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This was the first Easter I’ve not needed to be on call for work in 5 years. We decided to go for a walk by the canal in between Bradford on Avon and Bath. The day started well when we got to the car park to find that the council had cancelled the car parking fees. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m a tight northerner, but this cheered me a lot. I have been known to drive all around a town looking for some side street to park for free.

Canals are fantastic places. For most of my life I’ve lived near to a canal. As a child I would spend most weekends cycling alongside our local canal through the Pennines. Being such a hilly part of the country the canal was a great place to ride along due to its inherently flat nature. Although here it was punctuated quite frequently by locks, necessitating a short burst of energy if you were heading up a riser.

I have an idea that when we retire we will spend a summer touring the UK canal network stopping off at all the different places we have resided. We have variously lived in Surrey near to the Wey Navigation, North Oxfordshire next to the Oxford Narrow canal, and Berkshire in a village on the Thames, OK not technically a canal, but it is linked into the canal network and frequented by many a narrowboat. Currently we live close to the Monmouthshire and Brecon canal. This wends its way through some beautiful scenery skirting its way around the northern edge of the Brecon Beacons. We have been lucky enough to see all sorts of wildlife along this particular stretch of water. In fact the walks where we have seen a kingfisher outnumber those in which we haven’t. I have yet to get a decent photo of one, although I am hoping that this will change as we have recently upgraded our bridge camera to a DSLR including a 70-300mm lens. We had one of the early professional DSLRs, which was given to me as a birthday present from my dad. But we traded it in 5 years ago because we found it too bulky to carry around. The body of the new one is not much bigger than a bridge camera and takes stunning quality images.

Friday saw us camera in hand strolling eastwards out of Bradford heading towards the village of Monkton Combe alongside the Kennet and Avon. Of particular note were the trees. It really feels like spring has sprung, with some lovely buds opening up to reveal their juicy new leaves.

Juicy Leaves

Juicy Leaves

And what a year for blossom! I genuinely have never seen a year like it, with trees absolutely dripping with the stuff.

The Blossom on our Crab apple

The Blossom on our Crab apple

We didn’t pass a single lock on the Kennet and Avon, which I guess is why it is so popular with both boaters and cyclists (of which there were many on friday). We had a nice lunch at The Wheelwright Arms, and then headed back to Avoncliff to get the train back to Bradford. At this tiny halt station we saw a Bombylius Major or Large Bee fly feeding on some purple honesty, and I even managed to get a half decent photo of it. Something that I would never have been able to do with the old camera.

Large Bee fly

Large Bee fly

I’ll tell you about the rest of the Easter weekend in the next post. I hope you had a good one too and would love to hear about what you got up to.

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