I’m on the Train

My New Year’s Resolution for 2017 was to explore areas of London close to where I live, areas I think I know but where really I have the barest knowledge. I haven’t done terribly well at that but as the year trots to an end I am finally making some progress. However, I have enjoyed some out of town day trips. This started with a trip to Coventry on February, followed by Birmingham, Coventry again, Colchester, Chatham, Ipswich next month and today Walton-on-the-Naze. After a night of rain it’s a fine morning and promises to be warm and sunny. In anticipation of a fair amount of walking I am wearing my boots and I have a packed lunch with me. The train is very long and very empty. I don’t know if it is going to fill up later but I have to change at Thorpe-le-Soken where I have two minutes to make the connection. This train will continue to Clacton. Have I ever been to Clacton? I’m not sure. It may have been the destination for a ramble once, but I have no memory of it. Another one to add to the list. Continue reading

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Pictures from the Marina

Time was, I used to take lots of photos at the marina. I don’t know why, maybe I feel I have covered most of the angles, but I don’t take so many these days. And when I do, now that Blogsy seems to have given the thumbs down for the time being to uploading pictures, I rarely post them. But a swan by das Boot always makes me reach for my camera, and the last couple of times I have really regretted only taking my little Olympus rather than my Lumix.

Swan at dusk


So walking around the other evening I had my little camera, and instead of just looking and admiring I took a photo or two. The lavender is well established now and a mecca for bees.

Lavender marina

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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

This Green and Pleasant Land

Shakespeare’s line

Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May

might have been written for today. Perfect for drying the washing, but otherwise a bit blowy.

But it was William Blake’s

green and pleasant land

we enjoyed East over the weekend.

Despite a notable lack of rain over the last few weeks, the fields are lush, and every lane, every hedgerow is bursting with life and colour.

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East Anglia’s flat landscape and big skies are made more dramaitic on windy days, and even small rises in the ground give views for miles. Continue reading

Fen Skies and Water

East Anglia is flat. It’s known for it. Much of it is below sea level. The sky starts at your waist and just goes on. If you know John Constable’s Flatford Mill you’ll get the idea.

The fens feature in many detective stories, and when you drive through it, along the dykes and past the ditches, where locals come out to stare at an unfamiliar car, you can understand why.

I used to drive Mother to Ely and hope and pray we wouldn’t break down.

So oddly, by river the fens are great, especially in good company, which is exactly what I had today.

The plan was to get the holding tank pumped out. A plan foiled by the fact that the pump out wasn’t working. But we didn’t know that until we got to Ely. Given that my companions live in Ely, I suppose it would have been possible for them to check the pump out before we set off, but none of us thought of that. And as they collected me from Ely station, I don’t have much of an excuse either.

But it was beautiful on the river. I managed to miss every heron we passed, and there were at least nine, so that was quite an achievement. I only had my point and squirt, and it takes a while for the not terribly strong zoom to zoom in.

Water and Sky

Water and Sky

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Corrupting Aunt

When I was in NI in July, there was some amusement, some surprise, some almost disapproval from certain quarters about the pictures of Aunt at the pub. “You’ll corrupt her,” laughed one family member. One cousin said nothing at all. But her silence spoke volumes. Another cousin, also tea-total, smiled, and seemed amused at his strait-laced, Baptist-Church-attending relative happily chowing down at a pub. Perhaps I should mention he is a minister in the Church of Ireland.

Uncle Bill, Aunt’s Big Brother, smiled broadly.

Whatever their reactions, it seems we have hit on a winning formula. I pick Aunt up from her home, we drive through a countryside she doesn’t see enough of these days. We go to a pub with a chef, check that they can cater for someone with Coeliac Disease, settle ourselves comfortably, relax, eat and enjoy our surroundings.

So here is Aunt at Pub Number Two.

Aunt at the Pub

Aunt at the Pub

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Boxing Day

It was blowy by the sea and the horizon was all sky. Gorgeous. And cold. The others had been looking forward to fish and chips on the prom, but the friers were cold today.
Vernon and Charlie made a beeline for the amusement arcade. It’s decades since I have been in one, but 80p went a long way and I was glad to discover my oh yeah instincts outweighed my gambling ones by about a hundred to one. I might yet be safe on a trip to Vegas. I left with some two pence pieces still safe in my pocket.
We lunched in a Wetherspoon’s called the Joseph Conrad since Lowestoft is apparently where he arrived in Britain from Russia. Lowestoft was at that time a thriving, bustling port. Now it is a run down town with the air of somewhere that has seen much better days, and which has not quite given up hope, despite evidence to the contrary, of a renewal of those fortunes.

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