With the prospect of a long cold winter to match last year, I've been trying to make the most of every brief appearance of our mostly absent summer sun. This week we ventured further westward along the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, fetching up at the Ship Inn near Haskayne, somewhere well off the beaten path - in this case just off the Maghull Southport Road.
I sat for a while watching a coot eyeing up the canal boats as if he were searching for the best words to introduce himself. Some patrolling ducks came along. One duck peeled off and jumped up onto the bank and a coot followed him. The two strolled along together, uncommonly friendly, like the oddest couple promenading proudly together. At one point they managed to get the wrong side of a fence separating them from the water. They marched up and down that fence at least three times, searching for the way back, turning back on themselves just before the gap each time.
"It's this way, dear," they quacked.
"No I'm sure it's the other way."
"No dear, I distinctly remember..."
"No, no, I remember this daisy..."
"There are daisies all over."
At last they found the gap and the duck went back to the other ducks and the coot went back to eyeing up his canal boat. It never would have worked.
We had a drink and lunch while we watched the canal boats emerging from under Ship Bridge #22. Although the location was pretty much ideal, with shady trees, the soothing atmosphere of a place by the water and picnic tables right up to the canal bank, I can't really recommend the food. It was pretty basic. But the ducks, the coot, the sunshine, the shady trees and the quiet water more than made up for it.
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