Muddy Water

Muddy (canal) water may or may not be actually bad for you depending on whether you are a cormorant, swan, rat … or Clare or indeed Shane, but do read on to hear more… I arrived at Slough station on Friday afternoon and was collected by Clare and Shane for a short walk to the canal basin and Bartimaeus. I was so pleased to see all 3 of them after over a year. We went for a short walk and saw lots of wildlife. Were there more coots/moorhens or more rats – not sure. None of us had ever watched a rat swimming under the water before but one did that right along by the bank we were standing on and it was really definitely a rat and not a water vole, fish, otter, anything like that, that you may be thinking of. We stayed put overnight as we were a bit worried about getting past the extremely weedy slow section by sundown.

Saturday over breakfast we watched a cormorant and two swans – not a very good picture but here they are:


The swans looked a bit worried about the cormorant, the cormorant not at all bothered about the swans. The cormorant ate several fair sized fish which explained some large ripples we’d seen in the basin and were wondering how many were rats, but we never saw the cormorant catching a rat anyway. We set off, fairly soon getting trouble with the propeller and making little or no headway. Shane had given himself bruised-feeling ribs while half down the hatch the day before, so Clare did the honours this time. The propeller was indeed collecting all sorts, very difficult to wrestle with, including in the first session an Ikea bag… the second a sari… the third “just” an assortment of bits of carrier bags. The technique had to involve a certain amount of holding onto feet so that Clare didn’t end up pulling herself down the hole rather than pulling the bits and pieces up from the hole, and some raising of dripping and smelly materials above herself to get them out of the hole.

Finally we were clear enough to continue to the junction and we turned left and decided to moor just north of Cowley Peachy just by a bridge with a pub. It later transpired Shane and I at that point had thought a nice drink would be a good idea, Clare thought this same thing but somewhat later… and not actually for herself. Ah. We were in the process of mooring when Clare suddenly felt very ill, handed me the rope and chain and proceeded to be very ill then for many hours. Well it could have been her lunch the previous day(??, time lag…), or 3 quails’ eggs at lunch(?!!)(that didn’t affect me or Shane) or the muddy (canal) water that she then remembered had dripped into her mouth … and had spat out, but how thoroughly can one while down a hatch for quite a while expending effort?, well we will never know. Shane had had the same canal water swilling session the day before without the same result. That is enough on that topic, Clare has been getting steadily chirpier today and seems great now ! We never did get the drink in that pub. “Muddy water” (coke and orange juice mixture) has been popular on these holidays in the past I seem to remember, not sure it would have been the drink of choice for any of us this time !

Here’s a kingfisher spotted for a while flying ahead and landing repeatedly.

Now it is Sunday and Clare has been improving all day, as I said. We’ve been doing pretty steady cruising and locking in surprisingly countrysidey scenery. There is a lot of water in this area, with reed beds and lakes to the side of the canal in places. We were all amused by this slide:


although obviously now very concerned for anyone taking in any canal water in the process!

Oh yes here is a gorgeous picture, idyllic:




We were getting on well and (I) had not really taken any account of the clocks changing until it suddenly became a bit dusky and time to find somewhere to moor. We’ve been shopping and have all eaten a very good tea (hurray!) and now have either an extra hour awake or asleep depending on how you calculate this.