The Coronavirus Diaries, 9th July 2020

Writing these daily diary entries brings home to me just how many days are spent in the pursuit of minor tasks, sometimes bringing minor triumphs – hurrah the washing dried on the line before the rain came down – but mainly very ordinary stuff that needs to be repeated a few days later; things like dusting, changing bed linen, cleaning the fridge, buying toilet roll. Today was another such day where my greatest triumph was a charity shop accepting a bag of very old clothes for textile recycling. I failed to understand the council’s website and still don’t know if I need to book if I walk over to the recycling centre with a small bag of defunct small electricals or not. As they don’t weigh much I may just try it. If I am turned away I’ll know I need to book. But not tomorrow. I need to go to the City to take photographs for an online presentation. I would have gone today, but the skies were once more grey and tomorrow it’s supposed to be sunny.

I am getting impatient to return to das Boot. Monday I hope. So some discipline regarding work to be done at home before then where I can usually rely on the internet.

It was nearer five than four when Celia and I went for our walk. There had been no call from the hospital and so the next time I see Celia she will have had her haircut. She’s going to say she wants an inch off, knowing a hairdresser’s inch is greater. We went to Burgess Park which I have mainly avoided as it gets very crowded. The advantage of a dull day is fewer people venture out. You wouldn’t have described it as deserted though. We met two very lovely dogs, both female both very young, both playful, both accompanied by young women. The flowers looked beautiful in a wild sort of way, and the lingering raindrops balanced on their petals only enhanced their beauty.

Wildly beautiful blue

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Made more beautiful by drops of rain

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The Coronavirus Diaries, 30th June 2020

Had you said to me back in March when I first began the Coronvirus Diaries that I’d still be writing them three months later with every expectation of continuing for the foreseeable future I should have stared at you. I thought maybe a few weeks, but then quite quickly I started thinking six months. Now, who knows. A year seems optimistic. At some point I shall stop the daily posts. I don’t know when, but I’d say it’s bound to happen. I am glad I did begin writing them though. This is an extraordinary time, made ordinary by how long it is continuing. Even the bargain shops are selling disposable face masks these days.

Celia and I walked up to the City this afternoon. There were some points, such as at the north end of London Bridge, by the Monument, where had I taken a photograph I don’t think there would have been anything in it to suggest it was during lockdown. We had already passed Waitrose, scene of one of our earliest lockdown shops, where Celia stood outside and I brought various items to the door to see if she wanted me to get them for her or not. Oh the nostalgia.

At Bank Junction we looked towards the Royal Exchange and it seemed to be open. We decided to investigate and found ourselves the only visitors. After availing ourselves of the hand sanitiser and chatting with security we looked around. I have never gone up to have a good look at the bar as I am pretty sure the prices would make me blench. But it was closed, so I could gawp to my heart’s content. Reon and Malik, the security guys, were amused by our evident enjoyment and we had another chat with them after we had used the loos. They have been working in the empty building for the last three months, keeping an eye on things. Now it is slowly coming back to life, and next time we call in there may well be people having coffees or a glass of something sparkling. I’m glad we saw it empty. Continue reading

The Coronavirus Diaries, 29th June 2020

It was a sudden decision to return home; the spur was the weather forecast. It has been windy since Saturday, and I really wonder why I have bothered to comb my hair, but when I saw that the wind speed of around 20mph was likely to increase to 40mph I decided to pack my bags and leave as quickly as I could. I had been planning to wash the rear cover, but it seemed likely it would end up being blown into the river if not the next county. Next time.

Last night MasterB was absolutely determined to march around the marina, albeit in his harness. The trees thrashed about above us and one very young calf was totally intrigued by my boy. He could not stop looking and came closer and closer to the fence for a better look. What he made of what was probably his first view of a feline I should love to know. The large black bullock didn’t care about MasterB, he wanted a head scratch and probably to lick a human arm too. It is shocking to think he’ll end up on someone’s plate. This is an animal who loves people and should be a companion bullock. He could probably have a whole career visiting care homes lapping up love and affection from entranced residents. He’s certainly a hit at the marina.

