The anatomy of a Monday move #narrowboat #England

Do all that may be done, and then put your feet up and do nothing.

The view from my desk window this morning…

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Yesterday was a day of action – busy, busy, busy. I unhinged the Cardinal from our moorings, pootled up the canal a bit, turned us around in a delightfully deserted winding hole, ambled back to the services at Venetian marina, emptied/filled, turned again there (with an audience this time, natch) and jogged along a mile and some, through the 11′ fall of Minshull Lock and thence to some nice moorings just yon side of Aqueduct marina.

To add “goodness me” to “ooh yes” the neighbours bogged politely off this morning, so the Cardinal and I have these moorings, for the moment, all to ourselves.

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The view is dreadful, nothing but scenery and greenery (“brownery” at this time of year).

I slept inordinately well last night after yesterday’s exertions. The list of activities may not sound a lot, but for one of Life’s rabbits-in-the-headlights, it was quite enough.

Technically, the Cardinal and I could have had another couple of days on our previous moorings, we wouldn’t have transgressed against the 1995 Waterways Act until Wednesday had come and gone – but the day dawned as still and as quiet as the space behind a politician’s eyes. Dull, yes, grey, yes, but absolutely without breeze and thus perfect for the manoeuvring of a narrowboat. Even the rain held politely off until I had just – and only just – finished bunging the tonneau cover back on at our new moorings.

Autumn is most definitely upon us. I know this because the towpath is wetter and soggier than the canal itself, just about. Squelch is not just a radio-ham term, it applies to the size-eleven feet of Hutson too.

I debated with myself (I have a small mirror in my cage, next to the cuttlefish) about whether to tackle the Minshull lock after manoeuvring for watering, gazunder-emptying and bunkering. Solo, it is an intimidating-looking lock, with an eleven-foot drop and all of it downwards. Back came the reply from myself; just get on with it, Princess, it won’t get done if you don’t do it.

I got on with it and, since there was a boat following us but none waiting to come up, I half-reset the lock for the approaching followonerers too.

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Because of the generous drop it was necessary for me to use those swimming-pool ladders, the white handrails of which you can see in the photograph above. The trick seems to be to tuck one’s cold steel windlass down one’s trousers (where I felt that it really ought to have rattled against my cold, steel cojones), to hold the boat’s centre-rope between one’s teeth and to just launch backwards over the side, hoping that the Cardinal was going to be down there still, somewhere after the bottom rung. It does seem awfully deep and especially dark and gloomy and of the Middle Earth down inside that lock, alone…

At least the powers that be have provided a little bridge, crossing from one side of the lock to the other for the use of while shutting the lock gates, although room here is at a premium, since they’ve also sold off every last inch of the old lock-keeper’s cottage. They have’t exactly been over-generous with  the handrail either!

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The goodly thing about doing a lock with no-one else around (except, here, for a following boat approaching in the distance), is that I can take my time – opening half a paddle, then just one full paddle, so that the Cardinal doesn’t bounce around and back and forth too much, and is easier thus to keep away from the dreaded cill.

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Once through the lock – and, oh boy, did it feel good to be through it – it was just a matter of pootling through the next bridge and finding ourselves somewhere to tie up. There is a large marina not far along, and just beyond that are some splendid “El Visitor” moorings, which is where we hitched up.

The canal’s infrastructure may be a couple of centuries old for the most part, but my goodness me, it gets some outrageous battering…

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…with dirty-great lorries pounding across the bridges, for one thing.

Motoring past the marina reminded me why I like not being in a marina – boats moored cheek by jowl like sardines in a tin. This is a very nice marina too, and the cafe still makes chips the proper way – thickly cut from the screaming live potato and fried in good old-fashioned sunflower oil. I have helped them dispose of many a plateful.

Dreamy Blend Photo Effect: there to be a public competition to name today I don’t doubt that the winning suggestion would be Gloomy McGloomyarse. I had to hold a lit candle aloft and wave it around to get suffiicent light for even this photograph.

Still, the garden hereabouts is well-enough tended and the views reasonably inoffensive.

