Lifted

It was a bit of a saga, and I have already told Celia, but it worked out in the end and das Boot was successfully lifted out of the water, raised into blocks and now I just have to book the inspection so I can renew the insurance at the end of November.

The train journey to Ely usually takes just over an hour from London, so when I was looking at what time train I needed to get to meet Stuart the Boat Man I was puzzled that the journey time had almost doubled in length. Further clicking revealed there were engineering works and after Cambridge a replacement bus service would operate. Oh joy.

For those of you not familiar with replacement bus services, thank your lucky stars. I reckoned with the longer journey time I needed to be out of the house by 6.20am. So I set the alarm and retired to bed betimes. I had my clothes ready, sandwiches and a bottle of water in my bag, my phone charged and my train tickets bought. Continue reading

Under Fen Skies

Another lovely day at das Boot. And not at it. MasterB went back to bed straight after breakfast. 41C78D41-7634-4E54-BEFC-526D138054EBFor bed, read under the rug in the fore cabin. I had a couple of things to do at Burwell, filling the car with petrol the most important. So post shower off I went, returning via Reach and picking more blackberries for the crumble that is ready to go in the oven shortly. That’ll be pudding after I have eaten the lentil shepherd’s pie that’s also ready to go in the oven. There’ll be holey spinach as an accompanying vegetable.ED2E81A0-D01A-47D2-AAA7-7B73F2A45E33

I’m getting good at do the washing up in cold water. It’s not that there’s no hot water in the tank, it’s that the taps are sucking in air rather than water when the pump is on, and so they splutter and spit, sometimes sneeze, instead of flow.

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Time Off and Time Out

I worked eight days in a row after returning from my hols and boy was I glad to have a couple of days off. I love my work, but it can be a bit intense at times, and I definitely needed time to recoup. I am rereading Milkman by Anna Burns for book group next month. However, my recuperation required doing a jigsaw, and having more credits than I know what to do with with Audible, I decided to buy the audio book so I could listen and solve simultaneously. It works really well. I’m switching between the audio book and the print version according to where I am and what I’m doing. It’s a multi-sensory experience.

This afternoon I left both the audio book and the real one at home and headed to Tate Britain to see the Frank Bowling exhibition. I am so glad I did. It is wonderful. I took some photographs once I realised it was allowed, so maybe I’ll post some of them tomorrow. His work is abstract and I found it tremendously uplifting, though I can’t say why. It made me wish I lived in one of those loft places which are murder to keep warm but which have vast walls. There were several paintings I think I could happily gaze at for the rest of my life. Continue reading

Homeward bound

We reached the airport betimes, travelling on a section of road that only opened this morning. Maybe someone cut a ribbon in the pre-dawn, maybe there was a fanfare. I don’t know. Cousin thought it might be busy, but the cars were sparse and we had one of those once in a lifetime conversations where we admired the unpitted tarmac and the smoothness of the ride.

The journey was so quick that I was turned away from bag drop and told to come back in half an hour. I sat on a metal seat and ate my lunch. The airport seemed very quiet. Even security, an area I have learned can take a long time to pass through at Belfast International, was nearly empty. However, I set off an alarm when I passed the first scanner and had to remove my shoes, enter the thing that looks like the orgasmatron in that Woody Allen film, and submit to being patted down before I could collect my hand luggage and proceed.  Continue reading

Sunday morning

Celia will recognise the scenario: go for a walk that includes a visit to a place with small, independent shops; stop in those shops and see a dress/shirt/cardigan you like; try it on; buy it; return from your walk with a new addition to your wardrobe. However, I have added a new twist. The shop is in Maghera, a small town not far away, so when we returned there to buy groceries, I went back to the shop, Allie Mae, to take a second look at two more items I had seen, and I bought them too. The shop will soon have a website and be selling via shopify, so if you want to look at the stock, sign up here.
Not all walks end in shops. Walks around Cousin’s are entirely retail free. It was warm and sunny this morning when Westie Boy, Poppy and I followed out usual route to the end of the road and back.

