It started with a swan nibbling at the lily pads while I made my breakfast, progressed through the usual array of ducks and geese. I heard more wood pigeons than I saw. The window of the fore cabin was open a smidgin, a gardening cane safe in the gulley to stop a curious cat pushing it wider. The curious cat was going to have a bloody good go though, and I turned from pouring boiled water onto the coffee grounds in their neat, unbleached filter paper to see his head and shoulders were already halfway through. After retrieving him (he wasn’t pleased) I trimmed another gardening cane to a longer length. At this rate I shall have to buy more. I have ordered some other gadgets to restrict how wide the windows open, but they are coming from China and may take some weeks.
Had I not still been in my pyjamas it would have been a good opportunity to let MasterB have some shore leave, but that fact and the as yet uneaten breakfast hardened my heart. There’s cctv here, I don’t really want anyone watching video clips of me in my nightwear.
MasterB retreated under a pillow where he remained until we left the marina in the early afternoon with Older Nephew at the helm, me on ropes, drinks and nibbles, when he joined us in the fore cabin, safely sheltered in his usual cushion citadel. Continue reading →
I am hoping MasterB will come and join me on the foredeck, then maybe venture ashore while it is still light and sunny. There's no one around. I can't even see any geese or cows in the field next door, though birds are singing and insects drone as they fly by me.
It has been a gorgeous day, perfect July weather, mid 20s degrees C, though it felt hotter this afternoon and I revised my plan to sit out here and stayed with MasterB in the rear cabin. That was a bit of a revelation. I don't usually spend much time looking out of the back of the boat when we are in the marina. It's perfect for bird watching. Birds were swooping about, skimming over the water to catch insects. The swallows were silent and graceful, but there was another bird in significant numbers that made splashy noisy contact with water. It had a forked tail and the same sort of wings as swallows, but was much bigger, and white with a black head. I reached for my bird book, the one I keep saying I am going to replace, wondering if there was a type of swallow I had never heard of. That would be eminently possible as an ornithologist I am not. But I think it's a Tern, a type of gull. I don't recall seeing them here before, at least not in such large numbers, which is another argument for an up to date bird book.
Before the day warmed up I did some boat cleaning. Armed with the water pump, the hose, an old toothbrush and an even older J cloth, I washed slime from the port side of the boat. My goodness it was dirty. I think I jet hosed it last summer, but you'd never have guessed. I had intended to do some jet washing today as well, to clean the stuff that stops me slipping and sliding on the gunwale, but the slime removal took longer than I expected, and when I went inside it was evident MasterB was not happy. For starters he had thrown up all over the but of carpet that sits in front of the sink. Another thing to wash.
So I curbed my enthusiasm, unplugged and disconnected everything, left them on the gravel to drain and dry while I showered. When I went to put them away a few hours later I found them boiling with ants, flying ants. Today is evidently the day when ants sprout wings, and the spot they were doing it here was in front of my boat. They have all dispersed now and the evening is left to dragonflies, bees butterflies and other things I can't name. Leaping fish make loud splashes, there's a bird that has been calling all day that sounds like a phone alarm. Goodness knows what that is. Every now and then cows I can't see low from the other side of the river.
As timing goes, it was pretty good. I'd been back on dasBoot rather less than thirty seconds after a longish (in terms of time rather than distance) walk with my camera when the heavens parted and there was a brief but determined shower of rain. Now it's shaping up to be another lovely evening.
Today I had decided to write. Some of you will now that a few years ago I started a collection of short stories about the Greek gods. These grew until I had around 18,000 words and I realised I was writing a novel. Lots of things happened at the same time: Mother's death and its aftermath, giving up my salaried part-time job and going completely freelance, Aunt beginning to fail. I think these things contributed to the cessation of my Greek gods stories, but the main reason was feeling I needed to structure what I had written, to think about what the point if the stories was. I stopped enjoying them and stopped writing them.
However, they have stayed with me. From time to time I have wondered how Hera is getting on, if her walking boots are still conker bright; if Hades and Persephone have managed the makeover of the Underworld; if Zeus has seen even a glimpse of the light regarding his behaviour; and how Poseidon and Amphitrite's business is going. I have wondered what Max and Dr Jones are up to, if Evangelia has moved to another job, if the Goddesses'Guild is thriving. Continue reading →
Just on four o’clock and as I don’t drink tea I decided to open one of my cans of weak lager. MasterB is stretched out on the bed, sleeping his way through the heat of the afternoon. I’d post pictures of him and the surrounding farmland, but for some reason my camera and my tablet are not talking. He’s a seasoned boat cat these days; he’s been coming here for five years now, the first time the day after he was neutered, which was also the day of the Royal Wedding. He’s had three lots of shore leave, though this morning’s was very short. Although eager to check out the world beyond the gunwale, he swiftly had second thoughts and opted to come aboard again after less than five minutes.
When I woke up I discovered he had been playing with the feathered toy in the night. I had hidden it away as I don’t want him to choke on it. He is getting too clever at winkling it out if the hiding places.
The morning was spent washing the boat. It is not yet finished, but I have done a good job on the starboard side and the roof. Unfortunately these are the areas where I always do a good job; the port side has green algae of at least two seasons on it. My excuse last year was that I was just getting down to work when with the hose and water pump when I realised the window seals were inadequate and water was pouring into the interior. My excuse today, when I eschewed the electrics and instead used mop, new broom which distressingly shed its bristles with abandon, and old toothbrush, is that older Nephew was coming for lunch and I needed to be showered and have said lunch ready to eat when he arrived. So shortly after eleven, when I had been diligently mopping and rinsing, scrubbing and mopping again for over two hours, I propped the mop in the flagpole holder, lined the broom up beside the landing net (which is not for fishing but in case MasterB falls in) and headed for the shower. Oddly, I was quite sad to curtail my cleaning efforts. Continue reading →
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.
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 →
My Keens are drying in the bathroom. The washing machine was loaded as I unpacked. I had dropped my trousers into the marina and Older Nephew had to grab the landing net and pass it to me before they sank beneath the weed.
I have never seen such a weedy marina. It is like a mini rain forest around das Boot. Getting buckets of water out of it sans weed was more than tricky. Actually getting buckets of water out of it was tricky as the bucket handle snapped off after the second dunking. After that I had to lower the handleless bucket in the landing net to get some water to swish das Boot’s front cover as I cleaned the green algae from it.
The results were better than I had expected and motivate me to do the back cover next time. Older Nephew turned up, having just flown back from Brussels, as I sat cross-legged on the foredeck in my waterproof trousers, scrubbing away at the non-slip stuff which was/is full of gunk.