Thrashing willow

MasterB also made it clear he wanted some shore leave this morning, but when I did strap his harness on and liftEd him from the boat he was suddenly less sure, and most certainly disgusted to find this was a short outing ending in his travel carrier in the car. Continue reading

The Coronavirus Diaries, 28th June 2020

I went to bed early last night feeling very tired, whether due to the wind, the exertions of boat cover cleaning or a combination of the two, I don’t know. I went to sleep quickly, but was woken an hour or so later by the sound of things falling to the ground, knocked there by MasterB who had decided to check the view from each of the windows. I woke again some time later when the rain began falling. The boat was rocking and the fenders squeaked as they rubbed against the pontoon. I went back to sleep.

The alarm woke me, buzzing insistently from somewhere near my left ear. I had expected to wake up before it went off, so it was a good thing I set it. Today was Pump Out Day and a bit of helming practice. When I first started on this boating lark I did a helmsman’s course. I am glad I did. It covered the basics and although locks gave me the creeps, as they still do, if there was someone willing to take care of the ropes, I was confident enough about taking das Boot in and out of the marina, tootling along the river for a while until I had had my fill, turning round and coming back again. But as time went by and I didn’t get practice my confidence ebbed and failed. Older Nephew loves helming, so I have relinquished the task to him when he is aboard. That needs to change. But he is not a natural teacher, so practice with someone who is calm and also happy for me to be at the helm is needed. I have seen enough of Stuart to know that he is pretty unflappable, so today was my opportunity.

MasterB was very lively over breakfast, so lively I had to deploy the catnip fish, kept for special occasions, so that I could drink my coffee. When I returned from the shower block he was at the window watching the world. He saw me, and I could see him meowing at me through the glass. By the time Stuart appeared he had tucked himself into his new favourite place on the floor under the rug that covers the seating. Stuart wanted to check the battery, which is under the floor at this place, so MasterB had to be moved to the rear cabin. He disappeared under the quilt, only to poke his head out almost immediately, so I think he has got used to Stuart, knows his voice and his smell. Sure enough, once we were under way he joined us in the forecabin where I constructed a cushion citadel for him.

Planning a bit if mischief

When this day was planned I hadn’t counted on the wind. I saw people struggling yesterday to get in and out of the marina, people with far more confidence and experience than I. So I didn’t even suggest I might do that. But on the river itself it was a different matter. I soon settled to it, feeling how the boat responded. We just about managed to keep a metre apart, and hand gel was literally applied. Stuart gave me small tasks, and paid me the compliment of saying if I could helm the boat in today’s weather, he didn’t see a problem. In fact he was curious to know why I felt I needed some tuition. That was a boost to my confidence in itself. I handed over to him when we saw paddle boarders and some anglers in curious contraptions that looked like they belonged in a private swimming pool (I have no desire to commit man slaughter) and when we returned to the marina. Next tuition day will be about manoeuvring in and out. And I need to recruit some crew. Continue reading

The Coronavirus Diaries, 27th June 2020

It has mercifully been a lot cooler today. It started to rain just before seven, but although steady, it was light. There was no difficulty going to enjoy a shower at the onshore facility, and immediately after breakfast my neighbours headed out for the day. Last night we had a long chat, separated by the pontoon and the gunwales of our boats. Naturally much of it was about the pandemic. I was just deciding what I should do when I found a message from the marina owner saying if I sent I’ll wanted to borrow it, her son would bring a folding table over for me to use. So, changed into my horrid trousers and a very scruffy t shirt, I started work cleaning the front cover. The problem was the wind. I didn’t mention the wind did I?

