I had a piece of quiche for tea the other night. The tomatoes were at twelve 'o'clock on my plate, the spring onions were at three 'o' clock and the quiche was at nine 'o' clock. There were other fully paid up members of the salad family nestling contentedly around the aforementioned items. Cheese was also involved. Please bear with me on this. When I was just a boy we used to call it egg and bacon flan. Very tasty, very sweet. During the intervening years (decades of them, all speeding faster and faster), egg and bacon flan became quiche and second hand became Pre-loved. Then there's Nestle which used to be pronounced “Nessuls” and what happened to Spangles? Especially the Olde English ones – everything's changing and I don't like it.
Moving on, I have to admit that we've done no boating for the last few weeks, so writing around one thousand words in a boating blog may prove somewhat tricky. Which brings me neatly around to our little dog, Tricky. Although she is really a border terrier, she must also be part Sad-Eyed Gimmefood, as demonstrated this morning when I ate my breakfast (boiled egg). She sat by my chair, begging with a cuteness that is hard to ignore. Walking her has been awkward lately, what with the hot weather and all. Early morning and late evening we go through the usual routine – I get the lead out and Tricky ignores me. I told her straight last night. “You're going for a walk, even if I have to carry you myself!” She really does need to lose weight as my arms were aching after five minutes.
We're still land lubbers at the moment, but I'll try to inject my wild, nonsensical ramblings with a hint of nauticulness where I can. We both miss the watery wildlife we see from our boat, although we do meet some non-wild people from time to time. Most of the hire boats we meet have non-wild people aboard; a lot from Britain, of course, but a surprising number from New Zealand, America and Holland. I'm sure people from other nations come here to boat as well, but these are the ones we seem to meet most of the time. One thing that I've noticed is that hire boaters from abroad are generally either chemists, engineers, or world class yachtsmen/women. This isn't always the case, though. While chatting to an overseas visitor in a lock on the Thames, who seemed very engineerish and looked like he could do really hard sums, I was rather taken aback when he told me that he was a retired emu caller. Maybe I misheard him. The thing is, though, most boaters we meet on the canals are really nice people, and will usually try to help anyone who is struggling. For example, we had a breakdown on our previous boat, “Moonshine”. We managed to get the boat into the side and tie up. A couple on a boat moored up a short way away, who didn't know us from Adam, came over and asked if they could do anything to help. They even offered to get us some shopping if we needed any supplies. This is very common with boaters - very nice people.
We are missing Lady Aberlour, but with this hot weather it would be extremely uncomfortable aboard, even with the cream roof. Speaking of which, I need to finish painting her. I've found that using a roller and then laying off with a soft brush really tickles Linda, but she doesn't mind. No, no, I'm only joking. I feel confident that I'll get our boat finished this year though. The downside of this lovely weather is that the dry spell could lead to a drop in water levels on the canal system. The Leeds and Liverpool canal from Wigan to Gargrave looks likely to close completely unless we get rain in the next three weeks and I'm sure there will soon be further restrictions if this dry weather continues – its 1976 all over again!
I mentioned wildlife a while back. I'll now return to this subject. We've been lucky enough to journey through some very remote, rural places. Places where there's nothing to be heard but the wind and birdsong. Pleasant, shady moorings, where the only sounds are the reed warblers across the water, a blackbird in the hedge behind, and a gentle breeze rustling the treetops. We've seen a weasel dancing just twenty yards from our boat at five in the morning (I jest not), a badger running across a narrow lane right by our feet, hares and hedgehogs, foxes and grass snakes. We've also seen a lone horse trotting along the tow-path and across a bridge, looking for all the world as though he was on his way to buy a loaf of bread and a pint of milk.
We've never seen the satanic leaf gecko, however. Nor have we seen a thunder cow, a heat seeking razor snail travelling at the speed of dark, a safety wasp, or a tyrannosaurus mouse. Believe it or not, one of the above does actually exist. While I'm droning on and trying not to dribble, here are a few more bizarre sounding creatures: tasseled wobbegong (carpet shark), sarcastic fringe head (a small, ferocious fish), sparklemuffin (a spider) and lastly the tufted titmouse (a small bird). I have deliberately not included the sabre toothed bomb-worm, the house platypus or the beach chicken.
As I said, I would try to give things a boaty flavour, but it is proving harder than I thought. Probably because I haven't actually been boating. Right, boaty stuff. Some of you may know that when the Spanish Armada was drawing near, Sir Francis Drake carried on playing bowls. Well, being the great man that he was, he knew that he couldn't launch the English ships until the tide turned. In other words, there was absolutely nothing he could do about the Spanish for quite a while. So he carried on with his game. When conditions changed, he took charge and, with the help of the great British weather, the rest is history.
That's all folks.
PS Do you know what my Grandfather's last words to me were? He asked me how old I was, and I said “six and a half”. Then he said his last words to me. I've never forgotten them. He said “you selfish boy”. So I left school and became a fishmonger. Think about it.
|Garden Centre for coffee|
PPS Note from Linda – Mum is home and doing well,thanks everyone for your good wishes, she's back in the garden again, dead-heading her beautiful roses. (Happy face emoji)