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.


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.


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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, 30th July 2020

Gosh I was thirsty by the time I reached home. I had finished my bottle of water thirty minutes into an hour long train ride, then there was another half an hour before I walked through the front door. The bus fortunately came quickly or it could have been longer. I drank a litre of water, glass after glass. I am back on the water now, though I did have some grapefruit juice too. The train was very warm (it’s a warm day and although the train this morning was air conditioned, this evening’s was older rolling stock and the breeze through the window didn’t seem to do a lot. Wearing a mask didn’t help. I really don’t understand how women wear hijabs and niqabs and still manage to look cool, comfortable and even elegant. Don’t get me started on how hot a burkah must be.

I spent a happy couple of hours in Colchester. There are two stations at either end of the town. One called Colchester, which is fairly self explanatory, the other Colchester Town. That one used to be called St Botolph’s as a church dedicated to the Lincolnshire saint stands close by.

St Botolph’s tower

Last time I arrived at the latter station. This time the former. The first couple of hundred yards of my walk into town did not impress. Then I noticed plaques in the pavement giving snippets of information and history. I found the first one just after gazing across the road at this building.

The Railway Mission

Information plaque: Railway Mission

So I trailed happily up the hill reading plaques and dodging other pedestrians. I soon began to recognise sights I had seen before, and to appreciate again what a hotbed of history Colchester is. It’s main claim to fame is that it was the first Roman capital of Britain. But it also has fine Saxon buildings, including Holy Trinity church, a Norman castle, Georgian arcades, and a a whole array of structures to please the most exacting eye.

Holy Trinity tower

But I admit today I was more focused on the shopping. If I were to move to Wivenhoe Colchester would be the nearest large town. Did it have places I could buy the jars of tahini, the olives, the fresh tofu that I’d want. In short, yes. So thumbs up. It also has a large Marks and Spencer, every chain store of note and a host of eating places and open spaces. Continue reading

The Coronavirus Diaries, 17th July 2020

I woke up coughing while it was still dark. My own coughing entered my dreams and then propelled me from sleep. Lockdown may be easing but my first thoughts as I gulped water and then dug out a Strepsil were that I had succumbed to Covid 19. I wasn’t truly reassured until I woke to sunlight with no cough or any other symptoms.

A gorgeous day, but one where das Boot has been plagued by tiny flies. They are very annoying. I have a glass of wine and it has a coaster on top of it not underneath as I don’t want wine with drowned fly. I went to Soham, a town I have driven through but never stopped in. My first impressions were positive. An array of attractive buildings in the High Street, though closer inspection revealed they were mostly cafés and take aways. I wandered down a side street and realised there has been a lot of building in recent years. Not all the new homes are what I would describe as sympathetic. A glance in an estate agent’s window revealed the house prices were so far below those in London as to seem to belong to another planet. I read noticeboards and learned that the railway station which closed years ago is to reopen in 2022. As it is on a branch line I doubt if it will push house prices up enormously, but it was interesting. Briefly Soham featured on my Places I Could Move to if I Left London list. Briefly, because only one person said hello to me. It wasn’t exactly welcoming. I had gone there to see the church where Olaudah Equiano had married Susanna Cullen in 1792. Here it is, a rather wonderful Norman building.

St Andrew’s Soham

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The Coronavirus Diaries, 16th July 2020

Another day, another beautiful animal not photographed. This time a dog called Henry, a black cockerpoo who is more cocker than poo. He was adopted by his current owners after the original couple who had him returned him to the breeder saying they couldn’t cope with him. He likes to bark, and barked at me when he realised I was about twenty yards away from his boat washing the rear cover. His owners came out to shush him and to tell me he was not aggressive. I had already been on the receiving end of a play bow, so I had guessed it was nervousness, not a sign he was about to savage me. He was as skittish as the young calves, but as the owners and I talked he got braver and sniffed at my legs, and then sat down near me. He’s just over a year old, and a real people dog despite the barking. He stole my sponge and rent it into several pieces, investigated my buckets, and just in time I thought to keep my rubber gloves, which I had removed as we talked, out of reach.

