One Way Or Another

We have had some erratic showery weather, some forecast and some not, but still some sunny spells. I have tried many times to get pictures of butterflies in the sunny spells as I have seen several. A couple of times a red admiral has landed on our solar panels for a few moments and then fluttered off. I have not given up. A little while ago, before we had joined the Wey, I got one orange butterfly that I had to look up and think it is a small skipper. I hadn’t thought butterflies should be named after those in charge of boats!

Small skipper

I had a similar experience when we had an evening walk from the boat a couple of days back, but with bunnies, not butterflies. There were a lot around but with long grass, poor light and the rabbits running into nearby bushes or burrows, I only got the hazy distant snaps. This particular warren had the unusual feature of some black rabbits among the wild, better camouflaged, colouration. We stayed put for a day and I went for a short outing and had again lots of sightings. The black and brown rabbits were equally common.

Hazy view of two rabbits, the brown one better adapted and harder to make out

On the way back along the road I saw one of the black ones in a more open space, still at a distance as there was a gate so I couldn’t get any closer, perhaps that made it bolder.

Black bun, a feral escaped pet perhaps

I was pleased to get something recognisable at last, even if still a long way off. Carrying on back to the boat I saw a house name that by accident or design had the punning tendency of many a boat name, (or blog title).

One Wey Cottage

On our stationary day I found a different insect that wasn’t going anywhere, cocooned on the boat. I had thought it was either a cocoon or a spiders nest and either way, I didn’t want it hatching over my head in bed. I tried to remove it. It was clearly a single pupa but of what I do not know. On the advice of an entomologist friend I have put it in a jar and keeping an eye on it to see what emerges. It’s tail was twitching so I haven’t killed it. I have removed the ‘ras el hanout’ label and relabelled it with a Latin “cave pupa”.

Mystery insect pupa

We moved on the next day and Shane was aiming to stop at Dapdune wharf where we had seen electric hook up. We had been unable to stop there before because of the steam weekend, but today there were no steam boats. There were lots of children on large Canadian style canoes, strapped together in pairs making them very stable, reminiscent of a catamaran. They were being encouraged to stand up and jump up and down in the boats with no risk capsizing. They were certainly enjoying themselves even in the rain.

The rain got very heavy indeed and we stayed moored there for lunch, even though electric hook up was not available, for a number of reasons, number one being that there was a power cut. We had lunch peeping out at the occasionally biblical rain. A pair in a canoe came past prepared for the weather, but it wasn’t ideal as the umbrella spokes caught the blade of the paddle occasionally. Most canoeists do expect some splashing. They all seemed to still enjoy themselves come rain or shine.

Canonists in the rain, hooded and sheltered

We made progress later on and moored next to a lock where we had stayed the night when we were going the other way, next to a lock. We ventured into Guildford to find a wool shop to make a sunhat my friend had said she’d like me to make. It was a far from sunny walk and we sheltered with others under a tree for a bit. In a wooded area I saw a bank vole running around in the undergrowth. I liked watching but it was harder to snap than the rabbits. These dragon teeth stayed nice and still though, and brought back memories of camping with our boys in a garden covered in these structures with goats tethered to them.

I had found the address of one called Pandora, but when we got there it was replaced by a charity shop and a volunteer suggested a department store. No luck there with crafts or haberdashery but a friendly shopper tried to suggest other options and accompanied us along to a shopping centre. It had a shop called Pandora but selling jewellery not yarn. Several outlets in that centre had closed so we concluded that Guildford no longer had a suitable wool shop but had friendly, eager to help people. We did find a very suitable space for lunch called Solar Sisters. They were very friendly there and one of the staff struck up conversation with Shane after complimenting his “Bikes are best” t-shirt and asking if he had ever ridden a Penny farthing. Her own bike was suspended high up on the wall, for both practical and aesthetic reasons.

We got back and Shane went pull up the spikes and set the lock up. We took turns at driving and locking today as holding the boat on a rope is easier on the way down than on the way up. I was glad that I was inside the lock and not working it when we reached Bowers lock. The gates are exceptionally low and near the ground and when coming the other way I had found them very hard to move, unable to push with my back against them and having to use the chains. I had made heavy weather of it, but Shane managed fine. His operation on his neck had involved removing some shoulder muscle and he has a distinct hollow (about 2″x 1″) still visible there but clearly it remains much stronger than mine.

A very low to the ground gate at Bowers lock in the Wey

Straight after that lock there was a sharp bend so Shane went to the front as lookout to check no boats were coming. He remembered several of the more dramatic turns and features from a few days ago but also from a holiday he did back in the 1980s on the same river when he remembered their hire boat getting stuck hard on a weir, so hard they could not get off and had to be towed off by another boat. He was giving me tips to avoid repeating this and it wasn’t the only weir on a steep bend.

There weren’t too many boats around. We could see other people were finding the Wey a bit of a challenge. We did meet a boat at a lock that I had gone to work. The crew in the lock were warning me not to clunk my knee in the extra large Wey windlasses (I had avoided that thus far) and also lamented that the bollards at that lock were smooth and the rope tended to slip off. I passed on that I sometimes sat down with the rope and that made it easier and that we had been advised to use the different shaped yellow bollard and they worked really well. This particular lock had high gate paddles so I was almost at full stretch to wind them. The gates must have been open and set for us when we went the other way because I don’t remember having to wind those. It was unlike any of the others.

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