Bank Hodilay Weekend May 2021

Wacky Races.

More boats than you could shake a stick at.

More boats than I’ve seen about all at one time since 2019.

Every hire-boat that ever there was and an elephant’s sufficiency of marina-based boats that haven’t moved thus since Doris Johnson was on only his second or third fresh concubine.

This past Saturday the queues at Cholmondeston Lock were to the railway bridge below and gawds alone knows above, I didn’t have time to go and see. Waiting time for the unfortunates constantly replenishing the R Send of the queue approximately four hours or more. I am happy to report that there were no fisticuffs over the lock, although there were one or two encouraging debates with waved human limbs (attached).

At one stage there was even a queue for the chandlery wharf, and S., Messrs Proprietor, was truly “living the dream” with boat toilet pump-outs numbering in the low teens before we both gave up counting. Diesel wasn’t in terribly high demand – everyone had stocked up for the weekend before the weekend, but iced creams and drinks were truly Arkwright’s till a-go-go.

Tis now half of the past seven of the ante meridiem, and we have four boats already past and the one moored behind raising steam and considering loosing the lines. In peacetime this is virtually unheard of, general boat-movement a.k.a. the Great Unwashed Afloat not occurring before ten or ten-thirty at the earliest.

[Assumes voice of Reginald Perrin and/or Basil Fawlty:] My god, they’re ugly.

Make that eight boats past, so there will already be queues again at both locks hereabouts and t’ain’t even eight o’sundial.

We have gone, as Ingerlund does these days, directly from ‘ooh, that’s a bit cool’ to ‘ooh, it’s a bit warm for my tastes’. Don’t worry though, it will be winter in just a couple of months and I’ll be back to talking about being iced-in instead of iced-cream.

I took my First Constitutional at 0500hrs this morning, and combined it with a couple of trips to the tap above the lock for potable H2uh-oh.

This being Ingerlund, there is of course the obligatory boat that’s been moored all night on the lock landing bollards, bow doors askance, two fishing lines trailed out into the marina (thirty paces from the ‘Private – No Fishing’ sign), and three well-hydrated gentlemen snoring cheerfully somewhere inside under a pile of empty cans. I know that they are three in number because I saw the boat yesterday before beer poisoning and piscine perturbation and lock-landingery set in.

No names no pack drill, natch, but yes, that’s ’em there opposite St George’s pocket ‘kerchief and having left but two bollards and one boat-length behind themselves for the queue that has doubtless now surprised them and will like as not currently be putting the proverbial boot in. Poor chaps. Whodathunk that just oiking up on the lock landings on a good-weather Bank Holiday when Doris Johnson is away being married and everyone feels free would make a cove unpopular so early in the day?

The marina will be waking up in an hour or two (at least I hope so, since I’d like the gazunder sluice to be unlocked please), and then there’ll be a trebuchet flinging of dead cats and rotting root vegetables upon them too. There’s little peace for the wicked, unless they’re in politics.

Oops, here comes (yet) another boat, and me with not a child in the house washed.

Tell me again, Emperor Parry, about how it is boats without a home mooring that wear out the canal system.

We were in a long line of nose to tail seacanal-farers yesterday but a space cleared ahead overnight.

Well, two spaces really, and in consideration of the distorted perspective of the camera lens. Another boat beamed up by aliens, or dragged down to the depths by the Kraken, all hands lost or at least wishing that they were so.

The braying masses will be upon the towpath afore long. I must time my jobbly expeditions to avoid their peak if at all possible. MAWIL* hordes on velocipedes, folk out waddling for their health for the first time this year – and there’s a gentleman who walks with the aid of Welsh Collie and an old broom-handle. I think he’s channelling the spirit of the Cerne Abbas Giant, at heart. No idea what the dog’s thinking. ‘Dog dog dog dog dog – I’m a dog, boyo – dog dog dog dog dog’, probably.

*Middle-Aged Women In Lycra.

The boat ahead did a shedload of laundry yesterday and cheerily set-up a clothes line on the towpath as well as on their boat, the better to teach the The Watery Wellness Trust Ltd’s most favouritest people in the world – anglers, joggers, cyclists, ramblers and dog-walkers – the true meaning of the word ‘hurdle’.

Soggy laundry is nine-tenths of The Ler on Laundry Day. 🙂

More (DAZ, LUX, OMO or Sunlight washing powder) power to their elbow. 🙂

The blankets being dried thus changed from yellow (green?) to white to red, but still caught they live cyclist none to my knowledge. 😦 Perhaps a change of bait was in order?

The it of the day is slowly waking up, although there’s a spot of a breeze and Mr Sunshine has yet put in only a couple of brief, token appearances. Our hopes are not yet dashed.

