Waking in a new place

Its different waking up on the river. If you are lucky enough to stay on the river as a guest the first thing you notice is the gentle (and mostly) quiet movement of your bed and you realise that it is not just the bed that is moving but the whole boat. Rocking on it moorings, slowly and subtly in time with the water that flows below and beside you.

This morning I woke up on the river and my bed gently rocked. The sounds were different too. There was a faint slap, slap of water as it washes against the side of the boat. It became a proper wave and causes a bigger movement when a gin palace came past and created a wake. There is a water bird (probably a goose) that shouts or honks once or twice, a sort of “parp paaarp” and then there is the harsh and quite angry scolding or crying “Ack ack ack ack” of the parakeets that fly over head.

You also hear the odd commands shouted by dog walkers on the other side of the bank. Today someone was barking at a dog with no name to “Wait, wait”. And you have the sounds of the rowers – out very early to practice for the next race – the Cox hunkered down in the bow (or is it the stern?) giving instructions and commands to the waiting crew. Today they seemed to be turning right outside the window studiously looking forwards and pretending that the boat that is a home is not there.

For those that live there full time, of course this is all a daily part of life. For me it was an exciting treat. I had breakfast in my subtly moving bed. Waved off my host, who proceeded to row standing up! across the river (in a very small boat I am afraid to get in) then because I could, I went back to sleep for a bit.

The next time I woke the sun was bright and the wood of the boat was creaking and the metal pinging as it heated up in the sunshine. I made more tea and peered out of the window to watch this whole new world go by.

There were tufted ducks bobbing about outside the window; two Canada geese floating about; a grebe swimming flat in the water probably keeping an eye out for its breakfast down below; and a few bits of wood floating past.

Just at the moment that I looked up a kingfisher sped up stream. All I saw was a brilliant and vivid streak of turquoise sprint past the window as he went about his business.

Unmistakable, a great treat and a moment of pure joy to start my day – fabulous.

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