Today was colder than previous days, so I got out a fluffy hoodie to keep warm. Winter is setting in and making its presence known. We set off for the day without issues, and I decided to do some driving. Going through bridges was easier than normal as this part of the canal is suited for wide boats. I was quite thankful for that as I reacquainted myself with Bartimaeus’s steering. An early test of my driving was a lock. A very small one with little height difference, but as a twist, there was a swing bridge across the middle of it. With careful speed management I drifted into the lock just as Shane swung the bridge aside. While we waited for the water to go down, Shane told me he’d spotted a bin and asked me to hand him the rubbish. It turned out after I’d grabbed the contents of the bin that he meant the recycling, so I put the bin back and handed over the recycling before getting back to driving.
Not all my driving was perfect. Along the canal I encountered some boats on a bend, I didn’t steer early enough and got myself into an awkward position where I was in the way of where the tiller needed to be. I lightly bumped the bow against a moored boat, and its owner came out to grumble about “you people”. (I hadn’t the presence of mind at the time to ask who “you people” were.) Fortunately, that was the only collision of the day.
It was an excellent day for kingfisher sightings, starting with a boat named “Kingfisher” (a different one from the one we’d previously been on – which we passed yesterday). Later, a spot of lustrous blue caught my eye in a bush on the side, and as I tried to draw Clare’s attention to it, it took wing, darting ahead and confirming my suspicion that I’d seen a kingfisher. The kingfisher went on for a while, darting ahead whenever we got close, until we lost sight of it at a bridge. Later in the day we had another sighting much like the first, a streak of blue darting ahead of us as we went along.
Clare drove for a while while Shane enjoyed a walk along the towpath, and Shane took over driving after lunch but I did take another shift later in the afternoon. Without locks to occupy us, we enjoyed the passing scenery, admiring boats, murals, and the autumn trees as we drifted onwards, passing over the Grafton Street aqueduct and mooring up a short distance after Wolverton.