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This being the season of “winter stoppages” and other magical delights, there are workmen abounding on the canal. These chaps were cutting back vegetation on the offside. Well, to be exact, they were mostly struggling for balance on that ridiculous raft, but when not flapping their arms about and squealing like big girls’ blouses, they were cutting back offending vegetation. Well done chaps, seriously well done indeed and thank you.

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That, in essence, was Monday, except to mention that I went to Bedfordshire at my usual time (just after The Magic Roundabout) but woke some two hours later than is usual this morning, Tuesday. This proves if nothing else that I am a wuss and a wimp, in need of extra sleep after a day of rather mild exertions.

All that I did was to fling a 57′ long 17 ton boat around with abandon, do enigmatic things with water hoses, run back and forth with a trolley laden with gazunder cassettes and do unspeakable things with them over sluices (while telling my mind that there was no need to actually be wholly present in the moment), lug around a few 25kg sacks of coal, move my home with the filling and draining of a few tens of thousands of litres of water and hop up and down a couple of 11′ ladders like some coal-miner. The hardest part was all of this hopping back and forth between Imperial and Metric measurements, and I’m well used to that anyway, being a mixed-up child of England’s sixties…

Two boats have passed us today, three if you include the neighbours moving on the moment they realised that the Cardinal and I had moored on the same stretch. Damn, it’s hectic.


The Cardinal and I are now in “terra incognita”, having not been this way before – at least, not together – and we will be heading farther into the unknown for the next few weeks (avoiding winter closures).

Gosh golly, I think I need another lie-down near the decanters. Perhaps a snooze before I take myself into the galley and see what may be what for dinner.

It’s such a gloomy (McGloomy) day today that I need substance, solidity – real food.

Hmm, choices, choices, choices.

Jalfrezi, Madras or Rogan Josh? Rice or popplepippledums, or both?

Possibly in combination with another evening in front of the stove, with a good book.


Ian H.


  1. That scenery does look very ordinary. I mean what with the rolling green pasture and the autumn leaves and the canal and what-not. It’s just merely, isn’t it? 😉

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    1. I do feel somewhat spoilt by the scenery in most places – mind you, a stretch of the canal up towards Northwich, through the Tata chemical works should cure me of that… The great thing about this scenery is that someone else takes care of it – someone mows the grass, farmers tend their fields and I get the benefit. Nice one! 😉

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  2. What a delightful tale about your latest adventures! I visited my sister and brother-in-law at the Aqueduct Marina a couple of years ago… they live on a converted camper van now. I have seen the canal frozen solid in Middlewich many times during my years of living here 🙂

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    1. Ice is nice, but it’s the polar bears, penguins and Scott expedition that I am lookinng forward to when the canal freezes! Note to self – get the planning right this year about where exactly to be, when, and how much coal to have in stock… 😉


  3. Loving the autumnal colours creeping in. Do you plan to moor up at a mariner for the winter given we are meant to have a bad one? And if so can we expect any of the writing project to be completed – other than your journal entries?

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    1. The Cardinal and I will be staying out on the canals this winter – I just hope that if it is a properly wintery winter that I get my planning right! 😉 I have almost finished the next collection of short stories – after scrapping most of them earlier and having to write replacements! Then I can move on to the huge list of other things I need to write. I’m slowly finding my routine, so that I can live this mobile life and yet also slob around, writing… 😉

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    1. Hi Chris – and many thanks for the re-blog, tis much appreciated! I do apologise for the analogy – anyone would think that I have little but disdain for modern politicians! 😉 p.s., I do…

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    1. Hi Scottie, it can and it does – I saw ice a few times last winter. I won’t be moving the boat in ice, although some [idiots] do. The trouble is that it breaks in to great chunks and at the least takes the blacking (the protective paint) off the hull – and the hulls of any boat nearby, which is the problem – and the worst is that it can sink boats. GRP boats are especially vulnerable, but a steel boat with a tired hull (the Cardinal is in fine fettle there, no problems) can be affected. The flow on the canals is absolutely minimal in most places. The Cardinal and I need to make sure that, if we have a “proper” winter, we have sufficient fuel aboard for the stove, and no need to move anywhere, anywhen, until it thaws! 😉

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