The Coronavirus Diaries, 13th August 2020

Hot again. The promised rain did come but just not in the quantities expected, I woke to the welcome sound of it at seven, but by eight it had stopped and the ground was dry. The forecast said it would start again at eleven. It didn’t. I carried on taking books of the shelves and was rewarded by finding I still have my copy of Clive James’ Unreliable Memoirs. Hallelujah!

I’ve started sorting my books into categories with the idea that I may that way decide to streamline them. I am astonished how many copies of plays I have. Mainly Shakespeare, but still. I had a quick flick through some history books to see how well slavery was covered. Badly. Like women’s history it barely gets a page, if that. Yet trade, empire, industrial revolution all get covered. As though these things didn’t happen without the profits in trading slaves and slave labour. L’Oréal (because I’m worth it) claims it does not soil its hands with animal testing, yet it sells its products to China in the full knowledge they will be tested in animals there. That is rather like British history’s attitude to slavery.

I truly hope the BLM movement will lead to a more informed understanding of history. Continue reading

The Coronavirus Diaries, 12th August 2020

Still hot, but there were rumbles of thunder this afternoon, the sky has clouded over and rain is forecast tomorrow. Hurrah! Or it would be hurrah, except that this is unusual weather and the rain is probably not going to be the usual light rain we are used to, but a downpour with the risk of flooded drains and worse. Today three people were killed when a train was derailed in Aberdeenshire due to a terrain rendered dangerous by heavy rain. Climate crisis is with us, and not getting the attention it deserves. There are still countries intent on extracting and using fossil fuels. I don’t get it. I am increasingly in sympathy of the group whose aim for humans to die out. I think the planet would probably be much better without us. Clever we may be, but boy are we destructive.

The main things on the list today got done, though slowly, including making an appointment for a haircut. Outrageously expensive as instead of having it done at the training school I’m going to the salon. Hopefully this cut will last as long as the last one has. The big task was to begin lifting books down from the shelves in the hall which is going to be painted on Friday. The plan was to sort books out for the charity shop and pack the rest in bags. The discarding didn’t go too well, and gradually I realised it was probably better to pile the books on the floor where I could see them and sort them into categories. I was thrilled to find despite my cull last year I still have a copy of Clive James’ Visions Before Midnight. Maybe tomorrow I’ll find more treasures. I still have the greater part of a long shelf to go. Continue reading

The Coronavirus Diaries, 11th August 2020

It’s hot. Sitting still is hot. Walking is hot. Lying down is hot. As hot as Africa, says Celia; as hot as Turkey, says Viv; as hot as Greece, say I. All of us referencing places we have been in the height of summer where it has been, well, hot. Hotter than the dutch Antibes, says Ross who is painting my hallway on Friday. I am guessing he has been there, but I don’t know.

Wearing a face mask in the heat is hellish. Except if you are in Marks and Spencer where the fridges are wonderfully cool and three of us admitted to loitering today.

Octavia, back from France, is off to Croatia in the morning. She had bought a big box of disposable masks. I was surprised. It turns out when she flew out of London she was wearing her good cloth mask. No problem. No problem arriving at Nice with same face mask. But when she went to board the ‘plane for the return flight she was told paper masks only. The kindness off a fellow passenger saved the day for herself and other passengers in the same situation. For obvious reasons Octavia does not want to be caught out going to or coming from Croatia. Continue reading

The Coronavirus Diaries, 10th August 2020

So home. It was glorious this morning at the marina, warm but not hot, the promise of a new day held in the palm of the sky. I vacuumed, stripped the bed, carried things to the car while MasterB slept. He had a short stroll after breakfast.

We left around lunchtime.

Our route took us over a bridge above a dual carriageway where I could see lots of cars. Decision made, we’d take the back roads as far as we could. I started taking these roads years ago as there is more shade, and in warm weather, with a car minus air con, I didn’t want Cat to overheat. Now I often choose them as the route home to get that last good hit of countryside.

There were very few cars. It was a loveLy drive. Inevitably as we got closer to London the traffic increased. A hundred yards from home I looked at all the people on the street and reflected that I hadn’t seen half as many the whole week while I was away.

Washing dried ridiculously quickly. Even at seven this evening the temperature was over 30C. Actually it’s over 30C now but only just. 30.1C according to my thermometer. Continue reading

The Coronavirus Diaries, 9th August 2020

The forecast when I looked on Saturday was for today to be warm and tomorrow cooler. Now tomorrow is going to be warm as well. I need to get home, so shall try to complete the journey after rush hour and before it gets too hot. First thing today I thought it was going to be a much cooler day than yesterday, but the sun soon burned off any hope of that. there was however a welcome breeze, so I took my walk before lunch, heading over to Burwell Fen. These pictures are from yesterday. I have managed to upload them, but the internet connection keeps dropping so I shall leave today’s until I am home.

