Of holy vegetables, a plague of pennywort and diverse lives

The butter beans for tonight’s meal are bubbling away on the hob. I have just enjoyed my lunch, and am having a moment’s post prandial relaxation while the digestive processes get to work. It’s a beautiful day; sunny with a breeze which means I need to make sure I don’t burn when I go about my next self-imposed task to start cleaning the boat covers. I say start, because I want to see if the brushes on the cordless drill will make the job easier. However, I forgot to bring the charger, so how much charge is in the drill remains to be seen.

I have visited Reach, picked some blackberries to give my downstairs neighbours as a thank-you for keeping an eye on the plants these last couple of days, and doing my almost daily shop at the organic farm. Again I bought spinach. The other day I noticed there was a separate batch of spinach, half the price of the rest. This is what the label said:

Holey Spinach

Now the farm, as I have written before, as well as being organic also employs people with a range of disability, including those with learning difficulties. I assumed this was a spelling mistake. After all there’s holy basil, so why not holy spinach. Then I noticed the holey kale and the penny dropped. These were bags of veg with holes in.

The farm is my favourite place to buy flowers for my time afloat too.

Flower selection

At Burwell I filled the car with petrol and had a little explore. Burwell calls itself a village, but it’s huge. If only there were still a railway station there. I stumbled upon this chapel. It was the chimney that caught my eye at first.

Unexpected chapel, Burwell

Continue reading


August Nights

I am not terribly confident that I shall have an undisturbed night’s rest. We reached das Boot yesterday afternoon. There was no one at our end of the marina, so once I had opened up the boat, run the engine for a while and vacuumed away the worst of the dust, I let MasterB out of his travel basket while I unloaded the car. Contrary, he decided the interior of the car was somewhere he’d like to be. I lifted bags onto the grass and opened the boot for the rest: bed linen, food, new ropes, a bag of books for Older Nephew, towels and clothes. MasterB moved to the shelf at the back of the car and looked out, watching my progress.

When at last I picked up the food bags and turned towards das Boot he leapt down and followed me, stopping every now and then to look about him, assess the possibility of danger, sniff the grass. Why didn’t I have a camera in my hand? Then it was a leap on the gunwale, a swift look at the interior, and he was aboard. Great. Continue reading

Mind Our Language

They say if you learn one thing from a talk, or a visit to a museum or gallery, it is time, sometimes money, well spent. On those grounds the lectures and seminars on sociolinguistics I attended as part of my first degree represent a good investment.

I recall studying newspaper articles, noting how descriptors were used to steer the reader to  particular view, to mould our responses. It was quite shocking, and has made me a more critical reader, more of a fact checker. When I started flat hunting in the days before the internet I would collect details of properties for sale from estate agents. Apart from those being sold by Roy Brooks who believed in calling a spade a spade – “in frankly appalling condition throughout” is one phrase I remember – these invariably one bedroomed properties were described as spacious. Spacious for whom, I’d wonder. Lilliputians perhaps. I fast came to the conclusion that the best way to read these bits of puff was to block out the adjectives, erase the ‘spacious’s, the ‘stunning’s, the ‘desirable’s and the ‘sought after location’s.

Once, listening to the news on the BBC in the 80s, my antennae twitched when I heard a dictator, renowned for disregarding human rights and with a pronounced penchant for imprisoning opponents without trial and then torturing them, had been ‘forced’ to execute some ‘rebels’. Sure enough, a short time later our government quietly softened its stance towards this man, his barbarities would be ignored in the name of trade. Continue reading

Highs and Lows

I was a bit grumpy when i woke up this morning. Last night I lost my Fitbit. My second Fitbit. The first one dropped into the mud of the marina last year when I was at das Boot. The strap had come detached and I felt it fall. Last night I didn’t feel it fall, and I was just boarding the bus home after an evening with friends when I realised it was gone.

It’s always coming undone. I routinely reclasp it as I feel it dangling. I have retrieved it from the garden, from the car, from beside the sofa. In the winter it is held in place by my sleeves. Not in July.

So I was a bit miffed. I can’t help feeling that for something designed to be worn while exercising the strap should be more securely attached. I am not one of those who has half a dozen straps in different colours to match various outfits. I spend most of my life in shades of blue, so I have a grey strap. I’d like it to be fixed as securely to my Fitbit as my watch strap is to my watch.

