Travelling slowly, with wildlife

I sometimes think we are living on the ark. In the past few days we have had to evict a beetle, several huge wasps, a spider that really didn’t want to go and two dogs, one of which having come down the stairs onto the boat was too fat to get back up them unassisted. We don’t mind sharing our home with a little wildlife but it already feels like high summer with the soaring temperatures and the sheer volume of wee beasties that have emerged. At this rate there won’t be room for us on the boat by August.

Halsall cutting: The place where the Leeds & Liverpool began

Hitch hikers aside
we are determined that this year’s trip will be totally chilled and
relaxed, even more so than the previous one. With this in mind we
took things to extremes earlier in the week by setting off in
entirely the opposite direction to our overall plan but it gave Gill
a chance to practice turning the boat around and enabled us to fit in
a quick train trip to Southport for much needed replacement summer
sandals. We rediscovered a few favourite places from last year and
found a couple of nice new mooring spots along the way. We are now
heading the right way but we have ground to a halt in Parbold, five
miles from our winter base. I think we are getting the hang of this
slow travel business. It’s lovely to chill out and explore the local
area a bit more thoroughly and being so close to home we are
constantly bumping into other boating friends which also involves pub
based research which I’m particularly fond of. At this rate we will
be lucky to make it any further than Manchester before it’s time to
turn round and start heading home again.

Mooring with blackthorn bloom

One of the things I
have noticed already this year is that we are both more relaxed about
the whole business of handling the boat and travelling. We couldn’t
understand some of the people we met last year who seemed to spend so
much time moored in the same spot but I think I’m starting to get it.
A place changes when you spend time in it, more often than not for
the better. It’s a chance to discover surrounding walks, to explore
nooks and crannies that often reveal hidden architectural gems or to
get to know the local wildlife and their habitats. Lots of birds such
as kingfishers for example are territorial and once you have
discovered their ‘patch’ it’s not uncommon to see them every day and
to have the opportunity to observe them in greater detail. At this
time of year every day brings new delights as more and more migratory
birds return and the familiar sounds of summer like the chiff chaff,
black cap and warblers fill the canal side woodlands with their
songs. Butterflies are also about in dramatic fashion already with
the brilliant orange tips, peacocks and speckled woods decorating the
verges with dancing colour as they seek out early opportunities to
feed and reproduce. Hawthorn, blue bells and wild garlic are all
coming into flower as are the brilliant yellow celandines. It just
such a wonderful time to start a journey and to watch the Spring
unfold.

Peacock butterfly

If this first week
is anything to go by it’s going to be a wonderful summer learning to
treat time with all the respect and precious value it deserves as we
potter gently south. That’s if we are going south. I think we are.

Saint Cuthberts, Halsall