Its’s early in the day but already the tow path along the Bridgewater canal in Sale is busy. It is busy with people running backwards and forwards, backwards and forwards.
Lycra clad individuals pound the floor with their feet while sweat pours down their flushed pink faces. Plastic bottles, clutched tightly in sweaty hands are too brightly coloured; they jar against the watery landscape.
Bicycle bells tinkle in the morning air as more and more people join the journey; backwards and forwards, backwards and forwards.
I stand still.
I stand still and savour the morning with Padfoot by my side.
I don’t mind the dingle of a bicycle bell; it’s a gentle, innocent sound unlike the fast approaching thudding sound of a jogger coming up behind me gasping for breath and shouting “s’cuse me!”
And I want to shout
“Stop for a minute and savour the day.”
Because today is a beautiful day on the towpath in Sale.
Barges line the edges of the water that is calm and still. Somebody is up and must be cooking breakfast because the intoxicating smell of wood smoke is permeating the crisp morning air. It reminds me that Autumn is on the way and I too will soon be revelling the the joy of a good fire.
A heron stands, stock still by the side of the water. Padfoot hasn’t noticed and I don’t want him too because I want to look at this gawky bird a little longer.
Padfoot spots the heron and we are off; it takes everything I have to stop him running hell for leather and upending me in the canal!
A honking sound above stops my hairy companion in his tracks. We look up and see four Canada geese flying overhead; they don’t bother the heron, he flaps his wings for a brief moment, takes a couple of steps sideways and resumes his reverie.
I resume mine. I’m looking at a barge and admiring the shiny gold window frames, the beautifully painted panels and I’m thinking how lovely it would be to sit on the top of the boat and drift down the river on such a fine day.
I did once. Many years ago my friends and I hired a barge and pottered about on the waterways. Then, one afternoon, we sailed around a wide, dawdling bend and came face to face with a riverbank filled with fishermen. O-oh this looked intense and serious. My friend who was steering the boat suddenly lost control. It all happened very slowly as is the way with a barge. She turned the tiller too sharply and we ran aground; we got completely stuck. We tried throwing the vessel into reverse to see if we could salvage the situation to no available; all we did was churn up more and more mucky silt.
We decided the best thing to do was grab the barge poles from the top of the boat and push ourselves away from the bank and back into deep water but where were the barge poles?
“Where were the barge poles!!!”
They were gone. Unbeknown to us they had been nicked the night before when we had been moored up outside a pub.
We were in trouble.
Not to worry we were four lovely girls stranded but surrounded by potentially gallant fishing men; they would surely rush to our aid.
But these people looked angry; they looked really angry!
“You idiots” they shouted waving rods angrily in the air.
” This is a fishing competition!” “And you lot have ruined it!”
Oh dear. We had churned up enough riverbed to drive all the fish away for a very long time.
Thankfully nothing as dramatic happened on this early morning walk. I was able to hold my head high as Padfoot and I sauntered. We did discover some blackberries ripe and juicy but they arched high above us well out of reach; lovely they looked though, framed against the clear blue sky.