Shaded

Blue skies

Fortunately it had rained in the night so Poppy enjoyed a paddle in the larger puddles while Westie Boy drank. I admired the view.

Interesting

Both dogs are now lying on the floor asleep.I may take them for a shorter walk when we come back from hearing Alan Johnson later today. They only had one good walk yesterday, but Poppy was tired by the late evening. She took to her bed while I read the Guardian and was soon snoring, then dreaming, making little woofing noises and moving her front paws. I must have been very quiet when I came to the kitchen this morning as I surprised her sleeping on the sofa. Continue reading

Departure Day

Just a few minutes to go until my flight is announced. I am not someone who usually enjoys airports, but after a morning of domestic activity – stripping the bed, loading the washing machine, hanging out the wet bed linen, ironing it, remaking the bed, and a dozen other little things I needed to do before leaving home – the air conditioned anonymity of the airport has been pleasant and the time has passed very quickly.

I heard that today may be the hottest day of the year so far in London. I shouldn’t be surprised. It was great for getting my washing dry, but not the sort of heat I enjoy in cities. So it is with a sense of relief that I am heading to the colder climes of Co Derry. Continue reading

This Week I Shall be Mainly Visiting Hospitals (and Singing)

If ever there was a day designed for staying at home and clearing out the cupboards it was yesterday in London. The tail end of Hurricane Miguel caught us and was less Flaming June, more bloody hell as temperatures dropped and rain poured out of the sky with grim determination. Visitors to england have strange ideas about the weather. They often seem to think it rains almost constantly and heavily. The reality is that our rain is generally light, frequent, and short lived. Or it used to be. Climate crisis has introduced even these islands known for their temperate (some would say unexciting) weather to bizarre swings and abrupt changes, and flooding in parts of the country has become the annual norm.

So I knew rain was forecast but as I had spent Sunday in my shirt sleeves, and Octavia and I had eaten supper outside in her garden as the grey Ninja swarmed up the trellis onto the walls and posed beautifully against a blue sky, I foolishly thought it would still be quite warm. It wasn’t. I had the misfortune to be working outside all morning. My hands got colder and colder and Raynaud’s Disease soon drove the blood from my fingers. On the bus journey at lunchtime I sat with my hands clasped between my knees waiting for warmth to return. To add to the misery, my erstwhile trusty waterproof shoes leaked. My socks were damp and unpleasant. Thank goodness the company was good.

In the evening the Young Relative who is going to look after MasterB when I am with Cousin in NI came round. We had a lovely evening. MasterB honed his technique for keeping her under his paw. We ate, drank, talked family stuff. Before she went home I took her to the local Turkish deli. The original plan had been to show her around the area, but the rain rather dampened that one. At the deli we met J. He is the son of Celia’s good friend Lata, who is visiting from Australia, and J should have been flying home to the US today. However, as Robbie Burns so eloquently put it, The best laid plans o’ mice an’ men / Gang aft a-gley. Continue reading

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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Hold the old photos, we went to Devonport today

Spring weather today, sunshine and warmth, alternating with heavy showers. We took a bus into town and headed for the harbour to catch the ferry to Devonport. It had been on my to see list, but I thought the weather was going to rule it out. Although we travelled there by water, it is attached to the mainland,
Before I came to New Zealand, people told me it was like Tasmania, but until today I hadn’t felt that was true.
But there was something about Devonport that did remind me of Tasmania. I couldn’t tell you what though.
The ferry ride lasts just twelve minutes, so you just have time to enjoy the view before you disembark. A gentle walk along by the sea was a nice introduction. With the sun out, the sea was restored to a blue-turquoise. Dogs were swimming, people too.

Swimming retriever

A walk by the sea, with driftwood

There were benches to sit on to admire the view.

Bench with a view

There were also reminders that things had not always been so tranquil.

Execution site

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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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