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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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To The World He was a Paratrooper.......

(viewed 806 times)
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   comments (2)

Bluebell & Pine

(viewed 832 times)
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   comments (0)

A 'Reelly' Kind Thought

(viewed 817 times)
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   comments (4)

Wood Work

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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   comments (0)

Kings, Poets & Engineers

Wootton Wawen, Stratford-on-Avon Canal. Monday 13May2013

1. Getting re-acquainted with 'narrow'.
2. Locking-up.
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   comments (5)

In You Go Gun's!

1. Gunners favourite, wild-water.
2. Above the weir (he's swum nearly a quarter of a mile to this point.
3. Swimming against the flow of the weir.
4. Biding his time.
5. Enjoying the warmth of the sun.
11th May 2013, 14:47   comments (2)

Mayday and All That!


1. Holy Trinity Church. William Shakespeare is buried in the chancel where his tomb bears a curse against anyone who dares to disturb it.
2. A queue for the 'Chain' ferry.
3. That's the way to do it.
4. Jam packed!
5. Vintage 'jalopies' line the thoroughfare.
6. William Shakespeare's birthplace.
7. Royal Shakespeare Theatre
11th May 2013, 14:23   comments (1)

Stratford Looms Large

(viewed 746 times)
1. Pam pipes Bob back aboard after his 'little' accident ably assisted by the ambulance crew.
2. Barton Lock.
3. Park moorings, Stratford-on-Avon.

We left Offenham on Wednesday morning of last week, following Bob's return from hospital the evening before, knowing that both he and Pam would soon be in capable hands when their friends arrived to help crew 'Jam Pudd' to Tewkesbury Marina.

After stopping Wednesday night at Barton Lock, we continued winding our way upstream to Stratford with the weather improving such that the sun was becoming overly generous with its attention.

We finally arrived below Stratford and moored between Holy Trinity Church and the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. Here we spent a glorious four days enjoying the unexpected company of Brian and Catherine aboard their narrowboat 'October', who arrived not long after we had and became firm friends over the few days we were together. It was certainly entertaining watching everyone messing about on the river.

Come Tuesday it was time for us to leave the River Avon after what had been a month of leisurely cruising and near solitude, enjoying the splendour of the Warwickshire countryside as Spring takes hold.
10th May 2013, 17:00   comments (1)