‘pparently tis some sort of “Bank Holiday” weekend, some kind of Christian festival. These things, like days of the week, tend to blur when you’re on Canal Time.
The Cardinal and I scooted yestereve. Then only up to Syke’s Hollow winding hole and back again, to be facing the necessary direction for this morning. This morning we oofed as quietly as possible through Venetian Marina and up the lock to the rinky-dinkoid, highly-useful water point.
The sky was just waking up as we rang down for Full Steam Ahead.
There had been a very mild frost in the neighbourhood overnight but it disappeared as soon as looked at. Ditto the smoke on the water.
We woke a v.grumpy angler just before we reached the railway bridge, by setting off the “ooh you’ve caught a big one on each of your two untended rods while you were in your sleeping bag in your tent on the towpath” alarm. Beep… BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP. Is ‘v.grumpy angler’ tautology? Almost certainly. He did not respond to a cheery ‘Air-hair-lair’.
Venetian Marina is unusual, methinks, in that it is entirely open to the canal, towpath public, pontoons private, boundary somewhere inbetween and under water.
That’s the lock, dead ahead. Cholmondeston Lock, 11′ 3″ change in canal level.
It was set agin me, so I had to empty it before I could open the gates and ask the Cardinal to shuffle in. The brickwork of the sides was “steaming” once drained.
The ladders were on the very cold and very slimy side of warm and welcoming. My windlass in my holder, centreline in one hand, I held on to the ladder with all other hands, all feet, and both teeth. Climbing these things, while still as much fun as climbing a tree, is not the safest of activities. Get it wrong and you’re going to land in one of three places; on top of your boat, in the water, or half on your boat and half in the water, having nutted the tiller on your way down.
Lock half-refilled, the Cardinal is apt to scratch any itch on his stern on the lower gates. This is to be discouraged lest tiller or anything else at the stern become too attached to the lower gates and stop the stern rising with the water.
For a brief spell the Cardinal behaves in angelic mode, settling nicely in the middle of the lock and looking as though butter wouldn’t melt in his bum cheeks.
Then, when I am busy at the pointy end sneakily easing in another half a paddle and hoping that he won’t notice, he backs up like a raging bull…
…ready to surge forward and head-butt the top gate. Every time, without fail, no matter how slowly I fill the lock or how diligently (or forcibly) I fiddle with the centre-line. Snort snort wallop. Fortunately, it’s not (usually) the Full Glaswegian, just a mild thumpy-bump snoot-bop (to use the full maritime technical term). It has become so much a part of the routine that it’s entering the level of “Tradition” now.
I can resist, I can curse and fight, but all that happens is that I wear out the soles of my boots as I slide along beside the lock. I’ve found a way to live with it, and that way is to expect it to happen. Other folks’ boats don’t do this; mostly other people’s boat just sit there and dribble gently as they wait. The Cardinal has more character than that.
The water point at the top of the lock just beyond the lock landing proved fantabulosa-ly vacant and full of the runny wet stuff. Tank now full, yee et le har &etc.
Sunshine broke through for a while, but I think that it was meant for Belgium or some such, and not for the shires of Albion. I enjoyed it anyway. Vitamin D R us.
Bridge-holes and countryside were then abounding.
It was all really rather splendid.
Thence we came upon Moorings Alley, near the Barbridge Junction.
This too was rather splendid. No oncoming traffic, no irate Know-Betters hanging out of their side-hatches to berate passing boats (not at that hour, anyway). The red boat above I think to be what used oft to be termed “as cute as a button” – it’s got more mis-matched lines, odd angles, peculiarly shaped windows and batters, thumps and scrapes than you could shake at a small County Court Judge, so much so that it needs a hug.
We cruised then to Calveley Service area some miles hence – the nearest rubbish disposal facility, since C&RT have a campaign of removing such facilities wherever they think that they can get away wiv it (Barbridge being one such removal).
Two ugly, horrid, ill-tempered, let’s-sleep-in-our-own-sh*t and thrash feathers everywhere swans were in residence on the service wharf. We hissed, flapped and blew raspberries at one another.
Then I departed. Mind you, I did get the rubbish sorted (bins around the corner of that brickwork, to the back of the buildings) before swans and I came to fisticuffs.
The forecast for the next few days is – ta-dah – surprise surprise surprise – for winds of the “oh fer cryin’ out loud” variety again, so I oiked us up the winding hole at Bunbury for a swift turn-around while a., there was no traffic and b., the turning around was good.
Here we are, half-way through the spin.
Another of C&RT’s little foibles is to not maintain winding holes any more than they* prioritise maintaining anything else of the infrastructure unless it falls off and bops them on their latté-froth covered noses. Reeds abound and seem encouraged, and when mentioned are justified as “wildlife habitats”.
*The corporate they, that is, as opposed to the distinctly more “real-world” grunt workers.
I kid you not when I say that ducks have far more legal rights than do boaters.
Yes, wildlife habitats, much like the mould on the bathroom wall of a WWII prefab might be described as a microbial-wildlife habitat by the Council. They really are the absolute limit.
Anyway. Around we went, with nae bother (although the fuel boat has somewhat more difficulty here).
We are moored now in close proximity to another favourite sight of mine; Barnaby. I love this boat, it is a survivor, has bags of character and is doubtless loved by its owner and loathed by the Watery Wellness Trust Ltd.
It is a beastie deserving of love, and somebody loves it enough to keep moving it about from mooring to mooring.
There’s an internet tree growing in the field on the offside of the canal. I think it’s there for the benefit of His Majesty’s Railways rather than the canal. I can’t imagine that internet access was a priority for working boats when the canal system was constructed. A simple app on their mobile phones would have been all that was needed, to steer the horse and control its speed.
Will the Watery Wellness Trust Ltd tell me that I haven’t been here (here again, that is)? They didn’t “see” me, so it didn’t happen, or some such juvenile logic? There’s so much that the WWT Ltd don’t see; they must truly live in a universe with a paucity of detail and interest.
On current toga-clad from-the-balcony-of-Number-Ten proclamations we are all set free, as free as (coughing) birds from the 12th inst. I have a couple of possible plans in mind, nearer the time I shall weigh them agin further proclamations and possible stoppages, and pootle off on whichever one seems best (best to me, that is). It will be v.nice indeed to espy fresh horizons.
Still, that is a matter for our tomorrows, and one may barely plan, these days, for tomorrow.
We shall see.
Anyway, twas a v.pleasant cruise, v.pleasant indeed. Also quite enough exercise for one day.
Let’s see what comes past in the way of traffic – and how it comes past – on this fine celebratory “Easter” “Bank Holiday” long-weekend. Call me an old Hector if you will, but I suspect that “pass moored boats on tick-over” will be but a distant memory for many.
Emptied, filled and re-located, chin-chin for the mo, folks.
Ian H., and Cardinal W., Rogue Elements Afloat.