About a week ago, we were moored ona narrow, shallow and just about deserted stretch of canal – stuck because we’d got after the bridge operator had gone home for tea.
We rather like being in quiet places. This was very quiet. We weren’t even on a Visitor’s Mooring, rather the remains of a private mooring. The village was tiny.
A couple of streets, a Car Repair Garage and opposite us, a cafe bar undergoing renovation, with a dilapidated rowing boat moored alongside and what looked like a wooden caravan in the garden.
The following morning I glanced out of the open door as I put the kettle on. The canal was a straight stretch of water for several hundred yards, fringed with shrubs and reeds. No other boats, except us and the rowing boat. I saw there was something in the water, a long way off. It seemed to be floating. It’s common for clumps of peaty soil which have broken off the banks to travel like this, gathering grass and sometimes a bird’s nest on the way. But this looked different. It was round-ish and I couldn’t make out what it was.
As it got nearer, I was shocked to see it was a human head.
There is no photographic evidence of this by the way. I was rooted to the spot.
Nearer and nearer and it was a definitely a human head. A young man’s head, complete with longish brown hair, tendrils floating on the water and a beard. I think I’ve been reading too many Tudor ‘beheading’ novels because by now I was getting seriously worried.
But pretty soon, I confirmed to myself that it was a young man’s head, but fortunately, connected to a swimming body. He got level with our boat, hauled himself out and disappeared into the cafe garden.
Later on, when we were about to go through the bridge, he reappeared, coffee cup in one hand and piece of toast in the other.
‘Nice boat,’ he said.
‘Thanks,’ I replied, then ‘I saw you swimming this morning.’
‘Yes. Every morning!’
Then we went through the bridge and waved him goodbye.
You can’t always believe what you think you see. Thank goodness!