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
Bentley

Bug Clearance Fine Tuning

Some Fine Tuning of the settings and we should be raring to go.
Apologies to you lovely people who may have received a couple of odd mails from the site in the last day or two. It is me making sure that all is in order with people being able to join and be notified when I post before I start making regular blog posts in the next 10 days.
You should have just received a mail saying that I have made a post on the “my rustic view blog ” section of the website. I will also be shortly updating the building blog and you should receive mail saying I have done so once I get back on board the ship in about 10 days time.
I am hoping that I have all the little foibles sorted now however as I am learning as I go along with the mail shot we will have to wait and see.
I am looking forward to finally getting the site rolling.
Love and Peace
Bentley

Site maintenance

Aye Aye landlubbers, there I was all full of good intentions about blogging more regularly but I rather thoughtlessly allowed myself to get sidetracked.
Mingle that with some procrastination and the net result is that not much action has been occurring on here. That is about to change.
My web site designer has been setting the site up so that people can enroll and then receive auto email updates whenever I make a post and we are having a look at making blog follower comments a bit easier and more visual.
I am also setting up a face book page as a conduit to this site, although I draw the line at becoming a member of the “twatteratti” because I find the restrictive number of characters allowable on Twatter not suited to my often preferred verbose style. I also have some uncomfortable social issues with it which I will cover in a blog soon.
Just ironing out a few minor site glitches over the next week or so and then will finally haul my ares into gear.
Cheers
Bentley

Resolution number 1 failed

Screaming Bollocks,
That’s right, great big sweaty screaming bollocks.
No mine just screaming bollocks in general.
I have failed at one of my resolutions for this year.
That was to stop wasting my time on obscure expat web sites arguing the toss, about garbage like the ghastly royal family, with anonymous people who, for some strange reason, seem to think they are a jolly good wheeze and rather top hole.

Life really is a bit short to be discussing these things that I would normally dismiss with a flick of the wrist, or raised eyebrow, and it makes it even worse that I am often discussing stuff with people, who although they have never spent time in my company, actually despise my forum persona and make it a point to take offence or affront at anything I write.

Those of you who know the more mischievous side of me will be grinning at that because it’s a bit like showing a red rag to a bull. It just spurs me on to stay engaged, knowing full well I am never going to help them see the folly of their ways, that they are never going to understand my rustic view of it, and I am likely to just enrage them by trying.

I will concentrate on not engaging, which is unnatural for me, however I will reduce my forum use which will afford me more time to engage on here if the opportunity arises.

Its not like giving up smoking, which personally I find as easy to do as starting smoking again, this is much more difficult to stop because of the social contact it affords me when I am away from Mrs Bentley. ( I know she will be raising her own eyebrow at that statement but it isn’t a cop out. What we couldn’t work out was how people find so much time when they are home to make loads of posts a day when for the 6 or 7 weeks I am home I doubt if I make more than one a week. I know full well how I get to spend time on the forums when I am at work but I am far to busy with life when home to be arguing with strangers and of course I have MrsB to be with )
When I am away time spent on a forum, even one where I am disliked by many purse lipped, tut tutters because of my outspokenness or feigned arrogance, can be enjoyable and its good fun to swap opinions (if for no other reason that to test my own) but writing just for oneself and possibly the handful of people who may read it on here is new to me. However it is a process I must go through if I am ever to get this book out of me.
Using my time engaging with strangers is not the most productive use of that time and time is the one resource that I realise I am now using more and more of, out of an ever shrinking reserve.

Note to self
Must spend more time on here organising my thoughts into new and coherent argument and less time using known and tested coherent argument on anonymous strangers.

Love and Peace
Bentley

The website is launched

Aye Aye landlubbers
Amid no great interest at all to the wider world the long overdue website “www.myrusticview.com” is launched at last.

This website is designed to combine the three blogs (My ramblings and the two building renovation ones) as well as a new miscellaneous section, into one easy to use website that you are free to share with whoever you like.

As well as regular updates on the building progress I fully intend to make more postings in my general blog area and will be happy to engage on whatever subject takes your fancy, without having to conform to many of the more open public forums rules or netiquette, which seem to be designed with the aim of protecting the meek and easily offended.
I trust that regular users of this site will be a bit more robust in their argument/debating abilities and wont have an attack of the vapours and flounce of in a hissy fit if disagreed with at any stage.
It isn’t like a forum in the true sense of the word and is more a place where I will chuck my ideas and opinions out into the ether and you can either sit there read it and nod your head in agreement (or shake it in disagreement) or if you have the inclination you can take the time to type out your views on my views and how they differ or don’t as the case may be and perhaps we can argue them through.
Anyway I look forward to seeing you on here and as I have already said feel free to comment at any time or even just say hello if you like.
If you don’t want to comment or chat on open forum and don’t already have my email address it is
youfriskybeauty@hotmail.com

Love and Peace
Bentley

A new addition to the Bentley clan’

Aye Aye landlubbers (and a fellow seafarer I notice as well) who may take the time to read my ramblings from time to time.
Just had a frantic but fantastic 7 week leave that involved 3 days in the UK at the start of it for a wedding party and buying a new motor car for MrsB
.
The car ended up as sort of compromise because where as I was looking for a reliable run about that was easy to park and reasonably comfortable for longish journeys and in a nice tasteful sort of dark blue colour, MrsB wanted something that had at least a three liter engine 4 wheel drive with 6 speed auto/tiptronic transmition and that went like shit of a shovel (her words I can assure you) if so desired.
Imagine both out delights at finding an Audi TT 3.2 Auto Quatro for a bargain price and we even managed to get a superb french sink thrown in with the deal.

I had to go back to the UK to pick it up after about 10 days of being at home and had an “enjoyable and somewhat invigorating” drive from a place called Battle down to Pompey via M25 and A3.

Although it is MrsBs car I must admit to driving it like I stole it every time I get behind the wheel and yet even in my most derring do devil may care moments, utilising all my years of experience behind the wheel (many of them above the recognised speed limit) this car just laughs at me as though to say “You Wanker!!!, is that the best you can do?? is the that your best shot??? Ha you feeble pussy”  So much so that I have taken to driving it reasonably sensibly on occasions just to show it who its bosses husband is. Oh yes that will teach it.  

It handles like no other car I have driven (and I have driven and owned some gems) and its road handling and acceleration are quite remarkable if so desired. It is, in short, a right fucking bundle of laughs to drive and I haven’t got out of it yet without a big grin pasted on my mug.
One of the madder thing is that even though some people we know have had a little “tut tut, what about the fuel costs” (not that we have asked anyone to put fuel in it for us) but it does loads more MPG than the pick up truck whom many would consider to be a very noble and fitting vehicle for a pair of scruffy renovators.
Ah well you cant win em all eh folks?
I am guessing that some people cant see past the gleaming body work and the 4 exhausts and the 3.2 badge but if they looked into my laughing glinting eyes as I was driving it or being driven by MrsB in it then they might understand why.
After the pick up for the last year or two it is like being someone who usually rides donkeys on the beach jumping up onto the back of a prancing frisky racehorse that just wants to gallop like a mad bastard everywhere. I know not everyone will like it (we don’t care) or even consider it worthy of a blog but it is the newest addition to the Bentley family and a very welcome, exciting and enjoyable one too.

Yer tis in all its glory

and then with all it’s glory in it as MrsB looking very glam takes it for a spin

 

Chinese whispers created noahs ark

Aye Aye landlubbers, Yo Ho HO! barrels of rum on dead men’s chests, black spots from blind Pugh and all that malarkey.

T’was with a twinkle in me eye that I sat pondering all the animal names on board a ship that are in regular use and realized that I could have a scenario where I asked the bosun, who was keeping the dog watch, to do job on the monkey island.
I would have to call the engineers to get them to flash up the donkey boiler to provide steam for the winches in order to operate the derrick booms in union purchase. 
That would mean making sure that a monkeys face was fitted, but we would have to make sure to properly mouse all the shackles holding it in place.

They would need to use a goose neck scraper to clean the swan neck vent and then use a dogs leg to paint it. 

If they need to rig any staging they would have to use a lizard to secure it (but not with a cow hitch) and if one end of that was frayed they could quickly put a dogs dick in to tidy things up. They could tie it up under the crows nest and if the lizard was too long they could put a sheep shank in it.  

If they needed to throw a rope to the other side they could put a monkeys fist in it. 

Of course, in the olden days, if they made a pigs ear of the job I could always have administered the cat.

I now understand how the myth of noah’s ark was created by Chinese whispers developed by landlubbers on overhearing sea dogs having a chat over a few rums when up the road on a rabbit run.

Glossary

Dog Watch:– Normally the 1600 to 2000 split into two.

Monkey Island:– The deck directly above the navigational bridge

Donkey Boiler:– Boiler used for jobs that require steam that can be provided without diverting steam from the main boilers of a steam driven vessel 

Monkeys face (or in earlier times a Dead man’s face) :- A triangular metal plate with a hole near each angle apex and when looked at resembles a simple caricature of a monkeys face. Used for attaching two cargo runners and a cargo hook in order to effect two derricks into union purchase (or yard and stay as it is sometimes called) rigging 

Mouse:– To secure the end of a shackle pin to ensure that it doesn’t come undone when under load or after constant vibration during operation. 

Goose neck scraper:– A double ended metal scraper about a foot long with a sharpened scraping head at each end with one of the ends bent over at 90 degrees 

Swan neck vent:- A tubular vent that comes up from the deck with the top 10 or 15 % bent back on itself in a u turn so it resembles a swans neck 

Dogs Leg:- A long handled paint brush about a foot long to 18 inches with the brush head at an angle of about 30-40 degrees. Known ashore as a radiator brush so I am told. 

Lizard:- A piece of rope approx. 2 fathoms long with a hard eye spliced into one end and a palm and needle whipping at the other. Used when a rope such as stage gantline or bosuns chair gantline is to be run through it to prevent chaffing. 

Cow Hitch:– A knot similar to a clove hitch except the running ends emerge from the center of the knot in the same direction as opposed to a clove hitch where they emerge in opposite directions. 

Dogs dick:- A back splice in a piece of rope. 

Crows nest:- A look out station set high on a ships mast. 

Sheep Shank:- A simple knot that is used to temporarily shorten a length of rope. Often found on grab lines fitted to the keels of lifeboats.  


Monkeys Fist:- A knot that can be tied in the end of a piece of rope(usually a heaving line) that adds significant weight to the end of rope allowing it to be thrown further. Sometimes nuts or lead weights are added in the knot and as you tighten the strands of the knot it grips the weights much like a monkey putting its hand in a hole in tree to grab a treat and then not letting go of what it finds. 

Pigs ear:-Not a seafaring expression and in cockney its rhyming slang for Beer, but in its context of messing something up it was first used in 1950 in Readers Digest although it is thought to be a extrapolation of the 16th century saying of “making a silk purse out of a sows ear”.

Cat (‘o nine tails):- A multi tailed whip made with knotted cord. 

Sea Dog:- Slang for a seafarer

Rabbit run:– Going ashore with the intention of buying souvenirs but usually has the potential to (and normally does) descend into an extended tour of bars in the dock area, and sometimes beyond, with the money originally set aside for presents etc being otherwise invested into alcoholic beverages.

