Panto Postcard 1, 2019

58 hours

On Sunday Mick helped me with all my things to Avoncliff Station.

This used to be a request stop

I had quite a lot and a quick change at Westbury Station so he decided to come with me that far to help get me onto the next train. After another change I got a taxi to Admirals Hard where I caught the Cremyll Ferry across to the Rame Peninsula. Only an eight minute crossing but just long enough for those of us sat outside to get sprayed by the waves.

A woofer passenger on the Cremyll Ferry

Lou was there to pick me up, we dropped my work things off at the workshop where Ade was busy and then she gave me a lift down to the village of Kingsand. With keys to my flat I made myself comfortable, stocked up on some things to eat and drink from the shop, possibly getting ripped off and then went for an explore. This was likely to be the only time I’d get in daylight to look round.

The old border

Kingsand and Cawsand are twin villages in Cornwall, however until 1844 Kingsand was in Devon and Cawsand Cornwall. A house still marks the boundary, about 100 ft away from my flat.


Several small beaches link the houses together, all very characterful, smugglers hiding in the corner of your eye. Narrow roads with no parking make for a tranquil place, well until the tide comes in! It did however feel as though nobody actually lives there, it’s just for the tourists now.

My groundfloor bedroom window and the sea!

My flat was about as long as Oleanna but wider. Have to say that our bathroom layout is better designed despite being half the size. Everything was very comfortable, but the kitchen lacked a few basics that would have made cooking a touch more flavoursome.

Last bit left to prime

Monday morning I was picked up from outside one of the pubs and was at work for 8.30. First thing was to lay out the back drop. Normally this would have been stretched on a frame, but as my design needed me to be able to draw lots of circles we laid it out on the floor. By 10am I’d primed the cloth and gained a couple of blisters in the process. Ade and Lou’s workshop has been having a new roof fitted, the central ridge still needed replacing and in parts it was open to the sky. So as the day progressed and the weather outside became damp, buckets were deployed around the place.

Drawn up ready to paint

By the end of the day just about every bit of set that was ready had been primed and my backdrop was marked out. A pencil and string being my compass, I could have done with Frank’s trammel heads (ends of a compass that you can attach to a length of wood), but I managed in the end.

Wednesday the sun came out, only one thing for the canine assistants to do, sunbath

Tuesday and I started to lay blocks of colour onto the backdrop. Three shades of blue paint, a straight edge and a steady hand were needed. Occasionally a helping paw would appear, Bo and Shine two collies spend their days over seeing what happens in the workshop and hoping to be able to gain access to the bins from next door.

Pasty powered painting

The workshop is next door to CornishPod, winner of the World Pasty Championship in 2016. The smells wafting through from them were too much for me, on Monday I’d put in an order for a couple of gluten free pasties. Fresh and warm I enjoyed one for my lunch, keeping the second one for Wednesday. The day was wet again, water flooded in through a hole that had been made for new electrics, a blocked drain was found and sorted by the landlord.

Wednesday thankfully a dry day but water had seeped under the wooden floor where my cloth was pinned out , it had crept up between the sheets and was creating quite a stain. In parts the cloth was wetter than when I’d first painted it. Action was taken and we relaid it on sheets of plastic, a fan heater deployed to drive off the worst of the moisture and I concentrated on painting the portals. The roofers were back in for the day, covering up sections of the ridge.


Each morning I woke to wonderful sunrises, some from Tellytubbies,

A new day

others more moody and grown up. Not a bad view to have from your bedroom window. The local sea swimmers would all walk down for their morning dip shortly after dawn. They’d bob away in the swell as the tide came in, Kingsand only seems to have high tide!

Oops I might have bought some cheese!

Thursday was the start of the next storm. We hoped the worst would miss us. The team grew by two, Ade’s nephew Frank and a scenic artist Debs. Debs had come to paint another set they have been building for The Drum in Plymouth. Nothing quite so time consuming as my backdrop and portals, just lots of washes and rust. Lu and Frank lent a hand where needed, basing things in for me and painting black for Debs. As the day progressed the winds got stronger and stronger, necessitating brushing more bits of decaying roof off my backdrop.

The view whilst waiting for my lift

By the time I got back to my flat the tide was being aided by the wind. On other evenings towards high tide the waves had been making it onto the road outside my front door, but the direction of the wind having changed and the tides not being so high the waves just crashed against my bedroom wall instead. Their bumping giving the sofa a slight nudge. I hoped I’d be able to get some sleep, but thankfully things calmed down and I managed to get some shut eye.


