Friday, 10 November 2017

Shirley (back in kingfisher land, Live 8 and mistaken identities)

It’s that time of year when jays are very much in evidence; they really are one of our most colourful birds.  They are seen more at this time of the year because they are foraging for acorns and other nuts to build into their winter stores.  We seem to have seen so many over the last two or three weeks.
Talking of colourful birds, we are in a good spot at present for kingfishers – they seem to be quite territorial and I reckon there are four different birds in a stretch of about a mile from the boat.  It makes a pleasant change as there have been very few along the rest of the North Stratford canal.

We are currently moored at the lift bridge at Shirley which has a pub next to it called the Drawbridge.  It’s one of those places that have large signs outside with their special offers like, ‘Flame grilled rump steak meals - £5’ or ‘Two for one Monday to Thursday’.   It’s the sort of place you wouldn’t really go to for a drink but, for a laugh, when Karen got home from work on Wednesday she suggested we go for a cheeky Wednesday drink.  We haven’t been for a cheeky Wednesday pint for quite a few weeks, so it made a nice change.  Even though we put the place down it was really cheap – a couple of pints for about a fiver 😊
We came across this ‘boat’ at Hockley Heath on one of our walks:

I suspect they bring a tarpaulin and put it over the wooden frame when they stay aboard. It also looks like it has an outboard motor which is not left on the boat when they are away.  It even has a stove and chimney so it must get really cosy.

I heard a boat coming past on Thursday morning and leant out of the hatch to tell them the bridge was closed.  They weren’t aware but said that they’ll get them to open it.  I knew that wasn’t going to be possible as the control mechanism had been removed and they were waiting for the replacement to turn up.  The boat moored up between us and the bridge whilst the guy went off to negotiate with the workers.

After a while I heard the boat start up and it began reversing back past me.  He had about two miles to reverse to the next winding hole so that was going to be a fun journey – at least he shouldn’t meet any boats on the move.  As I planned on moving next week I told him that if he waited until Tuesday I would tow him down to the turning point but he declined as he needed to get back to his marina at Alvechurch by the weekend.

Before I go, I was reminded of a funny thing that happened to us a few years ago.  I was walking along the towpath on Thursday and a couple walking their dog came in the opposite direction.  As they passed I heard the guy whisper to his companion, ‘I think that was Eddie Jordan’.  Now, this has happened twice before and on one occasion I was even asked for my autograph!  Even weirder was the fact that I was at the British GP at the time, just milling with the general public – hardly where Eddie Jordan would be if he was at Silverstone.  Neither I nor the family have ever seen the Eddie Jordan likeness, but they have understood when I have been mistaken for Billy Connolly and Jimmy Nail.

So, this leads to the funny event I mentioned.  Karen and I were at the Live 8 London concert in 2005.  You may remember that it was hosted by Bob Geldof and we were really fortunate to see the last ever Pink Floyd performance amongst other bands like The Who, U2, Annie Lennox, Sting - it was a long list.  After the close I was waiting for Karen by the toilets and this guy came up to me absolutely convinced I was Bob Geldof.  I didn’t dissuade him even though I thought it was obvious I didn’t have an Irish accent.  The guy kept thanking me for organising the event and asked if I would wait for his daughter to come out of the toilets so she could meet me.  Karen came out first and, to her surprise, I grabbed her and said, ‘Run’.  I still sometimes wonder what the guy thought when I rudely ran away.

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