The Coronavirus Diaries, 19th July 2020

I slept badly last night. Or rather I found it hard to get to sleep last night. There is a difference. MasterB was out and about. I washed my face, cleaned my teeth and went to get him in. No sign. I walked around the square. No sign. Then I spotted Romeo in the garden. Perhaps the boy was trapped under a car. I knelt on the asphalt and peered beneath undercarriages. Nothing. I started to walk the square again. I admit I was starting to panic. No sign of a little ginger body in the gutter, but had he been lifted? was he trapped in a shed someone had closed for the night? Lights were going out in all the houses. Everyone else was settling down to sleep. I jingled my keys, usually that is all it takes for the Boy to appear. Nothing. I scanned the community beds where I know he likes to lurk. I looked back toward the flats and there was a cat by the gate. It looked like MasterB. It was MasterB. Continue reading

The Coronavirus Diaries, 27th June 2020

It has mercifully been a lot cooler today. It started to rain just before seven, but although steady, it was light. There was no difficulty going to enjoy a shower at the onshore facility, and immediately after breakfast my neighbours headed out for the day. Last night we had a long chat, separated by the pontoon and the gunwales of our boats. Naturally much of it was about the pandemic. I was just deciding what I should do when I found a message from the marina owner saying if I sent I’ll wanted to borrow it, her son would bring a folding table over for me to use. So, changed into my horrid trousers and a very scruffy t shirt, I started work cleaning the front cover. The problem was the wind. I didn’t mention the wind did I?

Well, it grew stronger and it was only by weighting the cover down with my buckets of water that I was able to proceed. I worked at the task for a good two hours. Walking backwards and forward to the river for fresh water was the most tiring and frustrating part. Either I only managed to get the bucket half full when I dropped it into the water, or I spilled half of it over my self and the boardwalk getting it out. But at one point I heard the cuckoo cal. It was difficult while the cover was wet to tell how well I had done, and I was hesitating, then a big black cloud loomed, the wind pushing it my way, so I rinsed for a final time, reweighted the cover with full buckets and added a bungee for extra security and went back onboard. Just in time, the rain poured down and the wind blew more strongly. I had visions of the table, cover and buckets all lifting into the air and being carried away.

Fortunately that didn’t happen. The rain stopped, the cover started to dry. Then another cloud, more rain. I could not think where I could put the cover to dry if this went on. Then the sun came out, and as the wind still blew, the cover turned from very wet, to fairly wet, to fairly dry. I turned it over and began the same process on the reverse. By now I had had lunch and was hoping to do an online crossword, but the internet wouldn’t play. So I did some reading, checked the cover again, and finding it nearly dry with another rain cloud approaching, rolled it up and stashed on the roof of the boat, secured with that same bungee. The rear cover will have to wait. Maybe tomorrow afternoon, or more likely Monday. I just hope it’s not too hot. Today is about ten degrees cooler than yesterday. It’s still warm, bare feet and arms weather, and were it not for the wind and the rain, perfect for physical tasks like washing covers. Continue reading

The Coronavirus Diaries, 26th June 2020

Before I went to bed last night I managed to look at today’s forecast. Fine until nine then hours when there was a very high chance of stormy showers. I decided I should get up at seven, reakfast, shower etc and then retire to the fastness of das Boot and be a comfort to MasterB. I Woke just before seven and quickly realised the rain had started. It was pattering on the roof with sturdy regularity, but unaccompanied by thunder or lightning. I turned over and went back to sleep, MasterB lying somewhat heavily on my legs. When I woke an hour or more later the sun was shining. There was no storm all morning but blue skies and a lot of humidity, fortunately accompanied by a refreshing breeze. This allowed for some washing on my makeshift line.

Laundry

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The Coronavirus Diaries, 25th June 2020

Tonight the ducks are back, one strutting in a proprietary sort of way along the gunwale. The other perched at the back of the boat. When one of them flew up to the roof MasterB’s hunter instincts kicked in and he made to chase it. The doors are now shut. I am beside the only window open far enough to allow him out or a duck in. After our stroll last night I was sitting in the forecabin with my book.the lights were on as I thought all the windows were shut. Open windows and lights mean a boat full of flying insects. Not my idea of home comfort. Illoked up to see MasterB sauntering along the gunwale. I had left a window in the aft cabin wide open. Fortunately he responded to my opening the window loop window by coming in to say hello. I rewarded him with biscuits, shut the offending window and tried to still my pounding heart.

