Friday 2 February 2018


it is our medium of communication,
we wade through it, it clags our bikes
and is the topic of our conversation.

In the polite streets of towns we enter,
we hail each other at first sight
of clouty boots, dank hats, the scent

of woodsmoke that has browned and kippered us,
tallowing our clothes and coats
when skulking in the warmth of boats
that snugly through the winter skipper us.

It was my 60th birthday, and I cycled into Bath to post a letter and to get some essentials and a few inessentials too. Around town, I saw several fellow boaters and we cheerfully greeted each other and I thought of this poem I did a couple of weeks ago. 

It's all been a bit medieval along the canal, with the mud aforementioned, and with the various diseases. I had the flu, and it was truly horrid; three weeks of feeling tired and awful, and still not entirely recovered after four weeks. My neighbours had it even worse; they had norovirus at Christmas, then recovered in time to come down with the flu two days after I did.

Onwards and upwards. The daylight hours are lengthening; as I type this at 0710, a song thrush is singing outside, and a tawny owl is chipping in too. The woods echoed to the drumming of woodpeckers yesterday, and the cuckoo pint's arrowhead leaves are thrusting up along the towpath, where the snowdrops have been in flower for over a week already.

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