War Paint and Soft Feathers

In the night Shane went to use the toilet and couldn’t open the door. I thought he was going to feel trapped and claustrophobic, but he knew there was an outside route, though that would have meant dressing. After a lot of shoving he got through and we left the door open after that. Then I went to go for a shower in the morning and couldn’t close the bathroom door. It is a bit of a mystery what is causing the door to stick but Shane did not want to go anywhere without trying to improve it and he had also read the weather forecast and decided this was a good time to touch up some scrapes as it was a good paint drying day with no rain.

While he was busy doing DIY, I was enjoying the nearby wild life, as per usual. There were lots of long tailed tits in the tree opposite, baby Moorhens and a baby coot nearby and lots of different birds flitting around the telegraph wires, including a great spotted woodpecker that came out and sat on the pole for a bit, but didn’t drill it.

Then the swan family came back and came over looking for titbits again. I called Shane to see them. I had a few crumbs and some bits of red pepper. The adult male kept pecking at the boat, perhaps he could see his reflection since it was sunny. The water was clear and you could see their feet below the water.

Look cygnets!

When Shane had finished he said we were needing more paintbrushes so we headed into the little town of Cotmanhay, only to find the hardware store he had found on his phone was shut for a fortnight. We went back through a different side street which was full of bunting across the street and the houses had lots of flags too, some below their windows and some completely across them. One had a very large flag and one on its gate too.

Union flag over the window and gate.

Some flags were England rather than union flags and some had specific jubilee ones with the Queen on them. The street curved round and joined another decorated street, then I saw a flag that looked completely different. I thought at first it was a nazi flag then realised the swastika was behind the NO symbol and had the German for Against Nazis written on it.


No Nazis here!

The trip had given time for the paint to dry which was more relaxing and we set off. I worked the first few locks, getting eager help from some youngsters at one. As we approached another I could see canal and river trust volunteers at the lock. I got off to show willing anyway. It turned out they were not there to help boaters and hrough the lock, but had been painting some of the lock gate. It was good to have them explain which bits were possibly still wet. I could smell the paint. The paint on the gate arms was fairly fresh but touch dry. They helped me open it and wind the paddles, but then left me to it as the lock emptied. I didn’t want to cross over to shut the paddles on the freshly painted gate, as I had been told the handrails across the gate were the most recently done. Shane got me across on the boat in stead.

Shane realised there was another paintbrush buying opportunity. There was another lock in half a mile so we decided rather than mooring that he could get off at the bridge and walk to the shop while I drove slowly towards the next lock. Sure enough he was back before we reached the lock. It was ready and a man that had been walking along just ahead of the boat all the way went to open the gate and Shane went over the other side and did the other. I drove in and Shane leaned over handing me the brushes and swapped them for a windlass so he could work the lock. 

It has so far been a very quiet canal  and we had only seen one other boat that day, but at the next lock there were two boats in and I had to hover till they came out. I felt I was a bit far forward and may be crowding them a bit. The first one looked a bit tense but perhaps he was just new to boating. The second driver gave me a smile and said he agreed with my T-shirt – it says STOP WARS in the style of the Star Wars film logo.

When I went in, there were two women helping with windlasses so Shane had quite an easy time there as they did the winding. As I came out I saw there were two more boats waiting to get in. Very much the busiest lock we had been at for several days. The next one had only one boat in but a lot of onlookers as there is a pub there with lots of outside tables. Shane got no help, but had time to take a photo for me. This is obviously a historic spot for crowds to gather.


Gongoozler Magnet
The Gallows Inn

We moored up back where we had been when we were going the other direction and Shane had remembered it was near (2 miles away) a local landmark that also has been a historical draw, and another morbid name. It was a pleasant footpath walk all the way though quite a bit of uphill. But there was a spot for a short rest before coming back.


Shane taking a picture of Hemlock Stone
Bench by the Hemlock Stone