Well, it grew stronger and it was only by weighting the cover down with my buckets of water that I was able to proceed. I worked at the task for a good two hours. Walking backwards and forward to the river for fresh water was the most tiring and frustrating part. Either I only managed to get the bucket half full when I dropped it into the water, or I spilled half of it over my self and the boardwalk getting it out. But at one point I heard the cuckoo cal. It was difficult while the cover was wet to tell how well I had done, and I was hesitating, then a big black cloud loomed, the wind pushing it my way, so I rinsed for a final time, reweighted the cover with full buckets and added a bungee for extra security and went back onboard. Just in time, the rain poured down and the wind blew more strongly. I had visions of the table, cover and buckets all lifting into the air and being carried away.

Fortunately that didn’t happen. The rain stopped, the cover started to dry. Then another cloud, more rain. I could not think where I could put the cover to dry if this went on. Then the sun came out, and as the wind still blew, the cover turned from very wet, to fairly wet, to fairly dry. I turned it over and began the same process on the reverse. By now I had had lunch and was hoping to do an online crossword, but the internet wouldn’t play. So I did some reading, checked the cover again, and finding it nearly dry with another rain cloud approaching, rolled it up and stashed on the roof of the boat, secured with that same bungee. The rear cover will have to wait. Maybe tomorrow afternoon, or more likely Monday. I just hope it’s not too hot. Today is about ten degrees cooler than yesterday. It’s still warm, bare feet and arms weather, and were it not for the wind and the rain, perfect for physical tasks like washing covers. Continue reading

The Coronavirus Diaries, 26th June 2020

Before I went to bed last night I managed to look at today’s forecast. Fine until nine then hours when there was a very high chance of stormy showers. I decided I should get up at seven, reakfast, shower etc and then retire to the fastness of das Boot and be a comfort to MasterB. I Woke just before seven and quickly realised the rain had started. It was pattering on the roof with sturdy regularity, but unaccompanied by thunder or lightning. I turned over and went back to sleep, MasterB lying somewhat heavily on my legs. When I woke an hour or more later the sun was shining. There was no storm all morning but blue skies and a lot of humidity, fortunately accompanied by a refreshing breeze. This allowed for some washing on my makeshift line.

Laundry

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The Coronavirus Diaries, 24th June 2020

Forget what I wrote yesterday about needing to do any physical work by eleven. Today by half past nine I was working up a sweat just walking from one end of the boat to the other. MasterB has spent most of the day stretched out on the floor below water level in various locations, mainly where I can see him, but sometimes under a rug. I did two small lots of hand washing, and, using a broom handle as a support, rerigged my washing line, doubling the length of line available, and got everything dry.

Lying in a cool spot

The windows and the door are open, and there is a slight breeze. It’s cooler by the car under the trees, but people walk up and down the path which the boy wouldn’t like, so in solidarity I have spent the day on board with him.

It’s very easy to just sit thinking how hot you are and not get anything done, so I pulled out a file, made some notes and recorded a new podcast. If I can get the internet to play I should be able to upload it this evening. It was a good thing to do. While I worked I was less distracted by the heat. I drank copious glasses of water. Most of my exercise today has been walking backwards and forwards to use the loo in the shower block.

There is still something leaping from time to time, but I never seem to be looking at the spot, I just hear the splash and then see the concentric circles in the water. The fish I can see a re small with red fins. Normally they dart about, but I was watching them a little while ago and they seem to be just hanging in the water, a little below the surface. I am guessing they are enjoying the heat as otherwise they could swim down to the cool mud. They certainly dive when they see my shadow.

Spot the fish

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The Coronavirus Diaries, 23rd June 2020

It’s been really hot today. I have had all the windows open on the boat most of the time. Only when I made a brief sortie to Reach to but tomatoes and other salad stuff did I close them. I don’t know the young master would have tried to go ashore, probably not, but it was a risk I was not willing to take. So windows were left very slightly open but locked to stop a keen paw pushing them wider. I know if he lies on the floor it’s below the water level and so cooler, but the hot weather means I am reluctant to leave him for more than a short time. Oddly, he likes to sleep under the quilt, or even under the pillows in the heat of the day. His fur feels cool to the touch, but it wouldn’t be my first choice.

