SWMBO has gone to Towersey Folk Festival. I'm not performing and previous years when that's been true I've sat in the Horseshoes playing in the informal session. But this year they want £140 for a camping ticket which in essence permits me to provide additional free entertainment and make the festival look good. It's a good session full of good musicians, but it's really not worth £140. So, as she left yesterday morning she asked “what are your plans for the weekend?”
“I thought I'd do a bit of shopping down town: I need more socks and I'll just have a bimble round, then see whether the blackberries are ripe.” Well, I did get socks, but I accidentally passed Ikea. I'm going to try to build an APA in less than twenty-four hours, mostly from the bits box.
I admit I've been planning it – I know, I do the planning bit well, but then something goes wrong. I started by making a list of everything that's gone wrong when I've tried time-constrained modelling and APA modules. Considering that's just five projects: one successful and one not actually broken, it's a very long list. So this time I've left a margin of error. Welcome to Seal Point.
My wife is a sucker for seals. I remember when we were on our first holiday together, at Ardrossan harbour, on the ferry and she was literally bouncing up and down 'look, a seal', and I shrugged – it hadn't occurred to me that she'd never seen one in the wild before. So, when we went to Norfolk for a much needed break, a trip out to Blakeney Point was a must (and is recommended).
The area has a string of boardwalks (see above): we have some similar stuff round here and I thought of modelling a Gn15 line on them but I was put off by the need to model reed-beds. The ones around Morston, where the boats are based, however, have much simpler scenery. Essentially mud-flats and some kind of plant that looks like a Berberis but less spiky. I'm not sure that Loch Lomond looks the same, but it's close enough to Ardrossan that the fictional Seal Point will fit in with Inversnaid. Surely even I can manage that.
I started at six, by brewing a pot of Rooibos tea. I'd forgotten how difficult cutting the mouseholes is without a scroll saw, so I'd drunk most of it by the time I finished, and it was light enough to take photographs. In retrospect, I should have cut the holes before assembling the box, but probably something would have gone wrong and they wouldn't line up. The paint is emulsion testers from Wickes at two for £1.29, since I know that an APA takes one and a half pots. I set it aside to dry.
Next up was the track base. The mussel farm shows the dimensions I need for the trackwork. Just a case of copying that but changing the style, and matching the interior profile with Inversnaid. I cut the longitudinals before painting the inside of the box, and cut a piece of card that would space them 13.5mm apart so that the rails, when I fit them, will be exactly over the centres of the longitudinals.
The planks are cut from coffee stirrers. It must be said that paying for tickets for the Olympic yachting, plus about a hundred quid for transport and an eye-watering amount for refreshments is a pretty expensive way of purloining stirrers – it works out at about four pounds fifty a plank – but this is probably the only APA which will include an Olympic souvenir.
I started off by trying to get the planks exactly even and using a credit card to space them, but I started to think I'd still be there at six this evening, so in the end I settled for placing them by eye. The rustic look suits me, but of course it's not the way the prototypes are put together – maybe there are different public safety regulations at Seal Point. You'll notice I haven't stained them: I'm going to stain the whole thing with black diluted with meths (I've found it penetrates better). There's enough differentiation of colour in the sticks (I blame LOCOG's contractor's quality assurance – if you're paying that much for a coffee...) and I can just pick some individual planks if I need.
This stuff is drying, so time for a leisurely bath while listening to Broadcasting House. Next time: create the water and stain the track base. Yes, I gnow I'm working in the kitchen again, and you'll guess that it already looks as if a bomb has hit it. That's gnot a problem; she's gnot back until about six tomorrow, so even if I miss my self-imposed deadline there'll still be plenty of time to clean up. Of course she'll notice the extra layout, but if I can make a seal to go in it by six tomorrow, I think I'll be forgiven.