I have spent a lot of time thinking about the table in the kitchen area. What colour it should be, what shape and style. How it should sit amongst the other kitchen things. Eventually we opted for a very nice e-bay find. A 70’s table, round, which extends and you can get a lot of people around it. It was rather tatty and brown (well, wooden), and I decided it needed to be white. So I painted it, and now it looks bright and MODERN. But with a retro twist. Twisty. This is good because that whole area of the boat was beginning to feel like a sauna/chalet and whilst I have the utmost regard for Swedish lifestyles, I do not need to be in one all the time.
Also, we were very kindly, nicely, wonderfully given a dishwasher as a boat-warming present from Pat’s mum, Clare, and it’s amazing. I know it’s not in keeping with the rustic style, but frankly, I don’t care. Its like a big magic cupboard to put dirty things in and it’s good because they come out clean. Ping! What a treat. I’ve never had a dishwasher before. Not in my own life.

We have it.  In two places. One big, one small.  I now remember how very important stoves on boats are.  It’s probably one of the top reasons to live on a boat.  Maybe the combination of flames next to water.  Something about the elements, and the reflections, and the fact that they kind of cycle around each other.

Currently we are most in love with Louis, which is the small stove made by a lovely burner-maker in devon called ‘Windy Smithy’.  Louis sits next to the bath and he is so wonderful, with much character and a wide hat.  I know where I am with Louis, because he is modest, and simple.  The big burner, double sided and all jazz hands in the front room, I am still a bit suspicious of.  I think I will grow to love him when he is less shiny and new. In fact he’s already a bit better since getting grubby on the inside windows.

At the moment I am very busy with work, so I feel far from the boat world.  It’s making it hard to write anything sensible, because I’m all space-less…. And the whole point is that boats give space.  So maybe I’m a bit grumpy about that. (It’s my own fault!)

Sorry about the pics- they are awful, but I’m just in the process of loading proper software onto my computer so I can upload so NICE photos taken on a NICE camera.

So, we’ve nearly done the kitchen, the woodburner has arrived and basically, our list of things to do has thoroughly decreased.  It’s a strange sort of feeling really.  However.  There are still installations to be done.  The pipes for the burners need to be bought and this is proving difficult and expensive- because our big woodburner is so big it needs a 7inch diameter flue, and quite a long one.  Pat is dealing with this.  That’s the burner above.  It’s good, I think, and not as big as it appears to look in that picture.  It’s going be really great once it’s actually burning something. Until then it’s sort of hard to know.

The most exciting thing is that we have been doing arts and crafts.  It all started with the shelves.  Pat made them out of old oak which we had acquired and I had a vision about the brackets.  “RED!” I said, out loud.  Not just any red though- it was to be a very specific red so that it would not clash with the turquoise wall behind.  So I mixed a red, which to the naked eye maybe just looks like red, but I know it’s not just any red.  And BINGO BONGO- we made the best shelves I have ever had.  They may not be much to anyone else, but all things considered, they may well be one of the best things I have ever contributed to. (Which says a lot about the rest of my out-put.)  The shelves have since been ‘styled’ with our newly acquired Orangina glasses (Chiswick car-boot sale £5) and mum’s lovely bowls and plates. (Also featured in the ‘breakfast’ photo above) (Where are my invitations to Guardian LIFESTYLE supplement??? Like HELLO??)

So, after the shelves, one thing led to another and before I knew it I was all over our old ikea slatted chairs that everyone in the western hemisphere owns, or has owned, at some stage.  They have been painted in stripes- and I am quite pleased with the result. (See above).  Pat then made a spectacular bathroom shelf out of a piece of drift wood which he dragged out of the river at low-tide the other day. It looks a bit like the flintstones.  We have decided to leave the wood in its rustic state, although this means there are one or two animals living in it.  Perhaps not such a bad thing, considering we now have a mini-fly infestation, and maybe the creatures living in the stonehenge shelf will eat the flies.  (I say infestation, but it’s not that bad really).  I thought they were fruit-flies but boat-fitter Tom believes they may be coming from the plughole, out from the river and into our home. Which is both rude and irritating- because they especially like wine, so they have baths in ours.

A large vessel just went past and now there seems to be a lot of watery bubble noise under the boat- this happens a lot, but I’m suddenly feeling a bit worried that maybe some went in the holes where the sink water goes out (like the flies do). I don’t know if that’s possible… It probably isn’t is it? No.

