Thurs 2nd December.
I am sitting below roasting by the stove; the room is dark although it is 10.00am. I have the lights on, the skylights are covered by a thick blanket of snow and there is a blizzard, but the only sounds I can hear are those that percolate, become inside sounds from the outside; the faint hoot of the Lowestoft train coming down and by my watch, it is hearteningly on time, the soft click of snow as it drives into odd chinks in the skylight exposed by the heat from below, intermittent creaks from the barge as she lifts to the tide.
The place was freezing when I returned late last night; the fire that Ros had banked up and closed down the day before, had burned through in the blizzard, but perhaps had ensured that, although freezing, the core of the good ship Jacoba was not frozen. The heater in the aft cabin did not work on its timer, so a very late night, re-lighting the fire, making hot water bottles and burrowing into bed.
Now that the fire is uncomfortably hot, I gather my thoughts for the day and all is well with the world. I go up to the galley to wash my teacup and the light is grey-blue against the orange glow from below. I think of Laurie in Monaco, fixing the stern gear in the aft tunnel of a rich man’s yacht named after a roll of toilet paper; it is 12 degrees there and he would hate it here.
Took a look at the barrage works at Sutton Hoo and although the bags of silt on the southern arm appear to have slumped and water running out from the lagoon over the top, they are holding, but the centre section, where there is no defence, the water has scoured a gulley taking overflow from both upstream and downstream lagoons. This appears to be a clear channel that might need filling and may well not lend itself to a fence and geotextile solution.
The tide is making, with more creaking and groaning today; it is the ice around it and the sluggish mud holding the barge down, until suddenly we are up with a gurgle and a plop and the doors swing open.
The stove is throwing out heat and condensation from the deckstore above has found its way below, drip dripping into the washroom bowl. The skylights click and tick, but this time from heat differential and little shards of ice separating and falling on them. It froze hard last night and I suppose if the sky clears today, it will thaw. A pity in a way because I always look forward to the ritual of snow and ice and the mood of reflectiveness that it induces and regret the mush that must follow it.
Watching the ice on the river, it is easy to see where the strongest flows are on the flood and on the ebb and their disparity. It draws its own diagram, complete with back eddies and vortices.