Having got Shane to help me wind a skein of wool, I had made a start at knitting with it, last night. I tend to sit beside the side hatch. During the day this is open to let in light but it also has a perspex cover that can keep out wind and rain. At night we close it. I found that when blogging or knitting I was getting cold hands. I am sitting still, which doesn’t help, and the hatch, I noticed recently, has a slight draft even when closed. I have decided to try knitting gloves to keep wrists and hands warm, but leave the fingers free to use a touchscreen and manipulate needles. Also I liked the pattern and it’s an excuse to use the idea well and new , to me, pattern book from the village stall. I have never heard of, triple gull stitch, so since I have been enjoying watching birds (the pattern on the back of the mitt is a little like 3 flying birds) I liked it even better. I was pleased Shane was making bread as it allowed me to do some more this morning. Hoping it isn’t Spring before I am done!
It was a colder day today, and I was happy to work the set of locks as it’s the warmer job. I warmed up quickly but didn’t quite over heat today as a kind soul on a bike was setting them all up. I didn’t have quite as much work to do and Shane didn’t have to hover waiting for the lock to be ready. We saw him leaving at the second last lock and he cheerily rode off telling us the gates were open for us in the last one. He was the only person we saw in the flight itself. They were easy to wind but I still had the odd difficulty, a stick stuck in a gate, so I had to cross the gate and fish it out and cross back to close it. The cross over feels secure enough as the ledge has a good grip, but many of these do have very prominent gate paddle mechanisms which requires a literal body swerve when wearing my nice new coat, even more so when I have the chunky mitts bulking out the pockets!
Shane had to help me with a stuck ratchet, and when we found a rubbish disposal point with recycling, I couldn’t get the bolt back in to place, after depositing the recycling, as it was misaligned. Shane lifted it enough. Shame he hadn’t installed it – he’d have made a better job. We were too hungry and the smell of bread too tempting, to suggest he get his screwdriver out … Since he’s already improved one snib this week.
After lunch there were no more locks and the canal narrowed. There was a very deep cutting which was all the more dramatic when we went below a bridge.
There was a sign warning of a land slide and I looked out for it. There was plenty of evidence that the land had slipped in the steep slopes before, bringing some extra earth and some stone into the canal, but the water is too murky to see them. There were one of two ominous scrapes though. But the particular signs were not to warn boaters of underwater hazards, but to explain the closure of the towpath to walkers. There has been work to avoid slips on that side, with cages of stones along the path, but still it had slipped, despite that.
The bedrock looked safer, with sheer solid walls. The rock is a lovely colour and the route was attractive and quite different in character from the day before, or indeed the open farmland that we reached after.
As the land opened up, we had more sightings of flying and perched kingfishers, though they disappear quickly as you approach. Other colourful birds were a cock pheasant on the tow path, a jay flying across in front of us and the mallard drakes are looking particularly splendid and glossy this time of year. They are flaunting it too. Today we saw a few display behaviours and some squabbling, chasing and mounting, pushing the female’s head under water repeatedly.
Made me think of ducking ( or dooking as we called it) for apples. I know it is also called bobbing but, to me, bobbing apples gives a much more delicate image than what we did. We never had the stalks on apples in our house – getting the stalk with your teeth was regarded as cheating – and the only way to be successful was to fully duck your head under the water and either pin the apple against the edge of bottom of the tub. You emerged dripping with the whole in your teeth. People with elaborate make up were allowed to do it by standing with a fork in their mouth and dropping it into pierce an apple in stead.
I have seen a few apple trees this week at the side of the canal.nI certainly wouldn’t want to try to get them out of the canal water with my teeth!
Being forcibly ducked, as some suspected witches were, (if you drowned you were deemed innocent, if you survived you would be put to death some other way) involved full immersion. Today we passed a boat that seems seasonal, but I assume it has the same name all year round.
As we tried to moor at an open area we kept finding we could not get close to the bank and the boat wood be grinding along the bottom , though it looked a good clear bank. Then I saw that the moored boats on the other side were all against a wooden walk way built out over the edge. These private moorings were not available to us. It didn’t show at all but something strange is under the water along this stretch. A passing boating, as we were making a third attempt, advised that there was a bad ledge under the water, but there were good mooring further on. We found some and there was only just room for our boat at the end of the allowed mooring space. The guy near the end said he’d move his boat for us, if needed, then went to walk his dog saying we could shift his boat along if we wanted. We are sharing his ting but managed to fit in without moving his boat. We are now safely secured close to the bank.