Friday, 11 October 2013

Winter Wonderland

Its autumn, the last of the Indian summer has almost departed.  The hedgerows are full of berries. For the boater, it's a time to stock up with winter fuel and prepare to sit out the winter months. So I thought, its time for a few reminders of winter in the marina.

I don't mind the winter, each season brings it own reward. Waking up on a nice warm boat, looking through the hatch at a fresh covering of snow. The lazy curl of scented smoke from a wood fire. Bright almost garish colours of the boats against the soft snowy background.

Now, the birds arrive to beg for food. The demanding mallard with its light tapping on the hull. Each piece of bread is a prize to fight for. So we scatter them in a wide circle. 

Soon the footsteps of the early risers, wrapped up against the cold, leave behind a tell-tale trail in the snow. As for me, its a warm cup of coffee and the smell of toast browning nicely under the grill. Whenever we are asked if its cold on the boat in winter, I always say it depends on where I set the thermostat.

Inevitably the winter will set in and do its worst. Soon all movement of the boat will be gone, as ice tightly grips the hull. Shovel now at the ready, its time to move the snow from the edge of the mooring. Out of my shorts and tee shirt and into warmer outdoor clothes. The snow is cleared away and its back in the boat to thaw out.

The log burner stove keeps up its battle to warm the boat. The steel hull that was hot to the touch in summer, is now covered over with snow.

With food stocks replenished and the extra warmth from a dog on the bed. Life aboard continues. Now the birds of the hedgerows are on the feeders. Bullfinch, Greenfinch, Long Tailed Tit all vie for access to the fat balls. Sparrows, Goldfinch, Blue Tit gather round the peanuts. Starlings gather in noisy gangs soon clear all the bread thrown on the grass.

Winter will not be long now. The calling cards of the first autumnal frosts are only a few days away. 

Out come the maps and our plans are starting to be made for the next cruising season.  We will not be back this way again for some time. We plan to cruise some of the more remote places.

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