The Coronavirus Diaries, le 14 juillet 2020

It seems only right to have some French in the heading tonight as, quiet though it is here on the fens, across France there will be feux d’artifice in front of crowds much thinner than usual.

This again will be a quick, short post. It is passed my bedtime, but the neighbours and I had a good old chat and then MasterB went ashore. I was there too at the other end of his lead. We were out for about and hour. There was a lot of sitting. Also a fair amount of grass eating which I hope is not followed in the small hours by fur ball production. Right now he is climbing behind me to look out at the night. Bats were flying about, lots of birdsong, and a bird of prey which may or may not have been an owl, but I’m going to hope it was. Earlier I saw a marsh harrier.
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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.

Swans on the River Lark

The weather here has taken a sudden turn and today was cold. Tomorrow I shall wear a warmer coat. I’m glad that butterbeans were already on tonight’s menu; warm and tasty, the perfect dish for an evening where winter is making itself felt.

I am hoping that MasterB’s fans are content with the Instagram pictures which appear on this page. I shall of course be putting up more photos of His Gingerness in posts here, but today he is giving way to swans.

Aunt lives by the river, and when I returned from the ham and rolls shopping trip, I saw this group of swans and had to take some photographs.

Swans in the distance

Swans in the distance

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Bring Out Another Thousand

I am wondering if Blogsy can work its magic and upload a post when again I have a doubtful connection. Thanks for the comments on yesterday’s post. I replied to a few before the connection was lost. It’s a bit breezy this evening, so that may explain the intermittent signal.

But what a glorious evening. The morning was dull at first, then the sun broke through. I was out on the road, collecting my repaired boat cover, and parting with more cash than you would think necessary. Not for nothing do they say that boat stands for Bring Out Another Thousand.

By the time I got back, after a lunch with another boater who had accompanied me, at her house, the sun was doing its stuff and the day was hot. MasterB had found a cool spot on the floor and was stretched out full length. I did a bit more power washing but stopped when I realised a) MasterB was cowering in the bathroom, and b) the window seals on the port side of the rear cabin do not seal. There was an alarming flood right by the electrics. A bit of action with an old toothbrush around the window frames made me feel better, and MasterB resumed his stretched out position.

The trouble with boat cleaning is that you find all the bits that need attention. My list gets longer every visit. Not that that is spoiling my enjoyment. The moorhen and her chicks have quit the marina. Instead there is a pair of swans with their lone cygnet. The parents are proud and protective. Never have I seen a cygnet so closely chaperoned. It quite makes me fear for it when the time comes to leave home. In St James’ Park in London, the cygnets, ejected by their erstwhile adoring parents, hang around in an adolescent gang for the next year or so. There’s safety in numbers, and I imagine many lessons about getting on with their peers. What is this lone cygnet going to do? With whom will it learn from its mistakes? Continue reading

The Birds and the Bees

Yesterday morning I was over in Rotherhithe, walking through the old dock area, now home to a smart new library, a less new shopping centre, and lots of flats.

Some of the water has been kept, and the water fowl are well accommodated.



Outside British Home Stores and Decathlon, one family was attracting a fair amount of attention.



No wonder. The parents seemed to take the human interest calmly.



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Aunt at the Pub, Birds, Super Repairman, and MasterB

I had a little problem with my car on the way home, meaning that MasterB and I sat in an isolated lane for around forty minutes waiting for the repairman. Actually MasterB lay and I stood. I moved his cat basket from the car and settled him in the shade of a tree.

The repairman would have been quicker had not the person who answered my call, yes Connor, I do mean you, given the address my mobile phone appeared to be calling from rather than where I said I was. It turns out the two are some five miles apart. The repairman, not finding me, called. He quoted the address he had. I squeaked. He took down the details I gave him. He arrived, and despite a distinct lack of underpants on top of his overalls, diagnosed and fixed the problem. Continue reading

Within Reach

A tranquil evening on das Boot. MasterB, a hot cat, is stretched out on the floor; mischief far from his mind. The swans are nibbling and seeking out weedy morsels below the water’s surface; they look like icebergs, or, sometimes, synchronised swimmers.
The Shouty Man is here and I am unsuccessfully blocking out his voice. Somewhere nearby a boy is shouting, and someone else up river is sharing tinny music with us. The sounds carry on the still air. I admit I’d be happier without the Shouty Man or the tinny music. A water tank has just boomed and MasterB has growled and got to his feet. A little while ago a bare chested man paddled by energetically in his canoe.
Although it is just half past eight, I should be happy to call it a day and go to bed soon. Maybe the Shouty Man and his remarkably silent companions will head for the pub.
It’s Mrs Grebe’s turn on the nest. Her two hatched babies have just tucked themselves among her feathers.
Aunt was charmed. I picked her up late morning and we drove through the back roads. She hasn’t been out and about much recently so we made a day of it and the greenery and the fields brought a smile to her face. She exclaimed repeatedly at the beauty of the countryside; the comforting chill of the car. At Reach, I suggested sitting in the pub garden, and we found a table in the shade of a tree by a mass of lavender in flower. There was a light breeze. She pronounced it perfect even before we had established if the pub could meet her gluten free requirements.
I tempted her with a white wine spritzer. Aunt was tea total until Mother and I corrupted her and she discovered a taste for Vinho Verde. However, she settled on an orange and soda and I had a grapefruit and soda. Long, cool and wonderfully refreshing.

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Back in Harness

We spent quite a while looking at cows. When we had got off the boat, or disembarked, which sounds much grander, the cows had been at the far end of the field, but as we turned from our perambulations they were close by the fence.

NotCat sat down. He watched. He lay down to give them his full attention but in comfort. I stood. The path was damp and muddy. Minutes passed. I took some photos. I got bored, and decided if we were going to watch cows all evening I wanted to sit down. I carried NotCat to the steps. The moment I had got comfortable, he lost interest in cows and turned his attention to boats. We crunched along the gravel.

NotCat did that cat thing of walking along the very edge while I held my breath and suggested the grass was nicer to paws. Continue reading