After a very nice coconut curry at The Cunning with relies from Tilehurst but without Inky (as we were dining indoors) we stayed four nights at the most beautiful spot near Tyle Mill Lock outside Aldermaston where nothing happened but everything was happening. By this I mean we enjoyed complete peace and tranquility and were able to lazily observe details of nature playing out around us: a wren flitted between its bush lodgings and the baby lime tree growing out of the path bank directly next to the boat; tiny white moths spiraled upwards in the air as sycamore seeds spiral downwards; poplars shimmied, the only trees on that spot of the canal side whose dancing made that noise.
The water here was khaki green but there lies a clear layer on top which only materializes when ducks pass by, their feet popping open like parachutes and sucking back in again quick as a bike pump. Later in the day degrees of shadows appear on the surface of the water and the smell of our roasting vegetables season the cooling night air.
The following evening the rain fell landing on the water like silver stars. Their density increased until tiny marble sized bubbles were created from their falling and were carried upstream. Stars, bubbles and circles seemed suspended on the surface of the canal. The following day the resident sheep meandered over for tea, just a wee bit close for an old greyhound’s nature…
I have a new book: River Cottage Handbook No.7 Hedgerow. A wonderful gift from Brother John (probably in response to my near death experience with the Good King Henry). Assisted by clear photography and amusing text I have identified my foraging mistake as ‘Arum maculatum’ AKA Lords and Ladies). The author has too tested this luscious looking plant although rather out of curiosity than stupidity: ‘After a few minutes my whole throat and oesophagus started to feel on fire‘ he reported after immediately spitting it out. I feel comforted by his equally dramatic reaction. Anyway, at Hungerford on a solitary afternoon walk (it being too hot for boys and dogs) I chanced upon five wild cherry trees which I knew to be exactly that with no fear of their being lethal berries tempting me to pick them and fall asleep for a hundred years or some such story. Accompanied by Mark and Inky early the following morning (to beat the baking heat) we set out foraging and gathered a plump bowlful of tomato-reds and their slightly smaller blood red sisters. Prunus Aviums for tea!
Hungerford seems a popular place for foreign visitors. We were pleased to show a couple from Germany the inside of Silber and pose for photos on the towpath. Mrs Germany said photos were essential as their friends would not otherwise believe that people actually lived in a boat such as ours. What a peculiar belief. Later that day I opened the side hatch to discover an entire community of Japanese people peering in. Clearly a top photo opportunity which they did not want to resist. Much camera-grinning later with oodles of origatos they bimbled off along the towpath leaving us to absorb what must have been Hungerford’s band practice night. If only they had stayed a while longer they would have been treated to God Save the Queen, A Nightingale Sang in Leicester Square and Reet Petite.