Friday, Debs and I were left to it in the workshop, the others on apple duty back at the house. Ade and Lou have around 250 apple trees from which they press apple juice. This years crop has been plentiful, so whilst painting brushes were working hard at the workshop, Lou and Frank picked up the latest windfalls and Ade worked his way through the first of 40 crates of apples.


By the end of the day the other set was finished and Panto had a completed backdrop and two portals. Plenty more for me to do, but at least the main aim of the week was completed. I celebrated by having a halloumi and roasted pepper pasty for lunch, very tasty it was too.

Saturday my last day. A quick tidy up of the flat before I got a lift up to the workshop to see what I could achieve before heading home. I made a good start on two large flats, but I’d hoped to get them almost completed but the paint just wasn’t drying quickly enough. There was also the matter of packing paint and mixing colours so Lou can carry on basing things in,hopefully saving me hours of work.

Mixing grey

The last job was to mix a huge vat of grey. I hate mixing grey, you think you’ve nearly reached the right shade, just a bit more black, a bit more, a bit more, maybe just a touch more. Damn! Now a bit more white!!

Frank and Lou, my cloth was raised and stretched out shortly after this

The other set was loaded onto a wagon. The pieces I’d finished were stacked away and the backdrop was hung to help it continue drying. The water stain is fading but I doubt it will go completely.


Back in my civvies it was time to head for the train. A lift down to the ferry which was just coming in, then an awaiting cab to the station. I had 4 minutes to get to the right platform, my luggage a touch lighter as my brushes will go to Chipping Norton with the set. Two trains and I arrived back in Bradford on Avon where Mick was there to meet me.

A hard weeks work in the company of the lovely Lou and Ade in such a wonderful setting. It’s just a shame I never really got to see the village at low tide in day light.

Meanwhile back on Oleanna.

Mick and Tilly have not been idle. On Sunday afternoon Mick moved the boat a little towards Bradford joining the local boats. On Monday he took the toilet to bits. We have a Separett Villa, the urine gets separated into a tank under the floor from which we can pump it out into another container for disposal. Gradually when rinsing through the system I have noticed it taking longer and longer for the water to drain to the tank, so I’d raised a chitty with the maintenance department.

It was quite sometime ago that Finesse showed us how everything had gone together but Mick managed quite easily to remove the toilet and then the floor above the tank. From the separator one pipe leads to another which then does two 90 degree turns to enter the underfloor tank. Here was where the blockage was gradually getting worse and when Mick poured vinegar into the top it stayed put, the pipe finally having blocked.

Our yellow water tank, the blocked bend on the left

With some drain unblocking cabley thing and more vinegar he eventually managed to shift the blockage. No need to cross our legs, we can go to the loo again. But maybe we need to add more vinegar to the bottle we spray the separator with, or even add it neat every now and again, or maybe we should just drink it so that the pipe doesn’t block again.

On Tuesday morning I made a request that Tom should move the outside. This outside was okay, but another would be better, so he moved it to a Mrs Tilly stamp award winning mooring, Dundas. Here I busied myself outside, returning to check on Tom only to find he’d lost his legs! I found them for him down in the big box at the back of Oleanna. It was quite soggy down there so Tom was trying to get rid of all the Aunty freeze that had leaked there a month or so ago. He was very careful to keep me away from this Aunty, apparently it can be deadly to cats.

Purring paws

Thursday they filled with water winded and headed back towards Avoncliff. All the sink U bends and shower traps were given a good clean and then on Friday they moved up to Bradford and managed to get a spot on the 48hr moorings below the lock. Here was good, plenty to keep me occupied, but then Tom decided to nudge the outside a touch. This touch to the outside meant there were far more woofers, in fact a constant stream of them. It really wasn’t worth stepping off the boat!

0 locks, 7.24 miles by boat, 5 different moorings, 1 calcified lump added to the yellow water tank, 10 litres anti-freeze, 2 winds, 5 trains, 2 taxis, 2 ferries, 13 lifts, 2 pretty villages, 0 beach to be seen, 6m plus high tide, £51!!! 2nd shop at the co-op, 1 flat almost on the beach, 1 thumping sea, 4 bottles wine, 1 bottle oil and some garlic required, 58 hours, 1 fat knee, 1 pastie powered painter, 1 back cloth, 2 portals complete, 1 well used straight edge, 2 woofer assistants, 1 slightly blue ball, all three crew back on board, 1 purring cat.

PS The last three posts all have photos now.