May fair winds fill your sails and clear skies please your heart
Love and peace
Bentley 

The 8 Bells Reunion

I first experienced the special space of the 8 Bells in Beaminster Dorset in early summer 1977.
My mum had moved to the village but I hadn’t seen her for about 2 years as I had either been at sea gallivanting around central America or having a laugh with shipmates from various vessels whenever I did arrive for a week or so in the UK.
I though it high time I paid her a visit and made my way to the Dorset village where she lived with her new chap, a genial but slightly weird fellow who was postman.
They lived on the outskirts of the village on the Broadwindsor road (just opposite the home of the now legendary Henry vacuum cleaners).
After the telling of tales of derring do of the last couple of years (the edited version to my mum) I decided to check out the village pubs to see if there were any good ones to frequent and also if there was anyone who was likely to enjoy a spliff or three as was my want in those days.
My first stop was the Knapp Inn (we will return here later) which was a tiny little snug and bar type pub that was friendly enough but seemed to cater for a more elderly clientele than I was looking for, being only 19 years old at the time.
The next stop closer to the center of the village was the Royal Oak and that was more of the same as the Knapp except without the friendliness or character.

It should be said that at this time (ie the late/mid 70’s) in the rural areas of the UK there were many more pubs about and they all mainly survived with various days of the week being given over to pub sports teams like darts, long alley skittles, table skittles, crib, dominoes and bar billiards etc. Most pubs had teams in many different leagues so had a guaranteed few in most nights of the week.
At that stage they hadn’t mostly all become “restaurants that used to be bars” that now infest the countryside and often prefer people not to just turn up for a drink without eating as well, which is the sad fucking blight that has befallen most decent old rural boozers.
I think the breathyliser may have had something to do with the decline of the more isolated pubs as well.
It had to happen I suppose with less and less people employed in agriculture, the insidious start of second home ownership (holiday homes occupied for two weeks a year and the odd weekend) pricing locals out of the villages as more people became “inheritors” in the general dash for cash inspired by the foul bane of Thatcher.
This meant that people all spent longer at work trying to afford labour saving gadgets in their home that they had to borrow ever increasing amounts of money to buy from ever increasingly eager to lend lenders which in turn meant they had to spend more time at work to make more profit for the banks but in turn  had less time and disposable income for their own leisure. (whoops off on a political rant tangent there for a moment)

Pubs were only open from about 11am till 2.30pm and again about 6pm till 10.30 most nights, except 11 on a Saturday.
Sunday opening was 12 till 2 and 7 till 10 (if at all) so if you were a young seafarer used to drinking in countries that had always embraced 24 hour bars the it was important to find a pub that did “lock ins”, the delicious nirvana of after hours, slightly illegal drinking that always seemed to be a bit naughty but was also well worth the effort.

My next stop was the White Hart just off the village centre and when I entered the public bar things started to look up, at least as far as the clientele were concerned. The 6 or 7 slightly hippyish looking characters who were in the pub that day are still mates to this day.
As an aside the landlord, who’s name escapes me, was a great big fat miserable bloke with the look of an ex copper about him (which turned out to be accurate). When he wasn’t behind  the bar one of his equally corpulent and, it has to be said, miserable daughters would be on duty.

 It is normal to undergo a certain amount of surreptitious scrutiny of the sort any “newbie” gets when never seen before in a pub and as I ordered my pint there was bit of that going on which I forestalled by asking if anyone fancied a game of pool. That lead to several more games of pool and plenty of chat about how I had turned up in the village, what I did , what they did, what other pubs were about, where bands played,   where to get a smoke etc etc. A little later they said they were popping down to the 8 Bells for a couple and did I want to join them.
“Does Snow White need a stepladder?” says I and off we go for the two minute walk to what would turn out to be a 36 year (and counting)  acquaintance with the 8 Bells, or more accurately, the myriad of magnificent characters that frequented it.  

A corner setting just below the church and off the main square of the village, the Bells was build of hamstone and the downstairs facade was a heavy studded oak door was flanked on the left by a large mullioned square bay  window and on the right a smaller version of the same . On stepping inside there was another door which the opened into the bar from a sort of internal storm porch I guess is the best way to describe it.
Working from left to right was the bay window with built in benches all round but a bar billiards table in the middle of it. (It was moved later as the pub became ever more popular and a  table was installed that would seat 6 to 8 at a squeeze and gave them a view of “up the lane” to the square.)
The benches followed round to the next wall  with a table infront of them, and then to an open fire with a bench the other side running to the bar. There were 4 low slung 60’s style bench seats (that could seat about 6 to 8 with some budging up and buttock juggling) with a low table near this.
Then the bar itself with 4 high stools with backs facing the main door and window. The bar was polished wood and behind were two large shelves that held 4 casks of the local brewery’s beer (Palmers) called BB and IPA beer and two cider barrels.
In each case (beer and cider) there was one settling and one ready to go.
There were mirrored shelves with some glasses on them and optics Rum Whisky Brandy Gin Vodka attached to the front. Next to the bar on the right in a small alcove was an old looking fruit machine (which remained for the next 10 years and took only 2ps) then a door out to the rear indicating toilets.
Following right was another area with a dart board, wall mounted  juke box and some more seating dotted about the place and in the window.
The overriding sense I  (and many many more after and before me) experienced on entering was “This is it!!!”
What a wonderful vibe.
It must have been on the most perfect set of lay lines, or the planets were aligned with the plankton in the Adriatic on the day it was built, or the builders involved had all been loved up, but whatever the reason the 8 Bells had that special, homely, welcoming, safe, embracing, warm, party invoking, loving feeling that very few buildings have.
The Bells had it in abundance and it had me hooked from the first moment I stepped in the place.

The landlady at that time was a tall thin woman called Margret who carried the presence of an austere schoolmarm straight out of the pages of a Hardy novel. Her normal attire of smart navy blue skirt suits with white blouse with Cameo broach at the neck, seemed more suited to a trip to a sunday church service as opposed to pulling pints in a bar.
That said once you got past the initial frostiness she was a hard working pleasant woman who had been left to run the pub after the husband had either done a runner with a customer or died (I cant remember which). She always had the look of being ever so slightly disgusted with something or wishing to be somewhere else, but she performed her role with dignity and due care if not a little coldly on occasions. I don’t remember her laughing much except in that sort of slightly exasperated way that some people do.
    
What she presided over was a renowned “cider house” ie a pub that sold a lot of cider, and because it sold a lot it was always fresh and enjoyable. (there will be a separate blog on the golden nirvana called the “cider triangle” which is situated in the area where the three counties of Dorset, Somerset and Devon meet.)

My new pals had asked me if  I drank “Skry” (the local nickname for cider from the barrel) and I most certainly did, but one of them suggested I try a VC .
This most glorious of drinks is made up of cider (rough) and a top or dash of Vimpto  which turns it into your most favourite fruity tasting drink (with the kick of a mule) you could possibly imagine.

Margret ran the Bells for about the first 2 or three years of my usage and then whilst I was at sea a transformation took place that was to take the Bells to another level and made it one of the most popular pubs for many miles around.

I returned after a few months away on a vessel working down in central america and so, as was normal after a long trip, I was all bronzed up, fit as fiddle and flush with cash. I had become quite a popular new addition to the pub and party scene in the area over the previous three years and had developed a bit of a reputation as someone who turned up from some exotic location (after months away) for a few weeks, had a whale of a time normally surrounded by laughter and occasional mayhem, burning the candle at both ends (and in the middle) and would then go dissapear back to sea for a few months.
I had arrived back in the middle of the week on a lunchtime and as normal made a beeline for the Bells. I looked in the window as the cab dropped me off and saw just one old local at the bar and someone I didn’t recognise behind it.
I strolled in, plonked my bag down and said my customary “Aye Aye landlubbers”, and the lady behind the bar broke into one of the loveliest, warmest, most welcoming and genuine of grins and said in a wonderful full Brummie accent  “Ohh Hello, so you will be the Bentley I have been hearing about then. I am Ann the new landlady”  
And so began a friendship which lasts to this day.
I found out they had moved from a pub up near Shepton Mallet and had been running the Bells for about three months. Later that evening I met her husband Colin who although  6’5” and with the physique of a rugby player was also a wonderful warm friendly and ready to smile person. Their marvelous children Lisa and Richard (well into their teens by then) shared their parents wonderful smiles and gusto for life and fun.

Over the next few months they slowly transformed the place with their warmth, generosity of spirit (and letting you run a tab when skint) and zest for fun without really doing any alterations as such to the decor, although the bar billiards had to go to make way for the ever increasing number of people who began using the pub.
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As I mentioned earlier in those days not every pub had to turn itself into some sort of  phony gastro experience and in the Bells, if you were lucky, there might be a cheese and onion roll available or the occasional delicious winter soup of curry that Ann would make. That said we didn’t go out to eat, we went out to go on the piss and have a laugh which was always a distinct possibility in the Bells.

Some of the nights there are worthy of a blog post on their own merits so I wont waffle on because you really did have to be there to get it.

What made the 8 Bells so special was not only the arrival of Colin and Ann at exactly the right time, nor was it the vibe of the building itself, but the secret lie in the incredible eclectic mix of characters that called it their local or who drank there occasionally and when I started to write this I began to remember the names of some of the better known ones

 Gibbers – Hunky – MartinP – Spot – Merv – Liz – Hebbies –  Fi –  Nemoid – Wendy – Hawkeye – Helen –  Nellie – Jo – Trev – Debbie – Benny –Troub – Shorty – Dilly – Tina – Dixie – Janet – Hack – Sid – Huck – Adam – Moses – Geraldine – Vinnie – Mary – Buzz – Pringo –  Cloughy – Clemmo – Hannsy – Anna – Sarah – Chuck – Ali – Bunt – Sherfer – Lisa – Duck – Tracy – Cornel – Meatman – Shane – Anna –  Alex – Janet – Gay Chris – Gay Pete –  Ian – Bomb head – PeteC – Yosser – Andy – Mandy – Dawsey – Sterling – Anne – Big Bunny- Jayne – Little Bunny –Badger – Old Blue – Little Blue – Sneeze –  TittySarah – Drunk Sarah – Joker – Scruff – Topsy –  Paul – Sandra – Mathew – Mike – Cosy – Andy – Derrick – Graham – Shaun the Smackhead – MS Mike – Liz – Duncan – Tractor – Hippy Paul –  Hippy Alan – Suzi – Kim – Jenny –Jayne x 4 – Clair – Mark – Fiona   Sally – Jilly – Jill – Margret – Mark – Baby Sarah – Micheal – Lisa – Colin – Ann – Richard  and many many more whose names escape me or who I never knew in the first place.

The line of work these people had were as varied as their names and included but were not limited to 

Farmers – Builders – Nurses – Carpenters – Scrapmen – Binmen –  Cabinet Makers – Cleaners – Army boys – Navy boys – Antique Dealers – Car Dealers – Drug Dealers – Petty Crooks – Proper Crooks – Poachers – Chancers – the occasional undercover Police Person (who were surprisingly easy to spot and to my knowledge didn’t get anyone pregnant) Factory Workers – Net makers – Digger Drivers -Stable lads – Secretaries – Supervisors – Civil Servants –  Social Workers – Housewives – Managers – Dentist – Roofers – Retirees – Engineers – Labourers – Carpenters – Students – Seamen and one bloke who made rubber fetish clothing and I kid you  not his name was “Richard Glidewell”.

