A Devil’s Playground

This week has been really busy so far, at work and at home.  My colleague and friend Theresa came up from Plymouth to visit for two days, staying over in between.  Of course it would have been rude not to meet up with her in the evening, for pizza!  There goes the healthy eating kick again! 

The boss-man has also been here to visit, bringing more work with him. 

We managed to miss my step-niece’s Birthday on Tuesday, because we were out with Theresa. 

Yesterday I spent all afternoon at the hospital with Mum, as she had to have a load of tests done.  They were pretty gruesome tests, but I’m glad I went because she was not in a fit state to get herself home afterwards.  She had planned to get a taxi, rather than impose – as if I begrudge helping my own mother out when she needs it!

Last night we had a supermarket delivery…that’s 4 weeks worth of shopping over and done with.  We’ll still need fresh bits and pieces like milk, cheese etc, but only stuff we can get from the local shops. 

Today and tomorrow should hopefully be a bit quieter.  Which is good, because I’m exhausted and feeling the pain.  The tablets still aren’t working, although the side effects have really improved since I reduced the dose.  Apart from the weight gain…nearly a stone in 6 weeks.  But the Doctor-man said to give it another month before deciding one way or the other, so I’ll just keep plodding on. 

Anyway, back to the title of the post…a strange story from our travels in Scandinavia.  We quickly got into the habit of drinking cocktails at night, on the boat.  Normally, at home, we drink very rarely.  Occasionally A goes out with his mates and downs a few pints, once in a while we buy some lager or wine, and we’ve usually got a good bottle of Cognac tucked away for when we feel the need.  But for some reason, on the boat we drank loads of cocktails.  Lots of different ones. 

We also stayed up a lot later at night than we usually do, drinking, wandering around the boat or just sitting talking in our cabin. 

On the second night on board, the boat was on it’s way out of Amsterdam.  We watched as we left the port, got distracted by the cocktails and forgot all about where we were going. 

Late at night, sat in the cabin feeling slightly tipsy, we glanced out of the window before we settled to sleep.  A noticed that we were moving through a canal, approaching a huge lock.  On the lock-side level with us were several gulls, one of which was walking alongside the boat.  He was peering in through the cabin window, quite curious and not at all afraid.  We watched the comical waddling and hopping of the gull for a while, then left him behind.  Fairly soon we stopped in the lock and soon found two more gulls watching us.  One was sat comfortably on the ground (Fred), level with our window, the other was walking along on a plank of wood at the water level (Bert).  We watched Fred and Bert for a while then suddenly – Whoosh!  A massive flame shot up into the sky, starting some distance above the ground, burning blue and green and orange.  It took us a few minutes to work out that it must be from a massive chimney or something.  The flame burned brightly, got smaller and dimmer and eventually went out.  Almost immediately a second flame started in a slightly different place, and at the same time a great big plume of smoke rushed out of another chimney. 

For maybe an hour we knelt on our bed, leaning across the window-ledge, watching the flames and smoke appear and disappear from one chimney after another.  They looked like enormous blow-torches or flame-throwers, all colours from green and blue to deep red and yellow.  In a weird way they were oddly beautiful, totally mesmerising.  In the almost complete darkness the whole scene took on an eerie, scary aura and we speculated that this was a foretaste of hell, a demon’s playground. 

Of course in the cold light of day, the next morning, we knew full well that it was probably an oil refinery or something similarly industrial and prosaic. 

But I prefer the surreal ‘we’ll wake up and think we dreamed this tomorrow’ image we experienced at night.  No doubt the alcohol played its part!


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