Avoiding the cup final

A glass of chilled wine as the breeze picks up and the evening cools. It’s been hot today. I’ve drunk more than two litres of water, and shall drink more before I sleep. I am going for an early night. MasterB is currently stretched out on the bed, enjoying the air coming through the open door. Last night it was quite busy here, and I had already cleaned my teeth when he let me know that it was quiet enough for a perambulation. So I carried him ashore rather than risk my heart lurching as he leapt from the front of the boat, and once I’d got him in his harness we perambulated. Actually we stayed still for quite a lot of the time. Cats seem to like to drink in their surroundings, it’s quite boring when you are at the other end of the leash. Then there are spurts of activity, determined movements in directions I do not want to go. I hoped he’d have a poo, or at least a pee, but he saved the latter until he was back on board. I just hope he isn’t saving the poo for the journey home.

Toady, when it has been hot, he has spent most of his time under the rug in the forecabin, a rug that is supposed to save the upholstery from fur and claws. Sometimes he and I are not on the same page. The forecabin was bathed in sunshine. Surely it must have been horribly hot, but he stayed there until around five this evening, when he emerged, like Mole taking a break from spring cleaning, and blinked dazedly about him.

Shamed by my new neighbours (who set off after breakfast and have not been seen since), I felt I had to do some boat cleaning. The hot sun soon had my face running with sweat. Not wanting to disturb the grebes I didn’t want it to use the water pump and power hose. So my efforts, which were mighty but without great results, came to an end after an hour, and I retreated to the shower. I had already visited the big city, well a large village, and bought my newspaper, so after an early lunch I reclined and worked my way through pages of newsprint.

I knew, indeed how could I not? that Donald J Trump is coming to London this week. What I had not understood was how many members of his family he is bringing with him. This is less a state visit, more an invasion. I do hope they all have return tickets. Prince Charles and Camilla seem to have drawn the short straw and are spending a lot of time with Family Trump. I worked with a Trump supporter last week, and one day was enough to exhaust me. Continue reading

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A little slice of heaven

The gentle movement of das Boot at her mooring, the creak of the ropes, the birdsong, are like a balm. The great crested grebes are nesting yards from the galley window, and watching them tidying up the nest, adding to it, taking it in turns to sit on the eggs, has fascinated me. When there was a change of shift last night, the one who had been sitting, the hen I think, immediately went off to collect more weed to add to the structure. Had she been thinking about this, looking about her for likely material during what must have been a fairly tedious afternoon?

Maybe Older Nephew’s and my coming and going provided her with some entertainment. We went to Ely and back, eating lunch aboard and enjoying a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc the ON had brought with him. The newly serviced engine purred. Not far from the marina we spotted a terrapin the size of a side plate. It was sunning itself on a stone. No doubt an unwanted pet, dumped in the river, and now a predator of small fish and young birds. I hope the baby grebes, when they hatch, will be beyond its orbit. MasterB joined us after a while, and as is now customary, I built him a cushion citadel. He seemed perfectly at ease. Continue reading

It’s pretty, isn’t it? No idea what it’s called though.

I can name some wild flowers, but not all, and not as many as I could as a child growing up in the country. Celia is more or less the same. So on our walk in the Surrey Hills last week there was quite a lot of “Look at that pink/blue/yellow flower. Do you know hat it’s called?” “No, it’s pretty, isn’t it?”

We were fine on Scarlet Pimpernels, English Bluebells, Celandines (though at first glance i thought they were Primroses), but that left a fair number of “it’s pretty, isn’t it?” moments. I’m hoping that you will help us to correct our ignorance.

These blue flowers made wonderful displays of colour on some of the shaded parts of our walk/

Blue close up

En masse blue

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In Which Celia and Isobel Go for a Walk in Search of Bluebells

I have so many posts half composed in my head, but unwritten and unposted: stray cats, blogging v WhatsApp, Brexit (again), amazing books, homelessness, climate crisis, MasterB. You get the picture. Maybe in time. But tonight, as we come to the end of Easter weekend, and the sun is shining, the blossom is still blossoming, the air has a gentle, mellow air, quite at odds with the political climate, I want to write about yesterday’s walk in Surrey.