I decided to retrace my steps. My friends’ flat is by the river, so I collected up various foreshore finds I wanted to return as well. It would not be a wasted journey. It’s only a short walk from their flat to the bus stop. I scanned the ground. Nothing. Maybe it had been there, but swept up by the street cleaner. I went into the entrance of their block, and even before I had begun to explain to the concierge what my mission was, I spotted a Fitbit, my Fitbit, on his desk, with a note saying it had been found by the entrance to the flats. Continue reading

Pants on Fire

A beautiful but cold evening here in London tonight. I’ve spent the day at home, not travelling far in any direction but still overachieving my daily step count goal. There were local elections across the U.K. this week. Boris Johnson, a London based politician whose acquaintance with truth is fairly loose, tweeted that he had been out to use his vote. Only when it was pointed out to him that there were no elections in London for him to vote in, did he take that tweet down. There was surprisingly little coverage of this. BoJo, like Farage, gets an astonishingly easy ride in the media. Or maybe it’s just that we are so used to BoJo’s pants being on fire* we don’t think of it as news anymore.
When the results came through it was clear that the Tories were massive losers, over a thousand council seats down. Labour lost around about a hundred, but all the news I listened to kept repeating that both main parties had suffered great losses. I’m not saying Labour did well, their losses compared to the Tories were in a different scale. Continue reading

A Surprise Chapel

Fairly close to the start of our Easter Sunday walk we strolled into the cemetery and once again admired the exterior of the funerary chapel.


Mount Cemetery Funerary Chapel

Again we walked round to the door in the hope it might be open. A woman approached us wearing a blue head scarf. Would you like to see inside? she asked. We didn’t need to confer. It’s our Palm Sunday service she explained. And so we saw inside an English Orthodox Church, an institution of which we were entirely ignorant.
Palm Sunday, English Orthodox Church

English Orthodox Church



Continue reading

Notre Dame

I imagine many people woke up this morning thinking about Notre Dame de Paris. I know I did. I was taking a break from watching the news last night, but saw a tweet by @janh1 which alerted me to the disaster. Fire is something I dread, and to see the flames leaping skywards, the black smoke moving across the spring sky, was horrific. Channel 4 news was taking calls from eye witnesses, trying to put together a picture of what was happening. The moment when the spire fell was heart wrenching. Parisiens and visitors to the city stood side by side, watching, helpless. But there is solidarity in a crowd, and at some moment someone must have started singing, and suddenly the internet was full of videos made on mobile ‘phones of the crowd en masse singing Ave Maria as Paris’ cathedral burned. It was beautiful, it was moving, it was intensely sad.

Continue reading


Some people are saying they had no idea the country would be in reduced to such a state by the 2016 referendum and its result.

Where were they looking? What were they thinking? I have a little crystal ball someone gave me but I have never managed to see anything in it. But clicking on the related posts after the last one I wrote, I was struck at how prescient they were. Which suggests to me it was all pretty obvious then as I am no political pundit. Mind you I didn’t foresee Theresa May being praised for her heroic sacrifice of her career, praise that she put the country first because of her strong sense of duty. Call me naive, but I should expect any Prime Minister’s first priority, first loyalty, to be to the country, not their own career path. Perhaps that is why we are in the state we’re in now with Boris Johnson or Michael Gove being talked about as future Prime Minsiters, people we know have no scruples and enormous ambition. Theresa May has been quite happy to sacrifice 48% of voters who took part in the referendum, to sacrifice honesty and fair dealing by upholding the result and calling the dirty dealing regrettable, quite happy to sacrifice jobs and livelihoods of people who already have less than little.
Continue reading

Fine words butter no parsnips

Sunday night. Celia and Charlie have just gone home. We had supper together, good chat, good wine, great gin. Maybe more about the gin at a later date.

Like many we are still processing the events in Christchurch and our reactions to them. Such evil. How has this happened?

I have been impressed by articles I have read, mainly, but not all, in the Guardian, that ease us away from the idea of a lone gunman and open our eyes to the global movements of the far right. While not so nameless politicians have been pointing fingers at the threat of Islamic fundamentalists, the far right has been mobilising on a global scale, aided no little by those not so nameless politicians. So let’s name some of them: Trump, Erdogan, Goldsmith, May, Johnson, Farage, the BBC.

I’m not sure about Erdogan, but the others, save of course the Farrago, have issued statements expressing their sympathy, saying their prayers and thoughts are with those who were gunned down and their families. Just think about that for a moment. Think about May and Goldsmith’s slurs when Sadiq Khan was running for Mayor of London, how they said he would be a terrorist threat because he is Moslem. Johnson has made repellent remarks about women wearing hijabs. Trump, well, where do I start? The BBC hurts me more as it is an institution I have grown up respecting, but increasingly the ‘balance’ it offers on political programmes is tilted; I read it as a fearful response, a kowtowing to the vocal bullies, it has given a platform to some of the most hatefilled people of our time. This is not free speech. This is not the BBC I knew. This is not balance. Continue reading