From a Hoot to a Coot

After seeing the England vs. Algeria football game the other evening the less said about that and the accompanying hoots the better. So, what of the coots? The nest is still there on the bathing platform of my boat, and of the original seven eggs as of today the mother is sitting on three little chicks. I fear the rest of the chicks have either got lost, been eaten by swans or pike or didn’t hatch properly in the first place. Here’s a photograph of the mother coot and her little brood.

Also I made a little video. If it doesn't display in your browser, you can try clicking here to view it on the YouTube website. (I even have my own YouTube channel where I post other videos from time to time).

If there’s one thing (well, probably a lot more) that I’m useless at it’s DIY. And that certainly includes trying to repair leaks in wooden boats! My little dinghy – Marsh Midget – has sprung a leak and for the past few days I’ve been trying to repair it. So far I’ve emptied two expensive cartridges of teak-coloured glue, discarded three other types of repair kits, covered the lock and gunwales and myself with unsightly long spirals of glue, and yesterday – even after Alan White – the boatman - came to my rescue I managed to drop great globules of dark brown glue all over the sleeve of a brand new shirt. Tracey can usually work miracles with stains on my clothes, but this time she thinks she’ll cut the sleeves off and transform the shirt into a short-sleeved version. Alan tells me the repair (if it works) can only be temporary, which means that I’ll need to have a copper plate riveted to the bottom of the boat before the season is over.

Most of the week has been spent painting a miniature portrait for a new client. Just a couple more days and it should be finished. Not every piece of vellum I use reacts the same way to watercolour. In this case the surface was slightly more absorbent than usual so I needed to paint even faster than usual. When it’s done I can get back to the larger size painting I’m working on. It’s a river scene of a collection of traditional boats nestling in the corner of the gardens of Ivy Cottage at Wargrave – the venue of the annual breakfast and AGM of the Hennerton Backwater Association. This is a photograph of some of the canoes, skiffs and other craft I might include in the final picture.

I go every year, and it’s always sunny. Last week was no exception and at about 9.30 about 50 of us munched our way through a variety of sausages and bacon in baps or rolls. There’s nothing like an alfresco breakfast to start the day. To add a bit of human interest to my painting I collared Richard Butler and a beautiful cream-coloured dog called Custard and had them pose for me, as I want to include them in the foreground.

The bowling season has started again. It is good to be back in full health as last year I had to abandon the game when I became too weak to pick up the woods. On Monday, as a competition took up most of the green, only two of us were there for coaching. Which was great because John the coach was able, for a couple of hours, to give us his total attention. I learned a lot that day and feel that I'm definitely beginning to improve. Earlier in the afternoon I was in Reading to hear from the consultant the results from my latest CT scan and was very glad to hear that all is well.

I wrote the other week about my nephew Neil nearly drowning when the tide rushed in while he was night fishing. At the very last moment he managed to find the toggle which inflated his life-jacket. A few days after he recovered from his ordeal he wrote to the manufacturers of the lifejacket thanking them for saving his life. They, in turn, very kindly not only sent him a replacement canister of gas, but gave him, free of charge, a new life-jacket which automatically inflates when submerged in water.

A young friend and I are becoming increasingly competitive on my Nintendo Wii. She beats me hollow on power boating and skydiving; we’re about level with archery and golf, and I’m ahead with bowling and – until yesterday – basketball. Maybe I’ll practice secretly on my own over the next few days. I do love the Wii.

Horizon Gallery have just produced limited editions in two sizes of my painting “The Olympians”. The quality is really excellent and they are hoping to sell quite a few during the coming Henley Royal Regatta.

By the way, RG9, Paul Daniels’ new blog is now active and interesting.

On a final note I read the other day that the Science Museum in London recently conducted research which reveals the top ten lies told by both sexes. Here they are:
1. I didn’t have that much to drink
2. Nothing’s wrong, I’m fine
3. I had no signal
4. It wasn’t that expensive
5. I’m on my way
6. I’m stuck in traffic
7. No, your bum doesn’t look big in that
8. Sorry, I missed your call
9. You’ve lost weight
10. It’s what I’ve always wanted

1. Nothing’s wrong, I’m fine
2. I don’t know where it is, I haven’t touched it
3. It wasn’t that expensive
4. I didn’t have that much to drink
5. I’ve got a headache
6. It was in the sale
7. I’m on my way
8. Oh, I’ve had this ages
9. No, I didn’t throw it away
10. It’s what I’ve always wanted