Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Lots to see while going hardly anywhere


Making good use of our magnetic letters

I wonder if we've just had the last gasp of summer.  Our few days on the boat ending yesterday were blessed with glorious warm sunshine (albeit at first tempered by a bit of  a breeze).  Sometimes, just occasionally, I wonder if we've had enough of boating, then we have an outing like we've just had and we remember why we love it so much.  The strange thing this time was that we hardly went anywhere, just between Wigrams Turn and Braunston and back.  Although we moved every day, some times our daily cruise was less than half an hour - just as far as the next attractive mooring spot.  For mooring spots we had a list of requirements.

1. A flat wide grassy towpath

2. Arnco piling to chain up to

3. Shelter from the prevailing breeze

4. Not overcrowded

6. An attractive landscape view across the canal

7.  Some blackberries in the hedge.

We didn't always succeed on the blackberries, but we managed the rest.  There are lots of good places along that it of canal.

The reason for going to Braunston at all was to get a new chimney from Midland Chandlers. Our stove replacement just before lockdown (we still haven't needed to light it yet), meant a flue replacement of a narrower bore which our lovely existing chimney made by Alex wouldn't fit. The new (double skinned) one fits well looks smart enough but it won't last as long.

Back on the canal, we've never seen it so busy. You'll hardly believe me but one morning (while we were stationary) I reckon fifty boats passed us in the space of an hour.  Is everyone out having a final fling we wonder.  Some surprising boats too. How about this one?

 These so-called Caribbean Cruisers are ten a penny on the Norfolk Broads, but a truly rare sight on a canal.  I politely pointed out to the driver that the Broads were in the other direction, thankfully he laughed.

And how about this for a boat name?

I bet they didn't know how prophetic that was when they named it.

Here's where I have to confess that we didn't only go to Braunston, we did manage to fit in a short detour to Napton when we set out.  Here we sampled the local produce

From the Napton cidery, and I can declare that it is a decent cut above yer normal bottled cider, as good as a good draft real cider.

We also put on our masks and braved the little Napton village store and succumbed to some lovely pork pies and some flapjacks.  On the way back we stopped to look at the tiny Christadelphian Church with this er, charming notice.

Ever the optimists, the Christadelphians.

On a more pragmatic and enterprising level we saw these little posters by various gates and bridges along the canal.

For those reading on a small screen, allow me to explain that the folks who run the splendid little Olive Bush pub in Flecknoe, a bit of a walk up the hill from the canal, are not only offering take-away meals and drinks but will also 'deliver to bridge 102 after 7.30.'  What a good idea.  We've eaten there two or three times and the food is always very good, so if you're along there, go for it.  There is good mooring at bridge 102.

A couple of final pictures to show we were not just loafing about all week.

I washed and polished Herbie's starboard side.  Here, just before I finished, you can see the before and after shot. Still got the other side to do though :-(

Meanwhile Kath had her sketchbook out recording the local flora with her pen and water colours.

Getting good ain't she?

Well I reckon that was a pretty good six day outing.  Here's to the next one.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

September ramblings and some news

Well I can't say I've rambled far this week, but you know me, I do like to ramble on, so here's what I've been noticing in nature. September is a great month for it I must say.

Over in the graveyard behind our house the ground is littered with a bumper crop of acorns. Apparently this is probably what the Chris Packham's of this world call a 'mast' year when oaks produce so many acorns that the squirrels can't eat 'em all.  Oaks do this every few years.Oaks rely on the squirrel's habit of burying caches of acorns to eat later and then forgetting some, which can grow into mighty oaks on the future.  We have one such sapling in our garden. The mystery that remains is how the oaks seem to co-ordinate this effort, because it only really works if they all do it together.

Our resident squirrels live in this big oak that spreads over the graves of a number of illustrious personages.  Lucky them.

One such is George Shuldham Peard who wrote this book

George (we're on first name terms, him being a neighbour) wrote this first hand account describing his experiences in the Crimean war, including the battles of Alma and Inkermann and Balaclava where he witnessed the famous 'thin red line' and the infamous Charge of the Light Brigade.  It's a very good read and you can find it easily on the net, including some free to read versions.  Recommended.  

Anyway, I digress.

Apart from crunching on acorns and staggering over the uneven ground cause by the older graves subsiding, you have to watch your feet to avoid the foxholes  which seem to be everywhere in the older part of the church yard.  Every time I go over there I manage to find a fresh one. You can also see bits of bones and abandoned dog's toys and bits of garden bric a brac presumably stolen by the foxes from the neighbouring gardens.

Also in the graveyard is this tree which I think is some sort of cherry although I daren't eat any. Can anyone enlighten me?

No doubt Rick might offer a Latin name for it.  Anyhow, it's fruiting well.  Not fruiting so well this year are the hedgerow blackberries.  There are plenty about but only a small proportion seem to have come to proper ripeness.  Dry summer to blame maybe. Where due out on Herbie this week (see below) so I hope we'll find enough to make us a nice pud.

I think it might have been a good year for bees and other insects.  As I write, sitting in the garden, the ivy which is in flowers on our fence is absolutely alive with bees . There must be over a hundred of them in the space of about eight feet.   Apparently so called Ivy Bees are a species that have arrived here since 2010 or so and are becoming very common in the south of England.  They seem extremely active, especially when the sun is out.  Here's a picture I got of one that obliged by staying still for half a second.

I'm pretty sure Ivy Bees don't sting, so that's a blessing.  Come to think of it, it seems like a good year for ivy blossom too. We've never had so much.  That'll be good for Christmas because I like to hang up bunches of holly and ivy  in the house and the berries look good.  Look how thick the blossom is.

In other news:

It's official.  Our plans to move on up to Kings Bromley marina are now officially on hold until next April.  Meanwhile Herbie will keep her base at Wigrams Turn.  We were thinking of making a dash for it in the next week or two, but we eventually decided against it on looking at the increase in Covid numbers. In particular we didn't fancy having to use public transport or share a car with anyone to get back to our car at Wigrams after reaching KB.  So there it is and here we are, closer to home at least.  The staff at both marinas have been very understanding and supportive  in spite of us messing them about.  The lady at KB did say that a good many boater's plans have gone awry this year. Thankfully they are nearly at full capacity, so they can use the space we were saving.  maybe a lot of boaters who would normally be out have headed into marinas.  Certainly Wigrams was looking fuller last time we were in.

Meanwhile we'll still be doing bits of cruising on Herbie, starting tomorrow with a few days out in the sticks and getting a couple of jobs done like re-tiling the stove surround, or to be more precise, replacing the tiles that have come unstuck and fallen off.  We searched for heat resistant tile adhesive and found some, but you have to order it so we can't get it until next Monday. Well that'll give me time to clean up the old tiles and prepare the surface won't it?