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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A Day on the River

A rather lovely day, and hoping to have some photos to post from it when I get home tomorrow. Today is six months since Mother died. I hadn’t thought about it before, but it seems right that I should be at das Boot and right that the day should be spent with Older Nephew. He came to help out with taking das Boot to the pump out, helmed like a champion and was great company to boot. We moored at a free mooring, had a pub lunch and came back. MasterB spent the entire time hidden under a pillow.
I made coffee, tied up and took photos. I did helm for a couple of minutes, but realised Older Nephew was gradually shuffling me out of the way, so I yielded quite happily. He lives fairly close to the marina, so we talked about him using the boat when I’m not here. I realise now I should have talked about him helming the boat when I am here, but maybe that’s for another conversation. Continue reading

Replay: January 2009 First Trip to the Pump-Out

I’m reposting three posts that appeared on MyT in January 2009 and putting them all together. I’m not claiming any wonderful literary qualities, but they remind me of how it felt then when I was just getting used to das Boot, and just how cold a boat can be in winter with the doors open…

Open Waters

I had imagined my first sortie in das Boot as a gentle and short one. Enough to convince me that I am worthy of my Helms(wo)man’s Certificate without being too challenging.

However, the toilet on das Boot dictates otherwise. Either it’s full, or something more serious is amiss. So, in a couple of weeks it’s off to the Pump-Out. The Environment Agency has sent me a lock key that I desperately hope I shan’t need. I have yet to study the map, so I am keeping my fingers crossed there’s no lock along the route.

Pump-out means emptying the tank. I’m assured it’s not difficult and I shouldn’t worry, but of course I am. Gillian McKeith would probably think it a good day out. I’ll reserve judgement.
It may turn out that the tank is not full, but that something moved where it shouldn’t have gone during das Boot’s transportation. If so, it’s a trip to the boatyard. In Putney, a young man at the chandlery where I was buying fittings for the electrical hook-up, told me that boat stands for Bring Out Another Thousand. It’s a phrase that has been proving alarmingly true. Continue reading