When Celia and I looked at the weekend’s photos while afloat I offered to copy them all onto a USB for her, including the many of MasterB on shore leave. She severely blotted her copybook by saying she might not need all of MasterB’s pictures. I believe my disapproval was apparent.
If you look at these, a mere sample, you will, I’m sure, agree with me.
Stepped out of the cabin
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
What’s in the water?
Checking out the lie of the water
Older Nephew arrived be times on Sunday and we stood looking at the trees and shrubs moving energetically, and feeling the sway of das Boot beneath our feet. But other souls were out on the river, and I'd added ten more litres of fuel to the tank, so off we set, destination Ely, to collect Celia who was arriving by train in the early evening. We met more boats than last time; mainly hire boats being driven too quickly, Toads of the river to our sensible Rattys, leaving bumpy swells in their wake which made it feel like we were moving over stones.
MasterB amazed me by miaowing and then joining us in the fore cabin for much of the journey. He seemed a bit surprised to see the scenery moving past him, but coped admirably. To date he has been under pillows or blankets for the duration of all boat journeys undertaken.
We texted Celia to report our progress, she confirmed she was on the train. Older Nephew who is a less than secret anorak about some things, turned out to have downloaded the details of her journey, and at intervals announced which part of the country she would be in. She's just arriving at Cambridge now he said as the empty green river banks became busy with people and buildings.
Once moored up, I sent another text with instructions from the Cutter Inn, our agreed rendez-vous, to das Boot, but Older Nephew suggested we walk to the station in case Celia got lost. We stopped MasterB from taking a spell of shore leave, locked up and strolled by the water.
Scoping out the marina
A train that wasn't Celia's arrived from Cambridge and I recognised one of the passengers who got off. So the three of us were deep in chat when I saw a familiar figure walk swiftly past us. Celia! I said, and made the introductions.
Will Blogsy be kind tonight? I don't know. I hope so, but the internet signal goes from weak to disappeared so maybe not.
For the record, it's Saturday night. I am sitting in the forecabin with a blanket over my legs and I am warm and cosy. MasterB is on the bed where he has spent most of the day after being extraordinarily vocal for extraordinarily long amounts of time during the night.
I slept in once he allowed me to sleep at all.
He has had shore leave, two lots in fact. One he decided quite quickly he wanted to get back on board, the other he was looking increasingly confident, had just dug a shallow hole and squatted down when a couple approached from the far end of the marina. I thought they were heading for a car, but no they continued towards us, presumably going to the pub a mile or so away. MasterB lowered himself to his belly and scuttled back to the boat and the indoor facilities.
Earlier I went to the organic farm and bought some salad. There wasn't much in the shop. An architect called Colin who I met in the car park explained the lack of rain has held growth back. He started the conversation by asking me if I came there often, a cliché so hackneyed I wasn't sure what he meant. It turns out he helps at the farm once a week and is married. By some curious chemistry we quickly devined each other as non Tory Remainers. That's how I came to stand in the April sunshine for a good thirty minutes clutching the money I still owed to the shop's honesty box while we agreed on almost everything. There was a sticky moment when he asked if the Daily Mail was my newspaper. To dignify the Mail by calling it a newspaper is several steps too far in my book.
I know; I don't blog for days then suddenly you can't stop me. Tonight I am at das Boot. I'll stay until Tuesday, maybe Wednesday if I have enough clean clothes. I've checked the number of contact lenses I have but not my socks.
Tonight when I stood watching the swans and geese in the adjoining field and MasterB sniffing at a lavender bush, content ed and relaxed until another boater called out to a friend and he slunk back to the pontoon and on board, I thought it was our little bit of heaven. Then a moment ago, Himself came and climbed on me, touched my nose with his, purred and then settle to look at the night and things I cannot see, and I realised that much as I love das Boot, it is just a boat unless MasterB is here; then we are captain and mate, happy in our little floating home for home.