Bullrushes

There was a horse tethered on a track parallel to te path. It had water but no company, no possibility of shade. I went to say hello to it. Its eyes and muzzle were plagued by flies. I waved them away, stroked its nose, spoke to it. It seemed defeated by its circumstances. I wanted to pull the tether and take the horse away, but where? In the end I sent a text to the RSPCA, but as it was bot in danger from traffic, had water and grazing, there was little hope anything could or would be done for it. Poor animal.

Please identify

The other animals I saw were wild, a muntjac deer trotting carefully through tall grasses, a bird, probably a kestrel, sitting on a gate, a goose, strangely solitary, enjoying a swim, ducks and swans.

The ridge path

While I was watching the deer, a man on his bike pulled up and watched it with me. There were lots of cyclists. I wished I had access to one here as well.

Greenery

Continue reading

The Coronavirus Diaries, 8th August 2020

Fortunately this afternoon the breeze became stronger and the air in consequence fresher, free of the clinging humidity of the last two days.I put my book aside and went for a walk. There’s a ridge, I presume manmade, that protects the fields beyond from flooding, and it allows views across the flat farmland. This is fertile country and everywhere you look is green and growth. I took some pictures, but it seems the internet connection keeps dropping so I may not be able to upload them.

I haven’t seen the cows all day. Where are they? A moment ago I heard a cow mooing and looked up, hoping to see the herd in the field beyond the fence but nothing. The cow I heard was probably across the river. In the other direction there is another farm, or rather a farm house with a couple of fields. The last people to live there were very unfriendly and bred dogs which barked a great deal and which I used to pity. The current owners keep hens, horses, some rare breed sheep, and two llamas. I hadn’t noticed the llamas until this afternoon. I haven’t met the owners, but like their predecessors they have roped off a path which when I first came here people were free to use, so maybe they don’t want to meet the neighbours either.

I had a conversation with the Dan, son of the couple who own the marina, and another with a woman who has a boat here with her husband. Until now the woman and I have only smiled and said hello. Today we talked about Coronavirus and the uncertainty of the future. It was a similar story with Dan. Continue reading

The Coronavirus Diaries, 7th August 2020

I am sitting at the back of the boat enjoying the very slight breeze around my neck and face.It’s been a hot day with temperatures above 35C. Not only hot but humid, so not a day for strenuous activity. I have done a fair amount of reading, drunk pints and pints of water, swept dead flying ants from the boat’s exterior and otherwise moved as little as possible. MasterB has slept in various positions and places around the boat. He had a walk after breakfast, his breakfast, not mine. While he ate I went to the shower block, and when I returned he was at the door. It was already warm, but no one else seemed to be up, so we had a pleasant stroll, both of us for different reasons watching the thrush with interest. We nearly had another stroll just now, but a boat entered the marina as MasterB was about to go ashore and he had a change of heart.

I had a conversation with Stuart as I was finishing my own breakfast and so decided to get out the battery charger and see if the battery could be revived. It turned out the fuse had gone in the charger, so I wasn’t able to carry out this plan until I had been to the shops. I forgot to take my mask, but fortunately had a small towel in the car which I tied round my face. It worked surprisingly well and was more comfortable than some of the masks I have bought. On the track from the marina a pine marten carrying a dead mouse in its mouth ran across the path. On the road there were numerous spilled beetroot. I stopped and gathered some up. Some beets have been mulched and are in piles in the fields. Their distinctive sweetly earthy smell hangs in the air, overpowering the leeks which are in neighbouring fields. Are mulched beets good fertiliser, or is there just a glut the farmers can’t sell?

I could have tried the engine earlier than I did, but MasterB was asleep near it and I didn’t want to upset him. He woke up and moved to a new location and I primed the engine for a minute, turned the key and it sprang to life. I’ve removed the charger and will try the engine again tomorrow to see if the battery has held the charge. Older Nephew and partner are coming here at the weekend, so when I leave I’ll leave it on trickle charge just in case.

The book I am reading is Homeland by Fernando Aramburu. It’s very well written and I am involved in the story, but worrying that the person who lent it to me will want it back before I have finished it. It’s a our book group’s summer read and nearly 600 pages long. I am on page 133.

The ants started swarming again tonight and my heart sank. It was still over 30C and the prospect of sweltering inside the boat behind closed windows did not appeal. Fortunately it seems to have been a much less extensive occasion than yesterday, and they have all gone.

The sunset is spectacular. If the red sky at night saying is true, we are in for a glorious day tomorrow.

