Backtracking


The geese came to see us off as we left Leek to retrace the route back to Etruria. We went back through the tall tunnel

North portal Leek tunnel

I had a bit of scary moment at the Endon Services, when the door of the Elsan drain slammed shut on me and I couldn’t get out. Of course my phone was inside the boat so the only thing to do was to shout for help. And if Eric was inside Firecrest, I couldn’t guarantee he’d hear me. So I was extremely grateful that not only did he come to my rescue but 2 other boaters also came running. If either of you are reading this, please know how much your willingness to come to my assistance means to me. Having been rescued myself, it was time to become the rescuers ourselves. We came across z duck tangled up in fishing line. We were able to cut home free and bring him into the boat whilst we unwrapped him.

Plum sauce or freedom

He swam away back to his friends, one of whom was showing him which way to swim

Follow the arrow

We’re getting used to seeing unusual things on the canal, roundabouts and even penguins

Ok not a real penguin

Giant dragonflies

And Middleport pottery upside down

On reflection, it’s still fascinating

We settled down on the Trent and Mersey at Westport Lake to await our next adventure

Westport Lake A perfect place to spend the evening

Showing off in Shardlow


As soon as I saw theses swans and their cygnets I knew we had to moor close by. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such confident friendly swans. But who can blame them wanting to proudly show off their young.

Let me introduce you to the family

Swans are amazingly attentive parents and clearly work as a team. I’m guessing these cygnets must have been under a week old. I was able to lean right over the water and snap these fluff balls close up.

We’re cute and we know it, please feed us…

Even when I saw them on the towpath I was able to get very close without causing any alarm to the parents, who carried on preening rather than hissing at me.

Time out for some adult pampering

But the babies needed their afternoon nap, so mum called them over and tucked them up under her wings

I’m glad we didn’t have 9 babies at the same time

You’d never have known there were 9 cygnets hiding in there.

Can you spot the one who won’t go to sleep

Of course it’s not just swans who are proud of their children, and as we cruised on, we dutifully smiled and waved as we become the local attraction.

Waving goodbye

Safely through Newark, but only just.

After some mindless hooligans spoilt our last visit to Newark we were a little apprehensive.  We delayed our entry into the town to avoid the weekend by using the Muskham Ferry patrons mooring. We anticipated they’d be quite tricky to get onto due to the river flow and the short angled pontoons. The easy solution would have been to go in bow first but you cant use the pub if you cant get off your boat easily, so that would defeat ths object.  Eric’s helmsmanship was well and truly tested, they don’t do reversing around a corner whilst going upstream in boat school. Thank goodness we’d chosen to arrive in the morning before the gongoozelers were watching, it took 2 attempts but we made it.  I made sure he was well rewarded and we fulfilled our “patrons duty” with several pints and a good sunday lunch.And before the anticipated weather change, I got to finish the shawl I was knitting and took advantage of the sunshine to wash and dry it flat on the roof.

Well replenished we set off to for the last few miles into Newark.

We steamed ahead towards the castle and in our excitement forgot to read the map, I mean what could be so hard to navigate, under the bridge and moor up on the right….Oops, when you have an 8 foot radio mast, it pays to to go through the middle arch with enough headroom. Luckily I don’t think the damage to the bridge was severe enough to stop the traffic. And it really was only the tip of the ariel that scuffed the already flakey brickwork.  Much relieved we moored up at Farndon and I went for a walk. One of the last remaining working  willow holts a is just off the mooring. Both a fascinating site for the number of varieties of willow trees, a haven for wildlife. This Comma Butterfly obliged me by posing for a photo.

Angel Wing

Have you heard of “Angel Wing” ? Maybe not, but have you ever seen a duck goose or swan with a grossly deformed wing.I had always assumed birds like this had been attacked and injured, and in many ways they have. But not by another wild animal. Angel Wing is a malformation that causes one of the wing joints to grow twisted outwards instead of lying flat against the birds back. It is caused by poor diet, namely a diet too high in carbohydrates, ie Bread, the bread that we love to feed to the ducks. So I guess it’s a bird equivalent to rickets. Ducks and swans are susceptible though geese are the worst affected and as you’d expect, it’s most common in parks and accessible beauty spots where families tend to go to “feed the ducks.”It’s a tough one to combat because it’s hard to resist feeding the ‘ducks’ when they appeal so much. I’m not entirely sure but I think these geese might have a mild  case but I’m not an expert. CRT suggest you use porridge oats or veg like peas and sweet corn or buy a floating wildfowl food which is what I keep on the boat.These swans certainly enjoy it. Although they still like to search the bottom for the real treats.

There isn’t a cure for Angel Wing. It prevents the birds from flying which makes them more vulnerable to preditors or bad weather. So please, take heed of the notices not to feed bread to the ducks, this is what it does to them.

 

 

A welcome few unexciting days

A few days cruising, just us, Firecrest and nature. We were looking forward to a less exciting few days before we got back into Lincoln. We’ve had such a super time recently, we need a few days just to slow down and enjoy nature again. Leaving Dogsdyke, we cruised upstream along the River Witham taking in the peace and tranquillity. Sadly the beauty of the River was scarred by rather more than usual dead fish floating along the banks. A few questions to locals revealed that there had been a chemical spillage in the spring and 100 000 fish died. The river has been restocked but we dread to think how long it will take the whole ecosystem to recover. We’re not sure if the amount of duck weed is as a consequence of the chemical, but it was an un-nerving experience travelling through it.We wondered how it would affect the fish but were reassured when we saw this sole floating  by.And what with the willow trees and hidden entrances to the Drains, on it did brighten what could have been a tedious journey.