Under Fen Skies

Another lovely day at das Boot. And not at it. MasterB went back to bed straight after breakfast. 41C78D41-7634-4E54-BEFC-526D138054EBFor bed, read under the rug in the fore cabin. I had a couple of things to do at Burwell, filling the car with petrol the most important. So post shower off I went, returning via Reach and picking more blackberries for the crumble that is ready to go in the oven shortly. That’ll be pudding after I have eaten the lentil shepherd’s pie that’s also ready to go in the oven. There’ll be holey spinach as an accompanying vegetable.ED2E81A0-D01A-47D2-AAA7-7B73F2A45E33

I’m getting good at do the washing up in cold water. It’s not that there’s no hot water in the tank, it’s that the taps are sucking in air rather than water when the pump is on, and so they splutter and spit, sometimes sneeze, instead of flow.

Continue reading

September in the fens and democracy up against the wall

When the big lorry passed me the fenland shuddered under my feet. Just a little reminder of how this is borrowed land. The soil is thick, dark, fertile. Whenever I look at now I think of Celia and how she wanted to bag it up and take it home. Autumn is all around. Once the baling starts in August, you know summer is nearly over. There are berries everywhere, sloes, hawthorn, acorns, some I cannot name. I picked a bowl of blackberries today. Two weeks ago I managed to pick a small bowlful to give to my downstairs’ neighbours. Returning to the same spot this afternoon, I had to remind myself to take only what I can eat between today and tomorrow.

Other than picking blackberries I didn’t have any plans for today. The forecast was for rain until mid morning. I heard the rain in the night. On the boat there is less between me and the weather than at home. I thought it would provide a nice reason to lie in bed, but when I woke properly, the rain had stopped. It was windy and rather grey. It still is windy, in that brisk business-like way that wind can have at this time of year; not cold, but as though it has things to do, and no dilly dallying will occur. But now the skies are blue and it was a pleasure to walk down the lane to deliver a letter and look more closely at the fields and the hedgerows.

There seems to be an awful lot of maize being grown this year. Usually the air around here is heavy with the scent of leeks, and I associate late August and early September with the voices of migrant workers in the fields, and in the evening the sound of music coming from the nest of caravans where they stay. There were fewer last year, apparently none this year. Better to earn money in a country where the currency will convert to a better amount of cash when they get home.

On a whim, coming back from my blackberry picking, my fingers stained, my nails rimed in purple, and bloody scratches on the back of my right hand, I turned down a lane I have passed many times but never used. It’s six years since Mother’s death, and three since Aunt’s, but I am mainly travelling the same routes.

The lane stopped near a bridge. A bridge I recognised from the walk Celia and I did a few years ago on my birthday. The weather was kinder today. I was excited to see the sculptures again, and to know how easily they can be reached from the marina. If Older Nephew doesn’t come for lunch tomorrow I may drive back to the same spot, park the car and walk the three miles to Wicken Fen, and the three miles back. I wish I had a bicycle here.

At the marina a swan was in the middle of a patch of pennywort. It stopped what it was doing to watch me, so I couldn’t tell if it was the pennywort it was eating or something else. The former I hope.

When I arrived yesterday afternoon MasterB made his way confidently down to the boat. He hid under the rug when Stuart, who has been doing some necessary work on das Boot, arrived. It was a glorious evening. I’d been filling the water tank, laboriously carrying five litre containers backwards and forwards, filling them at the tap on the other side of the marina. Some people turned up in a car, and stood about with bags of food and drink, like characters in search of a picnic. They told me they were waiting for a friend and were going out on his boat. I’m glad they didn’t stay at the marina. Boy they were loud. It was just after they left I realised I couldn’t see MasterB. He wasn’t under the rug, wasn’t on the bed, wasn’t using the litter tray.

I had left the boat open while collecting water. The pennywort by the boat looks like solid ground and for several heart pounding minutes I thought my boy had leapt onto it, fallen through it and was drowned. Willing myself to be calm, I searched the boat again and at last thought to check under the rear cover which was partly folded away. He was there. The relief I felt was overwhelming.

