We returned from Scotland last week with an empty diary and a boot full of cushions. Mister E, with his love of all things nautical, is embracing a new project and looking to restore a much cherished but recently neglected classic yacht of demure proportions. Just perfect for the two of us to sail apparently, after our family boat from the last decade, despite its electric winches, stands accused of causing bursitis in our respective shoulders and has been steadily getting a little high for my stiff knees to clamber aboard.
Possibly driven by a fear of joint pain, I have been willingly recruited to assist in Project Restoration. My participation started in Scotland with a meeting at Crinan Boatyard to explore the feasibility and timescale of various essential jobs as highlighted by a survey (time spent: 1 hour). Then there was an onboard meeting with the seller, his wife and their dog (time spent: 3 hours). The trouble with "boaties" is not that they find so much in common but rather that they can't stop talking about it!
The meetings were followed by an afternoon and morning (time spent: 6 hours) measuring and stripping out the interior where the fragrance of Eau de Diesel permeated all. The Bank Holiday heatwave stretching across the UK omitted only that part of Argyll that we were visiting, so we took the view we had to work up a sweat to avoid missing out.
To be fair we also visited the Scottish National Trust's garden at Arduaine from the adjacent Loch Melfort Hotel with its panoramic vista towards the Western Isles enabling us to watch porpoises and seals from our meal table as well as yachts entering and leaving the loch or Craobh Haven. There was also an opportunity to see the surrounding area, weighing up the pros and cons of various moorings and marina facilities as well as strolling around Crinan, particularly along the canal to watch yet more yachts! Yes that SNT garden was an idyllic retreat with its azaleas in full bloom and no floating vessels to be seen.
Our return journey was long but scenic, especially passing through Rest and Be Thankful with snow clearly visible in the crevices on higher peaks, a stark contrast to Loch Lomond where we finally picked up the British heatwave. Fortunately the sun has continued to shine and the Restoration Project has peristed within the confines of our garden. Whilst Mister E has been lovingly spreading sails and ropes out on the lawn, I have been waging war on mildew, that ever invasive enemy of boat upholstery. With a ready supply of white vinegar (I recently took delivery of 20 litres), I was well prepared to mount an attack on armies of mould as well as the odour of diesel. Believe it or not, despite its initial pungence, it's reckoned that vinegar is actually perfect for absorbing odours and with the assistance of a dilute bleach solution and a scented fabric conditioner I am steadily turning both cushion inners and covers into clean and fresh smelling articles. 6 pairs of curtains, 6 small cushions and their covers, 5 berth pads, their inner linings and outer sleeves; a canvas door: all now restored (time spent: 12 hours, excluding soaking time) and only another 6 berth pads and coverings to go.
Will this be a three month, a year long or a whole of retirement project? Mister E will not be drawn but as you may have worked out I am counting the hours.