Barging along

Waiting for the water to rise in the lock

I did spend the day in bed yesterday. Half of the bed was strewn with photograph albums and in between dozing, and writing, I went back several years through those pictures. Like the one that I posted yesterday.
That picture was taken in July ’99, during a canal holiday in England.

I don’t know where my husband got the idea from, but that summer, our European holiday started with renting a barge for a week of “sailing” on the English canals.
The picture that I posted yesterday was of ten year-old Andrew sitting on top of the barge whose name, by coincidence was Emerald (like Esmeralda.)
It was a fun holiday. The barge slept eight people, and throughout the week we had friends join us for a day or two.
The boat had a kitchen and we’d normally have breakfast and lunch on board and dinner at whichever pub was close by where we moored for the night.
I can still see the children eagerly feeding the ducks and the swans. Asking for “more bread please.”
I was on the front deck one afternoon when I heard screams and squeals of shock and laughter; a couple of swans had poked their heads into the boat and taken the bread right our of the children’s hands.
They talked about it for days and fondly remembered it years later.
Another fun thing for the boys was stopping to refill the water tanks. Andrew and Robert, four at the time, had a great time pretending they were firemen holding the water hose to put out a fire. As for operating – that is, opening and closing – the canal locks, several of them every day, I am not sure whether to call it fun or hard work; maybe a bit of both.
Except for Robert who was too young, we all took turn piloting the barge which was really easy, or so it seemed, until a cousin of Hugh’s father, Nigel and his wife Pauline joined us for a couple of days. After a cup of tea and sitting on deck chatting for a while, Nigel offered to take a turn at the helm and quickly drove us straight into a barge moored along the bank.

Moored barges

Us grown ups were horrified, but Florentina and Andrew couldn’t stop laughing.
“The end is nigh,” I remember saying when recounting the tale, and Andrew added “gel” which with nigh made Nigel; the end is Nigel!
By the end of the week, when it was time to return the barge to the yard, the septic tank was full to overflowing, and the smell in the bathroom was more than the whiff that could be “cured” by lighting a match. After leaving the barge and spending a few wonderful days in London with some of our closest friends, together with Hugh’s mother and sister, we took the channel tunnel train to Paris. Two days and tons of photographs and video recordings later, Hugh’s mother and sister went back to England. The following day, running late and in the middle of the Tour De France, we dashed across Paris to the Gare D’Austerlitz to catch our train to Milan, Italy. But I’ll leave that for another time.
It is snowing today. My head is still clogged up, I feel tired. I’ll spend another day in bed where I have a prime view of the beautiful snow-scape outside.
As I write this, I realize that since Andrew died, I hadn’t spent a day in bed until yesterday.
I think I needed it.
I love you Andrew.
Mummy

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2 thoughts on “Barging along

  1. ciao Esmeralda,
    anche oggi ho visitato il blog e letto quello che hai scritto per Andrew. Ho letto anche il tuo articolo sull’Huffington. La lettera di oggi é estremamente struggente. Nessuno può rimanere indifferente ripercorrendo le tue parole e con esse una piccola parte dei tuoi ricordi. Si percepisce l’amore smisurato di un genitore per il proprio figlio. Si sente il desiderio di ricordare e far conoscere ogni istante condiviso, ogni momento, ogni sfumatura del passato che vive dentro di noi. Tu sei una donna fortissima. La tua forza traspare anche da ciò che hai scritto du Huffington post. E’ palpabile la tua volontà di lanciare un messaggio d’aiuto. Avverto dalle tue parole la tua enorme forza d’animo che nasce dal tuo intimo. In questi momenti ogni parola può diventare banale, insulsa. Credo però che una parola di conforto, ancorché banale, possa essere un aiuto sebbene piccolissimo. L’altro ieri ho sentito il bisogno di scriverti proprio per cercare di farti sentire la mia solidarietà. So perfettamente che é poca cosa davanti all’immane tragedia che ha colpito la tua famiglia. Non so se potrà servire ed esserti d’aiuto, ma lo spero tanto.

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