So there it was, this wonderful mix of people all sharing a great pub. I knew of at least three generations  of 16 to 23 year olds who passed through and then continued to use it until it was closed down by the brewery after pricing the rent beyond the reach of the capacity of the pub.
The bastards then turned it into a private house, rumour has it for their mother.
I confronted one of the brewery owners on the subject when he came into MrsB’s and my own bar to try and flog us some of his piss-water beer.
He couldn’t work out why our little cellar bar was outselling every other pub in the area for Stella (although it was the only draft beer we had) and I said that considering they owned so many I didn’t believe he knew what a good pub was as he had just shut down what was considered by many to be a classic, namely the 8 Bells. He said “You can rent it if you like”
I responded that as free man I didn’t have to enslave myself to a bunch of corporate gangster like themselves, and if they had any sort of compassion or sense of tradition, over and above shoving loot into their trousers, they would have let it (and a couple more similar great pubs already lost) run on peppercorn rents to keep the “country pub” alive.
He smirked that it wasn’t possible I said “yea right” and we left it at that.  

Imagine my unfettered joy when MrsB is invited by the ever lively and bubbly Suzi, through facebook, that there is to be an 8 Bells reunion 16 years after it had closed and it was to be held at the Knapp Inn in Beaminster.
I found out in February and immediately booked flights from Rennes across the water and organised a hire car. I also e-mailed my back to back on the ship and informed him we needed to change our rota a little as I had a very important date to attend on May25th that I was not prepared to miss.

To say it was like walking into an incredibly happy time warp would not do it justice.
We arrived at about half 7 and it was already heaving with a few familiar faces out on the pavement having a smoke.
After a few quick hellos and hugs and “wow look at you’s” I needed to get the drinks so I ventured in to be met by a very familiar face that I couldn’t place and he stuck out his hand and said “I know your face but cant remember you name.”
 I said “I’m Bentley and he gives me a huge hug and says “For fuck sake its been over 30 years Bentley, I’m  Trev, Gibbers brother” and that was the start of several hours of similar re-unions full of  laughter and reminiscing, with lots of  “Oh Wow is that you’s” and  “you haven’t changed a bit’s” and “do you remember the such and such night”.

If the world needed a boost of love and laughter and good feeling towards its fellow man then it received  a massive dose of it on the 25th of May and it emanated from the Knapp Inn Beaminster and came form the shared camaraderie and happy memories of the regulars from the 8 Bells.

The first I saw of the Bakers was when I turned to see the daughter Lisa making a beeline for MrsB and myself, beaming her wonderful open smile, that could give light to a blind man, and it has to be said she looked identical to the last time I had seen her 17 or more years ago.
Then Colin and Ann were there for hugs handshakes as the “stars of the show” and I suspect they will be surfing on the wave of love they received for many moons to come.
We had taken our son and daughter now 23 and 25 to say hello as one of the last times Anne and Colin had seen them together Ann was a witness at our wedding when they were 2 and 4 so a few tears were shed but they were happy happy ones of fond memories and good times.
Later on I bumped into the son Richard who is as tall as his dad and nearly a carbon copy and also shares the genuine smile of someone who enjoys life for what it i

It was the local that MrsB and I spent many happy nights together when we first met and had fallen forever in love, and Ann still remembers the day when I first introduced Mrsb to her and when she had nipped out to the loo said “Oh Bentley she is adorable I can see why you are smitten”
 
Not everyone I remember from the regulars was there (in body) but then again they were never all there even on a busy night. (It could only hold 30 or so to seem quite busy, 50 to seem ram packed and 70 plus to be heaving and people having to use the courtyard out the back.)
As the years went by life moved along and people moved away or died or whatever, but that said all the characters absent and present were spoken of and remembered with great fondness.

Afterwards, in the days following the reunion, as I began to process the nights feelings and after effects I was split into two different emotions:-
one of fondly remembering a significant part of my youth where we all partied hard and enjoyed a special bond through the Bells and of course thought we were invincible;
and the second part was noticing for the first time the reality of my age and that, different from when the future seemed endless, I am now conscious I am using more and more of the less and less time that’s left.
Perhaps that’s why I enjoy it so much, but then again self diagnosing you have a terminal disease called “mortality” can have that effect on you .  

Love and peace

Bentley

The Journey, Dailymailreading Moaners and the 8 Bells.

Aye Aye You frisky bunch of beauties, back on board again after a relatively uneventful trip out to Songklah via Southampton, Denmead (Portsmouth) Bridport, Lyme Regis, Somerton, Heathrow, Singapore, Hat Yai and finally Songklah and the an added hike to NST whihc is the chopper base three hours north along the coast form Songklah and then 5 different landings on platforms and rigs until arriving on the Champion.
Left the loving embrace of MrsB at 1200 (french time) on the 14th at Rennes airport and arrived on board at 1000 (french time) on the 18th.
The trip out included my annual offshore medical (which I passed with flying colours magnificent specimen etc ) I then had a evening sat outside the Harbour Inn in Lyme with an old mate piuttiong nthe world to rights for several hours. The next day was lunch at the wonderful LuLa’s (used to be the cavity) in Bridport with my stunning daughter Pearl (who never fails to amaze me with her energy and enthusiasm for life and also her determination to live in a field in a van or wig wam,)  and my wonderful nephew Will (who I haven’t seen for over year and who has retrained from being a plasterer and now is a well qualified specialist carpenter working on beautiful bespoke yachts in Ipswich.)
The only downside is that he now wont pick up his plastering tools any more so I have to remember what he showed me and take it from there on the re-build. My cunning plan is to get him over and say Oh will I was trying this and it doesn’t come out right am I doing it properly? Que to Will taking over to show me and saying “I just as well do this bit in case you muck it up”
Ha a fiendish plan I know, but worth giving it shot I think.
Pearl is off down to St Tropez for the summer working for family as child minder on what sounds like bloody good terms. I wont see here now until she stops of on her way back to the UK in early September.
 Zak has been on an advanced  rope climbing course to enable him to get work filming at height and immediately landed a job filming from one of the high wires above the stage at this years Glastonbury. Sop the Bentley clan are in fine order. MrsB is continuing with creating the terrace and garden as well as emptying the house of all superfluous items into the small barn garage we built this time ready for the preparation work needed for the kitchen floor and the rest of the electrics when I get home again.
I expect to get a significant amount done not only to the first project but also the second which is need of some tlc and we intend to put a ring beam around it this year to protect whats there although my building guru has told me we need to cast a thicker lintel over the big opening french doors first.
All that work to do and yet in August and September we have quite a few of our favourite people stopping over for visits which we always enjoy. It is great to hear from them about the progress we have made as when you are in it doing it you can easily lose sight of what it looked like a year or more ago.
Also when you have people staying whose opinion you value and know you well enough to be honest about their view when asked, they can give you feedback about the lay out of the house and the flow through it. It is always refreshing to hear.            

I will spend some of the next 6 weeks entering into arguments with some of the dailymail reading (and all the right wing paranoia that reading that piece of shit invokes) retired types who populate a french forum I use. (frenchentree.com)
I shouldn’t just highlight the mailreaders as there are some very good interesting people on the site with whom it is always enjoyable sharing opinions with (even with some of the mail readers who I would in real life avoid like the plague fall into that category). It is great fun and a good mental exercise  to test out ones own opinions in an arena that is often quite hostile to anything that comes from left wing bias.
It is a bad thing to find out just how insular, narrow minded and full of bitterness angst and in some cases abject disappointment with their own lives some people are but they are out there and they don’t just exist on forums. I have met a few in real life lately and I having trouble staying civil in their company. I may just resort to “Is this conversation going to last much longer because to be honest I am loosing the fucking will to live”
Some people just don’t ever find happiness, or even contentment in their lives, and as such seem to project that no-one else should either. Maybe they do have it fleetingly, but it slips through their grasp to be condemned as something they will never have again, and in most cases they are right.
That in itself is bad enough but when they seek to garner a glimmer of joy, they can only do so by reveling in others downfall or by deriding the achievement or happiness of others as some sort of fluke and nothing to be celebrated.
It is that sort of miserable bastard that I would prefer if they fucked of out of sight or hearing and wallowed alone in their own misery away form the rest of society and without trying to drag the rest of us down to their own sorry woeful level.

Cor Blimey guv’nor were did that little unloading rant com from eh?? Funny the things we bottle up for releasing at an appropriate stage eh??

Now I was going to go on to write about one of the happiest events I have been to in my life but I have to  do some work on the ship as we are about to move into 10 meters of one of the largest production platforms in the Gulf of Thailand so I had best be on my bestest most professionalist super concentrating, do what I am actually paid to do behaviour.
See you later for an insight into the 8 Bells reunion and what it meant to me.
Love and Peace
Bentley

    

When your son makes you laugh

I had to have a long hearty laugh and said to myself  “That’s my boy!” when I read these words of thought from my son, who is now living in London working towards his goal of becoming a recognised filmmaker.   

Sometimes when I’m on a crowded tube I think, am I just part of the rat race? 
Am I the same as these people? 
Just another bored cog in the system? 
Then I remember that I wheelied a tractor once, and that was as cool as fuck.

It was so good I bought him the T shirt that says “I Do Tractor Wheelies”

Love and peace
Bentley 

Harry Chuffer

I mentioned earlier about anew addition to the Bentley family and here it is. 
We are now the very proud owners of a 1959 Renault D22

Image

Ok OK It might need a little tlc and a respray etc (its original colour would have been orange and we will probably return it to its former glory) however as this thread shows we have a tendency to buy old relics and breath new life into them. 
On the now named “Harry Chuffer” the hydraulics work, the pto works, it sparks up first time and it is a 3 cylinder Deutz (I think) air cooled diesel so pretty much indestructible.
I think you can tell by my smile that I am already besotted and even though she is very slightly reluctant to admit it, so is MrsB

Singapore and Bankok with the Bentleys

We had a good laugh in Singapore, Bankok and Singapore again in late January.
Earlier in the year I had casually mentioned to MrsB that I would probably be paying off in Singapore in late Jan and would she fancy a week there for some winter sunshine.
I had forgotten all about the conversation but luckily MrsB remembered just before Christmas so as I was on board and in that neck of the woods I thought I would organise a special trip.
I booked her on Singapore Airlines flight that leaves Heathrow at 11am and arrives Singapore at 7.30am and is my favourite flight down.
I was there all grins and cuddles when she arrived and whisked her off by MRT to our first destination.
We spent the first few days in one of our favourites The Berjaya Hotel in Duxton Road which is just on the edge of Chinatown. It is 5 mins walk form Tagon Pagur MRT station.

It is old school colonial inside and the staff are lovely and friendly. It might be a bit overpriced for what it is but then again this is Singapore and many things are.
The great bit, apart for its great location, is that you are just across the road from JJ’s where the band Heritage play most nights. Absolutely awesome if you like your music form the era of Jethro Tull, Stones, Doors, Zepplin, Hendrix, Alman Bros, etc. The guitarists is a magician, the bassist sublime, the drummer rock steady, and the lead singer, fiddle, and harmonica  player is wonderfully enigmatic and skillful. Just one of those things you have to do when in Singapore is get to JJ’s on Duxton Road and see them play. It is a bit of a girly bar with hostesses trying to get you to buy them drinks but if you make it plain that you are there for the band they leave you alone.

