Landlubber yuletide profligacy, the M6 Motorway in a quiet moment, and some brief sunshine #narrowboat #England

I mentioned in my previous post that the M6 motorway may be heard all over the town of Penkridge, and this is it in all of its loveliness! This is about two hundred yards from the canal. My route ahead for a few miles takes me under it at least twice, and alongside it for some time to come. Looking at the M6 and the frantic, almost savage, cut-throat urgency of those upon it, I rather prefer the canal.


You’ll notice that as with almost all such structures intended for commuting, the M6 motorway has two arrangements of lanes, each heading in exactly the opposite direction to the other, and carrying just about equal traffic. Yes, that means that half of the motorists and their passengers are busy struggling to get as quickly as is humanly possible to the same place that the other half are busy struggling to get away from. Then in the evening, everyone reverses their intent and it all begins again. How can that not be both insane, and a ridiculous waste of time and resources?

It is no way to organise a system for life and living.

The only way to make it any more silly is to require drivers to use only reverse gear on their homeward commute, and to drive backwards in their own tyre tracks…

[My apologies to those of you in “The Abroad”, where you almost all drive on the wrong side of the road anyway, and will not easily notice anything wrong with this video…. 😉 ]

As with all motorways in this area there are huge signs proudly proclaiming that the “highways england”, the Devil’s architect and civil engineers in such matters, are ‘Upgrading to Smart Motorways’.

Note the trendy lack of capital letters in the government department’s name, surely the spoor of a six-figure £PR£ £consultation£ and £rebranding£. Note the surfeit of capital letters in the department’s message, a sure sign of money being spent of £PR£ consultations rather than on hiring staff who have suffered through a decent education…

No idea what the man struggling with the upturned umbrella is doing, but he gets everywhere, poor sod.


What “smart” actually means in this context is that, whereas the old, presumably non-smart, motorway used to be three lanes in each direction plus a hard-shoulder where a chap might take refuge if his car broke down, and which might be used in times of traffic jam by police, ambulance and fire brigade, the new “smart” [!!!] motorway has four lanes and no hard shoulder refuge, just those little occasional laybys – oh, and a million times more electronic signs and cctv cameras.

This means that with nowhere to go when the old horseless carriage splutters, you will be rammed and killed by the 45,000kg HGV doing 85mph on your rear bumper – but you will have the “smart” luxury of being certain to have your demise captured on the new high-definition cctv. The resultant traffic jam will then cover all four lanes, so your flaming remains will be nought but black ash by the time the emergency chaps have fought their way through to you, doubtless fore-armed with a dustpan and brush.

What utter nonsense it all is!

When I am Lord High He-Who (Must Be Obeyed) this will all change.

Lots of things will change when I am Lord High He-Who (Must Be Obeyed).


I digress, again. I do a lot of digressing. It’s a hobby, and mostly harmless.

So. Anyway. I got a shocky surprise at about four o’clock this morning. Waking and deciding to get out of my pit to go and feed the stove some coal, I rolled up the blind on a porthole. Where I had expected there to be just enough light to reassure me that I and my boat were still moored where I thought we had moored, I was met instead by a blue blaze!


I don’t know if it’s the private moorings opposite, or the primary school just beyond them, but someone has swathed a whole tree and half of a hedgerow in blue LEDs, presumably for Christmas thingies. Today is the oneth of December – as in about three weeks before Christmas ought to begin! We truly are heading for some sort of commercial consumer-spending blur, with Easter (chocolate) blending seamlessly into back-to-school (or something) blending seamlessly into (the wholly imported) Hallowe’en blending into Christmas before blending back in to an early Easter. Somewhere in there is the equally wholly imported “the Black Friday” (which seems to just be about spending, spending and spending, with not a jot of folklore or religion upon which to hang its dubious hat), and an increasing absence of the truly local, truly relevant, worthy-of-celebration Guy Fawkes Night.

[Notable Benny: Officially, the bonfires &etc are to celebrate the fact that the chinless wonder King survived the attempt, but in reality the general population lights the fire and sets off fireworks in celebration of Mr Guy Fawkes – the last man to enter Parliament with good and honest intentions. We light fires because we are saddened by his failure. We wish that a new Guy Fawkes would come and “see to” the current crop of idiots in parliament.]

I am indeed a grumpy old Hector. The entire human calendar may now be defined in terms of relative levels of “consumer” spending. Nothing, no date, is special anymore!

The lit-up blue tree is a very nice sight indeed but, being a boater, I couldn’t help but tut-tut at the expenditure of energy in leaving the things switched on all night… when you live on a boat with no mains hook-ups at all you use a comfortable minimum of everything.

