Another Enchanted Evening

I am hoping MasterB will come and join me on the foredeck, then maybe venture ashore while it is still light and sunny. There's no one around. I can't even see any geese or cows in the field next door, though birds are singing and insects drone as they fly by me.

It has been a gorgeous day, perfect July weather, mid 20s degrees C, though it felt hotter this afternoon and I revised my plan to sit out here and stayed with MasterB in the rear cabin. That was a bit of a revelation. I don't usually spend much time looking out of the back of the boat when we are in the marina. It's perfect for bird watching. Birds were swooping about, skimming over the water to catch insects. The swallows were silent and graceful, but there was another bird in significant numbers that made splashy noisy contact with water. It had a forked tail and the same sort of wings as swallows, but was much bigger, and white with a black head. I reached for my bird book, the one I keep saying I am going to replace, wondering if there was a type of swallow I had never heard of. That would be eminently possible as an ornithologist I am not. But I think it's a Tern, a type of gull. I don't recall seeing them here before, at least not in such large numbers, which is another argument for an up to date bird book.

Before the day warmed up I did some boat cleaning. Armed with the water pump, the hose, an old toothbrush and an even older J cloth, I washed slime from the port side of the boat. My goodness it was dirty. I think I jet hosed it last summer, but you'd never have guessed. I had intended to do some jet washing today as well, to clean the stuff that stops me slipping and sliding on the gunwale, but the slime removal took longer than I expected, and when I went inside it was evident MasterB was not happy. For starters he had thrown up all over the but of carpet that sits in front of the sink. Another thing to wash.

So I curbed my enthusiasm, unplugged and disconnected everything, left them on the gravel to drain and dry while I showered. When I went to put them away a few hours later I found them boiling with ants, flying ants. Today is evidently the day when ants sprout wings, and the spot they were doing it here was in front of my boat. They have all dispersed now and the evening is left to dragonflies, bees butterflies and other things I can't name. Leaping fish make loud splashes, there's a bird that has been calling all day that sounds like a phone alarm. Goodness knows what that is. Every now and then cows I can't see low from the other side of the river.

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Not a Bad Life

As timing goes, it was pretty good. I'd been back on dasBoot rather less than thirty seconds after a longish (in terms of time rather than distance) walk with my camera when the heavens parted and there was a brief but determined shower of rain. Now it's shaping up to be another lovely evening.

 

Today I had decided to write. Some of you will now that a few years ago I started a collection of short stories about the Greek gods. These grew until I had around 18,000 words and I realised I was writing a novel. Lots of things happened at the same time: Mother's death and its aftermath, giving up my salaried part-time job and going completely freelance, Aunt beginning to fail. I think these things contributed to the cessation of my Greek gods stories, but the main reason was feeling I needed to structure what I had written, to think about what the point if the stories was. I stopped enjoying them and stopped writing them.

 

However, they have stayed with me. From time to time I have wondered how Hera is getting on, if her walking boots are still conker bright; if Hades and Persephone have managed the makeover of the Underworld; if Zeus has seen even a glimpse of the light regarding his behaviour; and how Poseidon and Amphitrite's business is going. I have wondered what Max and Dr Jones are up to, if Evangelia has moved to another job, if the Goddesses'Guild is thriving. Continue reading

AWOL

The sun is shining, pigeons call in the woods, birds I can't identify cheep and call, it's otherwise quiet and beautiful. Dark clouds scud across the sky from time to time and few drops of soft rain fall. Enough to make me bring my bedding back on board.

Earlier in an inattentive moment, I put a bottle of water on my bed temporarily while I moved things around. Then I forgot about it. The top was not secure. And by the time I remembered it, one corner of my quilt was very wet. Fortunately the day has been windy as well as mild, and it is more or less dry now, but I really don't want to risk it getting a soaking.

Not that I intend to go to bed just yet, though last night I put on my pyjamas and went to sleep around nine o'clock. With one thing and another, mainly being out with Older Nephew in the afternoon, and scrubbing boat covers in the morning, I was pretty tired. MasterB was, I hoped, sufficiently stimulated by his boat trip, walled in by cushions in a citadel in the fore cabin, to sleep.

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In Praise and Recognition of Pets

Watching a fascinating programme about immigration and its history in the UK. I missed the beginning as the signal was poor, but now I have moved the aerial and balanced it on a box means I have a good picture.

One of the things I enjoy about television on das Boot is how in this small space I can watch it while washing up, cooking, stowing the stuff I have brought abroad.

While I ate (a spicy curry with brown rice since you ask) I watched the Supervet. One of the owners, whose active puppy Noel described as a box of frogs, spoke about how much she loved her puppy, Nala. How Nala was more than she had expected.

Oh how I understand. On the road, when MasterB made the occasional complaint, I examined why I bring him to das Boot, when he so obviously believes car travel is over rated. The fact is das Boot is so much nicer when he is with me. And not just das Boot. Home is so much nicer when he is there. Life is so much better when MasterB is there.

He is affectionate, a moderately good listener, beautiful, funny, playful. He improves my life beyond measure. All loved pets do. To non pet lovers, this may sound crazy, deluded, maybe even sad, proof of impoverished lives where humans fail to make significant relationships with other humans.

Except that it has proved over and over again that pet owners are happier and healthier, that we connect not only with our animals but with others of our own species.

It has been hot in London the last few days. Fortunately much cooler today. As is our wont, Octavia and I ate together on Sunday night. We enjoyed the warm evening and dined in her small courtyard garden. The Grey Ninja lay on the wall. Her paws lifted to the skies. The very picture of a cat on a hot brick wall. If only I had had my big camera with me (a lament I may repeat over the next few days at das Boot as I am already regretting only bringing my point and shoot).

