A brilliant (and rare) few days away – spoiled at the last by bureaucracy #narrowboat #boating

Hello pop-pickers – um – blog-splatters…

Apologies for having been quiet for a few days, I/my-rellies finally managed to synchronise our various worlds and I’ve just returned from a splendid but all too v.rare meet-up with the Sis and the Bro, and a couple of days of visits to some places that I’ve wanted to visit for a long time.

The Bomber Command Memorial near Lincoln, the Imperial War Musueum at Duxford, Bletchley Park (a Bill Tutte / Tommy Flowers / Alan Turing pilgrimage) and – oh yes – the “Welcome Break” at Derby, surely one of England’s worst “motorway service areas”.


I’m not kidding, this establishment was surely where the Eagles were inspired to write the lyric to Hotel California (you can check out but you can never leave), AND where Rowling first thought of the Harry Potter “Dementors”.

To cut a long tale short, there was no “welcome” of any sort, the toilets were broken, out of action, closed in their entirety if you were male, the whole place exuded a decidedly poisonous “atmosphere” and it seems that Messrs Welcome and Break couldn’t provide even details such as adequate lighting in the main area. Two “Costa Coffee” vending machines and a rack of dubious plastic sandwiches do not a “welcome break” make.

An official do-you-realise-it’s-this-bad letter is being sent, since I gave up staying quiet about such things half a century ago, and dependent upon their corporate reply reviews on Trip Advisor and wotnot etcetera will be left, good, bad or ugly as needed.


So, anyway, the meeting up of we three (Bro, Sis and Me) took place not in thunder, lightning or in rain, but in some sunshine, and was most excellent. I will bung a bit up about the other visits made (and lots of photographs), soonest.

We had a most peculiar problem with the car, my “I never actually use it, I hate the things and I won’t/don’t talk on the phone anyway, it’s just for emergencies” mobile went ever so slightly insane, and we were attacked by an HGV driver who quite deliberately attempted to use his 40,000kg lorry to flatten Bro and me. I kid you not, video is on file. You have to laugh, don’t you? We did.

The memorials and museums visited were most excellent… a great time was had by all…

…and then I got back to the boat in a really good mood only to have that dumped on from a great height by the Canal & River Trust with an email they had sent, waiting for me.

It was one of those emails that – infuriatingly – and outrageously – had been sent from a “do not reply” email address, meaning that any beginnings to getting the corporate mistake rectified had to begin with digging out a working email address of a real human being to refer it to for help.


You can perhaps, if you catch me at the right moment, wipe the grin produced by what had been a few great days off my silly face, but there’s not a bureaucracy on this planet that can stop me chuckling for long. Not with the pills that I’m taking…


I am back on the Cardinal and the world is my oyster. We – the Cardinal and I – will be trundling around again (in a day or four at my discretion, and at our favourite glacial pace and in our sometime-random, sometime-regular modus, where’er we feel like it, up, down or sideways and back again, subject only to the many regulations that we already do adhere to thank you very much if only you looked properly).


Two bottles of proper, brewed, Dandelion & Burdock aren’t bad at mood repair either.

I had two today, and damned fine splendid they were, too.

Proper Dandelion, proper Burdock.

Nostalgia, with fizz.

Chin-chin for the mo, folks.

Ian H., and Cardinal W.


  1. Welcome back you were missed. Whomsoever coined the title ‘Welcome Break’ must have been in their cups when they tried to marry that up with what services they condescend to offer or at least had a sense of humour. The point about services they are situated where the disgruntled traveller must fall over them or certainly to seek sanctuary from the battle of the roads but never cease to make the weary more so. I once paid £12 for a very short tomato and cheese bagette and a cup of questionable coffee – hate to think what it might cost now. Well it was aptly named Washington services not far short of the Angel of the North. Look forward to the pics.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The “options” available on service areas is depressing enough without even feeling the width or quality – all chains serving plastic nonsense. Ugh! Back online again after my MiFi router decided to run across the rainbow bridge to router heaven on Friday evening. Sort of almost just about solved that one again now, for the moment… 😉


  2. Is that welcome break what we call a “Rest Area” in the US? Rest Areas are run by the states. For the most part they are quite excellent but don’t provide much more than vending food and drink. But always with clean, large and working restroom and a splendid park like, shaded picnic area. Entire areas devoted to letting truck drivers sleep their required time. It’s quite nice.

    Of course we also have the most exits crammed with many many of the sort of place you describe. Lots of fast food and gas station food and of course gas.

    As a general rule, I am not particularly proud the our country and it’s various efforts. But I do think the highway system is one of it’s best accomplishments. Of course these days it is slowly deteriorating as both parties use it as political artillery.

    I do wish wish they would keep their divisive issues to things less practical.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, they are. In the UK they are run by private enterprise. Some aren’t too bad, others are terrible.
      In France, they are generally good, but I did stop recently at one that had one of the old-style ‘loos’ i.e. A hole in the ground. I thought they’d all gone, but apparently not!
      That was not a good one.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I have noticed on holidays over the years that Messrs France and Co do tend to run better service areas when compared to ours – edible food, for one thing! 🙂


    2. They are indeed so – and in this country either run solely by or full to the brim with international chain concerns serving plastic ugh in place of food! The prices are always rip-off outrageous level and the quality is akin to a manslaughter charge in the making. Desperate places visited only by desperate people! Even the fuel is expensive when compared to non-captive audiences.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I think I need some of those pills… All sounds excellent – and I know both Duxford and Bletchley are (you need more than a day at the former and at least that at the latter). Derby services…well…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Both places were excellent – although Bletchley is a two-fee bit of an expensive place these days, with the main site being where the visitors are initially channelled but Colossus and Bombe etc being housed in a corner and separate entry charged again for those… Great visits though, more to come. 🙂


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