I have always loved writing, and now that I am retired I thought I would be able to find time to write, but it seems that I still manage to fill my days with activities. I have however found that while I travel, I enjoy writing about some of the interesting things we do. I hope you enjoy reading of our adventures as much as I like writing about them.
Saturday, September 26, 2015
A swan family on the canal
As you cruise through the canals of
England, it is common to run into families of swans. They live all over the
canals, and are completely at home there. You can be gliding along through the
country, or gently sliding between brick walls in cities and towns, and a group
of swans will come out to greet your boat. They obviously get fed by people in
boats and when they see boats coming along the canals, they come out to see if
food is offered.
The swans are not afraid of the boats, they
swim right towards them and easily swerve out of the way if they get too close.
They look elegant and regal, but they are not friendly; reach down towards them
and they will bite.
After two weeks on the canals, you get
pretty used to seeing swans, and although they are
Swans are everywhere
pretty special in many
places, they are common on the canals. We had a bit of a different encounter
with swans on our last day with the boat.
We went down on the Anderton Boat Lift,
then came back up and decided to spent the rest of the afternoon cruising further
up the canal. There was another tunnel we could do; not as long as the
Harecastle Tunnel, but an experience worth exploring. This tunnel was only 500
meters long, so you could peer in and see the other end, and know if another
boat was coming through the other way.
After stopping for lunch at a lovely
mooring spot after the tunnel, we turned around to come back to Anderton
through the tunnel the other way. I again looked into the tunnel and signaling
Bill that all was clear, and we proceeded through. About a third of the way
through I realized that there was something else in the tunnel with us; I could
see the heads of swans swimming well ahead of us. The family of swans we had
seen on the canal earlier was swimming through the tunnel. This was a mother,
father and four young swans. Now this time of year the young swans are still
grey, but are almost full-grown and as big as their
As we approached half way I realized we
were going to catch the swans before the end of the tunnel. Sitting in the
front of the boat, I could see the swans clearer than Bill who was driving the
boat so I told him to slow down. Even at a slower speed we still were gaining
on the family of swans. Bill slowed a bit more but was concerned about loosing
the ability to steer the boat; we had been warned that going too slow would
cause you to hit the sides of he tunnel.
The swans realized that this was not a good
situation. They wanted to stay in front of the boat, because falling beside the
boat they could get crushed between the walls and the boat. They frantically
tried to speed up and were able to pull ahead for a while, but tired and we
caught them again. Bill tried to inch to one side and one of the young swans
fell beside the boat on the wider side. The mother was desperately herding the
young ones to the safer side while keeping herself between the boat and the
family, while the father led the way and pushed ahead encouraging the family to
Finally as the end of the tunnel came into
range, Bill slowed a bit more and the swans put forth another final burst of
speed, finally pulling out of the tunnel inches ahead of us. Even the one that
had fallen behind was able surge forward into the sunshine. A happy ending for