Thrown back into the water like a 17,000kg sprat – under an auspicious cloud formation #narrowboat #boating

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.

Forget calling a “man with a van”, here’s a “man with a chuffing great tractor-trailer”. Aqueduct Marina, Middlewich Branch, Shropshire Union Canal, 2019.

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.

A brief pause at the top of the slipway before the Cardinal’s bum gets wet again. Aqueduct Marina, Middlewich Branch, Shropshire Union Canal, 2019.

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.

You know how to shwim, don’t you shweetheart? You just put your prop and rudder together and blow… Aqueduct Marina, Middlewich Branch, Shropshire Union Canal, 2019.

…and away we go, with some rather enthusiastic “full astern and then some” if you please, Engine Room.

Full astern please Engine Room. Aqueduct Marina, Middlewich Branch, Shropshire Union Canal, 2019.

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’.

Aqueduct Marina, Middlewich Branch, Shropshire Union Canal, 2019. Service pontoon, watering.

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.

I could have stayed and begun the work of touching up the gunwales after all, but you must admit that – as seen in the lead photograph of this blog entry – it didn’t look good! Full summer here today… typical. Sgtraight from huddling around the stove into wearing a knotted handkerchief on my head and muttering about the damnable heat.
I does like a good daddofil. Such cheerful things. Not much good in a curry though.


  1. I, too, am a Margaret Rutherford fan. She did ‘dotty and wise’ so well. 🙂 Congratulations on your returning wetbottomness. That boat-lift looks to be a hoot. 🙂


  2. Falloverable is a description not confined to the inanimate, as I have found myself in that state more frequently recently, generally when I am letting two boisterous little doggies off-lead but who prefer to foul my shins. A question, how do you keep up with mail on your travels?

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    1. Post? The short and hairy answer to that is that generally I don’t have any way of receiving mail – when in the neighbourhood of the Bro I can abuse his land address and he is kind enough to deliver when he visits, but other than that, zilch. If anyone wants to get in touch with me via snail-mail they must find me personally first! It is a spot of a pain, because the dinosaur institutions – H.M.Government in all of its forms, the banks et al – just do not understand that someone may not, indeed does not, have a fixed land address with a post code. Even to register to vote as a “homeless” person (same form as for those on remand in prison awaiting trial, and those held in insane asylums…) I have to have an address to enter on the form – it’s truly a nonsense! 😉


  3. So happy you are back in the water. We have sold our boat and have made it back to land due to husbands worsening health. The strange thing is this – our new address involves the word Lanchester! I was slightly taken aback to read of Mr Lanchester on your blog. But I know now more about him! Happy cruising.

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    1. Once it gets to the point where you can no longer totter aboard or leap off with a rope and two windlasses in your teeth there is indeed no alternative but a return to dry land. I will keep cruising as long as I can! Good – or, at least, better – health to you! 🙂


    1. This year I want to take us down and up on the Anderton Boat life at least once… that in itself ought to be a white-knuckle adventure! 🙂


    1. Thank’ee sir, tis much appreciated! After what seemed like so long a period on dry land I was beginning to worry that I had forgotten how to move the Cardinal on water…

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    1. I do indeed. Daffodils seem to me to be good, no-nonsense flowers (although I balk a little at their un-English connections) – when they decide to appear they just get on with it, wallop, here’s a dollop of colour. Mind you, I’m a sucker for daisies and clover too – easily amused, easily pleased!


  4. Hurrah! Safely back afloat and looking dapper dapper do! And to be fair given this all took place during a storm, things fell nicely into place I’m pleased to know. I am duly reminded also that I have the complete Margaret Rutherford (Miss Marple) DVD collection – what a wonderful woman she was. Many of her other films have been preserved for posterior on YouTube, if ever an actor played the one part well she did! You’re peaking too earlier on moaning about the weather though! Save some for when it really is hot!

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    1. The timing was indeed propitious in our getting to sit out Gareth et al on dry land. Tis done now for another two-year or so, and good that it is. 😉


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