Double Take

Our day started yesterday with feeding swans. There were five tiny cygnets being carried on mum’s back and some came on to the water to nibble. They were very young and one never left mum’s back. Heather and I enjoyed a long time feeding them and occasionally a mallard drake, when he wasn’t being chased away by daddy swan.

Swan carrying her babies

Having got to the top of Foxton locks we were going to turn around and come back down again. First we had to get to a winding hole. Heather and I sat in the front for a while. I was delighted that she made a positive identification of a reed bunting. We had seen this before and I had looked at my books and thought it might be but not been sure. We got a really good view of it and she had only just learnt it herself recently so we were both pleased with it.

Our trip to the winding hole took us past a lot of wild roses and I could smell them as well. We saw some cows very near the canal too. I got a picture. Heather tried to get them on the way back but they had turned away and were not showing their best side.

Cows near the reeds and wild irises

The roses didn’t turn away though. We continued to enjoy pale and deep pink rose bushes. Heather was enjoying this quiet stretch.We know this area was very busy a few days ago when it was half term, but now half term and the weekend was over and the forecast was for rain, it was quiet on the water.

The lock keepers had a less busy day for boats but, plenty to do with no gongoozlers helping with locks and heavy rain to contend with. The one going down with us was still chatty and chirpy. I was relieved that it had all brightened for the visit.

Heather’s dad was very keen to take us out to dinner and we knew there were two pubs nearby. At the bottom of the flight, the lock keeper had suggested we hop on, but there was a last minute change of plan about our direction of travel at the junction and Shane swapped our windlasses for a key and Benny and I had to huury round to operate the swing bridge. It turned out both pubs were closed. We drove towards the village of Foxton where there might be a pub open on a quiet weekday evening. We did need to get through the other large swing bridge. Heather went to look at one pub but it was closed too, possibly for good, but the Shoulder of Mutton was still a possibility. I was wondering if I might manage to put together a meal for six from what we had in, when Heather rang them up and managed to book a table. We turned and managed to get moored nearby. Unfortunately there were two routes and taking the slightly longer route meant we had to walk through a field and got caught in a short very sharp shower and arrived very wet at the pub.

Heather, her parents and Shane and I arriving at the pub, drookit, The Shoulder of Mutton, from the cross country route.

We were all in good spirits and we saw others rather caught out themselves unwilling to cross the car park, never mind the field. The meals we had were delicious so we had had lucked out with the others being closed! It was going to be tight to get Heather’s parents (thanks for dinner) back to their car by dark. We returned to the boat by the shorter route and managed to get them back to Foxton Locks lower car park, including getting back through the two swing bridges. We moored just before sunset. We had a slightly extra bit to go as the spot Shane thought was clear was in fact a water point.

Just moored at sunset

In the morning we reversed back to get water, making use of our handy spot, then headed on forward towards Leicester. It was a brighter day and damsel flies were out. I saw a white butterfly on a buttercup then later a red admiral landed on the roof.

Red admiral on the roof

There weren’t many boats and we had been just discussing that it didn’t seem that wide for a double width canal, but just then while Heather was driving we met two, in swift succession, on bends of course, but hasty evasive action was effective.

Heather and I hopped off to go to the shops, which involved a cut through a field. The one we were in was full of buttercups and cowpats but the one beside us was a lovely field of blue flowers, I am guessing flax.

Field of flax

The cows were in the distance on the way there but on the way back they were all gathered at the gate. We were assured they were not dangerous as long as we didn’t run. We took it easy. We had thought yesterday’s cows were close but these were closer still. Heather was perhaps happier to see them on the other side of a fence but all went well.

Cattle by the gate on the public footpath

She did start to wonder if we had taken the wrong route but then the blue field appeared and we knew we were on the right track. We had some locks to get through which were all set our way but we kept going until we found a place where the panels would be in the sun in the morning. After a delicious dhal for tea we had a stroll to see the sun going down again.

Sundown over the fields