Friday 10 August 2012

The Big One (18-2)

Friday 10th August 2012

Lea Hall Bridge No 22 (Top Flash) to Billinge Green Flash

Last night was a stunning sunset, red sky at night and all that. As predicted, I awoke this morning to find ourselves shrouded in a heavy mist. Its almost like an autumnal morning. I hope that this is not an early warning of an early autumn to match our non existent summer! There is a very noisy and irritating Pheasant calling nearby. Where is the local Fox when you need him!

Nb Amos

Most people are aware of the invasive Indian Balsam that has established itself alongside our rivers and canals. Children love to pop the seed heads in the autumn. It's the same story with the Buddleia or Butterfly Bush which is also established almost everywhere.  Both are plants that seem to be well tended by our bee's. Along the Shroppie we have noted that the American Balsam seems to be the main culprit. With its bright, attractive orange coloured flowers. Not as bad an invader as Mink or the infamous Japanese Knotweed I admit, but both are invaders all the same. 

Alongside where we are moored is what looks like a grape vine. I have a grapevine at home growing in the greenhouse with the root outside in the garden. Looks like a grape to me but there are no signs of any fruit or flower heads which are quite tiny and easy to miss.

After the glorious weather yesterday, which recharged the boat batteries and to a certain extent recharged me. To paraphrase Toad in Wind in the Willows. "Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing - absolutely nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.” Believe me there is nothing as enjoyable as cruising along on the back of a narrowboat. Especially when done in the sunshine and at the same time enjoying our glorious countryside.

I had a phone call yesterday from Pete, a friend I had not been in touch with for a while. This reminded me that to a certain extent we have lost a fair bit of contact with our friends. Just because we spend so much of the year away from home. I must do better and do something like a regular keeping-in-touch call - whenever I remember to remember. Meeting up with people and making their acquaintances whilst sharing a lock is no real substitute.

Today must be boat race day on the Middlewich Branch. Everyone that has gone past has been on a mission! We stopped in Middlewich to do a run to Tesco before pulling the pins and doing a few locks back towards the Trent and Mersey once more.

We rode our luck a bit in Billinge Green Flash as the bottom is very close to the top. Even in the marked channel. We pulled over to have something to eat and decided that it was a good place to stay. We watched several other boats churning through the mud. The canal is very narrow in places between Croxton Flash and Billinge Green Flash. We met a few boats coming the other way. But we had been using the boat horn before entering any of the narrow sections. So we managed to avoid any meetings with tight squeezes.

Wildlife: Billinge Green Flash is a wildlife haven. Linnet, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Buzzard, Swallow, Swift, House Martin, Reed Bunting, Mallard and Swan. Brown Hawker, Common Darter, Four Spot Chaser, Common Blue Damselfly and Banded Demoselle. Red Admiral, Orange Tip, Painted Lady, Marsh Fritilery, Holly Blue, Common Blue, Brimstone,  Small White, Peacock,  Comma and Meadow Brown. The dogs even discovered a Natterjack Toad!

As the sun set over the flash, a huge crowd of swallows and house martins descended. There was a huge hatch of insects which could be clearly seen. Looking like small misty cloud. The birds where wheeling and diving through the cloud and mopping them up. A conservative estimate of around 500 plus birds. What an amazing display.

Daily Total
Miles: 7.3
Locks: 6
Swing / Lift Bridges: 0
Tunnels: 0
Pump Outs: 0
Engine Hours: 4.3

Accumulated Totals
Miles: 1043.2
Locks: 772
Swing / Lift Bridges: 119
Tunnels. 18
Pump Outs: 12
Engine Hours: 2332.0


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