This Week I Shall be Mainly Visiting Hospitals (and Singing)

If ever there was a day designed for staying at home and clearing out the cupboards it was yesterday in London. The tail end of Hurricane Miguel caught us and was less Flaming June, more bloody hell as temperatures dropped and rain poured out of the sky with grim determination. Visitors to england have strange ideas about the weather. They often seem to think it rains almost constantly and heavily. The reality is that our rain is generally light, frequent, and short lived. Or it used to be. Climate crisis has introduced even these islands known for their temperate (some would say unexciting) weather to bizarre swings and abrupt changes, and flooding in parts of the country has become the annual norm.

So I knew rain was forecast but as I had spent Sunday in my shirt sleeves, and Octavia and I had eaten supper outside in her garden as the grey Ninja swarmed up the trellis onto the walls and posed beautifully against a blue sky, I foolishly thought it would still be quite warm. It wasn’t. I had the misfortune to be working outside all morning. My hands got colder and colder and Raynaud’s Disease soon drove the blood from my fingers. On the bus journey at lunchtime I sat with my hands clasped between my knees waiting for warmth to return. To add to the misery, my erstwhile trusty waterproof shoes leaked. My socks were damp and unpleasant. Thank goodness the company was good.

In the evening the Young Relative who is going to look after MasterB when I am with Cousin in NI came round. We had a lovely evening. MasterB honed his technique for keeping her under his paw. We ate, drank, talked family stuff. Before she went home I took her to the local Turkish deli. The original plan had been to show her around the area, but the rain rather dampened that one. At the deli we met J. He is the son of Celia’s good friend Lata, who is visiting from Australia, and J should have been flying home to the US today. However, as Robbie Burns so eloquently put it, The best laid plans o’ mice an’ men / Gang aft a-gley. Continue reading

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A Cat in His Citadel

I know I am biased, but I think any one of these pictures of MasterB in his cushion citadel is worthy of inclusion in 2020’s calendar.Take your time, look at each one and then tell me your favourite. I know which one is mine.

Citadel One


I have spent most of today making slow progress with admin work; doing some washing, some ironing.

Citadel Two


After a few days on a twenty-five foot boat, the flat feels wonderfully spacious. It is also wonderfully untidy.

Citadel Three

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Avoiding the cup final

A glass of chilled wine as the breeze picks up and the evening cools. It’s been hot today. I’ve drunk more than two litres of water, and shall drink more before I sleep. I am going for an early night. MasterB is currently stretched out on the bed, enjoying the air coming through the open door. Last night it was quite busy here, and I had already cleaned my teeth when he let me know that it was quiet enough for a perambulation. So I carried him ashore rather than risk my heart lurching as he leapt from the front of the boat, and once I’d got him in his harness we perambulated. Actually we stayed still for quite a lot of the time. Cats seem to like to drink in their surroundings, it’s quite boring when you are at the other end of the leash. Then there are spurts of activity, determined movements in directions I do not want to go. I hoped he’d have a poo, or at least a pee, but he saved the latter until he was back on board. I just hope he isn’t saving the poo for the journey home.

Toady, when it has been hot, he has spent most of his time under the rug in the forecabin, a rug that is supposed to save the upholstery from fur and claws. Sometimes he and I are not on the same page. The forecabin was bathed in sunshine. Surely it must have been horribly hot, but he stayed there until around five this evening, when he emerged, like Mole taking a break from spring cleaning, and blinked dazedly about him.

Shamed by my new neighbours (who set off after breakfast and have not been seen since), I felt I had to do some boat cleaning. The hot sun soon had my face running with sweat. Not wanting to disturb the grebes I didn’t want it to use the water pump and power hose. So my efforts, which were mighty but without great results, came to an end after an hour, and I retreated to the shower. I had already visited the big city, well a large village, and bought my newspaper, so after an early lunch I reclined and worked my way through pages of newsprint.

I knew, indeed how could I not? that Donald J Trump is coming to London this week. What I had not understood was how many members of his family he is bringing with him. This is less a state visit, more an invasion. I do hope they all have return tickets. Prince Charles and Camilla seem to have drawn the short straw and are spending a lot of time with Family Trump. I worked with a Trump supporter last week, and one day was enough to exhaust me. Continue reading

A little slice of heaven

The gentle movement of das Boot at her mooring, the creak of the ropes, the birdsong, are like a balm. The great crested grebes are nesting yards from the galley window, and watching them tidying up the nest, adding to it, taking it in turns to sit on the eggs, has fascinated me. When there was a change of shift last night, the one who had been sitting, the hen I think, immediately went off to collect more weed to add to the structure. Had she been thinking about this, looking about her for likely material during what must have been a fairly tedious afternoon?