Last night he almost came ashore for a walk. It was dusk, his favourite time.

Dusk on the river

He sat at the window and did a sort of green cross code to see what was about. The cows got a particularly long scrutiny.

Is the coast clear?

Ah, cows!

We were scrutinised in return by some of them, and one calf seemed very interested.

Are you looking at me?

The geese were again in the field, the adults and their collective young. When I moved to look at them the adults hurried the goslings to the water. I took a break from watching MasterB to see the whole raft of them on the river.

A raft of geese

I don’t know how he made his decision to stay onboard, because it seemed a perfect evening to me for a stroll, but although at one point he was out of the window and on the gunwale, he turned and jumped back into the forecabin. Tonight we have neighbours on a boat moored nearby at right angles to us. They have been sitting at the back reading, but are now zipping the covers on as the day cools, so maybe the boy will venture out in a while.

Something big has been diving in the marina. I would love it to be otters which I know are on the river, but I am guessing it’s a pike. People here used to talk about a very large pike they nicknamed Moby. Maybe it’s the same one.

I was planning to watch the news tonight, but my television, which was working perfectly last time I was here, is showing no signs of life. I tried changing the fuse, hoping it was something that simple, but no joy. So my social distancing has become more distant. Or maybe that should be social isolation. Right now I don’t have internet access, my phone signal is dead. I’ll try again to see if I can post this. It can be irritating but in many ways I like it. Technology is wonderful, but it is also wonderful to be disconnected for a while and to take time out from receiving calls and emails.

I have asked one of the family members who own the marina if they have a wallpaper table or similar so I can give my covers a scrub. It would definitely be a morning task, as by eleven the sun is too hot for energetic labour. I brought details of a walk that started nearby I thought I might do, but unless the temperature drops, I shan’t be doing it this time.

Once again I am enjoying the peace and quiet. I have several books to read, and some work I’d like to do. My store cupboard is full, I have fresh vegetables and salad, enough low alcohol lager for the next few days and my new soda stream which has done valiant service today. I have grapefruit juice, elderflower cordial and ginger cordial. I brought both my little Olympus and my bigger Lumix.

I don’t think I’ll be bored.

Stay safe, keep well.

The Coronavirus Diaries, 18th June 2020

The rain has cleared the air of the sticky mugginess and although there are some light grey clouds, the sky is again blue. The forecast remains unsettled for the next few days, so I think I shall not return to das Boot before Monday.I have been gathering up some notes, printing articles I have found online for something I want to research. I have also been searching without success for three lost objects in my flat. They are none of them where they should be, so I am guessing that at some point I have thought they would be better somewhere else. That I can’t find them suggests I should have been wise to leave them where they were.

I went up to the Strand, wearing my mask on the near empty bus as is now required. It was raining a little and there was hardly anyone about. The LCE did not want to buy the cameras I had taken with me but sounded interested in the OM-1 which I had left at home.

In Covent Garden loud music played from one of the business premises, but there was little that was open. Preparations were being made for the hoped return of customers. In one bar workers were doing a deep clean. It was a similar story in the Jubilee Market.

Jubilee Market

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The Coronavirus Diaries, 6th June 2020

Fingers crossed my hot water problem has been fixed. If I could work out where the water came in the damaged the upholstery I’d feel real progress had been made. But neither Stuart nor I can make sense of it. We have had so many rain showers today if there had been an obvious point of entry it would surely have shown itself. The hailstones hammered down on the roof this afternoon and a frightened MasterB shrank towards the safety of the rear cabin and me. What a contrast with his eagerness to go ashore yesterday evening.

Bizarrely the only other occupied boat yesterday evening was the one moored beside mine. No sooner had the couple come aboard than the duck appeared, this time with her mate. Somewhere along the line they have learned to associate boaters with food. They strutted along the pontoon, ate a bagel that was offered to them, went back into the water and then the duck returned to finish up the crumbs. That’s when MasterB saw her.

Scoping out the wildlife

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