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Whispers on water - a photo journal of our life on the 'cut' dedicated to keeping family and friends informed of our whereabouts.
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Helping to keep our waterways litter-free: www.litteraction.org.uk/narrowboat-wilvir
Drought, pollution and illegal fishing all threaten our waterways. Spotted something that looks wrong? See it, say it, save it. Call the Environment Agency (EA) Incident Hotline: 0800 80 70
2. ..... and under (where I live)
3. Forget-me-not (exquisite).
4. Red Campion (delicate).
5. Dandelion (one of my favourite flowers).
6. Bluebell (going to sleep).
7. Buttercup (about to close-up for the night).
Walking the lanes and footpaths, mostly ignored by people 'flying' the ribbons of impersonal concrete and tarmac from one mad metropolis to another, is a joy for me at anytime of the year. With wild flowers coming into their own and showing us the art of natural colour, shape and pattern, wandering the countryside as spring turns to summer refreshes my mind like nothing else.
I just wish people would stop getting so hung up on the weather. It was 27c yesterday, yet passing townsfolk were still complaining about next weeks weather forecast. I hope it rains for an hour everyday as that would help keep our waterways topped up and hopefully deter the TV vista brigade from venturing out.
27th May 2013, 12:16
Dicks Lock, Stratford-on-Avon Canal. Friday 24May2013.
1. Heading home for the night.
2. Ransoms galore. I just love the pungent aroma of garlic onion and eat the flowers straight from the plant while out walking - delicious.
3. 'A river runs through it'.
4. 'Calcutt Coal' kindly delivered our order canal-side here at Lowsonford.
5. The beauty of the 'May'.
After topping up with diesel and a spare gas bottle we left Wootton Wawen behind on Monday, stopping at Yarningdale for three nights and calling at Lowsonford yesterday to take on 1.5 cwt of coal just in case we're in for a short Summer. I also re-lit the wood-burner having woken to a particularly cold morning yesterday and thinking hmmmm, no point in letting the boat cold-soak overnight, especially if the evenings follow suit for a while. Although there's been a mix of rain, sleet, hail and sunshine in recent days, sometimes within minutes of each other, we've had more fair weather than foul.
We're now moored just above Dicks Lock not far from Kingswood Junction where we'll be joining the Grand Union Canal on Tuesday for our run down to the Oxford Canal.
24th May 2013, 15:18
24th May 2013, 00:12
1. The view.
2. A simple but poignant message on a bench from those whose lives he touched.
3. The plaque from friends to mark the planting of a tree in his memory.
Yesterday I paid my respects at a secluded hillside memorial to one of our recently fallen who unselfishly gave himself up in the line of duty for Queen and country.
Paratrooper Conrad James Lewis 1988-2011
We must continue to honour him and the families of all servicemen and women, who knowingly sacrificed themselves to a greater calling, with the love and respect they so richly deserve.
Rest in Peace Conrad. You have gained many new friends who visit this place and share your view of this green and pleasant land made more so by the freedoms you fought to uphold.
23rd May 2013, 10:30
Last evening I took a walk up through the woods and was met by the heady scent of bluebell and pine and the subtle hum of thousands of bees.
The sight of acres of bluebells at their best, bursting with flower, and further accompanied by the song of the blackbird, a sound so typical of sun-dappled summer evenings, life couldn't get any better.
On my way back down through the woods following a different path I was stopped in my tracks by the 'comforting' scent of hawthorn blossom and was treated to the sight of a hawthorn tree in full and perfect flower. It was as though summer had suddenly arrived in the woods. I also noticed myriad clusters of elder well on their way to flowering too.
Just a great evening, and unsurprisingly, not another soul about!
19th May 2013, 17:10
As an avid angler I string my rods from the ceiling of the saloon on leather ties, which keeps them out of the way, yet means they are to hand without much bother. With the nuisance of dust getting into the reel mechanisms and onto the stored line, Ginny solved the problem by making a couple of natty little pouches to protect them. A kind thought indeed!
