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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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A little owl befriended me from a far off distant tree,
A little owl who, on the wing, often accompanies me.
A little owl whose very thoughts seem to mirror mine,
A little owl who hardly rests as we seek to keep in time.
A little owl who soars aloft, yet hardly makes a sound,
A little owl who stays by me, with no one else around.
A little owl, I always hope one day I will have known.
A little owl snuggled up at night, like me, free, but never flown.
A little owl, a fleeting glimpse, made seen by sun or moon,
A little owl so loved and missed, when she must fly away too soon.
My little owl.
15th Jan 2014, 17:32
Welsh Frankton, Llangollen Canal.
1. Another squall blows in atop the Montgomery Canal.
2. Evening falls all to swiftly as these clouds arrive to darken the sky.
The weather has been changeable to say the least recently and hell bent on asserting the natural way of things.
The towpaths are inundated by run-off from the fields that slope down to the canal and lakes have formed or grown overnight where the water has nowhere else to go. Grazing livestock are particularly vulnerable as I often find dead sheep in the cut because farmers fail to fence field boundaries bordering canals and rivers. The wind has also found out the weak and rotten hiding amongst our trees and provided a good source of fuel for the stove. It's definitely not doom and gloom for those of us that live 'off-grid', especially for the likes of us living on a boat.
The EA's once in a hundred years flood prediction crystal ball seems to be another climate change hockey stick too. The Somerset village of Mulcheney is again currently isolated by flood-water with all roads leading to it under three feet of water. Mulcheney is saxon for 'Big Island'. They knew a bit back then!
Spring is on its way though!
8th Jan 2014, 01:13
Colemere, Llangollen Canal.
1.The sun sets on 2013
2. A special place.
3. Another sunset over the mere.
4. In reflective mood.
Christmas crept up on us this year, with hardly a murmur, yet all about was chaos. We seemed to be cocooned in an oasis of calm. Even though wind and rain did their utmost to reach us carried by storm fronts that wrought their ire across the south and west of the country. We fended them off with the help of being moored in a hollow, protected by high ground. The intensity of the wind filtered by the surrounding trees that seemed to roar with defiance at the intrusion. Yet, most evenings, I was treated to some of the best sunsets I've seen for ages; especially across the mere.
Walking the mere fading in the late afternoon, into twilight and then darkness, has been particularly cathartic for me. It has enabled me to reflect on my life both past and present, melding the two into something very special. The mere has been here since the ice age and with the sun, moon and night sky mirrored by its surface, space, time and distance take on real meaning and reflects, for me, how very precious life's loves are. I love life, this fleetingly fragile existence in the grand scheme of things. Just make sure you tell those that walk with you through every aspect of yours how much they matter too, especially at this time of year.
For special people, special thoughts, and wishing everyone a welcoming Happy New Year from me and mine to you and yours where-ever in the world you or they may be, as the sun sets on yet another year.
31st Dec 2013, 16:54
Colemere, Llangollen Canal
1. Back in November, good friends Margaret and Geoff invited us aboard Seyella for dinner accompanied by a few bottles of red, which left me and Geoff deservedly a little fragile the following day. Margaret once scolded 'The Beatles' for writing on the newly decorated dressing room walls of her club and regaled us with tales of meeting the singing and comedy stars of the 60s doing the rounds of the Manchester club scene (l-r Ginny, Margaret & Geoff).
2. Last weekend, our daughter Emma along with hubby Wayne and granddaughters Neve and Hannah made a four hour journey from Norfolk to spend a weekend with us, much to Ginny's surprise. Sad to see them leave. (l-r Ginny, Emma, Neve, Wayne & Hannah)
3. On Thursday we welcomed great friends Helen & Jim aboard, who joined us for what has become our traditional pre-Christmas roast. Accompanied by copious amounts of sloe gin and red wine (the excuse being Jim needed a. liquid anaesthetic to ease a bout of severe back pain brought on by a dodgy game of tennis), we had a merry afternoon. (l-r Ginny, Helen & Jim)
I might remember to be included in a photo one day. Oh well!
21st Dec 2013, 19:16
Wandering the Mere here under a late afternoon sun I am immersed in thoughts of times long past. Times when King Arthur, Guinevere, Lancelot, Merlin and Excalibur dominated traditional english folklore much the same as Robin Hood and Maid Marion did in another time, though much of the chivalry and romance that was then is lost today. The 'Lady of the Lake' too reminds me of another lady; 'Lady Luck'.
For me there is much that I would lay at the door of this ethereal lady for she seems to have followed me throughout my life in various guises. The gift of real luck is something bestowed only upon those who are at ease in mind, body and spirit; and, most of all, happy with their lot. Fortune is different, it is there to be made and, to be fortunate or unfortunate, is simply a result of making choices.
The other evening, as I walked the Mere with the last of the light receding beneath the horizon, for an instant its mirror-like surface reflected the night sky before it was brushed away, left rippled by the slightest of winds, seeming to draw my attention skyward.
Looking up I was reminded, and a little sad, that there are constellations I will never again see rise above the night-sky horizon. However, Lady Luck has her way of accepting, sharing and showing me things that only my life, it's memories, thoughts, dreams and imaginations is privy to. In comparison, the fortunes of a lottery win pale into insignificance! I thank her for that.
8th Dec 2013, 00:35
Fenn's Rough, Whitchurch, Llangollen Canal
1. That ever changing garden.
2. Sun-drenched beauty.
3. The leaves have fallen.
4. 'Quivering' for Red-Fins.
5. Mild under the clouds.
Where we are, the last few days have brought little realisation that Winter had arrived. Early morning frosts have yet to harden the ground enough to notice a real drop in temperature and fallen leaves remain crisp and dry, casually influenced by the least breath of wind to congregate in the lee of the slightest obstacle.
