Saturday, 14 April 2007

Glorious day....

The kayak was strapped to the car and ready to go. A flask of 'camp' coffee (you know, the one with chicory that comes in a bottle) and a flask of soup with crusty bread, plus my trusty rucksack of paraphernalia were impatiently thrown into the car. The weather was glorious and I needed to be out...

As I drove through the lanes to get to Drayton village, the sun began to 'burn' through the early mist. After passing the vineyards on Shirral lane, I came to the pastures where the horses are put to graze. Full of the vigour's of spring, they ran along side the car to the limit of their field. It was going to be a magical day.

The canals were empty. Not a soul to be seen, just how I like it. Flat like a mirror, the only ripples were mine!
A quick paddle from Drayton swing bridge (the one that looks like a white double turreted castle but stupidly neglected to photograph) up to Kingsbury water nature reserve. Here I took a soup break and exchanged a few words with the homeless guy who occupies this stretch of water (if you're going to be homeless, be homeless somewhere nice!).

Paddling towards Fazeley, I turned left at the basin and headed for Hopwas woods via Tamworth. The canal people were beginning to wake up and it was getting busy, but they are all such friendly folk.
It's only mid April but it's getting really warm (25c), I've left the sun cream in the car and I'm beginning to regret it as my shoulders are sunburning. (What is up with the British weather? No winters to speak of and getting hotter year after year! CRAZY!)

Running the gauntlet of the two pub gardens either side of the canal at Hopwas village, "What sort of boat is that?", a tipsy but friendly bloke asks. "Paddle steamer!" I reply. (He seems happy enough with the description and returns to his beer).
The tranquility of Hopwas wood beckons...
The canal is high up here, the river Trent to the right , some 100 feet below and beyond that lies Tamworth. A world war two 'pill box' stands guard. They are everywhere, the canals and rivers were considered to be a real weakness from invasion and were well fortified.

I've always been intrigued by these relics of war. Around here seems to be a hot spot from every era. To the west from here is a nuclear bunker (Admaston) mothballed but still intact, and at Fisherwick there is a complex of 7 bunkers marked on the map only as 'storage'. What would you need to store underground, served by lift shafts, protected by 20ft high earth blast banks, 40ft lightning conductors? The only vehicles in and out are lorries marked "Skipper produce", with a picture of a dog, (this company doesn't seem to exist!). A subject for another post!! If you don't hear from me, I've stepped on the wrong toes!

The woods here at Hopwas are lovely. At this time of year they are full of anemones. I love to put my hammock up here and I never get disturbed by dog walkers. Perhaps this sign explains why!
On the return trip, (11 miles today, achy arms tomorrow!) I managed at last to film one of the many grass snakes I see swim across the canal. I know the regular places that they hang out, but their appearances are so fleeting I rarely get to film them.

This little chap was waiting to cross as I approached. After a mad scramble to get the camcorder out of the rear boat hatch, I began filming.
They are canny creatures and will take the time to watch you, to judge your intentions.

When you see them swimming up ahead, it often appears as if they are are an insect, trapped by the water, zipping about on the surface causing little 'V' waves.

They are so at home on the water, dinky tongue testing the air as they go.

Once up on the bank, curiosity gets the better of him. He hung around for a good 30 secs, checking me out. I can't express how chuffed I am when I get to see these guys.

See you chap, I'm off home. Tired arms, but as relaxed as one could ever be....Today, life is good...


Elisa, Jarrod & Thomas said...

I am totally jealous of your weather...spring here is slow to get started.
Def want to see a post about those need to go investigate!

barkfoot said...

Weather is brill at the moment, just got back from a BBQ at Russ's house, it's nearly midnight and it's still 15c outside! Got up to over 25c today, but you know Britian, it might snow tommorrow, or drizzle for the next month so don't get jealous just yet!
Bunkers...don't get me started! Already got some video. Bunkers everywhere..Shenstone (nuclear, reported demolished, but it's not), Kinver (underground factory),Birmingham (2miles of tunnels,meant to be partly abandoned, but last year I noticed all the air shafts have become operational again), Four Oaks (possible personal bunker in fields). New Posts coming soon, so long as I don't suddenly 'disappear'!

Russell Hill said...

WAIT! Snakes can SWIM?

Holy crap, now I have to rethink the whole moat idea...