The Holly and the Ivy

We moored in a rural spot. Looking out the window I saw lots of different birds in the nearby trees but could not identify them all. There were great tits and long tailed tits but there were others I couldn’t quite see. 

A boat passed us this morning decorated with holly and ivy, which my mum always used to use to decorate at Christmas. I wondered if I could gather some. I could see plenty of ivy around in the hedge and trees.

It was mild and sunny, so we decided to go for a walk and I very soon found the ivy was well wrapped around its host and firmly attached with a woody stem it was hard to remove. The hedge was spiky too so I was not keen to try too hard. There were plenty of birdcalls in the air and some honking geese on the canal and a surprisingly large amount of sheep bleating. I saw some holly at the side of the track, very prickly but it had no red berries. Then Shane pointed out there were lots of red berries on the ground. I said if he wanted to glue them on, then he could collect them. Well that was the end of the natural yuletide  decoration.

On our way back we found some bird feeders and there were lots of bluetits and a robin and we were very pleased when we saw it visited by nuthatches, pecking hard to get at the larger pieces and then flying off. 

Typical nuthatch pose
Nuthatch pecking rapidly, with blue tit waiting its turn.

I wondered if that was the mystery bird I had seen in the tree near our mooring. No greenery for decking the halls, but plenty of other diversions. Back at the boat, Shane spotted a kingfisher out the window, perched in a nearby tree, then it turned around. It took off and shortly after we saw some people walking on the tow path, which was probably what made it take flight.

We set off after lunch. Several times we saw a cormorant diving and swimming ahead of us but it always flew off as we approached.

We had no locks today but a couple of swing bridges to operate. One had a press button and was very slow to complete it’s cycle. The notice warned there were time delays in the sequence and to keep holding the button – it really felt like there must be a problem, but it all worked eventually. One car appeared just after I had started the procedure. I guess she is local and knew the time it takes as she didn’t look impatient and waved to me when the sequence was over and she drove over. The next was just a footpath so no traffic ( or person) was inconvenienced but I had remembered lots of difficulties with operating it and backed up boats at this place before. Today I did manage to get it to work myself and didn’t need to call for Shane’s help and there were no other boats, so without any frustration or embarrassment, that these bridges have caused in the past.

Our aim was to moor up at Macclesfiled. Coming in to Macclesfield, there was a high buttressed wall between the road and the canal. It was well covered in ivy so perhaps that would have been easier to access , but most was very high up.

High ivy bedecked wall

Someone had recommended places to moor in Macclesfield and mentioned a pontoon. We have found the pontoon and moored up. A lady at the last lock, yesterday, had said Macclesfield was good for shopping and I was keen to explore.The pontoon was beside a map of where the main attractions and supermarkets are, so I didn’t need Shane with me to navigate and that gave me the freedom to browse the town centre at will. She was spot on: a wide variety of shops in a small, largely pedestrianised, area.

I now feel a lot more ready for Christmas, even if I have not got any holly or ivy in.

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