Whittaker’s Diary: Whittaker on the Water
Posted on August 16 2018
With the grass fading to a dark and burnished gold, and a heat haze rising from the dusty soil, a peaceful stillness has fallen across the fields and villages that surround the Abbey, forcing a hasty retreat to long shadows and shaded parlours, and all eyes turning to the nearby river – and not just for its cooling waters.
It seems that after a night dedicated to a rather obscure drinking game, the rules of which seemed based solely on who could stay submerged beneath the real ale tap the longest, our very own Lord Archibald had won yet another ill advised wager with his best friend and occasional rival, Sir Brian, master of the neighbouring stately home, Morningdew House. The result of this game was Bluebell Abbey now being the proud owner of Sir Brian’s beloved yacht, The Jenny. To my surprise however, her Ladyship seemed delighted with the news, and immediately decreed that we should all decamp to the Isle of White to attend Cowes week, undeterred by the fact that none of us knew how to sail.
After an intense hour gaining much-needed nautical experience by skim-reading the complete works of Clive Cussler in the Abbey’s extensive library, I considered myself as ready as I’d ever be, and reluctantly boarded The Jenny along with her new crew, consisting of myself, the Lord and Lady of the manor, their daughter Lucinda, Mrs Badwater the cook and Mr Crumple the gardener, followed moments later by Mrs Badwater’s duck hating sociopath of a son, Timothy, who worryingly seemed to be wearing an eye patch and carrying what looked suspiciously like a cutlass.
Unfortunately our journey was not to be a smooth one, and with the water level a mere shadow of its former self, we were accompanied by the ominous sound of our hull scraping against the rocky bottom as we sailed along. Then disaster struck in the form of a newly revealed sand bank. Firmly impaled upon it in the middle of the river, we stared helplessly across the water, whilst discussing whether we might eventually have to drink our own urine in order to survive, or preferably Lord Archibald’s, which traditionally averaged at around 70% proof. Fortunately for all, we had Mrs Badwater on board, a woman famed for both the quality of her fruit scones and near super human strength, and following several mighty heaves, the Jenny returned to the water.
Whilst celebrating our escape with a restorative gin and tonic on the foredeck, I noticed Mr Crumple looking confused. When pressed as to why, he enquired politely as to who was currently driving. To our horror we found Timothy at the helm, a manic look on his face as he frantically turned the wheel toward the bank, aiming for either a small family of harmless goslings, or, more worryingly, the elderly couple kicking their legs off a small jetty.
Wresting him for control, I grabbed the wheel, but it was too late and with a horrifying crunch The Jenny ran aground, this time fatally, the impact waking Lord Archibald long enough for him to order us to abandon ship. Stepping onto the jetty, we watched as our faithful vessel sank beneath the waves, or at least partially, before walking the half-mile back to the Abbey.
Now safely back in my room, there’s nothing left to do but lose myself in the pages of a good book - in this case Robert Louis Stevenson’s indomitable classic, Treasure Island.
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