Octavia called to her. I wish we had been filming this. Her hot cat spread the toes of one paw in response. Fabulous. My own hot cat, the Ginger Ninja, slept on his back with his front legs stretched out like skis. His appetite flagged; he cried to me to turn the heat down; he wanted to stay in the garden late at night when I wanted him in. Continue reading

The Many, Not the Few

In today's Guardian, I learned that “Donald Trump has told Theresa May in a phone call he does not want to go ahead with a state visit to Britain until the British public supports him coming.”

What a relief. Cancel the banquets, stand down the riot police, put the placards away. Business as usual, as Theresa May might say. Though how much longer her words will have an audience wider than her nearest and dearest is a subject bookmakers are assessing as I write.

Having held an election she did she was not going to have, to get an endorsement for hard Brexit and to do things she has not deemed the electorate sufficiently grown up to be told, Mrs May finds herself with a reduced number of Tory MPs, yet bizarrely seems to think that she can go on being PM nod acting as though the country has not just given two fingers to her plans for continued austerity and a hostile relationship with the rest of the EU.

The Tories like to paint themselves as the fiscally responsible party. I don't know how much it costs to hold a General Election, but it's obviously more than a few quid. Now the rumours are we could have another before the end of the year. Couldn't we spend the money on something else, the NHS springs to mind, and just ditch the right wing, nationalist agenda and revert to being annoying members of the EU?

For all I know, that is exactly what is happening. I am at das Boot for few days, listening to birds, not the news, planning an early night with MasterB who has already commandeered the bed. I thought he wanted to go out a little while ago, so put on an old sweat shirt jacket and discovered the mice have used most of the right pocket for nest making. I wondered where the soft green stuff had come from. We spent about five minutes ashore before he headed back to das Boot. I am hoping this will not herald a disturbed night.

It's a beautiful evening. No one else is here. We have the skies, the water and the birdsong to ourselves. The cuckoo has just stopped calling; swifts and swallows skim the water eating insects. The bats are flying by the trees.

On Friday I met my cousin Russell for a walk in the countryside near his home in Hampshire. I have been meaning to post pictures ever since. We have both been voting Green for the last I don't know how long, and that discovery of shared beliefs has helped underpin our new relationship as older adults. It also helps that he is now vegetarian, as are his wife and their two children. We were both fairly glum about the election when we arranged to meet a few weeks back, but just as the mice have nibbled at my pocket, so Jeremy Corbyn has nibbled away at the expected Tory landslide, so now we have a hung parliament. It's a strange thing to celebrate, but we are. My liver is going to rebel at some point soon.

Our grins when we met on the station platform were wider than those of a wide mouthed toad. We hugged each other and decided that lunch would be a celebratory feast, even though we were in a part of the country where as Russell put it a bit too graphically, they'd vote for a turd if it was painted blue.

And feast we had. The chef may have been Tory, I don't know, but s/he made a mean lunch. A lunch we enjoyed after several miles of green and luscious countryside as we discussed the election and its result.

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Marina Evening

My recycling bag after a few days at das Boot suggests Bacchanalian evenings, and massive fruit consumption. The fruit consumption would be about right. I was reading and nibbling at a newly washed bunch of grapes this evening, only to realise suddenly I had eaten the lot. The impressive number of empty wine bottles is rather more deceptive. I brought two almost empty ones from London. Or rather one almost empty one (it turned out to have barely enough to cover the bottom of the glass), and one somewhat less than half full. Those are the two empties in the recycling. Then there are two lager cans, so I feel quite justified in quaffing a glass of Chianti tonight, toasting the evening and das Boot, wishing I could stay on and didn't have to return home tomorrow.

Geese are flying overhead in a V formation, noisily talking as they go. The cuckoo has stopped singing. But the swifts and swallows are swooping about, grazing the surface of the water, munching the numerous insects. The light is fading from the sky, leaving streaks of pale blue and silver tinged with pink. Only three weeks to mid summer and the evening is long and warm.

I'd post pictures, but Blogsy seems strangely reluctant to allow them, so it's all prose when afloat until I can work out what that's about. I'll try including one that has seen the light of blog before and see if that works.

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Where I am Now

I am sitting with my feet up having a pre dinner lager. MasterB is having some zzzs. We are at das Boot. How often do I start a post saying where I am I wonder. Quite often I think, and that's quite in the British sense rather than the US sense, so if you are from across the pond, read it as fairly often.

It's a warm evening, I have the windows open. Birds are singing. Someone is speaking quite loudly and his voice carries across the still water. There is virtually no wind. When we arrived md-afternoon after a chat with Janet Eggs a mile or so short of the marina, the place was full of cars, and people were walking up and down. MasterB meowed and I left him in the car with the doors and windows open, but confined to his cat basket while I removed boat covers, turned on electrics and started the engine.

I let him out of his basket then. The people had dispersed. After sitting in the well in front of the car seat while I lifted bags out of the boot, he climbed out onto the grass. Then he had little sniff around, and made towards where I had my stuff piled into the the little trolley. I thought we were about to both move to das Boot, but suddenly someone appeared and MasterB retreated under the car, out of my reach. I kept ferrying stuff to the boat, returning to sit cross legged on the grass near the car and trying to encourage him out. It looked as though he was ready for a long stay.

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Copybook Cat

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.

I hope.

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Sunday

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.

Quiet river

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.

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