Saturday 15th July; Lowsonford to Kingswood Junction
A cool and cloudy start this morning as we worked our way up towards the junction. I am still having to do the steering and still having trouble with bywashes, but Dave is a dab hand at locking now. Some of the gates are hard to get moving – at least now he knows why he has to hang about for a while if I want to get back on board. He made sure to teach me exactly when to put the engine in reverse as I came out of the lock so that he could get back on board easily!
At one lock we met a local man who is involved, perfectly legally, with trapping and culling mink. They are the descendants of mink that escaped, or were released by activists, from fur farms decades ago. They thrived, and as highly efficient predators they caused, and continue to cause, huge damage to our native wildlife. He wanted to know if we had seen any sign of them, which we hadn’t. He has to leave his Jack Russells with his hens when they are out in their field to protect them from the little critters. Once he was shouted at by a group of walkers who thought he had shot an otter. He explained the destruction mink cause to ground-nesting birds, fish stocks and water voles, but they stomped off saying they would report him. If you see mink he would love to know exactly where so he can deal with them. I don’t know your views on animal rights, reader, but I feel our native fauna has more right to exist in the UK than this American invader! If they had found their way here under their own steam, so to speak – such as a European bird extending its range by flying across the channel – that would be different. But introduced by man? No. By the way, if you find one in a trap and release it you would be breaking the law and risk contracting Weil’s disease into the bargain.
We were soon at the service point on the junction for some much-needed water and to empty the cassettes. The tap here is very slow, so we half-filled the tank today and planned to top up in the morning at the other tap a couple of locks further on. We moored at the Grand Union end of the branch, beyond the railway bridge.
After a late lunch, Dave sorted out our next temporary mooring at Alvechurch. Then it was showers (good facilities here!) and general chilling out and watching boats and walkers pass, with occasional dogs sticking their heads through the side hatch, to Meg’s fury. I only took two pictures today, so here’s one of my lovely salad tub – green and red lettuce Salad Bowl, nasturtium and coriander.
The leaves and flowers of nasturtiums are tasty, slightly peppery in flavour. I thought it would be red when I sowed the seed – this orange does not go too well with the red paint, does it?
It would have been a lovely quiet spot – not many trains on a Saturday night – but two boats on the permanent moorings opposite chose to run their engines, one 8 till 9 and the other from 9 to 10. Perhaps they want to discourage people from mooring opposite.
2 miles, 9 locks