Tag Archives: photography

Missing the Boat

24 Jul

This bird has become separated from her boat. How careless is that…?

It is in truth a planned separation and my version of gameful employment. I am house sitting. Or to be more precise; cat sitting.

I have been left in charge of a superb home and garden for 10/11 days. It really isn’t any hardship as said house comes complete with (amongst other things) a bath,  piano, comfy sofas and a summer house; all of which I have made good use. Hobo is quite well appointed but, apart from being a summer house in itself, does not offer any of the other three – which I miss from time to time.

So I’ve wallowed in luxury in the bath (and been re-vitalised in the ‘knock your nipples off’ power shower), indulged my love of the piano (though sadly very rusty) and sunk into the sumptuous sofas as I veg in front of Sky TV on a big screen.

And I’ve enjoyed playing house.

As for the cat… she is a delight. Very vocal but endlessly affectionate. I am revelling in the love and cuddles.

Its been a long time since Lottie (my own long-dead kitty) has curled up on my lap, head butting me if I dare to stop stroking for even a second, and filling the air with much contented and very loud purring.

I like to think we’ve become firm friends, though it could just be she is missing her proper ‘mum’ and I will be consigned to history as soon as the lady of the house returns.

Isn’t she gorgeous?

Next door’s cat also comes a calling, allowing me a stroke or two, and is in fact keeping me company right now

as I type in the shady and cool sanctuary of the summer house.

I estimate that this place is about fifteen miles north of London. From the back of the house, across the fields, the city skyline can be seen clearly – Canary Wharf, The Shard, St. Pauls and so on. Quite a sight and, in my opinion, even better at night when all the lights are a-twinkle.

So, all in all, I am in a good place. I’d show you more but it’s not mine to show…

But I do miss Hobo and have snuck back a couple of times just to drink her in. This is truly my space – I feel it the moment I set foot aboard – and where I am meant to be.

I busy myself for a couple of hours, getting on with painting the hatch replacement that John has made. He makes – I paint – he fits. The stern hatch has always been pretty horrid; a dip in the middle gathering water, which means rust…

…see what I mean? How bad is that.

So John has crafted a new one from wood, which I am busy painting. Red. Or it will be when finished.

And there will be glass recessed in for light in the engine room below. Can’t wait for it to be fitted…it’s going to be good!

Inbetween coats, I continue to prepare the roof – now with the aid of my trusty mouse. We’re getting there.A quick look round sees ‘Gerry’ is fine

The daisies from HMF are positively blooming…And the new herb garden is doing OK.John’s nest boxes looking good…Late additions so no occupants…Maybe next year.

So now my current asignment draws to a close and the house owner is expected back tonight.

I am gradually clearing out my stuff and cleaning up after me. Eradicating all trace.

It’s a lovely home and has been an absolute pleasure. But I will be happy to be back on Hobo. Soon soon.

Moving Bella – Day 2

5 Jul

On Sunday at silly o’clock John and I pitch up for more crewing duty. We wanted to get an early start but Reg ( a man after my own heart and not an early riser) would join us for lunch at some point further down river –  exactly where yet to be decided.

Dave didn’t get a lot of sleep it seems – too excited. How well I remember that feeling – the first night aboard my very own boat – even though it was six years ago now. Seems like yesterday.

Another lovely day, less wind, so let’s get going says John – tea/coffee on the move. The first lock of the day is just around the corner so John walks on to set it filling while Dave and I slowly trickle Bella forward. Gates are still shut when we arrive so my pupil, given the choice of tying up again or hovering, chooses the latter – good man – and pulls it off like a pro.

Just three more locks put us on the Lea – a much wider river where we should be able to ‘put our foot down’ a bit.  And with luck/the law of averages we might just get a few locks set in our favour – to date they’ve all been against.  As we turn on to the Lea, the first lock looms and…yes!  A boat just coming out so, at last, straight in we go.

We trundle on with Dave mostly at the tiller, me and John enjoying the view and recognising places/landmarks along the way. Funny, it feels so familiar – like home ground – well I suppose it sort of is now.

One lock in particular sticks in the memory – Carthenagena – see below for why. Someone clearly loves this place. It makes for a lovely sight on approach and, whilst I do appreciate the feat of engineering involved and their serious old age, a pleasant change from the norm.

There’s a few live-ons hereabouts and I suspect it will be down to them –  frustrated gardener/s in their midst maybe.

You may have noticed, though probably not, that I have re-arranged the roof. I can’t bear stuff that gets in the way and is a trap for the ropes to tangle on so John has shifted the plank and poles all forward. Much better. I do so hate a cluttered roof.

