Yesterday I had some splendid heron encounters. I saw a heron’s nest, using binoculars I was able to see one on the nest and another flew in and they did some beak banging and a touch of necking before one flew away again. Later I saw two fishing, in a different spot. They were tame enough to get close and were only a little disturbed by swans approaching.
We watched for a while and saw the pair catch a dozen fish, little ones, though only once was the fish vible on camera. This was not on the canal though, it was in a pond in Edinburgh and the nest was seen from the road around Arthur’s Seat. I was very happy to have Jude’s binoculars and her bird knowledge on heron nests. She led the walk and we came across some geese. One looked different and she identified it as a pink footed goose, and it’s feet were not even visible. She knows it well. We had an excellent walk despite the rain which had not been forecast. The temperature was pretty low and we were well wrapped up but two young lads were paddling in the water and the gorse and cherry trees think that summer is approaching.
Shane and I were invited to Kenny and Helena’s for tea and we were treated to a slap up meal a more traditionally British meal but still with a Portuguese flavour as we had salad with the roast chicken and, as usual enjoyed the use of the galheteiro. I like the word and guess it translates as cruet or condiment set. The oil and vinegar is separate and you make your own dressing. This suits well as Helena does not like vinegar at all and I do so we adjust to taste. This was our second meal there in less than a week and last time I was very lucky to come away with the gift of my very own galheteiro. She was building up a collection. My kitchen has a touch of Portugal now.
There was little packing to do, but the weather forecast for our arrival was poor and Shane was deliberating about various possible routes with and without buses at the other end. The walk to the station was not too damp. The cherry trees are starting to blossom but I fear I will miss them , the petals don’t last long and we won’t be back for three weeks. I didn’t think it was nearly as cold as yesterday day but there was a tiny scatter of snow or hail as we walked through the avenue of trees.
We were in plenty time and despite getting booked into seats several seats apart, we found seats together that were available. Shane had a bit of anxiety over planning the possible routes and we sprinted across Birmingham to try to get an earlier connection, missed it, but were advised, by a helpful member of staff, to get one to Leamington Spa from there we could change into the next train from Birmingham New Street and save ourselves from running back to that station to catch it. We had time to get our breath back. At Leamington I had time to pick up some shopping since the marina is not near shops, and visited Spa oriental supermarket, and saw a vegetable I have not ever seen before, and a halal butchers and many baklava but it didn’t have bread I wanted. I bought a loaf of bread and some rolls in Wisla Delikatesy and got milk in a convenience store and off licence that advertised itself as a specialist in Indian groceries. It was a shame I only wanted milk there and had not a lot of space, anyway I had had a samosa on the train. I was short of space and time to do the shops justice. Once back at the station we went to the platform and saw another decorated piano – this has been the month for them – this one had a multinational theme. I am sure I have been here before and not seen the piano and again this one was decorated by a local artist.
From Leamington Spa we went to Banbury and changed trains again to Tackley. From there Shane had his phone out to find the best walking route and we were pleased to avoid the very busy road, even if it was pretty wet underfoot. It involved several stiles and a small bridge. I thought we passed an old hill fort but it is not marked on the map. There had been something built there in the past. There was a raised circle with a clear ramp entrance. The rest of the field show evidence of ridge and furrow farming in the past too.
It didn’t rain much and free from the stresses of navigation and with a lighter pack, I was enjoying my walk in the countryside, listening to the birds, admiring the blossom and amused by some of the road signs.
I have to admit I had feared a long trudge in mud and heavy rain but was surprised at staying close to dry and arriving sooner than I expected at a familiar bend in the road but from a different angle. This had a failed road feel about it too.
We were now on the last familiar leg, though there were new sights to see with emergency vehicles parked outside some houses, nothing to do with the bridge or road that we could tell. A derelict pub seems to belong to another place and time.
At Enslow Marina we saw Bartimaeus, not in a berth but on wheels. It was just as well we had rucksacks, not pull along suitcases. We would never have managed the fields, woods, kissing gates, verges, puddles and stiles, nor getting on to Bartimaeus. We can see the blacking has been done, but we can’t sail away just yet. I am glad we can get on and everything functions so we had some Polish rolls and I made a mushroom risotto.