Some Photos from the Weekend

I didn’t take a huge number of pictures this weekend. Here are some, in no particular order, that might give you an idea how it was. Predictably there are quite a few of MasterB, my faithful company at das Boot.

A tough life

Preparing for disembarkation

Boat line up

Calves

Checking his breath

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The End of the Weekend

After a glorious day the wind is picking up. MasterB and I have had a little amble around a marina that is suddenly deserted. All but two of the cars have gone. The birds are singing still, though the cuckoos have gone silent. The cows have moved with their babies to the far end of their field. It’s still light, but sunset can’t be far off.
We’ve enjoyed a two and a half day break from the Smoke, arriving on Saturday evening and heading home tomorrow. Older Nephew came over yesterday and we set off promptly, surprised to find so little traffic on the river on such a warm sunny day. As we passed through Ely we realised that lots of boaters were just moored up and soaking up the rays. Beer and wine seemed to feature quite prominently, so we decided to join in and open the rather lovely bottle of red that Octavia had brought with her a month ago but which we had not drunk.
We saw the usual crop of birds, swans, geese, a heron, great crested grebes, and something I think was a female reed bunting.
It was all very relaxed, quite lazy, and thoroughly enjoyable. We ate, we drank, we listened to podcasts of old comedy shows, we talked. MasterB joined us eventually in the fore cabin. We’ve got the hang of making him a cushion citadel now so he feels secure, and I sat beside him, one hand in his fur most of the time. Continue reading

Captain’s Log: Tuesday’s Child

I am so happy. I thought this a moment ago, and it felt so good I decided to make it the first sentence of tonight’s post. It’s not the wine talking, though I have just poured a glass of Frascati as an aperitif.

I don’t think the way I have chosen to spend my birthday matches many people’s idea of a celebratory day, but it has worked for me. I woke early, got a good morning cuddle from MasterB and then I drifted off to sleep again. The sun was up, the skies were blue, the wind was cold. I headed for the shower and towelled myself briskly to Ward of hypothermia. Then to the car and a trip down the road to Janet Eggs who I had texted last night. No eggs. I considered, then sent her a text saying I was outside. She appeared, still in her pyjamas and invited me into her kitchen. She was sent home from work yesterday after being sick, and has to stay at home today. It was lovely. We stood and talked, looking out at her garden. I showed her the WhatsApp messages Older Nephew and Octavia had exchanged regarding wine for Sunday and she approved, one of these days she’ll come to das Boot. Whether she’ll bring Squidge, her standard poodle, depends on whether MasterB is aboard or not. And the likelihood is, he will be. I returned to das Boot with a box of the freshest laid and had my second egg of 2018. Delicious.yes, I would give them up if no happy pet hens were in my life, indeed I have, hence this being only the second egg of 2018.

Day three, and MasterB’s at home. I don’t think he’d necessarily need a cushion citadel were we to go out on the river tonight. He’s not keen on the engine noise, so reading about hybrid electric/diesel boats made my heart beat faster. Maybe I have won the lottery. Maybe Older Nephew will have an Aston Martin for his 40th birthday. Maybe the moon is made of green cheese.

Then I headed for MIldenhall, but obviously I had to go to the farm at Reach where I bought two tomato plants and a kale plant, some fresh salad and some organic rhubarb. Next stop, Freckenham. It is the asparagus season. I bought two bunches, one for me, one for Octavia. Finally Mildenhall where I took the wrong turning for the cemetery and was on my way to Thetford. Fortunately there was a place to turn, so I turned. The chrysanthemum I had planted on the stone marking where Dad’s ashes were buried has gone. Aunt’s grave had a good smattering of healthy plants and a stretch of bald earth. I went back to the town and bought petunias and French marigolds which I duly planted and watered. Older Nephew is going to water them in a week or so, so for once, I am not praying for fine weather. Continue reading

Captain’s Log: Monday

Tomorrow, as well as being my birthday, is the fifth anniversary of Mother’s death. Clearing out some papers a couple of weeks ago I found a letter sent by a friend I have known since we were both five. She sent it just before Christmas 2013, and I imagine it must have been contained in a Christmas card. In the letter she commented on the fact that Mother’s death and my birthday happened on the same day, and remarked that for me this is a time of year when the space between heaven and earth will be particularly thin. It certainly feels like it today.

