Captain’s Log: Tuesday’s Child

I am so happy. I thought this a moment ago, and it felt so good I decided to make it the first sentence of tonight’s post. It’s not the wine talking, though I have just poured a glass of Frascati as an aperitif.

I don’t think the way I have chosen to spend my birthday matches many people’s idea of a celebratory day, but it has worked for me. I woke early, got a good morning cuddle from MasterB and then I drifted off to sleep again. The sun was up, the skies were blue, the wind was cold. I headed for the shower and towelled myself briskly to Ward of hypothermia. Then to the car and a trip down the road to Janet Eggs who I had texted last night. No eggs. I considered, then sent her a text saying I was outside. She appeared, still in her pyjamas and invited me into her kitchen. She was sent home from work yesterday after being sick, and has to stay at home today. It was lovely. We stood and talked, looking out at her garden. I showed her the WhatsApp messages Older Nephew and Octavia had exchanged regarding wine for Sunday and she approved, one of these days she’ll come to das Boot. Whether she’ll bring Squidge, her standard poodle, depends on whether MasterB is aboard or not. And the likelihood is, he will be. I returned to das Boot with a box of the freshest laid and had my second egg of 2018. Delicious.yes, I would give them up if no happy pet hens were in my life, indeed I have, hence this being only the second egg of 2018.

Day three, and MasterB’s at home. I don’t think he’d necessarily need a cushion citadel were we to go out on the river tonight. He’s not keen on the engine noise, so reading about hybrid electric/diesel boats made my heart beat faster. Maybe I have won the lottery. Maybe Older Nephew will have an Aston Martin for his 40th birthday. Maybe the moon is made of green cheese.

Then I headed for MIldenhall, but obviously I had to go to the farm at Reach where I bought two tomato plants and a kale plant, some fresh salad and some organic rhubarb. Next stop, Freckenham. It is the asparagus season. I bought two bunches, one for me, one for Octavia. Finally Mildenhall where I took the wrong turning for the cemetery and was on my way to Thetford. Fortunately there was a place to turn, so I turned. The chrysanthemum I had planted on the stone marking where Dad’s ashes were buried has gone. Aunt’s grave had a good smattering of healthy plants and a stretch of bald earth. I went back to the town and bought petunias and French marigolds which I duly planted and watered. Older Nephew is going to water them in a week or so, so for once, I am not praying for fine weather. Continue reading

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Captain’s Log: Monday

Tomorrow, as well as being my birthday, is the fifth anniversary of Mother’s death. Clearing out some papers a couple of weeks ago I found a letter sent by a friend I have known since we were both five. She sent it just before Christmas 2013, and I imagine it must have been contained in a Christmas card. In the letter she commented on the fact that Mother’s death and my birthday happened on the same day, and remarked that for me this is a time of year when the space between heaven and earth will be particularly thin. It certainly feels like it today.

Although tomorrow is the anniversary of her death, today is the anniversary of the last time I saw Mother alive. And on and off today I have felt waves of emotion, reliving some of the memories of that day, and other memories of very different times. I’m sure part of the reason for this is that I am at das Boot where I stayed as she lay dying and for for several days afterwards, and also that I was with Older Nephew yesterday so family feelings got stirred up with the pair of us reminiscing about Mother’s wonderful baking repertoire. For the most part we had different favourites, but we were united in loving the marmite whirls she would make from scraps of left over savoury pastry. Heaven. Continue reading

Captain’s Log: Sunday

I wrote this last night,but could not post as I had no internet. Surprisingly,this morning, which is wild,cold and wet, I’m able to get online. I hope it lasts and I may be able to post again later.

Well, we had a lovely day. Not the weather; that was resolutely grey, threatening, and occasionally delivering, rain, cold, and generally sulky. But Octavia made her first trip to das Boot and on it, with Older Nephew piloting, me on coffee, washing up and other Anneish activities as in the Famous Five. It is my boat after all, so it is only right and proper that I should be the chief wielder of duster, wet wipe, and wearer of rubber gloves.

We drank an impressive amount of alcohol while still remaining coherent and relatively sober. What that says about our livers I don’t know, and I’m not sure I want to know. MasterB, who had been distressed during parts of the car journey, voiding his bladder and bowels somewhere near Bow, spent most of the journey to the pub, The Shippe at Brandon Creek, where we enjoyed a very late but satisfactory lunch, under the pillows in the rear cabin. On the journey back to the marina he was keener to be near us, albeit hidden from view in a citadel of cushions in the fore cabin. Continue reading

Beautiful, Happy Boy

As some of you know, MasterB has not been very happy in our garden for some time. The problem, or rather problems, being the local cats who have designs on his territory.

