake it neatly as you can using both sides of the rake ie the top bar and the prongy bit to spread and even it out

Then get the roller on it.

Now the roller is a vibrating double roller with a gert big long handle on the end with the controls on it for forwards backwards and vibrate. There is no steering. 😯 😯

You have to get it trundling at just the right speed then yank it the way you want it to go. It is like wrestling 5 bags of moving cement and was very hard to get the hang of. Eventually cracked it but wished I had hired a small sit on one with steering instead.
I guess, like with many of these things, if you practice a lot you will get used to it and eventually master it but to be honest life’s a bit short to be fannying about huffing and puffing trying to drag a bloody great roller about.
That said I was fairly happy with the end result of our tarmac-ing experience (do ya loike daaags??) , which after a few months will blend in around the edges and look like it has always been there.

and here it is with with the side boards gone

Here you can see the natural slope left in down to the drain and also the diesel in the wheelbarrow for the rakes. If it doesn’t all wash off the rakes and barrow just chuck some petrol on the diesel (just a bit) and set fire to it in the barrow and let the metal bits of the rakes dangle in the flames for a while. It cleans the barrow up a treat as well and gets rid of the dirty diesel.

We have trimmed down the edges and laid concrete to give a hard edge and plomped soil and turf on that.
I will pop another photo up at the end of the summer so you can see how it would have blended in properly.

Love and peace


‘including the kitchen sink!!


As with every other room we took long time deciding on how the kitchen would be laid out and how we wanted to be able to cook and “be” in there. The kitchen is often the beating heart of a house and in our opinion needed careful planning and consideration.
We are aware that some people are happy to chuck in an “off the shelf” kitchen or pay some stranger to come into their house to “design” it for them and tell what they want, or what is the latest “in thing” however that isn’t a route we would take, so each to their own on that.

We will be having a large wood burning range with boiler (A Warmsler 1100) in the fireplace but obviously will only cook on that in the winter months.

We will have a bottle gas hob with electric double oven (because we have found bottle gas ovens to be utter S**te and not controllable enough)

We have built an island as extra work surface which will have a larder style fridge under it, and a peninsula for the sink (ha ha how posh does that sound)
We have created a “galley” style cooking area of two opposing Ls where everything will be to hand for one or even two ( ) cooks at a time.

The galley style cooking area comes from my experience on many ships, particularly the smaller ones, where they are designed for one cook to be able to feed 15 or more men 3 times a day. Work surfaces near cookers, fridges close to hand, sink close to hand, utensils either above head or to hand in open shelves. All designed for maximum cooing area with least amount of movement needed by the cook.

I created something close to my idea of perfect in the last house we had in UK and it was easy to cook in but the best one so far has been the galley space in the shed Yee Haw where you can pirouette on the spot and reach everything required.
Obviously we want to expand on that and a large sink is a vital part of the apparatus required.

We have chosen a double Belfast style sink just over a meter long half meter wide with 2 bowls about 25cms deep.
We chose the biscuit colour.
I say “we” but actually I was plumping for the white (doh! I am man = sinks are white doh!) so MrsB made me stand in the kitchen with my eyes scrunched up looking at the floor tiles then held up a pale cream colour in my eye line, and then a white colour in my eye line, and so we ordered the pale cream, (or biscuit as they call it)

Basically where the colours come in and where the “guilding of the lily” is occurring we are firmly in MrsBs territory and I am gladly following her lead and only arguing if I really do not get it.
We still discuss and have to agree on it all and I am involved in the choice of colours and textures etc, but in general MrsB has the eye for the detail whereas I am more interested in what holding the detail up.

We had been looking in various trocs brocantes and kitchen shops etc all over Brittany but nothing had caught our eye in years so we ordered on line from a manufacturer in UK

Here it is in all its ribbed front biscuit colour glory.

