Four groundings, one lock and a perfect turn with no witnesses #narrowboat #england

Fork ‘andles?

Got any ‘O’s?

Got any brown bread?

Desmond? Desmond – where are you, my darling? What has the nasty man with the big boat done to you? DESMOND!

I always worry somewhat when… Actually, no, that sentence is complete unto itself. I always worry somewhat. It stems from a childhood where it was drummed into me that ‘Son, if something can go wrong, it will go wrong’ and ‘Vinegar will dry your blood up’ and ‘I used to love you when you were that age’… the latter being something my mother often said to me when a random toddler hove into view.

Ahem. No, but no but seriously. I always worry somewhat when I’ve just manoeuvred the Cardinal in towards the side of the canal and a mother duck swims up with some measure of anatidae-esque urgency.

Is it a simple case of ‘Got any bread?’ or is she about to kick off on some tearful, tragic “didn’t you see my fourth duckling there, you murderer?” tirade, leaving me searching the Cardinal’s hull for squished duckling.

[A recipe for “Squished Duckling” is available on my sister’s blog here. You do need to use very fresh ducklings though, and these can be difficult to buy if you’re in town.]

Full of eastern promise, in the west. Sunset over Denial.

Her Majesty’s Meteorological Office forecast a week of winds with random engustinations over and above the capacity of a single, stout Hutson with a rope, so I chose the first quiet spell and moved, the better to avoid the irk and the ire of the Canal Rozzers*.

*Irk and Ire are two CaRT chaps with low foreheads and blunt knuckles.

Reality. Mr Sunshine as he most oft appears in Ing-er-lund, sans make-up.

0600hrs was the first quiet spell. The Cardinal was crammed into a spot with barely a fifty-metre gap between us and neighbours fore and aft, so I made preparations and loosed our ropes with some quietth a-plenty, and only started the engine once I was ready to motor away over the horizon.

For various reasons involving, not to put too fine a point on it, the impending ensendination by the “The Bank” of a new debit card (my one and only) to go with “Baby’s First Bank Account”, I am sticking to this corner of the country. The trip was all of forty “tickover minutes”, albeit through “Well that’s a really stupid place to put two lines of moorings” Alley…

Lomo Photo Effect Tool:
What a silly place for moorings. Try navigagating two boats down there in opposite directions in windy conditions, with the friendly locals shouting at you.

(part of the reason why I wanted to avoid manoeuvring in windy-gusts)

… and then out through “Make a sharp right turn now, Claud, now – I said NOW! NOW! AAARRRGH!” Bridge…

Barbridge Junction.

At half-past Sparrowfart O’Clock, with the only witnesses being the wholly disinterested traffic of the A51, I performed a beautiful, a perfect, a tears-of-joy provoking turn through Barbridge Junction. No material for fresh episodes of Reginald Molehusband here, thank you very much.

Onwards we went, past the deserted but still “verboten” 48-hour “visitor” moorings with the nice mooring rings, through the next bridge and away, into territory where the unwanted moor, where the nice boaters never stop.

Where then, I hear you ask, the four groundings and the lock?

Well, they occurred on the previous spin of the planet, when I was attempting to turn at Syke’s Hollow, and move to take delivery of a(nother) solar panel for the Cardinal. Quicksmart, I thought, it will be easier to take the boat to the goods rather than oik the goods along the towpath to the boat. Hah! Water levels on that stretch – probably because of the apocalyptic Middlewich Breach – are down an Imperial inch or three. I found myself grounded when trying to move off. Traffic appeared from both directions where hitherto there had been none. At the winding hole – traffic, again, so I pulled over to wait – grounded, again. In the winding hole – grounded at the bow, damn all in the way of water for the prop to play with at the stern. More traffic, I pulled over, grounded again…

There must have been two dozen witnesses to my misfortunate handling.

I ought to have then handed out invitations to my impending perfect manoeuvre through Barbridge Bridge. “Admiral Hutson cordially invites Her Majesty’s Sniggering Unwashed to witness one occasion when he damned well gets it right…”, that sort of thing.

I’m not a needy person, I don’t require constant praise. Indeed I have one of the newer-model self-inflating egos, but something, some form of recognition would have been nice.

A fly-over from the Red Arrows, perhaps, and a ticker-tape parade up towards Bunbury.

Praise and celebration where praise and celebration is due. In England one may always rely upon the Red Arrows for a little pat on the back when things go well.

But no, just me, the Cardinal and the HGVs thundering past.

Not so much as a marching band.

Not even a Boy Scout with a penny whistle.

Still, job done. We’ve moved, the forecast wind and the Canal Rozzers alike can kiss our stern for a while. We are moored, we have no fewer than four bars of “the mobile 4G” for the interwebnets, and last night’s roadworks on the A51 alongside finished at about 2200hrs with a honk and a flourish. I don’t care, I can sleep through anything, except, perhaps, Paloma Faith’s murderously awful “rendition” of World in Union for the 2015 Rugby World Cup. If you should click on the link then please, please be careful to fill your ear’oles with cheese first.

Much like the tears of pain that Paloma caused with her screechings, there’s rain, rain of manifold and generous varieties forecast for today. I shall stay indoors and fortify myself with a curry and a bottle of beer.

Not, as the more cynical of you might imagine, duckling curry, but a vegetable curry. I was out early this morning with my bow and arrow, hunting vegetables, leaping hedgerow in pursuit of carrot, climbing tree in the primal search for potato, diving into the waters with my flint blade between my teeth, seeking river-cabbage.

The towpath here was mown yesterday, so I am up to my armpits in grass-cuttings. There are CaRT bins within walking distance of these moorings, so the rubbish has been dumped and is no longer underfoot. It is time to sit at my desk and watch (with buttocks tensed) as the “boaters of the summer season” fling themselves past with all manner of tactics worthy of the French Navy at Trafalgar. After a long, long winter, when the canal was as sparsely-populated as the front rows of a Paloma Faith concert, it is taking some adjustment to become used to the increase in traffic.

Tis almost the month of May. Tis time to search the lockers and to dig out my “nerves of steel” for use in the coming months. Time to find those moorings as far as possible out of the way of the summer hoi and the weekend polloi. Time for the Cardinal and I to become creatures of the interstices.

Now there’s a book title – “Creatures of the Interstices”.


Ian H.

Books by Ian Hutson… available on Amazon and all good, bad or ugly book shops.

Click the image for my “Books” page, or follow the links below for Amazon


NGLND XPX – purple verbosity – at Amazon
The Cat Wore Electric Goggles – speculative nonsense – at Amazon
The Dog With The Bakelite Nose – more speculative nonsense – at Amazon

Cheerio, And Thanks For The Apocalypse – COMING SOON!



  1. I notice that I rarely screw up when no one is watching, but let a few people be around and I can mess things up like a pro. Hugs


  2. Just what the doctor ordered on a wet getting chillier sort of day (was that summer we just had?), you do make me laugh. The only problem I had is catching the images of all that lovely bread on your sister’s blog – ’tis such a weakness of mine, I could never pass a cottage loaf or a bloomer when it was winking at me. Something satisfying about being tucked up in an interstice with a pan of curry on the stove and a bun in the oven – happy writing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Bread – an essential in the proper consumption of Marmite. Though I do say it myself, today’s curry was excellent. Extra garlic, extra chilli, extra-terrestrials are all around me, dancing the Macarena. Alright, I may have overdone the chilli… 😉


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