I met up with Sophie Scott in London a few days ago. She's a fellow blogger who has rather fallen by the wayside. She first commented on my blog several years ago, maybe six or seven years, at this time of year, my birthday, and I read her words sitting where I am now, in the fore cabin of das Boot. She is one of several bloggers I have met, and probably the one who is most intimately acquainted with the tough time I was having for several years. Years when blogging took on a greater personal significance. Years when blogging and photography were means to achieve balance in my life. Continue reading
A good thirty minutes before I have achieved my eight hours and I am in a light sleep. I hear the the rigorous scratching of the sisal covered post in the sitting room. MasterB is up and doing his morning exercises. A brief silence where I hope he has hopped onto the window sill to review the street, then from the region of the bedroom door an imperious miaow. The call for breakfast.
Despite my most obstinate non-responses to these morning interruptions to my slumbers, MasterB has tumbled to the fact that brutish, brattish and bullying behaviour often reaps results. Either he compares notes more effectively with the neighbouring felines than I think, or he has been following political posturing on both sides of the pond when I sit down to watch Channel 4 news. Continue reading
Last year's hanging basket has kindly come to life again with no effort from me other than irregular watering. Despite it being April, which you'll remember in the rhyme is the month associated with showers, and we're not talking personal hygiene here, this April rain in any form has been notably absent. Which makes me nervous for May, associated with flowers and my birthday. I am wondering if some new intern at heaven's weather station has seen the flow part of flowers and mistaken it for a month of gross inundation. The forecast is for frost next week, maybe even snow. I may have a stay at home birthday, and the mice will get a temporary reprieve on das Boot.
So make the most of these pix of the season while you can.
It occurred to me that anyone reading the final sentence of my last post might think I would prefer a dog to MasterB.
So here’s the plan: reach Birmingham by eleven, find the tourist information office for a map and find out how far away the hospital is; look for a (self) guided walking tour; visit the museum to see the Staffordshire Hoard; return London by the afternoon train.
Of course it may not work out like that. Maybe I’ll have jettisoned this plan by the time I leave the station, and instead allow my nose to lead me, and wander the city’s streets and squares.
My return to the Midlands just over a week since the sortie to Coventry is thanks to some special offers on trains which Viv of the book group circulated. I shan’t have a lot of time, hence the plan.
You might be thinking I am going to visit someone in hospital. No, I’m not. It’s the buildings I want to see; specifically the older buildings, the ones that were there on the 1940s when Mother arrived to take an entrance exam that would allow her to train as a nurse. I understand that part of the hospital was originally the workhouse, and that there is an archway, unlisted that is threatened with demolition. Maybe it has already gone.
We never visited Birmingham. Although Mother had many fond memories, I don’t know that she ever returned. The closest I have been is a ride around Spaghetti Junction enough route to somewhere I don’t recall when I was a teenager. Continue reading
Crumbs, Friday already, just the weekend and then I fly home. Mind, I should be back in five weeks to enjoy a weekend of culture at the Heaney Homeplace with Cousin’s friend Ann. I have booked my flights this morning, and am texting and whatsapping to arrange cat care for my boy.
Last night we went to see Cousin’s brother, my cousin Tom, who has just retired as a church minister. He and his wife have their hands full packing up the contents of a house that has been home for some twenty years, finding somewhere new to live and visiting their eldest son daily in the hospital where he has been for nearly five months.
Tom was keen to offer me sets of books he will no longer have room for, or maybe I’d like the imposing and very fine sideboard his father thought would be perfect in a rectory. It wasn’t just the fact that the luggage allowance on Easyjet precludes such items that made my refusal more prompt than diplomatic; my own home is full to bursting.
The new house sounds promising, but it needs a lot of attention. Keep your fingers and toes crossed that the deal goes through quickly and the most disruptive work can be done before they move in. Retired Church of Ireland clergy do not get magnificent pensions, and this particular cleric has been giving his money to good causes for years.
So our talk ranged through family memories, Young Tom’s anticipated move to the Brain Injury Unit to begin his rehabilitation, removing polystyrene tiles from ceilings and the merits of plasterboard, whether their two cats may move to the country and live at Cousin’s while their dog (don’t stroke her, she may try to bite you) will move with them.
Back on the bus to Belfast. It would be fun to continue in this alliterative way, but the people I'm meeting have names that begin with F and J.
Fiona, known to WordPress readers as Speccy, and I have met once before by the Europa bus station. That was a summer's day. It's February now, and chill winds whistle and find unprotected gaps in clothing, seeking out the spaces between glove and sleeve, sneaking down the back of a collar and testing the advertised thermal qualities of underwear.