I spotted a CaRT spotter yesterday – first one for ages. This one had disguised himself with a very casual wardrobe and a small King Charles-esque dog, but his t bore the spoor of the Trust’s logo, and he paused to tap my number into his armoured iPadling Paddypad. It seems a tad o.t.t. to log us all so, given that there are currently few options for any long-distance movement, with outright drought-measure closures left, right and centre juggling for elbow space with breaches and lock failures, but I suppose that one must maintain certain standards, even during wartime.
I like spotting spotters, and I am always happy to chat if the opportunity arises – their presence means that my presence has been noted. I can get an idea of the gaps that I may have to fill in for the CaRT hive mind should they become arsey-tarsey in re “my pattern of movement”.
Pattern of movement indeed! The phrase makes me sound like a baboon troop fitted with radio-tags and monitored by the WWF (the wildlife thing, not the wrestling thing …although, come to think on it…).
Her Majesty’s Meteorological Office is predicting movement to an even more inner circle of Hell tomorrow, something approaching the nineties in Fahrengezundheits (what is that in new money? Thirty Celsi-oids?), so took the opportunity of a more human morning this morning to visit the necessary offices and move a little, just to show baboon-willing.
There’s a new water-point above the lock at Cholmondeston, and very welcome it is too. I gave it a try this morning. The flow-rate from the hose into the Cardinal’s tank reminded me rather of an elderly mouse pissing into Rutland Water. After half an hour of absentmindedly visualising an elderly mouse with prostate trouble pissing into a national reservoir the Cardinal and I upped sticks and headed through the lock, towards the very splendid Venetian Chandlery Services.
The tap there is more akin to two or three elderly mice, &etc &etc. 😉
Sadly, yonder lock was agin me, and there was not a sniff of a ripple of a hint of a boat wanting to come up, so I had to fill the lock and take something like 7′ x 11′ 3″ x 70′ of water along with us for the ride. It felt terribly wasteful in this uber-drought, but there was no choice, needs must when Captain Pugwash drives. That said, I am sure that the breach-curtailed remainder of the Middlewich Branch made good use of the H2O.
I had to wait a few minutes at the lock because Mr Canal & River Trust was there with some contractors, making preparations and plans for the closure for a month or so in November. Apparently the slot for the stop-boards isn’t right, so they’ll have to put a temporary dam in a yard or two away instead.
This at least gave me a few more minutes to gird my loins for oiking down the slimy 11′ 3″ ladder to get back aboard the Cardinal once I’d drained the lock.
At the services, Thunderbirds I, II and III were shown in no uncertain terms to the Elsan Point, the water tank was topped off (545 litres) and the diesel tank took something on the order of 33.5 litres before it belched and said “enough, I am full again”.
The Cardinal appears to do about an hour (of anything) to a litre. An hour of cruising, perhaps three miles. An hour of running the engine while moored to give the batteries a charging treat (a rare occurrence these days, with the roof covered in solar panels). An hour of the Mikuni hot water/central heating boiler. It doesn’t matter.
Today was a walkabout day for the Cardinal. Sometimes he’ll just sit quietly on the end of a rope, move along when asked, sit quietly again while moored. On walkabout days the boat is a little more …energetic. I came to a halt at the new waterpoint and stepped off with centre-line in hand – and Mr Wolsey accelerated away like a duck-whippet cross on a mission of some sort. I tied the centre-line at the Venetian services – and Mr Wolsey stretched it as far as it would stretch, testing my Boy Scout knots. I tied the stern, the bow came out. I tied the bow, the stern had moved out. Mr Wolsey, it seemed, wanted to be up, up and away. Such behaviour on such an oppressively hot, still, summer days does make me ponder on the animated nature of some supposedly inanimate, supposed objects.
Mr Wolsey is, as am I, keen to move a little farther and wider, but this freakishly hot spell is simply not conducive. For one thing, most of the canals in this corner of England are closing at the weekend due to lack of water to keep them open. Closing for probably all of August and at least until such time as there has been significant rainfall. Combine those stoppages with the serious breaches and the various lock failures, and tis, m’dears, a tad difficult to plan a route that isn’t almost guaranteed to leave me stranded somewhere rotten, somewhere in the middle of facilities-nowhere, shops out of reach, Thunderbirds filling rappdly. In short, I am not moving far until the canal system is a little, just a little little, bit more reliable!
Today is one of those days, thus, when that which ought to be empty is empty, that which ought to be full is full, I have comestibles a-plenty aboard and moorings refreshed in some minor way. There is very little of shade to be had hereabouts, but shade has its disadvantages anyway, in its deleterious effects upon the flow of electrickery into the Cardinal’s batteries. Were there to be shade I might be a tad cooler, but there is none, and in the sun I can at least switch on anything that needs to be switched on from coolbox to multiple fans to laptop to DVD player with something soothing and cooling.
Currently in the “soothing and cooling DVD” line I am working my way through the complete (second-hand, ultra-cheapo) series of Rosemary & Thyme. Tis gentle, mindless stuff of England and gardens and lovely mild plots requiring no great effort – a sort of cool, damp flannel for the brain.
The farmer is in his field next to the canal, harvesting grass (or something), in his vast, air-conditioned machines. Biggest ruddy lawnmower in town.
It is difficult to communicate how moving slightly less than one mile, through one lock and through various simple services can translate into a three-hour mooch, but it did. That’s the pace of the canal system (or at least, the pace it ought to be if people are sensible). Ten to fifteen minutes to get ready to move off, ten to fifteen minutes mooring up again at the end. The lock – since there was no queue, no-one else waiting – drained using half of one paddle, thus leaving the Cardinal wholly happy and without need to ram the gates or rush back towards the cill. A chat with the CaRT chap and the contractors, a mooch around the chandlery, a slow-running hosepipe refilling a very large tank… and now, here we are again, back at the side of the canal. It can all be so very civilised if only people will let it be.
A cold collation for tiffin, I think, and a cold drink.
Yesterday’s laundry is drying very nicely indeed, hidden away on the stern on the old-fashioned clothes horse. One batch of drying down, one to go.
Wherever you may be, dear reader (singular), keep as cool as you can, it riles them to believe that you perceive the web they weave… I’ve miles and miles of files, pretty files of your forefather’s fruit, and now to suit our great computer, you’re magnetic ink.
Oh bugger, I’ve lost it again. Must be the heat. It was never like this In The Beginning, but it’s been Lovely To See You.
Hmm. I may have to relax into the Moody Blues this evening, with a glass of something.
Ian H., & Cardinal W.