Being an absolutely shit tourist (I cant see the point of wandering about looking at stuff) I decided to make the effort for MrsB as this was to be her “winter sunshine” holiday and I didn’t think it fair for me to be dragging about all grumpy and obstructive and just wanting to bar hop as is my normal “waiting around” mode. So I decided to be more accommodating on the “grockle”  front and organised a schedule that was mainly “nature” based, bearing in mind we were going to have two nights in that heaving mass of people known as Bankok later.
After I picked MrsB up from Changi and back to the hotel I suggested a short walk into an oasis of calm in the city called Pearls Hill. It was gentle and peaceful park with the hubbub of the city going on all around us. Later in the day we meandered about looking for a new pair of walking flip flops or sandals for MrsB and came across some of the more crazy aspects of street adornment up near Somerset MRT.  After finding the required footwear we had a couple of G&Ts in No5 Emerald hill which is a glorious bit of old school Singapore bar life with the peanut shells on the floor and mad snake in liquor drinks available.

The next day we had a lazy start and then caught the MRT to have a wander around (and lunch in) the massive and free botanical gardens.
We came across this massive open air concert hall with some bloke singing away (really badly) making everyone laugh at his efforts, but the sound quality was superb.
MrsB was rather taken with the young maid painting under the parasol between the two statues

After a lovely lunch and lazy afternoon stroll around this quite awesome place we slowly made our way back into town towards the hotel but we stopped at a bar nearby and began chatting and laughing away ten to the dozen and after several G&Ts and pints and a snack the time was cracking on  and we were well on the way to being “pissed right up” so we carried on and ended up in JJ’s to see the band Heritage and staggered to our room some time after 2am and slept the lovely sleep of the gin, beer and fine music infused.
We had no plans until 1.30pm the next day and when we awoke we were both surprisingly chipper so we had a hearty if not late breakfast and waited the bus to come and get us for the days events the first of which was a trip to Jarong Bird Park.
What an amazing place and what incredible diversity of birds they have on show and how very close you can get to them. Sadly we have managed to lose some of the photos however the flamingos did make it onto the memory card. All I can suggest is that you go yourselves, and walk about as opposed to the silly train thing. A remarkable place.

 After three hours there our driver turned up and took us to the terminus where we were transferred onto another bus ready for the “Night Zoo Safari”. At this point I have to say that I am not a fan of zoos as I can’t bear to see the cages, however pootling along on this little road train in the dark going past habitat enclosures with no visible bars as such was fascinating. The hyena’s lions tiger rhino and other exotic creatures going about there nocturnal business under special lighting that meant they didn’t see you. I know it was still a zoo and I know that they were still captive, but it did seem “a better option” .
So after passing within in a few feet sometimes of these amazing predator animals we were somewhat shocked when the only danger came with on mad buffalo thing that decided to charge at the train. There were a few squeals of discontent and fear (many of them from me)  when that big horned fucker came running at the back of the train where MrsB and I were sat. No photos of that either as we were too busy working out where to run to or who to clamber over and trample on to get away.

The next day we had to be up to catch the flight to Bankok so we had a relatively early night and made our way to the Hotel Muse in Bankok. What a fine establishment that was and we were more than happy with the corner double aspect room giving us great views over the city.
The first thing was to get our kit off (and trunks on)  and get up to the infinity pool they had. Although it was in great spot the “infinity” bit was rather spoilt by glass screens. A sort of infinity pool for wusses really, however it was nice to just lay about have a G&T or two and later treat ourselves to a great and romantic dressed up dinner on the rooftop terrace bar.
MrsB will give me hard time for putting up these pics because she said the bed is unmade??? but hopefully you get the idea of the place. Quite whacky having a window into the bathroom

 
Actually looking at the photos it doesn’t do the room or the hotel much justice at all. It was all marble and dark wood and very comfy and a lot more roomy that the photos show.

Anyway next day we were off for a Tuk Tuk ride down to the flower and food market area next to the River of Kings fantastic hubble bubble of commerce and people going about there daily lives

Here is a young made chopping ginger

Here is Ginger

We had a good old wander about and also took in a riverboat ride through the canals and backwaters of Bankok. We took another Tuk Tuk back to the hotel.
Now on the subject of Tuk Tuks, they look great fun and sound whacky and are as much part of the landscape as the local faces but they are a fucking useless way to see the city of you are over 5 feet tall, because if you are all you can see is the side of the canopy as you trundle along. You have to lean outside to see anything which adds to the already considerable danger you are in by being in one of these flimsy death traps in the first place. However a visit to Bankok would not be complete without one so after our ride back to the hotel and chocking on the traffic fumes all conveniently at head height in a tuk tuk we arrived back at the hotel.
We changed to go out to place we had been recommended  called “Asiatique” (with a name like that we should have known)  which as it turned out was a bum steer and was basically a contrived Thai village and market that wasnt very authentic or interesting at all.
A bit like Darling Harbour isn’t really Australia, if you get my drift.

It probably didn’t help that on the river boat trip to get there Mrs B decides to tell this enormous Yarpie (south african) that if he insisted on smoking his cigar in front of her (we were sat behind and the smoke was blowing over us and the rest of the boat) then she would probably vomit over him.
I really did think it was going to kick off, or to be more precise, that I was going to get kicked to bits leaping in to defend any slights to her honour, (as gallant as ever that’s me) as this bloke was a mountain,  however he just grunted and carried on being south african (“I have a riiiight to smooke laady”) and with MrsB s telling him that she also had the right to vomit on him she retreated to the back of the boat to cool down for the last few minutes of the journey. It would have been worth the hassle if the place was worth it.
We had a wander round becoming more disappointed by the minute and jumped in another Tuk Tuk and went back to a restaurant near the hotel and eat there (very nice too) and had a couple of jars and hit the hay ready for the return to Singapore the next day.

We took a detour to look at mount Fuji in Japan as you can clearly see here with MrsB looking at the view. No camera trickery or blue screen technology there then (arf arf)

We were heading to the Marina Bay Sands Hotel one of the new world iconic buildings which looks like this as you approach

I became all arty here and caught it in the middle of the Singapore Eye, fuck me I will be up for a photo journalist of the year award at this rate

It is an impressive building and the reason why we were going to stay there was that unless you were a guest of the hotel you couldn’t use the infinity pool and having seen it two years ago when we went up for cocktails  we just had to have a go in it.

Everything about the Marina Bay is classy from the guys who take your cases from the cab to the little string orchestra playing in the reception in Tower One

As we alighted the lift on floor 27 and made our way towards the room this is the view that greeted us outside the door to the room.

 AS MrsB was getting her breath back form that little vista I ws in like Flynn and had to admit myself that it was an impressive space. 80 square meters with a windowed balcony all along one wall. A huge bathroom with massive walk in shower and the bath in a stunning position looking out over the city. A very large bed and mega sofa and comfy chairs, wardrobes walk in dressing room etc MrsB just had to stand and take it all in while I admit to running about like a mad dog shouting “hey look at this, Oh wow look at this, Hey there is beer in the fridge, oh gosh I think I will just go and stand in this huge space over here” etc etc.

Here is the view taken in three shots from the balcony

And of course the bath with MrsB in it

This is us looking out from the corridor one evening

Basically it was a plush gaff and we reveled in the luxury it afforded.
The infinity pool is just one of those experiences that if you can ever get the chance to do I would heartily recommend it. A bizarre yet exhilarating experience. I will let the photos do the talking.

   

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On our last night we had dinner in a great restaurant on Clarke quay that specialises in wonderful steaks form around the world and the next day we meandered about and made our way up to Changi Airport about 8 hours before the flight.
I was on a three pool quest and had ticked off the Bankok and Singapore infinity and now all that was left was the Changi Airport “airside” pool. Terminal 1/2 for those of you not in the know.
If you are ever on stop over make sure you have your trunks and go for a free swim although they will hire you a towel and robe. Changio Airport is magnificent and you can pootle about between terminals effortlessly and check out the Butterfly garden, the Cactus garden and bar, Sunflower garden, free cinema Koy carp lakes, swimming pool. If you get knackered, as MrsB was, they have sleeping terminals in the Rainforest Lounge at terminal one and food halls and great shopping and all in all just a great place to spend a few hours.
So here is me (not the fat bloke on the right but the one in the water)  in the airside pool enjoying a dip before our flight back to the UK and a hectic schedule.

We had a fun and laughter and love filled time that was a tonic to both of us and barely spent a minute apart and loved every second of the whole adventure.

This is what happened next.

Depart Singapore 0030 on 01 Feb

Arrive Heathrow 0740 on 01 Feb (flight time 13 hours)

Collect hire car Heathrow 0820 on 01 Feb 
Drive to Dorchester arrive 1030 on 01 Feb and hand over the hire car. 
Get car hire people to drive us to the lorry hire place Dorset Vehicle Rentals and go through the process of hiring the truck.

Leave Dorchester in truck at 1100 and drive to Bridport.

Leave MrsB at her mothers at 1130 and drive to builders merchants.

Load up the insulation finish at 1200 and drive to MrsB’s mothers. 

Arrive at 1210 and have a coffee and commence loading the lorry with the rest of our stuff and also load my pick up truck with my sons stuff who is leaving to live in London.

Finish loading and set off for Portsmouth ferry port at 1615 in the lorry with MrsB and our dog Minnie.

Arrive ferry port at 1815 and go through the freight processing and get sent to the queue to board.
Boarded by 1940.
Had a shower changed and then up to the A la carte restaurant for a big dinner and some nice wine. We were both back in our cabin and fast asleep by 2230. 

Arrive St Malo at 0830 and disembark at 0840.

Arrive at house after a detour for groceries and coffee at 1030.
Get the house opened up and make sure the sheds are habitable and that elec and water all good.

Get the truck stuck in the mud trying to turn around and spend an hour digging it out and making a gravel path for it. :roll: :twisted: :twisted: 

Unload truck and stow the stuff in the house.

At 1730 leave MrsB and Minnie in the sheds and drive to Caen

Depart on 2300 to Portsmouth

Arrive Portsmouth at 0645 03 Feb. Disembark and drive truck to Dorchester. 

Arrive Dorchester at 9.00 and leave truck in Hire compound.

Son arrives in my pick up truck from London after moving his stuff there. I drop him back to the train station and then drive on to Bridport, where I arrive at about 1030 with intention of having lunch with an old mate after making sure that mother in law’s garages are all clean and tidy. 

Stop at Bridport filling station and fill up the pick up truck ready for the afternoons journey back to the ferry port.

Travel half a mile after filling up and the pick up truck breaks down. 
Call my good mate Scruff who is our family mechanic (as well as many other families I might add: (I dont want you to get the impression we are posh and have our own mechanic on a retainer, arf arf)  who suggests I take off the filler cap and see what I can smell. 

Ahhhhrrrrgggghhhhhh it is fucking petrol I smell and my truck is a fucking diesel. 
Tit snot and arse wipe.  
It was all going so well!!!! 
Oh woe is me!!!

Anyway after having a small tantrum with myself for being so stupid and it being a Sunday so no-one being available to pump it out for me had to call RAC and they came and organised the “pump out company” to come and get me and do the deed. 

