Friday, 22 July 2016

Lower Shuckburgh (camping, cruising and visitors for five days)

A Beautiful Demoiselle - see further down this entry

I used to suffer from a bad back every so often when I worked and I put that down to long commutes. It seems that was a good assumption as my back has been fine since living on the boat.  That was until we went kayaking last week and I seemed to overdo it - it was Buddy’s maiden voyage so Karen was watching him, making me the only paddler.  The ½ mile to the pub and then back again was clearly too much as my back starting playing up.

I was due to go up and see progress on the new build last Wednesday but was in no state to drive.  By Friday it was a lot better so Karen drove all three of us up to Northwich in the afternoon.  Progress is good – there have been a few coats of undercoat, the insulation has been installed and the wiring laid out.

Looking from the bows

Inside showing the insulation (which we don't have on our current boat!) and wiring

After checking up on the new boat we made our way to Ironbridge for the weekend.  We had found a really quiet campsite – just eight pitches and a few of those pretend camping cabins. Camping is always good for my back because of the hard ground.

Making camp with Buddy doing nothing as usual

We have a joke in the family about how each of us have been caught giving masterclasses on different subjects, usually those about which we have no idea, e.g. me and DIY.  Anyway, unbeknownst to me Karen had taken this shot of me with the campers in the pitch next to us.

Me giving a masterclass on camp layout and fire making

We did walk into Ironbridge but it was really busy with people and reinforced how much we prefer the solitude of our life - it was good to get back to the quiet of the campsite in the afternoon.

The famous iron bridge at Ironbridge built in 1781 to cross the River Severn

My eldest daughter, Sophie, and Yanos were coming to stay for the week on Monday and when we got home on Sunday evening we decided we should move the boat.  We were moored by a reservoir and in the evenings we were prevented from sitting outside as there were so many flies.  As a short heatwave was forecast it was only going to get worse and it would be unbearable sitting inside a hot boat in the evenings just to avoid flies.

We had a walk to Lower Shuckburgh to check that a favourite location of ours was free; it was so we went back and took in a gentle evening cruise.  It’s a good spot as it’s quiet but next to a small road bridge so Karen could get to work easily and it is also a favourite amongst people like us for these reasons.  It’s fairly narrow but two boats can pass easily in either direction provided they take it easy.

Broadbeam boat passing our mooring showing it’s wide enough for two narrowboats to pass

On Monday, Sophie and Yanos arrived and we made a picnic and took in a circular walk around Wolfhamcote and Braunstonbury.  These are sites of two abandoned medieval villages that I have written about before so won’t cover them again except a quick mention of the abandoned church.  As we walked up to it we were convinced we could hear an organ playing even though I knew the church was stripped bare inside.  We went in and found a boater playing pretty dark churchy music on an accordion!  She said she finds it cooler to practise in the church rather than on her boat – Buddy agreed as he spent the 10 minutes we were looking around, laying on someone who had died in the 1600’s, well, the flagstone that covered the person’s crypt.

Sophie and Yanos trying out our kayak, although Sophie looks like she's taking it easy

Tuesday was the hottest day of the year so far and as Karen and I have our bridge night on Tuesdays I prepared dinner early.  We actually ended up having a barbecue – it was lit in the hottest part of the day on the hottest day – talk about mad Englishmen.

Buddy resting under the bridge – the coolest place he can find

We took in various butterfly walks during the week and I saw my first Silver Washed Fritillary, White Admiral and Grayling of the year.  Here are a few of the better shots of the week:

Marbled White

Fresh White Admiral (spotted first by Yanos) taking advantage of moisture on the hottest day before Buddy came crashing through the undergrowth and disturbed it

Mating Blue Tailed Damselflies on the sweet peas on the rear deck

At the top of this entry is a Beautiful Demoiselle – one of only two UK Demoiselles which are in the 20 strong family of UK Damselflies.  Damselflies rest with their wings along their backs and Dragonflies rest with their wings outstretched. Dragonflies tend to have smaller forewings than hind wings whereas Damselflies have the same size wings fore and aft

On Wednesday evening we met Karen from work and went to the Folly Inn at Napton.  Fortunately we had booked a table as it was packed out; unfortunately some staff hadn’t turned up so our food took an hour to come which is a bit ridiculous for pub grub.  Anyway we had a great evening especially observing the mad landlord and the way he treated his staff.

There was a new girl on and when I asked her what fruits were in the red berry tart she said well it looks like a big jam tart so maybe it’s jam.  I said that it must be some sort of recognisable fruit and her response was well yes, it’s a tart with red fruits squished in it.

Thursday saw a bit of canal rage outside the boat.  A private boater was waiting at the bridge for a hire boat to come through and was getting cross that the steerer was going too slow!

I decided to cook some spicy, sticky, sweet masala chicken on the barbecue in the evening as it had been yet another warm day.  By the time Karen got home from work it started raining a bit which cooled things down – we ended up inside the boat to eat followed by a few hands of cribbage.

Our mooring here is in the shade in the morning and late evening which has been a welcome relief.

We are moored next to Lower Shuckburgh church with its unusually shaped bell tower

Amongst Karen’s flowers are some nasturtiums which are a great favourite for Large Whites to lay their eggs on so I have a little patrol each day and rescue any before they get caught by Karen.

A batch of Large White eggs

I obviously missed this batch and first instar caterpillars have emerged

All in all it’s been a great ten days since the last blog entry and we will probably cruise into Braunston at the weekend for our next stay for a couple of weeks.  We are going to need water and want to be in Braunston as there is a music festival at the Admiral Nelson on the 6th August.  We have always been elsewhere on the canal system in previous years and promised ourselves we would make it this year.

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