T’was a cold night, so we were pleased to set off this morning in bright sunshine although heavy and cold showers were forecast as the day went on. We made good progress so decided that we’d take a trip up the Slough arm – new territory for Jannock. As we made the turn into the arm, urban canal turned into something much more rural. The sides are too shallow to consider mooring before the first winding hole but then the proximity of the M25 means most peeps are unlikely to want to do so anyway. After this point the banks are good and the edges dredged to mooring is not an issue. We winded after bridge 9 as we wanted to make Coppermill tonight so we didn’t go all the way to the terminus. I went inside to make lunch just as the first shower of the day passed overhead. Graham was amused as a pedestrian making his way along the towpath with umbrella up was surprised by a very close clap of thunder, he then questioned the sense of holding a metal object above his head in a thunderstorm, closed the brolly and rapidly headed back the way he had come. Graham made good use of his new(ish) short boat hook by retrieving some items we had passed, floating in the canal, on our way up, a bucket and a screwtop plastic pot complete with lid.
On our return to the mainline all went well until we arrived at Denham deep lock. I took Jannock into the lock and Graham noticed a mother duck and seven ducklings swim in behind. He alerted me so I kept the boat well back and over while he filled the lock as slowly as possible. So far so good until the stupid mother duck decided that the level had risen sufficiently for her to jump up onto the lockside. Her babies went crazy, calling for her as they were unable to make the jump or even see her from within the lock. She came to the side and called but they were unable to get up the wall no matter how hard they tried. Then a drake flew in and decided he fancied his chances of procreation. Mother duck was not interested but he was determined. We could see that she was likely to be drowned during his attempts so Graham chased him off. A dog walking family arrived lockside and were a little upset to find Graham harassing ducks so we had to explain the scene. At that point Jannock started moving across the lock such that the ducklings were sure to get squashed. The dog walking lad took a rope to hold the boat back whilst mum and daughter shooed the ducklings to safer waters. Mother duck recovered her dignity, remembered her parental responsibility and jumped back into the lock. It was full by now so we took Jannock out expecting her to bring her brood out after us. Oh no! The mother duck then jumped up onto the top beam of the bottom gate and all her ducklings followed her. She then jumped down the 11 foot to the lower level where she’s started out from. The babies went frantic again, one had the courage and took the leap after her but the rest just stood on the bottom gate and cried. There was no way they could climb out of the lock and they wouldn’t swim away from mother and out of the open top gate. The dog walkers couldn’t get to help them either. As we left a Southbound boat arrived so we explained about the distressed stranded ducklings on the bottom gate . They went into the lock slowly and seemed intent on rescuing the ducklings. While all this was happening the heavens had opened and we had got drenched – thanks mother nature, you certainly took your eye off the ball.
A little further on, and in glorious sunshine again, two lads of about 13 were happily feeding a couple of moorhens and swans. They waved and assured us that all was right with the world as there was nothing better than feeding swans on a beautiful sunny afternoon. We gritted our teeth as we passing still dripping from the drenching. Their dad added that during the little (huh! deluge) shower they had just nipped inside his boat.
Widewater lock was set for us, just as well as the lock landing was full of moored boats visiting the pub there. We were aware of a boat following us so we waited, and waited, then turned the engine off and waited some more. Fifteen minutes later, just as Graham was walking back down the towpath to chivy them up a bit, they turned into Harefield marina. Sods law that is!
We had supper in the Coy(sic) Carp. All was well until the Desert’s menu (sic) was offered to us. We were discussing the surfeit of appostrophies when the waiter, possibly Portuguese or Spanish by his accent, came over. We’d asked ourselves why anyone would put an apostrophe in “Dessert’s”, he replied “because they are badly educated” He added that English was not his first language “but even I would never do that!” Perhaps that is why there are so many foreign waiters.