Bathroom Refurbishment Part Two

When you start a refurbishment its hard to know when to stop. As I reported earlier, we had our bathroom tiled and a new shower and washbasin fitted. This looked so good we decided to go further. Maggie is currently making some new curtains for the smallest room and I was persuaded to remove the wallpaper that covered the panels in the toilet area. 

When we bought Albert back in 2003 half the panels in the bathroom were covered in a tasteful Laura Ashley wallpaper called Palmetta . We know it was Palmetta because we had the same design in our dining room at home back in the late 1980s. The design matched the floating cottage antique look Albert has but we decide early on on a brighter look and went for a plain Laura Ashley paper that contained a delicate motif that matched some Laura Ashley cranberry-coloured curtains. 

So after some discussion we decided this time that, although wallpaper can clearly work on some areas of boats,  it can be tricky particularly with wet winters and bathrooms with showers. Paint it was to be.

Wallpaper off - now to get off the glue!

No problem really - just strip off the paper and then apply the paint. Well there were two layers of paper and the original was stuck on with lots of glue. So the steamer came out. In a cramped area such as a boat bathroom it was quite exciting. I got into some interesting positions. 
Primer on - now for the top coats

It took two steams - one for the two layers of paper and another for the glue. That was followed by a lot of sanding and then priming and finally three coats of paint! Not a big job really, but every stage required around half a day at the boat. In total I had eight visits.


Today we finally finished and I must say I am pleased with the look. We now have a very smart "smallest room on the boat" and it should be more practical. 

But wait! Maggie still has the curtains to finish. They will be the same pattern as the old, and of course Laura Ashley. but they should look fresh and clean.

Original Palmetto paper


Cardiff Bay Barrage

Last Sunday we woke to a cold dry and sunny day and looked out over Cardiff Bay to discover a small coaster entering the Queen Alexander Dock.

Ship entering the Queen Alexander Lock, Cardiff just after dawn
(Barrage in the foreground with Flat Holm and Steep Holm Islands in the background)

 I took to my Ship Finder App to discover it was the 2,600 tonne RMS Neudorf. The ship has now left Cardiff and is on its way to Rotterdam. It is currently off the Isle of Wight but last night was off Plymouth.

Before we left Cardiff we visited the barrage. On a sunny but cold Sunday morning it was busy with walkers, runners and cyclists. We walked to the exhibition about Captain Scott and his polar exploration colleagues. 

The barrage is an impressive structure and has three impressive locks. One was out of action for maintenance. 

Lift Bridges

Lock Gates

The wind was rising and the sea became quite rough. It was one of those occasions when you leaned into the wind walking one direction and then got blown back.

A choppy Bristol Channel

We then moved on to Penarth for a breezy walk along the promenade and the pier as the tide went out. 

Penarth Pier

Penarth was the scene of my first rowing (actually coxing) success. In 1959 I coxed a Llandaff  Rowing Club Senior four to win the regatta. My abiding memories of this sea regatta was how carefully you had to steer the boat under the pier when racing and celebrating our win with a drink in my commemorative half-pint mug using Vimto - I was only 12 years old! I still treasure the pewter mug - good prizes in those days. The oarsmen (as they were called) won pints and of course celebrated with beer - possibly Brains or Hancocks).

Sea anglers on a cold morning at Penarth


I spent some of my formative years in what was then the newly proclaimed Welsh Capital and, although an English lad from the North, I really enjoyed my time living there. The city had a lot going for it in the late 50s and early 60s, but with the regeneration of Cardiff Bay it now has even more. In the past we have visited the some of my old haunts, but this time we decided to push the boat out and stay in the heart of Cardiff Bay in the St Davids Hotel for a couple of nights - after all it was my birthday!

St Davids Hotel, Cardiff at Sunset

The hotel is in a prime position on the waterfront close to the National Assembly and the magnificent Pier Head building with its Gothic Revival architecture.The hotel isn't cheap but it has impact and we enjoyed being in the heart of the bay. It was a quiet weekend being just after New Year but all the facilities of the city were open.

Pier Head Building and the Bay at night

The bay and docks area of Cardiff fascinated me as a youth, particularly the shipping. I was fortunate to have a father who worked on Bute Street and was able to show me around the docks on Saturday morning. It was in the days when the office working week included Saturday mornings so I accompanied Dad to the office (doing homework) and then had my treat a visit to see what shipping had recently arrived. Nowadays the docks are very quiet but there are marinas with yachts and the lake that was formed by the barrage.  In my time living in Cardiff we had only views of the mudflats. The steamer service to Weston-Super-Mare and other points along the Bristol Channel was governed by the tides and the huge rise and fall had quite an impact on their timetable. As a youth I often went on the Campbell paddle steamers the Cardiff Queen & the Bristol Queen.The most fascinating aspect of any trip was standing by the windows to the engine room and watching the reciprocating motion and the paddle wheels. It was particularly enthralling when the steamer was being manoeuvered and the wheels were rotating in opposite directions. 

We are always up for boat trips and this stay was no exception. Although the Bristol Channel steamers have long since gone small boats operate from Mermaid Quay so we took one to travel into the city centre. The MB Princess Kathrine operates all year so were able to pick up transport from the quay and travel up to Bute Park (Cardiff Castle). The fun of doing this is obvious as you head across the bay towards Penarth with a useful commentary and then turn up the River Taff towards the city. Its certainly the best way to see the Millennium Stadium and the complex structures that overhang the river. The boat, the Princess Kathrine, has plenty of capacity but last Saturday mooring it had only four passengers.

Princess Kathrine approaching Mermaid Quay

Millennium Stadium from river level
Cardiff Castle Keep & Moat

We spent the day visiting the wonderful castle with its Gothic Revival interior and travelling out to Llandaff to visit the cathedral. I used to cox and row at Llandaff Rowing Club and we just had to visit their clubhouse which brought back many boyhood memories.

Llandaff Weir and Boat House