At the moment he is sitting on top of the back seating cushion looking out at th field. There aren’t any cows in sight, and now I come to think of it we haven’t seen much of them today, but there is a black bird bobbing about and one of the ducks is being very vocal at varying pitches. It sounds rather like it is practising a scale. The boy is definitely in hunter mode. He has walked stealthily along the top of the seating cushion to beside and above me where the window is open. Nearby some people are enjoying some drinks and we can hear their voices. Normally that’s enough to put MasterB off the idea of shoreleave, but I wonder tonight if he will be bolder.

I was in two minds for most of the day as to whether to go home and avoid being in board for the anticipated storm tomorrow and rain on Saturday. I bought provisions, including a bunch of cornflowers from the farm. That made me think of Aunt as she chose a bunch of them there the last summer of her life. But provisions can travel, and wherever I am I need to eat. As well as shopping at the farm I went to a big supermarket. There was hand gel, signs directing customers around a one way system, reminders to stay apart, but no one seemed that bothered. I think complacency has well and truly set in. This evening, for reasons I shan’t go into here, I decided to stay. If the storm does break over our heads MasterB is going to need a lot of reassurance. Continue reading

The Coronavirus Diaries, 23rd June 2020

It’s been really hot today. I have had all the windows open on the boat most of the time. Only when I made a brief sortie to Reach to but tomatoes and other salad stuff did I close them. I don’t know the young master would have tried to go ashore, probably not, but it was a risk I was not willing to take. So windows were left very slightly open but locked to stop a keen paw pushing them wider. I know if he lies on the floor it’s below the water level and so cooler, but the hot weather means I am reluctant to leave him for more than a short time. Oddly, he likes to sleep under the quilt, or even under the pillows in the heat of the day. His fur feels cool to the touch, but it wouldn’t be my first choice.

Last night he almost came ashore for a walk. It was dusk, his favourite time.

Dusk on the river

He sat at the window and did a sort of green cross code to see what was about. The cows got a particularly long scrutiny.

Is the coast clear?

Ah, cows!

We were scrutinised in return by some of them, and one calf seemed very interested.

Are you looking at me?

The geese were again in the field, the adults and their collective young. When I moved to look at them the adults hurried the goslings to the water. I took a break from watching MasterB to see the whole raft of them on the river.

A raft of geese

I don’t know how he made his decision to stay onboard, because it seemed a perfect evening to me for a stroll, but although at one point he was out of the window and on the gunwale, he turned and jumped back into the forecabin. Tonight we have neighbours on a boat moored nearby at right angles to us. They have been sitting at the back reading, but are now zipping the covers on as the day cools, so maybe the boy will venture out in a while.

Something big has been diving in the marina. I would love it to be otters which I know are on the river, but I am guessing it’s a pike. People here used to talk about a very large pike they nicknamed Moby. Maybe it’s the same one.

I was planning to watch the news tonight, but my television, which was working perfectly last time I was here, is showing no signs of life. I tried changing the fuse, hoping it was something that simple, but no joy. So my social distancing has become more distant. Or maybe that should be social isolation. Right now I don’t have internet access, my phone signal is dead. I’ll try again to see if I can post this. It can be irritating but in many ways I like it. Technology is wonderful, but it is also wonderful to be disconnected for a while and to take time out from receiving calls and emails.

I have asked one of the family members who own the marina if they have a wallpaper table or similar so I can give my covers a scrub. It would definitely be a morning task, as by eleven the sun is too hot for energetic labour. I brought details of a walk that started nearby I thought I might do, but unless the temperature drops, I shan’t be doing it this time.

Once again I am enjoying the peace and quiet. I have several books to read, and some work I’d like to do. My store cupboard is full, I have fresh vegetables and salad, enough low alcohol lager for the next few days and my new soda stream which has done valiant service today. I have grapefruit juice, elderflower cordial and ginger cordial. I brought both my little Olympus and my bigger Lumix.

I don’t think I’ll be bored.

Stay safe, keep well.

The Coronavirus Diaries, 22nd June 2020

Back on the boat and it’s more than warm. There was definitely more road traffic than last time, but again I did not drink coffee at breakfast time so there was no need for a loo stop en route. My seating cushions have been returned. Jeckells have done a very good job. I can understand why they are so well regarded and successful. I am very pleased.

I had texted Janet and there where eggs waiting for me to collect. I have seen two kestrels, the wood pigeons are being noisy, the geese were in the field last time I looked. MasterB has just emerged from under the quilt, has eaten his dinner and is now looking with some interest at the windows from his position on the floor. There were more people here when I arrived, I am guessing some of them had been on their boats for the weekend, but most have gone. The only ones remaining are at the far end of the marina, so MasterB may be brave enough to go ashore for walk before I want to go to bed. It won’t get dark until ten, but I am already tired, so I may not last that long.

