Friday, 12 June 2015


A few kilometers south from my home the Kennet and Avon Canal wends its way through the Vale of Pewsey.
We were moored up for the night but the grandchildren were restless. I gave them a long wire rake and told them to dredge for treasure in the mud alongside the mooring.
Canal beds were traditionally constructed from clay. This was trodden by workers to form the watertight base of the canal. It was called “puddling” Think treading grapes!
i say workers, but in reality it was probably the wives and children of the ‘Navies’ or “Navigators” who built the canal who trod the clay.
The local pub is called, “The French Horn”. Tourists,  who inquire about the brass horn on the wall are told of how the prisoners from the Peninsular War were forced to construct the canal. French survivors from the battles at Salamanca, Badajoz and Cuidad Rodrigo. Reality is they were professional highly skilled Irish Navies.
Picks, shovels, wheel barrows, some horse power and sweat built this amazing, “ Linear water feature” A LWF? No! Its a F****** canal.
Standing on top of the sixteen lock flight at Devizes. The Caen Hill Flight stretches before you in all it’s glory. It takes the Irish to dig a big hole!
Any way!
Apart from various junk the grandchildren dredged up dozens of fresh water mussels.
Larger than sea mussels they soon filled a bucket.
What do we do now Grand father?
Well, of course we purge them in fresh water!
Now what?
We wait!

Possibly the impatience of youth.
Probably the inability of the adult; not to elaborate.
When can we look for the Pearls Grand father?

Two hours purging should be enough!
Boil them.
Well, you don’t find Pearls  in every one!
The hint of diesel on the tip of the tongue was distinctive.
Let’s just stick to the burgers on the BBQ

The canal is dirty slow flowing.
My AP water would be like heaven.
Is there a danger of importing parasites?

How do you put a piece of grit in a mussel to encourage it to make a pearl?

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