Tied up with chains while Old Mother Winter shows England her backside #narrowboat #boating #canals

The Cardinal and I have moved, restlessly, a few times of late. Once up through the services and back to virtually where we were previously moored. Once to get closer to a groceries delivery (and I got within fifteen yards. a personal best). The most recent move was because we were heading for being “time expired” in the “no more than one place in any fourteen days” (or something, 1995 Waterways Act) of our glacial totterings about.

Besides, some mild winds were forecast by Her Majesty’s Mild Wind Forecasting Office, enough to make moving the Cardinal single-handed akin to flying a large kite. Easter and school holidays are still lurking about, so Middlewich is out of the equation until and when. Bottom lock at Hurleston is of dubious structural integrity, the fuel boat Mountbatten of the Chamberlain Carrying Co., having been stuck in it and now performing any Llangollen canal fuel deliveries by van, so I don’t fancy chancing the Cardinal betwixt moving lock-chamber walls. Up to a favourite spot at Calveley seemed to be the solution-du-jour for a while, so that’s where we went when we went.

Good morning star-shine, the earth says ‘hello’.

The flip side, not of Dominick Hyde, but of these moorings is that you’re generally on pins. This being the beginning of Das Silly Season passing high-velocity launches boats were liable to mean that I’d be in and out with Mr Biggenthwacker knocking our moorings back in six times a day, crossed pins or no.

Mr Biggenthwacker.

However… how the hecky heck ever… upon mooring up in the conventional manner (leaping off the stern in a grand jete a la ronde du wheeeeeeee-thunk with four pins, two ropes and a mallet between my teeth) I noticed that we were, accidentally, incidentally, very handily indeed, placed ideally for a couple of holes in the old railway track or whatever it is that keeps the towpath happy at the waterline. So we’re on chains now as well (no point in removing the first lines since they’re already in) and the Cardinal is going nowhere involuntarily whatever Old Mother Winter or hoardes of “maximum revs please” boaters may say.

Now tied up every which way but loose, Clyde.

Ropes everywhere – this must look now like the really secure boat of a really insecure man! Somebody make a note to please give me a nudge when I am supposed to give a damn. I often forget to give a damnski where apparently I ought.

The past few days hereabouts have been splendid – bright and cheerful – but each night the cruel, wizened, icy fingers of Jacqueline Frost grip the land. Mr Stove has been kept in 24/7 and, I must say, has been performing like a real trooper, calming himself during the day and then roaring like an angry thing at night, fending off the negative Celsiums.

We’re here (the Cardinal and I) for a day or mayhap ten. Loaded with coal, loaded with comestibles, but all out of feeling-like-moving. Once the clear and present disconveniences of the bulk of the hoi and polloi are finished with we’ll mooch ourselves in the direction of that next grand old beast to be sampled; the Anderton Boat Lift. Forget the 600′ underground of the Harecastle Tunnel, this will be 50′ in the air on a single hydraulic ram, and – briefly – hello River Weaver.

On the virtually lawless towpath moorings of the sort we’re currently moored upon (where the poor people gravitate) the living is easy, but the Official Visitor Moorings (48-hours maximum) just back a yard or three hundred work hard to be replete with their usual array of prize exhibition items.

There’s the classic CaRT-workboat-on-visitor-moorings and it looks like it has settled in for a while. This exhibit replaces the three floating pontoons that were previously on these 48-hour maximum moorings, to my certain knowledge, for two years.

The ever-popular CaRT work-boat on visitor moorings.

Exhibit “B” is the always-popular-with-sightseers spoor of the “oh, no-one will notice or mind if we can’t be bothered to get off the boat and just open the side hatch and dump our stove ashes along the edge here” boater.

It’s just not Test Cricket, is it? Anyone else spot the face of a dog with floppy ears in there?

This saves them ten seconds but does rather mean that the grass underneath is dead and, at best, there will be a bare and muddy patch there until the grass genetically mutates sufficiently to overcome the petrochemicals in coal-ashes and re-seeds itself.

Hector is displeased.

Who am I kidding, Hector was born displeased.

Hector laughed once. He didn’t like it, but let’s see if he can do it again.

Hector’s perambulations from these moorings oft take him past a hire-boat company up by Bunbury Staircase Locks. This company seems to have hit upon the furniture and layout for the ideal steering position for a narrowboat.

The new steering position does take a certain degree of “Tally-ho, Daphne, give it more whip” to use, but once you’ve acquired the knack of going while you’re going then long-distance cruising is your solo oyster. Or something. To boldly go where no breeze has gone before…

I wonder if they’re going to equip all of their fleet this way?

Next time you see a woman sitting down at the helm and seemingly more intent upon reading a newspaper than on steering mayhap you’ll know what she’s actually doing.

No, it’s no good, Hector’s not laughing, not unless you count a mild smirk.

Oh well, can’t say that I didn’t try.

I now open the discussion to the floor, and invite lavatorial/boating puns in the comments section below. Keep the comments as clean as your hands, please.

Chin-chin for the mo.

Ian H., and Cardinal W.


  1. Ah, and there I was thinking Mr Biggenthwacker was for knocking idiots into the ground. My mistake. 🙂 … love the morning-star photo … that ‘throne’ really IS a gazunder! 😀

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  2. I leave lavatorial puns to the Bolton contingent. I was thinking about you leaping on and off the Cadinal to tie up. I’m sure you’ve already got it sussed but I was thinking about once of those builders belts to stick all your ‘doings’ in including Mr Biggenthwacker leaving you a handsfree grab at the bank should there be a necessity. You could go the whole hog and wear one of those leather Dead Pool suits, so instead of the cross swords you could have your metal pins (forgot what you call them) Not sure this url will work sorry!

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    1. There is little that I would like more (no more than two or three hundred items) than to be able to wear some sort of futuristic plastic/pvc/spandex/Kevlar outfit such as that – but, sadly, I’d only look like the Michelin Man on acid… The days of my silver lamé one-piece flared-trousers open-chested jumpsuit are long gone, as are my Cuban heels, the wide white belt and my black-as-the-ace-of-spades afro wig. Happy, happy days, but we shan’t see their like again in this life (not unless I accidentally overdose on Aspirin, Viagra and Vosene Shampoo). 😉

      I’ve been looking for a tool belt to suit, but all of them seem to be made from cow skin, sadly. I did over-state the case a bit, in that the most I ever leap off with is rope, lump-hammer and either mooring pin or nappy-pin (for armco) (to secure the centreline first), but locks are still a blather, sometimes carrying rope and windlass up or down the ladders… One of these days I’ll either find summat suitable, or make it myself!


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