Not a bad view

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The Coronavirus Diaries, 9th June 2020

I am still thinking about George Floyd and all the issues his murder raises. Thank-you to the people who made such interesting comments. They have given me much to think about. So tonight I am going to let those thoughts percolate, and write about other things.

Jeckells, the firm who made the original upholstery covers, has been in touch and Mr Jeckell no less is going to come to das Boot so he can give me a quote on Thursday. Jeckells are a very well know firm, and I am expecting the quote to be high, so I was grateful to Stuart for giving me the name of someone else I have now contacted so I shall have prices to compare. If Jeckells can’t supply the same material as before, and I am guessing it won’t, then a cheaper source will be my preference. I have been wondering if Impala can be used on boats. Maybe the London Upholsterers are back at work and I can ask them.

Slowly slowly the ticks are growing on my to do list. Stuart is doing much of it – new light in the galley tonight and the opportunity for me to meet his lovely dog Rio. Rio sat on me and I sat on the grass. MasterB his from Stuart under the pillows. Rio is only nine months old so very much a puppy still. He spent quite a while studying the bees.

The ducks seem to have decided I am a dead loss as a food source, so maybe no more pictures like these.

Who’s that on the gunwale?

Listening to ducks above his head

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The Coronavirus Diaries, 7th June 2020

Still afloat, still loving being in the countryside, still dealing with boat issues. The weather has continued in its variable spring mode, but it has been a touch warmer with more sunshine and less rain. I am not shedding my jumper just yet though.

I slept well again, nine hours I think, and it was MasterB sitting on me staring at my closed eyes willing me to get up and give him breakfast that finally woke me up. I obliged and made my own too. Before I went to bed last night I wrote a list of provisions I wanted. So once MasterB was sleeping off his breakfast and the pots were washed I went to the farm shop. I was worrying that I should soon run out of cash so I was very pleased to see a sign telling me how I could pay by bank transfer. I filled my bags with fresh veg, some apples, and one newly laid egg.

At the Co-op I bought soft fruit, more oat cakes and some Marmite. When I unpacked it and tried to find room for everything I reflected that I seem to be settling in for another week afloat. I need to add cat food and alcohol free beer to my purchases if that’s the case. That’ll mean a trip to Newmarket I reckon.

Stuart came to install the new galley blind. We also refilled the water tank which was depleted by my constant running the taps to see if the water was hot.

MasterB was not impressed, but although he didn’t come out to greet Stuart, he didn’t flinch when Stuart was near him. However when I was making my dinner, a curry so lots of veg chopping, he was pretty vocal. So were the ducks. They were marching along the gunwales and stomping on the roof. I could see the boy was starting to feel intimidated, so I built him a semi-citadel so he was less exposed. It worked.

Evening visitor

On the strut

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The Coronavirus Diaries, 6th June 2020

Fingers crossed my hot water problem has been fixed. If I could work out where the water came in the damaged the upholstery I’d feel real progress had been made. But neither Stuart nor I can make sense of it. We have had so many rain showers today if there had been an obvious point of entry it would surely have shown itself. The hailstones hammered down on the roof this afternoon and a frightened MasterB shrank towards the safety of the rear cabin and me. What a contrast with his eagerness to go ashore yesterday evening.

Bizarrely the only other occupied boat yesterday evening was the one moored beside mine. No sooner had the couple come aboard than the duck appeared, this time with her mate. Somewhere along the line they have learned to associate boaters with food. They strutted along the pontoon, ate a bagel that was offered to them, went back into the water and then the duck returned to finish up the crumbs. That’s when MasterB saw her.

Scoping out the wildlife

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The Coronavirus Diaries, 1st June 2020

A very quick post tonight as I plan to go to das Boot tomorrow and I still have things to do. Part of our conversation yesterday evening was about how the government seems to be following what people are doing rather than the science. If that’s the way they are going to continue by next week it’ll be no holds barred close contact with as many people as you like, wherever you want. I say this having observed a general further relaxation in attitudes to social distancing on a brief excursion on the main road. One young woman even weaved between us on the pavement on a bicycle. People strolled in groups chatting as though the number of new cases in the UK had dwindled to nothing rather than still being measured in hundreds. Celia and I were standing a respectable two metres away from Fred who we saw in Faraday Gardens when two young men, bare chested, showing off their six packs, walked nonchalantly side by side between us in the space we had left. Continue reading