So at 410 pounds lighter in the wallet (that’s 70 quid for the initial top up with petrol, 255 quid to get it pumped out and another 85 quid to fill it up with diesel) I then drove back to Portsmouth for the 2030 crossing to St Malo on 3rd Feb.

Arrived back at home at 1030 on the 4th, had a coffee changed into working gear and started on installing the insulation.

Great leave

Aye Aye M’beauties
Just arrived bcack on board where we are being bounced about in shit weather conditions off the coast of Vietnam, about 200 miles south south east of Vung Tao.
It is like trying to fall asleep in caravan being towed across a ploughed field with evey few minutes someone throwing a brick at the side of the caravan. The seas are only abpout 4 to 6 meters with 28 knots of wind however it is uncomfortable and slightly annoying, but it wont last for ever as we only have about another week of it and we will be off to the Thai side of the Gulf of Thailand to start our next job where we expect much nicer weather. Cant even get up on the Heli deck for a walk as with the motion and the wind it is just a non starter. likewise using the treadmill in the gym is a no go due to the motion. (well thats my excuse for the week and I am sticking to it.
Had a fantastic leave starting with Mrs b joining me for a week in Singapore (with a two day jaunt up to Bankok) which also included a two night stay in the magnificent Marina Bay Sands Hotel Singapore.
What a gaff that is and the infinity pool is quite spectacular. I will post some pics later.
\Once back home we got stuck into the insulation of the roof and also the newly made windows for the front of the house arrived and were fitted along with the new kitchen door.
We even managed to get the balconies up and it has transformed the front.
It was massive wrench leaving this time with Mrs B ensconced in the sheds with the daffs out in full bloom and the number of birds increasing each day.

I will write more of the whole leave a little later and will update the building blog accordingly with pictures. We also have a new addition to the family which we are both thrilled about (possibly me more than MrsB) and will post a pic of that event as well.
Cheers
 Bentley

          

Renovation IN France

I dont know if when you pop onto here to have a look at what I am writing it shows you that there is another blog which is covering the renovation of our home in Brittany France.
I is the story (in writing and pictures) of Mrs Bentley and my efforts to renovate and breathe new life into a house that had lain empty for 40 years and we are doing the vast majority of work ourselves.
I hope you like it and link to it.
Love and Peace
Bentley    

Bill and Gentley

So! Billy and Gentley.

Dream builders.

You dreamt of me

with your loose idea.

Your planned design.

Your grand design,

for a home to suit you.

You two,

who are one.

I am settled now

into my new skin,

my new bones,

my new me.

My soul is intact,

you made sure of that.

You two together,

you two,

who are one.

You have touched

every stone,

every timber,

you have touched my heart,

but can only guess

of those that

touched before you.

You two.

who are one

   

When you leave me,

even for an hour,

I call you,

I tease you

I miss you

I want you

and I know you hear.

You two

who are one.

Render me asunder,

then build me anew.

Render me inside,

and point me out.

Oil my beams,

old and new.

Store your joy in me,

I will return it to you.

Sand me

Soothe me

Touch me

Warm me

Be in me

Love me,

For I am you two,

who are one.

I am Billy and Gentley

I am love.  

Badness & Spite

When I hear stories like the Thai property theft scam it just opens up a whole series of links in my mind that extend from general crime, to organised crime, to so called white collar crime and the sheer numbers of people out there who are willing to rip you off. It is to my mind the greatest malignant infection that the human race suffers from.
We have a bad case of “bad”. I don’t think there is a cure for it as it seems to be an inherent trait of the human animal, which is why such a large percentage of them are prepared to profit at other peoples expense. I include the smallest scam to global cons perpetrated by those in positions of power.
All one can do is bimble along with your life as best you can, being as honest as you are and being as vigilant as possible for the thieves that surround us day by day, be they bankers, a taxmen, politicians, pickpocket’s greedy merchants or any other of the myriad of predatory badness there is.

I get a little irritated when I hear the phrase “Oh yes but there is a lot of good in the world” as it is often accompanied by other bleeding heart false hope and platitudes that mean nothing and are the verbal equivalent of hiding under the duvet when the mad axe wielding maniac bursts into you bedroom.
It is the ‘meekness’ of the statement that irks me so because, as any sane person knows, the meek wont be inheriting the earth or anything else. In fact if the meek do inherit anything there will be some bad bastard waiting around the corner to take it off them.

Some would consider my attitude to be cynical or bitter but I feel neither (well perhaps the slightest hint of cynicism) instead I think it is a realistic appraisal of how the world is and perhaps how it has always been.
I am quick to place many of the woes of the world firmly in the fault of rampant capitalism, which I still believe is a foul bane to human kind and it is only ignorance or vested interest that stops us form searching for a better way, however I see it as much the fault of the most dominant human instinct which appears to be greed. Plenty or sufficient is never enough and so it goes on.

It is because of that thinking that I can say understand (but do not condone) the badness that abounds in the human, which leads me to one of the things that I have really noticed this year and that is the staggering amount of “spite” some people possess. In some cases you can almost smell and see the bile oozing out of them as they seek to spread their vitriol and malice.

I have noticed it often in cyberspace on forum land, but also in proper real life and there seems to be no obvious reason for it. Some people are just plainly spiteful and yet if (as I did with some people I know earlier in the year) you suggest their actions or words carry some spite then they deny it by aiming their malevolence towards yourself, (thereby ironically proving your point).

I am sure there are many psychological reasons that spite would be related to or been nurtured by, things like youngest or middle sibling issues or spoilt childhoods or deprived childhoods, lack of emotional intelligence and role models with any, or as a result of some childhood incident that traps them in victim mode throughout life, or it could be like the greed and badness of some people, in that it is just an inherent trait of some parts of the human animal.

I marvel at the amount of emotional energy it must take to carry that amount of malicious mental venom around all the time, how it must taint every thought and occupy so much mind space that could be utilised so much more beneficially but for some it would, seem that their spite defines who they are.

One of the mysteries to me about people who live in “spite” is “what do they think it achieves”?
Surely it isn’t much use as part of a life strategy because it is something that has to be nurtured and formulated and requires energy (mostly negative) to create and maintain, all of which seems like a tragic and dangerous waste of time to me especially where the object of their vitriol is either probably unaware, or in the worst case scenario, couldn’t give a flying fuck.

The people I know in proper real life who I would class as spiteful tend to share the mannerisms of narrowing the eyes, pursing the lips, or tightening them into a line and clenching their fists when they are venting some spite, the really pus filled ones may even stamp their feet.
I have no idea what the web-spite mongers look like however I would bet a tenner to say they probably do the same, although they must unclench their fists sometimes in order to be able to type.

I say it dangerous because hanging onto or fermenting that amount of vindictive nastiness because the associated stress it induces can lead to illness which bizarrely and sadly would probably lead to more spite.
I think that, unlike the genetic trait of “badness”, spite is an affected ailment and could be treated to relieve the carrier of the burden but the treatment has to come from, and be desired by, the person themselves.
They need to have a long look at what benefits they are getting from producing spite and if there would be any possible  improvement in their lives if they were to adopt a more gracious and benevolent attitude, even toward those that for some reason they disliked.
For most, who suffer with spite, it is probably far easier to do nothing, deny they are vitriolic and continue spitting their bile at those they harbour ill will towards, however perhaps the world would be a slightly brighter place if they made an effort.

Love and Peace

Bentley

 
        
            

Scam artists that abound around the world

Ten days ago I was sat in the bar at T3 Heathrow and enjoying a couple pints of Belgium’s finest sleeping draught in preparation for my flight to Singapore, when a scouse chap (judging by his accent) asked if the seat at my table was spare and I indicated it was.
The normal airport social etiquette then ensued, whereby as he was the guest at my table the onus was on him to start any conversation overtures, the most common of which in airports is “Where are you off to?” and that is what he asked.
“Singapore, back to work” I replied “What about yourself?”

“I am just off back to Thailand to see the wife because I think I have just been scammed out of 130,000 pounds”. 

Eyebrows raised, I said “ I work with, and have done for many years, lots of blokes who have married out in Thailand and sorry to say it is something I have heard before, to a greater or lesser degree”

“I don’t understand it, as she isn’t a bar girl or hooker or anything. She is in her 50s and nothing special to look at and even has her own hairdressing business which is where I met her when I went for a haircut”

I couldn’t help thinking that whilst possibly an honest description of his wife it didn’t sound very warm and loving, so asked “Do you live there full time ?”

“Off and on” he says “but I come back to the UK quite often for business and had left her to sort out the sale of the house. It is great place with its own grounds and pool, just outside of the city and in a good area. Had it built a few years ago but we fancied a change but lately the market has been a bit slack.”

“So why do you think you have been scammed then? Did you buy it under the Thai law where foreigners are not allowed to own property so it has to be in the name of a Thai and she has flogged the gaff while you were away and done a runner with the cash? 
I ask because I know at least half a dozen blokes who that sort of thing has happened to, although to be fair they were in the mostly bar girls with one being a brochure bride“

“Nah” he said “If only it were that simple. 
I think she might have been stitched up by the local mafia who have been pulling this stunt for a while. On the other hand my suspicion now is that she may have done it herself. Like I said it has been on the market for a while and we recently dropped the asking price from 150 to 130 as we are keen to move and have had no viewings. 
I was back in the UK and shortly after the price drop two couple s came within a week to look and were sort of interested making offers of about 100. She said no thanks as we had only just dropped from 150 and would wait.

Then a very well dressed young Chinese couple turned up and made a big fuss about how much they loved the place and how it was exactly what they wanted and then offered the full asking price as long as she agreed, there and then. He said he had the cash so they could cut out the agent and proceeded to show her a briefcase full of money, which he said had come from a recent successful business deal. 

They said they were keen for a quick decision, although they did have two other places they liked (but not as much as this one) so if she was unwilling they would settle for one of those because they had to return in the next 48 hours for a business meeting in China. 

She said that she needed to check with her husband and phoned me. When I spoke to her she seemed so sure that all was good and it was the asking price I said OK.

Unbeknown to me he had explained to her that he didn’t have all the money with him there as the rest was in the hotel safe (they said they were staying at the Plaza Deluxe Hotel, which was the best hotel in the area with room rates up into the big big bucks,) but they still wanted a decision now. She said that I had agreed and they said why don’t we take you to the hotel for a drink and dinner to celebrate and we can sort out the lawyer in the morning . 
She thought she would be silly to let a full asking price offer go by and perhaps a bit carried away wit the moment and excitement of making a sale she agreed to go to the hotel with them to celebrate the deal . They said they would send a car for her later as they had some more business to attend to and left with hand-shakes and smiles all round.

A taxi duly arrived in the evening and they met her in the hotel lobby took her to the bar and started to have a few drinks. 
A few drinks became a few more and then they suggested that they eat in nearby restaurant that they could recommend and half sloshed she readily agreed. The restaurant was OK and still the booze flowed”

I had been nodding in the appropriate places as he had told his story so far but he could see me frowning in response to the last bit where she is now drunk and I said “right” with that “are you sure about this” or “I can see where this is heading” type of tone. 

