Making Good.

The works continue and days pass.  Working on myself and working on the boat.  It all blurs into one somehow as I get stronger and can do more and as I get stronger do more again.  Being active is good for me there is no doubt.  I rest if I have to and sometimes I admit I over-do it – I fall asleep mid-evening after eating and wake with the birds.  All this activity makes me happy.

I’m loving the early mornings and more often than not I eat some grapefruit or pineapple then go down to the seafront at 5.30am or soon after and do my exercises, or like this morning had an hour in St Mary’s Churchyard – there very few people about and those who are pay little attention to a man moving quietly in slow motion.

I’m getting back into the good food as my taste positively returns, so breakfast is soaked oats and chia seeds and goji berries and fresh summer fruits and homemade almond milk

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and some days I manage to make a green smoothie or a juice.

Big salads for lunch current favourite grated red cabbage, carrot, toasted seeds and a few raisins, a scattering of goats cheese and garden herbs…and bread which I’m loving but shouldn’t be having if I was being strict but I feel I need those carbs and comfort and I watching my weight go back up and my blood counts go back up and I think that in a week or two I’ll be ready to let it go again and get back on the anti-cancer diet track – Diana is helping hugely again with ordering the next round of supplements recommended by Liz Butler the cancer dietician I’m consulting and I’ll report again on that once I’m back on it.  I’m also eating lambs liver with a bit plate of salad for lunch sometimes, and occasionally a ham sandwich loaded with leaves and cucumber and mustard and wow that tastes good!

Each day I’m down at the boat again getting on with the water tanks, bilges and trim issues – it’s very satisfying to be doing this.  Here’s a reminder of what I found once I’d removed the water tanks:


And here is how it goes back together – the new timber frame undercoated and topcoated, colour-matched to the original upper bilges under the saloon floor.

A platform for some lead ballast:


The timber framework and boarding for the water tank and jerry cans:


The remaining ‘new’ water tank installed under the galley units:


and the lead ballast (more on that later) nestling down in the deep bilges – about 100kg to compensate for the reduced water tank volume and lighter material construction of what I’m putting back in.


The last floor board put in:


and the 200 ltrs of water in jerry cans installed:


In fact I managed to fit one more jerry can in too so that makes 225 litrs of water on the starboard side to almost match the 26o litres in the portside stainless tank.

I think this is the way to go – I like the flexibility of having removeable jerry cans and also of having easy access to the ballast and bilges.  No more dark corners – no more unknowns.  I think Selene’s Dragon will be pleased.

It’s potentially toxic work of course – so I’m taking precautions and am back in my full-face chemical mask while down in the bilges painting.  And again when casting the lead ballast.

And this last activity is a rather special thing because the apparent alchemy of melting down reclaimed lead pipes and roofing sheets and casting into the frog of a brick is something I first did as a 12 year old over a bonfire growing up in Bristol.  I’m sure that brother Simon helped with this project to start with but I think it soon became something I did on my own and rather obsessively.  I still have those early ingots of lead and have even exhibited them as formative art work – here alongside a wooden toy (replica?) gun I made about the same time…

Oh my mind explodes sometime.  I think I’ve talked about this already.  I’m just the same child I ever was – nothing’s changed.  The magic of making and materials, the work of hands and mind and imagination.  I search for the above image in the chaos of my iPhoto folder on the computer and I find these instead:

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What are these things that this man’s holding up?  Something I made for my old bus, a deflector for the windscreen wipers done just before the cancer took hold… I know, I’m repeating myself over and over.  And then I find this photo:

The solidified pool of melted aluminium from the German warplane that crash-landed near Helston in Cornwall in WW2 and which now is in the Helston Folk Museum and the story that goes with it that will be forgotten but is too long to tell again now – the little girl (who is now the curator at the museum?) with burns on her arm in the hospice where the injured airmen are brought, and the doctor drawing his revolver as the pilot reaches into his survival bag for an ointment for burns nothing more dangerous than that to give to the frightened child…

OK – back to Saturday.  I cast up 100kg of old scrap lead I’d collected from my building projects and had been keeping for something and now use it to make the balast for Selene’s Dragon:






I won’t go on.  I feel bewildered.  I’m just fixing up this boat but there’s always more to it than that.