Animals on board

Write the word ‘HAZARD’ on the floor and I can and probably will fall over it! This is one of the reasons we don’t have any pets on board our 8 metre wooden sailing boat, Lady Christina. To be fair, our family animals are (i)a cat and I don’t think she’d like living afloat and (ii)  3 ducks (until  Monsiuer Reynard ate them).

I’m sure we’ll love our cat Bill (think ‘ Boy named Sue’ ) all the more when go home in October.

Many people do have dogs on their boats. St Bernard’s seem to be especially popular over here. You need a big boat though. And I don’t expect you could pop a large dog into the hot cupboard to dry out after a rain shower.  You’d need to be fond of the ‘wet dog’ smell.

We do have animals however, even though they’re not really real.

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I’ve mentioned ‘Mrs Chippy’ before. She’s a stuffed cat, made in China, of rabbit fur. And very realistic. We sometimes leave her on the roof and people passing by try to coax a response out of her. Not fair of us, really. It’s strange though, that she can be on the sofa when we set off to the shops and on the bunks when we come back.

The real ‘Mrs Chippy’ was actually a Tom Cat and the ship’s cat aboard ‘Endurance’ on Shackleton’s unsuccesful voyage in the Antarctic. He/she belonged o the ship’s carpenter, hence Chippy, but sadly all the animals on board had to be shot when Endurance started o break up after being stuck in the ice and the crew had to abandon their ship in order to survive.

Let me introduce our ship’s dog, ‘Tot Ziens’.

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He lives amicably alongside Mrs Chippy – no fighting at all – and he entertained the youngest person ever on board so far – a delightful 6 month old boy.

Here’s Tot Ziens advising on navigation.

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Why is he called Tot Ziens?

We were in a shop called Hema, which seems to sell everything you could ever want and a few things you don’t need. Tot Ziens sort of inviegled his way into our basket and when we asked the cashier what his name was, she shrugged and then said, ‘Tot Ziens’. I  think she meant she hoped to see us again. But the name seemed apt, so it stuck.

In Groningen there’s a man who walks a flop-eared rabbit on a lead. In Workum, people moored next to us to  exercised  two miniature pigs on leads. Imagine that. Pigs on leads!

Yesterday we saw an amazing spectacle. All the shops were closed for the day and the main street was covered with sand and closed to traffic. Why? Because there was a Carriage Driving competition. Horses and carriages trotted up and down (competing in various classes, which I don’t understand) to the tune  of very cheesy pop and semi-military music.

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You could watch for free and it was great fun. The day was rounded off by a spectacular and very oud firework display. We definitely can’t have horses on board.

Back to the boat. We also have spiders living on the sails, hanging off the spars – everywhere. It’s a pity that they haven’t eliminated the many and various biting insects, which come out at night and feast on

our slumbering forms. Dave has a personal vendetta against them and splats them with one of our phrase books. If you want to know my blood type, ask a biting insect.

Maybe dogs aren’t such a bad idea after all.

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