I don't want to be a brick in a wall. All bricks look the same and they are cemented into place, kept in rigid order. And walls divide. And life is like banging your head...

Lost Weekend

I took Jack and Isaac on an adventure on Saturday. An adventure is how you have to sell a dog walk to 5 and 9 year old boys on a Saturday. The goal was a set of weirs and a flood defence barrier. The walk took us 4 miles along canal and river and back again. The weather was glorious.

I have a lot of memories in that river. It was nice to share them; cycling through flood waters, swimming to islands and almost lost to my memory, a chain ferry.

The chain ferry was so long ago I wasn't sure it was a real memory. Some memories aren't real, although they are kept in the same part of your brain as real ones. I have a memory about a platypus, but I know that's not real.

I was probably 5 when I last went across the river on that ferry. My cousins lived at the rectory, a huge, run down Victorian building, next to the river and in the shadows of the church spire. There was a gate in the garden to the graveyard. During one long hot summer, probably '76, the garden revealed a well. We imagined it held a secret escape route from the church, a relic of the civil war.

You had to go through the gate and cross the graveyard. Somewhere on the river bank was an oarless, sailless, engineless boat - a tub with a chain. By pulling on the chain the vessel traversed the river.

I walked Jack down to the river bank and showed him where it used to be, as close as I could remember. It seemed a thing of the past. Everything about that house was old - my Aunt reminded me of Queen Victoria herself - and I never imagined the ferry would still be there.

As we stood looking at the opposite bank for something looking remotely like a boat, a man on a fold-up bike appeared.

"Is the ferry still working?"

What a coincidence!

Jack found the chain hidden in the reeds, and we all pulled until the chain lifted clear of the water, all but the middle few feet that is, and a boat stirred under the trees on the other side.

It would have been more than an adventure, but sadly the ferry was locked to its mooring. The mystery man cycled off and we moved on.

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