The other day, I forget which, I promised to post an excerpt, and must have promptly forgotten to do it. I have no excuses, apart from the fact that I have a few things fighting to get my attention these days, and sometimes I lose the thread!
(Anita has been making little comments about early onset dementia, but, as I am very quick to point out, I have always been as daft as a brush!)
So without more ado, here is the excerpt from Lazy Days…
Everyone is looking forward to Yarmouth today, and as much as I love the waterways, I can’t wait to see the sea. This holiday is turning out much better than I thought it would. Everyone is happy, all the eternal arguing is down to a minimum. I should have remembered that this sense of euphoria never lasts long.
After breakfast, when the daily chores were done and the dogs had been walked, I go to start the engine and nothing happens. I double check the starting procedure and try again. Alarming wisps of smoke start to appear from somewhere deep inside the engine, so I turn it off. My stomach sinks into my shoes as I realise we probably won’t be seeing Yarmouth today after all. I remember something a friend of ours said before we left home, about there being a fire on the boat. Something we took with a pinch of salt at the time, for she had many of these premonitions. Pity, she didn’t tell us what happens next, I thought.
What were we supposed to do now? We were miles from anywhere, with no idea how to get any help. I hadn’t thought to ask this question, in the beginning, a definite oversight on my part, so much for all our careful planning.
I volunteer to go and telephone the boatyard and find one further along the bank by the windmill. They tell me to stay put, and that help is on its but how could we do otherwise? I try hard to be civil, but the joke about us staying put has ruffled my already flustered feathers.
When I return to the Sovereign, I could have sliced the silence like a loaf of bread. The kids were in their cabins and I was grateful to be spared their looks of disapproval. Even the dogs seemed to glare at me.
Anita, sitting in the Captain’s chair had a black cloud hovering over her head. I hesitate, unable to find the right words and terrified of finding the wrong ones.
‘Well?’ she said. ‘What the hell happens now?’ She turned around to glare at me and suddenly I could see through her rage to the upset behind it.
‘They are coming to tow us back to the yard… they didn’t seem to think it was serious… I think it will be all right.’
‘I hope you’re right, for there are four disappointed kids back there…’
Two hours later, help arrives, and we are towed to the boatyard at Burgh Castle. This brought the kids out from the cabins, to watch the Sovereign being hooked up to a much smaller boat. We had been expecting the boatyard owner, but a rather chubby middle-aged man with a ruddy complexion and permanent smile turned up instead. He chatted away with the kids and managed to make the short trip to the boatyard a pleasant experience.
All the way there, I sincerely hoped it would be nothing serious and we could enjoy the rest of our holiday. It had begun to feel as if we had been cursed, and I didn’t like the feeling.
Turned out the battery hadn’t been charging properly, but this didn’t explain all the smoke.
After a sandwich lunch, we take the opportunity to fill up the water tank, which must be empty after our showers last night, and when we are finally fixed, we set off again and I discover how hard it is to steer a boat with all my fingers crossed.
We think it might be a good idea to change our plans, in case we have any further trouble with the engine. We try a different route and pass Reedham, where we find the entrance to a small river and decide to explore. The river Chet is small and narrow, with horrible bends all along it. A bit touch and go, literally, for passing other boats. At the end of the river, we find an idyllic marina in a village called Loddon. It is even more peaceful here, with several huge willow trees trailing their branches in the water. Living in London, you don’t realise there are places like this. Life can be so different in other parts of the world, and you can find yourself there with a bit of effort.
We spend the rest of the day in Loddon, as I think the morning’s drama had unnerved us all a bit and probably best to relax before going any further. I turn the engine off, praying it would start again tomorrow. The weather is warm but cloudy and we hope it doesn’t rain. The good thing about these boats, you can still drive cruise with the sliding canopy closed, so any rain won’t stop us, and fingers crossed, neither will the engine!
Our food supplies are getting low, and the need to walk on solid ground is becoming urgent, so I suggest we go for a walk. Their rush of enthusiasm surprised me, it would seem we are all feeling the same way.
Walking away from the Sovereign felt good, and from the amount of cheerfulness that arrived from nowhere, I think everyone else felt relieved too. The morning’s drama with the engine, although it had turned out to be insignificant, must have damaged our new found confidence. The more I thought about it, the more I worried about the rest of the holiday. Would we be able to move on from this point, or would we have to go home? I wanted to talk to Anita to find out what she thought about it, but not with the kids within earshot.
Loddon had a lot going for it, and we decide to leave the shopping until later and explore. We visit The Holy Trinity Church first. Built in 1490, its tall tower and finely flinted walls gleaming white in the sunshine, seemed to draw us closer like a magnet. We are not particularly religious, but we like to explore some of Englands finest old buildings, usually full of history and connections with the past.
We see several signposts for something called The Wherryman’s Way, and we all want to know more about it. Turns out aWherry was a large cargo carrying barge with elegant black sails, once a common sight in this part of the Broads. The Wherryman’s Way is a long walk beside the River Yare, some 35 miles long, so not exactly our idea of an afternoons walk, so we end up walking around the village instead.
We see more signposts for something called Hardly Flood. Just under a mile away and described as a lake with masses of wildlife and the occasional otter. An area created when this part of South Norfolk first flooded back in the 1940’s. This walk sounded reasonably doable, so we pick up sandwiches and cakes from a local bakery and set off.
As we walk along in the sunshine, the dogs enjoying all the different sights and smells, I think we all began to relax and become united as a family again. Something other than engine failure had happened this morning, something which made some of us retreat into ourselves, affecting everyone else. I couldn’t have been the only one to have had visions of leaping into the water from a flaming boat.
We find a lovely spot for our picnic, and the rest of the afternoon flew by. The kids wander off to explore, so I take the opportunity to ask Anita how she is feeling.
‘Now, you mean, or about this morning?’
‘Both. I think it has unnerved us all a bit. What do you think?’
When she didn’t answer straight away, I thought the worst. I couldn’t think of anything else to say, so I waited.
‘Well… this morning could have been more serious, it’s true. This is the trouble with adventures, you walk a thin line between fun and fear. By tomorrow it will all feel better. At least, I hope it does.’
‘And if it doesn’t, does it mean going home?’ I finally asked the question that had been nagging me all day and wasn’t sure which answer I wanted to hear.
Again, a delay in answering, our attention interrupted by a group of noisy ducks having an argument, splashing around right in front of us.
‘I think it will take more than a little smoke to make us abandon ship…’
And now to todays Book Quiz Question…
We have just delivered a late breakfast at the Event over on Facebook, why not pop over and meet everyone?
See you all tomorrow?