Quotes from the Masters: Grahame

“There is nothing– absolutely nothing–half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.”

Kenneth Grahame, from The Wind in the Willows

Delightful blogger, Robin, author of the splendid Bringing Europe Home blog is setting a blogging challenge each week, based on her chosen topic “Quotes from the Masters”.

She would like people to come up with a photo, a story, a poem or whatever else they feel inspired to post, with reference to the quote she posts on her blog. This week’s challenge is based on the above quote from The Wind in the Willows. I’ve read the book several times, and boats have been quite a big part of my life for the past few years, so I thought it an appropriate time for me to jump in.

A couple of years ago I attended a boat handling course in the beautiful town of Grimstad in Norway. I learned how to drive a little FRC (fast rescue craft) and a larger workboat. I found the big one a bit stressful because there was a lot to remember when I was at the helm, but the wee one was a lot of fun (it went pretty fast).

There were usually five of us on the boat at a time, four trainees and an instructor. My other three crewmates were also my workmates (the course was paid for by our employer), and two of them in particular were very competitive. They were always wanting to do the driving and be in charge and, quite frankly, I was happy to let them. I did quite enjoy my turns at the wheel, but on the whole I prefer to let someone else look after a boat while I’m on it, so that I can sit back and admire the scenery.

This photo shows one of the competitive crewmates taking his preferred place in the driving seat, while I happily mooch about at the back enjoying the lack of responsibility. This was just before we left the pontoon, all dressed up in our big orange survival suits (it matches my hair, don’t you think?).


26 thoughts on “Quotes from the Masters: Grahame

  1. What a great idea, quotation prompts for posts!

    You both look like models in that photo – models for the Hi-Viz catwalk perhaps? I have no affinity for the boats as I don’t enjoy being on or in the water. But my father spent some time training as a boat builder in his youth and during my childhood we were regularly dragged along to rivers, docks, and the like. When I think of boats I think of another quotation, I think it’s from Swallows and Amazons? If I remember correctly, the father of the sailing children writes on a postcard: “If not duffers, won’t drown; if duffers, better drowned”.

    • It is a good idea, isn’t it? She has a great blog, too.

      Model for dayglow suits, ha ha, I never considered that as a career option! That suit was huge on me, I’m quite wee and always have trouble with standard size offshore gear, which I suppose is made on the whole for burly men.

      What a shame you don’t care for boats, with that childhood. I’d have loved to have been taken round docks and things in my youth. How interesting about your father’s boat building, did he actually do it for a living as well?

      That’s a good quote from Swallows and Amazons, I like it!

      • Yes, it was a shame all that boaty stuff was completely wasted on me! No, he never worked as a professional boatbuilder but he did beautiful wood carving and sculptures until only a few years ago when his health problems got to be too much to be wielding chisels and the like.

  2. What exactly do you do with boats, Lorna? At first Davey and I thought you were a feeble old lady in a fancy hat, being wheeled around by two able bodied assistants visiting Scottish tea rooms and now we find you have orange hair and drive speed boats! Hahaha! Love the photo. Now if you had a carrot in one hand and and an orange squash in the other….

    • Ha ha, that’s hilarious! That’s exactly what I want to be when I’m older, a wee old lady in a fancy hat taking tea. I work freelance in the oil industry as a geophysicist, but I can’t do it at the moment because of tendonitis. When I’m offshore, I work on seismic survey vessels and spend 12 hours a day looking at a computer screen in a room with no windows at a desk that’s forever moving around. Not exactly glamorous, but certainly a little bit different from previous office jobs I’ve had.

      • I am so impressed! I love words like SEISMIC – GEOPHYSICIST- TENDONITIS – well the last one, not so much, maybe! What is “forever moving around”? The screen or the desk? Oh wowie!

