Yesterday we had nice chats with our neighbours, then one set went to the pub for dinner, the same one we went to for lunch and the others were sitting in the shade (“this is our shade, we aren’t sharing it” he quipped as I approached) and we left them when they started putting their food on the barbecue, so as not to look like we might want to steal dinner as well as shade. It gave us the idea though that we should be sitting at the side of the towpath in the shade (if it was available) in stead of retreating inside when it got burning hot on my skin.
The ducklings were adorable and there was a jazz band playing in the pub garden that we could hear well with our windows open in the warm evening.
Today another hot day was promised. Two neighbours had already left. We turned, filled with water, took advantage of an empty recycle bin (still nowhere for bottles). I was trying out the other new sun hat as I had a different colour scheme today. They can be helpful when driving with the sun in your face.
While I was driving Shane was walking about the roof with a bucket sploshing it on the solar panels. He was concerned that we were not getting much power from them at all and remembered the advice that they perform better cooled. Today it was so hot that steam was rising off the roof after he had wet them and by the time he had got to the back they were already dry at the front. He headed off to repeat the task. I was careful about wiggling around overhanging trees but asked him not to climb up while we were approaching bridges. He said he would watch out.
We met a few other boats usually as there was a narrow bit, or bridge, or moored boat or a combination, but this is still despite the single locks a canal built wide enough for wide boats.
When we did reach the one lock of the day, someone was working it so we pulled in to the side. There were two women preparing to go for a walk with their dog, paying no attention to the lock, a man driving and another man working the lock. We know this lock is easy to work but strangely has the gate arm on one side and a single paddle on the other so that it means an unnecessarily large amount of crossing required to do all the jobs. The man also looked like he was feeling the heat! We both went over to open the gate so he didn’t need to cross and could retreat quickly. The two women left as we were pushing it open calling to him “I hope you are all right left on your own!” He wasn’t alone though, there was another person on the boat and us so a pretty full crew for a single lock.
The heat brought out a lot of paired up damselflies. The electric blue is always eye catching! This fellow didn’t seem to have a mate and wasn’t going to get one on our life ring on the roof.
We have now got back on to the Leicester line of the Grand Union, heading south. We have plenty of time, and decided to copy last night’s neighbour’s and when we found a good bit of mooring we stopped and sat reading our books on the grass at the side in the shade of the hedge while Bartimaeus stayed in full sunshine. A passing boater remarked his butter was completely liquid and his chocolate biscuits had all melted together. One walker in the field opposite called to me not to work too hard, “I am being careful!” I said.
Periodically Shane was still dousing the roof with water to keep the panels cool.On his first attempt some water poured through the vent and some splashed in through the open side hatch, but he took more care after that. And tonight he has been checking the results and comparing notes with others with the same panel array.
It was very much a pleasant way to spend a hot afternoon, with the occasional leg stretch to listen and look for birds. The app identified stonechat and whitethroat. They are still singing now after half past nine. Eventually it is feeling cool outside. We are in a quiet place and Shane went out in his dressing gown to catch the low evening sun.