Meerkat Moorings and a Cheery Wave

I still have a magnificent quarter-mile or so of open view from my bow, but – yep – rather akin to parking your car in a quiet spot in the supermarket car park, we’ve attracted other boats. Ho hum. 😉 This being a standard narrowboat I don’t have a view behind, but if I did have a view behind, I wouldn’t currently have a view behind.

I love people, I really do, it’s just that I’ve never found a decent recipe or had an oven large enough to cook one in.



As a matter of pure habit I photograph a train if one appears while I am perambulating near the tracks. There are some very chunky-looking freight trains and some weird-looking industrial things pass by on this line. I’m not a spotter, I just like big machinery. Ditto steam trains, I couldn’t distinguish one from t’other to save my life, but I do love to see them.

However, I must stop photographing them.

The driver of one a few days ago saw me with pocket-rocket rinky-dinky camera in hand and promptly stuck his arm out of the cab window and waved at me.

I was horrified, and genuinely couldn’t move for a few moments, rooted to the spot by my mis-identification as a train-spotter. Note to self: modify behaviour (and dispose of the duffle coat, the bobble-hat and the little notebook).

Incidentally – do kids still do that? Do “grown-ups” still train-spot? Standing on a station platform with a notebook would likely get a chap arrested as an international terrorist these days. Tasered by some Plastic Plod just as a 4-4-6-2 with double-flange steam-release gubbins rolls past…

There’s boogy-woogie bugle boy b’ger-all happening today. It’s one of those still, dull, not-really-bothering days today. Gloomy at first it’s a tad brighter now, but still nothing to please the solar panels much above a slack half-dozen electric amps, give or take an erg.

One boat past so far. High engine revs approaching (with concomitant canal-relative speed) and then just as their bow came level with mine, the chap-person on the tiller dropped the revs. Not really the idea, is it? Couldn’t give a fluffy chuff about his engine speed, it’s the bow-wave and the wash that is impolite. Ce sera sera. With any luck at all he’s now stuck with his bows perched over the top gate at Minshull Lock. I can’t be sure though; I put the curse together rather hurriedly while standing at the galley sink, and even on a Sunday my latin is questionable.

The local wild Podiceps Cristatus also breezed past this morning. A grebe by any other name. Odd birds. On the surface they look waterlogged and about to send up a flare to summon the R.N.L.I., while when they dive they dive for so long that a thoughtful cove necessarily worries in re their ever surfacing again. This one was sort of middling on the dives today, swimming past underwater in roughly ten yard stretches before surfacing for a gobful of the old fresh stuff. Sometimes they are so enthusiastic in their under-water fishing that they bang into the Cardinal’s hull and/or try to surface too close. Most splendid to see, even in today’s murk.

I have a treat lined up for tiffin.

A fresh, unsliced, squishy loaf with a nice elastic crust (thank’ee!) and some cheese & onion crisps – there will be a crisp sandwich consumed mid to late afternoon. It is The Law.

Photos? Well they’re a bit thin on the ground at the moment, since the ground hereabouts has been subject to some several days of para-biblical rain. Mud R us. I might venture out again later to see if there’s anything (other than trains) moving about or looking in any way picturesqueish. Rather unlike today’s grebe though, I wouldn’t hold your breath.

The world is virtually monochrome with just a dash of the pale and ill-lit green brush this Sunday day. Ideal for black-clad parsons to be seen scurrying along bare hedgerows to and fro the faithful, dabbing at mist-chilled parson’s noses and clinging to worn-out hymnals. Their boots soggy, ecclesiastical toes cold, mud-splatters on the hem of their cassock, sinfully-well starched and religiously-bleached white crossed collar being quite the brightest thing in the whole ensemble, parson included.

Now there’s a thought, atheist though I be. I haven’t heard the pleasing call of church bells ringing out for a long, long time. Do we still do that in England, or is it too un-de-re-constructed, and non-PC? Have the bells been silenced for fear of offending some group or individual or other?

Reminds me of a mooring on the Llangollen where I woke one fine day to the sound of a heavenly-ish choir, and thought that I’d been scooped up by the Grim Reaper during the night. Turned out that just over the hedge lining the towpath was a convent, and the nuns began their worshipful labours early…

Had I been more readily awake and able to give the matter deeper thought, hot vapours of sulphur creeping up the nostrils would have been more likely…

Chin-chin, chaps.

Ian H., starring soon in Trainspotter III.



  1. Well the bells around here ring quite regularly. I suspect one church, though. They have far too complex bell songs. I think they are streaming it, not ringing it. No proof mind, but the best conspiracy theory should not be based on anything but suspicion, a fertile imagination and a vague sense of evil.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sometimes, like those Rock ‘n’ Roll bands – the ones with electric guitars, loud music and long hair, churches ring the bells backwards in black magic rituals and devil -worship.

      Either that, or they sometimes put the C120 cassette in upside down and play the tape in reverse.

      I shall ask Esmerelda when next we meet.


