@ 11:46:44 by ashtonboatman
Friday morning at Portland Basin. The snow and ice had departed
overnight and so I was able at last to drive the van down the hill to
the wharf. I noticed Mr Woodcutter perched on the hatches of "Elton"
peering into the watery interior. I had been unable to keep the boat
afloat during the icy period. I think ice had prevented a bilge pump
from switching off, so it ran until the battery was exhausted, then
the boat filled up with water.
As I walked over to talk to the woodcutter my eye detected a
movement near the stern end of "Hazel". A flash of electric
blue whizzed out across the water as a kingfisher took flight. It is
years since I've seen a kingfisher at Portland Basin. I was
delighted. It seemed like an omen of good things to come in the
Mr Woodcutter came back across the boats and I set him up with
some waste wood to cut up for the boat ranges. He is the first
volunteer I have ever come across who never tires of cutting wood.
Consequently we have not had the usual Christmas firewood crisis this
Mr Woodcutter is an excellent fellow, and yet would be despised as
a scrounger by many, which is why I call him Mr Woodcutter. He is a
simple man, not in the sense of being a simpleton, but of enjoying
the simple things in life. He enjoys walking and physical exercise,
which is why he comes and cuts our firewood. Most of all he enjoys a
skinful of good quality ale (none of your cheap lager thank you very
much). Unlike many who get the taste for alcohol, Mr Woodcutter seems
to be very much in control of the drink, rather than the drink being
in control of him.
Mr Woodcutter's dislikes include employment, which is why some
people would have little time for him. Personally I feel that the
idle rich, who live by renting out their inherited assets, are more
of a brake on the well being of the populace than the few who choose
to take the pittance that the dole offers in return for a less
stressed life. Post triumph of capitalism that is an unpopular view!
Mr Woodcutter is an expert at staying one step ahead of the
system, and good for him. He is fascinated by the Loch Ness Monster
and often stays near Inverness, which he considers to be the best
place on Earth, in order to catch a glimpse of the fabulous beast. So
far he has been unsuccessful.
I lit fires in "Forget me Not" and "Southam"
to dry the cabins out, then started the petrol powered pump to raise
"Elton". As the water gushed from "Elton I started
sorting out the bilge pumps that had failed during the icy period.
Soon the boat was floating again and the woodcutter had run out of
work for his bowsaw. We picked up saw horse, bowsaw and firewood
sacks and walked the quarter mile to the bit of woodland that I look
after. Mr Woodcutter was happy to get to work cutting up the
sycamores that I felled a week or so previously.
Returning to the boats I put some pies in "Southam"s
oven and carried on sorting out pumps. Mr Woodcutter niether eats nor
drinks during the day so I enjoyed my meal alone. He cut loads of
wood, which I collected in the van later. By the end of the day,
which is about 3PM at this time of year, things seemed to be getting
back to normal after the disruption caused by wintry weather.