It started with a swan nibbling at the lily pads while I made my breakfast, progressed through the usual array of ducks and geese. I heard more wood pigeons than I saw. The window of the fore cabin was open a smidgin, a gardening cane safe in the gulley to stop a curious cat pushing it wider. The curious cat was going to have a bloody good go though, and I turned from pouring boiled water onto the coffee grounds in their neat, unbleached filter paper to see his head and shoulders were already halfway through. After retrieving him (he wasn’t pleased) I trimmed another gardening cane to a longer length. At this rate I shall have to buy more. I have ordered some other gadgets to restrict how wide the windows open, but they are coming from China and may take some weeks.
Had I not still been in my pyjamas it would have been a good opportunity to let MasterB have some shore leave, but that fact and the as yet uneaten breakfast hardened my heart. There’s cctv here, I don’t really want anyone watching video clips of me in my nightwear.
MasterB retreated under a pillow where he remained until we left the marina in the early afternoon with Older Nephew at the helm, me on ropes, drinks and nibbles, when he joined us in the fore cabin, safely sheltered in his usual cushion citadel.
When Older Nephew arrived I had nearly finished cleaning the front cover of the boat. I had two buckets; one with the diluted cover cleaner, the other with fresh water to sluice down each section before I moved on. It felt a bit like doing a big lot of ironing, except then I don’t have to submerse a bucket in a muddy marina every few minutes. The bucket contents with the product – I’m not being discreet; I can’t remember what it’s called – grew impressively filthy as I repeatedly dipped my scrubbing brush into them, and still the slime and grime cameaway. Older Nephew was impressed.
He went off to try to replace the old radio/cassette player with a newer radio/cd player. It’s in the slot, but doesn’t work yet. The connectors for the model it replaces belonging to another era. If Maplin hadn’t closed down we could have gone there to find out what we need, instead Older Nephew took photos to send to Ian who is an electrician, in the hope he can advise us.
Buoyed by my success with the front cover I had started on the rear one. Older Nephew joined me for his first experience of boat cleaning duties. We made a great team, and the cover was finished in no time. I even high fived him, a gesture that I rarely feel is appropriate.
A quick shower for me, and then it was a right turn out of the marina for an hour or so on the river. I’d like to say we both saw a kingfisher, but I missed it. However, there were many grebes of the great crested sort, most with adolescent offspring, herons, geese, ducks, swans and two birds we had to look up in our new bird book (the third on das Boot) and triumphantly identified as little egrets. Terns performed impressive dives, their bodies vertical arrows into the water, emerging almost immediately with their fish.
Tonight a robin perched on the lavender, and a swan dabbled as the sun started the slow business of setting. But it’s the swallows I’ve most enjoyed watching; swooping low over the boat, then rising, snatching the insects out of the air. The sun caught the pale feathers of their breasts and made them seem golden.
I tried to persuade MasterB to come ashore with me, but he stayed onboard. Now that I have no intention of leaving the boat until morning, he’s mewing and pressing his nose through the reduced space of the open window, and as I type this, trying to make that space cat wide.
I hope the new gadgets arrive soon.