Don’t Sit Under The Apple Tree

I was up and having breakfast (romping through the plum jam on toast) this morning and could see another fruit lover opposite. A cygnet was berry picking: brambles or blackberries, depending on what your local term is. The same cygnet seemed to like a fruity morsel as it came across to the boat and I gave it some scraps of apple, courgette and pear from our compost bowl. They were very well received.

Brambling cygnet through the window

The first thing to do today was the Napton flight. Shane had got the windlasses out ready. He stepped off and I drove forward. The lock was already busy so I waited. There were also lockkeepers at the lock so Shane would not be too busy at the first one. So he went ahead to the next one to help speed up the boat ahead. The two lock volunteers let me out and explained they were going to help out the boat ahead of us, as they were new to locking, and we would be okay on our own. As well as following that boat, another boat had overnighted between locks and popped out in front of us. So all the way I needed to wait at the side and hold the boat on the rope. Rather than metal bollards with a wide shaped cap at the top to stop the rope slipping, these were wooden posts. Mostly they worked fine but at one the post next to our middle rope was worn smooth and tapered at the top so the rope just slipped off however I tried to wrap it.

We did meet the lock volunteers again later. The man seemed concerned about a woman with three loose dogs and whether they might fall in the water. She was keeping the dogs occupied by throwing fallen apples for them to chase; as long as none went into a lock and a dog jumped in after it. There were plenty of apples and apple trees along the way.

Waiting to get into a lock by the apple tree, while Shane opens the gates
Apple tree and wooden post/ bollard for holding your boat
Fallen apples near the lock

Mostly there was a boat coming the other way too so it wasn’t until the last lock that I was able to come right into the jaws to wait while it filled. At the last lock there were some lovely apples and a very fine looking pear tree laden with fruit. The pear tree was in a lockside garden: a fine building with lots of ivy. There were plenty of elderberries too.

Later we saw some a couple of more unusual homes. One was definitely lived in but we don’t quite know how it got there. A narrow boat that was on water but surrounded by grass to the side of the canal. It was in beside some sheep, but had its own washing line and picnic table, a canal crofter perhaps?

Further on there was a glamping opportunity. The teepee was visible from well away but sheilded from view slightly by rushes at one side and a willow screen and horse box from other directions was the luxury item of an outdoor, solid fuel heated bath! I still think you would be visible to the boaters.

Dare you bare for a hot bath?

We were pressing on, taking the unusual step of lunching separately, as I was too hungry to wait until we found a good mooring. The locks had a time limit for getting through them and we had managed that before lunch, but we also wanted to get a pump out. One was advertised as a self operated, but when we got there we found it didn’t take the CRT cards but needed a token from the marina nearby and their office was shut on Sundays. For the Queen’s funeral, it would also be closed tomorrow so there was no point in staying nearby overnight.

We carried on and found the usually wide canal became a very narrow stretch. It used to be a tunnel a kilometre long but was now a rock lined narrow canal. We didn’t meet anyone but were followed all the way. It was hard to find a mooring but eventually we settled on a slightly dodgy bit of towpath, its attraction being it was a spot without brambles at the water’s edge. There were however lots of swallows and a beautiful light in the evening.

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