the locks

Early last month, I dragged Raspberry over to the locks at the Leeds and Liverpool Canal. I say “dragged,” because she had been reluctant to go, but I was itching to get outside after a few quiet days. We’d never been to the locks or the canal before. Actually, I didn’t know of their existence until I picked up a map of Everton Park, which showed the locks right on the edge on the map. The only other time I’d seen locks was in Ottawa and I just marvelled at how they work. Like a little kid, I stood there watching for a long time as the boats made their way from the Rideau Canal to the river.

The locks here were about an hour’s walk from our apartment. We typically walk that distance when we go to the docks, but this walk felt particularly long as we traipsed through unfamiliar neighbourhoods and along unknown streets. As I repeatedly consulted my hand-drawn map, Raspberry, moaning with supposed fatigue, wasn’t especially convinced that our trip was going to be worth it. But she soon changed her tune when we finally got to the canal and lo and behold, there were geese (always a selling point with a kid). Canadian geese who speed-swam over when they saw us at the water’s edge and swam away just as quickly when they saw we didn’t have food for them. Despite this, Raspberry still enjoyed seeing the geese and moorhens and it took a bit of cajoling to get her leave them behind and keep walking toward the locks.

We finally made it there (including a pit stop where she accidentally peed on my shoes and pants) and I think she was as excited about the locks as I was when I first saw them. She had a great time crossing them from one side to another and watching the water seep out through them. I tried to explain to her how the work but I’m not sure if she quite understood. Pulling with all her might, she tried to open the locks manually, of course, to no avail. It’s a shame there weren’t any boats coming in or heading out to the river so she could see the locks in action. It makes me wonder how often boats actually come out here, since I saw cobwebs on some of the rails on the locks.

As interesting as the locks were, what I really wanted to see was the abandoned tobacco warehouse at the Salthouse Dock. When we travel north on the train, I often see the dark, imposing buildings. Because of my camera lens and the speed at which the train travels, I’m not usually able to get a very good picture of them but now, they were finally standing right before me, in all their red-bricked, broken-windowed glory. It would have been cool to be able to get on to the premises, but I suspect it’s not possible. Raspberry busied herself watching trains go by on the bridge, waving and counting the number of cars each had, as I stood in awe of the warehouses. As one might expect, abandoned buildings, especially those you can’t enter, aren’t all that intriguing to six-year-olds and she was desperate to go back to the locks. As we left, we watched transparent metallic blue dragonflies dart across the water, and two girls in purple uniforms kicking a ball back and forth over the canal. The one in the fedora kept saying “fuck” whenever the ball ended up in the water, and she said “fuck” a lot. More than I think any pre-adolescent child should. But I digress.

At the end of our afternoon out, Raspberry declared that the day had been more fun than she had expected (to which, I mentally jumped in the air) and more recently, she’s asked to go back. We probably will, as the summer (or what’s left of it) dies down and we start having to actively search for things to do.

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