We soon reach the agreed rendezvous point, The Crown at Broxbourne (or Frogspawn as we like to call it), so we pull in and wait for Reg. The delicious aroma of roast pork wafts its way through the garden and down to the river and succeeds in sucking us in. We are still only three so call our no. 4 who is still in bed on his way, stuck in traffic so don’t wait. The pork by now was disappointingly sold out so we did a deal and had the beef for the same price. The waitress sold us cauliflower cheese as an extra (we’re all big fans) but the chef must have run out of cheese as there wasn’t a trace. So, cauliflower in white sauce then.

They were very busy and there was a bit of a kerfuffle with the old dears at the next table, complaining we had been served out of turn ahead of them, which in truth we had been. Thankfully, their meals turned up quick quick so any awkwardness was avoided but it makes me glad I’m on the receiving end of service these days. I remember all too clearly how difficult the great British public at large can be from my years at The Star.

By the time we were all fed and beered it turned out to be a longer than planned lunch break. We would be running till late though….OK justified.

As we leave The Crown and round the bend we dodge hire boats, rowers and pedalos – blissfully unaware of our existence.

John just loves to invite people aboard for a ride (usually from one lock to the next) and a nosey downstairs inside the boat. And today was no exception. He spotted a couple of lads on bikes (Orthodox Jews from America on a visit it turns out) and has them stow their bikes on the (previously decluttered) roof.They were a nice couple of lads and, once I managed to convince them it wouldn’t end up on Youtube, let me take their photo.An unusual look but each to their own. They seemed to enjoy this little interlude, especially when let loose on the tiller, although a teensy bit puzzled by the accomodation. But, I think we may have made their day…happy to oblige.

The river had been quiet but then  we found the gongoozlers..It wouldn’t be the same without them and John does love to chat…And I love the way the kids are so fascinated…

Anyway, before you could say clutter up the the roof again why don’t you, John has found more bikes for temporary stowage thereon and  victims enthralled passengers to entertain till the next lock.A very snazzy number in pink..And its proud owner.

We’re not opposed to a little child labour help along the way, kids are so willing and eager to take part. “G’wan…put your back into it laddie..”

From the serene…To the beautiful…To the downright….There was the obligatory shopping trolley… if you look hardA fight with a fish…That the fish…                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           finally won.

And I witter on about a cluttered roof….. !

An interesting abode and check out the plantlife.

The pylons march along with us..And cyclists are ever present on the splendid towpath that is newly ‘done up’ ready for the Olympics.John went for a spin with a local lad on his old tub..As he went to turn around..Before he joins us…In the lock.Reg misjudged the speed of the boat as he jumped on the roof…But he moved a bit smartish when I told him about that bridge coming up.

And he was feeling the cold at Enfield..

Or perhaps just trying to blend in.

We ended up at Tottenham Hale at 7.30pm. Dave’s friend was training in so this was a convenient stop, though John and I would have liked to have carried on a bit further – keen to see how our money had been spent in the name  of the olympics since our last visit to this neck of the woods.

Still, we’d had another brilliant day and made pretty good progress, considering.

We had planned on a day three but when we rang in the morning, Dave was full of confidence, had a mate with him and it was raining…..

So we had a lovely lie in instead.

We are in constant touch by phone/text and our man’s doing fine, just like John said he would be. My Mother Hen instinct wanted to give him another day or two but it really wasn’t necessary. By last night he had reached Hemel Hempstead on his way up the Grand Union. Even managing to do locks on his own now. Clever cloggs.

He was due more help from other friends today, swelling numbers again to four, and hoped to reach Stoke Bruerne by Friday with enough time to spare to take in the museum there.

We are hoping to hop aboard again along the route – maybe the Nene and/or the Denver crossing – and will tell it here if/when we do.

I know he has a birthday coming up in a matter of days so would like to think we’ll get an invite to the party, which will take place on a river somewhere soon…

Up on the Roof

24 Jun

While I beavered away at my ailing roof, there was plenty of opportunity to take five as my feathered friends put in an appearance to show off their new-born..As well as the duck chick eight there was the moorhen chick one..Cute or what..

I hope they all make it. So many times over the years I’ve watched this daily parade as they grow up; their numbers diminishing  each time I see them. One day there’s eight, then seven, six and so on – it’s sad. But that’s Mother Nature for you and I suppose the mink has to eat.

While I was attacking the chimney, down on the decking, I had another visitor..I first spotted it as it slithered out of the long grass towards me. I reckon it came to see what all the noise/vibration was about as I hammered away at the tarred chimney. I backed off, trying to do stealth and grab the camera but failed miserably and it disappeared back into the jungle – quick quick. A bit like when you suck spaghetti into your mouth – gone.

I did get lucky though, as you can see, and managed to catch it swimming.

After pinching myself to make sure I wasn’t in South Africa, I concluded it was probably a grass snake though I know there are adders here. They have been known to bite the horses and dogs and, depending where they have been bitten, sometimes fatally.

