Tomorrow…. Tuesday 26th June, 2019….. Day 31 of our Circumnavigation…. the good ship Poli Poli will quietly slip her lines at the crack of dawn and head for the Cumberland Basin, the two swing bridges and the seaward lock…. hopefully all will either open or swing and we will head down the River Avon to the open sea. Technically not the sea but the Estuary of the River Severn and part of the Bristol Channel.
We have been instructed by the port authority to be at the first swing bridge called Junction Lock Bridge by 5.45am tomorrow. We are heading for Cardiff…. about 30 n.miles down channel from Bristol City Centre. Firstly there will be about 8 n.miles sailing down the River Avon which will include a second visit to the Avon George and its iconic suspension bridge. Also the M5 Avonmouth bridge, not as spectacular, but that comes later in the journey out to sea.
So why the delay and 5 nights in Bristol? Our main freshwater pump which serves three sinks and two showers…. started malfunctioning in the Scilly Isles. On reaching Newlyn on the mainland we thought we had it fixed…. a marine engineer came and investigated… the original pump was defunct with a leaking diaphragm.
He made his diagnosis on a Friday afternoon in Newlyn and promised to return after the weekend with a new pump. He did not. On phoning his works we found that he had reported sick with an abscess. There was no other engineer available. We had already wasted two days in Newlyn ( although we would not have been able to sail as the weather was atrocious ).
We had no option but to go rather than lose a third day. So we have had no running water to the sinks or showers. Toilet flush is done with sea water. When we arrived at Portishead we found a marine engineer guy called Ray … a mad but brilliant motor bike guy. Mad on motor bikes just to clarify. He looked at the empty space in the bilges where the old pump had been and he organised the purchase of a new one from Force 4 Chandlery in Bristol.
This was duly collected on the Friday after we had arrived in Bristol…. but once again a weekend got in the way. Ray did a good job on the Friday but needed to come back on the Monday to finish it off with a special part from his works in Portishead. He completed the new freshwater pump this morning Monday… and we sail tomorrow Tuesday. Thank goodness for that. “On the road again”….. a Canned Heat song of the 1960’s comes to mind…. not really a “road” but the metaphor is there. Remember Canned Heat anybody?
Margaret left Bristol for Battle and home on Sunday morning. After a walk to the station with Margaret … to Temple Meads…. I walked back along the canal into the city centre. I crossed from the south to the north side at St. Phillip’s Bridge just below Castle Park and St. Peter’s Church.
As I approached the bridge I noticed a number of menfolk with telescopes, binoculars, and cameras… leaning over the stone railings. I looked left downstream and noted a huge brownish building adjacent to one as big, but covered in plastic and the jib arm of a great big building crane sticking out.
As I have encountered such folk previously, I always make a habit of stopping and asking “and what are we looking at today…. please? Well the gist of it was… a pair of peregrine falcons had mated on a ledge at the top of the brown building…. mistaking it for a cliff face… water below etc and lots of lovely fat pigeons winging about ( food source ).
Two young peregrine falcons had been produced and they were still hanging around the nest high up on the ledge. Amazing …. all in the centre of a major city. Yes I know about the falcons on top of Chichester Cathedral…. but weren’t they put there to deal with the pigeon population? The natural habitat of the peregrine falcon is not high rise office blocks in cities… or is it?
So in conversation with a lovely, charming, knowledgeable elderly gentleman, we first established the difference between a “twitcher” and a “bird watcher”. He was the latter…. the former he described as …. “obsessive, bonkers, over the top” folk. Ok?
What this kind gentleman did do… was to allow me to look through his super dooper double telescope… the size of … well a mini type Jodrell Bank thing. What did I see?… firstly the male Peregrine Falcon sitting at the end of the jib of the building crane.
And then the kind chap, refocused, readjusted to the high ledge on the brown building… and lo and behold a wonderful image of the female Peregrine falcon preening herself. The youngsters were no where to be seen. Nothing to do with sailing… but a wonderful moment in a crowded, noisy big city.
So it is not all hustle and bustle, Weatherspoons, hotels, the Za Za Bazaar and a hundred noisy eateries and bars….. and thousands of people with people banter and singing going on until the early hours. A pair of Peregrine Falcons live here as well.
Tomorrow is Cardiff…. our first of the five capital cities. Welsh falcons I wonder? Thought it was more “dragon” country? We will see.