However, last week in the few unseasonably warm days we enjoyed, he sat outside with me while I got on with some work and he was obviously relaxed, obviously content. It was like having my cat back again. I hope we have more days like these in the summer when it comes.

With bluebells

Showing his stripey jumper

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Two Faces of Humanity

I missed the opening minutes of the news on Channel 4 tonight but tuned in to hear that 1300 people of the Windrush Generation have been identified as suffering the effects of Theresa May’s vaunted Hostile Environment. Make that 1300 so far. Think about that number. It’s not small, it’s not insignificant. Imagine 1300 of your neighbours being told they had no right to remain in this country. I used to live in a village with a population of 600. It would have been emptied twice over. I’ve worked in schools with 1000 pupils. Imagine them all gone, and their teachers and maybe all the pupils and staff from the local primary school too to make up the 1300.

What times we live in. Continue reading

Divide and Rule and the Windrush Generation

Such excitement chez Isobel (and Cat) this afternoon when I located the lottery ticket I bought for last Friday’s draw and checked the winning numbers. I am so inured to reading that there are no matches that it took a couple of seconds for the news to sink in and to understand that I am a winner. At last! I haven’t yet claimed my prize and am not sure how I am going to spend it. £8.10 may not be a life changing amount, but after months of zero it’s quite exciting. It could get me three quarters of a glass of champagne in a not too fussy establishment; pay for more than half the ticket I have bought to see Our Country’s Good next week at Stratford East; buy two and a bit copies of Saturday’s Guardian; buy four entries to Saturday’s Lottery. However you look at it, I’m a winner.

Not so the Windrush generation. I thought my country couldn’t plumb new depths after the fiasco which was the referendum in 2016, but in an increasingly crowded field for acts of shameful inhumanity it seems the race to the bottom is being fought hard. We’re told the government has apologised, that there will be compensation, compensation described by MP Kwame Kwarteng as generous. Oh that’s alright then. So you may have lost your home, your job, your entitlement benefits and health care, been threatened with deportation and locked up in a detention centre not knowing where you are going to be this time next week, but now you can sleep easy in your bed as the government has promised to make amends. 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:

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Just One Picture

Could there be a more perfect view?

Slieve Gallion (1,737ft)

In the past I’ve walked up it when I used to take part in the Sperrins hillwalking festival. Nowadays I look at it when I do the regular walk with Westie Boy when I stay at Cousin’s. Aunt Ella’s funeral was two weeks ago and I spent two more days in NI, enjoying beautiful spring weather in the countryside. Tonight I booked flights for ten days in NI in August. Continue reading

There Will Be Tears

There is nothing pleasant about seeing a ninety-six year old man in tears at his wife’s funeral. Uncle Bill bore up well, and showed evident pleasure greeting his various nieces and nephews outside the crematorium. The service, conducted by my cousin Tom, was kept light at Uncle Bill’s request, and it was good to see him nodding and smiling, laughing at one point, as Tom reminded us of happier times. The tears came afterwards, when we gathered to have tea and sandwiches and Uncle Bill was assailed by a stream of people offering condolences.

I’m glad to say he smiled again, and we made plans to meet in the summer (we being as many of the clan as can be assembled at one time) with photos to share, pencils to annotate, and memories to swap. His younger son, the one who lives in Melbourne, looks so like his father it’s a bit like time travel. He goes home tonight, so the jet lag he’s just getting over will be overlaid by the next long haul flights. But it was good to see him by his father’s side, and I’m sure he’d vote it worth the discomfort. Both sons are supportive, and the family is close. They are concerned for Uncle Bill, but while he mourns the loss of a wife, they have lost their mother, their children have lost their grandmother. That’s never easy, no matter how old you are. So mutual support all round will, I trust, be the order of the day. There are bound to be more tears, more moments of dislocation and aching loss, and that’s right too. Continue reading

Pet Remembrance Day 2018

Since Cat died 20th March 2011 I have invited people to join me the Sunday following the anniversary in remembering our pets. It began the week after Cat died and brought me tremendous comfort. I was overwhelmed by people who emailed me telling me stories of their pets, how much they had loved them, how much they missed them, how much they appreciated those animals’ contribution to their lives.

Often when a pet dies it’s hard to talk about it. Colleagues can be unsympathetic; it’s only a cat/dog/guinea pig is a fairly common response. Yet it is normal and right to grieve, and wrong if we have to hide our grief, be made to feel ashamed, made to feel weak or foolish.
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