This is not schadenfreude, this is not cocking a snook. This is simply reportage from a war zone. I have public entertainment moments all of my own, but since I’m at the keyboard I’m not going to tell you about those today. No, this is simply why, whenever possible, I travel outside of normal canal hours. This is why I am oft to be found holed up, busily uninteracting with the world. Unteracting? Is that a word? If not then it ought to be. I put a lot of effort into unteracting, and I am very good at it.
This is a small sample of a weekend Up The Junction – the Greek & Roman gawds alone know what it’s like on the Llangollen at the moment… 🙂
The Cardinal and I have been moored in a fascinating spot, close to the meeting twixt Shropshire Union and Middlewich Branch. Because my desk is raised I am afforded a grand-stand view of proceedings without having to bob up and down like a meerkat. I had to wait only until about 09:30hrs on the first day before proceedings began to proceed, and they haven’t really stopped since. 🙂
Oops, do please excuse you… You reverse… No, you reverse… No, me… Yes, you…
Two will fit, if you juggle and aren’t too bothered about the paint on the boat rails… and anything on the roof. Or a meeting of gunwales. That way no-one has to wait thirty seconds…
If you look carefully here there are three boats… and the angles involved do not favour the blockage clearing itself…
Venetian’s Day Boat, Barcarolle (red), below – crew behaving impeccably, I should add, and having tried for some several minutes to understand the other boat’s intentions – almost falls victim to the stop/start left-side-of-canal/right-side-of-canal confusion of a blue boat whose avowed and highly vocal destination was “the pub” “where’s the pub?” “we’re going to the pub”…
Between you, me and the fuel-filler cap, I think they’d already been…
Just after this photo was taken blue reverse-with-revs was engaged and all was well. Although the blue boat is on the “wrong side” of the canal they didn’t in fact follow Barcarolle through the turn, but went straight ahead – pubwards. Little wonder there was confusion.
Many sudden appearances onto the Shropshire Union were made from the Middlewich Branch, almost as though the view from there under the bridge isn’t of a busy road and some horrid housing, as though the right-angled junction were all one big surprise…
Green before blue, rarely “oh, after you“. 😉 Whoa, Neddy, thunk…. The bank opposite the junction is concrete and steel… Ouch.
Yes, you can easily get two boats through the narrows to the south of the junction, but you do need to know your starboard from your larboard when you do. No-one wanted to give way – it’s all so very much like driving on the roads but with no brakes and with wrong-side drive.
In the interests of reminding my reader (you know who you are) that while this may on initial inspection look like raw schadenfreude-in-a-blog-post, it is not, and I must therefore confess to some five years ago and my own altercation with another boat here while I was piloting a Cheshire Cat boat, during which two mugs were broken and I was contrite enough to last me for a decade. Nope, this is simply why gongoozlers – and boaters – watch boats boating about.
It’s akin to watching your own appendix take itself out. Fascinating, and you just can’t look away no matter how much it hurts.
Passing traffic? No problem. We’ll just shoot out of the junction, attempt to beach ourselves on the road, and blockade the Shroppie… 😉
The other boats will have functioning brakes, surely? Young Sonny-Jim on the bow was in prime position to be somersaulted onto the bank by the impact,
…but don’t worry, the other kid falls in the canal itself a couple of minutes later. I only caught him during his climbing out… clambering up the dangly-dangly centreline. You can see some remaining disturbance in the canal water below him… where he fished himelf out.
The gentleman steering the green & red boat with the blue bow-flashes had earlier had the devil of a job navigating the turn north and, yes, here he’s steaming at a rate of knots towards the Cardinal’s bow… without a care in the universe. I did have to “meerkat” myself off my arse there, and ask him to either steer it or stop it! He woke out of his reverie and did both, for which the Cardinal and I say “phew, cor blimey, Batman”.
He was busy in a shouted conversation with the boat that (eventually) followed him out.
‘Which way is Wales?’ he was asking.
Wales is south from here… he’d spent ages laboriously (and “interestingly”) turning north…
It took another ten minutes turning around again (see kid falling in above). I don’t think that Daddy is having the most relaxing holiday of his life. Were I to be asked in court which way he approached, how often he turned and in which directions I would likely accidentally perjure myself. It all got very confusin’.
I hope that if they have promised themselves the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct from here in a week that they realise they have to get all the way back to base too… We can but hope that either the gentleman thrives on stress, or that his holiday improves.
Someone usually, eventually, gives way, most of the time, although not oft with much good grace… Note the blue boat to the right is in “reluctant reverse”, a narrowboat gearbox option that comes between “full steam ahead” and “rowlocks to the world, Doris, I smell blood“.
It is at this point that words are usually exchanged… and gesticulations gesticulated.
That said, you very rarely get a chance for many words or gestures before someone else joins in the fray…
Those “having words” must apply the anchor, while those gesticulating take the opportunity to hoof it away. The chap in the boat with the circular window in his cratch, who had pulled in briefly to avoid a boat some three or four boats earlier, remained briefly pulled in, having little to no choice in the matter.
What jolly japes. There is nothing – absolutely nothing – half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats…
.before steaming merrily on your way, regardless.
It is true that this weekend we lacked variety. We lacked – or else I simply missed spotting – one of these…
…and, other than the gentleman who turned laboriously north for Wales, we entirely lacked a Canal Mystery Tour Bus…
As I type this the evening “rush” is beginning and I must hie away – I have my I Spy Book of Boats to work through, and I have yet to score “whaler” and “oil tanker” and a pea-green boat with an owl and a pussy cat in it.
These are Canal-Rozzer time-limited moorings and I mun mooch on soon. I wonder if the limit imposed was on the advice of a psychiatrist, forty-eight hours being the maximum the human nervous system could take?
Remind me to set my hind-brain alarm for “Dawn O’Clock” tomorrow.
What’s that old saying about boaters? Some of them just won’t be satisfied until they’ve got a wooden leg and a parrot.
Chin-chin &etc. 😉