Day 6, Sunday 20th June
Warwickshire: below Atherstone to Hawkesbury Junction, 5 miles from Coventry Basin
A busy morning followed by a chugging sort of afternoon: 11 locks in the Atherstone flight, generally arranged in blocks of two, but spread out over about a mile.
Today my mind has become aware of how one’s senses become more aware of new experiences when one is travelling slowly (absolutely not an original thought, I know). Last night, I began to sense a strange noise: drum percussion? South American windpipes? The source became clear when I looked out of the side hatch: in the near dusk a very old, very long working boat was passing by; it had an enormously long cargo space covered over with tarpaulins and a short back cabin. This morning, while we got water for our boat it drew away from its overnight mooring nearby and proceeded on to the locks. Its engine’s sound is a sheer steady rhythmic beat. Yesterday afternoon the bells of Polesworth Abbey were ringing (a wedding? a peal?) and only an hour or so ago the cheeping of two little coots temporarily separated from their mother were clearly audible. What of sights and smells? A few waterlilies yesterday reminded me of the huge number we saw last June on the Falkirk and Union Canal in Scotland… any reports of sightings at Bosherston Lily Ponds yet this year? Other smile-inducing sights today were the continued presence of garden ornaments, notably a collection of cherubs, an allotment scarecrow wearing a high visibility waistcoat and several mannequins dressed in England football kit at Charity Dock. As for smells – unmissable, unpleasant, unexpected was that encountered in the region of a bone factory near Hartshill…
The workboat with the wonderful engine sound is en route to Braunston for a show / festival, as are several others. Exchanging news and views at locks is usually interesting (” been down to the Thames, up to Lechlade, now heading back to Burton-upon-Trent”) and often helpful (” allow eight hours for the locks down to Northampton”). Boat names and places they are linked with are of interest too: take Daisy of HORSHAM (passed on a towpath walk last night) and Pem of GODMANCHESTER (on a mooring this afternoon).
A boat interior announcement: I realise we are now eating and sleeping in more of a domestic environment after several months of it seeming more like a carpenter’s workshop. Hooray!
Tomorrow – Rugby, or maybe in the Braunston area.