Another misleading perspective making perhaps two narrowboat-lengths of a gap look like miles.

Well, not completely dashed, anyway. Not yet.

This being Bank Holiday Monday some of the frantically-holidaying folk will be rushing back from whence they came, the shackles of the workplace be-beckoning again for tomorrow morning. The hire boats from local companies will be farther afield, and the hire boats from companies farther afield will be scooting past, all anxious to “do the canals”.

Twelve boats past, and it’s not yet half of the eight as the crow flies. I must stop keeping count, otherwise I shall run out of fingers and toes, and be tempted to open a fresh jar.

Note to self: brace for the smell of formaldehyde.

Right, I must away, and wash and shave and put on some Planet Earth-based clothing and get the trolley out and do my jobettes. While I am out and about I can check on the bodies of the inebriated lock-landing anglers, and see if anyone’s nabbed the livers yet.

Faux-coughs the word ‘Chianti’ into his sleeve.

The day promises to be fun fun fun, ’til Daddy takes the T-Bird away.



Ian H., and Cardinal W., of the High Fleas.


    1. Yes yes, but more importantly – did you get the package of kidneys that I sent you? I put an ice-cube in the envelope and sent them air-mail to keep them fresh.

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  1. I remember last year, when I still had the old boat, deciding to go for cruise into Lancaster over bank holiday weekend; intending for a relaxing evening moored outside the Waterwitchj pub…or so I thought. I set off on my ten mile cruise, reached the Waterwitch, turned and retreated the full ten miles; not a single mooring spot to be had. I ended up back where I started, gasping with thirst and thoroughly knackered. The sun is out, and so are the sheep.

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    1. As well as fewer moorings this sunshine has brought out some sights that, once seen, cannot be unseen… gender-unrestricted “builder’s bum” for one. Some folk go by and my main regret is that I don’t have a bicycle to park in there. When did the kaftan go out of fashion?

      I was lucky this morning – I copped a mooring at my first choice. Mind you, most folk can’t stomach the busy A51 alongside, so these are generally either deserted, quiet or inhabited only by we “gits” or “these people”. 😉


        1. Mainstream popular fashion seems to have forgotten any and all notions of elegance and modicums-of-modesty. Blokes look like nut-free storks with baggy arses in their skinny jeans, women look as though everything they own shrank drastically in the last wash.

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  2. Two very hot and tired Vlockies put 45 boats through Cholmondeston lock this bank holiday Monday! Still had moaners complaining about the time they have had to wait. After explaining to so many moaners that we stand waiting for boaters longer than to actually put them through up or down I gave up and saved my breath. To all the boaters who didn’t even bother to get off there boats and help I just clenched my jaws & said “enjoy your cruise “. Rant over.
    Met some lovely people too.
    Met some very

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    1. Some folk really do take the pis

      tols at dawn. If you leapt onto the stern and took over the tiller they’d just give you orders about destination and speed. Hopefully though that’s a minority – the rest of us are very grateful indeed for all assistance!

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    1. My hope was that the crowds would follow you wherever you went but it seems not to have worked… everyone around here is holidaying desperately, frantically searching for tranquility…

      I might set foot on the Llangollen soon. Just a foot, I’m not taking the Cardinal.

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    1. I am working on the Mk.III Hutson Live-Doberman-Flinging Trebuchet. Never understood why folk bother flinging rocks and dead cats when it’s possible to fling something that has teeth.

      Prepare the starving chihuahua pack for launch… enemy in sight…

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  3. Funny! But not really if you live there. This will probably be the craziest lockdown released freedom fighter weekend since they closed down the asylums in the 80s. Hope the Chandleries stocked up on bars of soap for the unwashed masses. Love that laundry boat, it certainly removes the ‘small’ out of ‘smalls’

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    1. I rather suspect that there are a lot of folk on hire-boat holidays who only booked it because it was all that they could find available… some of them look less than happy, less than holiday-content… Mind you, I’m a grumpy old bugger myself, too. 🙂


  4. Well. I guess if one must be surrounded by a crowd, it’s best to find some amusement in it. You’ll be reminiscing for the good ‘ol quiet days of the pandemic today. Perhaps one of the anglers will fall in the canal. That would be interesting to watch.

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    1. My usual organisational standards (dodgy at the best of times, the worst of times, and on dark and stormy nights &etc) slipped completely of late – I’d completely forgotten about the late May Bank Holiday AND about the little part-formed human horrors being released from confinement for something called ‘half term’. Ugh. Still, onwards and upwards. Worse things happen at sea. Also in Yorkshire.

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