Above the town

Above the town

Farm building

Farm building

Lush

Lush

I was born in Surrey and grew up there. I took its hills, its green fields, its bluebell woods for granted. You still get to enjoy these things in Surrey when your parents aren’t stockbrokers.

Bluebells

Bluebells

In leaf

In leaf

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Keeping it Sane

It’s been a busy week and a productive one. No, I am not talking about Brexit, though a new extension has been granted by the long-suffering EU until October. It sounds a good amount of time, six whole months, but once you subtract the days the house isn’t sitting it’s more like three. Mark Francois has made an arse of himself (again) by making threats to the EU and reading poetry aloud very badly, yet some people think he should lead the Tory party. Hello? Theresa May, whose air miles must be enough to get her to the moon and back by now, returned to the house and made the same speech again. Is it obstinacy, lack of imagination, or a plan to just wear people down? She does an aggressive upward look, reminiscent of Princess Diana, across the floor of the house to anyone who dares contradict her. Whatever the question was, Brexit is not the answer. Tonight, when the news was on, I deliberately left the room to avoid seeing the Farago announcing his new Brexit party with Jacob Rees-Mogg’s sister Annunziata on side as a prospective candidate. Some huge percentage of the adult population says it is suffering from Brexit related stress and anxiety. Tell me about it. I wake up from dreams about it.
Anyway, it’s Friday night and time for a bit of a break, though I fully intend to watch Have I Got News For You at nine o’clock, and I have already listened to the News Quiz. It’s like a itch I can’t help scratching. As though Brexit anxiety wasn’t enough, I have been worried about MasterB for the last couple of days. He has been under the weather, sleeping hugely, not nagging me much to play, taking only a cursory interest in his food. This morning, before I went to work, I rang the vet practice and talked to one of the nurses, describing his symptoms. If she told me to keep a close eye on things once, she told me a dozen times. Being Chief Litter Tray Monitor, I am well versed in MasterB’s bowel movements. Normally his digestive system functions admirably well, just the odd pungent smell from his hind quarters when he is sitting beside me, or the popping sound of wind breaking in tiny bursts. So I was able to say that yesterday’s deposit was less solid than usual. Today’s was even less solid than yesterday’s, so it seems something has upset his tum. I’m hoping he’s on the mend now as he has just led me to the kitchen and had a few mouthfuls of the wet food in his bowl, and his interest in biscuits has definitely returned. So long as it’s nothing serious, a few days of restricted calories might be just what he needs to shift the stubborn superfluous 500g he’s carrying.

 

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Dandelion Days

I’m watching the news where we keep switching back to the Commons chamber where a series of votes are taking place. So far the House has voted against a No Deal Brexit, which is fine, but if the EU, understandably frustrated by the situation, decides it does not want to engage with this pantomime anymore we shall leave with a no deal.
I don’t want to leave at all.
However, it is all too likely that a month from now I shall be living in a country unmoored. Prices will go up but income will go down. We are warned of empty shelves in the shops. I can buy lentils and so on, but what of green veg? Well, the answer maybe dandelion leaves. I was doing a spot of weeding on Monday, and as I dug out some dandelion plants I noted their young green leaves. So I separated them from the other weeds, chopped off their roots, brought them indoors, washed them and popped them in the fridge. Continue reading

New Toy

MasterB has a new toy. He likes it very much. It’s a gift from Octavia who read about it in a magazine at the vet surgery where she had taken the Grey Ninja for her annual check up. Normally Octavia would not read the magazines on offer, but she had forgotten her ‘phone. It’s a good thing I was sitting down when she told me: Octavia without her ‘phone? Unbelievable. I thought at the very least surgery would have been involved to achieve such a scenario.
It was a good outcome for the Grey Ninja and MasterB though as, in the said magazine, Octavia read about honeysuckle wood, an alternative to catnip, and something most cats love. As I said before, MasterB’s opinion was positive. It was also immediately evident.

