Back at the caravan, and with the dogs on their outside line, I collected together the things for my cycle ride - a couple of cans of Coke, a slab of fruit cake and a knife so I could have a 'picnic', and a large bottle of water and bowl for the dogs - put them in a carrier bag and strapped the whole lot to the carrier on the back of my bike. Then with the camera round my neck and the dogs on their leads I set off - I walked as far as the canal towpath then let the dogs off the lead so I could cycle along and they could run behind me or at the side. I decided to go back in the direction of Garstang and just keep going till I found a suitable place for my picnic, though I only cycled slowly and had plenty of stops for the dogs to have a drink and a few minutes rest. Once I had got away from the main hub of civilisation it was lovely and peaceful meandering slowly along the towpath - birds sang in the trees, cows grazed in the fields, ducks and swans with their babies swam in the clear water and sometimes a fish broke the surface, leaving ever-increasing ripples spreading out towards the bank. On a couple of occasions a boat passed going the opposite way, and the people on board either waved or shouted a cheerful hello - I don't know what it is about boat people but they always seem very friendly. The hawthorn trees and hedges along the towpath were in full bloom and the scent of the blossom was divine. I love the smell of hawthorn and I've often wished that some enterprising perfume manufacturer could reproduce it as a perfume and bottle it.
I don't know how far I cycled - it was probably only about four miles but it seemed to be more than that as I was going so slowly - but eventually the peace and quiet was broken by the sound of voices and children playing. Up ahead I could see a stone parapet alongside the canal and the voices were coming from that direction. When I got there and looked over the wall I saw the most perfect place for my picnic - a shallow river, which came from the other side of the canal and flowed underneath it, with a wide grassy bank and a couple of stony 'beaches'. Children and dogs were playing in the water while mums and dads watched from the bank - there was even one family having a barbecue. The way down to it was very steep though so I chained and locked my bike to the nearby railings, collected my 'picnic' then picked my way carefully down the hill. At the bottom I made my way along till I found a nice patch of grass, then while the dogs played in the water I opened one of my cans, cut myself some cake, and had my little picnic.
It was lovely sitting there in the sunshine, and I could have stayed there all day while the dogs played in the river and explored along the bank but all too soon it was time to think about going back to the caravan, so gathering my things together and calling the dogs I made my way back up the hill to where I'd left my bike. The return journey was just as peaceful as before, and even though I was cycling at the same speed as previously for some reason it didn't seem to take as long. Arriving back at the caravan I put the kettle on for a brew and prepared for an evening of relaxation and maybe a bit of tv watching - the dogs had already collapsed onto their beds, and apart from a short last minute walk before bed that's where they stayed for the rest of the evening. The fresh air and the long walk had tired them out, but come the morning they would be eager to go out again - but where to next? I would let the weather decide that for me!