24 hours in a blasted, post-apocalyptic, internet-denuded wasteland – with cows… #narrowboat #England

Cheshire, Shropshire, whatever county it is that I was in. Lush, green, intensively farmed, and virtually devoid of mobile interwebnet signal! Can you believe it? There I was, sitting on a Victorian canal system, in my boat, and I could barely access the world of electronic make-believe…

Oh, there were ruddy marvellous vistas and utterly bucolic views, and even an absence of the damnable “Shroppie Shelf”, don’t misunderstand me. 😉 I mooched through the last two locks of Audlem’s fifteen and along a spot of canal to get there, but how can a chap be expected to feel plugged in to the human global buzz if he can barely see his emails and can’t upload so much as a trilogigabyte-sized photograph?

Early(ish)-morning “ton-up” activity on the Shropshire Union. You don’t get me, I’m part of the Union. I have found the Union Gap.

We locked.

Escaping Audlem’s fifteen.

We bridged.

Tis easier to get a camel through the eye of a noodle, or some such nonsense.

We picked our way through abominable countryside.

English sheep, while they might look peaceful and vegetarian, have been known to leap thirty or forty yards into the air, and can cross canals in a single bound, if there is a tasty boater to be had.

What was our reward? A cow-infested mooring, that was our reward.

Why are cows so curious about everything? Why must they always make eye-contact? Yesterday’s moorings.

Don’t worry, I told myself, they’re only on the offside. They can’t get at me to give me Chinese burns or anything. We are safe.


Attack-Cow Gertrude, Special Agent, and I am certain that she could see right through the one-way glass.

There were werecows on the towpath side too, and they began bellowing to one another across the water.

‘You distract him’ bellowed Gertrude, ‘and I’ll hoof him to death.’

‘We shall fling cow-pats, and other dairy items’ came the cheery reply, and they did.

Gertrude didn’t stop. She stared and she stared and she stared, and yet, somehow, she still managed to produce eight kilos of crumbly Cheshire cheese.

I tried a walk in the countryside, away from t’canal, but even that hitherto unfailing panacea didn’t work in cow-land. Everywhere I went I could see the Cardinal, beset by even-toed ungulates. How can a chap and his narrowboat be expected to relax with all of that lactation going on? The middle of a cow is bad enough, with udders and stuff, but the ends aren’t exactly non-threatening – it’s all either meaningful eye-contact from the pointy-end or Niagara-esque urination from the blunt end with cows, oftentimes both (and still they lactate in the middle).


I suppose that it must be said, and it may as well be me who says it.

Moooooooooving on again was a necessity, not a choice.

Gertrude never forgets a face, never forgives a grudge.

No, archetypally England in extremis though it might have been, the Cardinal and I stuck it out for one night, and that was the best that could reasonably be expected from a chap.

Mind you, we didn’t do a lot better in our moochings today. More of that anon. We are… urbanised. I am beginning to think that life with the cows may not have been so bad after all. HumansUrban humans… ugh!

Chin-chin, chaps.

Ian H.



  1. Brilliant Ian.. I had the pleasure… I use that term loosely, of being employed by the Friesian Breeder’s Handbook selling advertising and doing admin. I also would accompany the editor to agricultural shows around the country and my pitch was in the dairy herd tent between two sets of fine beasts who filled the tent with fragrance… all day.. My job was to sell bull semen to the farmers who traipsed through the tent. My father on hearing of this did query how I collected it! Thankfully I only had to show the customer the pedigree of said bull and a frozen straw would be despatched later…I often wondered when I admired the cows in the show ring how they got their perfectly white udders.. I saw the practice first hand.. talcum powder liberally rubbed in by adoring herdsmen, whilst the cows mooed contentedly…

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    1. Now there’s a job not for the feint-hearted – reading bodice-rippers aloud to bulls… Cows seem to be a weird mix to me. All knowing looks one moment, but then pooping and peeing in their own salad bowl the next. I have a rule that I won’t walk through a field if there are cows in it, no matter how peaceful they look. Some folk think that I’m nuts, and have said so, but I’ve read the official statistics on how many folk are trampled to dead and beyond each year by peaceful-looking cows! Perhaps I ought to carry a can of talcum powder with me and try again?

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  2. Wow! Once again and too funny as always! I sometimes think that lack of internet is Nature’s way of telling you to take a reality check. Interesting reccommendation from Scottie raised my natural fear of Satellites once again; I once read how they can pin point you so accurately they can see goosebumps on flesh, but the negative side of it is that they also have the capacity to nuke you from on high – why else the sudden interest in reaching Space, it’s big, it’s very Big! Nothing stops me from writing, but then my primary creative source is the gel pen and writing book, all else flows thereafter like the lecky and the interweb! Excellent start for a Monday morning chuckle, thank you kindly!

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    1. I am reliably informed that back in the olden days of chemical film aero-reconnaissance it was quite possible to price postage stamps and read newspapers held – no doubt that with the “advances” in technologee the satellites can now discern what we had for breakfast yesterday and tell H.M. Government our true religion. We are a very peculiar species indeed. Googloyl Earth is bad enough, and that’s certainly at the “cheap end” of the technology. We humans have so many toys – and no proper idea how to play with them!


  3. I wonder if it might pay for you to go to the same satellite system boats use for internet. It does cost a bit more but you can access it from anywhere. A friend of Ron’s was in on the start of the NorthStar satellite radio program in Europe and when it came to the US we got it in my big pickup, here it was called OnStar. It was wonderful. It had not only phone capabilities but also it offered emergency and concierge coverage. In fact we it saved us on a trip with our RV, the right front tire of the RV went flat, and was catching on fire. I got the unit pulled over but there was no shoulder of the road so I was on a steep embankment. I was barely a foot off the highway. The only thing keeping the RV from going over the embankment was my huge dually. We were in the middle of nowhere on the highway and had no idea of our exact location. We had no cell phone reception and so I hit the emergency button on the OnStar. Right away they answered, They located us right away, they got the local police dispatched along with a company to deal with the tire. They stayed on the phone with us the entire time. Well worth every cent we paid for the service. Now of course all the cars sync to your phone and I don’t even know if they still have Onstar. But they do have satellite internet services. Maybe it is something you could use? Best wishes always, love the pictures. Hugs

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That sounds like a very reassuring service indeed! Satellite anything is v.expensive here in Ingerlund, as is everything else (apart from weather). The regular mobile signals do a damn fine splendid job most of the time, but the canals sometimes run through cuttings, or there can be a soggy-wet forest between me and the aerial. I’ll have to see what the signals are like on the rest of this cruise… 😉

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  4. I believe you have misunderstood Gertrude. She probably has a small crush on you.

    That scenery is nearly too picturesque. I would have been pretty torn, as addicted as I am to the ether of the web, I think I might have found a way to ruralize for a bit in such a lovely place.

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    1. Gadzooks – the thought of a cow with a crush on me is even more terrifying than the thought of “007 Bovine” and a bullet with my name on it! The scenery hereabouts is indeed generally easy on the eye, although at the moment, here in town, it would take an artist’s eye to see the beauty! Five locks today, a couple of hours of cruising and a visit to the services – I was too tired to argue, and moored at the first available opportunity (which proved to be ten yards in front of the service area)! 🙂

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    1. Ta very muchly, sir! Tis much appreciated. 🙂 Tis strange that you should use the term “phantom”, given that my route today took us through a quiet wooded cutting which is supposedly home to a shrieking ghost… thankfully, the Cardinal and I heard nothing!

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