He said ‘Oh it gets worse mate, I can assure you”

“So she is well p!ssed by now and they suggest going to a nearby casino. These casinos are often illegal and set up by the local gangs mafia etc and are here today gone tomorrow type operations, which being a local she should know, but flushed with making a successful deal and well drunk she thought it would be a good idea, although she said she had no money for the casino. 
‘That’s OK” he said “I will lend you a thousand and you can pay me out of the sale”.

An hour or so goes by and the woman of the couple says she has a bad headache and has to go back to the hotel but the man says he is enjoying himself and will stay. So with the chap at her side covering her bets she wins a little bit and then starts losing a bit and then a bit more and an hour later she notices that the bloke has gone. 

She leaves the table and goes looking for him and as she is about to leave the goons on the door ask her where she is going as she owes them the equivalent of 4,000 she says the man she was with was covering her bets, to which they started to get very heavy and said “What man?? There is no man here. You must pay before you leave” 
Obviously she didn’t have that sort of money so they made her sign a document which is like a legally binding loan pledge common with these set ups in Thailand and comes at an interest rate that would make even the directors of Wonga or Payday Loans flinch at. As she was drunk and confused she didn’t question at the time how they had a document with her name address already on it. 

When she woke up and remembered what had happened she took a taxi to the hotel to see the man and get the money to pay off her debt, but when she asked the receptionist for the room number of name on the business card she was told that no- one of that name was checked in the hotel. 
She asked for the day before and the day before that and the answer was the same ‘no-one of that name had checked in or out’. 
She gave a description of the couple both well-dressed wealthy looking Chinese early thirties and the receptionist gestured around the opulent hotel lobby of the expensive hotel and she saw that nearly 50% of the clientele fitted the description.

Realising she had been duped and rather than phoning me, her husband, to explain, she drew out of her business all the money she had which just equaled the debt, but took nearly a week to get and, when she showed up at the backstreet casino was told that the debt and interest was now 12,000.

She was distraught (so she says) and obviously didn’t have access to that kind of money so tried to borrow from friends and family but by the time she had reached the figure the debt had trebled again and by the time she phoned me to explain what was going on the debt was equivalent to the value of the house and because she had signed the document it was only a matter of time before they claimed the deeds.

Because this is a mafia style scam you can’t go to the police because they would have been bought off (its Thailand and that’s how it works) so I am going out to see if there is anything I can do. It’s not the 130,000 grand that bothers me but the fact that I am now concerned she might be involved in it as well”

I asked if she had ever displayed signs of being a gold digger or thief before this event and did he have other money in UK or elsewhere etc

He replied that he had plenty to keep him going and although she had never shown any signs that she was just after him for money before, he just couldn’t be sure now.

Knowing many first hand stories of white boys being taken to the cleaners in Thailand I said “Well there is not much else you can other than trust her if you love her and try and move on as best you can, You won’t be able to take on the mafia because real life isn’t like a Bond or vigilante movie is it?” 

He said “I don’t know what to do, I can take the 130,000 loss but it’s the principle and that she might be involved that I can’t get to grips with and I don’t know if I can ever trust her again. I am going down and will be staying in the house until hopefully we can sort something out or until we get thrown out. 
I will go to the police and report it but they have a document that is legal despite how it was obtained and I don’t have enough to bribe the police against the mafia and they also know I am not going to kill them or maim their children if they don’t do my bidding ” 

“Do you think she will be there to meet you at the airport” I asked

“I would like to think so but until I get there I wont know”

Noticing the time and my empty glass I said 
“I have to go and get my flight, I would wish you a happy Christmas but you might think I was taking the p!ss so good luck whatever happens mate and I hope it turns out well for you both.”

“Yeah” he said wearily ”Me too”

There will be more added to this in day or so

Blog bastard bblah boom boom

Aye Aye m’beauties, well fuck my tall boots,
I drive a modern sophisticated multi million dollar ship in critical situations using pretty much up to the minute computerised systems as well as all the modern communication equipment that comes with, but can I complete the simple task and  become a follower of the blogs of other people that have linked to mine???
In the words of my building guru “Can I fuck as like”, and it is driving me nuts.
I have actually managed to end up following myself, and as wonderful as I think I am even my ego has its limits and following my own blogs is way over that limit.

When I click on the “follow” button it comes up with some screen that asks me to sign in using an account I have apparently already created “doh doh doh- no I haven’t ” but it doesn’t let me type anything or just sign in as this blog title.
I have gone blog blind now and system blind and simplicity blind and I cant see how to do it.
I have been reduced to a blubbering begging blog bastard  so please please please if anyone can explain to me simply and easily how I get “connected” to other blog sites then I would be very grateful and you may actually save my blog busted bruised bogbush of brain from melting.

I will sit by my computer waiting, occasionally twitching and suddenly bursting into the sort of giggling normally associated with the criminally insane and await the help I need.

Love and peace

Bentley

Aye Aye M’ heartie’s

Ahaaaar, Yo Ho Ho, Barrels of rum on dead mens chests, black spots from blind Pugh  and other assorted seafaring malarkey, I am back on board and despite my procrastination last trip of saying I would be blogging more and then not doing so, I really mean it this time.
I will also be starting a new blog on the number two renovation project (as well as copying the original one to a blog of its own because I don’t want to get into  a scenario where I end up with a coven of the meek and easily offended  managing eventually to get me barred from the likes of French Entree and then me being unable to retrieve the work done on the renovation topic so far.)

I had an easy trip out to the ship this time with the first leg being a free upgrade to a Mercedes E class that needed taking back to Heathrow. Then utilising some of my air miles I upgraded to business class on the double decker A380 with Singapore Airlines.
Nothing better than a couple snorters of champers before take off and relaxing in seat bigger than some cars I have owned. The only trouble is that it spoils the rest of my journeys knowing it will be another year before I have enough air miles to upgrade again.
This was followed by a comfortable limo ride across the border form Singapore to Malaysia and after a bit of wait at immigration a 1 hour trip out to the ship by water taxi.
Total travel time from leaving Bridport was 28 hours and most of it was comfortable.

As I am working away over the forthcoming festive nonsense  MrsB suggested that she deserved some winter sunshine and picked me up on a comment I made many moons ago about her flying down to join me.
Being slightly obsessed with pressing on with the renovation, and having to be practically dragged away from it even to go into town for food, I naturally tried to backtrack uttering such feeble excuses as “the money for the fosse,  the electrics, the bath, the shower tray, the insulation, the plankton in the Adriatic swimming the wrong way etc etc.
All of my lame and futile excuses were met with the steely fixed gaze of a woman who was not going to put up with any of my old shite and who would be Singapore bound in January and it was just a simple case of me shutting up and booking the flight.
We did this a couple of years ago and had a fantastic 5 nights in Singapore over the Chinese new year so in late Jan MrsB will be boarding a flight for a 7 night stay and we may have an excursion thanks to Tiger Airways which is an Asian version of Ryan Air.

We will spend at least one night in the Marina Bay Sands Hotel so we can use the infinity pool which is 200 meters up and has the spectacular skyline of Singapore as a backdrop. We popped up there for a G&T last   visit but you have to be a hotel guest to utilise the pool, although MrsB is a bit suspect at heights finding even 5 rungs up a ladder a bit leg wobbly so I am not sure how close I will be able to get her to the edge, however she assures me I have taken her to the “edge” many times. Ha.

Check this out.
http://www.amusingplanet.com/2010/06/infinity-pool-at-marina-bay-sands-hotel.html
   

So that’s it for now
Love and Peace
Bentley
 

Ship Ahoy!

Ship Ahoy! Ship Ahoy! Ship Ahoy!  

We have been working in the middle of the Gulf of Thailand, an exclusion zone for all shipping, therefore we have not seen a proper ship for months, therefore it is a joy to be on passage to Singapore and as we come into the regularly used shipping lanes, near the eastern entrance to the Mallacca Strait, and see plenty of ships of all shapes and sizes.

Box boats (container ships) Bulk vessel,s  Tankers, Gas carriers, Heavy Lift ships, Car carriers, Coasters of all sorts and my absolute favourite, old style traditional general cargo ships, preferably with derricks.

It makes me feel like a proper roughy toughy sailor again, and there is something innately satisfying about being able to cast a knowledgeable sailors eye over the different sort of vessels and from their flag, company and age know what the conditions on board are likely to be and their trading patterns.

Although since the advent of containerisation shipping patterns and the life at sea have change completely, some things about a seafarers life don’t change and one of them is the feeling of complete comfort when in the company of other ships and the seafarers that ply their trade on them.

I might be feeling all upbeat as well because on arrival or shortly afterwards I will be heading home for another 7 weeks of work on the renovation project with Mrs B.

We have our new 2,000 liter “thermal store” arriving at the beginning of November which will become the central hub of the heating and hot water system of the house and we have plenty of work to do to prepare the area where it will be located.

On the subject of the ongoing renovations I have decided to set up another blogsite / website, (soon to be announced) specifically to document both of the French renovation projects because at the moment it is all on the French Entrée forum http://www.france-forum-frenchentree.com/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=103743  

As long as I continue to be an active member of the forum that is fine and dandy, however due to me being occasionally out spoken (shock horror), there has emerged a plethora of purse lipped, tut tutters, (of the middle England daily mail reading classes), on the site, many of whom find my honest and forthright postings to be a bit rich for their delicate sensibilities and appear to be determined to find offence at any of my posts, therefore I think my days maybe numbered.


There are also a couple or few who have taken a dislike to my style of posting and just snipe away rather than ever engaging in discussion.
With some of them (and not just on the one forum) it is a bit like having a stupid puppy that keeps pissing on the floor, you first show it what it has done and then chuck it out in the garden for a while. 
When it comes back in it pisses on the floor again, so this time you rub its nose in it and chuck it out.
When it comes back in it pisses on the floor again and so you pit pepper on it and rub its nose in it and chuck it out and when it comes back in it pisses on the floor again and at that moment you realise that it is either stupid or likes having its nose rubbed in the piss.
    

The hardcore right wingers I can put up with and I really enjoy the debate with them even though our views are diametrically opposed, because (imo)  if you don’t challenge your ideas against people who don’t share them, and are in fact are opposed to them, than how do you know they stand up to scrutiny. 
Like I said there is a certain intellectual challenge to testing your opinions  but to be honest I think life is a bit short to be spending time constantly swatting away the pitiful bleatings of the pious, delicate, easily offended and maliciously spiteful.

So that’s why I think it prudent to do separate websites for the renovation projects, just in case some of the bleaters and complainers get their way and have me banned as they would so dearly like.
Although I intend to stay a member of the French Entrée forum I think I will start posting more often on here with my musings and ramblings regrading life, the universe and everything just to see if I can expand it into something bigger than a blog.

It will be a bit an opportunity to expand a bit more because it is out of the often constraining confines of “Forum  Rules” and away from the more sensitive types, that often inhabit Forums but seem unable to cope with the rough and tumble of debate on them.

People can comment on here if they like (as they have done) and as you all  know I am always happy to engage on any subject.

Cheers

 Bentley 

Art Exhibition Review from Mrs B

MrsB wrote this about … well read it and you will see what it is about. I just thought it was wonderful and  moving review of what is obviously a wonderful and moving exhibition 
I had read about an art exhibition at the Royal Academy put on by Kids Co, with all the work produced by children who had suffered trauma, and decided to visit last weekend. 

As I entered the gallery my attention was immediately taken by a wall of shoe boxes, each one depicting a room that had meaning to the children. Picking up a catalogue I read the description of each and I was captivated.

