Twilight falling and I am on a fast train back to London. We pass fields of flowering rapeseed, the acidic yellow of the blooms a sharp contrast with the deep greens and mid browns of the neighbouring fields. There are well-tended allotments with scarecrows, strips of coloured plastic, and old CDs twirling in the wind; rows of terraced houses, semi-detached houses, large villas with surround sound gardens. There are sheep in the fields, some with lambs, some without. The flat landscape is occasionally interrupted by a slight rise, topped with a small copse of trees. The sky is blue with soft looking clouds the colour of the cherry blossom so prevalent just now. There’s a farmhouse, with collie dog lying at the door, then a man circling a field on a tractor. A benign version of England spreads out as far as my eyes can see.
I have been at das Boot with Older Nephew. He met me outside the station at Cambridge, and dropped me back there in time for this train. We spent the day afloat de winterising, cleaning, checking the bilges and running the engine. There had been visitors over the winter: mice, evidenced by numerous droppings. They had nibbled my J cloths, shredded newspaper left ready to line the litter tray, chewed through plastic bin liners and attacked the foil around the neck of a bottle of cava. Before we could eat I had to boil water and wash plates, knives, forks and saucepans. There was poo in the cutlery drawer, in an empty vase, in the sink, in one cupboard under the sink, but not the other.
We motored around to the tap, tied up and filled the tank with water while we finished cooking our stuffed peppers, set out the salad and boiled the potatoes. We ate, shared a can of lager the mice had not attacked and the tank continued to fill. A man and his dog stopped for a while on the opposite bank. The dog wanted to play, the man to sit. We discussed Brexit, the ubiquitous Farage, agreeing on everything to our satisfaction, though unfortunately Brexit is still happening.
Older Nephew was keen to head out into the river. Normally at this point I would make coffee, take photographs, point out birds’ nests. But today, after fifteen minutes, by which time I gauged the water would be hot, I donned my rubber gloves and washed everything in sight. Three sodden tea towels later I was done, and we were on our way back to the marina. It was not until after we had tied up, and I had begun to vacuum that I opened the hold in the aft cabin and was assailed by a terrible smell. The mice had assembled a nest at the back, and adding insult to injury, chewed laces from a pair of deck shoes I leave on board.
I think it is time to replace my pest repelling equipment, but next time I am afloat the Great Pest Controller himself, MasterB, will be with me. Watch out mice, your best laid plans are about to gang aft agley.