I stopped to allow the cover to dry and to make some lunch. When I returned to my task, bringing the front cover, to give it a second scrub he barked at me again. But quickly Henry remembered we had met and decided I was his playmate for the afternoon. He also found the bag of rubbish I had left by my boat and ripped it open, running away with the cardboard insert from the old jar of tahini. It took a while and the production of a stick to get it away from him. The good thing about this interruption was the cover cleaner got to work on some of the stains, and the front cover does look quite a bit better now. Not great, but better. Continue reading

The Coronavirus Diaries, 15th July 2020

I’m starting this post early just in case the evening runs away as it did yesterday. The couple on the neighbouring boat left this morning, but a few more people have arrived and everyone seems very chatty. When I looked at today’s forecast last night it showed 0% chance of rain here today. Something obviously changed as, although I woke to blue skies and sunshine, dark clouds began to gather and there was a deal of light rain this morning. Undeterred I set off with the aim of seeing the water buffalo. Google maps was my guide. However, as I drove down a very familiar road with no signs to anything the voice announced I had reached my destination. I was evidently near, but no cigar as the saying goes. I drove around for a bit, enjoying the views of fields and seeing villages I haven’t driven through since I last went through them with Aunt in 2015.

I returned to base via the farm shop where I got some spinach and tomatoes. I certainly get my fill of fresh fruit and veg when I am here. Keith had arrived. Hs boat is being lifted out tomorrow as he has to do some repairs due an super abundance of weed on the Old West which has clogged up his engines. we talked about my boat covers as he had seen me cleaning the front one when I was here last. Yesterday Dan, son of the marina owners, had suggested steam cleaning them before I reproof them. I was worried they might shrink. Keith thought that was a likely possibility. He disappeared onto his boat which is a very smart one with all accoutrements, and reappeared with a spray bottle of proofer. You can have this, he said. A few minutes later he went back onto his boat and came back with some boat cover cleaner. Try this, he said, apply it undiluted to the most stained patches. So that is what I shall do. But not this afternoon, as it has rained several times and the calf muscle in my left leg is painful. I am sitting with my legs stretched out in front of me, my calves resting on a hot water bottle. Keith’s kindness and generosity have warmed me in other ways.

While Keith and I were talking a group of young calves gathered to watch us. Curious but shy. Two, slightly bolder, approached when we stood at the fence and stopped about a yard from us but became skittish if we moved. Both were very pretty but one had an unfortunate cap of cow manure on his head. Maybe it’s a bovine beauty treatment but somehow I doubt it. They eventually came close enough to sniff my outstretched hand, and one even gave my hand a quick lick. Then they backed away.
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The Coronavirus Diaries, 25th June 2020

Tonight the ducks are back, one strutting in a proprietary sort of way along the gunwale. The other perched at the back of the boat. When one of them flew up to the roof MasterB’s hunter instincts kicked in and he made to chase it. The doors are now shut. I am beside the only window open far enough to allow him out or a duck in. After our stroll last night I was sitting in the forecabin with my book.the lights were on as I thought all the windows were shut. Open windows and lights mean a boat full of flying insects. Not my idea of home comfort. Illoked up to see MasterB sauntering along the gunwale. I had left a window in the aft cabin wide open. Fortunately he responded to my opening the window loop window by coming in to say hello. I rewarded him with biscuits, shut the offending window and tried to still my pounding heart.

At the moment he is sitting on top of the back seating cushion looking out at th field. There aren’t any cows in sight, and now I come to think of it we haven’t seen much of them today, but there is a black bird bobbing about and one of the ducks is being very vocal at varying pitches. It sounds rather like it is practising a scale. The boy is definitely in hunter mode. He has walked stealthily along the top of the seating cushion to beside and above me where the window is open. Nearby some people are enjoying some drinks and we can hear their voices. Normally that’s enough to put MasterB off the idea of shoreleave, but I wonder tonight if he will be bolder.

I was in two minds for most of the day as to whether to go home and avoid being in board for the anticipated storm tomorrow and rain on Saturday. I bought provisions, including a bunch of cornflowers from the farm. That made me think of Aunt as she chose a bunch of them there the last summer of her life. But provisions can travel, and wherever I am I need to eat. As well as shopping at the farm I went to a big supermarket. There was hand gel, signs directing customers around a one way system, reminders to stay apart, but no one seemed that bothered. I think complacency has well and truly set in. This evening, for reasons I shan’t go into here, I decided to stay. If the storm does break over our heads MasterB is going to need a lot of reassurance. Continue reading

The Coronavirus Diaries, 24th June 2020

Forget what I wrote yesterday about needing to do any physical work by eleven. Today by half past nine I was working up a sweat just walking from one end of the boat to the other. MasterB has spent most of the day stretched out on the floor below water level in various locations, mainly where I can see him, but sometimes under a rug. I did two small lots of hand washing, and, using a broom handle as a support, rerigged my washing line, doubling the length of line available, and got everything dry.

