The Coronavirus Diaries, 19th September 2020

I should sleep well tonight. This morning I scrubbed the foredeck and then parts of the port gunwale until my spine ached from nape to lower back. I have no doubt I shifted a lot of dirt, the water in my bucket turned a muddy brown and there was great deal of sluicing to be done to see the results. They were good, but not as good as I’d wanted. My mop decided this was all too much and fell apart. After washing down the top and sides of the boat I did the windows inside and out again, inexpertly as I could see later, but a job that needs repeating often. My neighbours, who had spent a relaxing morning as the day warmed up, set off for Waterbeach and I walked crab like to the tap to rinse my waterproof trousers and my cleaning cloths. Then a hot shower. That did much to restore me and I realised I was hungry, too hungry to drive to Reach, order food and wait for it to be served. I had a lovely lunch on das Boot, and was just finishing when I noticed a kingfisher had landed just by the boat. I sat mesmerised by its closeness and compact perfection, then it flew away. I didn’t see where it went, but maybe if I’m lucky I’ll see it again before I leave tomorrow.

Washing up done, MasterB asleep under the rug in the fore cabin, I went to Reach to pick blackberries and sloes. Then onto the farm shop where (hurrah!) they had salad. Just one bag so I bought it and then went slightly wild buying fresh chard, a bunch of azaleas, a bag of new potatoes as well as some mammoth beetroot and a delicate thyme plant for B&J. Driving back to das Boot I was aware how much I had slowed down and was enjoying the rhythm of the day. On the road, I passed teenage girls riding their ponies, any number of cyclists, mainly adult and in twos and threes. It seemed a good way to spend a sunny Saturday afternoon in September.

Cherry, from the neighbouring boat, and I had been wondering about Mr Handsome as we hadn’t seen him. He turned up this evening. I am so glad he’s not on anyone’s plate, though I suppose that is his inevitable fate. It won’t be my plate, but that’s not much of a comfort. Unusually he did not come over to say hello. Maybe he has learned the horrid truth about human beings. He is just as handsome as ever, and, I think, quite a big bigger.

Mr Handsome and Friend having a paddle

Mr Handsome gets up while his lady friend remains in the water


Is this the last time I shall see Mr Handsome?

I went back on board to cook dinner which, with the fresh veg I have bought, was delicious, and rounded off with the last of apple and blackberry crumble. When I used to be rushing around looking after Mother I would eat properly with her at lunchtime, but at das Boot, with little time and much to do, suppers were not very exciting. Given that Mother was a very good plain cook, and an excellent baker, it seems right that I should now be eating three proper meals a day when I am here. I think she’d approve. At this time of year I’d be making her meals with beetroot and other root vegetables. One of her favourites was beetroot, swede, turnip and carrot, chopped into chunks and cooked together as a stew with black beans and fresh parsley. She ate it topped with grated cheese, or sometimes with bits of chicken. I’d make a big batch of it at her flat, we’d each have a portion, mine minus the meat, and then once the rest had cooled, I’d freeze it in meal sized portions. The carers said it was the one meal she would always eat with gusto.

It starts to get dark by seven now, and the light goes very quickly. There’s a tiny sliver of a moon in the sky, but otherwise the sky is black, dotted with stars I don’t see in London due to the light pollution from the lampposts, shop signs and houses. I only ever seem to have come here this year when there has been no moon. I took two photographs as the light began to go.

Evening on the river

Boats in September evening light

I hope I’ll be back next month, but then it will be dark even earlier and I need to start making arrangements to winterise das Boot. How quickly the season is over. The boat has been a godsend this summer with Covid 19, not only am I more socially isolated here than at home, or just about anywhere, but it has been good for my mental health too. I hope the increased appreciation of outdoor spaces and nature translates into greater respect for the environment. I don’t mean by government, that would be too much to hope with the current lot in power, but at a grassroots level.

Stay safe. Keep well. Be kind.


2 thoughts on “The Coronavirus Diaries, 19th September 2020

  1. Only two days ago I realised how quickly daylight fades away when it starts to get dark!
    Autumn equinox is already here!
    Let’s hope we all may have a placid brand new season!

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