It’s not all pink gins, striped tops and waiting for the sun to pass the yard arm you know. No, not at all. Without a yard arm in sight to tell us whether it was okay to drink or not, Celia and I polished off the bottle of white wine that has been keeping me company in the evening since. Friday. We were also having a very late lunch.
This morning I dressed in my horrid three quarter length trews, a pair of waterproof trousers which badly need replacing as the elastic has gone, and I feel like one of those boys who wears their trousers below their buttocks, Mother’s old waterproof, black rubber gloves and my beach shoes. The reason for such glamorous attire? I wanted to start on the task of cleaning the exterior of das Boot.
It’s curiously satisfying work, though perhaps not the traditional way to spend one’s birthday, but I was as happy as Larry as the accumulated filth of the winter months started to wash away. I spent ages on the front cover and wet, it looked pretty good. Dry, I can see all the bits I missed.
I stopped, reckoning it must be approaching twelve, then inside discovered the seals around the bathroom windows need replacing, and there was evidence of my work on the walls. It didn’t take long to clear up, then I tripped off to the shower.
I had just stepped back on board and was wondering whether to eat a piece of bread and cheese or tidy up a bit when my phone pinged. A message from Celia to say she had boarded the train, and was due to arrive in a little over an hour at Ely.
Now I am one of those people who gets lost over fairly short distances. There’s a supermarket beside the station and there were a couple of things I wanted to get, so I thought I’d leave straight away, allow myself time to get lost and find my way again, maybe do my shopping before Celia arrived. It seemed a good plan.
Then my ‘phone rang: Celia. She told me she was about twenty minutes away. I had wrongly assumed she had just sent the text message, but in fact it had only just reached me. This evening I have had several texts sent this morning from friends wishing me a happy birthday. I apologised saying I would be late, got in the car and hoped I would find the station. I did. I made it there in about twenty-five minutes. It took about as long to find where the boxes of paper handkerchiefs were in the supermarket.
But on the way back my unerring gift for taking a wrong turn came into play. Actually it came into play twice, the first time taking a wrong turn when leaving the supermarket and finding we were on a private road.
The upside was we saw more of the surrounding countryside. The downside was it took a great deal longer to get back to das Boot. MasterB recognised Celia’s voice and emerged from under the pillows in the aft cabin. We ate lunch, drank wine, went for a stroll. Celia said all sorts of nice things about das Boot and the marina and I glowed with pride. By this time she had looked at the map and decided she would walk the few miles to another railway station on the same line. I was disappointed the grebes hadn’t made an appearance, but as I was following her off the boat she exclaimed that one had just dived in front of her.
I was a bit worried about her walking off alone, but she was confident. A little while ago she called me to say she had reached the station with five minutes to spare. The walk had taken longer than she had expected, and she thought she had gone wrong at one point, but then had found a path that led straight to the station.
Now she has found her way here, and back again, I do hope she will visit again. It was lovely.