Lying in a cool spot

The windows and the door are open, and there is a slight breeze. It’s cooler by the car under the trees, but people walk up and down the path which the boy wouldn’t like, so in solidarity I have spent the day on board with him.

It’s very easy to just sit thinking how hot you are and not get anything done, so I pulled out a file, made some notes and recorded a new podcast. If I can get the internet to play I should be able to upload it this evening. It was a good thing to do. While I worked I was less distracted by the heat. I drank copious glasses of water. Most of my exercise today has been walking backwards and forwards to use the loo in the shower block.

There is still something leaping from time to time, but I never seem to be looking at the spot, I just hear the splash and then see the concentric circles in the water. The fish I can see a re small with red fins. Normally they dart about, but I was watching them a little while ago and they seem to be just hanging in the water, a little below the surface. I am guessing they are enjoying the heat as otherwise they could swim down to the cool mud. They certainly dive when they see my shadow.

Spot the fish

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The Coronavirus Diaries, 2nd June 2020

To be fair the cuckoo’s song is not one that brings joy because of its intricate trills and wide repertoire. It’s the herald of spring and for a number of years I have anticipated hearing it in early May when at das Boot. It is now early June, but I drove here this morning and the first sound I heard when I climbed out of the car to open the gate was a cuckoo. The same or another cuckoo has just been calling again. Are there cuckoos in London? Maybe in parts with woods, but not in my very urban patch, though the dawn chorus is impressive.

It was strange to drive so far from home. Since March everything I have done, everywhere I have been has been local. It was nice to confirm that Stratford and points east still exist. It was a nice drive, as despite various roadworks, a diversion which sent me back in the direction I had come from, and several sets of temporary traffic lights, the traffic was lighter than usual. I had slept well, and later than I had intended, so far from a very early start I didn’t get away until half past ten.

MasterB had to be oiked out from under the bed which involved semi dismantling it and then putting it back together again before we were both strapped in our seats and ready to leave. No worries, I thought, I’ll be there at lunchtime. Which I was. But I was forgetting the boat would be dirty. How did I manage that when I have been talking all week about how I’ll need to clean it. So lunch was delayed. It wasn’t just the cleaning, it was finding that one of my seating cushions had become wet and the cover ruined, that the water wasn’t heating properly despite the engine having run.  Continue reading

The Coronavirus Diaries, 6th April 2020

With my anxiety increasing hourly about finances and conflicting stories about how the government help for those of us who are self-employed circulating, I got down to my tax return. Why can I never get the columns to tally first time? Anyway, I felt I made a fairly good start, and with luck and application I’ll have it finished by the end of the week. Except I always find I have forgotten something, so maybe the end of next week. Hopefully not the end of the week after that.

Totting up columns was interspersed with domestic tasks to give me breaks from sitting in front of a screen and going through files. The bed linen dried quickly, i brought it in from the line, ironed it, put it in the airing cupboard, back to the columns. Lunch was a big treat. Last night’s curry was enhanced with broccoli and cauliflower and served with brown rice. It was good. So was the raspberry flavoured ice lolly I had for pudding.

Then more going through bank statements, filling in columns. When I saw a text from Celia suggesting three thirty as a good time to go for a walk I didn’t hesitate. Yes!!!!!

So off we went. She suggested Vauxhall Park, a destination which would mean we would go down the road with The Car. It wasn’t there. We need to study the photograph for clues as to which driveway it was in. Were they just visiting? Out somewhere today? Was it just a chance in a million it had been there when we had walked by?

Lots more roses today, most of them very fragrant, but I don’t have the power to transmit those smells here. You’ll just have to imagine. I write this blog mainly as a diary for me, maybe if I read this in years to come those fragrances will come back as I look at the pictures.

Pink and yellow

Frothy white

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