On keys and quays

– or the risks of being too tidy –

I love DB’s mum. Apart from generally being an awesome lady, she’s DB’s mother, and responsible for 50% of his genes.

She’s one of the only people I know, who can cook and serve 10 people dinner without the kitchen looking any different to before she began.

She is always well made up, with perfectly manicured (and brightly coloured) fingernails and put-together (as opposed to thrown together) clothes, [moderately high heeled] shoes and accessories. I don’t think I’ve ever seen her go anywhere without her handbag.

She doesn’t forget birthdays or anniversaries. She buys presents months in advance and never runs out of stamps or petrol.

She is a fantastic hostess and can be relied upon to provide tea amd biscuits at a minute’s notice.

She goes to sports and keep fit sessions twice a week and has various training machines at home which she actually uses.

She has an immaculate house (except for the cellar which is full of her husband’s things) and she can’t stand mess. There are ever changing displays of pretty things on the tables and sideboards and more often than not fresh flowers arranged artistically in fancy vases.

If there were prizes for good housekeeping while still being elegant she would probably win them.
If I were to compete against her in any discipline known for being remotely feminine, I would lose. Not that I am the least bit competitive 😉 I also know when I’m out of my league and not to bother entering the competition….

However.

Yesterday I found an argument against organisation and neatness.

DB’s mum and dad drove independently to the boats house. They left one car there and drove to the Quay.

Several hours later, we’d eaten (or fed) everything edible and it had started to get cold. We took the boats to the boats house ready for the boat people to heave them out of the water and onto the trailers so we can bring them home some time next week.

Anyway, the plan was to all drive back to the Quay in DB’s Dad’s car, sort out ropes etc and drive home in our respective cars.

The reality was a little bit different.

DB’s Dad had put his keys on the nearest flat surface in DB’s Mum’s car. DB’s Mum thought they looked awfully out of place and ‘tidied them away’. Once tidied, they were not only out of sight but also out of mind. They parked, loaded the picnic onto the boat and set off to enjoy a day on the lakes…

DB’s Dad had to beg a lift back to the Quay off one of the boat people while we sat on the bank, tapping our feet and watching the sun go down.

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The moral of the story? Sometimes it’s not such a bad thing to be a believer in  open plan storage. That or you should put your keys in your pocket instead of throwing them on the dashboard…

I suppose it depends on your point of view.

Ours was much improved by the gorgeous sunset 😉

On swans and water policemen

When I think of November weather, my first thought is “grey” followed by cold, fog, drizzle, wind and rain.

Today is the 2nd of November. It was 17 degrees (C ). The sky was blue and practically cloud free. DB and I went out in the boat.

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View from the shore

There aren’t many more enjoyable ways to spend a Sunday than going out on a lake at the beginning of November. In shirt sleaves.

Just as we were leaving one lake and heading for the next, we were called to a halt by a policeman. Our number plates are at home in the garage, not on the boat. He charged us 35€ for the privilege  and we were free to carry on with the trip.

We met up with DB’s parents in their boat for lunch. This swan came to join us. We fed her the last half breadbun. DB’s mum told us off for wasting the breadbun and said we should have fed her the biscuits instead..

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"Let her eat biscuits"

I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who would rather feed swans biscuits than bread.

As it turned out, she hung around long enough to get the biscuits as well 🙂

On perfume shopping (part 2)

The perfume fiasco didn’t go unnoticed by my dearest DB. We didn’t have enough time to rectify the situation before the wedding and I thought I’d got away without buying one until we were on the boat to England a couple of weeks later.

The trouble with ferries is they are equipped with dutyfree shops and more time than most people can bear to sit and stare out of the window. I happily agreed to accompany DB in, and to watch him buy whisky and stickers for the van’s headlights. I wasn’t aware though, just how sneaky he can be. After choosing his whisky and picking up the stickers, he steered me not towards the tills, but towards the smelly part of the shop I’d been avoiding – the perfume department. It didn’t look like I was getting out of it. We sprayed numerous paper strips, but neither of us had a pen to write the names down, so by the time we’d sprayed the 4th or 5th scent and mixed up the strips, we had no hope of ever figuring out which was which.

When the helpful voice in the overhead speakers told us it was almost time to land and that the shop would be closing shortly, we bought the one we could remember having sniffed twice.

It smells like rather artificial lemons. But I guess I wanted one which had a recognisable scent.

On Perfect days

(Anyone who read my earlier posts – or spoke to me during May – knows I was invited to spend a week “messing about on a river” (and connecting lakes). This post should have been posted directly after getting back (mid June) but somehow wasn’t. I’m going to post it now anyway)

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Some days are just so perfect nothing could make them better. They’re even perfect in the moment you’re living them, not just in your memory afterwards.

They’re pretty few-and-far-between, but they do exist.

The first Saturday of the boat trip was one of them. The rest of the boat trip was fantastic too, but there’s something about doing things for the first time that makes them special.

This post won’t do it justice, but I’m going to write about it anyway in the hope I can convey a fraction of the amazingness to screen-paper.

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I arrived on Friday, was picked up from the station, fed, watered and sent to bed.

I woke to the promise of warm breadbuns for breakfast. By the time I was up and dressed the promise was reallife and waiting for me on the table.

