Simple Pleasures


"It is good to have an end to journey towards,  but it is the journey that matters, in the end."  Darryl Kempster
I can sleep for England. If I don’t set an alarm I can clock up 12 hours in bed easily. I’ve always wanted to be an early riser; up with the sun, achieving more before 9am than most get done all day. But I love my bed and I don’t find getting out of it to be an easy task. After all, it was Hippocrates himself that said “Man should not rise until the heaviness of sleep has left him.” And who am I to disagree with Hippocrates?

So it was with some surprise that I found myself up and dressed by 6am this morning. Having run out of milk last night it was a short walk to the petrol station, where I was greeted by my favourite cashier. She’s always smiley and speaks with a broad East Midlands accent, beginning her sentences with “Eh up!” and punctuating them thereafter with a liberal smattering of “me duck” and “petal” (I like being referred to as a “petal”.) It was still quite dark and the street lights were draped in fog and frost, looking almost picturesque.

My fire had all but gone out overnight and so the boat would be chilly until the stove started to do it’s thing, some 30 minutes or so after I lit it. The sun was just coming up and so, wrapping up warm with hat, gloves and scarf I unearthed a deckchair from the engine room where they had been stashed since the summer and sat on the towpath with my coffee, watching the sun rise. It glowed red across the water, illuminating the boats across the marina and reflecting off the ice covered water in a most magical way. I decided that another cup of coffee would be both warming and a good reason to continue my indulgence.

Looking out across the marina I could see that one of the old working boats had sunk. There are three of these old museum-worthy vessels on our marina and I have never seen anyone working with them. I find it a little saddening that they, like many boats on the network, are essentially abandoned and unloved when I know so many people who would sell their grandmother for the pleasure of owning one. Indeed, even as it lay forlornly on the bottom of the cut, only the long, low tug deck visible above the waterline, it looked somehow peaceful as the mist rolled across its deck. I’m hoping I can make myself useful later today, helping the old guy who runs our marina to raise it somehow.

By now the fire had just started to take the edge off the chill. I decided that by the time I had collected my laundry from the washing machine on the other side of the boatyard that the stove would be toasty warm. Besides, I knew that I could get a better look at the sunken workboat if I walked around to that bank. As I got there I found that someone had neatly folded my clothes and put them in a pile on top of the machine, with a rather sultry looking white lacy bra perched incongruously atop my work jeans and jumpers. Unfortunately it is neither mine nor belongs to anyone I know, so I smiled and left it there to be reclaimed by its rightful owner.

The canal was iced quite thickly in places, making it easy to see which boats accommodated occupants and which were empty by the unfrozen halo of water around the ones where a stove had been lit overnight. Where there was grass on the towpath it was crisp with frost, making me feel like a vandal as it crunched beneath my hiking boots. In places where there had been puddles the night before, now lay sheets of ice, each patterned differently as the thickness of the ice varied. Again, my vandalist tenancies showed themselves as I stepped on each one, cracking the ice, watching the muddy water swirl beneath before the slowly rising sun wore them away to become puddles again.

Next door’s tatty cat was waiting for me when I got back, expecting some fuss as usual; and given my mood she was not disappointed. My stove had now melted the frost on the steel top of my boat, making a steadily growing patch in the white sheet covering my roof. The sun was, for all intents and purposes, up by now and there were several other chimneys rolling our smoke, signalling that the marina was coming to life. A police siren signalled the end of my early morning daydream and I realised I was back in real time.

My morning had been wondrous and magical and I’m a lucky lucky boy to be able to enjoy where I live. I should remember this and make a purpose to rise this early more consistently. After all, I think we would all like to stop and smell the roses a little more often. Particularly when they smell as good as this.

Hope you all have a great day.

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~ by Tony's Desk on September 30, 2008.

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