Like a rat up a drainpipe

The fresh enmoorings, for a day or three, while the Met Office makes some of the urgent adjustments to its behaviour that I have suggested. A slightly deceptive daguerreotype, since the free space at our bow is the whole of the free space at our bow before there is a mess of “other persons’ boats”, and the sun shone only briefly at the close of day, just to tantalise and discomnobulate the human mind-gland. The towpath is Mud City. Mud, mud, Gloria’s mud, there’s nothing quite like it after a murder for pooling the blood. Ah what memories what memories from nineteen hundred and sixty-three while later that same year… sorry, I was waxing lyrical there. Remembering Nanny’s nursery rhymes always does that to me.

Enjoyed a minor cruise-ette yesterday. Yonder whether and wither the weather foreforeforecast (Get yer cloth, Granville) for the next week reads much like the staff rota in the sluice room of a vegan health farm (depressingly), so the Cardinal and I upped anchor and fled. We’re now in the Land of Mud, which is a territory within the Land of Confusion. Four and a half of your Earth miles, a swift half-service and a Maggie Thatcher at Bunbury (this gentleman is for turning). Lord Luck had left us a generous space on the end of the (mooring ring bedecked) “visitor” moorings near the bridge. Most splendid.

Shown below is the Cardinal leaving our previous moorings and cruising, Captain Cook style, over the far horizon and into the blue. The grey. Into the grey.

Venetian (Cholmondeston?) winding hole. Middlewich Branch.

Through the first bridge hole we come to SLOW DOWN MOORINGS (I do wish that they’d be more adventurous in naming these arrangements), and a good long stretch of ticketty tick-over.

SLOW DOWN MOORINGS, Middlewich Branch.

Through the bridge shown above is a lovely section where a chap may floor the acceleratrix of his vessel and cruise at a heady 3mph – or even 4mph if reckless and under the influence of hormones and season. I was not under the influence of either hormones or season.

A mile and a half or so into our epic venture we came then upon what I refer to as Moorings Alley – boats, an awful lot of them in delicate shades of GRP, both towpath and offside, right up to the junction at Barbridge. The Cardinal is shown here banking, Cigarette-boat style, to make the turn.

Moorings Alley Next Barbridge Junction (not the sea), Middlewich Branch.

Farther along the way just past NEF (North East Fuels or North East Farmers or Nagging Egregious Felons or whatever that enormous industrial complex is that has NEF plastered all over it) we almost grounded, mid-channel. Just a hesitation and a shrug from the Cardinal, so me guesseth that whatever it is it is soft. A new mudbank formed perhaps, or a(nother) freshly-dumped body. One rarely ever finds out. Thankfully.

Hopefully I didn’t graze some pod of migrating Minke.

Just a little later we met the [real, physical, grunt] workers of the Watery Wellness Trust Ltd (formerly C&RT), who are replacing a stretch of soggy sunken towpath – sadly with hardcore, but hey ho. It’s so narrow there that the lycra-clad cads and speed-crazed nutwits don’t oft favour the place (there isn’t room for two or more of them to pass themselves at 45mph).

The W.W.T. working boat was playing home to a medium-sized digger. As I approached, slowly, warily, the pan whereinfrom the gravel hardcore for the new towpath surface was being scooped drifted out and across the Cardinal’s bow. The gentleman in the endiggeratrix used the bucket to pull the beast back in, leaving us (just) enough space to squeeze between them and the offside.

Not two English hours after tying up, twisting the stern gland-greaser (or more properly the stern-gland greaser, Let’s eat Grandma…) and bunging the covers back on did a Canal Rozzer hove by, noting the Cardinal’s name, number and position. Unholy haste notwithstanding this is to the good. The Watery Wellness Trust Ltd.’s B.D.T.H.B. (Big Database of Those Horrid Boats) is thin gruel at the best of times, and yet they rely on it so to satisfy their corporate obsessions and psychoses in re chasing “horrible live-aboards”, or “gits”.


Notable Benny: I quite enjoy the possibility of being termed a spalpeen, a dastard, a bounder, a blackguard, even a rapscallion, but those are terms for me to choose to use in re myelf, and definitely not for someone in a paid and putatively authoritarian position.

