NOW I know spring has truly arrived. Why? Because I’ve got my tickets for Beaulieu boat jumble, the annual junkfest held in the grounds of Lord Montagu’s little pad in the New Forest which attracts boaters and yachties from all over the country – and even further afield – eager to replenish their supplies of unnecessary bits of boating memorabilia.
It’s strange because every year I promise my wife that I will not be drawn back to Beaulieu and, every year, without fail, I see the adverts for the jumble and something in my brain just turns to mush. I HAVE to be there.
My dearly beloved other half points out that, already, she can barely get into the garage or the garden shed because of piles of mouldly old rope, ancient marine fire extinguishers, misshapen galvanised buckets, boxes of shackles, antique anchors, life-jackets that are at least three sizes too small, out-of-date yacht flares and outboard motors that haven’t worked since approximately 1955.
All of which is true. But I can’t help it. Show me a table laden with old bits of copper and brass or fenders which would be perfectly adequate for protecting the paintwork of the Queen Mary II and I can’t help it. There’s a compulsion to buy things which surfaces from deep within and overrides the conscious mind.
I break out in a sweat, my hand automatically goes to my pocket and suddenly, I discover that I’ve just managed to buy a left-hand threaded froo-froo valve which will come in really handy if the old one ever gets blocked by tea leaves…
The fascinating thing is that this syndrome is not confined to me. Each year, as you walk down from the car park in the top field towards the hundreds of stalls that spread over several acres of Beaulieu’s grounds, you pass a steady stream of people struggling back to their cars hauling heavy chunks of metal, mis-matched oars, lifebelts that look as though they were probably fashionable when the Titanic set sail from Southampton, and sundry other pieces of what can only be described as junk.
The other part of this syndrome – let’s call it Beaulieu Barmyness – is that when you get all this rubbish back home, most of it never goes anywhere near the boat.
“I’ll just clean that up, give it a couple of coats of varnish and Bob’s your uncle, we’ll have a lovely new seat for the dinghy,” I remember saying to her indoors as, two or three years ago, I lugged a piece of something that was reliably described as teak planking but which was probably third grade deal.
I put it in the garage, seriously intending to get the sander out and give it the once over but, of course, then promptly forgot about it. It was eventually consigned to the recycling at Charlton Lane waste disposal site when the missus got fed up with tripping over it.
Anyway, I’ve learned my lesson and this year I’m just going to look. I’ll enjoy the drive down to the New Forest, I shall admire the primroses and I won’t buy a thing. Not anything. I promise. Unless, that is, I see a fuel pump for a Perkins 107 diesel engine…