Bigotry and Beauty

You’d have thought that the political landscape couldn’t get more worrying or more bizarre, but in the last week it’s felt that this is the moment when our mouths are frozen open in a silent scream of noooooooo before the true scope of the horror is unleashed in tornado of biblical proportions.

Matthew Parris, the political commentator and former MP, just spoke on Channel 4 news about Brexit, saying if people voted that pigs might fly, and the politicians can’t get the pigs to fly, the politicians are in an impossible place.

In London we have cameras on every corner. It doesn’t take much imagination to understand what that info would mean to a malign administration intent on a Farage inspired future. people watch The Hand Maid’s Tale and are gripped, but still see it as fiction, yet when I read the novel in 1989 what scared me was how plausible the events described are.Even before the Internet, when I was watching and speaking out about the gradual erosion of our human rights under Margaret Thatcher, I was aware that if a more extreme bunch came into power my membership of Amnesty International, my signature on various petitions, could mean the end of me. All the more easy now if events come to their logical conclusion. We seem curiously unable to wake people up to the dangers of Trump, of Brexit, of people in India losing their citizenship.

Via Twitter, Speccy drew my attention to this piece in the Irish Times

But we can’t exist on a diet of gloom and pessimism, so here are some pictures from my little sojourn at das Boot last week. Some are of MasterB, who has not had the happiest day. He was under anaesthetic, having his teeth x-rayed, one removed, one had the tip cut off. A line of fur has been shaved from his neck, it’s not a great look. But here he is at das Boot. Most of the pictures took were when I was trying to tempt MasterB out for an evening stroll. I wasn’t entirely successful. Continue reading

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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

From Where I’m Sitting

Blue sky. Tree tops. I have to sit up to see more. Wood pigeons are calling. Leaves rustle on the trees. A bird I can’t identify peep peeps somewhere not far away. When we arrived there was a swan serene and calm. My starting the engine to check/charge the battery and ensure hot water for tonight didn’t seem to worry it. But after a while it moved off and into the river.

Blue sky and treetops

I was tempted not to come, despite having blocked these days out in my diary and written BOAT across them. I’m tired. My boat days should have started yesterday, but I still hadn’t found time to book the train and coach journeys in New Zealand to get me between various locations. The coach site was annoying. It decided early on I was looking to book two seats and no matter how many times I tried to correct it, that was what came up in my basket. I was going to cancel and try again but I got a message saying I might not be able to get seats at all. I emailed the company, and had some lunch. Of course no one replied; what was I thinking? It was the middle of the night there. So after humming and hawing for a while, I took the plunge.
In the evening I got a reply to my email. It was suggesting that the error was mine and offered a number I could call. I replied pointing out I had emailed about the problem before confirming my booking, was on the other side of the world, and had spent around half an hour trying to get the site to ‘modify’ what was in my basket.
It’s a long story and in the end I got a refund, but the company insisted all the time the error was mine. I found this tedious and patronising.
Despite this and the disappointment of England being knocked out of the World Cup (I couldn’t bear to watch), I slept well. This morning I was slow and sluggish, and if I had more free dates in my diary  to come East should probably have stayed at home.
Celia, who has been in Wales for weeks, is back in London, and kindly gave me a second coffee while we caught up a little. My neighbour Jolita will water the plants, my bags were in the car. I lifted MasterB from the drawer under the bed where he was sleeping and away we came.
The traffic wasn’t bad; a few hold ups, but I was congratulating myself on having covered most of the miles before the end of the school day and the hoards of parents who collect their children by car,  when we came to a sudden stop. Roadworks, I thought, temporary traffic lights. But I was wrong. Car after car in front of me turned and came back where we had come. I reached the front of the queue and followed suit. I hadn’t seen much, but it was enough. A red car across the road, doors open, glass on the ground. The detour was long but effective and we met fire engines racing towards us, making me wonder if someone needed to be cut free.
Always a cautious driver, I became doubly so. Continue reading

Seven Years Plus One Day

Tonight Celia and I enjoyed our first g&t of the year sitting out in the garden chaperoning MasterB, who was, I am pleased to say, being very brave in the face of a fairly full on Hartley.

Last night, MasterB and I had a long session in the garden which delayed my bedtime by quite a bit. Hartley does not understand personal space and stayed close to me, leaving MasterB stuck under a car for a very long time until tempted out by play.

Perhaps not the best way to celebrate our Seventh Anniversary, but since his first night here in 2011 was spent confined to the bathroom in the company of his uninvited flea companions maybe it wasn’t so bad.

Today, pre and post g&t, but alas not during as I didn’t take my camera outside, I took some photos of Himself.

Enjoy.

Pre gin:

Continue reading

Snow is Falling, Snow on Snow

Two months too late, the words of those Christmas carols about snow and cold weather are perfectly suited to London. My apologies to those of you who live in places where snow is a regular winter occurrence and who are wondering what all the fuss is about. I live in the south of a country where the climate is temperate, so any extremes mean acres of newsprint and all conversations dominated by talk of the weather. Actually we always talk about the weather, this may be a big island, but it is an island and the weather can change in a matter of hours. A lot of visitors from overseas, even somewhere as close as France, have the misplaced belief that it rains in London everyday, heavily. Er no, it doesn’t. Drizzle is more our style, Rome and Paris have more rain than London. That’s a fact. Yes, I do get irritated by people who seem to think Brits are born with webbed feet. Climate crisis is changing that though, and downpours are becoming the new normal. The snow is probably part of the same pattern.
So my pictures from today start in our garden.

Fuchsia


I woke in the night and knew there had been more snowfall. There was a quality to the light that is peculiar to snow. I looked out of the window and saw everything covered in white.

Purple in the snow


Our poor flowers are suffering. There’s a pale pink hyacinth that’s completely buried.

Laden


Our plants today are bowed down with the weight of the snow.

Garden chair


Hartley was out and about early, but then must have retired inside. His apewprints were everywhere, and I saw him eyeing the bird feeders.

Mosaic with growth


When the snow goes I need to weed this mosaic. Continue reading

The North Wind Doth Blow

The current bout of cold weather is being called the Beast from the East. I think I prefer the poem:

The north wind doth blow, And we shall have snow, And what will poor Robin do then? Poor thing. He’ll sit in a barn, And keep himself warm, And hide his head under his wing, Poor thing.

Not a lot of snow in London, snow is a rarity here. I got my washing mainly dry on the line this morning, though until the sun reached it, some of it was stiff and frozen. It was bitterly cold, and my cuddle with Hartley was shorter than he wanted. He was curling up on my lap preparing for a snooze when I stood up and headed back indoors to the warmth of the flat. I didn’t think it was going to snow, the forecast showed a twenty per cent chance but the skies were blue. But as I knuckled down to some of the endless paperwork the room became very dark, and I looked up to see real snow, serious snow, swirling about. It started to settle. For about half an hour it continued, then stopped. Tonight there is some left, a smattering, and it will freeze, so tomorrow pavements will be icy and treacherous.

But it is pretty.

I had to photograph the honey fungus on the cherry tree to send pictures to a tree surgeon so I took a few more photos of the garden while I was at it. I don’t know where the robin was, but this male blackbird seemed happy enough.

Blackbird

I checked the bird feeders to make sure the resident avian community won’t starve.

Bird feeders

Continue reading