We had arranged to get to Enslow Marina today to have Bartimaeus blacked in our absence and Shane wanted to be there by lunch time. We were about to set off when another boat arrived. When they had passed and entered the lock I went forward to help them through the lock and get it ready for us. They asked if we were risking the river. It is just past the marina, so we were not, but they planned to do so. We observed there were a lot of flies at the lock. She thought it might be because we were between two cow fields. When Shane was in the lock, he drew my attention to a photo he had taken while casting off, of another little creepy crawly.
Shane announced we were now officially going at a snail’s pace. We carried on through the lock, then before I got back on, I went to look at it. It had crawled half way up the side of the boat. We decided to leave it where it might still be able to get back home (snails do have a homing instinct) though we don’t actually know when or how he stowed away. I think it must have slack roped it across! I put it in the grass beside the lock.
There were two more locks ahead. It was a warmer day than anticipated and some butterflies had made an appearance. At the next lock as I was about to wind the paddle back down I spotted a bunched up spider nestled on the ratchet cog. I still wound it down and it seemed unperturbed by being spun round and round.
I suppose they are already used to spinning and have a head for it.
At the last lock, we caught up with the other couple ahead. There were also two young men eating sitting on the towpath beside a Canadian canoe. I checked that they weren’t waiting to use the lock, and were going to carry their boat round. They confirmed they were just snacking and offered to get out of the way, but it looked like Shane would easily able to go round them.
The lady at the lock also wondered if the canoe was in the way, as it had arrived after them. We wished them a safe onward journey since they were attempting the river section and she wished us a successful blacking. As we readied the lock the canoeists packed up and moved on. When Shane entered the lock I saw a snail floating in the canal. I managed to get it out of the water, though it wasn’t looking lively. After I had worked the end gates, I went back to see if it had already drowned or was recovering. It had poked out its horns and moved a little so seemed to be alright.
Apart from finding the office door, we had successful interactions with the staff at the marina and were designated a space. They will take Bartimaeus out of the water tomorrow. Shane wanted to check out the route to the bus stop for tomorrow. We were walking along the verge when I saw something red tucked in the grass.
The route to the bus stop was very pedestrian unfriendly, in parts, and we found a better route on the way back, with more footpath and less bridleway, but still there is quite a bit of fast road with no pavement or level verge. We are unused to traffic as fast as 5mph, never mind 50. It was particularly disconcerting to pass a stone bridge clearly knocked down at the end recently, by a car that had not made the corner.
Shane wanted to check out the river and it does still have a red level indicator but no sign of the narrowboat we saw this morning, so they must have gone there. We saw a heron and wagtail and the same two canoists in a Canadian style canoe who we had met this morning. They were paddling up when we were at the lock into the river, and they got out and removed the canoe to go on to the river themselves. The canoe had a little wheel to help with pulling it along.
We headed back and past a number of permanently moored boats. I spotted one we had rescued when it was floating free of its mooring some months ago. Shane had pointed out the place yesterday.
It was right beside a field with multicoloured alpaca, sheep, a goat, a horse and a donkey, a very mixed field.
Several boats had benches or seats and tables or at one some painted school desks and lots of pot plants. I liked the array of glass windchimes and birdfeeders one boater had.
Back aboard the sun came out and we sat outside and had a Pimm’s. We have seen a few kites recently but they are rarely anywhere near. Today we seem to have seen several helicopters and small planes. We speculated that these could be tourists trips over Oxford. As the kite circled above us one of the planes passed as well.
I was reminded of the Father Ted moment where he is explaining how things appear smaller when they are far away. There were a lot of large flying things around today, not near, but nearer than normal. Tomorrow we will be far away from the canal and Bartimaeus will be high and dry.