[Rather like the disparaging and wholly unfriendly term “bridge hopper”.]


The Cardinal and I in this “Year of Our Lockdowns &etc” needs must oik ourselves south a bit and then perhaps we’ll go west, young man, sometime soon(ish), the better to fatten up the W.W.T. Ltd.’s risible caricature of the Cardinal’s peregrinations.

Calveley “Visitor” moorings, Shropshire Union.

The gum dichromate image above is a more honest representation of our current moorings. The Cardinal is there, right on the end, so to speak, of the VMs, with a couple of brave souls moored on pins-in-soggy-nonsense a bit further up.

There is a mobile interwebnettings mast just beyond the field to the right of frame, and running alongside that the Crewe to Chester railway line. I do quite like to hear a good railway line, even though it’s been years since I tied anyone to the rails, in my (then-)official capacity or otherwise, for fun.

One thing that I have spotted (other than trains) here is that the local canal bridge is being sorely abused.

Bridge 104, Shropshire Union.

I’ve never seen a more nervously-driven lorry. The driver either forgot that he was driving and damned near coasted to a halt before risking his front wheels on the arch, or else – and which is more likely – he was most tentative about rolling his loaded machine over a bridge with some centuries behind it.

The bridge still stands, although I am certain that it was not designed for this traffic.

I shall let you know if I hear a rumble followed by a loud splash.

Right, I must away to the galley. There are sprouts to trim and carrots to peel alive and broccoli to prepare for steaming.

Who knows, we may even achieve proper daylight at some point during the day, and where would I be if I were to be found without a few choice spuds bubbling away on the stove?

My god, Hutson, you’re obsessed with your guts and food. Find another hobby!

Yes, Mr Brain-Gland.

But not today.

What did you do during the “Pandemic”, Uncle Ian?

What? Oh, I ate broccoli… and I hibernated. Blethered, too – I did a lot of blethering. Bed, broccoli & blethering.

I thought it best.

Chin-chin, Ian H., & etc. E&OE.


  1. Murder on the canals… a title begging for a book. I’m picturing the body being constantly reported and disappearing before the police arrive. Finally being found stuck to the bottom of a narrow boat. Its head being discovered upon inspection of the weed hatch. Victim is obviously a rozer, with suspicion on many innocently accused continuous cruisers. Murderer is obviously the chairman of wellness trust.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Not exactly that story but, strange to relate, a friend of mine – Pat McDonald – is in the process of publishing a(nother) book, this one with settings in and around the canals… I’ve helped a little with some details, and with a smokey towpath image for inspiration!

      Pat’s Amazon author page is here –

      The canals are great places for murders – the police think in terms of roads, the public thinks that they are linear park ponds with added duck. There are a million and one places to bury bodies where they will likely never be found…

      …and I DO have a spade aboard. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Bobbies on the beat are as rare as hens teeth in town, have they all jumped ship to morph into Canal Rozzers? Who knew the law of the land applies on water as well?


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah if only it were the Law of the Land! The Watery Wellness Trust Ltd (formerly C&RT) was given weighty responsibilities and some limited powers in the 1995 Waterways Act, but as with all cowboy outfits run by metropolitan snowflakes they have assumed unto themselves powers quite unbecoming… by illegal sleight of hand via writing them into the very one-sided, unavoidable contract of the boat licence “terms and conditions”. The grunt workforce of the company (for that is what it is now, Ltd) do amazing work, but their “management” is more of a seaside joke-shop window than is the current Cabinet. ;-(

      They are fast becoming an exemplar of that model of bung, graft, corruption, subornation, embezzlement, peculation, cronyism, dishonor, fraud, nepotism and generalised but deeply-embedded institutional tosspottery; The National “Charity”, wherein near one-hundred percent of the money disappears in salaries (a quarter of a mill to the two or three “top dogs” each as of this inst.), expenses, conference attendances, frippery and contracts awarded to – ahem, yes indeed, I believe you – “independent” “third party” contractors… A few years and the Watery Wellness Trust Ltd will be up there (down there!) with the best (the worst!) of them.

