Grace and I have discovered a new bird. We call it the Frog Bird, but don't know what its proper name is. We've not seen one yet, either. But we hear it frequently, and this is why we call it the Frog Bird. The sound it makes. Perpetually! "Ribbit, Ribbit, Ribbit." Is there no stopping it?
And it was to the sound of the Frog Bird that Grace drove Kantara out of the marina on Monday morning, and pointed her once again north towards Foxton Locks, to meet Frankie and Andy there on Tuesday.
One boater's presence on the water nearly prevented us from leaving. I wondered if she was waiting for a pump-out, but she moved on.
The weather was glorious. Sun hats and glasses were the order of the day, and protection of those little areas of skin which inevitably get burned if you don't make a wholehearted effort to find them and cover them first. I'm going to design a lightweight, short scarf for men to wear to protect their necks on sunny days, and I'll sell the design to Ralph Lauren or Hugo Boss. I'm sure they'll become the height of fashion for male boaters who care about their appearance. It's a huge market.
This stretch of the GU Leicester Line is truly lovely. At this time of the year there's May blossom galore, white and pink in rich green foliage. There are flag irises, buttercups, wild roses and wild chervil, and purple flowers and white ones whose names are known only to those who know more about flowers than I do. There's barley and wheat in the fields, rape with poppies pushing their red through the bright yellow. There are cows, sheep and horses, birdlife in profusion. And the trees, the grass - I've never seen them greener, lusher. And all this against a clear, blue sky. What a picture!
We passed Karen and Darren (aka "The Arrens") in NB Cream Cracker, moored in a quiet spot, soaking up the rays and doing "a few little jobs".
After a leisurely lunch just before Welford Junction, we pootled on to Husband's Bosworth Tunnel. Which was smoking. Heavy smoke was drifting out of the portal, and rolling across the water towards us as we approached. Now, we'd just passed two or three boats that must have come through the tunnel, and they didn't look particularly stressed. Or scorched. So we went on in. We couldn't see the other end. That was worrying. It was like being in a thick fog in a car. Except, this was smoke. Presumably the exhaust from a previous traveller. If Kantara's engine smoked like that, we wouldn't be driving her! I moved up to the bow to increase our viewing distance some 50-odd feet. Grace edged the boat forward slowly, and I peered into the cloud, handkerchief over my nose and mouth.
We were safe. No boats came the other way. We came across no burning wrecks. And as we left the northern end of the tunnel, smoke tumbled out behind us. We took deep breaths of fresh air.
Arriving at the top of Foxton Locks, we moored easily. We pretty much had the top bank to ourselves at the time. Across the canal, a swan was sitting on her eggs, carefully rearranging the sticks and leaves which made up the edge of the nest. Her mate cruised around lazily, waiting for his turn to egg-sit.
It had been a fab day for cruising.