Small Surprises

Yesterday we had a slow start to the day, managing a few locks before we arrived at the water point.  A boat going the other way arrived just before us, so we tied up on the bollards opposite and waited.  We had lunch back on the same bollards after we’d filled up.  While we were there, the narrowboat Silver Fox came by.  This was the boat that we knew from Foxes Afloat, but now with new owners.  We carried on through a few more locks and were amused by the flags in a garden we passed.

Union Jack Smiley and Pirate in Bandana
Some Flags are More Sinister then Others

Some of the pounds between the locks were surprisingly low.  In one particularly short one, Clare had pointed out how low it was as she set off walking on to set the next lock.  I hadn’t heard her, but I knew it was shallow by then because I was already stuck!  A dog walker warned me this bit was often shallow, and I told her I knew that now!  She offered to help, but I was sure I’d get going again, though Clare might wonder where I was.  Some careful use of reverse and the bow thruster got me closer to the towpath side (usually the best channel) just as the rush of water from Clare emptying the lock above arrived.  Progress was slow but steady after that.

As we were waiting for our final lock of the day to fill, a pair of Canal and River Trust (CRT) workers arrived.  They were intending to let some water through the locks to reduce the problems with some of the pounds being low.  The pound we were about to enter is nearly 2 miles long, so can afford to lose a little to help the shorter ones.

As we headed away from the lock, a family of swans were hanging around under the bridge.  As we approached one parent went each side of the boat. One of the cygnets was indecisive and made a last moment panicked dash across the bow – but came to no harm.

Swan Family Under a Bridge
Swan Family Before the Panic

The CRT folk had recommended moorings just around the corner when we asked.   We found a gap between two boats with an open aspect over fields and stopped for the day.  Soon after we arrived the sheep in the field opposite suddenly started calling to each other very loudly, and then filed along the canal and in to the next field – what a racket!

Sheep in Canalside Field
Noisy Sheep in Transit

I’ve been concerned that the engine is a little reluctant to start in the mornings.  Last summer it would leap in to life on the first kick of the starter motor.  Just now it often fails to start on the first turn of the key and we need a second try.  I have been wondering if the battery we swapped out from the bow thruster is in poorer condition than the original starter.  So after dinner, I set about swapping them over again.

I thought it would be slightly easier than last time as I had done it all before, and my arm is a little stronger too.  But the strap holding the thruster batteries slipped away from me just like last time! The great thing about repeating mistakes is you know when to cringe.  In this case, I also knew how to fix it – call Clare.

Clare Surprised in the Thurster Locker
Clare Surprised by a Camera

Complacency also led me to putting the bow thruster battery in the wrong way round.  The big spark when I tried to make the second connection alerted me.  No harm done again, but first time I had been very careful about that – and I was again when putting the starter battery back in place.  To my relief once everything was rewired, the bow thruster worked and the engine started easily.  It wasn’t a completely cold start though, so perhaps a poor test.

On a walk along the towpath in the gloaming we saw a number of beetles and a toad – who was perhaps looking for beetles.

Toad on the Path
Toad Leaving the Path

Today we decided to stay put and enjoy our tranquil spot.  In the afternoon we went across the field and along the lane to the garden centre across the valley.  We browsed the shop and were surprised to find a small model village. Our only purchase was ice cream.

During the day I accidentally discovered a feature of the boat control system.  I was looking at the display of the electric system and must have touched the image of the inverter.  To my surprise, a menu appeared offering me the option to switch it off, or to some other state.  This is a feature I’d thought was missing – though I had found two other ways to do the same thing using my phone, but this puts all the useful things in one place.

Canalside Cattle
Cattle in Transit

We had our second al fresco dinner here this evening, accompanied by loud bleating from the sheep.  A short while later we were treated to loud bellows from the cattle that had decided to process to the other field this evening.