Saturday, 2 July 2016

The canal conundrum and other stories

Last weekend I visited a friend in Essex, where, in between the showers, we managed a morning rowing on the Chelmer and Blackwater Navigation. Coming from Wiltshire, with its history of canals, the contrast was stark.

In Devizes - where I used to work- the Kennet and Avon canal is heavily used by large narrow boats (sounds like an oxymoron!), but in Essex the only moving watercraft we encountered in 2 hours was the tourist boat doing trips up and down the canal, and another rowing boat. The banks were lined with a thick carpet of yellow and white water lilies, and the tall stems of branched bur-reed. The water was clear and fished by common terns flying overhead. A far cry from The K&A, where the constant traffic stirs up the sediments and prevents larger plants from settling. This results in a pea-soup, home only to rats, and a few waterfowl and water voles if they're lucky.

Before my visit to Essex, I managed a quick yomp up to Clarendon Park, as I mentioned in my previous post. It always surprises me that this extremely important historical site - with its royal hunting lodge patrolled by llamas - as well as having great views back to Salisbury, and beautiful ancient woodland, is completely devoid of visitors. It's right on the doorstep of so many people - but then that's fine with me, as it wouldn't be nearly so enjoyable if the hordes descended on it!

This weekend will probably involve a bit of gardening - my near-vertical slope of a garden has got out of hand again. But on the plus side, random plants are making their way in - some sort of vetch has established itself in the intentionally-wild corner (where the bramble is in need of taming), and cut-leaved cranesbill has seeded into one of the troughs next to a tomato plant. I right mish-mash of stuff! Lots of meadow brown butterflies are fluttering around, together with various bees, so the garden is finally becoming the wildlife haven I had hoped for.

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