Hakuna Matata

Having got through the locks, we moored up near the town of Crick. While we were mooring I had seen a ladybird on the side of the boat and I was trying to avoid standing on it as I stepped in and out. When we had finished it had disappeared. Then I spotted it on the roof. It didn’t look like a ladybird I recognised. In the evening I had a text exchange with Benny about a caterpillar, which was hard to identify but we settled on the vapourer as a strong candidate. I asked him about the ladybird which wasn’t in my book. (Many ladybirds are, but not one like this) and he immediately said it was probably the invasive harlequin ladybird. I looked it up and he was spot on! It only arrived in Britain in the year my book was printed and has managed to cover the whole of Britain in 10 years. I wondered if I should be worried. Other ladybird species should be.

Invasive Harlequin Ladybird, large and voracious

In the morning I fed some ducks and swans with cygnets. I wanted to post Nye’s birthday present in Crick. I had had a series of delays: stopping at a town with no post office, a bank holiday Monday and then the slow moving in the locks. I set off and saw a man in a brightly coloured top talking on his phone. He nodded as I passed. I had seen him and his dog out the night before.The post office and shop had more than I remembered so I got some vegetables and bread and returned.

The man was still on the path with his dog and had finished his call and struck up conversation with me, even though he had his back to me as I approached. He switched to talking to the next dog walker approaching a little further on. It occurred to me he was considerate and friendly and the dog walking seemed more of a social exercise for him than exercise for his slow moving dog.

Shane wanted to get a different loaf than the shop provided and we were in no hurry so he set off and had time to go all the way to the shop beyond the post office and back, when the man and his dog reappeared. He stopped to talk to us over a wide range of topics, what was I knitting, boats, family, birds, life in general. He really did enjoy talking to people and he revealed that his wife had died of cancer only 4 months ago. He was finding it hard to motivate himself some days and living alone wasn’t suiting him. He really needed chats with other people. The place where I had seen him was where he could get phone signal. We chatted over many commonalities with views looking after children, sense of community (what goes around comes around) plumbing issues on boats, being near nature. We decided not to share our ‘recently survived cancer’ story. We took his advice on how to get parcels delivered. We told him about our bird app. It was a long and pleasant exchange. Despite his recent bereavement, the man had a positive attitude to life and people that was keeping him going.

So we set off later than expected in reflective mood that we had so little to worry about and a sense of perspective was an excellent thing. Minor grumbles were nothing to worry about longterm. The day was looking up. We passed a brood of older ducklings and another boat we had seen before.

Brood of young ducks

It reminded me of the man again, as he had talked about earworms in boat names. We had all seen the boat “When I’m Sixty-Four” recently and I had also just been rereading a blog, while looking for references to Crick, and found one where a friend had mentioned that my title had given her an earworm (this hadn’t been in Crick but crickets were mentioned and that had appeared in the search for ‘crick’). This is a danger with all my titles of course, but some are more risky than others.

Good Golly, Miss Mollie and ducks

During the conversation some lorries carrying canal boats away from Crick had passed over the nearby bridge. We had all wished we had got a photo as a boat drove under the bridge towards us and another was being driven over the top on the lorry at the same time. Now driving along, I had a view of the crane readying to lift another boat on to a waiting lorry. It was going to take a long time to clear all the boats from Crick.

Crane at Crick marina

We managed to avoid the rain and pass some characterful cows. There were a group of Belties on the way. We saw a bull in another field complete with ring through it’s nose and ended up next to a field with cows and young calves. They were too far away for a decent photo with our phones. We can look forward to Heather’s arrival for multiple reasons. She has better photography equipment.

Belties, or belted Galloway cows hiding in the shade of the trees

We had a tasty tea and I made good progress with my knitting. At some point I saw the sun setting over our mooring, still no calves visible.

Sunset over the canal

We started watching Rebus which definitely helps you think you have no worries, compared to the characters depicted. It was a bit different from the books and he definitely isn’t living in Arden Street on the TV version. We enjoyed identifying places in Edinburgh and George Square university buildings seem to be the police headquarters.

The next day I was focussed on my knitting, hoping to finish it. We had discussed two options for getting water and while I was still knitting, Shane made the decision to go down the Welford Arm. It is short with one lock. Three boats were in quick succession with us in the middle so I did a little help to the people in front and got some help from the people behind on my turn. We lucked out as the rain started lightly, but we got moored up before it got heavy. The people behind us got much wetter. They still seemed in good spirits when they moored up though. A bit of rain wasn’t worrying them…not even a deluge. When the rain stopped I stepped out to get a photo of another earworm inducing boat.

We have been to Welford before and by looking back in the blog, could find the highlight was a statue of Postman Pat and his cat Jess and that last time it has been a good deal warmer. I was working on finishing a summer top but feeling we didn’t yet have the weather for wearing it.

Then I found I had a message from Benny telling me he was joining Heather on the visit. We set about checking out the bed he had slept on last time, opening it out, with the concern that fitting a new radiator, a new shelf and moving the TV might have compromised the space the sofabed opened into. It is a little narrower but still works, so we have no worries about fitting him in. Just as well as he had already purchased his rail ticket.

Shane did some work on cleaning the sofa and making space for visitors stowing belongings and I got the knitting done and started sewing in ends and sewing up the armholes to the right shape for me. Before completely finishing, I was trying it on and Shane reminded me that it was half past seven. We had enjoyed lunch at the pub here before so he proposed we could try it for dinner and showed me the menu. The kitchen closed at 8pm so we hightailed it over there and both enjoyed our meals which arrived very quickly indeed and we were very happy with our choices. I can recommend the Wharf Inn.

The Wharf Inn for tasty food and friendly service

In the morning I thought that the town with a Postman Pat statue must surely have a postbox which I wanted for sending a card. I went in to the town, passing the Inn. I enjoyed the pocket park route parallel to the road despite the zombie reference.

A notice about a ‘dead hedge’ and how to keep it going and explaining that the sticks can come back to life again

The town had a post box and a post office and a shop so it was a worthwhile trip. There were a lot of wild flowers and a pink thatched cottage I had missed before.

Pink thatched cottage in Welford

It is good to spot new things in old places. The promised warmer weather still hadn’t arrived but we turned round and got water, had lunch and went back along the arm. It was dry but pretty cold. I felt even less like putting the finishing touches to the summer top, but quite keen to reach somewhere with WiFi. We have managed that at last and that’s the end of today’s only trouble for me.