Hot stuff #narrowboat #england

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.

Dreamy Blend Photo Effect:
The new and much-appreciated water-point above Cholmondeston Lock

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. 😉

Venetian Chandlery Services – a splendid place for all manner of things.

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!

Dreamy Blend Photo Effect:
Cardinal Wolsey halfway between where he needs to be for water, and where he needs to be for diesel. Indecision, indecision, I think it may be indecision.

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.

Middlewich Branch agin, middle of nowhere, hopefully on the road to nowhere from nowhere and thus away from the “children” currently on summer release from skools the land over.

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.

Biggest lawnmower this side of the canal.

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.


  1. Ahh, the trials and tribulations of … there’s no rain to be had in the forecast this side of the pond either … but I hear it’s flooding in Athens, so there’s that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Doubtless soon enough in Ingerlund there will be closures and newsreel footage of floods and torrents – rarely a happy medium to be found (that’s something to do with the way the “afterlife” works, I think). 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Ahh, the trials and tribulations of … no rain in sight this side of the pond either. I hear it’s flooding in Athens though, so there’s that. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I hadn’t considered what a drought would do to the canals. I’m always thinking of what it does to the plants.
    Well, I hope you get some cooling Monsoons soon.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We have some rain forecast in a couple of days… of course, we have universal peace, free love and room-temperature fusion in a jam-jar forecast too, and I harbour similar expectations of those turning up on time! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  4. The chappie taking down your particulars, given the current crisis across the country with water and as you describe, is awfully ‘jobs worth’ don’t you think? I didn’t realise they had these pseudo-traffic wardens in attendance! Ah, I love the Moody Blues and saw them fairly recently in concert – it is the only time I have used my bus pass to go somewhere; of course us old folk can’t stay out late, the pass only goes up to 21.30 and they took several encores – well worth the taxi home though! Keep cool!

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    1. It is indeed all a bit jobsworth, although the chaps doing the patrolling are almost universally innocent, having been tasked at minumum wage and not knowing why they are doing what they are doing. I am always but always polite and cheerful to them – although a high percentage won’t make eye contact, having been unjustly abused in the past. ;-( It’s difficult to believe that money and people are being spent this way though on a blocked section of canal… bureaucracy is alive and well and thriving. Hope that the poor devils aren’t sent out to patrol today, when it is supposed to be even hot hot hotter!


  5. Lovely photo of The Cardinal….

    And look at that crystal clear water, on which she rides! ,-)

    You are getting back at, the miserable heat, you know… With your prose!!!! ,-)

    Being way-old, and unable to stand heat/humidity, as I could in my youth, one of the wall a/c units has to be going, here…. Through this stretch. Dislike having to close the house up, in summer. But do like to breath. So close up and turn on, it is. And very grateful I am, to have said wall units.

    Sending icy hugs, your way…….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Canal water is indeed, at best, the colour of milky coffee – and at worst, well… ! 😉 If we have fallen into a meteorological spell of decades of hot hot hot summers then I may have to buy more solar panels and some sort of airconditioning unit for the Cardinal… It’s either that, or a larger supply of wet towels to sit under and read! 🙂


  6. I read that some Canals were closed until further notice, because there isn’t enough water to refill the locks.
    I can’t recall where these are exactly, but Cheshire was not mentioned – although, Chester and Manchester were both shown, in drone footage, as being brown due to the grass and trees being parched.
    Keep cool, Ian 😎

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Day before yesterday I watched a heron fishing from the towpath (no rod, he was just using his beak) and it was similar to watching a cameo filmed on the Serengeti – parched grass, heat-haze rippling! A big part of the problem with canals is that, as with the general domestic water supply, there are leaks and wastage – and the added problem of farmers necessarily pumping out water for their fields in some instances (licenced, necessary but still deleterious). Tis all the usual confusion. Robespierre would be proud.

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