Sunday, 29 April 2012
Rowing in the Rain
So where to go? Perhaps I shall row the River Krath at Slavna. Slavna has emerged from the terrible Communist decades almost exactly as it was under Sophy, the girl from Essex who rose to become queen. I expect I will put in at the pontoon next to the old Royal Palace, slip under the ornamental cast iron bridge and up the North River. The warehouses are converted into flats for the BMW-owning capitalists now, but the fragments of the old walls and Suleiman's Tower have been nicely restored.
Turning down the South River brings one back to where one started, for the two channels circle the old city.
If I am feeling very athletic I might row the five miles downstream to the old wooden bridge. If I'm in a lazy mood I might turn into the canal that runs through the centre of Slavna and tie up at one of the bars in St Micheal's Square.
Or perhaps I shall go to Bekla. The Barb, the lake in the Upper City, is a charming place to spend an afternoon though it is too small to get any real speed up. The houses of the Ortelga nobles cluster round it, their gardens tumbling down to the water's edge. And the Pool of Light is simply magical. The problem these days is the swarms of tourists and no, of course I'm not a tourist. I am a traveller, with a genuine appreciation, not just a gawping fat suburbanite with a camera.
Not at all. So not Bekla. Another trip up the Miskatonic River through Arkham, Massachusetts, has a lot of appeal, with a diversion up Hangman's Brook. Arkham is just as creepy as ever - somehow it has never shed the miasma of menace created in the famous witch trials of 1692.
Of course, Alca or Penguin Island is only a short hop across the Channel at the moment and RyanAir go there now despite the navigation problems posed by the island moving about under the direction of the Archangel Raphael. Rowing round the coast enables one to ignore to some extent the factories and offices that have sprung up on formerly green fields.
The rain has developed into stairrods. Nothing for it but to travel to the finest rowing waters of all, joining Jim Hawkins and the others in the last trip of the jolly boat under the fire of the long nine aimed by Captain Flint's gunner, Israel Hands. I may be gone some time.