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Down Under

by wilvir

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"Take only memories, leave nothing but footprints"

Chief Seattle (1786–1866) leader of the Suquamish and Duwamish Native American tribes

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Beauty and a Beast

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The traffic incessantly rushing past here on the mighty M6 is just yards away atop this high embankment to the right of the picture as it runs parallel with this oh so tranquil and beautiful stretch of canal hidden from view above.
19th Oct 2013, 12:12   comments (0)

A Crown of Kingfishers

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Near Chillington Hall, Shropshire Union Canal. Friday 19Oct2013.

1. Walking the line.
2. The kingdom of a 'crown'.
3. Locking up to the sun.

Since the rains of last weekend and leaving Tixall behind on Tuesday morning we've made our way onto the Shropshire Union Canal, stopping for two nights along the way at Rodbaston.

The weather, although wet and windy at times, has remained mild enough for me to still be wearing shorts (occasionally with wellies). I must look a rare sight.

Our lone journey on Tuesday under the warmth of a bright autumn sun, interspersed with drifting clouds giving us brief reminder of why they were there, was made very special by the rare fortune of being accompanied for far too short a while by a Crown of Kingfishers, five in all, as we admired the deepening autumn shades of the waterside tree canopy and hedgerows. These little birds are like the flash of precious jewels sewn into the folds of a richly embroidered tudor robe. They are just so incredibly beautiful, but impossible to capture on camera while steering the boat. It was all I could do to keep the boat on course as I followed each dive and dart as they flew between perches alongside and ahead of us, seeking to catch any fish we might disturb.

The late afternoon skies of Tuesday and Wednesday were a joy to behold. At Rodbaston a disused railway line on a raised embankment gave me and Gunner a platform upon which we walked invisibly for miles looking down through a tangle of trees into the fields below where myriads of sheep grazed silently on rich green grass, rooks drifted on decaying thermals above and distant farm vehicles ploughed stark brown furrows across acres of yellow stubble stretching away into the distance.

My senses couldn't want for more. This IS living.
19th Oct 2013, 08:32   comments (2)

A Fine Days Cruising

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17th Oct 2013, 23:58   comments (0)

Waiting Out the Rain

Tixall Wide, Staffs & Worcs Canal. Monday 14Oct2013.

1. Just us as usual.
2. I came across this old lady looking very sorry for herself, hobbling around as if her hips were giving her jip and her udder looking uncomfortably low. I informed the RSPCA and an inspector called the next day to say he was at the location and about to seek her out. She's in good hands.
3. Red sky at night........
4. Tixall Wide.
5. As we like it.

In the shadow of Shugborough Hall lies Great Haywood on the Trent & Mersey Canal, a picturesque village that reaches out to the hall via a bridge over the canal and the very atmospheric 'Essex Bridge' that crosses the confluence of the Rivers Trent and Sow leading on to the Hall. We spent two nights below Haywood Lock just south of the junction where the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal meets the Trent & Mersey Canal. Earlier that day, while we were taking on supplies at Rugely we were overtaken by Jim and Helen aboard 'M' who stopped to say hello having caught up with us after leaving the River Soar. It had been a miserable day thus far and they were both soaked to the skin, with Jim actually shivering in his boots as we spoke. So rather than delay, we untied and met up again at Great Haywood where we caught-up on what we'd all been up to since parting on the Grand Union Canal. They left the next morning to get back to their mooring to lay 'M' up for the winter, and then home.

On Friday we made the turn onto the 'Staffs & Worcs' and tied up just west of Tixall Wide for the weekend. This is a truly delightful, picturesque, rural area where the canal opens out to lake size proportions. And then we decided to wait out the rain. Come this morning, monday, it was still raining, so I decided to walk back to the junction boatyard to buy a spare alternator (just in case) in the hope that the rain would stop by the time I got back. Not a chance, so we stayed put. Come hell or high water we leave in the morning regardless.
15th Oct 2013, 00:05   comments (0)

In the Company of Owls

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Handsacre, Trent & Mersey Canal. Tuesday 08Oct2013.

1. From this.....
2.To this!
3. Twilight descends as I sit fishing from the bow with the warmth of the day and the caress of a gentle south westerly breeze carrying the aroma of autumn hay.

The little oak tree in the right of the top picture is overweight with acorns as so many are at this time of year (more so it seems for the 'proper' year we've had). Moored alongside avenues of oak-lined towpath with squirrels darting to and fro in the branches above or foraging amongst the leaf-litter to stock-up their coming winter store is amusing to watch. They squabble noisily with each other too as they leap effortlessly, and sometimes precariously from branch to branch, Gunner below inciting them to rush about even more as he tries to bark them down. Wind and the squirrels also conspire to catch me unawares as what appears to be yet another purposefully aimed acorn lands on the roof or 'plops' into the water close by.

As dusk quickly turns to twilight, owls begin to hunt silently above the stubble and freshly turned soil of recently harvested fields, seeking out an unwary meal; only making their presence known when calling to each other amongst the darkening almost invisible trees. There is something comforting about the call of a wise old owl. For me they convey a sense of well-being when they choose to make their presence known.

Lynn and Steve flew back to Australia on Friday as their month here came to an end, arriving home after a twenty-five hour journey, laden with such things as a mercedes van light cluster and 10kg of chocolate. Lynn called me the morning of their departure to say farewell, which left me with an unfathomable sense of loss, but, at the same time, a sense that she and Steve love and embrace the adventure of life much as we do (too many unfortunately don't). To know Lynn again is priceless.
8th Oct 2013, 11:07   comments (1)

Rest Awhile and Admire

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4th Oct 2013, 16:56   comments (0)

That's What Friends Do

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Brinklow, North Oxford Canal. Thursday 26Sep13

Our good friends, Hilary and Andy hove into view at Brinklow after an eight hour cruise to spend a couple of days with us before we parted company going in opposite directions for the winter.

As always it was great to catch up and share a meal together accompanied by one or two of Andy's excellent bottles of homemade wine. It really is that good.
3rd Oct 2013, 10:13   comments (0)

Once Upon a Time

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28th Sep 2013, 08:57   comments (0)