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It’s important to keep an eye on one’s surroundings I believe. This is why I love living in cities and why I very much insist upon living on a high floor whenever and wherever possible. One needs a good lookout spot.

From my current position in Bristol, overlooking the floating harbour, I have a good view of several houseboats, a call centre, a boat that is also a bar, a burger boat, several apartments and flats, as well as the river. I mean, just keeping up with the general goings-on is a full time job.

I quite like the river as far as interesting entertainment goes. It’s also a good time- keeping device. There is a ferry that comes regularly, and there are also rowers, like the ones who take part in the Cambridge-Oxford rowing thing, except for Bristol. They perservere though there is a point once winter truly sets in where they don’t have late practices. But now the time’s changed again, they are out in full force.

My favourite river inhabitant, though, has to be the wee man and his dog. Both of them are quite salty looking characters. The dog perches at the front of the boat, as navigator. The man, in a worn jumper, smoking a roll up cigarette, mans the outboard motor. They do whatever needs doing in their boat in all weathers. And appear to be quite a happy pair. I’ve often thought of waving at them from my balcony perch, but I feel that I would intrude upon their rather singular existence. So instead I enjoy watching them pass along and mentally salute them.

There are a group of rather stalwart smokers that huddle underneath the overhang of the call centre. I assume they work there since they’re around during the day. And they are a hearty bunch. Recently we had very bad gales whip through the area. I mean gales so bad that the scaffolding in the building under construction next door was threatening to come lose, but they were out there. Less of them than usual but they were still there. I use them as a guide to how miserable the weather actually is. Their behaviour: the jumping up and down and rubbing hand together if it’s cold, or the more languid slow enjoyment of their smokingg is much more useful than a weather forecast.

I also have a fair number of birds to watch, and in particular there is a group of Canada Geese that are very sweet. They also quite enjoy having the houseboats nearby and I’ve seen them – and taken pictures to share with The Mom – trying to sneak in the low windows of the boat. Imagine how exciting it would be to wake up to a very curious goose in your window? Delightful I’m sure.

There are swans too on this bit of the river and they are as mean as you’d expect. I know why only The Queen is allowed to eat them over here – she’s the only one tough enough to kill one.

My observations aren’t as seasonal as The Mom’s, nor are they as useful, but they do keep me busy and as The Mom’s been gone for nearly a month I’ve been without my weekly Skype sessions of informative updates. So the river will have to do.

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