We packed the car and after a brief detour to the workshop to do some last-minute finishing off, we found ourselves parked in a playground on the banks of a huge lake on the outskirts of the city looking at a row of motor and sailing boats, one of which was to be our home for the next week-and-a-bit.

We unloaded the contents of the car into a heap on the pier and I misused a kid’s trampoline while R parked the car where it wouldn’t disturb anyone. I love trampolining, even if the sign forbids anyone over 14 the pleasure of bouncing. Luckily the trampoline police were on duty elsewhere and I got off with being laughed at by R as he came back to start loading the boat.

The only way onto the boat was a thin wooden plank leading off the wooden pier and across the water.

The plank wobbled.

Also the boat rocked if you touched it. I don’t balance better when holding onto something unstable.

I’m not particularly scared of walking on curbstones, and the plank was considerably wider than a curbstone. However. Something in the knowledge that the plank was at least a metre above the water, whereas the curbstone is a maximum of maybe 10cm above the road, made walking along it that much more nervewracking.

Having made it to the boat carrying considerably less than I could carry along a curbstone, R wisely decided I ought to stay inside the boat. He fetched the rest of our stuff while I stowed it somewhere it’d be out-of-the-way yet accessible for the rest of the week.

As soon as the pier was empty we were off 🙂

R’s friend A and A’s nephew D were already onboard A’s boat and waiting for us to get our butts in gear and catch them up.

The first port-of-call was the filling-station.

Filling a boat is very strange. For starters you have to pull up alongside the fuel pump in your boat and then tie it up before you can fill it. I don’t drive, but I’ve never seen anyone tie their car up, and I don’t remember ever tying my motorbike up. I clambered out of the boat and stood on the ‘bank’ out of the way.

When the tanks were full, we untied the boats, moved 50yards up the river and ‘parked’ (involving more tying up) so we could go shopping. We didn’t want to leave the boats unattended, so A and D went shopping first, then it was our turn. The shop was a good 5 minute walk from the river so they brought the shopping trolley back with them. We laughed, took photos 🙂 and walked the empty trolley back to the shop. R refused to walk the trolley back after we’d shopped, so we left it in its trolley shed and carried our shopping back to the boat.

We now had food for the boat and food for us. We needed water. We stopped at a very small port, where a man threw the end of a hosepipe at us and wished us a good day when we threw it back to him.

All things being sorted, we were finally ready to go.

 

It didn’t take long before R suggested I drive. Drive? Steer? Whatever one does to boats to make them go where you want them to go.

As I said above, I don’t drive, but I was curious and 8km/h is a speed even I can handle, so I agreed and he set about telling me how it works. I slid onto his side of the ‘sofa’ and took the wheel. A drove in front of us setting both the speed and the direction, so I just had to follow him without ramming him, the banks of the river, the other boats, or anything else really. There’s also a guage to tell you how deep the water is. Running aground does you no favours.

It seems I am surprisingly good at steering a boat :).

Having discovered this, R relaxed and lay back in the sun. I can’t watch people being lazy if I’m not 😉 and I was supposed to be revising for my upcoming Glass-Theory-Exam, so I dug my 400 painstakingly written 13×7 cards out and handed them to R with the request to go through and ask me the questions. The rest of the day was spent with me behind the wheel and R behind the cards.

Turns out R is dyslexic and, apparently, my handwriting is appalling. Reading is something that came pretty naturally to me, so I don’t really understand how it must feel not to be able to, even if I can understand not making out other peoples’ handwriting. He stumbled through the question while I tried to work out what I might have written, then I answered and he tried to work out what I might have written and whether it coincided with what I answered.

R knows loads – often more than the teacher – and can [usually] explain it in a way that makes me want to listen, so each card became the starting point for a mini-lesson.

 

After a while we arrived at the lake. A threw the anchors out and R and D attached our boat to theirs and we all went swimming (very cold, but okay once you were in).

I lay on deck “to dry” ;). R brought me a Thermarest which meant I lay there a lot longer than strictly necessary.. 🙂

A started washing his boat, I can’t watch people being lazy when I can’t, but I can’t watch people being quite so active while I’m laying around doing nothing (actively watching them be busy doesn’t count) so I washed ‘our’ windows. I’d been irritated by all the dead flies and gunk on the windscreen while driving but hadn’t wanted to say anything… This was a fantastic opportunity to do something about it – and prove my year of washing school windows was good for something.

R sunbathed – apparently watching people clean stuff helps him sleep ;).

As soon as everything on A’s boat and the windows on ours gleamed and glistened (wonderful words :)) we settled down for a BBQ and an evening in. Our boats were joined together so that we were practically all in one ‘room’. The BBQ was on theirs, so we were able to relax (even more) and wait to be served :).

In our supermarket dash it seems R and I had stumbled across the best lamb ever. I wouldn’t recognise the packaging if I was looking for it, and I don’t even remember what the shop was called, which is a bummer, but maybe its bestness wasn’t entirely due to the sheep…

 

D is clumsier than I am 🙂 He was our dinner-entertainment, dropping and spilling things to the amusement of all (and he laughed with the rest of us, so either he’s a fantastic actor or he really didn’t care).

A washed up, R lit the oil lamps and anti-fly-candles and I sat with a Baileys-and-milk listening to the Irish country band giving a concert on the far side of the lake (even if I didn’t believe R had booked them especially) and watching the stars come out.

 

I don’t think anything could have added to the “idylle” (idyllic-ness).