A cruise through Byzantium to the other side of The Black Post of Doom #narrowboat #boating

I mentioned in my previous post about some of the rules imposed on the canals being positively Byzantine (the product, I think, of a possibly lazy, possibly less than brave, possibly just ill thought-out attempt to make just the one size of sledgehammer crack nuts in the inner cities of London, Birmingham, Bath &etc and also crack nuts in the other ninety percent of the system; the rural areas where we’re not actually, yet, crushed together like rats in a sewer-pipe).

Well, today at not long after five of the ante-meridiem o’clock the Cardinal and I cruised to the very heart of Byzantium.

We were moored on a length of towpath restricted by the “Black Posts Of Doom” to just 48-hours. I mentioned in the previous post that just a boat length or two ahead, and a boat length or two behind, there were no such restrictions, and that should the wind and rain and general meteorological yuck continue and should any of the boats moored fore and aft of us move, the Cardinal and I would consider scooting from one rule book to the other.

[I should explain at this juncture that it is not the “48-hours” and such that are the pain in the fundament – it is simply the bureaucracy and the unilateral presumption of an imbalance of power and authority that irks. Restrictions are entirely necessary to stop the towpaths being permanently clogged with boats that only move when their owners visit them every second or third weekend. My dis-happiness (another new word) stems from my not being regarded as or treated as an autonomous, reasonable, responsible, self-determining adult in the present canal administration system.]

At 0510hrs the gentleman moored behind the Cardinal fired up his engine and accelerated away at Mad Maxianesque velocities towards the horizon (perhaps 2mph). My hind-brain, ever on patrol, woke me and in his finest “oy vey” accent (many years ago I dated a rabbi for a while…) he said ‘So, you vanted to move moorings already?’ Given that the bluster was (still) strong, and it’s Sunday so everyone else (those with multiple crews) will soon be moving about like confused wildebeest crossing the plains, and that rain, much more rain, is forecast (and indeed has begun falling since), I shrugged and replied to hind-brain ‘Alright, so we’ll move shmove. It’s my trousers that I need now, and shoes, I need shoes.’

I tell you, the conversations that go on inside my skull don’t bear thinking about. Indeed it is worrying that inside my skull is where I do a lot of my thinking about things. Between you, me and everyone else in here, I don’t mind saying that it’s quite worrying.

The hour being considered unsociable by many I didn’t start the Cardinal’s diesel engine but just untied our ropes. The wind blew us back in the direction needed without any effort from me, and all I had to do was tie up the bow rope once we’d got where we were going and then neaten things up at leisure. We’re now on the other side of one of the posts marking out the mooring time restriction, on t’towpath proper.

So early that the Sun has yet to put his hat on.

I don’t make the rules – I’ve never even been so much as consulted in re the rules. Nope, I just follow them.

Since being on the (passively-agressively over-polite) sharp end of communications from the Canal & River Trust the spirit of the rules is no longer of any concern to me. The letter will do just fine, thank you, that’s all that I need. If the Institutional benches of The Forum wish to dispense soggy, sour grapes across The Floor to the Peasant Representative benches they must not feign surprise when one or two are returned, ballistically…

Still, what have the Romans ever done for us?*

[*Rhetorical question.]

Scooted, a yard back from the restriction, NOT using the last-most of the supplied mooring rings…

I’m not made of sugar (as my late Father seemed to think that he was, worrying about being dissolved in rain – we could never get him through the front door if it was raining) but the weather is wot do look better tomorrow or the day after, cruising, me, for the use of. I am in no hurry, I didn’t (semi-)retire onto the Cardinal to be rushed along at anything more than a glacial pace in a manner chosen by me.

Today’s has been possibly the shortest “cruise” that I’ve ever undertaken.

I can’t remember the title or anything much else about it but I saw a film once in which there was a road with timed parking restrictions on either side. There was a scene in the film set early in the morning, when everyone came out of their houses/flats/apartments in slippers and dressing gown, got into their parked cars, shuffled them in an automotive ballet from one side to the other to meet the (letter, if perhaps not the spirit of the) restrictions and then went back inside to bed or breakfast.

