57′ by 6′ 10″ of “lockdown” #narrowboat #boating #boatsthattweet

The it of it was decidedly fristy and moggy this morning, although rather like my savings account, it didn’t take long to clear.

Since the towpath – less than, much less than, two metres in usable width, due to humpery and bumpery and overgrowth of the undergrowth hereabouts – is monopolised by the darling delicious day-long cyclisters and joggerists and dog-emptiers I am keeping generally to my old, pre-pandemic routine. I always used to be out and about before and soon after first light, the only change has been that dawn is now the only time that I can get out of my boat. In still air the snottite trail from these exercise freaks lingers for hours, effectively removing the entire day for me once the first has wheezed and coughed and spat their way past.

Blur their faces? Why? They’re in what is very much an uncontrolled and public place, according to the Powers That Be.

How much cycle and jogger and non-boater foot traffic has there been? Well, let me put it this way, even with all of the recent sunshine there is no need whatsoever for the attentions of a lawnmower. There has been quite sufficient traffic to keep the towpath grass under control. Mayhap 5% of it, if that, by boaters. Mind you, it must be noted that I haven’t seen a multi-generation family walk past loaded up for a picnic down at Syke’s Hollow for a couple of days now. Perhaps picnics are going out of fashion?

Blur their faces? Why? They’re in what is very much an uncontrolled and public place, according to the Powers That Be.

Can’t complain though – early morning is by far and away the best time to be out and about. Up to the tap for a jug of potable water, gazunders to the marina, that sort of thing. Surfaces, such as taps and Elsans and gates, have had overnight in which to encourage their fomites to die.

24/04/2020 Venetian Marina Cholmondeston Lock Middlewich Branch. © Ian Hutson, 24/04/2020

The geese had slept overnight up by Cholmondeston Lock, but they were still happy for me to walk by, taking no fright from me and making no sound.

24/04/2020 Venetian Marina Cholmondeston Lock Middlewich Branch. © Ian Hutson, 24/04/2020

The geese and I are not quite best buds yet but, given that I haven’t so much as been able to even see the home delivery pages of a supermarket for nigh on two months now, this pair will be tame enough for a quick and easy grab and a roast when I run out of hedgerow nettles for soup. Even we vegetarians must when the Devil drives.

My up-and-down-the-towpath is limited because I don’t want to pass moored boats unless asoblutely necessary, so usually in the morning it’s two or three times back and forth, with jobs to do and without.

A train hoofed over the bridge by Venetian marina while I was on the third leg of this morning’s walkies. This is the bridge that is between most of the moorings around here (including mine) and the services… the bridge that is from Monday to be subject to scaffolding and pontoons and workmen…

24/04/2020 Venetian Marina Railway Bridge Middlewich Branch. © Ian Hutson, 24/04/2020

I can but hope that the default “out of hours” situation with this work is “freely passable by both towpath and canal”. Otherbugger I’m wised.

24/04/2020 Venetian Marina Railway Bridge Middlewich Branch. © Ian Hutson, 24/04/2020

That’s not the Cardinal moored there in the photograph above. Nor yet the boat behind. I am the one behind the boat behind. This boat oiked up overnight and came as a surprise to me this morning. The boat with no name. Like so many.


Essential travel only, eh? What a jolly idea that would be.

Friday, you say? How times flies under house (under boat) arrest! Time flies like an arrow but fruit flies like a banana. The covers are zipped up again now to front and to towpath side, and that’s me done with outdoors for the day. If the ropes come loose we’ll just drift until tomorrow morning. I’m not wiping jogger and cyclist phlegm off them or anything else until the nocturnal vapours and morning frost have done at least some of the work – and my gloves can do the rest!

© Ian Hutson, Cardinal Wolsey 24/04/2020

I am fortunate, very, very fortunate indeed, to love the inside of my boat, my floating man-cave, my library, my office, my BYO cook-it-yourself-too restaurant, my ooh-aah-oh-god-that’s-ridiculously-comfortable-bed, and my supply cupboard – kept stocked for the moment, thanks be, to some great canal friends. 🙂

© Ian Hutson, Cardinal Wolsey 24/04/2020

I suspect that this afternoon will become a little warm for my tastes. I have a 1°F “comfort” zone, miserable sod-ette that I am, moan moan moan, so mayhap the side-hatch (canalside) will be open and the roof vent fans churning on Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian mode.

Tis noticeable how, the longer these movement restrictions pertain, the more certain folk do seem to be coming to ignore them. The way that they “distance” themselves from strangers you’d think that corvid-19 was passed by fleas, not by aerosols.

You’ve got laugh, haven’t you? I mean, just think of the alternative.

