The first day of Spring arrived in all its glory – warm sunshine and blue skies here in Shenton today. The Ashby Canal is a most beautiful, rural canal that winds through very pretty Leicestershire villages with quaint names. Shackerstone, Stoke Golding and Market Bosworth are a pleasant stroll away from the towpath and, once you get through Hinckley, the canal meanders along through pastures and under historic bridges towards Snarestone Tunnel. The canal ends in a newly built basin and we moor up and walk along a newly laid towpath to find that an extra half a mile of canal has been dug out and is now 'in water'. 'Will we still be boating when the canal finally reaches Measham?' I wonder to Carl as we follow the markings for the next stage of restoration. ' I do hope so'
A week of sun and wind has dried the muddy puddles to the consistency of plasticine and Tricky and I can stride out again on our morning walks. The shy violets peep out from under the hedges and a bank of primroses glow yellow in the gloom of a wooded cut. A quick brown fox runs over the canal bridge and disappears in last years bracken – I peer through the undergrowth as we pass the spot where he disappeared but he's long gone, A kingfisher perches on a branch, orange and turquoise against branches still black and dead. I hold my breath as we chug closer, expecting he would flit away, but our luck is in – we passed by on tickover, a long arms reach away and he glares at us with beady eyes and sits quite still.
If you want to see nature at close quarters then living on a narrowboat is the ideal place to be. This week I've seen some spectacular sunsets and this evening the sun was blood red as it dropped behind Shenton church. In times gone by, I would often see the sun rise as I tore down the M42 or the M6, going much too fast to appreciate the dawning day. Nowadays, if I'm up watching the sunrise, its because I want to be or perhaps to be more accurate, its because Tricky wants to be. The dawn chorus this morning wasn't the angelic song of the wren or the blackbird but a cacophony of shrill shrieks from the courting pheasants interspersed with owls hooting from the trees over the way. Tricky is now sniffing every blade of grass as she trudges back to the boat, ignoring my calls of 'Come on Woofer' and 'Tricky – get a flipping move on' as I stand shivering on the towpath in my dressing gown.
Talking of which (ie people wearing strange things on the towpath) – you do see some strange sights as you chug along. Boats with green tarpaulin curtains – definitely a single man living alone on that vessel. No woman could arrange a huge sheet of green plastic so that the eyelets were in just the right place to attach to the curtain rail. Then there was the runner I met on the towpath with a fluorescent orange lycra jump suit covering everything but leaving nothing to the imagination, if you know what I mean. He had the most enormous feet flapping about in clowns shoes of lurid green with yellow laces and two bottles sticking out of flaps with a straw arrangement so that he could drink without having to stop running.
Its been a mostly cold week, the promise of mild weather never really materialised and that raw wind has frozen us to the marrow most days. It was too cold for Tricky to be on the hatch and I kept finding excuses to go below and sit on the step by the fire. Captain Carl is made of sterner stuff and wasn't complaining so I rewarded him with a batch of fresh scones. Treats have been in short supply since I'm still 'weight watching' – Carl is trying to show his support by eating every bit of chocolate as soon as I bring it back from shopping – he says its so I won't be tempted! I'm glad to report that my scones came out well – the last batch I baked went horribly wrong and came out like biscuits, but these were delicious with jam and butter, still hot from the oven. Am I making you hungry? I promise to make you some if you come and visit us.We moored on the Shenton Enbankment this afternoon and walked to the Whitemoors Antique Centre for a browse amongst the collectibles and curios from the last century. What is it that draws us to 'ooh' and 'aah' over a 70's glass fish or a dusty old radiogram. Of course, most the customers are only there for the delights of the lemon drizzle cake and other naughty treats on offer in the tea shop - I managed to resist, but it was touch and go!
I'll have to cut the jottings a bit short this week as I've been having such a good time today, I didn't start writing until late. The owls are hooting again and Carl and the dog have retired leaving me with only my small light of creativity burning and I've just noticed that the 'battery low' light is flashing on the laptop - you and me both matey!
Have a good week everyone - love as always from
Have a good week everyone - love as always from
The Floating Chandlers