The Cardinal and I are back on the high seas!
Well, back on England’s canals, at least. The weather forecast was not promising in re stuff such as cleaning off and touching up the gunwales, so I declined to remain on dry land any longer. That work will have to wait until spring has really sprung, and we may be reasonably sure of dry weather for more than half an hour at a time.
We reached the stage on Sunday eve when the blacking had suffered manfully through the advised six days’ of drying time – what the rain did to un-dry it I am sure that Storm Gareth’s blasting winds more than made up for. On Monday morning I presented my freshly-washed, freckled and angelic little face at the boatyard office and said something along the lines of ‘Please Mister, we want to go back into the water.’
There followed a flurry of pre-launch activity wherein I checked the usuals on Cardinal’s engine (oil, water, belts, thrundle-gubbins tension on the dimensional flux capacitor xobblers), re-mounted the buttons fore and aft, made sure that the ropes were where I like them to be (two at the bow, two on the centre-line post, two at the stern and a nice whippy one by my bedside) and cleared away any falloverables (new word) in the cabin.
I also presented myself at the marina’s main office where a brief ceremony was held involving the bill and my debit card. I performed the usual defensive Haka while the receptionist responded with a Highland Fling, and then we lost ourselves in a small but perfectly performed Foxtrot until my PIN was confirmed as “accepted, but with serious doubts” by The Royal Bank for Smelly Peasants Without A Pot To *iss In.
Came the appointed hour in the mid-after of the noon two gentlemen and one large tractor-trailer approached and made themselves known (by giving me the customary kicking). One of the gentlemen was driving the tractor-trailer, it didn’t approach all by itself, that would just be plain weird and slightly worrying.
I was filled with a certain measure of trepidatiousnessnous so I can only imagine what was going through the Cardinal’s mind as the trailer was reversed around and under him. Stout chaps juggled about with the various blocks of wood that we had both been sitting upon and, not to put too fine a locomotive point on it, away we went, to be reversed down the slipway.
I would like to take a moment here to express my profound appreciation to Mr Frederick W. Lanchester for “the disc brake”.
Actually, I suppose that if I am being scruplously fair in my profound appreciations I ought to also shower plaudits upon Mr Arthur Sprognuts, a.k.a. “Ug”, inventor of the wheel.
…and away we go, with some rather enthusiastic “full astern and then some” if you please, Engine Room.
My home and sum of worldly goods, having been removed from the trailer, were then manoeuvred towards the service pontoon and surrendered unto me once more.
Thank’ee most kindly with recommendations abounding to Aqueduct Marina on the Middlewich Branch of the Shropshire Union Canal, for their attentions and services. In the words of the eponymous Margaret Rutherford in her much-praised role in the Ealing Studios original of the film The Terminator – ‘I’ll be back’.
While there I took advantage of the opportunity to top off the main water tank, and to collect the first scuff on the new blacking.
Of course, having decided against an extended stay on the hardstanding (to do some more paintwork) due to the drastic inclemencies of the weather… today, the day of this blog writing, is not just sunny with a distinctly blue sky, but warm to the point of having to adopt “summer measures” in re keeping the sun-side blinds down and the bow and stern doors open for airflow!
Bloody England! Bloody English weather! Stupid stupid stupid Meteorological Office – with their horrid, horrid, horrid new-look website, full of scrolling tables and “press for more” buttons – for, once again, getting the weather forecast so chuffing wrong. It is all very well telling me on the day that le soleil brille but I really needed to know that two days ago when making the decision to leave the marina.
Ah, The Universe does love his little jokes.
Still, we’re out, we’ve cruised six miles and one lock to reacquaint ourselves with the modus, bringing our total to date within this licence period to one hundred and sixty-five miles and exactly one hundred locks. About a hundred miles and ninety of those locks has been while on the “long way around” to avoid the (now repaired) Middlewich breach (earlier blog post here).
It must be said that what the Cardinal and I mooched around at our “what’s the rush, Doris?” glacial pace since September of last year, the Fuel Boat Halsall generally travels once each fortnight, and travels that distance while selling coal, diesel, gas and other sundry items. How they do it I do not know, but I am glad that they do. 🙂
I plan on a spot of lazy (lazier) mooching for a few weeks, during which time, when I summon the necessary oomf, I shall plan us a few scurrying-abouts for the summer. Chief among these will be a visit or three to take the Cardinal up and down on the Anderton Boat Lift … a most ridiculously gorgeous chunk of canal engineering if ever there was one. Vying for top ranking is the need to cruise with a mind to the avoidance of the “summer crowd” in their fine weather hordes, finding nice mooring spots to hide away on.
I am an unsociable old Hector.
Now, I suppose that I must away and make preparations for the end of the world, which is scheduled to happen, or perhaps not happen, in some form or some other form or perhaps in no form at all, at midnight on the 29th of this month, March, in the year of our Lard 2019.
Chin-chin for the mo.
Ian H., & Cardinal W.