Weekending Sunday 24th June 2012

Ever seen a cormorant swallow an eel?
I watched one surface after a dive and wrestle a two foot eel before sending it head-first down its throat.
But that wasn’t the end of the matter, the eel turned before it reached the stomach and made its way back up the tunnel. You could see a huge bulge in the cormorant’s neck as the eel turned and headed back the way it had come and on reaching the beak the cormorant shook it back down only to have the process repeated several times.

I’ve seen children do the same thing with black elvers a few inches long. Plucking a handful of them from the river bank they throw them into their mouths, then make each other laugh by letting the elvers wriggle half way out between their lips before sucking them back again and swallowing them.
Those were the days you could send your children out all day with a cheese sandwich wrapped in a handkerchief knowing they could look after themselves and forage for food if they got hungry.

Hasn’t the grass grown? We used to be able to watch the Severn from our window but now we have to climb up onto the roof to see if the tide is coming in.

It doesn’t grow half as fast on the other side of the canal, the permanent moorings side. Over there the grass is only ankle height, over here it is elbow height, people lose their dogs in it. We must get a lot more rain over this side. We also sneeze a lot over here, the hayfever season has kicked in with a vengeance.

I fetched V from Kass and Joe’s on Tuesday and the fridge has been restocked with proper food. My single man diet didn’t do me any harm so I don’t know what all the fuss is about. Green veg and fresh fruit, what’s that all about?
V is now suffering (baby) withdrawal symptoms and I can see it won’t be long before the knitting comes out again or someone is booking a train across country.

We’re currently sitting out the storms at Splatt Bridge.
Splatt is a lovely name isn’t it. Goes well with my summer job – squashing spiders. We’ve had them in the bed and they don’t half bite.
How Splatt Bridge got its name I’ve no idea. Did a boat get squashed as the bridge closed? Was it named after the first bridge operator Mr Splatt? Did the little Splatts go to school in Frampton, I wonder?

The sun shone a couple of days this week, in fact we managed to get in a barbeque one evening before it rained. During the day we walked across the field to the river and marvelled at the muddy water hurtling past on its way back to the sea from Gloucester.
Just to prove cameras do lie, the water was filthy brown when I took this one.
lower Rea

The closer you get to Stonebench the more signposts you see, telling you to park tidily and to be mindful of the residents. I can’t be trusted to behave so we didn’t walk any further than Lower Rea. I guess it’s something to do with visitors trying to catch a glimpse of the Severn bore.

You get used to the chug-chug of boats and the splish-splash of canoes but when I heard a hissing sound my head turned. Nothing more than a gentle hiss accompanied this steam launch as she sped down the canal. She was so quiet you could hear the occupants whispering to each other. My next boat will have ……..

At the end of the week we caught up with a couple we haven’t seen for years. We first met Dick and Jennie during a sparky course at Brunel Tech in Bristol in the early seventies. Our ways parted as careers changed and we last saw them near the Wicklow Hills in Ireland.
Recalling the past over a meal in a pub, somewhere in Gloucestershire, brought back many happy memories and filled in the gaps on who moved where and did what between then and now.
We’re hoping to see many more rellies and friends before we leave the area, who knows when we’ll be back to this neck of the woods. Despite the damp weather, since we came to the West, we are torn between a thoroughly relaxed Gloucestershire and the peace and tranquillity of the Fens.

The VHF is getting used more these days, you can find out which boats are going where, which bridges are out of action due to wind and get a half decent weather forecast from Swansea and Milford Haven Coastguard. You can also learn a lot by listening to the plastics exchanging information on ship-to-ship channels, and that can be priceless.