Being Seriously Bullied By The Canal & River Trust Ltd to Cruise More during a Pandemic, from Neighbourhood to Neighbourhood…

The Canal & River Trust Ltd tell me that I may have “trouble renewing my boat licence” because I haven’t cruised enough in the period May 2020 to December 2020… Trouble from them that is.

In seven months of restrictions because of You Know What I’ve cruised nearly seventy miles over a twelve mile range (between three local service areas/my support bubbly-group marina chandlery) – sweet naff all, I know, but it’s what I agreed with them in advance, in order to keep me within hailing distance of aged rellie one of two (and I am not interested in setting distance records anyway). Had they but been polite enough to wait out the full year they would anyway have had their silly, self-declared, unilaterally decided, wholly arbitrary minimum and much more, this in spite of the &etc, but no, they insist that their “spotters” have only clocked me less than 3 kilometres distant in that whole period and it’s threat threat threat. This would be the “spotters” who have either been on furlough (to save C&RT money) or who have been on reduced rounds because the pandemic legal restrictions meant that they could not share pick-up & drop-off vehicles.

It ought to be said, just so that it is noted, dire pandemic utterances from government notwithstanding, not even withsitting, that like other folk, I do not simply move my boat until C&RT cry ‘Halt! That’s enough for today’, then moor up and then stay inside peering out of some letterbox arrangement like a pair of disembodied, deranged, bloodshot eyes. No. I too need exercise and shopping and water and gazunders and suchlike. Like everyone else, I do get off the boat once moored up, once in a while. Moving my boat from neighbourhood to neighbourhood means, if it means nothing else, that my four or five mile daily “stay sane (ish)” walks must be taken in ever-changing neighbourhoods, with ever-changing people and ever-changing arrangements. In the more ordinary course of more ordinary World Events that would be fun fun fun, but in the Current Displeasantness it’s hardly the spirit of the whole Stay Safe thing, eh?

Rather as though I am some acne-ridden thirteen year old they want “till receipts from a wider area and/or photographs of my boat with recognisable landmarks in the background” as “proof” that I have moved (during three national lockdowns, several tiered restrictions, half of planned winter stoppages and three named storms in January 2021 alone… They will then “consider” these, and maybe I won’t have “trouble renewing my licence”, from them, if they are amused enough by my story…

BTW, the threatening email arrived the day before Christmas Eve, it’s taken me a month to raise a reply from C&RT, and at that only by Formal Complaint. Their response? ‘Sorry it took a while, you went into the “junk” email box – two separate corporate official email addresses, three separate emails… – and oh, we issued the email (the threat) because we issued it. Issued it stays.

Nope, I am to sodski off and to do better – while still in National “no non-essential movement” lockdown, with the entire stretch of the Shropshire Union completely closed due to multiple problems, with Bridge 18 behind me closed for February and with the Trent & Mersey beyond that closed for landslides and breaches, at least one of which will take at least 8-10 weeks to repair… they have to build an access road before they can even begin repairs to one of these major problems… (all, it must be noted, from their notifications, caused by Storm Christophe). 😉

So, being an obliging chap, I’ve selected my favourite photographs of nb Cardinal Wolsey 508533 in some of the best locations we’ve visited. Total round-trip cruise eighteen trillion miles four furlongs and ten and a half centimetres ha’penny.

The Cardinal and I shot the new-fangled Beeston Rapids. Gosh it was such fun. We had lashings of cake and ginger beer afterwards.

Shooting the Beeston Rapids, Lock 10 breach, January 2021. 8-10 weeks to repair at best. © Ian Hutson 2021

Got a great rooster tail from the prop powering up that flow, I can tell you!

The Cardinal and I chased poor old Nathan – a v.decent bloke working in a cra*p “charity” Ltd – all over The Moon.

If the Canal-Next-The-Sea-Of-Transquility (Life’s Better By Water…) hadn’t been so silted up we may have caught him. As it was we had to use the pole and reverse off. © Ian Hutson 2021

Then, because that had been so much fun, the Cardinal and I chased Jim – also a v.decent bloke ensnared in a dismal “charity” Ltd – anti-clockwise all over The Moon. We didn’t catch him either. Here he is pictured just about to take a long leap right across the Jean-Baptiste Bourguignon d’Anville Canal right in front of our bows (shouting ‘you’ll never take me alive unless you have cake…’).