Although tomorrow is the anniversary of her death, today is the anniversary of the last time I saw Mother alive. And on and off today I have felt waves of emotion, reliving some of the memories of that day, and other memories of very different times. I’m sure part of the reason for this is that I am at das Boot where I stayed as she lay dying and for for several days afterwards, and also that I was with Older Nephew yesterday so family feelings got stirred up with the pair of us reminiscing about Mother’s wonderful baking repertoire. For the most part we had different favourites, but we were united in loving the marmite whirls she would make from scraps of left over savoury pastry. Heaven. Continue reading

Captain’s Log: Sunday

I wrote this last night,but could not post as I had no internet. Surprisingly,this morning, which is wild,cold and wet, I’m able to get online. I hope it lasts and I may be able to post again later.

Well, we had a lovely day. Not the weather; that was resolutely grey, threatening, and occasionally delivering, rain, cold, and generally sulky. But Octavia made her first trip to das Boot and on it, with Older Nephew piloting, me on coffee, washing up and other Anneish activities as in the Famous Five. It is my boat after all, so it is only right and proper that I should be the chief wielder of duster, wet wipe, and wearer of rubber gloves.

We drank an impressive amount of alcohol while still remaining coherent and relatively sober. What that says about our livers I don’t know, and I’m not sure I want to know. MasterB, who had been distressed during parts of the car journey, voiding his bladder and bowels somewhere near Bow, spent most of the journey to the pub, The Shippe at Brandon Creek, where we enjoyed a very late but satisfactory lunch, under the pillows in the rear cabin. On the journey back to the marina he was keener to be near us, albeit hidden from view in a citadel of cushions in the fore cabin. Continue reading

Just One Picture

Could there be a more perfect view?

Slieve Gallion (1,737ft)

In the past I’ve walked up it when I used to take part in the Sperrins hillwalking festival. Nowadays I look at it when I do the regular walk with Westie Boy when I stay at Cousin’s. Aunt Ella’s funeral was two weeks ago and I spent two more days in NI, enjoying beautiful spring weather in the countryside. Tonight I booked flights for ten days in NI in August. Continue reading

Maybe I’m a Millionaire

On the way home from a good day out in the Smoke with Celia I bought a copy of the day’s Guardian and a lottery ticket. We’d walked, talked, eaten, been to the British Museum; Celia to the Scythians exhibition, me to look at the Assyrian galleries in greater detail.

The day was colder than I’d thought when I left home. I was glad of the hat I bought in Leigh on Wednesday. Lunch was in a small Korean café in Museum Street called Bimimbab. Delicious. I’ll happily go there again.

Doing the lottery routinely is a relevantly new thing for me. In the past I have bought the occasional ticket; at one place of work I was part of a consortium that never won anything; but buying a ticket every week is a recent development. It has a lot to do with Brexit and my fears for the future. The chances of winning the lottery are extraordinarily remote, but a touch less remote than if I had no ticket. Continue reading

Day Trip to Essex

My first day trip of 2018. It was supposed to be last week, so it would have been 2017, but reconvened as the weather was awful. The day was blowy. Very blowy, but it confirmed my first impressions, made over a decade ago, that Leigh-on-Sea is a very attractive place.

First off, it’s a train from Fenchurch Street Station, so all players of the GB Monopoly board will get a quiet thrill of recognition at that one. The landscape gets wilder and more romantic as you leave London. There are ruins of what look like hall houses, or something too small to be castles and too rugged to be monasteries. Then there’s the coast. Waves sparkling in a silver sea. Admittedly the tone was to my mind lowered by two young women whose conversation indicated that clothes (as opposed to fashion) were their main interest in life. They discussed the various outfits they had worn to various parties over Christmas and New Year. As we neared Leigh-on-Sea where I alighted (to use a verb which is now almost archaic but somehow still current in public transport speak) they were almost orgasmic at the fantasy of Primark offering everything for sale for £3 per item. This was something one of them had dreamed about. I alighted to the words “Just think, I could change my wardrobe every day!”

