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, 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, 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, le 14 juillet 2020

It seems only right to have some French in the heading tonight as, quiet though it is here on the fens, across France there will be feux d’artifice in front of crowds much thinner than usual.

This again will be a quick, short post. It is passed my bedtime, but the neighbours and I had a good old chat and then MasterB went ashore. I was there too at the other end of his lead. We were out for about and hour. There was a lot of sitting. Also a fair amount of grass eating which I hope is not followed in the small hours by fur ball production. Right now he is climbing behind me to look out at the night. Bats were flying about, lots of birdsong, and a bird of prey which may or may not have been an owl, but I’m going to hope it was. Earlier I saw a marsh harrier.
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The Coronavirus Diaries, 13th July 2029

It’s raining. It started as a few drops, and then gathered up some energy and drizzled in a rather lazy, lackadaisical way. Presumably a new rain supervisor came on shift as now it is showing much more discipline. I am rather enjoying it, except the windows have steamed up as I am cooking. Curry if you’re interested, and still curry even if you’re not. I can see the sky is light and bright not far away, so I suspect shortly it will be a beautiful evening.

I am at das Boot. I left rather later than planned as Ahmad was delayed getting to the shop. I saw his brother who was waiting for him too. He was far more relaxed than I was about the shop being closed. Ahmad had the keys. I went home and tried once more to get Photos to talk to me and Resize Pro to talk to Photos. By some miracle it worked, so I sent another message to Ahmad saying I was fine, and off we set.

The journey out of London was just like old times, slow and, in parts, very slow. Despite not having any coffee with my breakfast I had to make use of the facilities at Tesco. The weather was warm and sunny. As we reached East Anglia it became cloudy and the wind turbines were spinning in the fields harvesting lots of lovely clean energy.

Janet had left eggs for me, so I put the money in the honesty box and a few minutes later we arrived at the marina. I did the usual routine of leaving MasterB in his carrier in the shade of a tree, the windows and the boot open for ventilation. I went backwards and forwards collecting bags. I seem to have brought a lot of food. When the bed was made up I thought Himself could leave the car. He did too.
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