      As with all of our current infrastructure it needs a giant celestial hand to reach down from the clouds, grasp the rug by the corners and give it a good shake in the street, to dislodge the manifold bugs, stains and general humanoid-ish detritus.

      Were it not for the work of the thousands of volunteers and those with well-worn pickaxes and spades in their hands the whole system would collapse in weeks.

      Other than this, I have no strong opinions on the matter! 😉

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  3. My brain doth tell me that Cardinal Wolsey would not be a natural for walking upon water and that he should anyway be clad in a dress and his hat don’t have wings, so it cannot be he in charge of the bow that I see standing there. And his relations with France would be best described as complicated, so I puzzle over who it is my eyes seem ready to convince me is Napoleon in a bicorn, or could it be a more patriotic Nelson?

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    1. The tiller pin was sold unto me as being a representation of the Duke of Wellington, but in different lights and angles he does sometimes look more like Nelson, Napoleon or Hornblower.

      Schooled at Eton (of course, aren’t they all?), soldiered a bit at Flanders and parts of India, managed a significant win for England in 1815, Commander in Chief of the Army in France, Prime Minister once (succeeded by Earl Grey 1830-1834 – yep, the chap who is remembered for having a tea named after him rather than for the abolition of slavery in the period), invited a second time to form a government but refused, a bit of a reactionary anti-reformist git, fought a duel in Battersea Park with Lord Winchilsea over a difference of political opinion, and gave the Wellington Boot its name.

      My favourite quote (it’s on the government history website above) came after his first Cabinet meeting as Prime Minister: “An extraordinary affair. I gave them their orders and they wanted to stay and discuss them.”


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  4. Wonderful Ian, you always raise my spirits. Hope you and the Cardinal have a fabulous Christmas xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. …and a very merry thingummy and happy wotsit to you and yours too Jane! 🙂

      I plan on hiding us away quietly during the height of the Silly Season.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. They can be a tad… keen. I too have been logged while mid-canal and moving, and once while I was in a lock and being locked up by official volunteers. In the latter case I presume that had the spotter been thirty seconds earlier and my boat lower in the lock he would not have been able to read our name and number, and we would have been recorded as unlicensed and delinquent. Being logged in the lock while mid-cruise resulted in their (attempting to) issue one of those passive-aggressive “we’re worried about your cruising pattern” / “have you forgotten to cruise” emails… The system is not a particularly well-thought-out one.

      I have little doubt that whatever their current entreaties of applying common sense (when the system has none such) next year’s licence renewals will be a(nother) pantomime of threats in re not cruising far enough or often enough, and all memory of lockdowns, border closures and tiers will have been expunged from the Atari Console that runs their database.

      The chap in our present corner of the world who does the spotting is very pleasant, I do feel for him though, holding down such a piddly-widdly job. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. At first I too was afraid, I was petrified. Kept thinkin’ I could never live without Gloria by my side, but then I spent so many nights thinking how she did me wrong – and I grew strong, and I learned how to get along.

      Unless you were talking about Gloria inExcelsis-Deo were you? I can never tell the two apart, it’s a wonder I’ve survived.

      Deo. De-e-e-e-o. Daylight come and me want to go home… no, that’s not right either. It’s no damned wonder i got thrown out of the choir.


    1. The body-disposal possibilities on Engand’s canal system are indeed manifold. The only thing that we can’t get rid of easily is household rubbish! 😉


  5. Why is it that your blog posts leave me with a happy vision of life as it should be lived…people tied to railway lines, bodies in canals…just a few lamp posts needed to complete the pleasure and accommodate my candidates.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I do wonder if we might ask all members of Parliament, and the entire House of Lards to attend one day wearing either emerald green or ruby red with something tinsel-ish or sparkling in gold or silver as a flourish or trimming… would they cotton do you think that we intended to string them up as Christmas decorations?

      If you ask me, it’s well worth a go. 😉

      Liked by 2 people

        1. If only in each country there were that one, special politician worthy of a place right at the top of the Christmas tree… Oh, hang on though… 😉

          Liked by 1 person

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