Blackberries and a Baby

The man with the two lovely collies and the equally lively yellow Labradot told me there were damsons at the end of the path. 'Some are very big,' he asserted. But although I followed you he path I found no damsons. I did gather my fourth box of blackberries, and had I had more containers I could have gathered yet more.

Quite a lot of the smallest container, about half I reckon, I have already enjoyed for pudding after lunch. A lunch which featured a poached egg. I bought the egg this morning and it was still warm from the hen. Although I do not think I want to live in the depths of the country, car culture is one of my main objection, there are compensations. My neighbour having, though with the best of intentions, killed my thyme plant, I have bought another. I have freshly picked spinach and salad. Janet Eggs is reserving some eggs for me to take home with me tomorrow. Das Boot is brightened by a bunch of sunflowers.

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Of Obituaries, Donations, and Family Heirlooms

Well. Quite a day.
Cousin arrived home with a copy of the Guardian while I was waiting for the water to heat so I could have a less than bracing shower. We found Mother’s obituary, and most visitors to the house have sat and read it.
Last week, I left a message with the Linen Hall Library about our grandmother’s autograph book. The person I needed to speak to was on leave, but he called me today and we arranged to meet in the afternoon. That was after we had sorted out the slight misunderstanding that it was an autograph book and not an autographed book I was talking about.
He had brought a couple of autograph books from the collection contemporary with ours. We had been thinking it something pretty special, and while he admired the pen and ink drawings I felt as though my homework was being checked. He checked each page, looking, he explained, for signatures of the famous. Continue reading

Top Post

A little while ago GillyGee tagged me. One of her questions asked, which was your most popular post?
I didn’t know, and I didn’t know where to look, but other people seemed able to answer the question, so I guessed it must be somewhere on WordPress.

I had a strong suspicion it would be this post, and I was right.

Rather disturbingly, drowning kittens and puppies features prominently in the searches that have led others to my page.

I am not sure what they think, when they find a poem and a family story.

Replay: Snow Afloat

This is turning into three post Sunday. Yesterday I reposted something from Janaury 2010 on my old blog. This is the post from the following day. It’s even more appropriate now as it snowed here overnight.

Boats covered in the white stuff under a clear blue sky in early morning. A Photographer’s Dream.

Snow was not forecast. Minus one centigrade does not mean snow.

I slept extremely well. Warm and cosy under my flannelette quilt cover. Until Cat woke me up because he was hungry. It was about four in the morning. I looked out of the window at next door’s boat and thought it looked a bit fuzzy. That bothered me, so I kept on looking and it gradually dawned on my sleepy brain that it was ice and snow that interrupted the outline.

I went back to bed. Continue reading

Replay: Afloat in Winter

This is a post from two years ago. The weather was very cold, just as it is today. I was on das Boot with Cat.

The forecast for tonight is -1°C, and it’s always colder on the water. So I came with 20 litres of diesel so I could start the engine and charge the battery and have hot water, and run the heating system.
Traffic was dreadful. It took me an hour and a half to get out of London. Still, I arrived in time to unpack the car and be on board in time to listen to the News Quiz while I wrestled with the new electric blanket, so it was ok.
I was nice and warm from my exertions, so it seemed a good moment to add the diesel and mark each extra 5 litre on the dipstick , aka a garden cane. Continue reading

Replay: Van the Man

I repost these oldies from MyT in no particular order, This one is from November 2009 and I had been on the boat. I had evidently been chatting with Brendan, whose blog I have been neglecting recently, about Van Morrison. The man is a genius. I doubt if I’ll ever be asked onto Desert Island Discs, but I reckon Astral weeks would be the album I would want to take with me.

 I didn’t get to connect Friday, but am home and online now.

