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No, dear readers, I did not misspell wildlife.  You should know me better than that;  I never make fun of wildlife.  Well, hardly ever.  Nor am I referring to life in the wild.  No, indeed. It’s actually very peaceful–bucolic, even–along the canals.  I certainly don’t wish to give the impression that danger lurks everywhere, but we did have the odd…misadventure along the way.  Odd being the operative word.  

I should first explain about the back yard.  On a narrowboat the backyard is actually the roof.  Many people use it to grow their veggies, herbs, and, of course, flowers.  Others use it to store things: bicycles, wheelbarrows, garden implements (don’t as me; I don’t understand it either), brooms, mops, boxes of old comic books, whatever would normally be found in the garage or basement in suburbia.  

In our case, being something of a classy hotel,  our garden  was kept looking very smart.  And because we were towing,  the roof was also a foot path.  The kitchen and dining room were in the butty (the tow-ee), and tea was served on our boat–the motor boat (the tow-er).  That is, morning tea, afternoon tea, and tea after dinner.   For our meals, the boats were tethered alongside so that we passengers only had to climb across from one to the other.  But tea was generally when we were cruising, (and towing) so that the tea tray was brought to us by one of the girls, who had to get from the butty to our boat, then walk across the roof to get to us with the tea tray intact.  Even in the rain.  Amazing feet.  And an amazing feat as well.  I never actually saw the beginning of the journey; the first any of us knew about it was when the tray was put down just above us and a pair of legs would appear from over the roof of our little ‘front porch’ and, voilla!  Tea. 

But I digress.  Often.  In this instance I started out suggesting that I was about to describe the odd misadventure.  There were no misadventures associated with tea time–the girls were far too adept to mess that up–but there was a point to that digression, and this is it: the crew members (mostly Kat, Sara, Corinne, and Bertie) also had to travel across the top frequently in the carrying out of various crewing duties.  Every time we moored, went through a lock, or whatever, someone had to be up front manning the ropes.  It was a lot of work, actually.  And somewhat risky when it was wet, as in raining.  (I haven’t mentioned the weather, and I won’t.)  It was nearly always ‘wet’ when these jobs had to be done, and the water on the deck under foot was extremely slippery.  You know what I’m going to say, of course, but you just don’t know who went into the canal.   Well, it was Kat.  I didn’t see it happen (I was busy supervising from inside), but I have it on good authority that she was especially graceful and ladylike as she slid into the drink.  Mind you, she didn’t look very ladylike when she came out, but I suppose that’s to be expected.  And you’ll be pleased to know that she still had hold of the rope.  She insisted she was ‘just fine,’ of course, but after a little while it became clear that she had injured her wrist.  (BTW, did you know that instead of just getting sleepy on pain killers, some people seem to get very silly?)  Subsequent xrays suggested no cracks or breaks, but she now has a splint for it, along with a splint she already had for the other wrist due to carpal tunnel syndrome.  As far as I know, she is the only crew member on any of the canals in England with splints on both arms. 

There was another little episode not long after.  This one concerned Bertie, our mascot.  Bertie has the perfect life for a dog: lots of activity, lots of variety, a continuous parade of new and interesting dogs to play with along the way, and plenty of people to make a fuss over him.  Constantly.  But Bertie has a rather low center of gravity; he stands pretty close to the ground.  And so it happened that when he was off the boat, doing what dogs do, including racing around in pursuit of whatever he could find, he found wasps.  Or, rather, wasps found him.  He had many stings on his underside.   He truly didn’t know what to do.  He’d never encountered anyone who wished to do him harm, and suddenly there was all this pain.  Out came the first aid kit, and some sort of balm for nasty stings, and he was better.  Plus he got even more attention and cuddles than usual, so…all’s well that ends well…eh, Bertie? 

Bertie, Our Fearless Mascot

 That just about covers the trauma report.  I shall leave the report on haggis for another post; it’s hard to know whether to include it here or with the culinary report.  Just in case I sign up for another cruise with the gang at Snipe and Taurus, I think I should include it with the food. 

Another day, another pub

 Pubs as wild life 

It’s interesting how pubs have managed to locate themselves right up close to the canals.  Even the olde pubs (as in, ye olde pubs from olden days).  And Neil seemed to know just where to moor each night so as to be within 100 yards or so of one.  Likewise, Rod knew ahead of time exactly where it would be.  More often than not there would be time for a pint or two during lunch as well, as inevitably there was a pub nearby.  And if lunch didn’t coincide with our taking on water, then there was another stop and yet another opportunity to check out the local.  Trust me on this, dear friends: I only ever went to the pub once.  There really was no need to get out; the boat was well-stocked.  Dick occasionally went; Rod always did.  Rod has a mission to check out as many of the pubs in England (and Wales) as time will allow.  He’s making great progress.  If Dick didn’t happen to go to the pub, he was always keen to know what beers were available, so there was much discussion about the various brands.  I gather Black Sheep is to be avoided at all (or any) cost.  Unless, of course, it was the only beer available.

The one night I did go out to the pub it was a lovely, balmy evening.  We sat outside and enjoyed our drinks and watched the other narrowboats mooring as close as they could get to the pub.  One lady had been there rather a long time and was eager to talk to anyone who could be caught off-guard.  She seemed to know a great deal about the weather, among many other things, and insisted the morrow would be hot and sunny.  Yeah, right.  As if.  (and NO, you ungrateful sods, she wasn’t me!)

You might have thought darts would be perfect entertainment on a narrowboat, given their length, and all; trust me, they weren’t.  We did have a couple of wild and crazy nights playing Balderdash and Boggle.  I think Kat must cheat at Boggle; otherwise she is spending far too much time with her nose in a dictionary.  Either that, or she just eats more than the prescribed dose of M&Ms.  No more pain killers for you, girl!  Sara did amazingly well, given both games were word games and she is Italian.  Her English was actually better than some of the others’…

I expect by now you are all pretty excited about the wild nightlife, but it isn’t obligatory.  You can just go to bed early, or read if you prefer.  There’s something for everyone.  Except TV, of course.  Thank heaven for that.

The Other Kind of Wildlife
Meanwhile, I suspect a few of you may have found this blog by accident in your quest for blogs about wildlife.  For you, I shall add a few photos of the wildlife along the way. I didn’t get a photo of a kingfisher, though others saw some.  I prefer to photograph birds who pose… 

Pardon me, may I get through?

C'mon kids, they won't let us take the shortcut.

Is this my best side?

When the lock opens, Duck!

That’s your lot for today.  If I’ve recovered from the haggis, I’ll tell you about the Anderton Lift next time.                MM

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