The Coronavirus Diaries, 8th August 2020

Fortunately this afternoon the breeze became stronger and the air in consequence fresher, free of the clinging humidity of the last two days.I put my book aside and went for a walk. There’s a ridge, I presume manmade, that protects the fields beyond from flooding, and it allows views across the flat farmland. This is fertile country and everywhere you look is green and growth. I took some pictures, but it seems the internet connection keeps dropping so I may not be able to upload them.

I haven’t seen the cows all day. Where are they? A moment ago I heard a cow mooing and looked up, hoping to see the herd in the field beyond the fence but nothing. The cow I heard was probably across the river. In the other direction there is another farm, or rather a farm house with a couple of fields. The last people to live there were very unfriendly and bred dogs which barked a great deal and which I used to pity. The current owners keep hens, horses, some rare breed sheep, and two llamas. I hadn’t noticed the llamas until this afternoon. I haven’t met the owners, but like their predecessors they have roped off a path which when I first came here people were free to use, so maybe they don’t want to meet the neighbours either.

I had a conversation with the Dan, son of the couple who own the marina, and another with a woman who has a boat here with her husband. Until now the woman and I have only smiled and said hello. Today we talked about Coronavirus and the uncertainty of the future. It was a similar story with Dan. Continue reading

The Coronavirus Diaries, 7th August 2020

I am sitting at the back of the boat enjoying the very slight breeze around my neck and face.It’s been a hot day with temperatures above 35C. Not only hot but humid, so not a day for strenuous activity. I have done a fair amount of reading, drunk pints and pints of water, swept dead flying ants from the boat’s exterior and otherwise moved as little as possible. MasterB has slept in various positions and places around the boat. He had a walk after breakfast, his breakfast, not mine. While he ate I went to the shower block, and when I returned he was at the door. It was already warm, but no one else seemed to be up, so we had a pleasant stroll, both of us for different reasons watching the thrush with interest. We nearly had another stroll just now, but a boat entered the marina as MasterB was about to go ashore and he had a change of heart.

I had a conversation with Stuart as I was finishing my own breakfast and so decided to get out the battery charger and see if the battery could be revived. It turned out the fuse had gone in the charger, so I wasn’t able to carry out this plan until I had been to the shops. I forgot to take my mask, but fortunately had a small towel in the car which I tied round my face. It worked surprisingly well and was more comfortable than some of the masks I have bought. On the track from the marina a pine marten carrying a dead mouse in its mouth ran across the path. On the road there were numerous spilled beetroot. I stopped and gathered some up. Some beets have been mulched and are in piles in the fields. Their distinctive sweetly earthy smell hangs in the air, overpowering the leeks which are in neighbouring fields. Are mulched beets good fertiliser, or is there just a glut the farmers can’t sell?

I could have tried the engine earlier than I did, but MasterB was asleep near it and I didn’t want to upset him. He woke up and moved to a new location and I primed the engine for a minute, turned the key and it sprang to life. I’ve removed the charger and will try the engine again tomorrow to see if the battery has held the charge. Older Nephew and partner are coming here at the weekend, so when I leave I’ll leave it on trickle charge just in case.

The book I am reading is Homeland by Fernando Aramburu. It’s very well written and I am involved in the story, but worrying that the person who lent it to me will want it back before I have finished it. It’s a our book group’s summer read and nearly 600 pages long. I am on page 133.

The ants started swarming again tonight and my heart sank. It was still over 30C and the prospect of sweltering inside the boat behind closed windows did not appeal. Fortunately it seems to have been a much less extensive occasion than yesterday, and they have all gone.

The sunset is spectacular. If the red sky at night saying is true, we are in for a glorious day tomorrow.

Red Sky at Nigh

Shepherd’s Delight

Behind me I can the swans nibbling at the weed. They are doing an excellent job. This morning the cows were in the field, and one cow was watching me. I slowly approached the fence talking to her. She came a bit nearer. I kept on talking to her. The flies were bothering her and she kept shaking her head to get them away from her eyes. She could do with one of those shields horses wear. The farmer doesn’t seem to have any water troughs for the cattle. They must have to drink from the river. The cow finally came right up to me and allowed me to stroke her face. Emboldened, others who had been watching started to walk towards us and soon there was a good crowd, including Mr Handsome who gently nudged his way through the others for a neck scratch and rub. Two young calves were watching, one shied away from me when I stretched out my hand, but the other, which was black with a white face, was braver and had a good sniff at my arm. It made me want to read The Secret Life of Cows all over again. Maybe I can suggest it for book group.

