Yesterday was a day with a lot of activity and surprises. Today we were not sure whether to head for more locks or go on a longer cruise to charge up the batteries or stay put enjoying the goats. Our time was slightly curtailed by Shane having a video chat at 2pm and even more so by sleeping late. The goats were entertaining but mainly static, taking up as high a position as possible and staying there.
The 11th of November is of course Armistice Day. It is also my sister’s birthday. Obviously it is not always pleasing that her birthday is synonymous with sad remembrance rather than celebration. Still peace is a good thing to remember. I wished her happy birthday. I didn’t mention the exciting bit of war time related poetry that we were moored beside. Come to think of it I should have mentioned the goats!
The poem was an odd canal related exhibit at the side of the canal by the bridge. There was a map and a reference to Idle Women which it explained was the nickname of the wartime canal equivalent of landgirls. Women who did the work of men who had worked on the canals before the war, loaded the boats, drove them and kept supplies going. Not ao idle at all. They wore uniforms and caps with I W on them, standing for Inland Waterways, but the joke soon caught on that it meant Idle Women. Beside the map was an audio explanation in rhyme in a woman’s voice saying in the last verse that she had enjoyed the experience so much that she planned to buy her own boat after the war was over and travel around, finishing with “And let the gongoozlers stare”. I was amused to see the braille on the box. Not many blind people will choose a walk along an uneven path next to water, but it is possible. I’m not sure how they will even know it is there, but I liked the poem, the concept and the use of a fixed windlass style handle to operate the poetry reading. You had to turn at a prompt steady pace throughout to hear it all.
We had let time slip by and tackling the locks was out of the question and as ever the worry of the battery state weighed on Shane’s mind and we would not be able to charge it going through locks either. So we cast off and I drove under the bridge, gently brushing Shane with some pampas grass overhanging the canal. He remarked that I hadn’t taken the best line through the bridge. It was fine for me. We were going slowly and keeping pace with a couple walking along the towpath. Out of embarrassment of looking like we were purposely stalking them or cruising or something, I sped up a bit.
An insect arrived suddenly and looked to be struggling on its back. I wanted to try to get a picture and identify it. I did quite badly at the photograph, the focus seems to be on the edge binding of the ‘pram cover’ and I am not confident in my identification. It looks like a small shield bug but smaller than the ones I had seen before. It might be a parent bug but I am not convinced.
Shane headed past the junction and tried taking a picture of the signpost but it was even fuzzier than the insect. On going through a bridge he seemed well out of his usual line and said himself he hadn’t meant to be that far over. Again no harm done. Nobody even had to duck or be swept by passing plants, but it made him think another leaf clearing was in order to help with steering. The grand union canal is nice and wide and easy steering usually but autumn leaves have their impact on us, as well as the railways. A little later he noticed that it wasn’t just the back that had accumulated leaves and sticks – there was a branch stuck on the side of the bow. It was getting up a bow wave of its own.
I got down the boat hook and heaved at it. It was quite awkward to remove, but suddenly realeased. We didn’t have a chance to see if this improved the steering and speed too as Shane signalled we could moor here. He hoped to use chains but only spikes worked. He was keen for a quick lunch before his meeting but disappointed to find the internet connection was not good. So we “up spikes” and went a little further. Connectivity wasn’t perfect, but he was able to have his meeting with video off and I went to see a kestrel hovering, record some birds, and got some good confirmations of sightings of a goldcrest.. The kestrel and geese made no sound. The app was unable to identify the grunts of the mute swans grazing at the bank.
A gentle afternoon was passed and the birthday girl thought it sounded idyllic when I sent her my record of bird song. I read some more of Narrow Dog to Carcassonne. When the videomeet was over we had a walk in the twilight. There are a lot of very large houses around and a lot of jackdaws and robins. Tomorrow is another birthday.