The canal has a social life of its own and there are always people smiling and waving on the way and chats at locks to be had.
Today we thought a fisherman shouted to us as we passed, “Have you got your oatcakes?” No idea if we heard him correctly, but we had Staffordshire oatcakes that we bought yesterday and are savoury pancakes, but have some oatmeal in them, and very good they were too, with a creamy vegetable sauce.
In the morning we had a brief exchange with the man feeding these swans and cygnets. At lunch time we sat outside and fed some ducks.
The locks were generally spaced quite apart today, and many were quite stiff or awkward but all lightened by exchange with other people we met: people we chatted to yesterday and people who let me photograph their Jemima Puddleduck roof decoration ( to show my great niece Jemima), there were people advising about difficult locks and there were people with beautiful displays of flowers and tomato plants etc on their boats, including one where the plants were planted directly long of earth in the roof, not in pots. A little boy high above us on a road waving and calling to everyone below.
We branched off on to the Caldon canal (ladies walking passed advising to take the very sharp turn gently) and there I tried tackling a staircase lock on my own for the first time. In fact there are written instructions so it wasn’t hard, but I was pleased to do it and again a young man appeared and looked delighted to see people at the lock and chatted to us about the canal and closed the last gate and waved good bye.
It’s an interesting canal and we found a beautiful park. When we stopped there, children approached with great excitement saying they’re never been on a boat before. Eager yet shy and polite, they slowly stepped on, when invited and loved exploring. Later they brought more friends to see Bartimaeus. Other families came to chat to us at the boat and when we went for a stroll the park was really beautiful, full of amenities, including a pond and boathouse, and full of people of all ages and many languages, and so many smiled and greeted us.