The towpath on some of the Moon Canals is little more than loose dust, very difficult to get a pin into with any integrity. © Ian Hutson 2021

Immediately after that trip – and after more lashings of lockdown ginger beer and some dainty sandwiches – my pager went off and we were summoned for a medical emergency. Some MisManaging Director had a broken heart and we had to be temporarily miniaturised to undertake a Fantastic Voyage to clear a huge clot. Now that I come to think on it, may have been the other way around. There was this huge clot that had a “Director” attached to it … 😉

Now this WAS a Fantastic Voyage. Cardinal Wolsey 508533, bursting through arterial wall and cruising the Left Ventricle. The Left ventricle is a bit like the Left Bank of Paris, but with not so many artists. © Ian Hutson 2021

The Cardinal and I needed a holiday after that, and since all of the politicians and celebs have been bogging off to Antibe and Acapulco and wotnot, we decided to cruise over the Cairo Aqueduct and see the Great Pyramids.

Cardinal Wolsey 508533 cruising over the wonderful Cairo Aqueduct with a magnificent view of the Great Pyramids of Old Geezer. © Ian Hutson 2021

Between you, me and the Canal & River Trust Ltd’s “licensing” “system” we rather like Outer Space and yearn to get back out there and rejoin my own people on our home planet, deep in the Far Kinnell system in the second arm of the Long Spiral Downthuplugole.

Here’s the Cardinal zooming out of an immense Black Hole (rather like the one my seventy miles over a twelve mile range during a f-f-f-flamin’ pandemic seem to have fallen into). We spent fourteen days moored in a totally different universe, where common sense, good manners and notions of customer service are social constructs still in use…

Forget Pigs In Space (although we did see some of those) – Cardinal Wolsey 508533 powers out of an immense Black Hole (you know who you are). © Ian Hutson 2021

After overcoming the gravitational pull of a thousand butterfly sneezes (ye cannae deny the laws of physiques) the Cardinal and I splash-landed in Hong Kong Harbour circa 1963, and had quite a way to steam before we could report to the British Consulate. The water was a bit choppy, but we’ve seen worse.

Cardinal Wolsey 508533 in Hong Kong Harbour, circa 1963. © Ian Hutson 2021

Like all good vessels though we had our part to play in history, so we went off and volunteered to join an Atlantic convoy in WWII – this one took us to South Africa. The Cardinal positively dwarfed the other vessels. Not many people know that a lot of Atlantic convoys were in fact radio-controlled scale models of the real thing.

Cardinal Wolsey 508533 in an Atlantic Convoy during WWII taking supplies to South Africa. © Ian Hutson 2021

Now, as everyone knows, if you over-shoot South Africa you will eventually find yourself among the fishing fleet in Stornoway harbour, on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland. It’s something to do with Rhumb Lines and the Curvature of the Erf. We over-shot, and we did. We only just got a berth.

nb Cardinal Wolsey 508533 moored in Stornoway Harbour among the Lewis fishing fleet. © Ian Hutson 2021

By the time that we’d unloaded our herring it was time for us to report for Emergency Vehicle Duty at the 1978 Les Vingt-Quatre Heures du Mans. Let’s face it, you can only do so much with a Citroen DS23 ambulance and a Renault fire engine. For complete driver safety every race track needs a well-equipped, Northwich-built narrowboat on duty.

nb Cardinal Wolsey 508533 on Emergency Service Vehicle dutry at the 1978 Les Vingt-Quatre Heures du Mans. © Ian Hutson 2021

Naturally, after such a serious cruise we needed another rest, so we went back to The Moon to take time to reflect on matters (and on corporate numptie-isms).

nb Cardinal Wolsey 508533 helping the Thirteen Colonies to land on The Moon and to take some samples. They needed a lot of help, but we managed in the end. Not our end, of course. © Ian Hutson 2021

Well, as any one of the people behind the 31,343 hits on this blog in the past twelve months knows. the Cardinal and I are not what you might call the most natural people persons. The Cardinal’s a boat (duh!), and I was born socially discomnobulated, and the experimental drugs haven’t helped in any of the now seven decades since the midwife took one look at me and slapped my mother.

Poor dear Mother. Poor dear Father. I think perhaps that they were both accidentally unfaithful at the same time, and I am the product of two personality-challenged cave-trolls.

Anyway. Whatever.

The Moon was far too crowded with colonials bouncing around and making beep-beep “just like Hutson, we have a problem” noises directed at Houston (and at inner-city, highly-metropolitan Birmingham), so I decided to cruise us up the Mons Ampère flight of one thousand six hundred and twenty-half low-gravity locks, just for the hell of it, just to see the view from the top. Oh god, how I remember the view from the top, when I could command a minor modicum of adult human respect (at least during office hours)! A long, long time ago… and it was hardly universal then.