Speaking of jungle....this is how it was; the before shot if you like.

Since then there’s been a mowathon and a strimfest down at DDA. Normally, my little patch gets forgotten and is left to go wild but this time I smiled sweetly at the man in hard hat and goggles so now it looks like this..and this..Much better. Now just add table and chairs..

On John’s farm there’s some lovely big cable drums I fancy for the use of – just have to transport one here. Would make a natty little picnic area don’t you think? Together with the veggie/herb boxes that are planned, will make a regular little garden. We’ll get there. Probably just before I move on.

As predicted, work on the roof has come to a halt. Too wet, too windy and not to mention too bloody cold. Still, I’ve made a start and they say next week might be better. The next stage involves power tools, grinder and sander, so noisy and messy. It’s an essential part of the process but one I don’t look forward to and will be much happier when I get to the painting stage. That I don’t mind and find therapeutic even.

My internet threw a sickie, just as the weather took a turn for the worse, and stopped me in my tracks. Couldn’t work outdoors. Couldn’t work indoors. Bugger.

I went down the troubleshooting route and through the help menu but it wasn’t having any of it. Two days later I admit defeat and get in touch with 3 – my service provider. My Indian friend on the phone talks me through various ‘fixes’ but to no avail. He eventually lets on that there had been some ‘issues’ with the local mast and credits me for a full month’s usage. He reckoned all would be fixed by today (and hey presto it is) so not bad –  a full month refunded for 2/3 days down time.

Frankly though, I’d rather have the access. Being able to see that I have e-mails but unable to reply (or even unable to read them sometimes) is so frustrating. And, of course, it kept me away from here. All of a sudden, there’s 101 things I need to do on the internet and can’t.

Hell, I almost had to resort to doing some housework…

From the Treehouse Window

6 Jun

I am back at the treehouse again so I thought I’d show you some ‘window’ shots I’ve taken from here, by way of a change from the river.

This little beauty came and posed for me…

I tried to remain hidden and focus but he looked right at me…

 and was off like a shot…

I kept clicking, hoping to capture his flight but he was gone. It was all over in seconds.

He’s a regular here and we’ve seen him hunting along the dyke at the side of the runway – a beautiful sight. We think he lives in one of the barns (where else would a barn owl live) and I glimpsed him the other morning as he executed a perfect banking turn taking him inside. A super shot I failed to get. I think I must glue the camera to my hand in future….

Last year John spotted this one from the kitchen window…

Aren’t they gorgeous?

Stitched up

16 May

I am by no means an expert in the photography field but, with the aid of digital technology and a little help from my friends, am learning.

Recently, I was bemoaning the fact that I was unable to capture a complete rainbow  here . When my dear friend Lorna showed this to her accomplished photographer other half, he of course had the answer: stitching. Simple – all I had to do was download Microsoft Ice. So I did…as well as the other half a million programmes necessary to support this, carefully unticking a whole host of boxes to prevent gaining unwanted extra tool bars along the way – you know how it goes. At the end of all this I then had to install something else because it wouldn’t work – needed the 64bt version apparently. Beats me why it didn’t know that in the first place but my knowledge of computer speak isn’t that great either.

So, after something of a schlep, it was done. This is my first attempt at stitching and, whilst not a brilliant result, showed the potential and gave me ideas….

A few weeks back I finally got round to scanning all my old photos into the computer (previously stored in a picnic hamper behind my chair and all but forgotten); a little job that has been on the cards ever since I moved on board some six years ago. I say little job…that it wasn’t. But it was a very worthwhile one. I actually look at them now that I don’t have to move stuff to get at them and can use them and, to get back to the point, I can stitch some of them together.

A long time ago in another life, I was travelling in South America and went to see Angel Falls. The trip was incredible and a bit intrepid at times.

We flew in this..                                                                                                                                                                              over this..

Orinoco River

this..

this..this..

this…

and landed on this..We trekked through the jungle and walked up this..and passed this..After walking in the ice-cold water, hanging on to ropes as the gradient increased and being made by our Indian guides to swim in pools along the way, we eventually reached the ‘end of the road’ – the most marvellous waterfall, which we swam beneath. The descent was much faster, like a giant foaming waterchute carrying us spashing and squealing to our starting point. Exhilliarating or what!

The above was made up from my original pics (taken in stages) and stitched together; something I’d always planned on doing with the hard copies and never did. Quite a result I have to say and thank you Alex for telling me how to. I can’t see the join..

I should tell you at this point that when I started this post and looked for my scans, they were nowhere to be found. It was a bad feeling, all those hours of hard work lost. I was for a time totally gutted, search after search producing nothing, until I checked the re-cycle bin where I had inadvertantly filed them.

Told you I wasn’t very clever…