Eyes Open

I find my way a bit better if I have not just followed blindly, making more effort to think about what direction I am going, but as soon as I have Shane with me leading the navigation, I am apt to drop any attempt to pay attention to where we are and how we got there and he never really switches his compass off. I liked a stroll in to town to buy wool with my map to hand to double check. Bath is small but has routes heading off in multiple directions that can be disorienting. I had seen the wool shop before, when shut, so the street was familiar. I could tell from the outside it had quality merchandise from the stacks of skeins. Somehow looking in the window and even stepping into the shop, I had failed to see a large machine right in the window. Another customer was talking to the shop owner while choosing her wool and said “Can you wind it for me?” My ears pricked up when she replied, “yes, of course!” There in full view was an electric wool winder. I learned a new term for the adjustable contraption that the skein sits on – a swift – it isn’t actually spinning as fast as the winder but it was a blur. I asked for mine to be softly wound too. The result is an attractive cake of wool. It is a free service.

Having been in on my own I felt more confident finding places in Bath next time we were in together. We had a night stroll that gave a different view too. I had seen this place before, but it looked better at night with uplighting.

On Sunday we went in again in day time and went to the UNESCO heritage museum, which is in this street. It gave ideas of other places to see there, though most of it we had already covered on Joy’s tour. We passed the water carrier statue to find a brightly coloured crowd, mostly in reds and yellows and the statue being festooned with water carriers. We asked what was going on and we were told it was a Hindu festival and they were going to walk to their temple and eat. It sounded tempting but even Shane in his red gear might not have fitted in.

We were happy to have come across a surprise event, and wondering where else to go, we decided to go to the parade gardens. There is an entry fee but it is small and half price for over 60s. Having just acquired a senior citizen Railcard I knew I had proof with me, should it be required. While the man at the desk did us the compliment of saying it was hardly believable, he did not ask for photo ID and in stead asked us if we could name a song by Showaddywaddy. Shane got in quick with Three Steps to Heaven and he let us in at the old codger price. We were in for a further treat as there was a band on the band stand and we enjoyed a drink and Shane got the last scone, while enjoying the Bratton Silver Band with a varied range of musical genres, such as La Mer and Lord of All Hopefulness, a piece from the Nutcracker and a tune by Adele, but no Showaddywaddy. There were a few curious statues in the gardens such as Mozart as a child, a swineherd and a slug.

We returned to the boat just as the rain came so we had got the best of the day. We had added value to familiar sights and the avoided the rain. We had witnessed the people moored behind us, who we recognised as people we had shared a lock with in the other direction, had tried painting but it had tipped it down before they completed the job and they were under umbrellas trying to finish off. Never mind they still seemed cheerful.

We moved forward to a different spot the next day but still in Bath. We had some locks to do and Shane was up for working them while I drove. I hadn’t been inside Bath Deep Lock before which this time seemed to have a lot of people peering down on me from above.

Alone inside BathDeep Lock

I was happier driving today since I remembered how slow going the winding was on them, and that was with the help of the lock keeper. We caught up with another boat and they were happy to share a lock with us. They had balloons and birthday bunting and three generations of female family members aboard. A couple of them were driving together. In one of the locks I looked across and wondered how I had failed to notice a cockatiel beneath the tiller in the previous lock. Apparently the driver’s mum had just brought it there a few minutes earlier. It was a relief that I hadn’t just completely missed him before.

We moored up and in the evening had a stroll up to a view point over Bath and passed through some lovely little streets and a field. I thought it a bit sad to see someone had come to view the viewpoint but would now not be seeing so well. Their neck string didn’t stop them losing their glasses. Someone had kindly placed the specs where they would avoid being broken.

We moved on the next day and while the route is familiar we still found new sites. We hadn’t seen chickens on the towpath before. The woman let’s them out in the evening when she says there are fewer dogs. They seem to be walked any time of day but perhaps she had a handle on it but to be extra sure they had a warning sign up on a proper easel. She introduced us to Esther the chicken and directed us to view the weir which we enjoyed too.

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