We had help with the locks from some Moon-Cows, but it was still a lot of locks to do in one morning. Surprisingly, they were all operational, not a breach or a broken paddle in sight. Meeow. Spot of preventative maintenance anyone? No, I thought not.


nb Cardinal Wolsey 508533 half-way up the Mons Ampère flight of low-gravity locks on The Moon. Most splendid. That’s your planet in the background (I know for damned certain that it’s not mine, never was and never will be). © Ian Hutson 2021

All that remained after these little cruises was to give Archie and Simon of the Red Arrows a swift email and ask if they might like to give the Cardinal and me a spot of a fly-over by way of celebrating making it to the Barbridge Junction on the main line Shropshire Union Canal (incidentally, where – as I type – the canal is wholly closed in both directions by multiple stoppages.

Can you spell “stoppages”? “Stoppages” is a long word. Almost as long as “pandemic”. Run Pandemic run. See Pandemic run. How Stoppage runs after Pandemic. My goodness me, there’s a plot in there for a book for children, or perhaps for folk who are real-world-challenged.

Anyway, Archie and Simon – who are not overly concerned with the laws of the land or with any pesky £800 – £10,000 fines – because they have intimidating handlebar moustaches – said yes, that they’d be happy to give me a fly-over!

Here it is, children. See the fly over. How the fly-over flies.

nb Cardinal Wolsey 508533 receives his Red Arrows fly-over with smoke for reaching the beginning of the closure that affects the Shropshire Union January 2021 from Ellesmere Port to Audlem… Wheeeee! © Ian Hutson 2021

Really, children, my dander is well and truly in the upright and locked position now, so I’ll probably have lots and lots more billions of miles of proof of the Cardinal’s more exotic crusie-woosies to show you in future posts, because let’s face it – it’s not as though I am a paying customer, an adult of good legal standing and moral character, so till receipts for coconut-latte coffees, acne cream and comics combined with ‘…photographic proof of my boat with recognisable landmarks in the background’ is the only thing that will be believed by They Who. My actual, you know – thingy – my word as a human being counts for nothing, apparently.

Actually, knowing all about Mr Micawber and his Principle Of The Miserable Sixpence, I don’t spend money willy-nilly (haven’t got any anyway to fling around on “till receipt” items, just my pension!), so photos it will needs must be then.

Jebus H. on a pogo-stick.

Chin-chin folks, keep on keeping on and please, as you click “like” and “share to twitter” and share to Facebook” and wotnot, translate the following into dog-Latin:

Don’t let the bastards grind you down. Keep Jung and beautiful, if you want to be loved, &etc.

‘Making Life Better by Water’ my ar*se [that’s the C&RT’s expensive new tag-line btw!).

Not the ‘my ar*se’ bit, although I do think that they should add that, just for the sake of truth (please excuse my Anglo-Saxon, I am… well and truly mildly miffed).


Ian H.

p.s., please, seriously – even if you don’t usually do so, please do share this on twitter and facebook and anywhere else, I’d like the story of my recent travels to spread as far and as wide as I have “travelled”… while wild far and wide travelling has been… frowned upon by bigger than They Who.



  1. Hello,
    I come here via dinahmow’s reblog as well. I’m sorry for your frustrations, but thank you for making it a pleasure to read! As an American, I believe I’m compelled to rally behind the underdog in most situations.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank’ee most kindly ma’am, tis much appreciated! The Canal Company is a weird organisation – the grunt workers on the ground, the ones who really do the work, are mostly fantastic people – it’s just the big corporate nobs, the ones with the fancy salaries that are… questionable (and on their way out, given that almost everyone on the canals has a similar opinion about them)! 🙂


  2. Reblogged this on The Venomous Bead and commented:
    Messing about in boats is great…but messing about those who live aboard us something else….the post that follows is, I think, self explanatory. One man’s exasperated end of tether response to a threat to ruin his life.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Much appreciated ma’am, thank you. I feel as though I am flagellating a deceased equine and making much ado but then I know the Canal & River Trust Ltd of old – if I remain quiet and acquiescent a la ovine now then nothing will be done, nothing will be noted and I’ll still be waking up at 3am thinking dark thoughts about Richard Parry in months to come. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  3. A superb travelogue … yet this nightmare sounds Kafka-esque. You have my admiration for your fortitude in the face of it. Surely you may own a device, like a phone, with a GPS tracker within that has a log of your movement? You could proffer it up as Proof. I was shocked to learn the phone I only recently acquired a couple of years ago has within it step/kms/floors climbed and other such previously unfathomed statistics about my person.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The Canal & River Truss Ltd do indeed rely heavily upon Kafka-esque arrangements, and on Catch 22 types of “logic”. Having been granted many responsibilities by the 1995 Waterways Act (responsibilities that overwhelm them) and granted very few powers to herd and hustle horrid folk such as myself about the canal system for their own amusement, they rely on the “back door” of License “terms and conditions” instead of legislation. In the most awe-inspiring example of circular thinking, they find a way to refuse a boat license and then remove the boat and sell it off to “defray costs”, leaving someone homeless – because it doesn’t have a license, the license that they themselves refused on some spurious ground…

