I picked up my copy of Narrowboat by Tom Rolt the other day, it was on the little bookshelf we had made by Adele for Percy. I do not normally read books twice - I have listened to a couple of audio books on my drive to and from the south coast a few times, mainly Stephen Fry's books as I find his voice good company on the long drives. Anyhow in reading Toms book again I am reminded of the passion and joy he exudes of the ways of the english countryside. He was no doubt a romantic for the old ways and there is nothing wrong with this. It is in my opinion an age thing when we start to feel the pace of change and yearn for how it used to be. If you don't feel it now it'll come to you for sure.
One paragraph describes the juxtaposition of life afloat compared to the land based life of possession and marketing we live by today.
In describing the back cabin on the working boats, he writes;
A wide bench along the opposite wall to the stove is the only sitting accommodation, and does duty at night as a side-bed for the children. A second and wider cross bed, with cupboards above it and a folding centre portion , lies athwart the for end of the cabin. It is usually screened by a pair of lace curtains. This is the boatman's marriage bed; here, in this little space, he was born and will one day die. No simpler existence can be imagined. The boatman's life is stripped of all the complex comforts with which we have surrounded ourselves at the price of contentment. He works and lives hard, but he has not heard of hire purchase agreements, while the collectors of lights and telephone accounts, rates and taxes know him not.
I loved reading this simple paragraph. It says so much of how far we have moved away from need to want, and are we better for it?
Anyhow to fully expose the contradiction of my post ..... and to update my diary as I have only one post in August .....
I use pictures taken to remind myself of where I have been and what I have been doing. I'll spare you the pictures of car parks, vandalised signs and exploits of contractors to curl the estate managers toes. Instead August saw me a year closer to my pension and a travel log of many means.
The fishing on the mooring has been very enjoyable. Bread being my bait for Roach, Bream and Chubb. The sun sets opposite my mooring so it is a very calm and peaceful end to the day and at high summer saw me fishing to past 10 o'clock at night.
The bike did not suffer too much. I have a route I like to ride that takes my into the Staffordshire Moorlands from Derbyshire. A one point I am so high I can see the Wrekin and the Welsh hills in the far distance. It is up close to Cauldon Edge. I wonder if we'll end up living back in Wales?
For my birthday I purchased a new cycle... I have a collection now, all for specific uses of course. I wanted (not needed) a bike that has decent front suspension and a more upright riding position due to problems I am having with my joints .... age does not come alone.
For my birthday we were invited to London to stop with my youngest son Callum and his partner Emma. Their two bed flat in Greenwich is a great base for visiting the capital. We took a walk into Greenwich and ate at the market before a walk for a drink onto Blackheath (where the plague victims were buried) through Greenwich park back to the flat for food.
On the Monday we took ourselves back to the park and then onto the Greenwich museums where we signed up for a year so we can visit again. It enabled us to go to the exhibitions, the observatory and the Cutty Sark. It has had a very interesting life.
That evening we were treated to a show in London - 1984, a very dark but well presented and well acted experience
Back on the boat the fish just kept getting bigger....a nice Chubb, hand in picture to show the scale !
I had a couple of days leave to use up so I called a friend to see if he wanted to play out on the bikes.... Bob, Allan and Brian all needed little encouragement, all retirees - lucky buggers. They are Yorkshire based so I met them at Thirsk market place and Bob took up through some stunning Yorkshire countryside up to the Transporter bridge in Middlesborough. it was a 330 mile day and the temp on the M1 on the return journey was 30c at 6pm !!
Two Yamaha FJR 1300's a Pan European 1300 (mine) and a CBF1000 - Bobs, serious bikes !
Back to the boat and work etc.... I'd not like to leave you thinking is was always beautiful sunsets, although as we get towards Autumn they get more spectacular as do the sun rises on the other side of the mooring.
The joy of heavy rain is being out in it dry under the fishing umbrella and having the place to myself as the walkers and runners that use the tow path don't appear !
This little Perch made me smile, as soon as I held him he puffed up all his very impressive defenses against being swallowed, so I dropped him back into the canal to grow up into a monster for me to catch in a few years time (hopefully)
Off for a 6 mile walk around the coast now, planned again via memory map .... pictures to follow in a September blog no doubt.