the end of the day

I’m working on Monday so it’s back to the Smoke tomorrow. The forecast is for
a hot day, so I’ll try to leave in the morning. The evening might be cooler, but there’ll be lots of traffic with people returning at the end of the weekend.

I’d like to be able to stay on. Stay on until I become restless. Right now, being on the boat with some human contact and some internet access, but not too much of either, suits me down to the ground. I’m hanging out with MasterB. Doing a bit of gentle boat cleaning after the rigours of scrubbing the covers, eating lots of salad, drinking lots of water and a bit of wine. The pace is so slow you might not even realise I was moving. I am very happy to not do very much, to recharge my batteries by vegetating.

For the first time in ages I brought my Lumix camera with me. I haven’t taken many pictures, but just using it again reminds me what a different experience it is to my trusty little Olympus,.

I’d like to stay and let the sights and sounds of summer in the country sink into me, so that the big skies, the scent of lavender, the bees, the pennants moving in the breeze, the squawk of the moorhen, the swan dipping its neck into the sun reflected water, are all filling my senses, so that Brexit, Trump and all the other noise and nonsense dims into insignificance for a while.  Continue reading

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many birds, no pictures

It started with a swan nibbling at the lily pads while I made my breakfast, progressed through the usual array of ducks and geese. I heard more wood pigeons than I saw. The window of the fore cabin was open a smidgin, a gardening cane safe in the gulley to stop a curious cat pushing it wider. The curious cat was going to have a bloody good go though, and I turned from pouring boiled water onto the coffee grounds in their neat, unbleached filter paper to see his head and shoulders were already halfway through. After retrieving him (he wasn’t pleased) I trimmed another gardening cane to a longer length. At this rate I shall have to buy more. I have ordered some other gadgets to restrict how wide the windows open, but they are coming from China and may take some weeks.

Had I not still been in my pyjamas it would have been a good opportunity to let MasterB have some shore leave, but that fact and the as yet uneaten breakfast hardened my heart. There’s cctv here, I don’t really want anyone watching video clips of me in my nightwear.

MasterB retreated under a pillow where he remained until we left the marina in the early afternoon with Older Nephew at the helm, me on ropes, drinks and nibbles, when he joined us in the fore cabin, safely sheltered in his usual cushion citadel. Continue reading

And Another Thing

When I wrote my last blog post I did not know of Theresa May’s announcement that more money, a lot more money, but still not enough, was to be forthcoming for our wonderful NHS. when I finally heard the speech my blood pressure, normally on the low side, soared. It was so full of caveats; the NHS must do this, it must prove that, it must meet the government’s requirements. So, a government that has consistently and cynically starved the NHS, made working conditions in many hospitals and GP practices almost impossible, has relied on the goodwill of staff but never ever rewarded or praised them, now, instead of owning up to the fact it has jeopardised one of the greatest achievements of this country in its entire history, make that the greatest achievement, apologising, holding its hands up and admitting it was wrong – something which would have earned them my respect for a rare moment of honesty in government – it wants to set hurdles. WTF? As for the Brexit bonanza, I don’t believe in fairies at the bottom of the garden and I don’t believe that if we leave the EU we will suddenly receive a substantial windfall of millions.

I have been a teacher. I have been through Ofsted several times, and yes I was rated as an outstanding teacher delivering an outstanding lesson. Ofsted is stressful. You know you are under the microscope. Everything you have written, everything you say, everything you do, is under scrutiny. If this current government were to undergo an equivalent scrutiny I have no doubt it would be in special measures. Continue reading

Delphiniums and Chrysanthemums

I haven’t blogged for days; no, make that weeks. I’ve been busy with lots of work and quite a lot of play. That should be plural, quite a lot of plays, including Matilda, 42nd Street, Translations. I had complimentary tix to the first two. I loved Matilda. The children were amazing. Some looked as though they could have barely started school, but these were professionals giving fine performances and looking as though they were enjoying very minute. I saw 42nd Street with my friend Julia. We were a bit nonplussed by it. As a spectacle it is everything you could ask for and more, the dancers tap their socks off and the set pieces are stunning. But the story. Why would you revive that now? I wanted to stick #metoo hashtags all over it.

Which brings me to Translations at the National which I saw with my friend and colleague Tony. His family is from Mayo, and we often go together to events with an Irish connection, despite digging with different feet as you might say. Tony had see a production of Translations, also at the National, in 1981 and brought the programme along with him. He also bought a programme for the current production and it became very clear the same sources were consulted when the notes were written in 1981 and 2018.

But my goodness, what a production. It was fabulous. Ciaran Hinds has cornered the market for roles as Irishmen of a certain age. To my ear, his delivery owed something to the declamatory style of the late Ian Paisley. It’s part of the Travelex season, meaning we got to watch it in the Olivier for £15 per seat. Good seats, there are no bad seats in any of ten National’s three theatres. The Olivier is based on the theatre at Epidaurus so you can feel yourself a part of a theatre tradition stretching back centuries while sitting on cushioned seats. That last comment is because Octavia and I saw As You Like It at the Globe last weekend. We had seats, and hired the cushions, but it makes you appreciate small creature comforts like seat backs and arm rests.

Octavia and Celia are both away at the moment, which means my two close friends who live close by are absent. MasterB is having to listen to me a lot as I process my days. He’s given me the excuse I needed to write this post by sitting half on me and having a wash. Truly, no one ever lived with a sweeter cat.

