Not in an amusing way but in an unsettling way. It's not Margate's fault of course but "work" getting in the way of important stuff... which I'll explain shortly but first I'll update you on the reason for the trip away.
The more astute readers may have spotted a speedway ride in an earlier blog posting NEXT to the chairoplanes we restored and delivered to Dreamland a few weeks ago. If you didn't, here it is.
If you look through it to the left, you can see the chains of the chairs...
I never did post a photo of the completed other one so here she is, resplendent in the Margate sunshine.
I know pride is supposed to be a sin - but we're all very proud of how she turned out... she nearly killed us and in actual fact she has claimed at least one fatality in her previous lives... before we changed the motor, it used to be at floor floor level running a belt on a cog which turned a shaft and transferred the drive to a gearing cog at the top... a poor operator (name unknown) got a bit close one day and was pulled up into the gearing and met his end. The lads and I joke around a lot in the workshop but without exception, this topic was never a source of amusement.
What was I on about? - ah yes, the speedway. Fairground rides have a annual safety ticket - much the same as a cars MOT(Vosa for the pedants). The Speedway is still in test but we needed to take it apart to address a few things which were advisory last year and allow access to the tester who was booked for Tuesday/Wednesday. This ride is a 1930's Orton and Spooner Ark - now "dressed" as a speedway. Underneath, the mechanics of it are the same as a waltzer... ie. big ruddy heavy centre and platforms which try and kill you at every opportunity... we know this as on more than one occasion over the last week, Gav has gashed his head on them!
They sit on girders with a wheel on one end and cup on the other which is pulled around by the centre.
It's the girders that need most stringent crack testing - even ones invisible to the human eye need welding up and testing again... hence why we had to take it apart - you can do repairs to the platfors in situ... it's uncomfortable of course but that's life these days.
Luckily, now I've got an account with A-Plant, they provided a tele-handler for us to use to lift the platforms and girders down to the ground to work on.
Once the platforms and girders were off, we were able to get a good look at the centre section, replacing any worn bolts and give it a good greasing... we were all covered from head to toe by close of play Tuesday... and although we cleaned ourselves up as well as we could with diesel, must admit to leaving a few marks on the hotel towels !
A few welds later, it was time to put the thing back together again... I write this in a few words - it actually took 4, 14 hour working non-stop days... with barely a word of appreciation.
Despite the exhaustion, this time, we all worked well together and for the most part were good humoured... I took this photo of Gav (aka scrappy do) to help explain to him that, when stood next to a normal person (in this case Big Andy) he really IS small!
Anyway - it's back together and running really well again... it DOES need a lick of paint and a few minor repairs but they can wait until it next comes back to the workshop... whenever that is.
Usually when we work in Margate, we stay in the town but hotel availability for some reason was low so we ended up stopping in Ramsgate instead.
I'd never been to Ramsgate before - I must admit, it's actually quite nice... quite a surprise really. The harbour being really quite lovely and a little bit Whitby-esque (don't know how to write that) -certainly during the day...
I spotted these 2 wide beams tucked away in the corner near the old steam tug - I presume as there is nowhere for them to actually "go" they're home for someone.
See - something boaty related at last in this post!!!
By night, (sorry no photos ) it has a Mediterranean feel about it - with lovely lighting and even a couple of Greek restaurants. IF you fancy a few days away by the sea, it's certainly worth a visit.
At the beginning of this posting, I mentioned that it had been an unsettling week. The reason for this was that at the start of it, I received 2 phone calls... the first was from my Mother with news that another of my uncles had taken ill and been rushed into hospital - the background to this is that the one who was rushed in that morning, was currently looking after another one who'd been sent home from hospital to die. Which meant the other family members (most of which are in their 70s) were trying to rally round and support both of them.
This in itself was a bit disconcerting but given the ageing state (and good humour) of my family, something that we just get along with.
Shortly after the call from my mum, ( whilst I was crawling under the ride undoing bolts) I took a call from my oldest (longevity not age) friend... her mother had just died following a few weeks in hospital. I can't deny this hit me like a bolt out of the blue - which it shouldn't have, because she had been in decline for a short while and it was expected. I laid there under the ride, fighting back the tears trying to be "normal" with Helen on the phone... trying to be supportive but feeling both sick and angry at the fact I wasn't able to walk away from the job in hand and go home to be near her.
Platitudes are no use to anyone I know, but just being able to "be around" for people you care about in their time of crisis is the "right" thing to do... AND the thing I wanted to do. It was SO frustrating not being able to get in the car and go to be with her. She fully understands the responsibility on my shoulders but the thing I'm getting at is that I WANTED to have the autonomy and freedom to.
Helen and I have been friends since I was 18 and went to work washing dishes in her fathers pub. We share the same "work like your dad" work ethic and despite often not seeing each other for months on end, can pick up a conversation like it was yesterday. Her family supported me through a difficult period in my 20's coming out, and I've owed them an immense debt for their kindness, tolerance and support ever since. Not long ago on their golden wedding anniversary, rather than send a card, wrote them a letter of appreciation - we joked that it was cheaper than sending a card but the sentiment (and contents) brought pleasure to both of them... which now looking back, was fortunate timing... to actually have been able to say (well write) to someone, how much you value and appreciate them...
I'm SO glad I wrote that letter!
Call it another epiphany if you like but for all the sadness we're all feeling now, it has re-affirmed that our plan to live on the boat, ditch our current lives and explore the UK waterways, forging whatever "life" we can, IS the way ahead for us...
hopefully we'll see you there.
Until next time...