Stay safe. Keep well. Be kind.

Captain’s Log 3rd October 2018

I am at das Boot with the First Mate (MasterB has been promoted). We are both  in the rear cabin, I’m on the director’s chair looking out at the quiet marina, MasterB is purring on the pink fleecy blanket at the end of the bed.

In the field beside us the calves are grazing with their mothers. I got off to photograph some of them. They are so very pretty. One or two were curious but shy. I like to think their mothers recognise me as the woman who uproots sticky weed from my side of the barbed wire fence to give them. Certainly they seem unconcerned by my presence, and do nothing to warn their calves not to speak to me.


Continue reading

Some Pictures From the East

Naturally while I was East I had my camera. In fact I had both cameras. I was hopeful that the Crested Grebes would have again built their nest on the port side of das Boot so I wanted my long lens.

They hadn’t.

However, a moorhen and her chicks moved about the reeds and betwenn the boats close by. For such shy birds, they are very vocal.

Moorhen and chicks

Moorhen and chicks

The fields were full of poppies.

Poppies

Poppies

The bees were busy.

Busy bees

Busy bees

The clover was beautiful.

Beautiful clover

Beautiful clover


Continue reading

Of Trains, Boats, Bikes, Cows and Coincidence

I had to take the train to Ely today. It could almost have been Alkmaar. The station platform was a sea of chained bikes.

Bikes at Ely Station


The fenlands of Cambridgeshire are flatter, as I know to my cost, than parts of the Netherlands. And the locals are equally fond of their bikes. Though they don’t celebrate them with flowers and suchlike as the Dutch do. These bikes were parked close to the shop where I bought my pannier. Inside there was a sign inviting customers to Pimp Your Bike. Truly.

Dutch Bikes in Alkmaar


From Ely, I was collected and taken to see das Boot, high and dry, jet washed, but as yet unrepaired. I had a fruitful discussion with the nice man who is going to do the work. There’s a scrape on the starboard side from when the boat got knocked against the pontoon. He advised buying bigger fenders. I said how in the Netherlands I had seen lots of pontoons with old tyres hanging from them, and asked if that would be a good idea. He grinned, and said only if I didn’t mind lots of black marks on my boat. I do. However, if I buy a new set of fenders, I can string the old ones along the side of the pontoon for extra protection. Fenders don’t come cheaply, and I need ten, so I am glad I got my holiday in first. The new kitchen may have to wait a while longer. Or maybe I can start selling pictures of NotCat and turn him into a money spinning celebrity feline.
I was interested in another boat they had there in the marina. It was a bigger, more modern version of das Boot, a vessel designed, as she was, for the Norfolk Broads. There was also a static houseboat. This marina has a number of people who live full time on their boats, and I assumed this must be one of them. I was wrong. It turns out it is a country escape for a man who works in London.I asked if he had a day boat too, and was surprised to learn he hasn’t. My man described it scornfully as a shed, and if you look at this picture of a houseboat community of similar boats in Zaanse Schans, you can see what he means.

Static Houseboat Community, Zaanze Schans


I wouldn’t mind living in one, but I would want a day boat. That’s our leader, by the way, striding along the path. This was the last day of the holidays, and by this point only six of us were joining him for a not very demanding walk. The mosquitos were out in force and I still have three nasty bites, plus circles of what look like, but aren’t, blood blisters around my ankles; my first experience of sock rash. I hope it’s my last. Continue reading

Back in Harness

We spent quite a while looking at cows. When we had got off the boat, or disembarked, which sounds much grander, the cows had been at the far end of the field, but as we turned from our perambulations they were close by the fence.

NotCat sat down. He watched. He lay down to give them his full attention but in comfort. I stood. The path was damp and muddy. Minutes passed. I took some photos. I got bored, and decided if we were going to watch cows all evening I wanted to sit down. I carried NotCat to the steps. The moment I had got comfortable, he lost interest in cows and turned his attention to boats. We crunched along the gravel.

NotCat did that cat thing of walking along the very edge while I held my breath and suggested the grass was nicer to paws. Continue reading