Friday 25 November 2022

Tranquility, and the magnificence that is Patricia


Photos from a glorious day by the canal with the middle boy, who wanted to go fishing. We were out pretty much from sunrise to sunset. He caught a pike while I pottered around taking photos and reading about canal history.

It's fascinating. Take this pill box for example:

It is one of a ring of around 260 pill boxes forming a protective circle, known as Stop Line Green, around Bristol and the port of Avonmouth, to try and prevent German forces from approaching from the east in the Second World War. It was also to defend the factory there, which was a ghost factory, ready to take over munitions production if another factory was bombed. Scary times indeed. The pill box is unusual in that it is two storeys high, rather than just one, and has what is believed to be an anti-aircraft placement on top.

The factory was in an old cloth mill, originating from the late 1400s. Lots of history down on the canal, I'm telling you.

The bit I liked best was called 'The Ocean':

Not exactly ocean-sized, but very pretty. No-one knows exactly why it's called The Ocean - maybe a touch of sarcasm. Or maybe because back in the day it was as near to an ocean as the yokels got.

I also read about how a railway bridge over the canal has just been rebuilt after they drained a stretch of the canal, moving fish and everything. The wildlife has reappeared now the water is back. A kingfisher flew right past me and I saw a buzzard right overhead and a greater spotted woodpecker in a tree. A family of swans spent the day drifting up and down a pretty stretch of the water. All in all a good day out. I even managed to stay calm(ish) when the fish was caught. You will be happy to know it was released again and no-one was bitten.

The old manor house behind the wall with the grass and the bench (ate my sandwiches there) is Stonehouse Court and dates back to 1601. In fact the estate is mentioned in the Domesday book. The church next to it (the photo with the weeping willow) dates back originally to the 1200s, but the building that is there now was started in the 1400s.

Panning out, there was a glorious barge in the canal next to Stonehouse Court called Patricia. I know you'll want to see her...

Magnificent, no? Who knew you could get a JCB boat?

In other news I am ignoring both the World Cup and Christmas. There is almost nothing positive about the former and the latter is just annoying and generally an eco-disaster.

I've been enjoying the early sunsets and the cosy winter feeling. While simultaneously trying to hold back with the heating :) Tricky isn't it. I do so love the countryside in winter. All that cold clean sky and pretty cottages with lighted windows in the dusk. 

Do you think it's time to put sunflower seeds out for the birds? They naturally dispersed in spring so I stopped feeding them, like they do at the wetlands place. But I feel it might be time to start up again.

I'm also contemplating getting a crab apple tree for wildlife. Although I never see birds actually eating crab apples. Maybe that's because I am always walking past the tree at the time. I have pretty much persuaded myself anyway. They are very pretty almost all year round. I would want one with small berry-sized (bird-bite-sized) crab apples for the birds I think. 

I am still waiting for a hedgehog. Well, there could actually be one in the hedgehog house but I don't like to look in case there is and I disturb it. I think the rat is still living under next-door's decking though. Bertie has a good sniff around on a regular basis and he should know with his super-spaniel nose. I am not fussy about wildlife, a rat will do nicely for now. 

All okay at your end? Ignoring anything? Got a hedgehog?


  1. Glorious photos. I too am ignoring both the World Cup and Christmas. The former because of the rank hypocrisy and the latter as a counterpoint to my neighbours who put their tree up yesterday!
    We have a crabapple in the front garden and I love it - beautiful blossom and then stunning little bright red apples. Sometimes I make jelly, but mostly I leave them to the pigeons, blackbirds and the occasional fieldfare who all love them. It's fun to watch our rather plump pigeons edging slowly along the branches to reach the fruit at the tips!
    I've never been fishing but it sounds like a nice relaxing passtime. I love Mortimer and Whitehouse's 'Gone Fishing' ........... "And away......."
    Patricia is indeed magnificent! xx

  2. Lovely photos. It’s such a joy to see blue sky after it’s been so wet and grey for a while. I’m glad to live in a canal town, seeing different barges and other water-traffic is much more interesting than roads 😄
    I think the blackbirds would enjoy your crab apple

  3. Lovely Autumnal photos of the Stroudwater Navigation. 👌
    We're members of the Cotswold Canals Trust so yes I knew about them having a JCB barge. They also have a floating dredger that has to be pushed along by a work boat (called Annette 2) as it's not self propelled! 😂

    We don't have a hedgehog in the box yet - think it's still too mild for him to start hibernating but he's definitely still around and eating his dinner at night. Haven't actually seen him since late summer though!