We did our old couple act in the evening. The sunset was around eight, and I closed the curtains against the insects once the lights were on. I watched Bake Off as MasterB purred under my hand. He is the perfect companion. I had watched much of the news, seen Rees-Mogg lounging, and on his feet, speaking in his most languid, would-be patrician tones, still saying the same old lies, still talking about Project Fear, or Project Reality as it is rightly called, while keeping silent about the lack of benefits Project Unicorn has brought us. I agreed with him about one thing, I should not like to see Corbyn as Prime Minister, and I believe there are many of the same mind as myself. However, if it came to it, I’d probably go for Corbyn and his church of Momentum groupies than Johnson and his inner circle of hell liars. We are, as the popular saying goes, between a rock and a hard place. I reckon Johnson wants a general election. I don’t. I think it would just muddle things even more. If the electorate does get asked to vote again in the next few weeks it should be for a People’s Vote, and any and all campaigning by both sides must be subject to scrutiny, with campaigners understanding that telling lies will render votes for their side null and void.

I noted that Rees-Mogg selectedly referenced Speaker Lenthall last week when he was rebuking Speaker Bercow. He said the Speaker should have neither eyes to see nor tongue to speak. I’m guessing most people don’t know the end of the quote and that it was said by Lenthall when Charles I wanted to know where the five MPs he had come to arrest had gone. Charles I was behaving scandalously. Lenthall was quick witted and diplomatic. He said he had “neither eyes to see nor tongue to speak save as the House (of Commons) direct me, whose servant I am here”. In other words, he was defending and protecting Parliament from an assault on its powers and independence, just as Bercow was against an assault by Johnson.

The game playing has to stop. This is a fragile and precious democracy that is at stake.

Boat Perfect

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.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Hidden Take Two

The rain began on Thursday evening, and I went to sleep with the sound of it on the roof of the boat. When I woke in the morning it had stopped and the temperature had dropped. The marina was cloaked in a shroud of mist that was deeper by the river’s edge and stretched away across the fields, hiding the flat landscape under a white cloud.

Continue reading

Afloat Again

This is from last night, when the connection kept failing, as it well may do today too.

Due to the rain earlier today, I ummed and ahhed about coming East. I don’t like the mud/boat combination. Too much cleaning and dirty bits of newspaper are involved. So it was as the sun was setting that we arrived. The view across the fens on the approach road was beautiful.I was tempted to stop and get out my camera, but common sense prevailed. It had been a lovely afternoon and the countryside in its late autumn colours, under blue skies, was like a travel brochutre with knobs on.

We are alone. There is no one else at the marina, and from the lack of cars, I’d say no one out on their boat from here either. It could be scary but it’s not. I rather enjoyed showing Not Cat the ropes. He hasn’t been on das Boot since May, though he had a mooch about the marina a few weeks ago.

Some bad moments when I came aboard ahead of Not Cat. I wanted to turn on the electrics and run the engine for a while to get us hot water. The engine wouldn’t start. My heart fell. But I got a new battery earlier in the year, so even while I was envisaging an evening with the battery charger on and the floor up, I persevered. Hurrah! Lift off.

I didn’t think the Ginger Ninja would particularly enjoy the sound, so I left him in his box while I unloaded the car. I hope that in future I’ll be able to let him out to sniff around and then make his own way down to the boat as Cat learned to do.

Not Cat explored while I unpacked and wiped surfaces, cleaning the spider poo of the last few weeks and washing down the draining board. He seemed fine, so I guess he must have left his territorial marks, fortunately not pungent ones, back in May.

I thought the boat would be cold, but although I’ve added a fleece and the electric blanket is on to air the bed, I‘ve only just closed the windows, open to clear the condensation from cooking supper. Which I thought might also be off the menu when the gas wouldn’t light. I seemed for a few crucial moments to be facing a meal of old Bombay mix and cold baked beans.

Not Cat has had a good look out of the windows and signaled his desire to explore outside, but is now asleep in the cat bed beside me. I’ve brought lots of toys to entertain him, and I’m hoping he’s not going to be too active tonight.

As usual I had overestimated the fridge’s capacity, so I’ve got some lagers chilling outside on the gunwhale. I think, now I’ve had dinner, it’s time to pop one open. I’d hate them to go to waste.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Sunset

If you read this blog regularly, you’ll know I’m not a great fan of sunset photos as they never seem to live up to what I see with the naked eye, and I would not want one on my wall.

However, that didn’t stop me getting out my point and squirt yesterday at the marina yesterday evening as the sun was setting, when I did not know that the challenge this week was sunset photos.

Boats and Reeds at Sunset

Continue reading