Strings Attached

Yesterday the Bartimaeus Boat Blog began with swans, today they will come later, and you will see the inspiration for this title in due course.

We all went for a walk last night to see the sunset. The area has small hills, ridge and furrow, parkland, pasture and crops and is quite varied and picturesque. Benny and I carried on further and saw a nice-looking old church, standing all on its own strangely, across fields, and later saw a sign with arrow: “St Wistan pilgrimage”, and made a fairly obvious assumption. Today we saw another potential destination of the St Wistan pilgrimage walk, a smaller but also old and distinctive-looking church. However as confirmed by checking on the internet, this first church picture is indeed St Wistan’s. This area is currently being re-wilded in the “Wistow estate habitat restoration project”, sounds great, and hopefully those old churches will have or retain bats, relatively unmown graveyards, peregrines etc, and there will be more plant diversity, butterflies, hares and otters …

Village-less St Wistan’s church
The other one. Also nice. I slightly wonder which church was built first. More than one building phase on each I think …

We set off after leisurely breakfast, and had a very pleasant cruise, in nice weather and the odd lock. We came across a swan family just before our possibly overdue lunch, as we were coming in to moor for it. This family had an accompanying man, who explained to us that one of the cygnets had a fishing line with float, stuck in or possibly beside its beak. This looked at least uncomfortable, and this cygnet was shaking its head slightly more than the others were, we thought, and seemed to lead small waves of reciprocal head shaking, we felt. But the situation certainly looked unhealthy. The man was trying to sort it out, but was having a bit of bother with stage one, which was getting that cygnet, of the seven, to come near, and the parents not to come near. He was giving lots of feed type pellets, having too much attention from both parents, and having not much success at attracting the relevant cygnet. Various potential cygnet-catching and adult swan repelling tools at hand on Bartimaeus were discussed (variety of bags, rope, mushroom box, boat hook) and were ruled out before … or after … application. In the meantime we contacted a wild animal rescue centre, ultimately to no avail on this occasion, and in the meantime the float part was visibly dangling lower than before, and the swans and man moved away, and the rest of us being very hungry, got on with lunch. Man came back after about 20 minutes, reporting that he had freed cygnet (!) and showing us the fishing line with float (no hook, (hook stuck in skin had been a part of all of us’ worry)) and with some water weed stuck on one end which had been all the way down its gullet.

Here are before and after pictures.

Later on we had another string attachment incident, this time it was a mass of very small caterpillars dangling in front of me on the towpath at eye-height. This was very difficult to photograph so I was too late to help at the next lock. Other locks are available. Here also are the stalks of the leaves they have eaten, and their rather scruffy silk.

We have had another lovely holiday with Clare and Shane, thanks !!