Canal and River Trust keeps telling boaters to save water by sharing locks if there is enough room. Apparently some swans got the message.
This morning we went back to Stourport Basin, got the transmission fixed (though we still have the annoying screech around 1,200 RPM) and headed north. The lock from the basin to the canal is a tricky one. The ground crew has to cross a busy road to get from the basin to the lock itself, and because of the road bridge you can’t see the boat coming till it is in the lock. So, I opened up the lock gates, looked down into the depths of the lock to see Paula coming in, and noticed that the lock was full of swans. There were seven of them, two adults and five large cygnets. They had no way out of the lock once the boat was in, so Paula edged in very carefully, and tied up to a bollard to stop the boat drifting further forward.
The swans were now trapped, we thought, till the lock was full and I could open the gate at the top end. Little did we appreciate the stupidity of swans. As the lock started to fill up, they decided to make a break for freedom in the few inches of space between the boat and the lock wall. They made it to the back of the boat and discovered that there was no way out there, either, so all but one of them headed back to the front of the boat.
The lock was almost full, and by the time they got to the front of the boat again I could open the gate and let them out.
Cue The Great Escape theme music.
Of course, the one swan that had stayed behind could not wait for Paula to get the boat out of the lock, but instead decided to go down the side of the boat while it was moving, realized there was not enough room, scrambled out onto dry land, and walked rather huffily towards the rest of the family.
But that wasn’t what I wanted to talk about. I wanted to talk about the Giant Tussock Sedge.
Tonight we moored up in Wolverly, a pretty little village that we visited last year. It has two pubs, a church, a tea room, a miniature golf course, sheep, and a nature reserve. The nature reserve is reported to be home to the elusive Giant Tussock Sedge, or Church Kneeler Plant. Last year I could not venture far into the marshy reserve because it was too wet, but this year the ground was drier, and I was able to explore the bog. Can you spot the Giant Tussock Sedge?
Nope, neither could I.
Now, the sign at the gate did ask us to stay on the marked trail, but that had long since been overgrown with stinging nettles, so I had to make my way as best as I could, and quite possibly trampled the last surviving juvenile Giant Tussock Sedge in the West Midlands. Oh, well, at least we didn’t squash any swans.