Just in case your hearts have been wrung by thoughts of MasterB confined first in the car in his travel basket, then on das Boot, then back in the car again, I trust these pictures will offer reassurance.Continue reading
It's a repeat performance. I don't want to go home tomorrow. The sun is warm, the evening long and light. Now nine at night and it is still broad day.
Truly, the northern isles of the UK and the RoI are magical in midsummer. Birds sing. MasterB sleeps. The Shouty Man is quiet and fishing. There are dogs. The lovely Nelson, a black Lab, has got me pinned as a soft touch, thrower of balls, and he brings me fluorescent tennis balls when I go ashore.
Das Boot is more than half clean. The newspaper is entirely unread. I bought eggs from a new source this morning and met a a young Rotweiler who really really wanted to say hello.
I do feel a bit guilty about not seeing Aunt. I shall be back in a couple of weeks and shall devote a day to her.
What I thought was a fairly casual conversation last week has been taken seriously, and apparently there is someone ready and waiting to replace the linings on my boat. This is very good news. Continue reading
Having not listened to the radio this morning, I was pleased at how little traffic there was on Jamaica Road. So it was an unpleasant surprise to find the Rotherhithe tunnel, my route out of London when I go East, was closed. I circled the roundabout and headed back to cross Tower Bridge. I worked in Bermondsey when I first came to London, in a boys’ school the local police called Fagin’s nursery, and I can still find my way around the back streets. But there is only one route over Tower Bridge, and after sitting in almost stationary traffic on the approach to the bridge for twenty minutes, I did a u-ey and headed home.
MasterB, who had not been that keen to get into his travel basket in the first place, was pleased. He stretched, explored the car’s interior, and then rolled luxuriantly on the grass.
I consulted Twitter, and went indoors to use the loo. Twitter told me the tunnel was due to reopen soon, but advised me to wait.
I had some lunch.
Twitter still advised me to wait.
I weeded the trunk, and reached for cherries from the tree.
Twitter told me the tunnel had reopened.
MasterB had gone AWOL. He came back after a while and settled himself under a car. I think he realised my behaviour was unusual and he didn’t want to take chances. It was a couple of hours, and a lot more cherries, before I managed to get him into the car. Had it taken longer, I should have abandoned my plans and settled for a weekend at home.
Naturally while I was East I had my camera. In fact I had both cameras. I was hopeful that the Crested Grebes would have again built their nest on the port side of das Boot so I wanted my long lens.
However, a moorhen and her chicks moved about the reeds and betwenn the boats close by. For such shy birds, they are very vocal.
The fields were full of poppies.
The bees were busy.
The clover was beautiful.
Forty eight hours afloat have achieved their magic. My neighbour can live. Though if some disaster befell her I might struggle to feel guilty. I don’t want to go home tomorrow. I want to stay here, to continue cleaning das Boot with my new power hose that connects to the submersible pump.
I knew the outside of das Boot was dirty. I had not appreciated it was filthy. Standing on the foredeck I rediscovered the colour of the non-slip covering. It took a while. The splash back from the jet meant my feet and legs were quickly very wet.
It was fortunate that I was able to come East yesterday afternoon, as minutes before I left I had a conversation with someone that made me want to modern one of my neighbours. Celia and Octavia can probably guess which one. I may still want to murder her when I get home on Sunday, as my feelings have remained pretty unchanged for over twenty-four hours, but at least there are some miles between us for a while.
If MasterB had not gone back to bed and delayed me, I shouldn’t have had the conversation at all. I am not sure if that is a good or bad thing.
Anyway. I played Van Morrison in an almost endless stream, and got out beyond the slow London traffic to the slow traffic beyond, and practised breathing calmly, and made myself concentrate. In my head I wrote a paean to gardens and how good they are for us. I don’t remember it now, but it comforted me and included the word lyrical, which is one of my highest words of praise.
So maybe there is karma, because when I stopped a mile or so short if the marina at the new egg place, all the dogs came out to greet me, which brought the Egg Lady herself, who explained the eggs were sold, then suddenly remembered she had just collected a few, and if half a dozen would be all right? Which they would. And we chatted, and I gave her my collection of egg boxes from the boot of the car. And drove the last part of the road to das Boot admiring the poppies by the leek fields, the evening sun on the grass, and telling MasterB he was A Good Boy. Continue reading
With my apologies to those who thought I had actually gone to London Bridge in the predawn to photograph commuters, here is a not a very good picture of a fabulous sculpture at Broadgate.
<a Continue reading
I nearly don’t go. It’s still dark. I could turn over and go back to sleep.
I leave the house with my gear and a flask of hot coffee.
When I arrive, a pink line splits the sky. I set up the tripod, squat on my little folding stool, take a shot.
The Birthday Honours list contained one name that made me sit up, well metaphorically anyway. Van Morrison is a knight.
Ok, he’s not a member of the Order of the Garter or anything, but bloody hell. Sir Van. Coo. I wonder if he could ever get upgraded to life peer? I am trying to imagine him on those red benches, standing to make a speech opposing cuts in the arts or something. I can’t see him taking prisoners.
Apparently he got it “for services to the music industry and tourism in Northern Ireland”.
That last bit made me chuckle. He has probably done more to put bits of NI into the imagined map of the country than anyone else, but it would be far from intentional. The idea of Van being the face of NI tourism belongs to something penned by Armando Iannucci. Can you imagine it, Van’s face scowling out from beneath his pork pie hat on billboards encouraging you to visit the sights. No, far better let his words and music do the work.
Still, City Airport has already been renamed Georgie Best Airport, so why shouldn’t Aldergrove, aka Belfast International, a destination I am heading for again in a few short weeks, become Van Morrison Airport? They could play his music in an endless loop, which would make me very happy.
And It Stoned Me should prepare anyone for a stay in NI, especially the weather.
I nipped round to the local micro brewery for a half. I had a private tour there over a year ago before the beer was brewed, but until last night hadn’t tried any. It was nice. I knew some friends were intending to go this evening when the brewery was staying open longer than usual. So with MasterB outside in the garden, and my dinner lining my stomach, off I trotted.
I met two friends. I knew no one else, recognised no one else other than the owner. Now this is odd. The brewery is in the next street. I know lots of people there. If I go to my local pub even if I don’t know everyone, I recognise the vast majority. There were at least three hipsters. We never see hipsters in this neighbourhood. So passé; so Hoxton. Really, I may have to move.
However, the beer I tried tonight which had elderflower was delicious. I suspect it is a *ladies’ beer*, the sort of thing Al Murray in his rôle as the pub landlord would suggest for his female customers. Sexism has been in the news this week after Tim Hunt made a speech to fellow scientists and in front of scientific journalists at Seoul. In case you missed it, here is what he is alleged to have said:
“Let me tell you about my trouble with girls. Three things happen when they are in the lab. You fall in love with them, they fall in love with you and when you criticise them, they cry.”