Hmm, really? A queue at the services at 07:00hrs on a Wednesday? What jolly frolics! #narrowboat #boating

I awoke at sparrow-cough o’clock this morning, rolled over and fell out of my pit, landing on the usual knee-deep layer of empty Special Brew cans and wotnot. Does anyone know of a twelve-volt vacuum cleaner that will handle empty cans and bottles?

I decided to scarper again. The Met Office has looked at the still-steaming entrails of a goat, two hens and a Cabinet Minister, and they have concluded that – for the moment – summer is over. Winds are on the way. The Cardinal Wolsey mantra is “Move thou whilst the moving are gooder”, to which I have added “Move thou preferably whilst nobody else is about and the rabbits are still wet with dew”.

Given that we have been in the same place for nigh-on twelve days and that the weather is about to change, a mooch to somewhere fresh (for the porpoises of the 1995 Waterways Act) and via the services got my vote. Besides, Venetian Marina et al are holding an “open day” this weekend, and it would be beaudelicious to be in the area to see what’s what.

Sparrow-Cough o’clock eh? Quiet you reckon?

I’d no sooner pushed our bows out into the wild, Amazon-esque flow of the Shropshire Union canal near Bunbury than the boat moored two ahead from me decided that they would follow suit. They were a cheery, early-mornings-r-us couple in bobble hats and things, the sort of people who run up and down small Lake District mountains for fun. I converted my morning rictus into a g’day grin, and asked them to give me a couple of minutes of manoeuvring privacy up at the winding hole.

They too were heading to the service area. No worries, Calveley has room enough for two. The Cardinal and I hitched ourselves to the rings and left the pump-out end clear for H.M.S. Bobble-Hat, just in case they were of the “pump-out sort”.

07:00hrs by then.

third boat then appeared, and we had a minor queue for the services. Boat number three hovered out in the canal. In the water, I mean, just maintaining position, not hovering above it. By then I’d cleared the rubbish, emptied Thunderbird One – washed my hands neurotically – and was waiting for Mr Hosepipe to give me a gurgle indicating that the main water tank was brimmed. Eventually Mr Hosepipe gurgled.

Flinging aforesaid hosepipe reel back onto the well-deck I did clever un-tying things with the ropes and flung myself aboard, calling on the Chadburn as I did so for “a spot of welly-revolutions” please.

Everything then went peaceful again for a while. Even the ninety-degree Barbridge Junction was clear of boats. There were though, a slack couple of dozen big butch hairy builders indulging in a spot of start-of-the-day gongoozling from the building site across the road. One doesn’t want to look like a complete pillock, does one? I am pleased to report that, for once, the Cardinal and I got around and through the bridge with all of the panache of a sampan being sculled by Confucius’ grandfather after being fed on two Benzedrine and a cafetière of full-fat Nescafe. Sometimes the gods are with us. Damn, I must have looked good! 😉

There must have been a boat primed and ready and lurking about somewhere though because a couple of bridges further on one hove into view on our rear horizon. This really wasn’t to be a morning of wilderness narrowboating. No matter; they wouldn’t catch us before our destination, that destination being “somewhere around Venetian, above or below the lock, it’s all the same to me”.

Well, Roger the cabin boy, varnish my wooden leg and call me the back-end of a grand piano if there wasn’t a prime “not on the visitor moorings but every bit as good as AND minus the CaRT time limit” spot open, free, unoccupied and, to wit, wholly available! Sir Luck was smiling upon me.

There’s a neat gap betwixt the end of the signposted VM restrictions and the winding hole – and that’s where we bunged ourselves. The big black post (lathered in bird-poop) of the top photograph indicates the beginning/end depending upon p.o.v. of the CaRT restrictions.

From a distance it looks as though I am moored impolitely close to the winding hole, but I am, in fact, not. There’s a good boat length behind, and plenty of room to turn.

Should the whim come upon me, and it might well, we may stay the full Waterways Act “fourteen days” in this place. Or we may stay until the weekend’s done and then move on. It’s nice to have the choice.

