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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
'The dandelion is called the rustic oracle; its flowers always open about 5 A.M. and shut at 8 P.M., serving the shepherd for a clock.'
Courtesy of 'The Child and Childhood in Folk-Thought' by Alexander F. Chamberlain
1st Jun 2013, 16:52
Rowington, Grand Union Canal. Saturday 01Jun13
Last evening I came across this pretty little brook, carrying an unknown substance downstream and duly reported it to the Environment Agency (EA) Incident Hotline: 0800 80 70 60.
Coming up the Stratford-on-Avon Canal the other week, passing through and above Wootton Wawen, I happened to notice a number of decent sized bream dead in the water. With walkers and other boaters also commenting (and counting) the numbers of dead fish they had encountered, I rang the EA to report the situation. That same evening they called back to inform me that they had received an earlier report than mine of dead fish thereabouts and that they were monitoring the situation.
The following morning the EA called me back with more news that the deaths appeared to be due to an 'oxygen crash' brought about by a combination of recent warm weather algae blooms and cold rain driving down oxygen levels, which bream are the first to suffer from.
It's not an unusual occurrence in my experience as an angler, especially in near 'still' waters such as canals, lakes and meres. In truth a natural phenomenon, but one that can wipe out whole fish stocks when the conditions are right, especially where pollution is also present. Hence why I always report strange substances, like that on the surface of the brook in the photo, as it may be an illegal run-off and potentially kill or suffocate all it comes in contact with.
1st Jun 2013, 16:01
1. Farmland at Lapworth where the owner doesn't care for his boundaries or the safety of his flock. Here a distressed ewe stands above its lamb that lies drowned in the water below.
2. Farmland at Rowington where the farmer very much cares for his boundaries and the safety of his flock.
while moored just above Dick's Lock, this ewe woke us just after midnight the other morning when she began calling continuously, which I assumed was for a lamb that may have fallen in the canal. After a fruitless search in the dark for any signs of disturbance in the water, I went back to bed with the ewe still calling out in obvious distress.
In the morning I spotted the carcass of a lamb under brambles hanging down into the water. The ewe was still calling out in distress and having spotted her off-spring in the water too, was now trying to reach it down the badly eroded bank and risked falling into the canal.
So, as the field was on the other side of the canal, I traipsed off down the canal to a bridge leading to adjacent fields that would take me to a farm some four hundred yards away. On knocking on the farmhouse door the farmer, after I'd informed him of the circumstances and that the ewe was also lame, said he would be down to remove the lamb and check on the ewe. Usually a farmer will lay a dead lamb on the ground before taking it away if it had been recently lost and found, simply for its distressed mother to see it and stop fretting.
The farmer didn't bother to do either and when we left a day later, the lamb had sunk from view. Once the carcass fills with gas, it'll rise to the surface again and then become someone else's problem, probably a boaters!
The ewe called near continuously for eighteen hours.
I'm not at all sentimental when it comes to livestock, but I detest cruelty and ignorance of animal welfare, especially by those who are supposed to know better. Hundreds of lambs are lost each year due to natural boundaries, especially those bordering canals and rivers, not being fenced. In these cases such cruel losses are inexcusable and so easily prevented. Lies apparently come easily to those farming types who obviously don't give a damn!
1st Jun 2013, 14:28
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