Because Sundays are my scruffy day, the day on which I don’t bother with hair and makeup, or coordinated clothing (yes, I can fill in all the smart arse comments on my own, thankyouverymuch), they are also the days on which I give my handbags a well earned rest. Kate Spade quietly slumbers, Coach rests on the shelf, even the J-Crew butterflies fold their wings.
Thus, when I head out on my walks, if it doesn’t fit easily into pockets, it doesn’t come with me. There is something quite liberating about setting out so unencumbered. Somehow, I never think adventure will strike if I have lipgloss to hand, but it might if I have a penknife in my pocket (note to self: it’s really time to get a decent penknife.) Keys, phone, cash, that’s usually all I carry, and that’s what I took out this morning when I went to see a man with a boat. It is borne in on me that there might be one thing better than being by a river, and that’s being on a river. Boats, particularly wooden boats, are Good Things. They fall into that class encompassing all objects that are both useful and aesthetic, durable and reparable, and which required some craftsman’s skill in their making. So they give pleasure in and of themselves, and then there is additional riverine fun to be had with them as well. I have a fondness for boats that well precedes any interaction with them, and which is probably due to repeated readings of Wind in the Willows in my impressionable youth. (I can also never see a boot scraper without thinking of Mole and Ratty digging in the snow to find the entrance to Badger’s house. I can tell you that there are houses in Oxford with very fine boot scrapers.)
On the way to the boat I picked up a conker, newly split from its case and all shiny and glowing. The first conker of the season, and I still feel that second of absolute delight to find one so perfect. On the way back, I walked upriver and passed a couple of lads with a camping skiff (but no dog). They had her for four days, had started at Lechlade with no final destination in mind. ‘There’s no hurry,’ they said, drifting through the lock with a hot drink to hand.
I stopped at the farmers’ market and bought goat’s cheese crusted with black pepper, and slab of bread pudding that did duty for lunch.
Rivers, boats, books, walking, food? The day is already a success.