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.

The Coronavirus Diaries, 24th June 2020

Forget what I wrote yesterday about needing to do any physical work by eleven. Today by half past nine I was working up a sweat just walking from one end of the boat to the other. MasterB has spent most of the day stretched out on the floor below water level in various locations, mainly where I can see him, but sometimes under a rug. I did two small lots of hand washing, and, using a broom handle as a support, rerigged my washing line, doubling the length of line available, and got everything dry.

Lying in a cool spot

The windows and the door are open, and there is a slight breeze. It’s cooler by the car under the trees, but people walk up and down the path which the boy wouldn’t like, so in solidarity I have spent the day on board with him.

It’s very easy to just sit thinking how hot you are and not get anything done, so I pulled out a file, made some notes and recorded a new podcast. If I can get the internet to play I should be able to upload it this evening. It was a good thing to do. While I worked I was less distracted by the heat. I drank copious glasses of water. Most of my exercise today has been walking backwards and forwards to use the loo in the shower block.

There is still something leaping from time to time, but I never seem to be looking at the spot, I just hear the splash and then see the concentric circles in the water. The fish I can see a re small with red fins. Normally they dart about, but I was watching them a little while ago and they seem to be just hanging in the water, a little below the surface. I am guessing they are enjoying the heat as otherwise they could swim down to the cool mud. They certainly dive when they see my shadow.

Spot the fish

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Avoiding the cup final

A glass of chilled wine as the breeze picks up and the evening cools. It’s been hot today. I’ve drunk more than two litres of water, and shall drink more before I sleep. I am going for an early night. MasterB is currently stretched out on the bed, enjoying the air coming through the open door. Last night it was quite busy here, and I had already cleaned my teeth when he let me know that it was quiet enough for a perambulation. So I carried him ashore rather than risk my heart lurching as he leapt from the front of the boat, and once I’d got him in his harness we perambulated. Actually we stayed still for quite a lot of the time. Cats seem to like to drink in their surroundings, it’s quite boring when you are at the other end of the leash. Then there are spurts of activity, determined movements in directions I do not want to go. I hoped he’d have a poo, or at least a pee, but he saved the latter until he was back on board. I just hope he isn’t saving the poo for the journey home.

Toady, when it has been hot, he has spent most of his time under the rug in the forecabin, a rug that is supposed to save the upholstery from fur and claws. Sometimes he and I are not on the same page. The forecabin was bathed in sunshine. Surely it must have been horribly hot, but he stayed there until around five this evening, when he emerged, like Mole taking a break from spring cleaning, and blinked dazedly about him.

Shamed by my new neighbours (who set off after breakfast and have not been seen since), I felt I had to do some boat cleaning. The hot sun soon had my face running with sweat. Not wanting to disturb the grebes I didn’t want it to use the water pump and power hose. So my efforts, which were mighty but without great results, came to an end after an hour, and I retreated to the shower. I had already visited the big city, well a large village, and bought my newspaper, so after an early lunch I reclined and worked my way through pages of newsprint.

I knew, indeed how could I not? that Donald J Trump is coming to London this week. What I had not understood was how many members of his family he is bringing with him. This is less a state visit, more an invasion. I do hope they all have return tickets. Prince Charles and Camilla seem to have drawn the short straw and are spending a lot of time with Family Trump. I worked with a Trump supporter last week, and one day was enough to exhaust me. Continue reading

A Visit to Aunt Before Christmas

I’ll try taking a picture of her tomorrow and you’ll see her smile is just the same, but I thought I could see the skull beneath the skin before, yet when I first saw her today I was shocked.

 

Hours in her company have done their work and now I see she’s still Aunt, but I do wonder how much longer she can continue like this. She’s wrapped in layers of warm clothing, the central heating supplemented by a clever Dyson machine her friend gave her. I brought various fruit juices for her to try. The anti sickness tablets are helping her to keep food down, but as she explained, she isn’t much interested in eating or drinking. I think she’s shutting down. Certainly she is sleeping much more, and her mind is not so clear. She is forgetful, muddled. But that doesn’t stop her being independent.

 

Maybe my opinion will change tomorrow, but tonight I am wondering if this is the last time I shall see her. A good friend of hers who is also frail will spend Christmas Day with her. There will be visits from members of her church who have stayed loyal to her over these months when she has been unable to attend. She hasn’t written any cards, and she hasn’t put up the ones she has received.

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Of Heat, Colds, Lemsip and Hollyhocks

Most unseasonably, and on the hottest day of the year (which came as a surprise to me, as I am sure I heard it would be cooler today) I have spent the day growing a heavy cold. My head feels uncomfortably full of unfriendly aliens. I ahve aches and pains in places I usually don’t notice.
So no gin and tonic for me tonight, and not just because I’m not very fond of it, a cup of Lemsip. Very rock ‘n’ roll. Continue reading

Gabriel at the Globe

Just home from the Globe where it was the first night of a new play, featuring music by Purcell, called Gabriel.
Let me say straight off that the music is fabulous, there was some great acting, comic and poignant moments. But it wasn’t Shakespeare. Obvious I know, but when a theatre is so associated with the work of someone acknowledged as the finest writer in the English language, it is a pretty big ask of any other writer to come up with something in any way comparable. And don’t say Racine or Corneille. Good playwrights both, but it’s only the French who write books comparing them to Bill S. they are not in the same league. No one is.
I love seeing Shakespeare’s plays performed at the Globe, even the unbelievably bloody and violent Coriolanus a few years back. There is something seeing his plays in this theatre that is just magical. And the ending is always spectacular and heart lifting and joyous. Continue reading

Hot Cat?

I’ve been out out work since just before ten this morning. Cat, who had been in the garden, came in and settled to sleep on my bed, just before I left.  I got home at seven this evening, and he slept on. Most unusual. I think his hearing may be diminishing, so I went up to him and said hello – well gave him a kiss actually. He opened his eyes, stretched and remained on the bed. Continue reading