Same Places, Different Seasons

When I visit Cousin in Co Derry I take a camera, walk the dog and take pictures of the same roads at different times of the year.

Here’s a favourite tree In August and in December.

A tree in summer

A tree in winter

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Boat Trip

Yesterday I made a trip to das Boot by train. Just for the day. Older Nephew met me at Cambridge station; we shopped in the local Sainsbury’s for our lunch, adding to the bits and pieces i had brought from London. It was only this evening I realised I forgot to take the stuffed vine leaves I’d promised. Maybe he forgot too, or he was remarkably silent on the matter.

I’ve been working a lot, and a break East has not been possible, but Older Nephew and I liaised and realised we could both be free to mark the start of the new month, so there we were, afloat on what I think must have been the hottest day so far this year.

The sky was a deep blue, the same colour it has been for weeks now.


We were expecting a busy river, boats galore, but my guess is that the weather has been gorgeous for so many weeks now, people have become blasé. some brave souls were scrubbing their boats. As Older Nephew’s new car registered 30℃ in the shade, maybe I should call them foolhardy rather than brave.

We actually saw very few people for most of the day. And some we did see we only bits of.

Almsot concealed

The plan was to head for Ely, moor up a little beyond the town, eat, and potter back the way we’d come. Just before Ely there was a sign I missed about raft races. What it didn’t say was that the river, not far ahead would be blocked with rafts and Older Nephew and I would find ourselves needing to turn round rather sharply while the town mayor, in full ceremonial robes, yelled “get out of the way” at us from another vessel. We did, and with very little swearing on Older Nephew’s part, which I think showed great restraint.

So we moored up elsewhere. There were two other boats, one owner presumably snoozing on board, another sunbathing in his underpants. It was a hot, lazy afternoon.

Highland cattle sheltered in the shade under a bridge.

Sheltering cattle

There were birds; we saw herons and moorhens, lots of great crested grebes, including some with babies, ducks with ducklings, geese with goslings, swans, two swans and a grebe together, three swans.


Swans and grebe

Three swans

No cygnets.

The tumbledown boat house has tumbled down still further. How long before it collapses into the river?

Tumbledown boat house

The water lilies were profuse.

Profuse water lilies

Then finally, just a hundred yards or so away from the marina, we see a swan with a cygnet. Just one adult, one cygnet.

Parent and infant

I was pleased to see them, but hope nothing untoward has happened. It’s odd to see just one cygnet and one adult swan. I hope the others were just out f sight with the second parent.

If I can, I’m going to spend a few days afloat from the middle of next week, so I shall keep my eyes peeled.

Just One Picture

Could there be a more perfect view?

Slieve Gallion (1,737ft)

In the past I’ve walked up it when I used to take part in the Sperrins hillwalking festival. Nowadays I look at it when I do the regular walk with Westie Boy when I stay at Cousin’s. Aunt Ella’s funeral was two weeks ago and I spent two more days in NI, enjoying beautiful spring weather in the countryside. Tonight I booked flights for ten days in NI in August. Continue reading

Another Enchanted Evening

I am hoping MasterB will come and join me on the foredeck, then maybe venture ashore while it is still light and sunny. There's no one around. I can't even see any geese or cows in the field next door, though birds are singing and insects drone as they fly by me.

It has been a gorgeous day, perfect July weather, mid 20s degrees C, though it felt hotter this afternoon and I revised my plan to sit out here and stayed with MasterB in the rear cabin. That was a bit of a revelation. I don't usually spend much time looking out of the back of the boat when we are in the marina. It's perfect for bird watching. Birds were swooping about, skimming over the water to catch insects. The swallows were silent and graceful, but there was another bird in significant numbers that made splashy noisy contact with water. It had a forked tail and the same sort of wings as swallows, but was much bigger, and white with a black head. I reached for my bird book, the one I keep saying I am going to replace, wondering if there was a type of swallow I had never heard of. That would be eminently possible as an ornithologist I am not. But I think it's a Tern, a type of gull. I don't recall seeing them here before, at least not in such large numbers, which is another argument for an up to date bird book.

Before the day warmed up I did some boat cleaning. Armed with the water pump, the hose, an old toothbrush and an even older J cloth, I washed slime from the port side of the boat. My goodness it was dirty. I think I jet hosed it last summer, but you'd never have guessed. I had intended to do some jet washing today as well, to clean the stuff that stops me slipping and sliding on the gunwale, but the slime removal took longer than I expected, and when I went inside it was evident MasterB was not happy. For starters he had thrown up all over the but of carpet that sits in front of the sink. Another thing to wash.

So I curbed my enthusiasm, unplugged and disconnected everything, left them on the gravel to drain and dry while I showered. When I went to put them away a few hours later I found them boiling with ants, flying ants. Today is evidently the day when ants sprout wings, and the spot they were doing it here was in front of my boat. They have all dispersed now and the evening is left to dragonflies, bees butterflies and other things I can't name. Leaping fish make loud splashes, there's a bird that has been calling all day that sounds like a phone alarm. Goodness knows what that is. Every now and then cows I can't see low from the other side of the river.

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Serendipitous Boat

So much in life seems to be down to luck, to chance, to random and quite unpredictable circumstances and encounters.

If Cat hadn’t had died when he did, I shouldn’t have been looking at sites with cats needing homes, and looking at them with my friend Sue across the pond. My search was restricted to London. Sue, in Houston was looking at a larger canvas. It was she who spotted MasterB.

Oh Happy Day!

The Director

The Director

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Blissfully Afloat

It's a repeat performance. I don't want to go home tomorrow. The sun is warm, the evening long and light. Now nine at night and it is still broad day.

Truly, the northern isles of the UK and the RoI are magical in midsummer. Birds sing. MasterB sleeps. The Shouty Man is quiet and fishing. There are dogs. The lovely Nelson, a black Lab, has got me pinned as a soft touch, thrower of balls, and he brings me fluorescent tennis balls when I go ashore.

Das Boot is more than half clean. The newspaper is entirely unread. I bought eggs from a new source this morning and met a a young Rotweiler who really really wanted to say hello.

I do feel a bit guilty about not seeing Aunt. I shall be back in a couple of weeks and shall devote a day to her.

What I thought was a fairly casual conversation last week has been taken seriously, and apparently there is someone ready and waiting to replace the linings on my boat. This is very good news. Continue reading

Hydrangea Nights

Two gratuitous pictures of wet hydrangea coming up, though maybe I shall submit this as this week’s photo challenge. After days of warmth, blue skies and sunshine, and sometimes almost unbearable humidity, the skies crackled and then cracked at lunchtime today, releasing a few splashy drops of rain at first, then getting into their stride and summoning thunder, lightning and a real downpour. People ran and dodged in the City streets.

Against my plans, I made a dash for home to secure windows and shutters, grab a proper waterproof, and head back out.

MasterB was unimpressed with my turnaround time; surely I had time to play and cuddle? No, sadly not.

By this evening, things had calmed down, dried out. There is a fresh feel to the air which has been absent for the last week or two.
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Of Ponds, Lager, Allotment Folk and Supper in the Garden

Yesterday evening, as the end of a pretty perfect day approached, I headed round to Octavia’s where I had been invited, along with Alex, for supper. But before the cooking could commence we had to go to the allotment to see the new pond.
It was a jolly scene; a bevy of allotment folk and associated friends, including Celia, sitting around a table drinking lager.

Lager at the Allotment

Lager at the Allotment

Freddy and Bonnie the greyhounds were there too. Freddy was more curious than Bonnie and I managed a snap of his noble profile.
Freddy the Greyhound

Freddy the Greyhound

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