Yesterday

I was reading when Older Nephew arrived and didn't hear his car. The crunch of gravel near at hand made me look up and there he was. Now the day was warm, though it had been chilly first thing when I had braved the Spartan conditions of the shower block to emerge briskly clean.

We had a brief discussion and decided to head out. Older Nephew had limited time, so it couldn't be a long trip. I made lunch as we travelled, and we kept our eyes on the skies watching the kestrels hovering. We also had to keep our eyes on the water. There was very little traffic but a lot of weed. MasterB had inspected it from the rear cabin window earlier at the marina.

There were a surprising number of cows with young calves, then this fine fellow lost in contemplation.

Another cow seemed to watching us.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Home Thoughts From the East

OK I am back in London where, although the thermometer tells me the temperature is the same, it feels much hotter than in the country. Tonight, having cleared some space on my laptop, I have been able to download some pictures from my little Olympus.

Goodness I feel conflicted. I grew up in the countryside. I walked to school through a housing estate, where I lived, built on farmland, through more farmland, and my first school years were beside a sheep farm. We had plenty of opportunity to witness the cycles of life. I thought lambs were born in plastic bags.

The countryside exerts a huge pull. But I live in London. Unlike New York, it sleeps, but there are endless exhibitions, free events, wonderful theatre. My neighbour Wendy, who has a number of serious health issues, has been disregarding her partner’s instructions. He is away from home, and, anxious about her wellbeing, has told her not to leave the house. Well, huh to that. I have met her out and about the last two days. She is very interested in the pretty tabby I have told her about, though partner has banned any new cats. We stood on the street, and were joined by other neighbours. Wendy’s health issues have not dimmed her interest or attendance in theatre. Time was I’d see her dancing through her housework which she’d do accompanied by the soundtrack to shows such as South Pacific. One of the neighbours who joined our chat – never believe the rubbish that Londoners don’t know their neighbours – explained she had lived in Brixton, had not heard of Walworth, and now could not believe how central was her location.

But this is not what I intended to post about. I have a few pictures on my camera from das Boot. Pictures I hope will help you understand why I love being there. Pictures which show MasterB relaxed and contented afloat.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Continue reading

Boat Perfect

A week ago I was at the airport, learning that my flight had been delayed and starting the slow return to London after a break in the country where I had been surrounded by fields with cows and fat lambs; wild flowers in the hedgerow; skies that changed from grey to blue and back again; farm buildings and farm machinery a part of the landscape; and greens of all the shades they say make up Ireland.

But hold on a minute, for I am again surrounded by fields, by sheep and cows and hens; there are farm buildings and farm machinery; this morning’s pale skies have become a radiant blue; the hedgerows buzz with bees enjoying the wild flowers; the countryside is swathed in her summer greens. The internet connection is just as erratic as at Cousin’s.

Wet Weather Boating

The rain is streaming down the windows. We got afloat in a window of pale blue skies and light winds. MasterB walked to das Boot on his harness, having a good sniff around, and deciding that as the cows were in the field he preferred to got on board earlier feather than later. Which was a bit of a shame I thought, as no one was around, no sign of any feral cats, the rain we had been driving through had stopped, and it was a lovely evening. Maybe tomorrow. But despite the fact that I forgot to bring an adequate supply of his favourite biscuits, he has been and is being a little star.

To those of you who have heard and believed that cats are aloof, standoffish, users, it may stretch your belief when I say he's a great little companion. But he is. I sometimes (make that always) feel guilty about bringing him to das Boot where he has a mch more restricted life, but his being here makes it so very much better. Right now he's alternately dozing and listening to the sounds of the birds beyond the boat. I have the curtains open, and when a bird flies past his attention is caught. Continue reading

Mixed Emotions

I am aboard das Boot on a spring evening. I came here this afternoon, after a later start than planned, but I had been weeping over the tributes to Victoria Wood, then my nice neighbour Lawrence was helping connect my television to the internet.

I have a strong suspicion that Victoria Wood’s fame never crossed the Atlantic. In my adult life her writing and performances have been a continued pleasure. I believe sometime in the past I posted a link to her singing one of her many compositions, Let’s Do It. Check it on YouTube and you may understand what you have missed if her name is new to you.

