Mr. Blue Sky

Another glorious morning and we set off to pick up water. A boat called Mr Blue Sky had passed. I thought it apt to the day but didn’t manage to snap them. A few minutes later as we were about to leave the water point it came back the other way. I asked if he was looking for water but he said he was looking for a mooring and just then another chap came over and called to them that there was one, probably the one we had just left, good timing, and it meant I had time to ask if he minded me taking a picture.

Mr Blue Sky setting a jolly tone to the day

As well as getting water we had rubbish to off load and Shane knew a marina nearby had good facilities. Taking several categories of rubbish, I found the marina well signposted and with a lovely rockery. The bins were very recently emptied so didn’t even smell. Best rubbish point ever!

Little rockery at Fenny marina with blue and purple flowers.

Shane called me to point out a swan’s nest and this time it really was one. It’s partner was around and swimming up to us and didn’t back off until we had passed, successfully defended.

As Shane drove I went to the front to get a picture of an iron bridge. We hadn’t seen one in a while. They have been brick or concrete. This one also allowed the person to change towpath side.

Elegant iron changeover bridge and a blue sky.

At the side we passed an unhelpful sign to several places, though none were named. Quite often the canal has two way signs selling you how far it is to the other end without a place name but this was even less helpful than that and wasn’t visible from the canal. I couldn’t even see any paths.

Roads to nowhere specific but a precise distance away.

As usual I was listening and looking for birds and found another target, the ‘clouded yellow’ butterfly. We have seen a lot of these in the last few days. There was one at the marina near the rockery. They look brilliant and very distinctive but don’t stay still. I read about them and if they settle, the high-viz yellow is hidden as only the underside shows. I decided on that warm day that the huge amounts of white blossoming trees might be may trees and it was certainly a day when I felt able to “cast a cloot”.

Blue sun hat, blossoming trees and blue sky

A bird with a less sweet voice is the rook. Strangely the app was not picking up on them even though we could hear plenty cawing. There was a rookery right here. We were able to see plenty of nests through the bare branches.

Rookery: several nests across several trees sillouetted against the sky.

Shane decided that I had worked the upcoming locks last time we went in this direction in September and most of the recent ones, so he was going to do them today and decided he should cast a cloot just beforehand and got his shorts on swiftly, while we were waiting for the lock to be ready for us.

Shane waiting for the lock to empty, in summer wear

Today there were lots of boats about. The one ahead was being operated by one man so Shane generally helped him through and there was one just behind us too so Shane often had her help too. Everything went at a leisurely pace, with not a breath of wind to hinder the waiting and roping. I made use of the short rope with a loop so I didn’t have to stand holding on to it. An interesting shape of boat came up the lock towards us, while I was waiting, with a chatty woman operating the locks with Shane. The boat had an interesting name which seems to be Polish.

Babusia leaving the lock
Bartimaeus waiting to go in, on a short “lead”, and blue reflected sky

As usual I was using electric through the locks and it was certainly a day when we wouldn’t fall much into debt doing so, with the panels getting so much sun. Shane was doing his usual on the bottom gates rather than walking round. With dry gates and new shoes he wasn’t even holding on much to the handrails. They seemed a bit low for easy access anyway.

All went very gently and smoothly but at the last lock I could see things seemed to be a bit slow at the far side. Shane reported that the pound below was short of water and it was easy to get grounded, so to come out as close to the boats at the lock side as possible, or I would get stuck in the mud. I came out of the lock but the boat to come in next was cast off and steering out already, leaving me no water to move in to and we were soon aground. A little waiting and I would have passed easily. He had other ideas and then got stuck himself under the bridge going into the lock. The propellor was grinding in mud if I tried to switch it on, so using the bow thruster rather than the prop, I was able to gradually move into the water. We were offered ropes but that wasn’t necessary as we were not rammed hard aground, it was just exceptionally shallow there. We were warned that it was worse further on but we managed a slow steady pace.

The issue is a broken lock ahead that means it leaks and is lowering water levels and it is now padlocked and only open when the CRT staff return tomorrow at 8.30. We are therefore a little behind schedule. Our new solar panels allow us to use the bow thruster to steer and travel in electric but the batteries still top up when we stopped for the day.

We are moored just behind the boat Shane had helped through the locks. Now I have helped too as while Shane went to look at the situation ahead the man asked if I had a small Philips screwdriver. I found one very easily accessible and asked if he needed any other tools as we had lots. He said that was all he needed. A bolt had broken on a door and it wouldn’t open and all his tools were behind that door. All sorted now!

We had a short chat with them both until she decided it was time to eat. Shane had suggested it was Pimm’s o’clock and it was still nice enough to eat outdoors so, after Pimm’s, Shane put up a table and I cooked fast so we didn’t cool down. Unlike last night when I went all experimental with spätzle and green lentils, I stuck to ready made three minute noodles and stir fry.

Eating al fresco and the sky is still blue