I’m still undecided whether to make the body of the Alvis Special in aluminium or steel. Whilst sitting in my hut in Sweden, I’ve had a bit of time to look into aluminium welding – at the moment, I have neither the skill nor the equipment to do this. However, I’m encouraged by reviews of the MIG-Pulse process. Simply put, pulse welding introduces many times a second, two currents. One is high – that does the melting and is one low, which keeps the arc going. The advantage lies in that only half the heat is transferred to the panel, so distortion is considerably reduced. With MIG welding, it’s also a lot easier to produce acceptable results in a shorter time – that’s the word on the street at least.

Besides the view from the window of my shed, there are other distractions that prevent me from properly concentrating on my project notes. I share the space with five students and a radio. The only time I can work other than in silence, is when I paint. Though thought of as ‘lightweight’ by some, Chopin is a favourite.

There’s an interesting division of labour in the shed. Despite Sweden being a frontrunner in the egalitarian stakes, the girls sweep up and the boys do the ‘clever’ stuff – filling in the log books. In fact, I notice that the girls are generally more industrious altogether – this giraffe made entirely from Sellotape eked out a couple of shifts for one of them.

After supper at 8pm (which is for me 2 hours later than I would prefer) I take a stroll along the front of Karlskrona harbour. A thriving yacht club and marina always ensures there’s plenty to gawp at. The car park often includes some Americana, this ’57 Buick for instance, and…

…one evening, this ship turned up. The ‘Eye of the Wind’, sailing under a Jersey flag, offers all sorts of cruises – the Mediterranean, across the Atlantic or, a trip around the Scandinavian fjords are among those advertised. It struck me – especially the Atlantic adventure – as one of the things that should be on my to-do list. 3 weeks confined with a lot of hearty types? Hmm, on second thoughts….

The following evening, there was another ship moored up, though it didn’t seem to be for hire. On both ships, I noticed that a coat of paint and a bit of varnish here and there, wouldn’t have gone amiss.

Breakfast brings its own hazard in the form of gulls. Woe betide you if you take your eye off your cereal for more than a moment; someone is watching!

It’s better to suffer the heat and sit inside. The Clarion Hotel (part of the Clarion Collection – the Clarion in Drammen, Norway, also has an excellent chef) is almost on the sea front and provides an evening buffet included in the price. There’s always plenty of salads, vegetables and cheeses which I can thoroughly enjoy in the current record 30+C temperatures.

I expect the Swedish army is on standby to distribute ice-lollies if things get too hot.


Coming Through….

Well, that was the idea but it didn’t quite work out as planned.

So Learned Counsel was occupied straightening out a chum’s Locost after a coming together with the Armco put paid to a weekend’s fun at Donnington.

A couple of days at home saw a flurry of activity in the workshop before I was off again. I had some fabrication to do and finished off the stone traps I’d started a few weeks ago and, as well, whizzed out a couple of flanges which had been on order since I went to Ramsgate. I mentioned Dickens the other day and remarked that some of his novels, Great Expectations for instance, were set nearer to Rochester than where I was in Ramsgate so, in literary mood, and as it was on the way to Big Sister’s near Ashford, a diversion was planned. The High Street, the cathedral and castle were the interesting bits.

The roof lines were a happy jumble….

… houses leaned this way and that…

And most architectural periods were represented.

Dickens was a great inventor of daft names: Charity Pecksniff (Martin Chuzzlewit), Decimus Tite Barnacle (Little Dorrit) and so forth. I happened to glance up at one of the buildings in the High Street and noticed this plaque extolling the virtues of one Sir Cloudsley Shovel. You’d be forgiven for thinking that this was another of Dickens’ inventions but you’d be wrong. Incidentally, ‘The Seaplane Works’, a cafe on the High Street which serves organic food with a largely vegetarian and vegan menu, does the best chicken salad you’re likely to encounter almost anywhere. For the aviation enthusiast, some interesting pictures connected with Short Brothers and their aircraft adorn the walls (there’s a good one of the Short Satellite downstairs).

The Satellite was built for the Air Ministry’s Light Aircraft Competition at Lympne – a series of aviation events that has always inspired me because they seem to have represented all that’s great about our island’s tradition of chaps in sheds doing stuff. Perish the thought that anything even as remotely adventurous as the Lympne trials would be sanctioned nowadays.

Chatham Dockyard is a hop, skip and a jump away and promised to be an interesting diversion. However at £24 admission it became rather less interesting all of a sudden.

A couple of days later I was back in Drammen, waiting for the Nexus cable-laying ship to come in and load up. A different hotel this time and I have to take back something of what I was saying about hotel food in Norway. The Clarion Hotel in Drammen goes out of its way to provide as much fresh and healthy food as it can – it’s part of their mission statement. A selection of salads, vegetables, and speciality breads is always available and they have a preference for serving fish and white meat. Suits me.

I spotted (I could hardly miss it!) an interesting mural on the way back from the supermarket; it translates as ‘the future is open’, ‘dangerous’, ‘boundless’, ‘divided’, and a few other things which Google Translate seemed to get a bit wrong – ‘Monkey’ and ‘Mountain’ seemed out of context.

And here’s the Fjordvik, just passin’ thru’….