Maybe there’s a secret to it t to which I am not privy, but getting out of London on a Friday afternoon is always a nightmare. I have to travel less than seventy miles so why should the journey take nearly three and a half hours?
OK, I hate motorways, and even if I didn’t ,they are impractical given Cat’s travel sickness record. Believe me, when your car smells of cat sick and the animal responsible is crying loudly you want to be able to stop quickly and clean up, not count the miles until the next exit. But the first of my traffic problems were well before any motorway was in sniffing distance. Near gridlock in SE16.
How come so many people are free to travel in the afternoon? They can’t all be like me, part employed/part freelance can they? And was today really National Bad Driving Day, or did it just feel like ir?
Fortunately Cat slept soundly all journey apart from when I stopped for the loo and to get some food shopping..
The radio was tuned to Radio Two. It was the Steve Wright show. Normally I can’t stand then man . His continued success is a complete mystery to me, but he was playing some good tunes today and had interesting guests. But after a while I couldn’t bear listening to him anymore and , thanks to last night’s ‘conversation’ with Brendano, I had a couple of Van Morrison CDs with me. Well, more than a couple actually. And as I type I’m continuing to listen to him. And he’s glorious,
The marina is pretty empty tonight so I’m hoping no one has heard me when I have felt the need to sing along,. Because Van is a Genius. Deliberate capital G. not a typo. Moody and unpredictable ,as anyone who has been to see him live will know, but an undeniable Genius. And when you do go to see him live, .it’s part of the evening’s excitement and entertainment, not knowing whether he will be Van the Performer or Van the Sulky Bear who hides at the back of the stage barely acknowledging the audience.
So tonight I’ve been singing and dancing and remembering just how good and how wide his range is. Listening to tracks old and new and hearing how his voice has changed, and how he has continually explored and experimented. And I feel amazingly lucky that his career has spanned my life from his Them days onwards – oh Gloria!. I am so struck by the integrity of his music and the way it connects at such a visceral level. Straight to the guts and heart,
And Madame George comes on and I know I am alive, and I’m glad!
The connection tonight is dreadful, so if I manage to post this it’ll be an achievement in itself. In case that’s all I manage to do, goodnight all.

Replay: March 2009 This Boat Belongs to Cat

This was originally posted on MyT.
MARCH 7TH, 2009 23:08
Boating companionship

The Cat and I left London mid-morning and had a quiet journey. It would have been earlier except Cat, correctly guessing a car journey was on the cards, decided on evasion, and it was only be pretending complete indifference that I lured him close enough to me to catch.

He threw up a hundred yards short of the marina, which made for a slightly stressful arrival. But once on board, he’s been a star. Now that people are returning to their boats with the promise of spring, we’ve had social calls, rather than professionals checking out the loo/batteries/fridge etc. Cat has purred and welcomed, then stretched out over three-quarters of the seating and slept.

Last night he woke me with fearful howls. I leapt out of bed, convinced he was in dreadful pain, to find him defending das Boot from an uninvited visitor, one of the feral cats from the colony at the nearby farm. I hope he doesn’t do it again tonight, but I can’t help thinking this means he’s decided this is his boat and he’s happy here.

Replay: Christmas 2008

These were originally four posts over on MyT. It’s funny re-reading them. It seems such a long time ago, yet it’s only two years! Wow.

Christmas Afloat
Well, we finally made it. It’s Christmas Eve, and the Cat and I are preparing for our first night on board Das Boot. The Cat is asleep on the bed in the aft cabin and snoring, so presumably he’s accepted the situation. It’s taken several hours, some grooming with his new Christmas brush, and a bowl of prawns to achieve this harmony. At first he wanted to investigate outside but when I lifted him up and he realised he was surrounded by water he had very rapid second thoughts and spent the next couple of hours cowering under a stool. There’s been a Feliway thingy plugged in for the last two weeks as recommended by the Telegraph vet. It’s supposed to make cats feel zen, so that has helped too.
The sunset was beautiful and the only sound was of the lone angler casting his line over the water. As a contrast with my London address it couldn’t get much greater. There were a few people around earlier, illustrating beautifully just what messing about in boats means. Then the angler. Now all have gone, so it’s just me and the Cat. No car stereos booming out the beat, no frazzled parents struggling with kids and shopping, no raucous early evening drunks. No hot water either. The battery is flat despite being on charge for a couple of hours two weeks ago. No charged battery means no hot water without boiling kettles. So the floor is up in the forward cabin, so that the battery can be on charge.
I’ve attached the new bow fender, filled bottles with fresh water for drinking, had my first meal on board, put up the fairy lights and discovered the bathroom light doesn’t work. It’s a good thing I’m not scared of spiders as there are generations of them here. Due to the battery situation I haven’t had much opportunity to get to grips with housework in the forward cabin, so they are still in residence there. Some are quite beautiful. For all I know there’s a host of spiders who only live on boats. The aft cabin spiders are now on the pontoons for the night, or maybe they’ve managed to get themselves a billet on another boat. I saw an earwig too, but didn’t manage to scoop it up in my duster in time so for the moment it has a reprieve.
I still can’t get the fridge to work. It runs on gas, and there may be a valve somewhere I need to turn, but the whole thing is so cramped it’s like playing a game of Twister. You have to hold on the fuel while repeatedly hitting the ignite button and trying to see if the pilot light is coming on at the bottom of the fridge. It might be okay for someone about two feet high. I’ll give it another go in a while, but I think the gunwale will have to double as a larder overnight and if I want anything out of the bag I’ll just have to reach the window. I think I’ll survive.
Merry Christmas!
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