Red Bull gives you wings (but only for 48 hours all year round) #narrowboat #England #canal

Two miles (ish), six locks and one Servicing. That’s quite enough for one day, thank you.

The “The Weather Forecast” is going through a Siberian phase at the moment. The usual catch-all forecasts of “yes, there will be weather” have changed to “yes, there will be weather and some of it may be ice, sleet, snow and blow”. So the Cardinal and I mooched on again, Justin Case. Off the end (or the beginning) of the Macclesfield Canal, over the Trent & Mersey canal – followed by a sharp left, then the obligatory row of moorings-in-a-silly-place, then the ninety-degree turn out of the junction – immediately followed by the first of the six locks of the day and then under the canal we started on. Aqueducts and underducts. The first lock is the first of the “twinnies”.

I had planned to catch ourselves on the moorings outside CaRT’s Red Bull offices for a couple of days, just in case the forecasts turned to wintry reality… but then I noticed the teeny weeny tiny whiny stick-on labels affixed to the mooring signs.

Verily and foresooth, thou shalt moor here but 48 hours whatever the season, whatever the reason, with none of the winter “relaxations”… “ALL YEAR”

Ordinarily in winter CaRT’s various time limits on mooring anywhere and everywhere that you can get a boat to the side revert to the 14 days of the 1995 Waterways Act. Not here though. NIMBY?

The fabled “All Year” restrictions. Look at that “old” logo – how much nicer and more meaningful is that than the new “floating tyre/AT&T Telephones” effort?

These moorings at Red Bull have also been seasonally designated by CaRT as “Winter Moorings”, to be flogged off at marina-esque prices to anyone who wants to leave a boat there for up to five months. It’s 48-hours or pay-by-the-month.

There is one boat on the whole stretch. It’s not exactly busy or popular.

In the end, I stopped for the services and moved on again through some more locks to where there are towpath moorings, and should the polar bears indeed invade, I may stay for the necessary period, with no danger of invoking corporate ire or of having to go cap in hand, beggin’ yer pardon my sweet Lord &etc etc.

With the exception of the vile harpy who refused to licence the Cardinal (my very first corporate contact, some three years ago now) they are always very nice and pleasant at CaRT. It’s just that, being me, I would rather crawl naked over open land-fill than put myself in a position where I have to ask any corporation anything

Dreamy Blend Photo Effect:
The Cardinal on Red Bull services, Trent & Mersey Canal January 2019

As I type this, the first of the predicted sleet has begun to fall.

This is, of course, less surprising than if the predicted sleet had begun to rise.

I shot some video footage yesterday, and have condensed the first hour or so down to 4½ minutes. You can see me working a lock a la Benny Hill. I will spare you any footage of the other five locks and the servicing. My favourite pair of blue jeans died beyond all hope of resuscitation during this process – the holes burned some time ago by battery acid (when I was swapping the Cardinal’s batteries…) finally gave way and became full-blown rips beyond the measure of fashion. Sniffle. RIP, little blue jeans (oh – you just did).

We mooched and locked in splendid winter isolation for all but the third of the locks, where a boat with a crew of two and some need for speed caught us up. The Cardinal and I made damned sure that we were occupied at the services long enough for them to speed cheerfully on their way.

Yes, it’s been lovely for you to meet me, but I must let you be on your way now. I have things to be and people to do.

There is not some little distinct correlation between nice folk from other (multi-crew) boats kindly offering help and their not understanding that you can’t just open all paddles wide and as quickly as possible if you:

  • love your boat and want to keep the bulk of it above water
  • don’t want everything in the boat banged around and smashed
  • are up lockside, hanging on to 17,000kgs of boat by a centre-line, standing in the mud and ice of mid-January and would rather not be discovered by the chaps of the Fire Brigade, dragged and landing 12′ lower, face down on your solar panel array, sans the Spark of Life.

Grumpy Old Hector would, in general, unless the helper is also a single-hander or of some centuries’ genuine experience, rather just be left in peace and at his own pace. Grumpy Old Hector is happy as happy may be to get out of the way and let boats with a more modern attention-span pass and be on their way…

🙂 Thanks, but no, thank you.

While the weather this morning remained clement I walked on a mile or three, to see what is coming. Six more twinnies and then a small village-ish place with lots of civilised mooring (free from unecessary and extra restriction). I’ll do that hop in the next half-day break in the weather.

Hmm… RURAL locks… these beat the urban nonsenses of Stoke et al any day…
Winter sun and frosty grass. The towpath changes from one side of the canal to the other here, hence the big wide bridge with room enough for a couple of muscle-bound horses to pass.

I am beginning to learn when and how to ignore the (often impossible) lock landings and to instead just let the Cardinal hang around and wait in the ins and outs of these fancy, frilly, twin-lock locks.

We have coal remaining for a fortnight, we are watered, serviced and the comestibles cupboards are full. There are a couple of dozen books on the shelves that I haven’t opened yet.

All that we lack is a deck of cards.

Actually, I don’t like card games. I’d rather Scrabble or Monopoly… The good thing about playing Monopoly on your own is that you get to be the Boot, the Dog, the Flat-Iron, the Motor Car and the Ocean Liner.

Chin-chin, chaps. Keep warm and keep on keeping on.

Ian H & Cardinal W.


  1. Nice to read your sadly infrequent tales of life in the slow lane, keep regaling us with your videos as a reminder of a more quiet side of life. Keep it up please.


  2. I worry about the horses a lot on these towpaths. Seems like a dangerous career for a draft horse. Better to find work in a farm field.

    Also, I suppose that, like the coach houses, there were canal stables that would switch up your horses for you for a fee. I often think about the logistics of those places. It seems to me that one would have an inventory loss of horses over time. How could you track down the person who just didn’t turn in the horses at the next stop?? Or possibly worse, just pushed the horses too far (ie 2 stops farther on) and you now have dead horses. Does the whole system take that loss or is it just the one coach houses loss? Who is tracking that?

    Probably that is less of an issue on towpaths. No side roads and such. But the carriage house trade had to have that problem.

    Sorry. Sometimes my brain wonders into the obscure side problems that mean nothing in today’s world.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hadn’t really thought about it, but with the mileages that the cargo carriers used to cover – and they worked the clock around, there was no stopping overnight in a lot of cases – they must have had to change horses more often than a cross-continental Nissan Leaf changes batteries. I don’t know. There must have been some sort of organisation – it was all payment by weight carried and distance and there were tolls and stuff, they must somehow have got around the problems. HERTZ Hire-a-horse? Budget Nags? Rent-a-Wreck…

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank’ee kindly, sir! Poor old Stoke, I do feel guilty (but not enough to stop). I felt rather like a country mouse scurrying through Stoke in fear of my life, it will take some time to recover… 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

        1. I’m afraid that I’ve had to sack all of the indoor staff, so unless you want to go hungry you’ll have to help yourself. More cardoons, Vicar?

          Liked by 1 person

Comments are closed.