Well there was a morning’s boatering for you, yes indeed.
When last I moored (Barbridge Junction) there was traffic and only one spot remaining so I done grabbed it, and this left us (the Cardinal and me) facing in the wrong direction. This morning I took advantage of this, went a couple of miles up the Orinoco for services, turned and began to pootle south. Ended up on moorings in the middle of Nantwich.
Like all of the “xxxxwich” towns it owes its existence largely to salt. Nantwich dates from Roman times, when it supplied …salt …to the Roman garrisons at Chester. During the Norman conquest (11th century) the dastardly Normans burned Nantwich to the ground, leaving only one building standing. It burned again in 1583, and during the English Civil War the town declared for Parliament, and was consequently besieged several times by Royalist forces. It has a population of roughly 18,000 and is notable for having one of the highest concentrations of Listed Buildings in England, sporting some fine Tudor and Georgian piles. The town centre is fighting a desperate battle for life, but it must be said is heading towards “fur coat and no knickers”, while the outskirts have been lost of late to ticky-tacky new-build housing.
The Nantwich canal aqueduct, which is wot I have just crossed and am moored near to, dates from 1826 and is one of Mr Thomas Telford’s cast-iron creations.
I wish that he had installed traffic lights – with mature trees obscuring the view, approaching the single-boat width aqueduct via the curve to the north is a leap of faith.
How did I celebrate our arrival in this lavish little puddle of history? I found a cashpoint machine (first I’ve seen for some six months, they don’t put ’em near canals, usually), I bought chips from a chip shop, and I hit up a couple of charity shops for book and DVD bargains. The town even has a Holland & Barrett so I called for a couple of items, but, being Holland & Barrett, both Slug Juice and Toadflax Concentrate were, of course, “out of stock, Sir”.
I know how to wallow in culture.
Getting us here involved a tad more interaction with those watchermacallums …those “people” thingies, than I would have preferred. A couple of emergency stops at blind bridges, some shallows and some stretches of wide canal as contrast to stretches of uber-narrow canal.
These being urban moorings of course, there are folk up and down the towpath in some sort of free-for-all. I generally don’t warm to urban moorings for this reason, but we may give Nantwich its full 48-hours (mooring restrictions of dubious legality imposed by the Canal & River Truss). I can’t be a country-mouse all of my life. I must give over at least two or three days a year to living arse-cheek by bum-jowl with my species…
Today’s photographs are all very random, I have to explain, but they do give you a driver’s eye view. I shall sleep – if sleep I do in this connurbation – to the sound of whalesong tonight. The fenders are rubbing against the armco of the towpath and are producing what can only be fluent gibberish in humpback whale language. They usually only do that when the weather is damp, I have no idea why they are singing here.
In short, to wit, we are serviced, and we have begun our journey around to the other side of Middlewich – at canal velocities, of course.
Yesterday I managed to completely re-work the plot of “Miss Givings’ Narrowboat Brothel”, so while moored I must get my proverbial thimgummy in gear and get on with that. Doubtless the plot will change again before tis finished. It occurred to me that I was initially trying to write about London and wotnot, quite out of my familiarity zone, so I have changed that to a more generalised and much more adaptable “the north”, where I at least have an inkling of what I am putting my characters through. This version is also far less likely to get me sued for putative libel. It is a much more simple plot than hitherto, and that is always a good thing.
Keep your fingers crossed for me that this particular embankment doesn’t go the way of most other embankments that I have patronised, and that the Cardinal and I are still at rooftop-height in the morning.
Chin-chin for the mo.