Although I came up to das Boot a couple of weeks ago, I came by train, and met Brian who has been doing some work on my neglected vessel at the station before coming here in his car. Today was the first time I have driven East since Aunt’s funeral, and the first time I think I have ever stayed here without calling her. I want to tell her that the Great Crested Grebes are around and I am crossing my fingers they will again nest near das Boot; that there are new born lambs in the field next door, and pairs of ducks swimming about the marina; that I saw bluebells in the roadside woods, and stray tulips posing as wild flowers on the verge.

My visit is brief. I shall go home tomorrow. Last time I was here I realised the while. Brian has making the necessary improvements the boat’s interior has filled with dust. Like every man who has ever worked on das Boot, Brian does not share my philosophy regarding dust sheets. Whenever I leave, I cover the soft furnishings and the mattress, put bedding into zipped bags, with the aim of reducing the amount of spider poo and other unwelcome additions to them. Brian has removed the dust covers, folded them neatly, and not replaced them. What is it about dust covers that men don’t understand? Continue reading

A Blast of Summer and Some Bites

On and off throughout the day I remembered I hadn’t yet brushed my hair. Each time I was nowhere near my hairbrush. I remembered again on my way back to das Boot from blackberry picking and buying tomatoes. My fingernails were stained a gory red, I had blackberry juice stains on my shirt (I still have) and my face was flushed from the sudden return of heat to August. Well you have to let your standards drop so times. No laughing there at the back, you who know me.

Summer’s end of term report this year is unlikely to feature any A*s. There will be comments exhorting her to try harder, remarks about inconsistency and lack of concentration. Maybe she is in love. Certainly for much of the time it has felt as though her attention were elsewhere. We have lurched from cool days and grey skies to scorching heat and back again. Even coming away for this weekend I packed for three seasons.

Being British, the weather is of course a main staple of my conversation, and certainly this summer has not failed to give variety to the theme. But for this weekend she has it right. This morning I rather doubted the forecasters who predicted sunny skies and rising degrees this afternoon, culminating in one full day of heat and sunshine tomorrow before rain on Sunday evening.

In other words, the perfect weekend to be away from London and afloat. No doubt at this very minute some of my near neighbours at home are drinking too much after their barbecues, talking loudly, and preparing to open a few more bottles. Tomorrow will be an amplified version of the same, and tough if you want to get to sleep before the braying laughter and sudden shouts have ceased in the pre dawn. Continue reading

Happily Afloat

Forty eight hours afloat have achieved their magic. My neighbour can live. Though if some disaster befell her I might struggle to feel guilty. I don’t want to go home tomorrow. I want to stay here, to continue cleaning das Boot with my new power hose that connects to the submersible pump.

I knew the outside of das Boot was dirty. I had not appreciated it was filthy. Standing on the foredeck I rediscovered the colour of the non-slip covering. It took a while. The splash back from the jet meant my feet and legs were quickly very wet.

Continue reading

The Pictures Unposted

When I first started blogging my strap line was Landlubber Afloat. That was in the DT days. But it underlines how I thought being on das Boot was going to be a main reason for writing. And even now, when I am afloat, my urge to record the days is far greater than when I am home. Blogging became about other things, but Mother, Cat and das Boot were by far and away the most important parts of my online journal.

Now Aunt is looking at her life to come in terms of months, and taking her to the places she wants to go, helping her to see the flowers and landscapes she wants to see has brought a new focus to my visits East and to my posts.

In time to come these pictures, these words will remind me of the strange path we tread now. I say that with some confidence, as when I reread the posts about Mother they take me back to feelings, good and bad, I now often find difficult to recall. Some people say that photographs disrupt the process of memory. I can see that that is possible, but photographs also capture a moment and can bring back a time and its attendant emotions with startling clarity.

Slow evenings like tonight (though I have little hope that there is even the slightest chance of uploading this post until I am back at home) watching the sun go down on the river, listening to the birdsong, watching MasterB, take me back to Mother dying and after.

They don't make me particularly sad, though understandably there are moments. Rather, I feel a closeness to her that is precious. Maybe driving around an East Anglia in its spring clothes will in the future bring Aunt back too.

Our memories work in strange ways.

So you may enjoy these photos, and I hope you shall, but they will doubtless have an entirely different resonance for me.