BootsnAll Travel Network

Education on the Canal

by MamaBear

“It’s surely not summer holidays yet?” we are frequently asked. Cue quizzical expression on enquirer’s face. No, it’s not, but these kids don’t go to school anyway. However, they are not short on learning.


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Boat-handling skills…

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Bridge engineering….(as well as comparing these to the French and Spanish bridges, we’ve been reading the informative plaques – the brick one was designed and built in 1799)

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by Jboy16

2012-10-09 Jaala London Canal 007
by Kgirl13

History…GrandpaBear explains the pillboxes we frequently pass:
”During the second world war when France, Holland and Belgium were all occupied by Germans, who were preparing to invade England, we needed to prepare defences. Firstly the beaches were covered with barbed wire and all manner of things to keep invaders out. The second line of defence was the canal system running across the south of England. It was to act as a deterrent for easy progress of troops, supplies, guns etc. The plan was to blow up bridges and several hundred pillboxes were installed along the north side of the river/canal.” Later GrandpaBear also throws in some Geography….most of the landscape is almost Dutch-flat, but there was one hill 300 feet high and he knowingly pointed out to everyone nearby that it is the highest spot in southern England…

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Seasons……(four in one day here – we started with a wintery mist hovering over the water and an almost-freezing temperature, sun emerged for a few hours, but was chased away by rain that turned to hail as we were negotiating a swing bridge with hand-operated barriers, and sometimes the sun-dappled leaves looked springlike, other times obviously autumnal)….

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summer blue sky

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Lifestyle choices…..

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(or maybe that picture could be called “jigsaw puzzle design”)

Exercise (we have walked lots of the towpath)…

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And the biggie that non-homeschoolers often get concerned about:

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here they are fishing
(that is to say, they’d like to be,
but have to be satisfied with pretending to as we do not have a license)…

And finally….

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from Lboy11’s journal:

Today as we arrived at the third lock a man who had been sharing the locks with us showed us an American signal crayfish, which is considered a pest. They are constantly breeding and have no reproductive cycle. It is LAW to kill them (you can eat them). The man let me kill it.

Well that’s the important detail, is it not?! The reason there is a law prohibiting you returning the crays to the water alive is that they are such a problem – they eat the native fish eggs and the large ones even eat ducklings, and more disastrously they burrow into the banks and cause the canal sides to fall in. They are costing the country millions of pounds as a concerted effort is underway to rid the streams, rivers, canals and ponds of these destructive  varmints and repair the extensive damage they have caused. Many of the canalboaters travel equipped with nets and buckets, and find the crayfish make very good eating (after at least half an hour sitting in fresh water). Today’s was too small, and so the honour of extermination went to whoever was willing to write about it later!

Biology and ecology done.

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One Response to “Education on the Canal”

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