        • Ha ha, I thought it sounded impressive too, that was part of the appeal, being involved in such a strange and curious world. I didn’t express it very well, but everything’s moving around, because the boat is constantly moving. I’ve seen plates of food slide off tables, chairs fly across the room and my laptop plunge onto the floor in really bad weather, but it’s not always that dramatic. I have now learned to keep everything of value to me on the floor of my cabin wedged into a corner, and all the computers are securely fixed to the desks, which are in turn securely fixed to the floor. On the last boat I was on my bed was several feet off the floor bolted to the wall like a bunk bed but with nothing underneath it. Unfortunately for me, it didn’t even have a side panel, so I had the constant fear of rolling over at night (easy to do when the boat is rolling) and falling several feet onto a hard floor (and hitting a desk on the way down). There were no steps to get up to the bed either, so I had to jump up onto the desk and then climb from the desk to the bed. The bed was so close to the ceiling that I couldn’t sit up in it and had to slide in at a strange angle. Getting in and out of bed was a bit of an obstacle course actually, but after 4 weeks at sea I had worked out how to do it quite efficiently!

    • It was orangatstic, there’s a lot of orange offshore! I think the thing I like best about survey work is the adventure of being on big boats with interesting bits of machinery on them. It’s all very mysterious and intriguing, and the oil industry is full of innovative ideas and new technology (most of which is utterly baffling to a simple mind like mine!).

    • Thanks Mags, yes it was lovely weather. I had to go on the course during my time off, but I wasn’t complaining – an all expenses paid trip to Norway in wonderful weather zipping around in boats all day. Not too bad!

  3. Orange boats, orange jackets & orange hair! It’s the triple colour co-ordination trifecta! Fabulous, I enjoy seeing these behind the scenes shots too, as much as yummy food 🙂

  4. Ha ha! The competetive workmate reminds me of a cartoon captioned, “The Monument,” in a cartoon history book I loved to read in childhood. My dad would also append that title to one of my brothers whenever he posed majestically… You look really cute, and yes, piloting a workboat seems to be another surprising accomplishment (like unicycling).

    • Thanks Marian, I like that little family story. The thing about these little accomplishments is that they don’t take a great deal of effort, unlike rising to the dizzy heights of being a concert pianist. Your ability to achieve via a long slow slog is something I can only dream of!

      • Dizzy heights? I’m a concert level pianist, which means I can play the repertoire, but no one wants to listen to me! Concert pianists are few and far between and actually perform in public. I don’t have the personality to be a public performer as I, too, prefer to mooch around at the back. 🙂 Being a geophysicist seems like an enormous accomplishment to me!

      • I’m sorry, I can’t resist sharing this link to an article written by a real concert pianist I admire greatly. He’s an incredible pianist, an amazing writer, and he’s very funny. It’s a little long, but it shares anecdotes about a pianist doing science experiments. It’s called “Pianist Jeremy Denk’s Favorite Mistake: Ditching Science”

        Don’t feel obligated to read it, just because I shared, I just thought it would be funny to a science person (with many other talents).

        • I really enjoyed reading that, thank you for posting it! I feel you’re too kind about my apparent talents. I wanted to be a scientist because I admire scientists, and was inspired by my dad who is one, but I don’t really have the aptitude for it. Having the title ‘geophysicist’ does sound good, but I don’t really know much about the subject, I just had an enthusiasm for working offshore and a (pretty poor) science degree to convince employers that I was worth hiring. Not everyone wants to spend weeks on a boat in the North Sea in all weathers, so when a company finds someone who’s ridiculously excited by the prospect, they make allowances for her lack of scientific credentials. This isn’t false modesty, it’s really true, I’m not a natural scientist but sometimes you can make the most of the little you have and still gain something from it. What you can do on the piano seems utterly incredible to me, and no matter what you say about it I still admire you greatly!

    • I was fairly hopeless, if truth be told! I’m not competitive enough to drive really fast, and it’s far more restful when you’re just sitting back enjoying the ride.

  5. Really interesting — and what a great assignment!
    Besides being a judge of fine tearooms, you’re a seaman, and photogenic besides! Very nice seeing the woman behind the blog 🙂

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