Saturday, 14 January 2017

walking in Westwood

Pity the poor boater, when the nor'westers hurl snow along the icy towpath and no comfort is to be found:

Calde geþrungen  wæron mine fet,
forste gebunden    calde clommum

Step inside, though, and you'll find that we're actually toasty warm, especially Miss P, who came to visit for a couple of days and was cheerfully settled in front of the stove.
Well, I say cheerfully....

can I help you with that bacon butty? Please?

But you can't spend all your time being cosy. So as the dawn began to make itself known, we crossed Smelly Bridge and headed up the hill. In the moonlight, the concrete lagoons of the sewage station looked like fresh-built raths, or possibly a ziggurat raised to a rather peculiar deity.

Up on the hill the glacial wind had sculpted and combed the tussocks into pale, transient roches moutonees. The moon was setting over Winsley, and as the morning sky lightened, the hills glowed with their powdering of snow. It was that perfect moment when everything is luminous and shining, just before the night abdicates the sky.

..but we were plunging back into the darkness of the woods, where fallen trees overhung the path and a grey squirrel screeched its alarm call. The ground is uneven and interspersed with hollows and sudden lumps of rock; like the Scowles in the Forest of Dean, though less emphatic. I guess that quarrying once took place here; there are underground quarries all around here. Somewhere beneath us was a former Royal Enfield factory...

As we emerged onto the lane and slid down the hill to the aqueduct, a robin thawed out its song and tried a few phrases.  

Presently, the sun rose and the joggers came by. Presently, generators were starting up on the moored boats. And it was time to chop some wood.

Monday, 2 January 2017

fox and bells

or the Baghdad cock to cruise,
the hillside fox is simply
joining in to hail the new.

(as videos go, it's a bit deficient on the visuals, but hey, I am moored in deep woodland...)

Dusk at Bradford on Avon

Thursday, 22 December 2016

hobo's Christmas

Here's Guy Calhoun's Christmas song. Apart from it being v good, it's also raising money for homeless people. So listen! And maybe do some buying. You can get a download here, and it's only 99p. Go on!

Here's a link to other songs that are both good and, er, good, if you see what I mean...

Thursday, 15 December 2016

gently dip, but not too deep

What with the floating market, towing an engineless boat around, fixing engines, and doing some work for my printer friends in Bristol, it's been a busy couple of weeks. Here are a few pictures.

Sunday, 27 November 2016

the fox that barks in the wood

There's a sure remedy to lying in bed at half three in the morning, worrying about everything there is to do.

So I got up and stoked the stove and got on with this painting of some boaty friends.

Presently the owls kicked up a quick shindig, and then a little while later dawn happened.

With a sunny day, you can do so much more, when you're on a boat; rainy days keep you skulking indoors, but sometimes you really need the extra space that the Big Living Room provides. Today it allowed me to take the bak wheel off my bike and pour lots of oil into the gear hub (Shimano hub gears don't like muddy towpaths)

sorry, I was so engrossed in tinkering with the hub
that I didn't take a pic in the middle of the job
 Then a quick ride to Bathampton to look at Becky's alternator, which wasn't charging the batteries. More by luck than judgement, we found a loose wire and it started behaving again.

Exciting development on the galley front. I found a recipe in the River Cafe Cookbook for pizza fritta. Now, we are always at home to pizza on this boat, and a recipe that cooks it in a frying pan is certainly worth a bash.

Make the dough for the base in the usual way; stretch out as thin as poss to cover the base of the frying pan; cook it until the bottom is nicely done, take off the heat, flip it, put the topping on, and return to the heat, with a cover over the pan (I use a tin plate). And blow me down, it works a treat.

The afternoon slowed down until it was motionless; the low sun ignited the Traveller's Joy with a cold white fire. Then a fox started barking the slow seconds in the woods, and we tiptoed into the evening.

Saturday, 26 November 2016

wasps, hornets, butterflies, maps

The sun came out and I moved the firewood off the roof of the boat down into the the cabin. Tucked up in the wood pile were several somnolent wasps, looking for all the world as though they were dead, stripey pharaohs, but groggily reviving on being disturbed. I evicted most of them, but one flew around the cabin for ages before finding its way out. 

A walker stopped to look at the canal map, and decided to buy one. I'm moored at Hornet's Nest; he asked if I've seen any here. "Yes, but not many. Unfairly maligned, aren't they?"
He agreed. And talked about the hornets he's seen out in Italy. 
"What's the italian for hornet? I know a wasp is vespa, like the scooter"
"Hang on, I know I know it but... bee is ape"
"Direct from the latin, then"
"yes.... ah, calabrone! Wonder what's the etymology? Hang on..." he pulled out his mini computer "'s hard to read in sunglasses ....ah! Uncertain Indo-European origin. Not very helpful."
"Covers a multitude of sins..."

I got onto my computer and jiggered around with my butterfly paintings, as you see. It's a tricky business, colouring the background. I had to lift the text up using a magic wand, and clone out the mess behind it. Sorry, this is graphics software talk. 

Then I uploaded the butterflies to Redbubble, where you can find them. I like the idea of making patterns out of pictures, that can endlessly repeat. Though having lines that continue through each block into the next one is more of a challenge, and more exciting when it comes right.

Deborah was amused yesterday; a colleague had told her she had a friend visiting from the USA, who showed her "a really brilliant meme about Trump and Brexit..." -and Deb knew it was going to be my map. Gosh! I'm certainly getting my fifteen minutes' worth with that. Or at least, the map is. I just threw it out into cyberspace.Go litel book, and so on.

Thursday, 24 November 2016

sundog millionaire

I've got silver in the moon
And gold in the morning sun
The woods seem strangely quiet after the days of heavy rain; and the robins and mistle thrushes are singing even more loudly than usual, having had to up their game during the deluge in order to make themselves heard. The owls are spaced out more, as it were; over the previous couple of nights they all hooted together in the breaks in the rain, but last night they were far more leisurely, and I listened for ages to a particularly melancholy one fading away into the silence long before dawn.
always start with the faces!
Then if you mess up, you  have wasted less time

I was (finally!) at work on a new picture when Chris called me from the boat next door. She'd spotted a pair of sundogs. So I rushed for the camera. See them? They're refracting light through ice crystals, and ever so slightly rainbowy. Here's something similar but even more colourful I saw on May morning.

 Then it was off on the bicycle to Bathampton, to help Becky put a fan belt on her engine. And we drank Rioja afterwards, as you do. I arrived home to a text; "Can I commission you do to  picture of 'Dru to the rescue', with coat flapping?" -I don't necessarily applaud the sentiment, but anyway.

moi, sort of

just another boat going by, pretending to be a Clyde puffer