Mad Swan Disease
We had the inestimable pleassure of being chased down the Leeds-Liverpool Canal by an insane swan. We were in a tiny motorboat roaring along at about 3 knots, which we hired in Skipton. At the time, Ben was at the wheel, returning us to the quay, Nick having piloted us up the canal for about half an hour. Apparently we were getting too close to the birds clutch of cygnets, but even while we were retreating at a distance of several hundred feet, the swan came running down the canal, neck outstretced, wings aflap, honking like a fire engine, and attempted to bite us. As Roy Scheider might have said, we needed a bigger boat. Adding insult to injury, the rain then suddenly poured down, which lasted until we got to shore. Nick's umbrella only served as a sail in the gusts of wind, so we all got pretty soaked.
However by the time we arrived in the town of Masham we were dry enough and enjoyed a fabulous lunch in the Suncatcher Cafe, which was every bit as Eugenean as its name implies, complete with brightly colored walls, funky glassware, and Nitin Sawhney music. In fact the ponytailed owner had been in Eugene.
The boys especially liked digging around in the antique store next door -- a treasure trove of junk and presided over by the father-in-law of the cafe owner, who explained many of the arcane items to the kids, such as a baby's gas mask from WWII, which was like a midget deep-sea diving suit you strapped the child into.
We continued through the dales to Leyburn, arriving just in time for the boys to control some toy cars and canal boats at the Beech End model village. On the way home we stopped impulsively at Jervaulx Abbey, which I'd not heard of, but it rivaled Fountains Abbey in size and coolness -- many ruined rooms and passages in a beautiful sheep meadow.