The NHS is about to turn 70. There are some in government who would like this to be its last birthday. People who say things like “we can’t afford it” and “people need to be responsible for their own health insurance”. They are either wilfully ignorant or wilfully misleading. Maybe both. Mark Haddon, one of several people writing in the Guardian about why he values the NHS has hit the nail on the head with his piece which you can read here – and please do, especially if you are from the US or another of those countries where private health companies would have you believe the NHS is an unmitigated disaster and you are so much luckier to receive itemised bills for everything anyone does for you from helping you onto a bedpan to heart surgery. Continue reading

Vote for Meghan

Oh I’m glad to be home. I’m tired. I have to go to work tomorrow, but tonight it’s a stir fry, cuddles with MasterB, a glass or two of wine and undemanding television. Right now I am watching When Harry met Meghan, a programme I normally would avoid. But oddly I am enjoying it. I am surprised to learn that where I live is currently gripped by wedding fever. You could have fooled me. I wish the couple well, but I am not intending to watch the event on television. I don’t even know if it is being televised.

Meghan Markle appears to be an intelligent, compassionate and aware woman. She’s a feminist, an activist. She has humour, determination. I’d say the Windsors have struck very lucky. She’s mixed race coming to live in a country where racism and xenophobia is on the rise. She has courage. If I were her family I’d be very proud of her. Hell, she’s not my family and I’m proud of her. I’m really hoping she’s going to be our Michelle Obama. She gives me hope. Continue reading

Dreaming About Theresa

I don’t know what can have been the cause, but last night I dreamt I was voice coaching Theresa May. It can’t be because I want her brand of politics to get a better hearing, I find it abhorrent. Maybe it’s just because she makes so many speeches which we get to hear bits of on the news, and they are always so boring. In my dream I was showing her how back in the 80s Not the Nine O’clock News satirised politicians, pointing out similarities between the satire and her own delivery. Awake, I think The Two Ronnies might have been better source material. I know I spent some time trying to stop her saying ‘I’m very clear’ so maybe it was in the interests of my health, as any politician who says they are or have been clear generally means the opposite, and it winds me up. What we were aiming for in my dream was a little spontaneity, some glimpse of the person she presumably is. Perhaps I should have got her to talk about kitten heels. Continue reading

Neighbours and Outsiders

It is often said that London is a series of villages. I’m not sure I buy that, but I would say it’s a series of neighbourhoods. Most people are very aware of and loyal to their neighbourhood. When I came to live in London people would talk about their manor. It’s not a term I’ve heard for a while, so I suspect that those a generation behind me would find it as quaint as I did expressions from the 1950s.

Celia, Octavia and I all live in the same neighbourhood. I couldn’t tell you exactly where our patch begins and ends, but two or three years ago Celia and I were walking in an adjoining neighbourhood when we spotted a notice for a book group. It was behind glass and the worse for wear from condensation. We peered at it, trying to decipher date, location and book. As we did so, a woman approached with a wide, friendly smile. Do join us, she said. We don’t live here, we answered, wary of trespassing on alien territory. We live up the road; we belong to a different tribe. Alright, we didn’t say the last bit, at least I don’t think we did, but I certainly thought it, despite knowing people from this other tribe. That doesn’t matter, said the woman, smile enhanced by a halo of blond curls. You’d be very welcome. Continue reading

A Welcome to New and Old Friends

In the past few weeks a number of people have signed up to follow this blog. Thank-you, and welcome! Most of my new readers do not have blog pages or WordPress identities and do not comment – my silent readership. I admit I am intrigued at this new, at least to me, trend. I recognise one person, that’s you Judy – hi! – but no one else.

Some new followers do have pages, though I admit I haven’t checked most of them out. The truth is I am not just an undisciplined cook, I am am also an undisciplined blogger. I get the urge to post in bursts and not at all, and the same goes for my reading of blogs I follow, so you may find, as Pat, Ruth, IngridD, Nitzus, Nadbugs and Gilly for example will have learned, that my comments and likes equally come in bursts interspersed with long silences. Other blogs I read, like or not, but rarely comment on. That doesn’t necessarily mean I don’t enjoy them. Continue reading

A Walk in Kent

Last night I finally got the last of the mud off my boots. They were caked. Kent is a county that has a reputation for being dry, but the first two fields we walked across were lakes of mud. There was no escape. I’m a mucky walker at the best of times, coming home with mud splattered trousers whatever the weather, but Saturday was pretty spectacular. The ground sucked at my heels so that each step was accompanied by a distinctive squelching sound.

I’d caught an earlier train out of London than planned and it was wonderfully quiet and empty.

Empty train

The fields we passed by were covered with frost, and the sun shone benevolently. The walk, a Pluckley Circular, was organised by the Ramblers and shared between two groups which meant there were nearly thirty of us when the walk began. But I’m getting ahead of myself. If you’ve clicked on that wiki link you’ll have read Pluckley claims to be the most haunted place in the country. But how would you tell?

So I was at Pluckley station half an hour ahead of kick-off, though perhaps that should be step-off.

Station car park


The station has a legitimate claim to historical fame.

Sole survivor


An original


But it’s not actually in Pluckley. It’s a distance away from the village, over a mile. Here’s the pub that is beside the station, a pretty impressive pile, named for the Dering family who were landowners.

The pub at Dering

Dering Arms

Continue reading