A Thoroughly Gloria’s Cruise

INsomnia INsomnia our battle…cry… St Trinians St Trinians shall neh-ver die…

0500hrs this morning. I think that I may be running on B.S.T. (British Squished Time).

The view above is looking back from the lower of the two Hack Green locks.

Still, twas what was a lovely day, albeit freeeeeeezing cold – literally, mucho da frosticles. Too nice a day to miss by lingering a-bed. There is currently only a choice of one and a half routes, all others being closed by structural failures and/or The Watery Wellness Trust Ltd.’s Peculiar Decision-Making Process. The “half” of a route is itself closed at the winding hole at Bridge 16 of the Middlewich Branch, so really there’s only one route open.

Since we were already moored on the junction and thus on the cusp of the decision I didn’t even bother to notice t’was one or t’other ’til the bow of the Cardinal was already past the left turn and we woz done. Cardinal’s choice, and had He turned left I would not have argued, but he didn’t. South it was to be. Seven and a twerp miles (at my favoured 2.75mph), a visit to the Services at Nantwich (never pass a service point without using it) and two locks at Hack Green (near the Secret Nukular Bunker). We’re now moored at but not on the restriction-usurped “visitor” moorings at a place known as ‘Coole Pilate’.

I got my favourite spot here! Armco, just before all of the ‘Maximum 48 hours but there’s picnic tables by some strange way of compensation’ piggery-jokery. I am on the towpath side of the Big Black Post. 🙂

We let loose the chains at Barbridge at something like 05:45hrs and chained the planet safely back to the Cardinal at roughly 09:30hrs – so you weren’t on your own and untended for too long, even including the two locks and the servicing.

It was good to see that The WWT Ltd are doing something at Hurleston Reservoir, presumably either building a high-diving board for reservoir anglers who wish to bathe in the canal, or doing something big and structural to mend the slumpetty-slump of the sides before they give way.

Repairs underway April 2021 Hurleston Reservoir – slumping sides abounding.

See? The WWT Ltd isn’t all angler’s maggots and Jimmy Choo trainers, when it wants to be otherwise. Mind you, it doesn’t have much choice in the matter of repairing reservoirs; the tsunami should this one relieve itself would reach war and fide.

Messrs Rosie II were (but are not now) on the moorings at Hurleston Junction – the lights were on so to speak but I couldn’t be certain of the daylight operating mode of those aboard, and so didn’t shout or anything. One doesn’t like to be noisy just in case they’re still dunking their eggy-soldiers and draining the first pot of tea… 🙂

Hurleston Junction, Shropshire Union Main Line, April 2021

They caught up with and passed me laters.

Everyone does, eventually.

There are manifold twists and turns on the way to Nantywich. This isn’t a tern though, it’s a nesting swan.

Vile creature, breeding more vile creatures (I really don’t like swans)!

Either that, or someone’s made one hell of a meringue and then thrown it into the reeds. The law’s a bit skew-whiff in England. Disturb me and you’ll like as not get a round of applause, twenty-five guineas thank you from Public Funds, and a Blue Peter Badge. Disturb that bird and you could get ten years in pokey and/or a fine that would make an MP weep. Says all that needs to be said about the value set of The Establishment, ne c’est pas?

The Service area in Nantwich has room only for one and a half boats. That’s the building on the left there. Can you believe it that at Gadzooks O’Clock when I was on the service wharf another boat oiked up and formed a short queue? Incroyable!

Nantwich Services – with a queue forming at Sparrowfart O’Clock.

That’s the view cruising away from; muh headery south.

Still, once again – even after only two or three days – all that ought to be empty is empty, and all that ought to be full is full and etcetera etcetera King of Siam etcetera. It’s one of a boater’s favourite feelings.

Further in towards the town is the Nantwich Aqueduct – the one that was royally smacked about by an over-tall lorry a couple of weeks ago. There’s a dirty-great chunk of cast iron-work missing, but They Who Must Be Obeyed tell we peasants that ‘it’s only cosmetic’.

Well so’s my wooden leg and the parrot on my shoulder but we both still leak where once upon a time neither of us used to, and while I can’t speak for the parrot’s medical history, I haven’t (recently) had a big lorry in the goolies.

Nantwich Aqueduct, still water-tight (ish) even after being royally smacked by an over-tall lorry a couple of weeks ago. April 2021, Planet Duh.

Messrs Her Majesty’s Fuzz attended the incident (I think that the lorry recovered its senses and drove off, but had by then had its details noted by a Concerned Passer-by). It was only after about three hours that The Rozzers gave thought to the several dozen gallons of water in the canal overhead, and the possible effect on the town below, should the missing cast iron-work prove more than merely “cosmetic”.

We can but thank the Engineers of a Much-Bygone Era that there wasn’t a spectacular Reichenbach Falls failure. Thanks chaps! Cosmic.

One steery-steery peculiarity of this stretch is a bridge immediately alongside another bridge but where either the road-builders or the railway-builders couldn’t be bothered to line up the two, convenience of 6′ 10″ wide 57′ long narrowboaters for the use of.

I suspect that the railway bridge builders gave not a budgerigar’s flatulence for the convenience of any canal traffic, and “near enough lined up” would do…

The two locks on this stretch are favourites of mine – probably at least partly because they are only a 6′ change in canal-level each. This makes them easy(ier) because a single-hander can put his boat into an empty lock and then just step off the roof, without bothering the slimy-wet ladders. This is good especially because the ladders in these two locks are useless unless you have a., cloven hooves or b., size 3 feet or c., prehensile toes – there’s no toe-room behind the rungs! FYI, my feet are size 11.

