Thursday, 25 February 2010

narrowboat dream

I had such a vivid dream. My boat had been whirled through the air and lowered into a wide, sunny clearing in an oak wood. I notice I had carefully prepared the site with tyres rafted together to cushion the boat from the ground. The boat sat with its right side south-facing and my kitchen window on that side had stretched to double its size. Through the trees, I could see fields and hills. The climb into and out of the boat was too steep for my dog, so I had (very cleverly, in dream-land!) built up a gently sloping bank around the stern, like a spiral up to the back doors. The engine had disappeared and the back cabin had become a workshop with a raised canopy. Traveller's joy, ivy and honeysuckle grew up over the hull, hidng much of the boat and keeping it cool.
I sat painting, listening to birds - it was beautiful. Then, wandering outside, saw I wasn't completely alone but that the small wood was part of a farm. Some people lived in the farmhouse, some people lived in outbuildings, others in yurts and earth shelters. There were tall rows of tomatoes and sweetcorn growing and fruit trees and raspberry bushes and the big event that day was making raspberry jam - many jars of it to last all winter. Children took it in turns to stir the lovely bubbling syrup. It smelt so good!

I can see where all this came from ;-) The water level where I'm currently moored has dropped a little and I was thinking last night that I might be aground. I've long been thinking about boating communities, about not being able to afford canalside land but wanting a shared, sustainable community life. Out on a walk, I saw a piece of farm machinery, almost completely disguised by overgrown creeping plants. And I've been lamenting that the last of my summer jam has been scoffed!

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Caught green-handed!

BW have been busy cutting back overhanging trees in Macclesfield so there is plenty of wood lining the towpath. One particularly tempting pile of branches lay outside a collapsed garden wall, so I fired up the wheelbarrow (oh pride and joy) and taking a little saw, set off to collect it. I was cutting the branches into smaller sections to fit in the barrow when I noticed a quick but stealthy movement in the garden beside the towpath. A man was coming towards me, quite fast. At the same time, I saw a woman heading down the towpath itself, with the same sense of purpose. I froze, mid-saw, feeling guilty as hell. It was the perfect pincer movement! The woman saw the wood and slowed down, a smile appearing; the man however did not and emerged from the gap in the broken wall in an unnerving way!
'We thought you were stealing our stones' explained the woman. They were going to have the wall repaired and needed all the old stonework lying around (which I'd barely even noticed). They turned out to be perfectly nice people, even passing a couple of cut branches over to me from their garden. They were even glad I was tidying up after BW ;-) They left me cutting up branches but I couldn't shake off the feeling of being watched after that and didn't hang around.
It was funny and daft, I know, though I did wonder what might have happened if they hadn't been nice people and if the Tories were in power with their promise to review the law to prevent householders being prosecuted when defending their property!

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

A fine book

Just over a year ago, I wrote about Sharyn, a friend who was in Gaza during the month of Israeli air strikes. She was doing aid work, accompanying ambulances, helping patch up people, protect others by her 'foreign' status. A truly amazing woman. She kept a blog throughout ( ) which has been made into a book! It's called 'Gaza: Beneath the bombs' and is definitely worth getting hold of.
You can see it here.
I was so afraid she might not come out alive from that terrible time and every blog posting, when she could get to any electricity that is, was a huge relief to all who know her. We didn't need to wait for an enquiry to know that white phosphorus was being uesd in one of the most densely populated places in the world. Sharyn witnessed its effects first hand and gave a voice to its silent victims.