Crafts.  Yes- I have also painted some ‘roses and castles’ style roses onto some cheapy spice racks to jazz them up a bit.  That was a Saturday afternoon well spent. And Pat baked a giant stuffed marrow for dinner that night, which isn’t quite arts and crafts but was still quite impressive.

dear boat blog (and anyone else reading),

I hope you are well and that you have been keeping busy over these past few weeks.  I felt I should write to update on a number of things that have happened and continue to happen during this time.  First of all, the stove dilema was solved and we ordered a very nice, double sided, 6kw stove from ‘Natural Fires’ in ‘Byfleet’. (is this a nice place?).  The Natural Fire company have a very friendly logo of a cheery looking tree on their letterhead.  I don’t know how cheery I’d be if I was a tree advertising wood burning stoves. printed on paper.  Still- I guess it pays to be optimistic.  WHICH I am being- very. About the stove, because, let’s face it, it could still possibly be completely wrong or rather too large.

The exciting thing that’s happened is that the long-awaited kitchen units finally arrived over the weekend.  And they are everso rustic!  Oh yip! How rustic a kitchen it will be, complete with brazilian tiles and some pans we bought for £5 at a car boot sale last weekend.  £5 for 4 pans that actually work on our very specific induction hob.  They look like something you’d find in a kitchen from the past, and maybe aren’t so nice.  But they’re magnetic and therefore we love them because they saved us loads of money.  We have to install it properly, in the meantime we just arranged it roughly in the right order and then Pat went inside the big corner cupboard to see how much we’d fit in it.  And basically, it fits a whole lot. Which is excellent.  Next we’ll put up shelves and get all our colourful crazy stuff all over it and it will immediately look old and like it’s been there for a very long time.

Finally, we acquired a very exciting desk also from the car boot sale! See below!  It is a bit like Noddy’s Desk, in Noddy’s house. If I remember correctly.

I think that’s all for now, yours sincerely, etc etc.

Today the boat is making a lot of noise.  It creeks and whinges and then there are loud crashes above my head.  When it’s windy and the tide is high, the boat sways incessantly.  When other boats go past they create huge waves and it feels like you are on a voyage of discovery. And then one becomes rather tired in a nice way.  So trying to work in the afternoon is an exercise in staying awake really.  More than anything else.  Anyhooo.  I felt I should write to discuss progress.

The main progress relates to the stove in the front room.  I called ‘Woodwarm’, who are the only people we can find to make a double sided stove in a vaguely reasonable way (one which doesn’t look like a designer crematorium for small creatures) and went through our requirements.  Bear in mind that we have spent around 3 months researching stoves and have not found the optimum, and then finally decided to go for this one. So, I had a conversation with the stove man that went a bit like this:

….’blah blah 9kw stove, multifuel, delivery address is xxxx, and that’ll be how much please?’ (me)

…’Hmmm. Hold on a sec, I’ll check for you’… pad pad pad… ‘I make that one thousand, six hundred pounds including VAT. Do you want to put that through now?’. (stove man)

…. gulp. ‘Ok then’. (me again, it’s a little pricier than I had anticipated)

…’How are you planning to get it in the house?

‘It’s not a house, it’s a boat’.

silence.

‘It’s a boat, not a house’. (I repeat)

…’um… it’s a boat? Are you sure? What kind of boat? It’s quite heavy, you’ll need help.’

‘It’s fine, we’ve got a cast iron bath in here, and we had to make a hole in the roof for that. This isn’t as big as a cast iron bath.  Surely you sell lots of stoves to boat dwellers??’.

Anyway, to cut a long and mostly boring, (so I don’t know why I felt the need to recreate it word for word above) conversation short, it turned out that the stove was practically as big a a cast iron bath and rather larger than we realised.  This panicked me terribly, so in order to really get to grips with it’s size I decided to recreate it in a Michel Gondry sort of style.  This way, we would be able to see just how large it was.  And also it kept me occupied in an arts and craft way for most of the afternoon.  This is what it looked like:

I think it is ridiculous, so I didn’t order it.  It might look a reasonable size in the picture but believe me it is not appropriate.  It is effectively a furnace, suitable only for industrial purposes.  So now we are looking again at alternatives.

Meanwhile we also have bought an induction cooker, to cook with, for the kitchen.  It might be faddy, but it means we don’t have to have gas on the roof.  Instead we can have seagulls and herons!  Apparently the Japanese love induction cookers- so there are lots of demonstrations online about how you can cook with them.  This is all for now.