Here are floor tiles
so you should be able to see how that works together

We are in the process of setting the height right and then it will have either a granite or marble shelf to the right and the along rear which sits along the top of the sink and hopefully in unison with one piece incorporating a large draining board to the left, which in itself will sit and fit seamlessly with the island worktop which maybe stainless steel or wood or something else “light” coloured (yet to be decided)

The tap will be one of those goose neck jobs probably in brass or brushed steel (although yet to be decided) and set centrally at the rear and come through the granite / marble shelf.

In the last shot you can see the rear of the sink and overflows which will obviously all be hidden.

The block work of the island and sink support will all be trimmed and smooth coated then tiled.

To the left of the picture is the island

In the background where the temp gas stove is now will be where the hob and oven go and from that in an l shape following the concrete blocks will be an L shape stainless steel top with splash back.

The top will be as wide as the cooker along the back wall and then thin down to about 350mm along the front wall ending up with round end.

Any appliance stands on a 5cm plinth (already built in) so when stuff is dropped on the floor in the cooking area and water sloshed about, none of it gets under the piddly valances and skirtings of normal fitted kitchens, or trapped under the fridge or cooker legs to fester away for ages as it does in many so called “modern” or “fitted” kitchens.

The block work along the walls (about 5 cm gap) also acts as a conduit for an air vent which takes air from outside to the main wood burning range which is out of site on the right of the picture.
The air comes in through a vent outside (under the window seat) and is piped into the space behind the blocks and then when it gets to the end of the blocks is piped to the front of the wood burning range.

The window will have a wooden seat in it and to the left of the sink in the photo will be the granite marble shelf that runs in dog leg around the sink.

That’s about it for now on the sink. I will update the progress of the kitchen and am also preparing a post that is from start to finish just the kitchen as I will do eventually with all the rooms as they come on line.

Love and Peace


The Log Shed Evolves

A year or so back we erected the first part of Shed 3 which is to become the main workshop and depository for my tools and the various bits of storage we don’t want in the house

It went from this

to this

You can see the extra-long chevrons on the right that were left in with the express purpose of extending them further and then roofing over to create a log store on the side.
We cut to size and treated some more chevrons with a mix of modern creosote, old engine oil, dirty diesel and a black french wood preserver like runny tar.
After they were dry it was simple case of nail gunning them in place with stiffiners to extend the chevron length. (you can see the stiffiners sitting proud under the chevrons They are about half a meter so extend 250mm each site of the join)

Once they were in place We used meta post (concreted in for extra stability) and created 4 uprights cut to length with a cross member that supported and stiffened the whole ensemble and then used the same roofing material just slid it under the existing which had been left slack for the over lap. Screwed it down using the wide oblong washers and special screws for the job and there it was done.

Then we had to get in there and clad the wall with treated wood (it is vollige which is the stuff normally used under traditional roofs, but with a heavy coat of our protector mix both sides it will last for yonks.

You can see the simple uprights used as an anchor for the wood cladding all treated as well. This gives a nice air gap behind to keep everything healthy. You can also see how it look at the front where it will be seen.

Here is Mrs B suitably attired getting stuck in with the hammer and also showing me how even and thick the coat she had applied was after I had inadvertently inquired. (ahem)

So we completed the cladding where needed and I buggered off back to sea leaving Mrs B the massive Jenga/Tetris task of compacting the log pile into the new shelter in preparation of another load arriving soon from out woodland that we are going to thin out a bit in the autumn plus another load of limbs yet to be sawn that we pollarded a couple of years ago at project two

This is how it turned out with the log pile now neatly stacked and the view from the back of the shed before it receives its wood cladding.

And here from the front.

Mrs B reckons it now takes up about a third of the shelter so plenty of room for more and we start burning in the autumn so plenty to come yet.

Just the small stuff to move to its own section

So there we have it a log shelter done and dusted, logs stacked, about half of shed 3 with its wood cladding, and just waiting for a couple of collector barrels for the rainwater and the run off drain-away to put in. That was the first task complete on the leave.
More to follow.