I’m at das Boot. Alone. MasterB has stayed at home and is being looked after by Celia and B&J. It’s odd to be here without him, but I am going to be busy cleaning and doing noisy things he doesn’t like, so probably just as well. He wouldn’t have liked the journey much either. There were several diversions. I saw more of Leytonstone than I have ever before. I was quite worried about being totally lost. I did learn that there is an Alfred Hitchcock Hotel in Leytonstone. I wonder what it’s like. Leytonstone is his birthplace and I am acquainted with the mosaics which honour him at the tube station, but the hotel was a bit of a surprise.
it’s coming up to 10pm and the light is fading, but you certainly couldn’t call it dark. A duck, maybe the same one that visited last year just came onto the gunwale, and then round to the foredeck and tried to get my attention, tapping on the window glaring at me fixedly. I was rather glad I had closed the windows to keep the insects out a few minutes earlier.
Das Boot is very grubby. I spent the first hours removing the worst of the dirt from the interior, discovered a half pint of very off semi skimmed milk in the fridge. Who put that there? Not me, I don’t drink milk. Maybe Stuart when he was working on the boat earlier in the year.
There were watermelons at the organic farm today so I bought one. I haven’t cut into it. It’s in the boot of the car and I shall take it home intact. The fridge on das Boot is not much bigger than a sheet of A3 paper, and I already have quite a lot of fresh food in it. Making sure it doesn’t go off means I have been eating very well, though having established that the pub at Reach is now properly open for business I am tempted to go there for lunch tomorrow before I start my sloe and blackberry picking in the afternoon.
I had a short stroll around the marina, admiring some boats and noting the absence of others who have either been sold or moved to new moorings elsewhere.
Jolly yellow boat
The countryside around is flat. It’s one of the things the fens are famous for.
Flat as far as the eye can see
MasterB has had two walks ashore. The first this morning as the day warmed up, the second this evening. Given that the weather is gorgeous though autumnal, I expected lots of people to arrive this evening. They didn’t. So tonight’s walk was an unexpected bonus, and achieved just in time as, having had a very long pee (yes!!) and spent almost as long covering it up, MasterB looked about, evidently considering his options and a car turned into the marina. I watched it drive the length of the track and guessed correctly it was our neighbours who have the boat the other side of the pontoon.
MasterB has been gradually become braver about people and cars at the marina, but the likelihood of him having a panic when he saw people walking towards him was high, so I made the choice for him, lifted him up and popped him through the window of das Boot. He was quite calm while I took his harness off, but when the footsteps crunched on the shingle close by and the pontoon began to rock he displayed his disquiet by growling and sinking his belly to the floor. He didn’t rush to hide though, and that in itself is progress. The light was already fading while we were ashore, so there has been no socialising between our two vessels, and I am guessing they will set off somewhere early in the morning. I needed to cook my supper,* so I drew curtains, popped a CD into the player and poured a glass of wine. MasterB remained crouched on the floor until I lifted him onto the bed. He looks pretty relaxed now. Maybe he’ll join me in the fore cabin in a while. Continue reading
It wasn’t the most auspicious start to our few days away. I got caught up with some stuff this morning and MasterB stubbornly refused to have a pee before I put him in the car. Instead, just about a mile from home, he began to cry and then had a pee in his basket, immediately followed by a poo. He then cried a lot more, distressed at having to share his space with his own waste.
Fortunately I was able to pull over into a car park for customers at a group of shops on the Old Kent Road. For those of you only familiar with the district via the British version of the board game Monopoly, I should tell you it is a busy road with several lanes of traffic. MasterB showed a worrying desire to get out of the car. For obvious reasons I had lifted him out of his basket. I then had to use the basket, still with pee and poo, to block his exit. I am not sure which of us was the most stressed by this. Basket emptied, I then had to get it into the car again without my cat getting out. I ended up holding him firmly round his middle and shutting him into the basket, now equipped with clean newspaper, before closing the door and getting his seat belt round the basket again.
I don’t know if anyone watched this performance. I was much too concerned to get it done to look out for onlookers. After that he settled and slept for most of the journey, which was just as well as I think we hit every red light on the route and ended up travelling through school traffic. Never a good idea, though it did give me the chance to study the truly hideous uniforms girls have to wear at some schools in Bishops Stortford. Is this an infringement of their human rights, or their rights as children not to be made to look ridiculous? There seemed a lot of school children about well before three thirty. Are schools finishing earlier? Continue reading
The nights were pretty cold when I was away and I was glad of a hot water bottle. Two dogs snuggling beside me in the evening, plus the heat from the stove kept me warm in the sitting room.
Westie Boy was probably feeling the cold as his coat has been clipped very short in preparation for Cousin’s upcoming trip to Australia to see daughter Number One in Sydney, while her husband, who’s staying at home, will be promoted to Dog Carer in Charge. The one who looks like a walking hearth rug is Westie Pup, who belongs to Daughter Number Two and with whom I was delighted to be reunited over the weekend. Rather more delighted than Westie Boy was to have her there I’m sorry to say.
The mornings were chilly and bright, frost evident on the fields and verges.
Blue skies, green fields
Celia and I went on a walk today. We are calling it Auntie Mary’s Walk. We had a wonderful day. I hope this picture conveys something of the ambience. Continue reading
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.
I am quite touched by the concern for my wellbeing expressed in the comments to last night’s post. Thinking about it today, I realise I have not had an extended break from town for a long time. I had planned to go to Crete in November, but that was cancelled and I ended up with my new and lovely kitchen. So I am wondering if my feeling on return to the Smoke was simply a realisation that I need to be away for a while.
After all, I love what London offers. I love the theatre the museums, the diversity. When I am in the country for extended periods I am often appalled by people’s expressed opinions on all manner of things. I live in a liberal (small l) world here in London; in the country I regularly encounter people who not only read the Daily Mail but believe what it says. I shouldn’t last a month.
After posting yesterday, I noticed I had a comment waiting for approval. I looked and was left somewhat confused.
This is what it says:
that is the way things still carry on in the countryside and its why we dont like city dwellers x they will never understand salx sooner or later you run out of friends and neighbours
It is in reply to a comment made on this post about the cruelty of some people towards animals. Continue reading
Celia and I were remarkably calm about being lost. I don’t think she was putting on a brave face for me, and I certainly wasn’t for her. In some strange way, it was rather enjoyable, and heightened the feeling of having time out. Also we were in Kent, not the wilds of Siberia.
I came late to Kent. I grew up in the neighbouring county of Surrey. Say that to many English people and they will wrinkle their noses and assume you lived in a house with at least five bedrooms, you had a pony, went to private school and your father was Something in the City, while you mother did Good Works or played golf.
For better or worse, that was not my experience, but something of Surrey’s high opinion of itself certainly rubbed off on me, because despite some familiarity with Kent through regular visits to see Aunt, I always saw it as a much less attractive county.
Kent is beautiful. It’s different from Surrey and discovering it by walking its paths has been a pleasure. When you ramble, you usually bypass villages, only going into them for lunch stops at pubs, so getting lost and being guided along roads by my ‘phone meant we went to places I had never seen.
Oast houses featured. None being used for their original purpose, they had all been converted into homes way out of my price range. Still, it’s nice to look.
Converted Oast House