      Truly gobsmacking.

      I am a thorough Luddite, eschewing reliance on a “smart” “phone” – I do have one, but it’s only switched on when I want to make a telephone call, and off at all other times. That said – there’s damned little signal about the system anyway! Not being a “people person” I just don’t (can’t, won’t) “do” phone calls. Hate the thing. Ugh! 😉

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank’ee most kindly ma’am! In spite of what appears to be the best efforts of the Watery Wellness Trust Ltd., I do seriously enjoy my cruise-ettes. When tis possible of course, probably best not during pandemics and/or – as now – widespread disastrous closures on top of winter works!

      I am reminded of all manner of august bodies of a similar nature – The G.P.O., for one. The League of Nations for another. That sect at Waco… Who needs to resurrect dinosaurs when we have blasts from the bureaucratic past such as the WWT Ltd all about us (on far too frequent a basis)?


      Liked by 1 person

    1. What I can understand least from their recent uncommunicative discommunications with me ius that I’ve SEEN their spotters spotting me some seven times in the stated period and miles apart, and yet the Big Bullies are telling me that they’ve only clocked me three times and all within two miles…

      Maybe it’s not just politicians that have medical problems with veracity whenever their lips move? One must wonder.

      Sad thing is, I LOVE living on my boat and I love cruising – in the way that I want to cruise, not the way that they want to bully me into – and yet the C&RT suck all of the life and fun out of the canal universe. I really ought not to be waking up at two or three of the a.m. with my first wee small hours thoughts being of how to deal with the Ticket Attendants of the local Corporation Park Pond!


      Liked by 1 person

  4. Don’t you keep an online log of your moves? Surely even the brain deficet that runs the waterway can recognize that as evidence. But given your circumstances and canal stoppages and pandemics I cannot believe they have the unmitigated gall to request more movement.

    I wonder if someone there got their feelings hurt by your open and honest expression of their board. And sent a a letter to remind you of the power dynamics.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I do indeed, it’s a public log with (very domestic) photographs at each fresh mooring, distance, position and wotnots. Had the Canal Rozzers but been polite enough to wait they’d have had more than their unstated non-official recommended minimum anyway, this in spite of lockdowns and restrictions…

      The power dynamics are indeed a thing with the Watery Wellness Trust Ltd – certainly, canals and boats are not! The directors are of the “professional director” type, most of them would likely not recognise a canal if they were to be pushed into one and held under with a bargepole. What they say and what they do are two entirely separate things. It’s all “out-sourcing” and redundancies and selling off the family silver (property portfolio) these days, while courting the affections of SUSTRANS (cyclists), and local councils (walkers, dog-emptiers), and anglers and angling clubs (licence fees, the pure joy that anglers bring to the towpath, that sort of thing).

      Two lycra-clad “serious” cyclists have just swilled past the Cardinal as I type – the towpath is deep mud after the rains, they’re carving deep damage into the surface as they go, eroding the towpath and necessitating £repairs£ upon £repairs£ – and yet I’m the unwelcome one in the equation!


      Liked by 2 people

  5. Hello! I am one of Dinahmow’s non-Farcebook inclined friends, brought here by her deft reblogging efforts – And also because it has left me with a ruddy great astronaut and your Cardinal taking pride of place in my sideboard. Well, all over my sideboard, actually. Still it’s better than the last time she reblogged something as that left me with a giant, pink old lady and several fits of the giggles.

    Anyway, while unsurprised at licencing bureaucracy (my sympathies), I am very surprised – and in awe – of the miles-per-gallon you get out of the Cardinal. Bravo!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello and welcome with Major Thanks (Retired) to Dinahmow! Inciruddydently, I did compute once that the Cardinal achieves about 8mpg… not bad for eighteen tonnes (apologies for the mixed measurements, Metric and Imperial – I am a child of the school-confused sixties and seventies).