I walked slowly through the exhibition over one and a half hours, absorbing the meanings and enjoying the skill that had been used to help the children express their stories. 

As I walked through the exhibition I was transported to dark places and then to places of love and light, to broken and shattered dreams and then to hope and potential.

Children who had lived on the streets hiding out in the tumble drier of the local launderette or making a mattress of a damp sand pit in the park rather than be at home with their abusive, addicted or ill carrers.  Children who had attended the funeral of a brother murdered in a stabbing and for whom gangs were still the family they felt safest with.

There was so much to take in and so many inspiring ideas to use in my work that I noted down every exhibit

– shoe box living – jack in the box, praising putting down – monsters under the bed – dreams

– nightmares – protectors – threats – life noise – I like – I don’t like – running track – roller coaster – whirlpool – metaphors – urban coliseum – wearing my emotions – dresses for anger – love – excitement – dream catchers – wish clouds – personal landscapes – brain maps- shelters and safe places – talismen – rizla packet park bench – self portraits – super heroes – personal hurdles – success stories – walk a mile in my shoes – memory and attachment – moving on letting go – potential – sabotage – unfinished business….

I thought she was leaving but then arrived in a small room, in the middle stood a pink bed with a princess duvet cover, lying on it a mannequin of a small girl in a pink nighty, above her head hung a mobile of men’s shoes.  

I stopped and caught my breath.

For every child who had had their innocence and right to safety stolen this was a haunting and powerful testament.

I held that thought and stood very still feeling utterly humbled.

Leaving the building I cut down through a Victorian arcade, its opulence jarring, the red carpet, the shop windows displaying perfumes, jewellry, rich people’s accoutrements seeming so out of synch with the darker, harsher and often hidden away realities of life  I had just witnessed.

Upgrade fun

Aye Aye,
We had taken the overnight from Caen to Portsmouth and Mrs B was a bit bristley with me in the morning.
Due to the unusual nature of our 6 week on and off life we go through a phase near to the end of my leave where, although we don’t want to be apart for a second, we are already adjusting ourselves for the next few weeks apart.

The leave itself has been one of initial frustration of not achieving much building, because I felt I had reached the end of my knowledge and was stuck with a situation with the electrics, and also plumbing, and also some major decisions that we needed to make and take. That was interspersed with MrsB having to commute for the first 4 weeks and me then pressing on with decisions that she felt left out of the loop with (but actually never was) and a slight discord arose. 
Before we had a chance to talk it all though, and compare notes, and make sure we were both on the same page and singing the same tune as far as the renovation went we had friends arrive, and then shortly after that our son with his girlfriend and young child, fresh back form the forests of Chile.
With a camp full “our” time alone is gone and it is hard to remain in the absolute skin tight embrace that we normally operate under when alone.
The next thing you know we are heading for the ferry, me to pick up hire car pop in and say hello and cheerio to MiL and mother and daughter,  and then off to Heathrow, and Mrs B to prepare for the next 5 weeks of work and training she has all planned out. So an element of unfinished business, with no time to do it face to face, was in the air. It is not new and we are adept at using e mail and instant messenger when I am away to talk through and soothe out any wrinkles that occur so that when I do get home we can just relax and “be” with each other without any gremlins lurking. 
As we were coming into Portsmouth and have to drive past Southampton airport on the way to Dorset I had    booked my hire car for a 7.30 pick up from there, and a 7.30 drop off in the morning at Heathrow.
I normally do what has to be done in MrsB’s UK base and then pop around and see everyone and then drive up in the evening to Heathrow ready for the morning flight to Singapore or wherever.  
We were a bit early arriving at Soton airport so I asked if MrsB wanted me to put her down as named driver and she take the hire car back (just a standard 2.0 auto) or did she just want to drop me off and head back to Bridport.
She said that she would just get on rather than having to wait around so I jumped out and MrsB headed off in the pick up truck.
I wandered into the hire place and the chap said as it was an internet booking I had to wait till half past so I replied that it was no problem and I would grab a coffee and bide my time. 
Before I left the office I said “If it is an internet  booking can I pay now for an upgrade to something decent like an Audi or Merc (which is what I normally do).
He asked if I was travelling alone or with passengers and I said I was alone.
He said “Well in that case I can offer whats outside for an extra 10 quid as we need it taken back to Heathrow.” 
I looked outside and the only car there was a black convertable Porche Boxter. 
The black Porche? I tentatively asked .
Yes that’s the one sir.
With what can only be described as a shit-kicking grin I said “I am your man for that job matey.”
Question, would I go and buy a new 2.9 liter, seven speed auto (and manual paddle thing) Porche Boxter if I had 38 grand to spare, and the answer is, probably no.
Question, would I have an absolute right fucking laugh and pose unashamedly, keep the roof down at all times and drive it like it should be driven (ie like I stole it)  if I managed to get to “own” one for 24 hours? 
The answer is a resounding, Oh Yes. 
In 1989 I owned a Porch 928 (4.7 V8) and was very fond of its awesome performance but this little puppy was amazing as I soon found out in a fast tyre screeching roundabout hurtling, engine roaring, adrenalin boosting, dash to the motorway.
The grin on my face became bigger as I realised how much fun the drive to Bridport was  going to be in this frisky little number. Yeah yeah, I know, boys and toys and fast cars, whoopsy me speed limits etc etc, I hear it all, but to be honest I couldn’t give a flying shite. After selling the range rover and then chopping the jag in for, and driving a ford ranger pick up for the last 18 months this was going to be fun with a capital fucking “F”. If I was caught speeding that was my own look out, and I am old enough and experienced enough as a driver not to be “reckless” and risk other peoples lives, but I was going to have some fun. (A little aside for all the “tut tutters”:- driving fast doesn’t have to mean driving dangerously or stupidly or outside of the capabilities of the car) 
And fun it was, the wonderful acceleration meant that nothing slow stayed in the way for long and in what seemed like no time at all I was pulling into the cul de sac where I could see Mrs B unloading the pick up.
Her face was an absolute picture when she realised that the ridiculous sun-glasses wearing, widely grinning twat in the posh-boy toy, asking her if “you fancy a ride sweet thing?” was in fact her own husband.
At first there was an element of resistance from MrsB while we finished unloading the truck, but my sense of fun and mischief must have been infectious because soon we were in our groovy sleek black drop top, pootling through town (twice being the poser that I am), and out to lunch, and then for a trip down by the bay. 
All too soon it was nearly time for me to be hitting the road to Somerset to see my mum and then up to heathrow for the night. I borrowed one of my sons woolly hats and a warm over shirt, strapped on the shades and was gone into the late afternoon. 
It was a great laugh all the way, first through the lanes of Dorset and Somerset and then up the A303 with the roof down all the way roaring along and occasionally “unleashing the hounds” to see what it would do.
Even if you have to pay for the full upgrade or the full hire cost for a day or two I would highly recommend the experience to anyone who has had great cars in the past but because of changing circumstances or priorities no longer does but would enjoy the sheer fun that it can be.

Go on!! Treat yourself.        


Love and Peace 
Bentley  
   

Back at Sea Again

Ahoy! There m’hearties. Just back on board and realising I have been rather slack on the Blog front lately.
I will put that right in the next few days with some tales of the last leave.
I arrived after a 9 hour boat trip at 2230 last night and was on watch at 2330 so I am a bit sleepy and somewhat discombobulated just now. Once I have been on board a couple of days I will get my arse in gear and get some blogging done as there are plenty of things to talk about just now.
Cheers
 Bentley    

Hello reader, sorry for not posting anything for a week but I have been incredibly lazy busy

.We have been “ooop north” and are no back “daaahn saarf” still laying [pipe in the Gulf of Thailand.

Here are the fab sounds for today

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wBgp5aDH23g

I work 6 weeks on and 6 weeks off so I have to round trip commute 4 times a year. Here is the routine of my commute when coming to work this time.

I will usually leave France and head to the UK on the overnight ferry to either Plymouth or Portsmouth the day before I fly out to the ship.
I prefer the ferry arrival at Portsmouth because, once clear of the immigration queue, it is one set of lights, turn left and you are on the motorway, although even at 6.30 in the morning it will still be three lanes chock a block at 40 mph, at least you are clear of the city and away.
The last time we arrived at Plymouth was at 0630 on a Saturday morning and we experienced what, at best, could be described as a slightly off colour “welcome to England”.
We had cleared the immigration and pulled up to the first set of lights:- you bear right to head to Exeter, and left to head to Cornwall. There is a pub on the left hand side at the lights and a KFC to the right.
There were half a dozen men brawling in the pub car park, being screamed at, or cried at, or ignored, by about 30 bystanders, (including what appeared to be doormen), as well as two or three young chaps who appeared to be asleep or in a drunken stupor slumped by the wall of the pub.
As we turned right we noticed that the kebab shop was still doing a roaring trade at this early hour, with about 25 people inside and a queue of about 10 more outside in the street, one of whom was projectile vomiting out into the road, no doubt making room for his kebab or unloading one already consumed.
One of his friends obviously thought he should help hose it down by flopping out his penis and urinating into the road.
Along this 500 meter stretch of road in among the vomiters, the brawlers, the piddlers, the staggering blind drunks and the aggressive staring drunks, were about half a dozen “ladies of the night” who, it has to be said, didn’t look to alluring in the cold light of dawn and would probably be best advised to only ply their trade at night (very very dark nights) but to give them credit for recognising a potential business opportunity,  they were still gamely trying to sell their wares, not only to the thin pickings available from the punters on the pavement but also by casting a hopeful “glad eye” onto the passing, newly arrived ferry traffic.
As we drove away from this somewhat disturbing scene we were at a bit of a loss to elucidate our feelings on such a spectacle, however after some effort “disappointment” came high up the list as did revulsion, pity, and thankfulness that we have made various life choices that resulted in a different outcome as opposed to what was on display.

