Yesterday we were lucky to have only a little snow at first and very little wind, making it reasonably comfortable to travel. Shane’s hat got a slight build up of snow on one side as he stood beside me at the back so there must have been a slight breeze. It made the sheep look like they were in a snowdrift, blending in with the theme of the hat nicely. It was less wet than rain too, though I did change socks and boots at lunchtime. I hadn’t quite appreciated how long the drive was going to be.
As we left the locks behind I had one more use of the windlass. A lift bridge with hydraulic assist but still an awful lot of turning. A woman with a dog stood and watched. I thought she might be waiting to cross, but no she was just enjoying the spactacle. She called out that she was very impressed and that she hadn’t seen such a long one before. I didn’t think Bartimaeus was exceptionally long (our hire ones for ten people were definitely longer) and the locks put a maximum limit on the size. These locks are very narrow so there is really not much scope for getting any wider.
When we pulled in for diesel I clambered over a boat and went to the office, passing a woman sanding her boat. We exchanged hellos. In the office there was a woman on the phone who waved to me. Later she spoke to me and it was the same “impressed” woman but without her dog. She was planning to buy a boat and was asking how we were enjoy ourselves. Her and her husband seemed undecided about what size of boat to get and she wanted to start small. The man behind the desk said he would come when we were tied on to Marley and I came back to report to Shane. He had unscrewed the cap ready and having driven in the afternoon, was pleased to let me deal with the staff while he retreated inside to boil the kettle and warm up. I returned to the office and the sanding lady said she hoped I had my thermals on – ” yes I do!” She then asked if I was wearing a hand-knitted jumper, which I wasn’t. I maybe should have told her I was wearing hand knitted socks!
The man at the office was very friendly and chatty, while filling up and back at the office – mainly about fuel and engines and I am very slowly learning the terminology so was able to answer all his questions and he showed me the extensive lists of what can or can’t use the red diesel. It was an interesting list…circus vehicles were specifically mentioned.
As we were untying, another man came over and checked if we needed any help and I reported we were fine thanks. We headed to a quieter spot away from the bridge where cars tooted regularly. We put our wet things to dry on the radiators. Then we headed to the shop. A man with huskies greeted us warmly – the dogs were definitely in their element – it was same man who had offered help. We hadn’t seen many people that day but everyone seemed eager to be welcoming and helpful. I remembered they had been like that at Swallows last time – different people but same attitude.
We liked how the branches and leaves had a dusting of snow but it didn’t show in Shane’s pictures. This morning the snow cover was quite different and much more visible.
It was a perfect day to go nowhere. Nothing pressing to travel for and the sound of snow plopping on to the roof as it melted from the trees. The friendly man with huskies waved at us through the window.
Later it rained. I made knitting progress and wrote a postcard. Shane found that the village actually had some specialist shops as well as the supermarket so as the rain eased we set off. The towpath was very slushy and hard to navigate and after a while we took the unusual choice of walking on the pavement next to the road in stead. We got a great selection of cheeses, chutney and vegetables from the butcher, some breads and almond croissants from the baker, but decided we had enough light fittings for now.
It was brighter on the way back, but still as slushy. I was walking ahead and heard a yelp from behind. A bush had snatched Shane’s hat from his head.
Good job he didn’t lose it. I have a long enough list of knitting projects and not enough of that wool to make it again, and anyway it is all in Edinburgh. The next hat I want to do is for myself, with wool bought from the alpaca farm at the side of the canal. That is a long way off. The warming plan for tonight is a Jamaican based dinner.