The little bit of sunshine that shone its approval on my shuffle disappeared immediately I was finished, and the rain came down again. Great timing! It’s now just dull and cool and grey and miserable although the wind, obeying Sod’s Law, seems to have abated somewhat for the moment. No matter. A decision in the hand is worth two in the bush.

Two whats I have no idea.

Proper rain. Stair-rods. Persisting down.

I did notice that Mr Farmer was already hard at work in his fields on the other side of the towpath hedge while the Cardinal and I were moving about. Well, perhaps one of Mr Farmer’s workers

So here we are. We may now sit out the Sunday “traffic”, which may or may not be triffic, and we care not a jot today what the weather may do. Fifty yards from over there, only twenty-four hours from Tulsa, or somewhere, or something.

What a tangled society we have woven. We live in one of those hugely elaborate hamster-homes, the multi-coloured see-through plastic ones with many levels and tunnels and hide-aways and exercise wheels and bridges all connected like a maze. It’s just that none of the component pieces actually exist anywhere except on paper.

Perhaps Mr Sunshine will come out again today. Perhaps not.

Bridge 26, Middlewich Branch of Shropshire Union Canal

Good decision. Wise move. Who cares? What the hell. Wibble bibble. No idea what sort of noise a hamster makes. ‘Eeek’? Perhaps they are silent, like monks… little furry monks in plastic mazes…



Ian H &etc.



  1. Thanks for brightening up a wet Monday morning in Sussex. Strange how people moor in a restricted zone when just a few yards away they can moor for as long as they like. Still, as they say up north, where I originate, ‘Thare’s nowt so queer as folk.’
    As to not getting caught for minor transgressions, the same applies to…lets call them little untruths. When you need to tell a little fib, make it as near to the truth as possible. Then, having got a reputation for honesty, you are more likely to get away with a big one when the necessity arises.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. With the mooring decisions there’s often little choice, the powers-that-be mark off almost everything where most (other) folk would want to moor as time-limited “visitor moorings” – this place was unusual in that regard! Folk do indeed moor up in the most peculiar of places, opposite overhanging trees, on canal bends, opposite junctions, you name it and you’ll see someone there sometime. It’s all rather jolly. 🙂


  2. Hard to believe you are the same person who took their first wobbly trip out of the marina and here you are floating your boat from one time zone to the next without hoisting the sales or pulling on the paddles. You’ve come a long way (not today though) since then. Impressive.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I look back and cringe at not having the (knowledge, skills) wotnot to take the Cardinal a couple of miles up the canal for some work in the first months! These days I consider that to be a rest on home turf…

      Sometimes it’s just a lot easier to use the ropes to move the Cardinal (assuming it’s not far, and the wind is co-operating) – I always feel as though I have a horse on two ropes, persuading him along. Centreline rope and then either bow or stern rope, whichever end I think is most likely to try to escape from the manoeuvre. This morning was magical – the Cardinal was in excellent mood, and the wind perfect (at the time), just tickling the boat gently back without me even having to so much as get the ropes between my teeth, hunker down and pull like a cart-horse. 🙂 It was also quieter for the (new) neighbours!


    1. Tis a shame he went, he had the most incredibly cute Jack Russell puppy aboard. Whenever I walked past the puppy insisted on ten minutes of throw and fetch games. Mostly the puppy did the fetching, not so much the throwing…

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  3. Good move, unless you discover that there is no way on earth those responsible for enforcing that rule would have ventured out in that weather. Even then, it would be insurance.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Those who watch and log are cunningly (more likely incidentally) utterly random in their movements, and thus impossible to include in “The Great Simultaneous Equation”.

      My mother taught me very early on never to get “caught” for the small transgressions, but to preserve a facade of innocence and purity, the better to get away with the ruddy great huge transgressions, the otherwise hanging crimes… wise advice, and I’ve always taken it to heart. 🙂


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