18th May 2013, 14:49
Wootton Wawen, Stratford-on-Avon Canal. Thursday 16May2013.
1. That'll keep us going for a while longer until the evenings warm up.
We were going to move on this morning but decided to stay a further four days until after the weekend. There is some good walking and a handy village shop in Wootton. Ginny and Gunner walked to Henley-in-Arden (a two-mile, twenty-five minute walk away) to visit the shops there and returned with her rucksack full to bursting. I get a bit concerned for her when she starts unloading 10kgs of potatoes, 4ltrs of milk, a 1.5kg joint of beef plus carrots, courgettes, bread, tinned stuff and other sundry items. We usually end up sharing a jam doughnut or two, which she buys as a sop to soften my concern for her carrying so much. There are few who can keep up with her. Except me of course.
It makes me wonder when people insist on using a car to do a similar trip to a shop, yet buy even less, and then complain about the cost of living. Lazy so-and-sos!
As Oscar Wilde once said, 'Nowadays people know the price of everything and the value of nothing'
Get valuing people or pay the price!
17th May 2013, 19:49
Wootton Wawen, Stratford-on-Avon Canal. Monday 13May2013
1. Getting re-acquainted with 'narrow'.
3. Bridging the gap.
4. A right-of-way made plain.
5. A blue-bell glade discovered.
6. breathe it in.
7. All but abandoned.
8. Standing alone.
While rivers romantically meander and, at times, rush headlong downstream spilling ill-tempered waters ever seawards over the contours of an evolving landscape. Canals, on the other hand, were splendidly engineered to harness this most ebullient of life's natural resources and tame it. They impart a feeling of calm intimacy, of belonging, and embrace the landscape they were cut through, whereas rivers swollen with rain carry all manner of debris and sometimes change course without warning.
Throughout the centuries kings and poets both, have waxed lyrical about the merits of rivers, but, never really grasped the fact that rivers have a life of their own and are a rule unto themselves with little regard for what or who they upset.
A canal gives us an intimacy with nature that rivers are unable to. Where a river cuts imperiously through rock, water-meadow and flood plain, sometimes leaving a ruinous aftermath, a canal follows a sympathetically engineered course from wharf to wharf by the most direct route. It uses the ingenuity of locks, tunnels, bridges and aqueducts to join overland contours, overcoming all manner of obstacles and terrain; without hindrance or threat. As transport systems have come to look upon canals with disdain so those same canals now bring many the solace they seek in the peace and beauty of the countryside.
Rivers have a rawness about them that I love, but I've been drawn to the still-water quality of canals all my life. Once business was done at whatever A-Z trade terminus a barge was destined for, its between journey invariably passed through a landscape of busy farms and market gardens as well as the industrial heartlands that once were. Today, the hardness of those industrial landscapes has all but gone, reclaimed and softened by the subtleties of the natural world and an army of volunteers who have kept demolition, decay and vandalism at bay; something I am truly grateful for and to be part of.
It's good to be back on a narrow canal criss-crossed by ancient footpaths, seldom trod, yet giving travellers comfort in knowing that, regardless of how far it draws or takes them through unfamiliar territory, they will eventually be transported to the sanctuary of a hamlet or village ahead.
Few people venture off the beaten track and many footpaths have become hidden and overgrown, which is why many rural river banks are so difficult to walk from source to sea without getting your feet wet.
Not so canals. This world I live in gives me access to spectacular vistas, ancient woodland, deep river valleys, rolling hills, open fields, isolated hamlets, half-timbered thatch villages, and all accessed by foot from a passing canal towpath. A towpath that passes through or crosses boundaries and obstacles that a river cannot. There are also few if any people exploring these landscapes as it means 'walking', which many find, to say the least, 'irksome'. Therefore much remains unspoilt. A real blessing in disguise!
13th May 2013, 15:16