Behemoths in the mist and a mega-cruise for hydrogen and oxygen mix

Doug McClure and Susan Penhaligon in their time wandering around Cheshire would have been quite used to the sight of huge dinosaurs plodding up and down the lanes in the mist. What do I get? Milk tankers. This one’s not even being driven by the customary cow. The odds of being trodden on by a Ruddygreatosaurus and a milk tanker are about equal; it’s a narrow lane and home to one hundred and two thousand dozen percent of Cheshire’s pot-holes. This has a lot to do with a small and unsuitable country lane being used as a rat-run by HGVs and with its having not been repaired or re-surfaced since Doug McClure’s day. What Winsford Road needs is a councillor to move into a house on its length.

Isn’t it odd to think that if we could just wait backwards we might be able to play with Pleistocene and all of the other ages of Man and the temporally co-existing cuddly aminals. How easy it is to wait forwards, and yet – I know, I’ve tried – how difficult it is to sit on a favoured bench and wait backwards. Shame.

Talking of backwards, the Watery Wellness Wallahs Ltd have been silent now for over three weeks. They really don’t seem to comprehend this whole “customer/service-provider” relationship thing. They do rather behave like the chap taking the sticky 20p coins for day-rental of deckchairs who thinks that he owns the whole beach and coastline outright. While I hold the volunteers and grunt workers (the dirty fingernail mob) in very high regard, each attempted interaction with the Corporate Gestalt takes my opinion of the organisation and its philosophy to new lows. We shall soon be in Australia, if WWT Ltd don’t stop digging. Enough, for the moment, of that dreary disorganisation.

We remain, in illegal legal terms, under national house (boat) arrest with all unecessary movement verboten. In that spirit I took a massive, humungous, really quite extensive cruise day afore yesterday.

I roped the Cardinal back a hundred and fifty yards to the water point to fill up.

nb Cardinal Wolsey on t’Waterpoint at Cholmondeston Lock (“Churmston”) February 2021

Even by the time that I’d supped my customary litre of coffee Messrs Solar Panels had the batteries into absorption phase, and it seemed churlish and un-Regretable Thunbergish to start Mr Engine just for such an insignificant pootle.

The Cardinal weighs – the book tells me – roughly 17,000 kgs (plus my worldly goods) but – so long as you remember to untie the mooring ropes – he’s quite easy to move by hand. In fact, once you get him going the difficulty lies in stopping him. The main water tank (under the well deck) holds some 545 litres and since most canal-taps are (relatively) far from the mains, can take 30-50 minutes to fill.

There having been no other traffic, no nuffink at all, I then roped us back to almost where we’d begun, back out into the better solar (away from the shadow-making trees) up towards yonder boat in t’far-flung distance. Once there (again) I sat upon my “self-satisfied green credentials” and penned an email to Bilious Gates about how I’d just helped to reduce my carbon footprint to a size 11 (UK) and please to send the money c/o the usual Swiss account number.

Thank’ee most kindly to the outsourced contractors for mending the leaky water point at Cholmondeston, February 2021. C&RT – don’t forget to write a cheque on Coutts & Co to meet the bill.

I will entertain any and all arguments that this was not minimum local essential travel only and in the spirit of the Whole Global Utter G7/C19 Nonsense provided that you show your working-out in the margin and cite any sources in the footnotes. Extra Karl Marx will be awarded for any answers using the terms ‘Metonic Cycle’, ‘meanderable’, and ‘Greenwich Meridian’. Marxs will be deducted from answers using the terms ‘lazy git’, ‘don’t narrowboats reverse then?’, and ‘Hutson’s got buttocks like a cart-horse’.

Lord Grebe has developed a habit of surfacing and diving alongside the Cardinal, and of staring in through the windows (they can see through “one-way” glass – polarised eyeballs, or some such gizmo). He’s fine with me watching his angling antics so long as I don’t move a musscule. The Cardinal also seems to be his favoured take-off and landing point, beginning and ending his “let’s try Churmston Lock for pilchards” efforts here. Grebe are really about as elegant as are swans and geese during take-off (not elegant at all). Fassy-nate-ing to watch though.

One of these days I’ll manage to get a decent photograph of him eyeballing me and/or diving or surfacing or taking off like some over-laden RyanEasy JetAir flap-doodle.

Messrs ASDA are on a kiss and a promise to call tomorrow. This means that today is the day when I mun finalise the order, take account of any “out of stock” inconthrumbulations, and try to achieve that delicate balance of half fresh, interesting food, and half apocalypse stores and necessities. I usually over-order and there is nothing delicate about my balance when dragging the trolley back along the towpath, loaded with a pack of twelve bog-roll, two bottles of gin and a box of those pink and yellow wafer biscuits.