I was wearing a NorthFace jacket bought in 1999, boots of uncertain vintage, and a roll neck jumper that is at least twenty years old. I think I looked fairly presentable until the wind whipped my hair into something channeling Ken Dodd, but there you are.

Leigh-on-Sea. Essex. Such mixed messages. Essex has a number of parliamentary constituencies, all of them represented by Conservative MPs. Essex voted overwhelmingly for Brexit. Leigh-on-Sea’s MP is David Amess, sound on fox hunting and invading Iraq, much less sound on human rights and Harvey Weinstein. For those of you this side of the pond that will almost certainly have triggered an audible hiss, or you may be staggering backwards clutching at your heart. But remember, Woodford – lovely Woodford – once the seat of Winston Churchill, has returned IDS to Westminster several times. Some things are beyond reason. Pantomime villains must have to work very hard in these places.

I read somewhere, long ago, that Helen Mirren grew up in Leigh. I think politically she’s moved on. And yet. Leigh exerts a pull. It’s a real place. For all the cutesy, quaint and self-conscious prettiness of Old Leigh, it has an authenticity that many other places lack. It is still working, still honest. If only it didn’t have Amess. If only it hadn’t voted Brexit.

Let me try to show you. As you walk from the station this is what you see. A real place, working. No Disneyesque ersatz fishing village.

En route from the station


If like me you are a sucker for sea and boats it gets better. Or worse. It depends on your perspective.

Red

Working


There are pubs. Lots of them. But for some reason I want to call them hostelries. It’s that sort of place.

Ye Olde Smack

Quaint

Lunch venue

Crooked Billet hostelry

It’s one of the most dog friendly places left in the UK.

Good behaviour

Dog friendly beach

Happy

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A Year in the Months, and a Happy 2018

I’m ending the year feeling much better than I anticipated this morning. The cold which I started on Christmas Eve was gazumped midweek by a much more aggressive version which has left me in no doubt that I am not stoic invalid material. As a headache gripped my brow in a rusty vice and left me feeling sick each time I bent down I yearned for my health to be restored so I could enjoy my cat, my home, my life.

Friday was a particularly low day. I went out to work telling myself I’d be fine. My nose ran almost constantly and grew redder and sorer by the minute. I began to feel self-conscious and embarrassed at the number of times I had to blow my nose and find yet another bin to dump a wodge of used hankies. Yuk. I went to bed early, then up betimes yesterday for another day at work. Less nose blowing, but still gripped by the vicelike headache and prone to sudden outbreaks of sustained coughing. However by the afternoon I was convinced I was on the mend. Home via the shop to stock up on more boxes of paper hankies where I realised at least half the local population is in the same boat as I am. I nabbed two of the last three boxes of my favourite brand.

I made myself stay up until half past seven and then climbed gratefully between the sheets where I slept for twelve hours with some interruptions for coughing, nose blowing and glasses of water. I thought I’d be fully rested and on the road to health this morning, but instead I should have gladly turned over and slept some more. MasterB desperately needed time and attention from me and was keen to play. Off I went to work feeling as though my body belonged to someone else somewhere else and my feet were not truly making contact with the ground.

Then magically, mid afternoon, something shifted. I’m still coughing, still blowing my nose rather frequently, but it’s almost eight o’clock and I don’t think I’ll be in bed for at least an hour. I’ve eaten a meal with pleasure rather than out of a sense that I need the sustenance, and I have a glass of wine at hand, my first for nearly a week. Admittedly I’ve not drunk any of it yet, but just looking at it makes me feel more festive. I’ve even lit the candles and decided the Christmas decs can stay up for another day or two. Continue reading

Lasting Impressions

I came home last night and today I’ve working, so it was nice, just now, to look at the photos I took while I was away and relive the moments vicariously.

I am rubbish at photographing birds. I have about six out of focus pictures of a Great Crested Grebe swimming about the marina, and at least six more when I have clicked the shutter as it has dived under water. So although this photo of a Moorhen won’t win any prizes, I am pleased with it.

Moorhen


That’s the ever spreading Pennywort covering the water’s surface by the way. I’m not keen on photos of sunsets either, but there something magical about cooking dinner and looking at this view.

View from the galley

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