Red Sky at Nigh

Shepherd’s Delight

Behind me I can the swans nibbling at the weed. They are doing an excellent job. This morning the cows were in the field, and one cow was watching me. I slowly approached the fence talking to her. She came a bit nearer. I kept on talking to her. The flies were bothering her and she kept shaking her head to get them away from her eyes. She could do with one of those shields horses wear. The farmer doesn’t seem to have any water troughs for the cattle. They must have to drink from the river. The cow finally came right up to me and allowed me to stroke her face. Emboldened, others who had been watching started to walk towards us and soon there was a good crowd, including Mr Handsome who gently nudged his way through the others for a neck scratch and rub. Two young calves were watching, one shied away from me when I stretched out my hand, but the other, which was black with a white face, was braver and had a good sniff at my arm. It made me want to read The Secret Life of Cows all over again. Maybe I can suggest it for book group.

Stay safe. Keep well. Be kind.

The Coronavirus Diaries, 6th August 2020

The spiders will eat well tonight. There’s an ants’ nest near this mooring and tonight the exterior of das Boot and the neighbours’ boat is covered with winged ants expelled from the family home. I have closed the windows, cancelled all shore leave and am preparing to sweat it out. It is warm and muggy after a day of intermittent cloud and hot sunshine. Apart from a brief excursion to Reach to get onions and to check on the progress of the blackberries, I have been at the marina all day.

When I came here yesterday I was thinking of peace and quiet, rest and relaxation. This morning I realised I had a tight knot of anxiety in my chest. I poked at it, was it the unplanned but necessary expenditure for the boat? A mild reaction. Not that then. Was I worried about a possible workless future? A stronger reaction. Moving? Stronger still. So I spent much of the day trying to untangle my feelings. Not moving also brought a feeling of anxiety, so it was good that I had arranged to speak to my friend Nicola this evening. We have known each other for twenty-six years, we’ve witnessed each other go through difficult times, make difficult decisions. She has a few of her own to make right now too and one of them involves the possibility of moving.

I can’t say when we finished talking, she to attend her online meditation class, I to cook my supper, that my feelings of anxiety were wholly resolved but I did feel better, and my thoughts were clearer. I hope she felt the same way. It is astounding how much energy anxiety uses up. I imagine these flying ants aren’t feeling too zen either. Continue reading

The Coronavirus Diaries, 5th August 2020

It’s hardly the Starship Enterprise but this is the Captain’s Log. I watched Star Trek less than a handful of times. The characters were so well known that even I had heard of them, and some of the famous lines. To this day I have a 45 by Spizz Energy called Where’s Captain Kirk. It’s a bit like Friends, which I never watched at all, but such was its popularity back in the 90s that I know a surprising amount about it and can even name some of the characters.

Did Kirk ever have to delay the start of a journey because one of the crew was asleep in an inaccessible spot, ie in a drawer under the bed? Did he wonder if it was National Bad Driving Day when overtaken on 20mph, 30mph, 40mph and 50mph roads by drivers doing at least 20mph above the speed limit in each location? Was he refreshed after such a day by a green curry which the unexacting would describe as Thai, and even the exacting would describe as delicious? Can’t see it somehow. For the record, vegetable marrow works extremely well in green curry. Try it for yourself.

Anyway we made it to das Boot. I have just had a potential Miss Moffat moment as a spider lowered itself on a self spun thread to take a look at me. However, instead of sitting down beside me it has now climbed back to the ceiling. Maybe it recognises me as the Mighty Destroyer of Webs. If it knows anything about marine engineering I should like it to tell me. Last Friday Older Nephew rang me with the news that the starter motor needed replacing (c£350). Fortunately it was just a loose connection, the solenoid. I have no idea what the solenoid is, but I am glad it wasn’t the starter motor. He also mentioned the battery was low which seemed odd. Continue reading

The Coronavirus Diaries, 4th August 2020

I’ve never used marrow, vegetable marrow that is (obviously given my tastes bone marrow would never be on the menu chez IsobelandCat, though I remember my black Labrador Tessa used to have tins of a product called Pal which claimed it was enriched with marrowbone jelly) in curry before tonight. It was good, very good. Marrow is a bland vegetable which soaked up the curry flavours like a sponge and shared them nicely with its fellow vegetables. I had seconds, but then exerted my self-control and the rest is in a plastic container which will go into the freezer once it’s cooled down enough. The rest of the marrow will come with me to das Boot tomorrow and probably form part of another curry, maybe a green one this time. It’s a smallish chunk. I gave half the marrow to B&J and used half the remainder tonight. The mathematicians among you will have worked out that leaves a quarter.

I love curry. Like soup it’s a great chance to use up vegetables that are kicking around the fridge – squishy tomatoes, mushrooms that have passed their best, those last bits of cauliflower, the forgotten potato, the last of the carrots, a stick of celery that would otherwise go into the compost. Fresh ginger, a mix of spices, lentils, chilli flakes and hey presto you have a wonderful and fragrantly delicious meal. I added a large handful of fresh spinach tonight when it was nearly done. Yum and cheap as chips. Continue reading