First Time

Yesterday we went along with another couple through the locks. Although he generally drove, he did the locking as she had damaged her back in her work as a paramedic. Having seemed a tad taciturn at first he became chattier and she was happy to talk in the locks and since Shane and I swapped over driving, we both got a chance to work with them. He had seemed like he was in a hurry but they stopped just ahead of us for lunch and didn’t move in the afternoon. They were still there in the morning but set off before we had had breakfast so we guessed we wouldn’t be sharing locks again. Harder work for all of us. 

The moorchicks were closer to the boat this morning and it is unusual to get close at all as they are shyer than the swans, ducks and geese.

 

Moor hens in the foreground, previous lock partners in the background

We had got  a lot closer to the geese yesterday as they were on the side of the road when we were coming back from our walk to the viaduct. The parents were very protective hissing loud and long. We stepped back as we passed. Shortly after, a rat shot across the towpath into the hedge. Absolutely no chance to get a picture!

Geese, having a hissy fit, and goslings

We had a low-flying drone go over us while we crossed the viaduct. I hadn’t seen someone controlling a drone before and was initially surprised that the man with the controller was not looking at the drone. Only when we passed did I realise he had his phone attached and was viewing its progress on the screen. It seemed more like a video game than a remote controlled flier. There is a good view from the viaduct.

 

River and Cows Not the Canal

We set off this morning pretty late and passed some swan and cygnets resting on the bank. Perhaps the same family we had fed yesterday. We also passed our locking partners from yesterday. They had not gone far at all and not done any locks. It had passed through my mind that he might prefer not having company. Then as we passed  we could see he was fishing at the front of his boat and he gave us a big smile. It was the first time I had really noticed him smiling. He possibly prefers fishing to locking.

I did the first lock and it was exceedingly hard going. Even with the ratchet windlass I had a lot of difficulty turning them. Two women watching commented they weren’t sure who had the hardest job. At this lock it was definitely me, but I did tell them we took turns. I was so hot after that first one that I drove the rest of the way and let Shane do the locking.

I got a bit grumpy at the end of the canal as I found the winding stressful and tricky. I was perhaps not taking it gently enough but in my low sugar state I was also unhappy that there was a boat moored very close to the winding hole which limited the space for manoeuvres at the widest part. It didn’t help that the owners were out and watching for whether they might get bumped (they weren’t). Shane took over to reduce the stress. 

This was a silver propeller photo opportunity and a chance for lunch so we moored. We had a quick lunch before going on a short explore and also took in shopping, then back in time to escape a shower. Then we crossed over to get water before heading back again through the locks. Now cooled and rested I resumed locking duty. They were slightly easier in reverse.

Shane pointed out some people having a drink outside in the late afternoon sunshine, which I took as a hint for a Pimm’s and after that I was definitely in a better mood. I was further cheered by my first ever, I believe, sighting of water vole nibbling reeds at the edge of the canal. Then Shane caught a flash of blue and as he had seen where it landed we then were both able to track and see the kingfisher do a second flight right beside us. This is the first kingfisher we have seen since returning.

The sight of wildlife is very uplifting. However, while I was inside Shane made an urgent but not delighted call to me, “Wasp in the cabin! Can you get it out?” I could hear buzzing and then saw the largest wasp I have ever seen. I did manage to keep it moving onwards the hatch and it left. However Shane had been sufficiently distracted at watching the safe departure of the wasp, he had failed to continue steering and we were closing in on a bridge. He slammed it in hard reverse and employed the bow thruster which no doubt reduced the impact but there was still a bit of a bump. I explained to the man level with us that there had been a wasp distraction incident as I felt embarrassed by our apparent poor boat handling. Shane completed his navigation of the bridge successfully. Nobody got stung and there is a bit of pleasure about finding you aren’t the only one who has had steering difficulties.

There is no evidence that Shane has been disturbed by the incident. He doesn’t need to spend a while meditating over the a picture of meadow flowers, or even just go and look at the ones we saw yesterday.

 

Red poppies and a few blue cornflowers
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