Landlubbers, eh? Oh well, mustn’t grumble (too late, mate). 😉 Grumble grumble grumble.

We’ve had a (very) brief reminder of what sunshine looks and feels like here, for which both the solar panels and I are very grateful to Her Majesty’s Meteorological Office. Having mooched on a little we will probably remain here until mayhap Monday or Tuesday, and then we’ll make a headlong dash for the Trent & Mersey Canal. That’s six or seven locks, and about twelve miles as the crow paddles in a canoe.

The comestibles storage baskets are back to brimmed with longer-term gubbins, there is a very decently-sized shopping bag floating about the galley loaded with fresh vegetables. The next task at hand is to meet the fuel boat, Halsall. With both of us moving and moving a la M6 motorway in das oppositen direction to one another (nice mix of old European languages there, Hutson) we shall needs must keep a sharp look out.

I’m going to tie a midshipman to the bow, with orders to keep the binoculars up at all times.

Now, I think that I shall go aft, if you will please excuse me, to watch the rare-of-late phenomenon of my solar panels feeding the boat’s battery bank.

Feed, my pretty lead-acid ones, feeeeed… suck up that starshine.

Chin-chin, Ian H.


  1. Oh, to see ourselves as others see us! With the absence of children and people in general this Christmas malarkey becomes irrelevant but totally agree with your summation. My only dilemma this year is in reference to my Morrison’s grocery order – do I pick the mince pies or the hotcross buns? I can only assume someone (of the consumer psychology expert type) decided that they shouldn’t just be kept for Easter. I’ve yet to see the Cadbury Cream eggs appear like last year in time for Christmas stocking fillers – but then I think they had to take the Easter off the chocoloate eggs because they offended someone in a tribe in Papua New Guinea or the Congo or somewhere! Of course if you want the full traditional Christmas paraphenalia you have to go to a Muslim country to find it these days, they know how to respect other people’s religious celebrations.

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    1. I’ll send you my recipe for Brussels sprout en croute (take one Brussels sprout, etc etc). There’s a certain hystery about the spending in all of the “holiday” seasons that is pitiful to see, all of the magic has been replaced with balance sheets and one-upmanship. I’ve not sure that big corporations ever had much respect for their customers but I do see that now there is none, if they can trick someone into buying crap or paying over the odds – or both – then that’s seen as fair game. Doubtless the Roman Empire saw everyone going into hock for every festival, just before it too fell on its face…. 😉

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    1. Thank’ee kindly! It has just become daylight enough here to open the blinds, and I can see a small patch of… wait for it… wait… blue sky! Will any of today feature a little bit of brightness, I wonder? I can but hope. This long, long spell of darkness and grey is driving me slowly (?) nuts! 😉

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  2. I have a different reaction to the Xmas shopping frenzy. As I don’t particularly like the Holiday and have basically bowed out of the traditional gift exchanges, I now smile benediction on the economy fueling frenzy of other people’s shopping. Christmas is the holiday that feeds the world. Let them buy. People need jobs.

    I wrote a post to that effect a year or so ago and boy did it upset the religious ones. Mind you, each and every one of them was fully participating in the Capitalist Part of the Holiday. But they felt strongly that it was wrong to look at it that way. 🤔😏

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    1. That is a valid and effective point of view. I am a much more horrid person though, and think that what the world needs now is not a great big melting pot (pop song reference) but fewer humans… and for those remaining to use the fantastic current technology available to use less energy, put fewer demands on the eco-system. Part of that has to be getting out from under the yoke of unchecked global capitalism (and in not replacing it with any of the other, monumentally-failed systems – just scaling it down). We don’t need “constant growth” and we certainly don’t need spiralling profit and spiralling debt… the Establishment keep telling us that the world is in debt to the tune of trillions and trillions. I ask, to whom is the whole planet in debt? Aliens? I doubt it! 😉

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      1. The absolute insanity of that is, of course, they’re all in debt to each other, and if all debt was cancelled all at once … we’d, mostly, be right where we are now, only a wee bit happier!

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    1. Agreed! Last time I got stopped by blue strobes it was a gentleman of the police force and he had pulled me over for – and I kid you not – ‘having mis-aligned windscreen washer jets’. He lectured me on how I could have soaked a pedestrian with them… I kept my cool, promised to have them adjusted soonest, and whistled a merry tune. I’d actually clocked him following me from the moment that I left the works car park, and he followed me for miles (at 29mph) before I unwittingly gave him the excuse he needed to pull me over! Mind you, the speed limit in my life these days is 4mph (or 8mph on some rivers)… 😉

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