Up HE rises er-ly in the morning – the first lock of Hack Green, Shropshire Union, which – from this direction – is Lock 2

I got 90% of both locks done at my pace and without anyone snapping at my heels, a boat appearing from above the locks only as I was just finishing the second. They were kind enough to drop the top paddles for me and I could just cruise off without having to shut the top gate (since they were going straight in).

A Bridge Just Far Enough… the locks at Hack Green, on the Shropshire Union Main Line canal, England.

There was a mooring space available at Hack Green just above the locks, but I had my fluttering little sparrow-heart set upon Coole Pilate a mile farther ahead.

The canal here is busier than I have seen it in the six years I’ve been living aboard, boats all over the place and in some cases in the most unlikely places. It is truly amazing what stoppages in all directions can do for a floating traffic-jam.

However. How the heck ever. Wonder of wonders, my favourite spot was vacant (Pretty Vacant) – a nice stretch of Shroppie-Shelf-free armco right on the end of the restricted moorings. Yee et le har, I rushed into it at a reckless 0.1 mph, the better to ensure that no-one got it before me. Praise be to Zeus!

…and, no, I am not attached to the final ring of the restricted moorings… 😉

This means that I can, in the manner of a civilised adult, have a long-weekend here instead of having to vacate the premises 47 hours and 52 minutes after finishing mooring-up.

The view’s damned near the same here in the Cheap Seats as in the more expensive 1/-3d seats, and there’s three bars of The 4G interwebnetting. More luxurious than bathing with Imperial Leather as you fly to your Caribbean retreat in your private jet, whatever the advertisements from the seventeen-nineties nineteen-seventies might suggest.

The view here in the 9d moorings is every bit as good as it is in the 1/-3d seats.

There’s still a chill in the air but Mr Sunshine promises to be out and about all day, and everything seems rather summery-spring-like.

Having already done all manner of leaping about this morning I shall be spending the rest of the day doing what I do best – not leaping about.

There’s plenty of dreamtime walk-walk hereabouts, and I passed some very sexy looking sheep on the way that deserve a visit with a telephoto lens. Once this place has been thoroughly seen to it’ll be down to Audlem to wind, and then a slow mooch back for the moment and an exploration in the half option direction. I have yet to work up the need to do anything more adventurous until perhaps next month.

I want my time to stand and stare, what is this life if full of care, as Gabriel noted in Genesis 16 : 2 [King James Version].

There are picnic tables and things here, a sort of half-way house twixt civilisation and The Land That Time Forgot… so if there cometh a quiet spell when not surrounded by grockles I may even try a tad of outdoor cookery with a couple of new gizmos. We might see what kind of wildlife gathers in the hedgerow to peer at me as I stir a cauldron of curry anti-clockwise over a spirit-burner.

Fingers – but never cutlery – crossed.

Frabjous joy to one and all, &etc.

Ian H., & Cardinal W., Pastures Old But Fresh.


    1. That’s the sort – how to be thoroughly miserable and dangle worms on hairy string. I must confess, I do wonder about the C&RT’s priorities sometimes.

      Well, all of the time, really.

      Most of the Body Corporate couldn’t tell one end of a boat from the other, and yet they can set themselves up as authorities on fish-fiddling, paddleboarding, jogging, and walking on grass in twelve layers of nylon with the aid of alpine walking poles. I’m fairly certain that should any whistle-blower ever leak their internal procedures documentation it would be full of references to ‘devices for the manual displacement of earthly detritus’ and ‘large, four-legged beasts in common use by jockeys, highwaymen, and bargees superintending the towing of cargo barges’. The documents will have been signed by the MD or Chairman or whatever the title is, using ‘an ink-deposition device designed for use with paper and the more common symbols of the Western alphabet represented in any of the less-flamboyant fonts’.

      I’ll nip along tomorrow with my ‘photonic imaging mechanism’ and get ’em to pose for a photograph or two. 😉

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  1. Will you stop moving around its breaking the system! I was planning a trip to Market Drayton this weekend, guess that’s not happening then! I’m therefore going past you at full Anglo Welsh speed, brace!

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    1. Lock 15 of the Audlem Flight is closed as I type, but only – hopefully – for the morning (broken paddle replacement, although why you would replace a broken paddle is beyond me, surely a new and fully-operational one would be better).

      So long as you don’t ned service from Audlem or at Tyrley you’re hot to trot.

      The next services south from here is the C&RT facility on the coast of Morocco. 😉

      Rammed with boats in weird places hereabouts, but still loads of gaps and interesting new places to moor… So long as you avoid the C&RT Angling training event tomorrow, Saturday, around Bridge 82 – according to the signs C&RT are training ‘new angling coaches’. and would be obliged if no-one moored in their way…

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  2. A question: is that wee figurine on your steering bar Horatio N, former Admiralty Lord, chap with a London square and a big pointy thing to his name?

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    1. That’s the chap, although the forward tri of his tricorn hat is less than clear. He accompanies me on all of my cruises, and shows approval by facing sideways to watch the scenery float by – and disapproval by turning to face the rear!

      The Cardinal (Mo’orea as he was then) came with some small bird with a pointy beak as tiller-pin, and that didn’t give me giggles at all (now kept as “spare”).

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    1. Keep firing, your aim will improve.

      My aim improved once and I got twelve to fifteen in a Category A which just shows you the power of persistence.

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