      I was going to be an astronaut. That or a fireman. They told me that my ears were too big for the helmets though, so that was that.


  6. One word Р!ӣ$%^! C&RT take note. Otherwise one of the funniest pieces and genius photographic illustrations! Brilliant!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I hesitated before publishing this post, knowing that the Watery Wellness Trust Ltd has absolutely no sense of humour (I know, I’ve searched long and hard, far and wide for it – zilch). They will probably take one look at the Cardinal climbing the lock flight up one of the best mountains on The Moon and accuse me not only of now moving too far, but of vandalising the locks in some manner (it’s always boaters, always “vandalism”).

      I decided to chance it and publish. I just can’t help myself with one last look around in the search for intelligent corporate life.

      It’s alright though, I am familiar with and can handle disappointment.

      Liked by 3 people

  7. Making life better would be by pushing those responsible for this infamy under water and keeping them there.
    I have, I think, managed to get it on FB…but reblogging has eluded me. I have pressed the reblog button but nothing has happened…or if it has it is in a parallel universe. I will investigate further after gin has been taken.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Many thank’ee for your endeavours, WordPress sometimes works and sometimes it doesn’t – and the why has yet to be fathomed by human mind.

      It’s been my experience (five years, first hand, nose to nose) that the Watery Wellness Trust Ltd is an organisation with at least three distinct layers. There are the grunt workers, the ones with broken nails and dirty hands and birty doots – they work for a living in all weathers. There is a middle ground that looks very much like the Civil Service of the nineteen-fifties (I’m being kind here and using and abusing typical English understatement) – an unknown proportion of those work and are pleasant to meet, while an unknown proportion faff and crat at bureau matters, achieving sweet diddly-plop. Then there are the “seniors”, the directors and the trustees. Well. The function of the Trustees appears to be to collect expenses and to cut the occasional ribbon to re-open a rebuilt reservoir or a landslide ushered back into place. The directors? The gods (Greek and Roman only) know what they do apart from being unpleasant to boaters. Drink “Starbucks” I suppose, and compliment one another on their new lycra outfits, fishing rods and rambling boots is my buest, charitable guess.


      Liked by 2 people

    1. My blog and my cruising log are all that they may have when I am called for my trial, for that is all that there is. 😉 I’m going to print out both on really heavyweight paper (and have it dropped on them).

      There are alternatives to humour, but most of them require equipment ranging from boxes of tissues to lengths of oddly-knotted rope. I’ll stick with humour for as long as I can. 😉

      Liked by 2 people

    1. In peacetime I call shpyhgnathingummies ‘The One-Twenty Over Eighty’ machines, but I suspect that, this not being a peaceable time, I ought not to check my ruddy bluddy pressure at the moment… 😉


  8. Err…I take it you have had your jab, otherwise why all the meandering? I hate to think of the yet to be discovered viri you have inadvertently and vertently picked up on all these capers. Keeping ahead of the law and the anal canal coppers is your excuse I s’pose? The bit that did make me laugh out loud was when the midwife took one look at you and slapped your ma, as if giving birth to you wasn’t enough of a shock.

    As to sharing this I am not on facebook and all the other twaddlesphere howsyourfathers so sadly I am keeping you strictly to myself… I am an only child after all and don’t do SHARING…


    Liked by 2 people

    1. Space bugs and Moon bugs and wotnots abounding. I generally stop at the Van Allen Radiation Belt for a swift de-lousing, and then again at the Heamorrhoid Belt for dusting with DDT powder. Um – Asteroid Belt, I mean the Asteroid Belt…

      My parentage and DNA is no laughing matter. For years I thought that I was an “Um” because the first words I heard were ‘Oh Mrs H, it’s a healthy, bouncing… um…’


      p.s. I now know that I am an Er.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Good Sir , I have several friends who are not of the Farcebook inclination, so I shall do this thing that WordPress calls re-blogging. I think “cheating” comes closer, but hey! If government ministers can cheat I think bloggers can dip their toes, so to speak.

    Besides, some of my readers might like to learn more of your adventures. No, don’t thank me-just keep up the cruising and writing.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I may have to re-title the blog ‘The Adventures of a Floating Apoplectic’…

      Seriously, they have got my goat in spite of myself. When I wake at night (for domestic reasons!) it is not not not right that some dodgy ticket-flogging system for a linear corporation park pond should insinuate itself into my thoughts. The sheer brass-necked hypocrisy of an organisation with the slogan “Making Life Better by Water” is apt to strain even an industrial sphygmomanometer!

      Liked by 2 people

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