Sunday 26 April 2020

stop all the dandelion clocks

Spencer and Victoria came by again on the coal boat, though their biggest sales on this run were charcoal and potting compost. Boat people are digging vegetable gardens and potting up tomato plants with the sole purpose of convincing Respectable Walkers that we’re all growing dope. There are plans to have a sunflower growing competition too.

I look across the water to the Horse Field in hopes of seeing deer or foxes, and sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t, but these are on and off things, and it’s harder to note the smaller changes; the cowslips which proliferate across the top of the field and are a yellow constellation from where I sit, though I know they’re now starting to run to seed. The trees are still getting leafed up; the ash came before the oak, but the oak trees have filled out far more over the last fortnight, fresh bright leaves that you can make a surprisingly nice wine with. Who on earth thought of that?

All along the edge of the towpath the dandelion heads are stopped clocks waiting for the wind. The air is stillas anything, and when a jogger or cyclist pass at speed, grunting and panting, a second or two passes and then you feel the wake of them hitting you and you hold your breath for a little while to keep the germs out.

But this morning there’s nobody about but me

Wednesday 22 April 2020

cockle bread

Halcyon days, now wars are ending
You shall find where'er you sail
Tritons all the while attending
With a kind and gentle Kale.

A bit of Purcell there, from the Tempest, lightly adapted to suit the leaf of Cavolo Nero that went by in the morning. I always found the idea of a kind and gentl gale amusing, especially when listening to this tune as we butted through just such a gale in the Western Approaches or indeed Biscay.

Over on the canal facebook group there was alarm and consternation from one poster who saw some cauliflower leaves float by. Fair play, who likes cauliflower at the best of times?

Down here on the West End we get a better class of vegetable in the rich Minestrone of the canal. It turned out that a neighbour was shaking a slug off this particular stalk and inadvertently dropped the whole thing into the canal.

Breadmaking is of course de rigeur in these lockdown days, and today I divided the dough into two and added mixed fruit into one half. I dusted them with rice flour to stop them sticking too much. The result was really rather good, even if it did look a bit like an arse.

Out and about with the volunteers, delivering food parcels and stuff. 

Observe Blake's Proverb of Hell on the side of the boat there. 

Later, a quick dash to the Wharf to bandage up someone's nasty gash (they slipped on the side of the boat). 

I put my Marigold gloves on, and my Darth Vader respirator. "There's no need for that", said the patient; "I've not got the bug".

"It's to protect you from me" I said; "You don't know where I've been"

Emerging back onto the towpath I see two friends sitting outside their boat enjoying an evening beer. Mr and Mrs Thornproof have paused in their walk to stand looking angry and outraged at this flagrant display of Fun. Unfortunately, the display was only observed by me. Hopefully they will have gone home to spend an agreeable evening write angry letters to the Daily Mail, and best of luck with that.

Monday 20 April 2020

a jammed propellor

Sharon and Mark's water tank was running low so they set off for the water point, first turning at the winding hole. They'd got the bow into the inlet, when the engine faltered and suddenly stopped. I wandered up to see what was going on.

Something had jammed the prop. Unfortunately, unlike on a narrowboat where there's a weed hatch above the prop to allow you to reach down and examine the prop, this boat, a Broads cruiser, has no hatch and a prop recessed under the hull too far in to reach without diving.

Marc resignedly scrambled down in borrowed waders which had a hole in them, though the hole didnt really matter because the water came over the top anyway. Jim prepared a harpoon in case a great white whale should appear.

The narrative arc ground to a halt at this point, because prodding and probing was to no avail. Jim volunteered to dive down and clear it in exchange for a week's supply of sherry. Sharon did some rapid mental calculations and looked startled.

But they tried easing it into gear a few times and eventually whatever it was down there cleared, and they were on their way victorious.

From George's camp came the melodious bonging of one of those steel drum things.

Thursday 9 April 2020

lockdown on the canal

The canal, or at least its resident population, is on lockdown, one of the terms that's entered our vocabulary over the last couple of weeks, like 'social distancing', that curious free-form version of country dancing that we practice without music.

So I minimise my trips out, other than the patrols I do as part of a team of volunteers, to keep an eye on vulnerable boaters.

But yesterday I cycled up to Claverton to drop off books, badges and cards, and to do a bit of bicycle fettling. And to say hello to friends along the way.