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Bella update

7 Jul

I woke this morning at the unearthly hour of 7.10am to the sound of a caffeinated rattlesnake. That is the noise my chosen text alert makes – a sort of ‘tssccchhhh’ noise. Scary.

This rude, sleep interupting message informed me that the Environment Agency had issued strong stream advice for the River Nene. I immediately forwarded this to Bella as she was heading rapidly towards this naughty bad river.

On sparking up the craptop when I got up a little later, this e mail awaited me:

‘Strong Stream Advice has been issued for the River Nene. Several locks on the River Nene are closed to navigation and are being used to discharge flood waters. The Environment Agency strongly advises against attempting to boat on the River Nene. River flows are above normal and head-room at some sites will be restricted. In an emergency, please contact the Environment Agency on 0800 80 70 60 stating you are in the Anglian Region’.  

Oh bugger.

I rang Dave to pass on this news. I knew he wouldn’t want to hear it but he needed to know.

As it happens, he was just one lock away from joining the Nene so I advised he find a nice spot PDQ and hole up there while he phoned the EA to check out the situation and get back to me.

John, who would love to ‘shoot the rapids’ as it were, would no doubt say I was a wuss but no, not on a narrowboat!

He’s done his time as a tugboat driver on the tidal Nene up near the wash – a whole different ball game. No, it’s not a good idea to be on this river when in flood. Dangerous in fact.

I’ve seen pics of those who have tried – broadside against a bridge with insufficient headroom when ‘brakes’ applied at last minute, waiting in trepidation for the emergency services to arrive. Not a good place to be.

Of course, I couldn’t find the exact image I had in mind but here’s a couple of similar scenarios.

Makes your toes curl eh..

I’m still waiting to hear back from Bella…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             …hope all is well.

The Boatbird Cap

7 Jul

Well, the boatbird cap has had a much overdue airing – see Moving Bella.

It’s not the original boatbird cap; that was lost to high winds on The Thames last year. But, as it was a find on Southwold beach many moons ago, it was never really mine in the first place. No, it was just a temporary possession and my time with it was obviously over.

But the old grey number served me well. It gave me courage in the early days, a sort of comforter and a key part of the ritual that got me on the tiller when it was time to move the boat. When that trusty cap was on my head and my silken tresses pulled through to form an integral ponytail, a message zapped to my brain. A message that said: ‘be brave – you can do this – you are in charge – you are the skipper’.

So, RIP the grey cap and long live the black one…

…seen here modelled by Boris; First Mate in John’s absence, Skipper and caretaker when I’m away.

I acquired this (the cap not the bear) in South Africa last year, it being made by John’s flying friend Jaco. A very nice man, police detective by trade, but we won’t hold that against him.

The new model is showing all the signs of being an excellent successor and seems to have the necessary qualities expected of such an important piece of headgear: it fits, looks good, keeps my hair in check and the sun out of my eyes. OK, so it doesn’t have to work too hard on the last task but rises to the occasion, should the sun ever decide to come out and play.

It also works the same magic. For me, it’s more than just an item of clothing, a fashion statement or useful bit of kit. It is organic – a living breathing thing. A trusted friend.

But for now this hangs on the curtain pole, eagerly awaiting its next outing…

…which hopefully isn’t too far away.