It’s not all pink gins, striped tops and waiting for the sun to pass the yard arm you know. No, not at all. Without a yard arm in sight to tell us whether it was okay to drink or not, Celia and I polished off the bottle of white wine that has been keeping me company in the evening since. Friday. We were also having a very late lunch.
This morning I dressed in my horrid three quarter length trews, a pair of waterproof trousers which badly need replacing as the elastic has gone, and I feel like one of those boys who wears their trousers below their buttocks, Mother’s old waterproof, black rubber gloves and my beach shoes. The reason for such glamorous attire? I wanted to start on the task of cleaning the exterior of das Boot.
It’s curiously satisfying work, though perhaps not the traditional way to spend one’s birthday, but I was as happy as Larry as the accumulated filth of the winter months started to wash away. I spent ages on the front cover and wet, it looked pretty good. Dry, I can see all the bits I missed.
I stopped, reckoning it must be approaching twelve, then inside discovered the seals around the bathroom windows need replacing, and there was evidence of my work on the walls. It didn’t take long to clear up, then I tripped off to the shower.
I had just stepped back on board and was wondering whether to eat a piece of bread and cheese or tidy up a bit when my phone pinged. A message from Celia to say she had boarded the train, and was due to arrive in a little over an hour at Ely. Continue reading
The grebes are nesting, but not next to das Boot. This year they have chosen a spot on the river. I watched them busy collecting material. It seems much noisier spot than in the marina, but I suppose most grebes don’t have the luxury of off river facilities. I took some pictures, but it don’t know they show more than vague outlines.
I forgot MasterB’s harness so he can’t have shoreleave, and this time he seems rather keen. I’ve been playing with him, but it can’t be as interesting as the smells he’d have found out on a walk. Indoor cats must miss out on a lot.
The forecast has been so dire I nearly didn’t come. But in my heart of hearts I knew I wanted to be here and if there was a chance the weather might be kind, I would come. So there I was this morning, still vacillating, but at the back of my mind choosing the things I would pack. Pity I forgot the harness. Maybe if it’s quiet tomorrow morning I’ll risk taking him ashore and letting him run free. Not if it’s windy though. I don’t want any accidents when he gets back in board.
The journey east was varied. We left in sunshine, drove through hail with winds that swept the rain sideways across the roads. Pedestrians in Stratford outlined by garments wrapped round them. Then more sunshine; winds that chased clouds across impossibly blue skies; scatters of raindrops.
There were roadworks. There are always roadworks in spring. One lot had us crawling several miles until we were clear. I stopped at a petrol station and filled the tank.
Near the start of the undulating road across the fens that leads to the marina I nabbed half a dozen eggs from the nice egg lady. The road seems even more undulating than a week ago. Mary and her two uncontrolled but beautiful Labradors was here. They ignored her commands and jumped up at me. MasterB, so had been quiet and accepting most of the journey began to cry plaintively as I emptied the car. I wanted to get the bed made before he came aboard. When I let him out of his box, he made big eyes and sniffed everywhere before taking refuge under a pillow.
The Camembert I bought was so ripe I am surprised it didn't board das Boot on its own. A lucky and completely chance find at the local Co-op. It made a very good dessert. So good I ate rather more of it than I intended, and am only now catching up with the red wine.
I only had one excursion away from das Boot and the marina today. I needed eggs and bread, so set off for the organic farm where the plants made me salivate. Celia hoped to come here on Sunday, but has been struck down by a vicious lurgy, so may have to postpone her visit. I took these pictures to tempt her, now they may serve for her to tell me what she wants me to bring back for her.
I wanted to upload a little video of MasterB to YouTube, but i-Movie and YouTube aren’t talking, so after a lot of time and effort resulting in total failure, I have given up.
I could feel quite cast down, but the weather is too nice for that. It is so very definitely spring. Yesterday I was on the river and there was even the promise of summer in the air. I was on one of the City Cruise boats and had the lower, inside deck almost to my self. I did go aloft for a moment or two. It was packed.
Shard and Thames
Aunt turned 92 today. I am going to spend a few days with her later in the week. This is likely to be her last birthday. She has decided against having a stent put in, so as her oesophagus narrows she will be unable to swallow. We have been in a flurry, making sure the specaist nurse knows of her decision and that the palliative care nurse are aware and ready to spring into action when she needs them so that she doesn’t get whisked away to hospital. Continue reading
Mother would have been 94 today. Obviously I didn’t have to buy a card, but the day couldn’t go by without something to mark it and remember her.
After my post last week, Memories and Memorials, I had a bit of a think. I like Ruth’s idea of a small volume of Mother’s favourite poems, but there are copyright issues.
So today, I had some copies of poems with me. When I met a likely person, I offered the poems face down in a fan shape and so they could choose one. Beneath each one I had written this:
This is a poem that my mother Anne, 26th November 1919-1st May 2013, loved to listen to. Please enjoy and share it.
I hoped people would read them aloud to someone else. One person did and I stayed to listen. Maybe the others will do so later with friends and family. Over the next few days, I plan to distribute some more copies in the pub, a local café, a shop. As I write this I am wondering if 26th November will become my owm personal Poetry Day. So if you are reading this and nodding, grab a poem that you like and read it aloud. If there is no one with you, share the words with yourself and the day, and feel the power of poetry. Continue reading
Two of my aunts have birthdays this weekend. Both are Mother’s younger sisters. On Saturday, Aunt, who lives relatively near Mother and visits her as often as she can, turns ninety. The baby of the family, Aunt-in-Belfast, is a mere eighty-six on Sunday. I am feeling quite pleased with my organisation. Flowers will be delivered to the remaining sibling, Mother’s adored younger brother. He and she are only eleven months apart and were like twins. She still talks about her brother, though she hasn’t seen him for several years now. She had two more brothers, but Brother is the one she loved and loves jealously. He will take them to Aunt-in-Belfast who is very bad at answering the door. He has a key.
The second card made me cry. The envelope had Aunt’s handwriting, and I was unprepared for the emotional impact of the contents.
She must have taken it to Mother a couple of weeks ago. The poignancy of the wobbly signature, the way she had obviously struggled to sign her name, made the breath catch in my throat. Fortunately, I caught myself on and opened a third card of a cycling guinea pig and that made me laugh, so back on track for a happy birthday. Continue reading
I just read this email from my cousin Helen. She had been showing Aunt Kath the post and the comments.
“Just managed to prise Mum away from your blog. That was a real success although she couldn’t read the comments she could see the pictures and the bold headings and loved it.
Well done, some lovely comments from your friends.”
Thank-you, everyone. Warm fuzzy moments all round.
The best of aunts, my Aunt Kath is ninety-six today. Here she is with her twin brother, my Uncle Sid,
May the world always hold happy surprises, and the tree of life offer you safety, shelter and adventure…
Many Happy Returns of the Day.
Hope you have a fab birthday!