During the night Moles seem to think it's amusing to throw up new mounds of earth, much like clay on a potters wheel, along the route of a well trodden towpath. Come morning these little mounds have taken on a leafy camouflage and easily trip the unwary walker; you can even almost hear laughter coming from all manner of birds conveniently hidden from view amongst the trees overlooking the scene.
the surface of the 'cut' is mottled with the mixed autumnal colours of leaves of every variety. Moved by the lazy insistence of a current beginning far upstream, the leaves bunch at every opportunity and, as they become sodden, sink below the surface to become a nuisance for fisherman and boaters alike. The knowing skipper slows his boat to allow an island of leaves to drift nonchalantly away from the bow where they had built up enough to slow the boat causing the sound of the engine to rise. An unfortunate fisherman 'tuts' as another submerged leaf catches the point of the hook and drags his float under, or whilst legering, bends his rod-tip round as leaves gather to weight his line where it breaks the surface. Frustratingly, on any other day both indications would normally be the sign of a good bite.
Birds gather in increasing numbers to take advantage of the feeders I've hung in the trees. Great-Tits and Blue-Tits making the most of the peanuts and mixed seeds on offer. Robins and Blackbirds happy to forage for fallen titbits in the leaf litter below.
We'll be moving on from here in the morning.
2nd Dec 2013, 19:51
Fenn's Rough, Whitchurch, Llangollen Canal
1/2. Not just any old lane bridge.
5. A red-fin poses.
6. From the galley.
7. Fuel for 'smokin'
What is it that so pulls my thoughts back to a bygone age. My life now, where I live it and how I live it, somehow mirrors a time, long past, which heralded an age of discovery, coinciding with the birth of canals as a means of transport.
Today, in my world, that bygone age becomes all the more tangible as late afternoon fades into twilight. The earth spattered narrow lanes and scarred hump back bridges criss-crossing the cut hint at the past, having held their own as a result of the engineering skill and longevity of real craftsmanship, giving them the strength to move ever forward in time over hundreds of years.
As evening draws in and colours fade to black and white, it's easy to imagine a horse-drawn carriage clip-clopping over a bridge, or a traction engine chugging over a rise, or a vintage car, guided by the beam from its lights, entering the gates to a farm that has seen all manner of transport since Doomsday. Up on a hill, the windows of a now lifeless 'big house' reflect the farms and acreage it once owned as over time the family were forced to sell or lease land and lay-off staff for a myriad of economic and social pressures. To be 'in-service' or work the land as a farm-hand or labourer was honest toil by proud people. People who new the value of work, family and, at times, shared hardship. Not so today. Maybe I have a past existence or a blood-calling that binds me to the countryside and its waterways. A calling that leaves me excited at the prospect of another day and fulfilled by yesterday.
Earlier today a full-grown buzzard, soaring, held aloft by a flag-taut wind, eyed a recently killed sheep I knew not to be far away, looking for signs of other predators close by before swooping down for a meal - magnificent!
This evening,with daylight coming to an end, I caught a glimpse of a passing car far above me on a high-road as I climbed a narrow lane away from the cut to join a favoured footpath; and not a soul did I see. My kind of world. Heaven.
My four-legged friend Gunner had a bad limp and a sad look about him yesterday. Probably from pulling a muscle chasing rabbits along an old warren infested railway embankment in the oncoming darkness of the previous early evening. He seems to have walked it off this afternoon and recovered his enthusiasm. It would seem all is good with him once again. That's my boy!
29th Nov 2013, 18:47
Whitchurch, Llangollen Canal.
1. St Margarets Church overlooking the village green and the canal at Wrenbury.
2. The church clock strikes 4pm.
3. Twilight descends.
4. Morning glory.
These days the sound of a centuries old tradition of a rural village church clock striking every 'quarter-hour' is sadly becoming a rarity; many have been silenced during the hours of darkness by noise abatement orders invoked by townies, who've bought a pile in the country, but don't want to be disturbed by the locals and their traditions. Even cockerels aren't safe.
The sound of a church clock striking throughout the night is, for me, a reminder of a bygone age and that all is well, sleep soundly in this place! A place where people look out for each other. A clock communicates events in the daily life of a village; doors open at the local, the village fete, a jumble sale, crowning of the May Queen, and more besides.
As the clock strikes at night, fleetingly disturbed, a bird may rustle a leaf as it shrugs its annoyance or a farmyard dog will bark in response at nothing in particular; the softened yellow glow of a night-light suddenly pierces the darkness in a far off cottage window welcoming a shepherd home at an agreed hour, the door-latch of the village pub rises and falls as the last of the late night regulars is reminded to weave there way home.
In my world the distant clock is usually striking midnight as I go about checking and securing the boat before turning in. I pause a while to admire the beauty of a bright moon as it throws light onto the ink black, oil-like consistency of the water and draws the eye to the ever expanding ripples made by a falling leaf.
Looking up Ursa Major points to the Pole Star in the tail of Ursa Minor with Cassiopeia's strikingly drawn 'W' helping to orientate the night sky for an admirer like me. New spectacles have rid me of the blurring that impeded my sight enough to spoil the clarity of space, giving me back the wonder of wondering what's out there?
All this and more lifts my spirits as I lean against 'wilvir' moving gently in the easy current, as if somehow alive to the pull of the moon. Gunner sits leaning against my leg, looking up, seeking to gain my attention by will-power alone. It seems to work every time as I automatically bend to ruffle his ears. Frost is glistening heavily on the ground and Gunner's bucket of drinking water has a sheen of ice on it.
The church clock strikes the half-hour, reluctantly I climb aboard 'wilvir' and call Gunner on. Time for bed.
25th Nov 2013, 18:50