Maybe Older Nephew’s and my coming and going provided her with some entertainment. We went to Ely and back, eating lunch aboard and enjoying a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc the ON had brought with him. The newly serviced engine purred. Not far from the marina we spotted a terrapin the size of a side plate. It was sunning itself on a stone. No doubt an unwanted pet, dumped in the river, and now a predator of small fish and young birds. I hope the baby grebes, when they hatch, will be beyond its orbit. MasterB joined us after a while, and as is now customary, I built him a cushion citadel. He seemed perfectly at ease. Continue reading

The end of the weekend

I have eaten all three of my meals at home today, not unusual, but either I am being particularly uncritical or the meals have been particularly good, for as I finished the last mouthful of my freekah based salad this evening I reflected that I could not have enjoyed better meals anywhere. OK lunch would have been improved by a side portion of rice, but otherwise it was all perfection. I reckon I have had fifteen portions of fruit and vegetables today, and that includes a rather lovely alcohol free cocktail of mango, orange and something I have forgotten Celia bought me at Sound Unbound this afternoon. It was made by Mix and Match Unlimited if you are looking to try it.

My neighbours B&J who looked after the incomparable MasterB when I visited Australia in 2016 told me about Sound Unbound. They also kept a close eye on him and gave him love and attention when I was hospitalised for a few days at the end of last month. But that’s another story, and yet another post I haven’t got around to writing. If you follow the link you’ll see we were spoiled for choice with music in a variety of venues, all for free. It was eclectic, it was vibrant, it was eye-opening and it was fun. I rather liked Zwarm who performed in St Giles Cripplegate, the church where my paternal great  great grandparents married. I think they would have been quite surprised by today’s use of the space.

Zwarm at st Giles Cripplegate

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Booked

My shelves are groaning. Something has to be done. Culling books is so hard. Each one feels like a friend, how to tell them they aren’t needed anymore, how to cast them into the outer darkness that is the charity shop (even though that’s where a fair few of them were before I brought them home)?
A friend is taking some volumes of French poetry I feel I can live without, as well as a copy of Louis Aragon’s Le Paysan de Paris, a book I used to love. I read the opening pages, and I still love it, I just don’t think I’ll read it again.
There are so many wonderful books I haven’t read, if I could just identify the ones on my shelves I shall reread and let the rest go it would be an immense help. As it is, I feel a responsibility to make sure they all end up in good homes. Continue reading

Pants on Fire

A beautiful but cold evening here in London tonight. I’ve spent the day at home, not travelling far in any direction but still overachieving my daily step count goal. There were local elections across the U.K. this week. Boris Johnson, a London based politician whose acquaintance with truth is fairly loose, tweeted that he had been out to use his vote. Only when it was pointed out to him that there were no elections in London for him to vote in, did he take that tweet down. There was surprisingly little coverage of this. BoJo, like Farage, gets an astonishingly easy ride in the media. Or maybe it’s just that we are so used to BoJo’s pants being on fire* we don’t think of it as news anymore.
When the results came through it was clear that the Tories were massive losers, over a thousand council seats down. Labour lost around about a hundred, but all the news I listened to kept repeating that both main parties had suffered great losses. I’m not saying Labour did well, their losses compared to the Tories were in a different scale. Continue reading

To Blog or to WhatsApp?

My friend Octavia has been away for five weeks and is due back tonight. I’m hoping to see her tomorrow if jet lag doesn’t claim her. It was Celia’s birthday on Friday, mine tomorrow, and we are meeting up with a small group of mutual friends to have lunch in a local, unpretentious gaff at Borough. Yes, there are unpretentious places at Borough if you know where to look. I took my cousin-in-law to the same place for lunch when she was over with Food NI last month, and she loved it.
While Octavia was away, she sent me WhatsApp messages with photographs of stunning views. I suggested she start a blog. After a few days she said that it took her minutes to WhatsApp some photos, whereas it must take me much longer to write a blog post, (I assume she meant the type of post I am writing now), and when she had time to spare, she wanted to relax, not write.
Fair enough.
It did get me thinking though. I use WhatsApp sometimes to send photos too. I think it’s a great medium for quick communication. But as a record keeping app, it’s lacking. It became quite frustrating getting tiny photos to see on my ‘phone when I should much rather look at larger ones on my laptop screen. Continue reading

It’s pretty, isn’t it? No idea what it’s called though.

I can name some wild flowers, but not all, and not as many as I could as a child growing up in the country. Celia is more or less the same. So on our walk in the Surrey Hills last week there was quite a lot of “Look at that pink/blue/yellow flower. Do you know hat it’s called?” “No, it’s pretty, isn’t it?”

We were fine on Scarlet Pimpernels, English Bluebells, Celandines (though at first glance i thought they were Primroses), but that left a fair number of “it’s pretty, isn’t it?” moments. I’m hoping that you will help us to correct our ignorance.

These blue flowers made wonderful displays of colour on some of the shaded parts of our walk/

Blue close up

En masse blue

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A Surprise Chapel

Fairly close to the start of our Easter Sunday walk we strolled into the cemetery and once again admired the exterior of the funerary chapel.

Chapel

Mount Cemetery Funerary Chapel


Again we walked round to the door in the hope it might be open. A woman approached us wearing a blue head scarf. Would you like to see inside? she asked. We didn’t need to confer. It’s our Palm Sunday service she explained. And so we saw inside an English Orthodox Church, an institution of which we were entirely ignorant.
Palm Sunday, English Orthodox Church

English Orthodox Church


Amazing.
Services

Services

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