Yesterday’s move was a short one. About seventy-five yards, by the look of it. After six locks, all set agin me, the previous day I just wanted to moor up, eat, drink and be Merry. Merry is one of the Seven Dwarves, I have a costume. Not really. Anyway, as I was saying, most of the canal bank hereabouts is soggy and eroded, covered in an overgrowth of reeds – an overgrowth that probably attracts some sort of “wildlife habitat” grant (I kid you not) – and the only easy moorings are the officially-sanctioned moorings, in towns. I bunged the Cardinal, as much as one may bung a cardinal, onto the first such, a couple of boat lengths beyond the bridge, between the bridge and the blue boat shown above.
The interwebnettings worked – for about five minutes. Then all I was told by my electronic friends was “NO SERVICE”. I had moored either exactly in a signal black-spot, or right next to a public house running one of those signal jammers, the ones that they sometimes use to keep order in the dining room and to make their punters drink more.
This was what is known in England as “a bit of a bugger”, since we have high winds (fifty miles-per-hour gusts) forecast, and I wasn’t planning on moving again until and if.
I bit the bullet at 0800hrs of the O’Clock, and moved. If the folk on that blue boat noticed me they must have wondered, at the very least, ‘what the hecky heck?’ and thought me insane. All of the preparations are, necessarily, the same for a minuscule two-minute hop as they are for a full morning’s cruise. Covers off, fenders up, engine tickled, tiller bar on (something that I sometimes forget, hilariously…), ropes untied and away before the crosswind can send the bows too far across the canal… I caught the bows just in time, they were heading at a rate of knots for the offside shrubbery, intent on jamming me diagonally across the canal.
Pootle pootle poo (the trip was not quite three pootles). Turn the bows against the wind and back towards the bank, ring on the Chadburn for an increase in revolutions to compensate for the breeze…
Mr Wind, then (and still now, in spite of the forecasts) “only” gusting to about twenty-five of the Imperial Miles per Hour, just allowed me to moor up again with some dignity. 🙂
Captain – there be signal here!
No whales, just a couple of bars of 3G not 4G or 2G or 1G signal.
The post-cruise de-preparations are the same for a full morning’s cruise or for a two-minute hop-along… find two rings approximating the length of the Cardinal, on with the ropes quick as, then back and forth adjusting them to look vaguely sensible, out with the fenders, off with the tiller bar, hug Mr Engine &etc &etc.
It’s not a bad spot. It’s better than Stoke. We have houses to starboard…
…and Dog-Emptier Paradise – oops, I mean, of course – Rode Heath Rise, to port…
Apparently, Rode Heath Rise is some sort of wild-flower wildlife preserve or some such. Must be full of rare dog-roses, dog-orchids and dog-eggs, if you ask me. I haven’t seen any wild haggis or lesser-spotted Wimpole’s Frumptysquode so far. Not so much as a squirrel.
It is, however, a great spot for people-watching and for dog-watching.
It is not true that people look like their dogs or that dogs look like their owners; most of the dogs are much better-looking, no matter from which end you view them.
It is true, however, that dogs reflect the personality – and neuroses (neurosises?) and psychopathick pathologies – of their (putatively) human keepers. Some dogs are just well-balanced and sane and happy, from which I conclude that their human keepers are probably drugged up to the NHS eyeballs on the Pams of Peace (Diazepam, Temazepam, Nitrazepam, Flunitrazepam or chilled Methylated Spirits with a dash of Angosture Bitters and a slice of lemon). A lot of dogs are as jittery and as insecure as their humans. The whole spectrum of human/dog insanity walks past a narrowboat if you wait long enough, although it is, of course, the usual flattened “bell curve” that we are all familiar with boing boing whistle moo fribble de-clomp, Claude, look at me – I’m normal.
One particularly sad, “modern” case walked past yesterday afternoon. A dog desperate to involve his human in a game with sticks, throw, fetch, snuffle (but without the throw in this case). His human had her nose buried so deeply in her mobile phone that she occasionally stumbled, and these occasions were the only time that she looked up from her screen – to see what she had stumbled on. The dog was trying his hardest to share a good game, to interact with his human, but all to no avail from one horizon to the other. I wonder how many years he’ll keep trying, before he gives it up as a lost cause?
There’s a quite vocal spaniel of some sort in one of the houses opposite, and his first job in the mornings is to alert his human to the presence of the two local swans, reporting for their breakfast. This fine, dull, wet, windy January morning he barked, barked, barked but to no avail, and so switched his tactics to wag-wag go-and-fetch-the-old-bugger. This was more effective, and his human, something with pasty-white stork-legs, crumpled boxer-shorts, flip-flops and the wife’s baby-doll dressing-gown tip-toed across his back lawn to feed the birds, stale bread in hand.
Some things, once seen, may never be unseen. Sadly.
Two blokes are stolling past as I type this, chatting and laughing. They have with them two sane dogs – albeit perhaps dogs a touch too small and “designer” to be their own first choice of hound. The dogs, too, are chatting and laughing with one another, and putting into practice Sir Isaac Newton’s First Law of Dogs… (probably having been taught this law by their humans…)
Newton’s First Law of Dogs: If you can’t eat it, play with it or shag it, then sh*it on it and move on without looking back.
The Cardinal and I will like as not stay here until I see proof or disproof of the meteorological forecasts in re wind, and then we’ve got mayhap three or four multi-lock hoppings on to get us to the throbbing Metropolis of Middlewich. Of course, yonder Met Office have promised freezing temperatures once the wind goes away, so we may be frustrated in our plans by icebergs and polar bear migrations. We shall see, ce sera sera, tis not under my control.
Not much is, really.
So there you have it. One of the silliest, shortest moves in the history of commercial narrowboating, and one which I am certain would not have been entertained in horse-drawn cargo-carrying days. How times change.
I must change, too. I think I’ll dress for lunch today, full ceremonial uniform with sword and all of the gold braid that I can muster. I am having Heinz Baked Beanz on Toazt.
Other than this – including this – there’s really little to no gossip or scandal from the vicinity of the Cardinal.
Batten down the hatches (again) and double-check the ropes.
Oh, and per-lease – if your dog is desperate to interact with you, do have at least the good grace to make eye-contact with him. Otherwise, in a few constantly-disappointed years’ time he may well begin pooping into your slippers, and it’s no good your coming crying buckets to me then, complaining that you don’t understand why Fido is so distant with you.
Ian H and Cardinal W.