Once in West Dorset I have my hire car delivered and then gad about seeing my mother in law, and my children, I do anything that needs doing in terms of helping out the family and organize any personal bits and pieces that need sorting. Then I will nip up to Curry Rival (out on the Somerset levels) to see my own mother for a coffee and a natter.
From there I will zoom up the A303 and drive up to the Holiday Inn at Heathrow. Depending on the time of night I get there I may have a feed, but I always manage to have a few beers and then grab some sleep.
Talking of the Heathrow Holiday Inn, it has to be said that they have elevated some of their bar prices to a level where it has become a spectator sport for me seeing the shock on people’s faces when presented with the bill. This time a couple came to the bar and the lady ordered a vodka and lemonade and the man a glass of Merlot. The barman prepared the drinks and said “That’s 17 pounds please”
I thought the lady was going to fall over as her shock was obvious. She was almost giggling with disbelief when she asked him to check and he said “Oh yes that’s 7.50 for a 125ml glass of Merlot, 7.00 for the Vodka and 2.50 for the lemonade”
Her voice aghast and loud with incredulity, she said “2.50 for a small splash of lemonade??????”
He said “Yes madam it is on the price list”. She wandered off muttering about thieving hotel chains and I have to say I did have a twinge of sympathy for her, however the Vodka was a double as that’s all they serve. Stella is 4 quid a pint, which is just within the realm of acceptability however if you want a 330ml bottle of beer (ie Becks ) to take to your room it is 4.50. They are indeed robbing bastards.
Later another woman came up to the barman and asked if he had any bottled water. He showed her a 330ml glass bottle of spring water and she asked how much. 2.50 came the cheery reply.  Given the rapid rise of her eyebrows she was a bit taken aback, but she made me chuckle when she asked if the tap water was safe to drink and would she be charged for it and if not how much was it to hire a glass to put it in for the night .
It is all well and good getting a room for 70 quid, or sometimes less, but the price rockets if you have some wine or a mediocre dinner.
( I should note at this stage that my airline tickets, hire car costs, bed and food, are claimed back on expenses, my booze and any other treats come out of my own pocket)

In the morning I wake at 7 have a shower, settle the bill, drop the hire car back to the rental agency and take advantage of their free courtesy bus for a lift to Terminal 3 arriving at about 8ish.
The Singapore Airlines desk is usually open by then and as I have already checked in online I go to the short queue for online check-ins and pick up my boarding pass.
It is surprising the amount of grumbles, stares of disdain and muted moans I have received when bypassing the normal queue and standing at the front of the normally empty internet check-in queue. It was no different this time as the check-in lady waved me forward to complete the check in a couple at the front of the queue next to me rushed across to the check-in desk (that had waved me forward) saying “We were her first and he has just pushed in”
I found it impossible to restrain the grin as she said “No he is in the correct queue for “Internet Check In”” then looked around them and beckoned me forward again, whilst pointing to the front of the desk that said “Internet Check In” for the benefit of the disgruntled ones who assumed I was pushing in.
I gave them my best gallic shrug and said “These new modern fangled computer things are marvelous once you get the hang of them eh?” I don’t think they were too chuffed about it but it really was their own problem and not mine and although “smug” is not a feeling I am used (nor would I want to get used to) but I did have a twinge of it on that occasion. Had they the bottle to ask if I was pushing in I would have happily explained about the internet queue, but their huffing and puffing, and raised eyebrows left me a little immune to their displeasure.
 
I normally only ever take a small backpack as hand luggage with any new books, my android pad, 2 spare pants and a shirt or two. This time I had bought a new 12 string guitar (with a hard travel case) and was taking it back to the ship for a practice. Because I was having to put that in the hold I decided to take a small suitcase as well crammed with new books that will last me about three 6 week trips.
It should be noted at this stage that winter or summer I always travel dressed in the same garb which is flip flops T shirt and long-ish shorts with plenty of pockets. This probably explains why I never get offered an upgrade but the last thing I want to do is get out of the airport in Asia wearing warm western clothes and then have to carry them around. In the UK longest I have to spend outside of a warm area is the 45 seconds it takes me from the car-drop to the bus and then from the T3 bus stop to the departures hall. Even with snow on the ground I can cope with that.
It is the same on the return journey and the longest I have had to wait for a hire-car courtesy bus is 10 minutes which even when the temp is below zero is still manageable. I must admit if I stop for breakfast on the way down to Dorset to see the family it can be the cause of some strange looks from people in the middle of winter. When I fly back direct to France I don’t venture outside from getting off the plane to getting off the TVR at Rennes.

Once checked in I will see how long I have (normally 3 or more hours before take-off as I always arrange to be there at least 3 or 4 hours early) and then will go airside and use my Priority Pass card. This nifty bit of kit (message me for details) gains me access to lounges at nearly all international airports and gives me access to comfortable quiet seating, free wifi, food, booze, and other drinks. It costs about 200 quid a year and I get ten entries for that (so not free food and booze but it is well worth it for the amount of time I spend in airports IMO). I use it in Heathrow T3 and CDG every time as they are appalling airports to be waiting for a flight, whereas the lounges offered are very peaceful and civilised. I will have some breakfast, check my mails and a few large G&Ts as the flight I am normally booked on leaves at 1130 and arrives in Singapore at 0700. (13.5 hour flight time) I find that a few large G&Ts allows me to get some kip in on route.
Once boarded I will have some lunch and maybe another G&T or wine, watch a movie or two, play the in-flight trivia quiz and snooze till breakfast and arrival at Singapore.

I may be overnighting in Singapore, if so I claim my baggage and make my way to the edge of Chinatown to Duxton Road and the Hotel Berjaya, ( a bit of old school Singapore) where I will have a room booked. I travel there on the MRT (which is a modern, well run, clean and airy tube train and costs 1.50 quid to travel most of the way across Singapore) from Changi to Tanjong Pagar and then a five minute walk.
If not overnighting in Singapore I will be flying up to Hat Yai in Thailand at about 1300 from the Budget terminal, so I tend to hang about at the arrivals in Changi and have some good food at one of the many great food outlets there and maybe treat myself to an early beer. The reason I stay at the main Changi arrivals is because the only food outlet at the Budget terminal is the appalling, multi national, Mc Donalds. If I were the Singapore government I would hang my head in shame for allowing these peddlers of junk to open an outlet in one of the most diverse cuisine areas of the world.
McShiteburger has to be the only food in the world that has more nutritional value on the way out that in does on the way in. It probably tastes better too.

So after a breakfast, hanging about using the free wifi and catching up with emails and stuff it is a 5 minute free bus ride to the budget terminal and onto a Tiger Airways flight up to Hat Lai arriving about 2.30 local time.
As I emerge from the arrivals the company shipping agent will be waiting for me. She has a really easy welcoming nature and is always laughing and joking about, and often brings her girlfriend along for the 45 minute drive to Songklah.
They are both fascinated with life in Europe (and Europeans more liberal stance on lesbian relationships) and spend the time asking all sorts of questions, but (in their own words) they have no desire to go and live in a country that spends a substantial part of the year with temperatures lower than the inside of their fridge.
 She is excellent at her job and always drops me off at the hotel with the information of what time she will be back for me in the morning, whether it is a chopper or crew boat out to the vessel, and who else is staying at the hotel from the ship so we can meet up for a beer.
My normal routine then is to drop my bag in the room, have a shower, change my underwear and T shirt and nip down to the bar for a few beers to “take the edge off the journey” and see who else is up and about.
At some stage, as the evening progresses, I will have a lovely local seafood meal, go to my room and fall into a deep, long awaited, proper sleep in a proper bed. Ah bliss.

If it is a chopper flight I will be up at 6.30 have a shower and some coffee and quick breakfast and then a three hour drive up along the low lying coastline to the heliport.
There is little of note on the way except a series of poorly constructed concrete villages with the occasional glimpses of the sea and mangrove swamps. At the chopper station we are breathalysed for booze and p!ss tested for drug use and when shown clear you board your chopper for the flight out to the vessel.
If you are not clear and fail either test it is a straight “red card” and you need to look for another job and a way of getting back to your country of origin. The dismissal is instant and you are left to fend for yourself and make your own way home. If the company owe you any wages they will organise a ticket and transport but will deduct it form your due.
The flight out to the vessel is anywhere between 45 mins and 1 and half hours, the first 5 mins is over land and then it is just the Gulf of Thailand.
As the Senior DPO (Dynamic Positioning Officer) I am on the midnight to midday watch so if I arrive after midday I can unpack and take it easy till midnight.
If it is a boat-trip out we are normally picked up from the hotel at about 9ish and taken down to the crew boat quay where we undergo the same drug and alcohol tests and if clean join the crewboat.
This will be about 30 meters long and have seating accommodation inside for up to 50 persons in aircraft style seating. There will be coffee making facilities and drinking water as well as a packed lunch of sorts. The trip out to this field can take anywhere between 6 and 14 hours depending where the vessel is. Once on board the vessel I am either immediately on watch or get some time for a lay down before my first watch.
It normally only takes one watch and one sleep on board to get into the new time zone although when travelling west and heading home it seems to take longer and I can still be feeling discombobulated up to 3 or 4 days later.
So that explains how I get to work, next I post I will describe a day in the life on board.
Cheers
Bentley

Lahloot and the strange Jack Russell

Still in the Gulf Of Thailand and still laying pipe
Weather is marvelous, idyllic sublime and just about as perfect as it could be.
I do apologise for rubbing it in, but it really is very pleasant indeed and a long stroll in the sunshine laden warm breeze is called for when I knock off.

The music today is a song that came to me when I was mucking about on my new 12 string guitar last night and I had forgotten how good it was. (not the way I play it I will gladly admit)
Here are two versions first the album version and the second is the live version so you can choose how you like your music and settle back and enjoy

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QbG6M28UkFg

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p1SNuoeeY6Y&feature=related

Lahloot and the Jack Russel
Lahloot is from the Malaysian Sarawak province of Borneo.
He is an honest, trustworthy and thoroughly enjoyable chap to share a few beers with and yarn the evening away with.
He character is displayed when he smiles, as he has one of those rare, radiant, beaming smiles that involves his entire face in a celebration of joy.
You may speculate that his dentist is perhaps cross eyed, or even blind, given Lahloot’s multitude of snaggly teeth, and it would be true to say that when all on display they resemble the aftermath of an earthquake in a graveyard, however the beauty of a smile is in its spirit and soul, and in those departments he is profusely provisioned.
His English is excellent due to working 20 years or more in the offshore marine industry where the international default language is English, although it has to be said that some American and Australian crews do test that theory to breaking point on occasions.

When joining the vessel this time we had a night in Pavilion Hotel Songklah, set in the middle of town, and we ensconced ourselves on the veranda enjoying few cold beers and talking about our homes and families. We were swapping tales of the scrapes children get into and the universal behavior traits as they grow older when I mentioned our dog Mini.
“What sort of dog” he asked
“ Jack Russell” I replied, to be treated to another eruption of that beautiful open smile and he said “Me too. We have a Jack Russell called “Bhaggy” and it is fantastic and so amazingly clever, the cleverest dog I have ever had ” and then he solemnly added “except for one thing which is crazy”.

He explained that he had bought Bhaggy from a breeder (also Malay but with no English) a couple of villages away, as he had been recommended to him by his vet after this previous dog (a heinze 57) had died. Lahloot had always liked Jack Russell’s and thought it would be ideal for the young children and indeed the whole family loved Bahggy who seemed to return the favour.
The breeder had told LL that Bhaggy was toilet trained and also pre-trained to answer to all the normal commands such as sit, come, stay, etc.
Bhaggy seemed perfectly at home with the family and was indeed toilet trained going out when needs be but whenever anyone gave him an order he just cocked his head to one side and stared at them or ran about in circles. Exasperated but not wanting to travel all the way back to the breeders he called in at the vets (who had recommended him) to find out if the dog was deaf or just daft and that the breeder had lied. The vet was more than happy to double vouch for the owner and asked Lahloot to demonstrate the problem. Lahloot duly gave the orders of sit come and go etc to the dog which stood and looked at him with head cocked.
The vet then gave a series of orders and the dog did exactly as bid and the vet said smiling proudly “There is your problem, the dog only understands English and you have been speaking to it in Malay”
Lahloot was gobsmacked and said that the breeder didn’t speak English so how would the dog understand it. The story is that the breeder had some dogs stolen so he learnt the commands he trained in English, thinking that the thieves wouldn’t be able to tell it what to do and it works.
The only trouble is that it only responds to English commands,.
They have had the dog ten years now and it is still the same.
Priceless, a Jack Russell at its absolute best.

Cheers
Bentley