Yesterday’s laundry is back out on the rear deck, riding the clothes-horse and hopefully drying like a drying thing. I have purchased bread from the chandlery, so toast and Marmite is on the menu. Although we are near a tall hedgerow here, the solar panels will have most of the day in which to feed (if the sunshine continues…), and they have had their daily squeegeeing and a hug.

I was about to say that should someone moor, supermarket meerkat style, right on our bow then I’ll move us in the dead of night, turn in the winding hole and reverse back to our spot, so that they can stare at our ar*se end for a change. What I mean of course is that I’ll do that when someone moors within inches of our bow.

So, what ought to have been a very quiet, almost clandestine early-morning mooching was in fact an event full of all of the fun (and relative crowding) of the fair, but still most pleasant for all that, and ending very well indeed.

There are several points of interest locally. Chief among these is the new water-point situated slap bang on the end of the lock-landing so that during busy times no-one knows who is waiting for the lock and who is taking on water (so to speak). Much confusion usually arises, disagreements and discombobulations are commonplace, and I will do my best to video any fisticuffs and pitched-battles over the next few days. Someone is bound to oik up the the water point, run out a hosepipe as a disguise and then bog off to the nearby cafe for breakfast/lunch/tiffin thinking that they’ve been clever. It never works, but someone always tries it. The weekend is coming, so we may score video of “water-point heaven” with two (otherwise) genteel little old blue-rinses waving mooring pins overhead while trying to kick each other in the cratch-cover with a swiftly-placed white canvas deck-shoe. Youtube viral here we come.

During the open day I’ll endeavour to grab some more photographs and detail of Venetian Hire Boats’ fleet, including the new day and weekender baby, Barcarolle, and also some somethings about a business new to me – Narrowboat Glass – that is based here (stained, leaded glass). More of those, and of the floating businesses that oik up for the weekend event too, later.

Right now though, I’ve mooched, I’ve serviced, I’ve re-moored and I am about to put my feet up with a good book for a couple of hours.

To hell with the Empire, I’m reading… So, Biggles, where were we? Ah, yes…


Ian H., and Cardinal W.


  1. Hello Ian. I think you will like this. A few minutes ago my spouse just rushed into my office breathlessly asking “Don’t you know someone on a long boat in England”? He went on to say he was watching YouTube and there was this guy who use to be on TV and gave it up to long boat and was making videos of his travels. Ron asked me lots of questions I was proudly able to answer due to reading your adventures on your blog. There were so many question he asked and I had the answers due to reading your blog.
    I want to thank you for making me look a lot smarter on this subject than I really am. You are now our go to resource on longboating and the canal system. Keep up the adventure. Hugs

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aha – that sounds like Mr “cruising the cut” to me – a journallist who now makes boating videos. Another great channel to check out on youtube goes by the name of “Minimal List”.

      There are some great channels out there, and they all put me to shame with their videos – but then I do have a face ideally suited to radio… 😉

      Some of my favourites are the folk who live in their vans (and RVs), and most of those are in the USA!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Jolly good timing and jolly good show, what? All sheep-shape and Bristol fashion for 14 days and even with contingency plans for bearing your backside!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Absolutely so, spookily good timing! The weather forecasters were correct and the weather has indeed changed – Heinz-strength winds, rain, and – yesterday – lots of thunder too. Most splendid. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Just to prove my ignorance, the winding hole thing – is that like a three point turn using a bit of extra canal width or a many shunt backwards/forwards turn? Please excuse the very technical description. It still looks a tight business!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The answer is “yes”. Tis a mix of three-point turn and sometimes a shuffle back and forth, although short(er) boats can often just turn in a full circle… Some winding holes are huge, others are (relatively) tiny. The best that I hope for is a two-pointer on a great day, a three-pointer on a good day and no witnesses if it gets worse than that! The catch is that, unlike cars and horses, boats don’t turn when going backwards (not in any controlled manner, anyway). 😉

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