Keep safe, keep happy and don’t forget to feed the goldfish.


Ian H.


  1. I find myself getting angry at the people ignoring the rules. Why the flippin’ heck do they think the Government made them? Just to annoy them? I watched some of Parliament TV when they were discussing it. One MP, who agreed that the lockdown was essential, was in tears at the thought of the unprecedented violations of our freedoms. But people don’t think these rules apply to them, and that they won’t get the virus, or if they do, it’ll only be a mild dose.
    Pass it on to Granny or Grandad who might die? Nah! Won’t happen.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Whether I believe that this thing is genuine or not, whatever I think of its infection rates and transmissability, as a peasant of the first order I have no logical or sane choice other than to take it seriously. A couple of days ago there were multi-generation families walking past the boat, on the way to (re-)use public tables and benches for a picnic – alongside moored boats. There may well arise a cure for COVID-19 but I doubt that we shall ever witness a similar cure for STUPID-n.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I must say the early morning in your area is quite lovely and worth getting up for even if it weren’t a plague avoiding necessity.

    I walk in the mornings in a public park. My friend and I go to great lengths to distance from each other and other walkers. But some people will NOT change their pattern of walking.. Oblivious to everyone and everything but their own path. I suspect each of these path hoggers of being, at minimum, in sympathy with miscreants who are picketing the hospitals right now. And some of them, I suspect ,may have actually shown up to whinge in front of a hospital with a sign that says something to the effect of: I’M THE ONLY PERSON THAT COUNTS, OPEN UP MY APPLEBEES! But because my grandmother was a soul of kindness and even if she didn’t pass the trait along to me, she did give the pattern card to follow, I merely tell them to move the fuck over. I don”t ever accuse them of picketing hospitals. Grandma would be proud.(ish)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Had canoeists, anglers, joggers, cyclists, walkers and boats past here today – just watched three of them stumble over one another because the walkers wouldn’t step off the path and the cyclist had no intention of dismounting. Joe and Josephine Public here are far, far beyond the extent of their maximum span of attention/obedience/memory/understanding. They can’t see it and so it doesn’t really exist. I begin to understand now why the man who first – eventually – persuaded his fellow practitioners in the medical industry to wash their hands was admitted to a mental institution at the age of forty-seven…

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I thought that walking/cycling was verboten on tow-paths? They certainly were, here, on the Grand Union, but I expect that the rules might be ignored. Strange how selfish people are, isn’t it?
    I hope you remain stubbornly well m’dear…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Use is – now, very, very belatedly – supposed to be boaters and locals only and even then to a minimum. However, folk are driving here, parking at the marina and getting their exercise. This is all encouraged by the Canal Executive, who are a one-trick pony and have hung their bid for future funding from the government on – don’t laugh – that would be cruel – on “Wellness by water”. The notion that just being around water is beneficial to health… unless, of course, you’re a boater now surrounded by the great unwashed who have all been bussed in specially!

      It’s actually very quiet here indeed in comparison to other places (towns and especially cities) where it’s mayhem as usual plus “lockdown” extra traffic. The only gripe I have is that I am trapped inside the boat from about 8am onwards. Could be a lot worse though!

      If this thing gets me then at the least it will have taken a global plague to bring me down. I won’t go easily. 🙂

      Take care yourself and please do keep on keeping on.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. It does look eerily spooky of a morning much like my anti-hero Hugo is finding down on the Mighty Warrior where he’s made his new home (thank you kindly for fuelling my writing with such great pictures).Likewise I notice a lot more exercise takers passing the view from my office window these days although the skies are pretty quiet without so much ‘stacking up’ of planes banking in towards East Midlands airport. I took your advice about having a basket of shopping waiting for a slot; I did a bit of a mystery shopper survey and joined (or tried to) some other supermarket lists a week or so ago.They were all much of a muchness with no slots available, only Sainsburys refused me on the grounds I wasn’t on the vulnerable list (?). I left a basket waiting on Tesco and two days ago checked the slots again; it put up yesterday, today and tomorrows with just one slot for 19.00 p.m. last night standing vacant – boom! So thanks for the advice, now I’m on two lists and haven’t gone hungry yet.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t suppose that it will bother the supermarkets or their “bottom line” in the least, but there’s an awful lot of disenfranchised ex-customers out there at the moment – myself included. I won’t forget their having cut me off at the knees, and neither will a lot of others.

      With luck we may see a resurgence in the old-fashioned “corner shop” in more than the inner-city or town areas. Heck, when we llived in the Outer Hebrides there was a weekly grocer’s van – I wis that there was one around here, he’d get all of my business. Well, what business I don’t give to the chandlery and to the fuel boat, anyway!



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