  4. Our local rat spent hours harvesting the crab apples from the tree in our garden. We watched from the kitchen window as he went back and forth - really rather cute. So a crab apple tree will keep all the wild life happy!

  5. Wonderful photos, there's so much to see by any stretch of water, isn't there. I love how much history there is down there, and the names too - Blunder Lock and Patricia. I actually feed the birds all year round, it costs me a fortune, but I enjoy seeing them in the garden. There weren't all that many here when we moved earlier on this year, but I've coaxed a wider variety into the garden now.

  6. Beautiful photos! So much history.....absolutely fascinating stuff. If the walls could talk and all that. We have a crabapple tree...I planted it this spring, chosen as Emma-dog's memorial tree, feeling it was rather fitting as she was, indeed, a bit of a crabapple herself. I think they're lovely trees -- very wildlife friendly, between the blossom and then the fruit. It's a win-win - highly recommend. Alas, no hedgehogs here, though I wasn't expecting one :D We had a rat living under the front steps last winter....we used to watch in horrified fascination as he popped his head up out of the snow to scavenge the bird seed. He had quite a tunnel system under there. Some municipalities will ban bird feeders for that reason - rats - completely missing the point and assuming that will stop them living amongst us. No-one ever said politicians had any common sense, though.

  7. Beautiful photos! I do love a wander up and down a canal. Did you cook the pike or return it to the water? I am sure crabapples would be much appreciated by birds. I started putting out sunflower seeds, the birds are loving it. No hedgehog sightings in our garden unfortunately. Have a lovely and hopefully dry weekend xx

  8. A most enjoyable post and lovely pictures. Blunder Lock made me smile. Getting a crab apple sounds like a good idea. Like you I'm ignoring the World Cup and Christmas.
    I've never seen a hedgehog on the allotments, or indeed anywhere else for many years sadly. xx

  9. The light in your photos is glorious. I do love low light at this time of year. I can just imagine the fun you had on your day out. I would have been in my element, not the fishing you understand, but all that wonderful history. Sadly I have stopped feeding the birds. We still have plenty as there’s lots to eat berry and seed wise but I’m not encouraging them with two naughty kitties in residence. Having said that they are very indoor cats and haven’t touched anything feathered yet so maybe they’ll be like my old cat wizard who never caught a bird in his very long life. Good luck with the hedgehogs. B x

  10. We feed birds all year round and they are definitely enjoying the sunflower hearts. You do have lovely scenery and interesting history nearby, Glad you managed to dodge the pike's teeth.

  11. What gorgeous photos! I must get the map book out and see where exactly you were, it’s probably not too far from me. I too am ignoring the World Cup (yawn) and I have zero enthusiasm for Christmas (a neighbour has already fully decorated their house 🙄). We have two hedgehogs that scare our cowardly rescue dog and we think they live under the garden shed. Strange looking creatures when you think about it! I love seeing them though I think they’re probably daunted by the number of massive slugs in the garden.

  12. Hello CJ, may I recommend Malus Red Sentinel, an upright growing crab apple which holds onto its red marble-sized crab apples until the new year thus decorating the garden for Christmas (who needs plastic lights made in Chinese sweat shops). I like this tree so much I now have two, both planted as bare root maiden trees so not expensive. It has white blossom from March onwards and tiny fruits appear soon afterwards and slowly turn from green to red through every colour on the spectrum. I find the birds don’t eat the fruit until we’ve had several proper frosts which blet the apples and make them easier to peck. I like your canal side photos very much. My mum and dad in their retirement lived on the river in a little weather-boarded cottage and at the bottom of the garden they had a wooden sleeping boat called Tide End aboard which they used to travel the length and breadth of England’s waterways. And, yes, we do have a family of hedgehogs in the garden. Sarah in Sussex (formerly Homeslip).

  13. Your photos are wonderful. I think I too would spend the time wondering if my child was fishing, that sounds like a wonderful way to spend a day. I love finding out about the history of places too. Thank you for sharing this lovely post.