Saturday, 24 January 2009

Hanging In There

No.1 son had no ill effects from his rude awakening ( see yesterday's post, any puzzled first time visitors) and the holiday stretched invitingly before us. A quick trip back to the boatyard to have the intricacies of the heating system explained to us again, and we were well away.

The weather was particularly kind to us and early mornings with the sun coming up and miles of flat fenland stretching away on either side were the epitome of calm. Days of contented chugging along the waterways followed one upon the other, as we grew accustomed to the gypsy life. Although the boat had all mod cons, like a cooker, a fridge and a loo, they were relatively basic, and didn't impinge too greatly on the feeling of living a simple life, unfettered by any clock's insistence that we work to rule, or rather, time scale.

May was a wonderful month to be afloat, for the plethora of baby water birds bobbing along after their proud mamas like a bevy of fluffy pom poms were a joy to behold. However, rather than waxing too lyrical, I should probably resort to my usual recounting of tales less poetic. I can almost hear you saying 'But when are you going to get to the funny bits?' O.K. I get the message.

Norwich. That was the place. Much pouring over the brochure and book of instructions took place before we approached. There were dire warnings of underwater hazards on the approach to the mooring place in the centre of the city. Not too sure whether they were natural rocks, or great concrete slabs, but I do know a sharp lookout for them was advisable at certain hours of low tide. Approach was slow, and it was a case of all hands on deck, to peer overboard and holler if any of these boulders hove into view. All were navigated successfully and we duly moored alongside a - well, I guess you'd have to call it a promenade, as it was more like pavement than any kind of jetty; it was truly in the city centre.

You have to understand, that twenty two years in the navy had given my Dad a thorough understanding of nautical knots, and I don't mean the ones measuring a ship's speed. I mean the sheep shanks, half hitches, clove hitches, bowlines, sheet bends and other wonderful names that he knew all about. Us relative landlubbers were instructed in the appropriate ones needed to keep the boat safely alongside the dock as the tide ebbed, and the waterline receded in the direction of down. Plenty of slack was allowed in the ropes to cater for this. Thanks to Dad's calculations, when we returned to the boat after a pre dinner drink and game of darts in a friendly, nearby hostelry which had a Family Room, our craft was safely waiting for us, albeit about four feet lower than when we'd left it.

Astern, however, was a smaller craft whose skipper was blatantly lacking in the necessary nautical know how. It appeared to be trying to commit suicide by hanging. It had been moored with no slack in the lines, and was practically strung like a picture on the vertical side of the dock exposed by the ebbing tide.

'Tarantara!' Family blokes to the rescue, despite no capes or pants outside trousers, and by some kind of miracle, they saved the vessel from strangulation.

We then had the happy prospect of getting us all aboard our own low slung craft. Remember, four kids, two sets of parents and one lot of Aged P's. But we did it.

Some when during all this excitement, my Bro's fisherman's cap (very nautical looking headgear sported by Bro and Dad, both of whom tended to be sartorial dressers at all times) tumbled down into the racing waters flowing past our gunwales, if that's the correct term. Fisherman's caps they may have been, but sadly, I have to report their skills did not live up to their headgear. Despite some nifty, but somewhat panicked manoeuvres with a couple of boat hooks, I'm afraid the cap set sail on its maiden voyage into the wide blue yonder, never to be seen again...

(Sounds of the evening hymn and last post as we all stand to attention to mourn its passing.)


  1. I suppose (and hope) this is becoming some sort of a saga? Cannot wait for the next part! Big smile!

  2. You've given me such a laugh with the scene of the last post and saluting the lost cap, Jinksy!

  3. Sorry, Woman of NI - the last sentence was (sadly) pure fiction, but a nice touch?

  4. Never a dull moment in your family. No wonder you have a great (and twisted) sense of humor.

  5. Granny, now you've started something. As an ex-fireman I feel duty-bound to punch up on the knots you mention, plus a few more. Hey, you never know when one is going to be needed? BTW, I am still waiting to hear your definition of 'napple'?

  6. At least no one lost their head in the struggle.

  7. SB- Napple is simply a condensed form of Granny Apple. See 'It's All In The Title'...

  8. Granny, I don't believe that 'napple' isn't purely a figment of your own imagination, of which you clearly have oodles (from no noodles). Granny apple, my foot! ;-) x

  9. Yoicks! It had to happen, sooner or later, but I have twice addressed you as 'Granny' here instead of Jinksy. A thousand apologies, you are obviously too young to be a Granny but you and grannyontheweb happened along my way at the same time - and I am 94! ;-) x


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