Before we begin the beguine, I did ask the chaps if they would mind being photographed and interwebnetted, and they cheerfully agreed.
The Canal & River Trust Ltd could not survive without the efforts of hundreds, possibly thousands, of unpaid and under-appreciated volunteers. These volunteers are formed into local groups looking after particular stretches of canal, and they undertake work from surfacing towpaths to repairing locks and chopping back vegetation. I imagine that it’s a bit like being on some sort of prison work-party but without the criminal kudos, the free accommodation, free meals, free heating, free internet and free Open University courses.
The area that I base a lot of my moochings-about in, the Shropshire Union canal, the Middlewich Branch and some of the Trent & Mersey canal, are, it must be said, some of the best-tended areas I’ve seen.
Here are some gentlemen of the Local Small Tasks (!!!) Team trimming back trees that have been hanging out over the canal where I am currently moored. Navigation past them has been more difficulterer than may otherwise be because of the interjuxtaproximination of “visitor moorings” with a slight bend on the approach to a bridge with a limited view and with putatively “permanent” moorings just beyond.
Beyond what I could speculate but let’s not dwell, eh?
You can see from this shot how far out the overgrowth hung, bearing in mind that where the chap on the towpath is standing is where this workboat is ordinarily moored up.
Two boats at once and you get some old fart of a wizard banging his staff on the ground and shouting ‘You shall not pass!’
Except that, well, now you can.
The work is as pleasant as you might imagine, in late-November temperatures and in the rain – and it rained all day. It’s not exactly buttering scones for a tea-party either; tis sawing through branches while standing on a wet boat, catching and disposing of the offcuts – and even moving whenever a boat wanted to pass.
Boats of course always want to pass when it is inconvenient for someone else.
It goes without saying of course that the Cardinal and I moored here in splendid relative isolation, and only once the last rope was fast and the boiler fires raked through did the work-boat appear, a boat moored bow-on and the passing traffic began in earnest…
I don’t suppose that the chaps on the work-boat were too chuffed when Hutson oiked up trailing his narrowboat groupies, giving them both an audience and less space in which to work.
In my defence I may only present this week’s “view from the side-hatch”.
Sometimes the view has added “horse”.
The steps and the snogging gate (some term them “kissing gates”) indicate one entrance to a public right of way that winds through fields and wood and lane and eventually, after about three miles, pops out at the
arse end of the nearest town. It’s quite impassable at this time of year because of the neck-deep mud. Impassable actually for most of the year, if you take due heed of the herds of cows strewn across many of the fields.
There were clear skies and frost forecast for today, and these duly arrived in buckets. The next post here will therefore be another “Gosh, Baby, it’s cold outside” one.
I shall leave you for the moment with one simple thought to ponder upon.
If all of the world’s politicians were laid end to end would any of us be the least bit surprised?
Chin-chin, and do be careful crossing London Bridge – it’s falling, figuratively, quite down. Ditto the Home Counties warehouse in which they store these anonymous-looking white lorries and the chaps with carving knives, be careful if you trip across that, too, although I expect that it wil be signposted quite clearly to prevent Joe Public from just bumbling in.
“No Entry. Government Property”, or some such, I expect.
Oh gosh, look at the time and the mood of the peasant classes – warm another one up, Cyril, and I’ll get on to HQ and make the arrangements.
No, but seriously…
Ian H. &etc.