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Winds of change

Nineteen days until the UK leaves the EU and we still don’t know how it’s going to work. Or not. Any pretence at smoothly running government has long since gone. In many ways this is far more interesting, and I do hope the same old familiar party lines will not reappear 30th March. Anyone who thinks that it’ll be over in any aspect is deluding themself. There is no sign of the fat lady waiting to grab the microphone, though quite a few people with megaphones and a lot of flags. The far right have (again) grabbed the Union flag. This does annnoy me. It’s my flag too and I don’t see why a bunch of nationalists should be allowed to wave it about as though they are its keepers.
So while flagged deprived, I have finally filled in my application for my Irish passport, having received an answer to my query about whether I could submit a witnessed copy of my UK passport rather than the real thing.
I am supping with Octavia, and she will witness my signature, sign my passport photos in which I look like the perfect candidate for the post of Rat Catcher in Chief, and endorse my photocopy.
Then it’s a matter of some six weeks wait. Continue reading

Dunes

I have over as thousand pictures from my NZ trip. While I was there I posted, but there lots of places we went to that I didn’t mention. These photos are from our trip to the misleadingly named Ninety Mile Beach.

sea and sand


We were on a coach, driven along the sands at low tide. We met quite a few people walking in the opposite direction. They were embarking on a long distance walk. I became somewhat obsessed wondering how they got supplies of fresh water.

sand and green


Also, beautiful though it undoubtedly was, it wouldn’t be my idea of a great walk. I like variety, shelter, shade, greenery.
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Last Day in Wellington

As the last phase of my holiday approaches my thoughts are increasingly turning towards home. I think that’s natural. I was just talking about it with Nadia, saying I was quite looking forward to it, and we agreed that is a good thing. You should want to go home at the end of a holiday, however good it is. If you don’t, it probably says something about how you feel about where you live. A holiday is a break, a chance to experience unfamiliar places, catch up with friends in other locations, not an escape.
However, my NZ holiday is not over yet. Tomorrow I leave Nadia and Wellington and take the coach to Napier. I’m hoping a day sitting with as many leg stretches as I can manage is going to ease the pain in my right knee. I foolishly did not bring enough Devil’Claw tincture with me, a herbal supplement endorsed by the Arthritis Society. It is not known why it works, but it does. I have tried rationing it, but ran out completely the other day. So today, a return trip to Petone included trying to track down some capsules. I prefer the tincture, but the capsules are more easily available. No joy in Petone, but I was told I might get them in Lower Hutt, which by luck I was planning to visit later. I limped slowly around Petone, and made it into the museum.

Petone Settlers’ Museum

It is small but beautifully formed, and I recommend it.

Welcome

Foyer Petone Settlers’ Museum

Petone Settlers’ Museum

The guy on duty, or ‘host’ as he described himself, was friendly and informative. We stood by the window looking out at the beach where the European settlers had landed. A couple with a rather lovely chocolate Labrador walked by.
I was trying to decide if I had time to revisit the Cat Adoption Café, but at this stage of the day we were planning to go to the cinema this evening, and my walking was very slow. As left the museum I saw the same couple with their chocolate Labrador coming back. Naturally, I had to have a cuddle. It turned out I was cuddling a celebrity. Ollie (the dog) has been on television, the first dog to work in a hospital helping with the rehabilitation of people who have had strokes.

Ollie

You can read about him here. Hats off to him and his OT owner Kerry for innovative good practice.
The day had started cloudy. Rain was forecast. But by now the sun was out and the temperature had risen. I had not brought sunglasses (though I had their case), sunscreen or hat. Mistake. I walked along, shielding my face, hugging the bits of shade. So when I saw a bus stop and bus due in one minute for Lower Hutt, I waited and climbed aboard. Phew. My reason for visiting was the Dowse Art Museum, but I had an added incentive. My search for Devil’s Claw in Petone had failed, but I had been advised to try Health 2000 at Lower Hutt’s Queensgate Centre.
I shall spare you all the details. Suffice it to say the shop was out of Devil’s Claw. The assistant kindly checked if the Napier branch had any. No. But I did come away with an alternative so fingers crossed.
Nadia doesn’t rate the Dowse Art Museum, but even before I went in I saw something I liked.

Metal monster

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