There’s nothing like a balanced diet, and that’s nothing like a balanced diet.

Q. If I eat a hot PUKKA pie (with side-serving of marrowfat peas) while perched on top of a fence-pole is that a balanced diet?

I’ll ask Mr Grebe, tomorrow morning.

Life, the Universe, and Everything. Confuses the heck out of me.

As the Moody Blues once crooned, do all please keep on keeping on; it riles them to believe that you perceive the web they weave.

Chin-chin &etc, Yours Truly, Magnetic Ink.


  1. Im imagining you pulling the Cardinal thru a full cruise over a horse bridge and everything. Its inspiring in its pointlessness. Although it would be annoying to other boats, on supposes

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    1. I’ve seen a slack handful of boats with no other (functioning) means of propulsion, covering quite some distance – fitter men than I, Bungditdin. 😉 At least, at the end, if not the beginning…

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    1. Upon seeing me moving the boat that way half of passers-by thought that I had mechanical issues, half thought that my horse had obviously died and the other half just whistled and made comments about ‘my god – how butch is that?’… I put my ability down to the eating of copious amounts of broccoli. 😉

      I (almost) hesitate to point out that Mr Dan Dare also ate pies.

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  2. This must be the Pukka pie and marrowfat pea club! It must be something to do with living on the Middle meridian of the isle (mint sauce anybody?) ‘Tis comfort food in these parts and no mistake, but let’s not be Grebe. Mr Morrison man managed to lose mine last week so I’ve been going ‘cold turkey’ for a week (bet I know what the delivery man had last Wednesday for his tea – barsteward!)

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    1. Aye, there’s nowt like a decent bit o’pie on a plate o’peas. Except, possibly, pie chips peas and curry – wi’a pie and peas on t’side. Seriously, I am just so glad that my species has many different foods available – can you imagine if Hoomans were limited to eating only turnips or something? How do you want your turnip today, dear? Boiled, baked, fried or thrown in the bin?

      p.s., I love turnips too – preferably mashed with carrot. That is to say, carrotoids and turnippings mashed together with a metal masher, not turnip mashed using a carrot.

      Food GLORIOUS food peas pudding and CUST-ARD… 😉

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  3. You have left me with an image of Simeon Stylites up on his pillar having a pukka pie and marrowfat peas hoisted up to him by the faithful below….goodness only knows what that would have done for his balance.

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    1. Life lived up a pole sounds pretty damned splendid really. A one-thousand foot pole, with a bijou but comfortable dwelling atop surrounded by a neat and easy-to-tend garden… At least mobile wifi reception wouldn’t be a problem. Some sort of electric hoist arrangement for the post and for comestibles deliveries.

      I could clothe myself in white robes, grow a beard and lean on the railings around the garden, throwing empty gin bottles at the peasants below.

      I like it.

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  4. My idea of a balanced diet is chips on the one fork, cheese pie on the other. And just in case the two don’t balance correctly, lashings of chip shop gravy to even each side up.

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    1. Pie centred on a pile of chips, balanced by mushy peas to one side and chip-shop curry sauce to the other. Salt, vinegar and a small shovel. Perfick. Sadly, all too rare an experience. 😉

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  5. I’ve seen you in action with that trolley and would swear you had consumed half of that gin before trundling along the towpath 😄

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    1. Yep, even on the best of my days that trolley (the “tallest” that I could find to buy) is too small for me and I have to hunker down and walk like an elderly chimpanzee with heamorrhoids. Mind you, I spend a lot of my time in the manner of an elderly chimpanzee these days! If my shower water is cold then the noises are quite authentic too – hoo hoo hooo heeee ha ha haaa. Best I don’t ever moor near Chester Zoo…

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    1. I was surprised when I checked IMDB for the details, I’d always thought that it was Raquel Welch in that film, but turns out it were Susan Halogen-Pen all the time. I would not be a reliable witness in a court case. Mr McClure was in everything.

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        1. That’s the one, I remember now – she played “M” and got shot in the final scene at Bond’s family house in Scotland. Thank goodness for that, I’m not losing my mind after all!

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    2. I didn’t think much of the 2020 remake of One Million Years BC; the one starring Richard Briers, Felicity Kendal, Penelope Keith and Paul Eddington.

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  6. I suspect balancing on a pole eating a pie would call for much balance, hence it would be a balanced diet.
    A pie has meat (protein), onions (veg), pastry (fat and carbohydrate), and extra veg in the mushy peas. So it’s balanced! Especially on that pole.

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    1. I tried weightlifting once as exercise (I bought some really heavy cutlery), but it wasn’t fun.

      Pastry is the invention of The Devil. Praise be to The Devil. 😉

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