      Liked by 1 person

  2. You do realise the cheery wave was because he was delighted to see you, and not to give you a train-spotter’s frisson? It must be rrrather dull business driving a freight train with nary a soul about or behind, as it were. Nothing like a bit of people watching to brighten one’s day … Now, a white bread crisp sandwich would warm the cockles of anyone’s day. Sadly, such mollusc-warming hasn’t taken place in my life since adolescence. Thanks for the memory!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. In my defence I did wave back automatically – that was part of the “freezing in horror” problem. I hope that I did indeed brighten the driver’s shift a little!

      A white bread crisp sandwich is that most peculiar culinary beast – of little to no actual benefit in terms of nourishment, but my goodness me, when you fancy one it’s a splendid thing. Rather like all of the variations on a chip butty, they can only be made from commercially-produced white bread. It’s most odd.

      Back to steamed vegetables and sensible food today.


  3. I love your description of ecclesiastical gentlemen, Ian. As to church bells, I only realised when you mentioned it that they’ve stopped! And I like them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The comment below from Alex made me realise why – another victim of the Bing Bong Moo Wibble Fribble De-Clomp Year of Twenty-Twentoid &etc. It just struck me that England is peppered with churches, there’s hardly a horizon without signs of one, and yet I’d heard nothing for ages. Part of the scenery is gone. ;-(


  4. I think the problem with church bells is that they are rung by multiples of people who are no longer allowed to gather together in the close confines of the belfry. They are also normally rung to call the faithful to worship/weddings etc, all of which are now verboten by our lords and masters.

    I live next to my village church, which until March this year had wonderful bell-ringing practise every Thursday evening as well as the real thing on occasional Sunday mornings. The bells have been sadly silent since the Great Decree.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aha – for a luxurious moment there I had forgotten the chief madness of 2020! I am both pleased for myself and amazed at myself for the omission! Sincere thanks for pointing me aright.

      Even as a cynical and caustic atheist I do enjoy hearing the bells peel, they are an essential part of the English countryside. 🙂 They also take me back to my days as a spotty and squeaky-voiced youth in the local church choir… If the musicality of the choir was important, perhaps for a particularly demanding bride or some such, I was always gently asked to remain silent and simply mime the words.


  5. Yes, I can vouch for the spotting of trainings having found myself just a few years back waiting for a connection at Crewe, just me and the few spotters about. One adult specimen (complete with smelly burger) and a handful for small boys lurking thereon. Then one of those steam engine maintenance engines appeared and there was such a fury of activity, all dashing and snapping of cameras, scribbling into exercise books and waving of arms to the engine driver.I thought I was caught in the remake of an old 1950s movie. I was raised with a brother who could actually tell you how many bogie wheels each named and numbered one had, sadly.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s a shame that more young folk don’t develop similar interests, it would be better than being buried alive in their IPiddlePads and iFonze (or whatever)!

      I do confess to an indordinate fondness for the Deltic locomotive. When I am Lord High He-Who (Must be Obeyed) I shall have several to pull my private train… 😉


  6. It’s the dodgy raincoat and the flat cap that give you away as a died in the worsted, bone fide spotter as opposite to the lesser spotted pecker of wood. I just knew when I had to locate my opera glasses to ascertain the distance my Smart would have to travel down the towpath on my mercy mission, that it wouldn’t be long before some moronic piece of gristle parked his craft right up your chuff.

    And talking of chuffs, like you do, is that chuffer train powered by lightening? Similar; only different from the Royal train which I read in today’s periodical, is powered by used cooking oil. Difference being one is by divine intervention the other by that well known deity Colonel Saunders.

    On the run up to Christmas, please can we have more culinary delights Nanny and Cook have planned for the two old salty Sams… Mr. Ian Hutson, Esq… no less, and the ecclesiastically-minded Cardinal.


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      1. Ah but Snowgoose sir, you have an excuse (you look good in a duffle coat).

        No but seriously but no (computer says yes), I shall sneakily have to maintain the habit, liking trains as I do. Been known to photograph the occasional tractor, too, if impressive enough.



    1. The menu for Spendmas Day itself is usually along the lines of an elephant’s sufficiency of toast and Marmite for brekkers, something wholesome such as Heinz Baked Beanz on more toast for luncheon, and a tiffin-supper of Spendmas cake and hot Mice Pies (heated on Mr Stove), washed down with a fortified cocoa or two. Mmmmmmy god, Miss Jones, I know how to live!

      If the Royal Train is powered by used cooking oil I must wonder if Her Maj pays the required fuel duty on the oil? I have worked on contracts with many long-distance chaps who fired their diesel Ferraris and Astons on drippery from the local chippery – and were pursued mercilessly by Her Maj’s (Strange) Customs & Excise for avoidance of same… 😉

      It must be noted that one of the boats moored up the Cardinal’s chuffery maximus is a mate who for the mo is dodging around and about the local marina, so all is not so displeasurous as it may seem. Really. I suppose. All things considered. Really. I suppose. 😉


      1. Ian, I am disappointed that you are not having a brussel sprout crisp butties on the days after the solstice.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I can report that somewhere during the Spendmas Season I go out of my way to make a sandwich from cold sage & onion stuffing, left-over Brussels sprouts* and HP sauce… I heartily commend the recipe to the nation. 🙂 But not to the world (the world just won’t understand).

          *Actually, in my world there is no such thing as a “left-over” Brussels sprout, so I usually have to cook some specially.


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