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A tale of Easter deceit

A tale of Easter deceit

by Alison Alderton

During our time on the waterways of England, much of it was spent on the peaceful Fossdyke and Witham Navigation and, one of my favourite haunts was the Pyewipe Inn, situated on the rural outskirts of Lincoln.

The Fossdyke and Witham Navigation

The Pyewipe Inn.

Alison Alderton’s boat, Dutch barge Lily, surrounded by open arable land on the Fossdyke and Witham Navigation.
Pyewipe is the local name for the northern lapwing, an attractive wading bird more commonly known as the ‘pee-wit’ due to its distinctive call. The bird is associated with plenty of folklore; due to its screeching and reeling some believe they represent the widows of sailors lost at sea, desperately searching for their loved ones, whist others consider it a bearer of bad luck and its call a warning that it is ‘be-witched.

The lapwing is usually associated with open arable land and/or wetlands. Due to changes in farming practices numbers have sharply declined and it is now a red listed bird.

Attribution: By Alastair Rae from London, United Kingdom (Northern Lapwing) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
A flock of these birds is referred to as a deceit of lapwings, an unfortunate name for such a pretty little wader but this is due to a clever trick it plays when its nest is threatened. When a predator is spotted, the lapwing will walk away dragging a wing on the ground to give the impression it is injured, directing all attention upon itself and away from the nest with its precious contents.

The bird is also partly responsible for the origins surrounding the tale of the Easter bunny. Lapwings and hares, which the Easter bunny is originally thought to be, share the same habitat and are often seen together. As lapwings’ nest on the ground, and hares will make a type of nest from trampled grasses to sleep in, it sometimes occurs that both will share and make temporary use of each other’s nests. People have been known to disturb a hare from a nest filled with eggs, which resulted in some believing the hare had been warming them, and hence the origin of the Easter bunny and his basket of eggs.


The hare, unlike the rabbit, spends its entire life above ground and shelters in a shallow depression of scraped earth and trampled grasses.

Attribution: By Jean-Jacques Boujot from Paris, France (Lièvre brun / Brown Hare) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

The tradition of sending Easter postcards to relatives and friends developed during the end of the 19th century. Early cards were mainly monochrome but sometimes coloured and often portrayed children with lambs, poultry, and eggs. Young girls were a symbol for luck and hope. The Easter bunny, a personified symbol of fruitfulness.

Attribution: By National Library of Norway [No restrictions], via Wikimedia Commons
As Easter traditionally marks the beginning of the boating season, my crew and I would like to wish our fellow boaters a happy 2019 boating season. And, to all of our other friends, social media followers and readers of our written words, both on and off the water, a very Happy Easter.

Springtime flowers and Easter decorations on board Dutch barge Lily.

Many different types of Easter decoration have been discovered whilst boating in Europe. At Varberg in Sweden, coloured feathers are used to add a splash of colour to shrubs.

An Easter wreath created from twigs and decorated with coloured feathers.

Easter decorations in Germany

Happy Easter.
A tale of Easter deceit is a deleted story from the first draft of Boating with Buster – the life and times of barge Beagle by Alison Alderton. Available here:

Why not visit the Pyewipe Inn:

Find out more about the Lapwing here:

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Discover more about Alison Alderton and her travels on the waterways of Europe at:


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