one way or another.
Her Maj’s “government” handed C&RT two-thousand miles of Industrial Heritage, an open-air museum vastly larger than Beamish, some parts of which still function commercially, the rest populated with eager, living, moving, self-sustaining, photogenic, tourist-pleasing exhibits ranging from “cute” to “downright peculiar, but I’m glad I’ve seen it”. On top of the gift was a very large wedge of repeating cash, and a huge portfolio of land and property.
C&RT sipped their latte, took a nibble at their courgette-compote-with-celery-dressing, and replied ‘Hmm – we could grow daisies and buttercups and ickle bunny wabbits on the more horrid bits in the wastelands between cities and towns, and elsewhere, where it’s much easier to get to, we can pave the edges of the big long pond thing – the whatchermacallit – the “canal” – and then we can ride up and down it in skin-tight lycra with rolled up socks tucked where our nuts ought to be, trying for personal best times between Starbucks and Prêt-a-Cucumber. The smelly boats and boaters, and those horrid old buildings will have to go though. Yeah? Where do we get our lawyers to sign, and may we pleasey-weasy have some of that cash in advance, to pay the lawyers bill?’
New (“new”!) policy – no trimming, except in approved (time-restricted) mooring areas and one or two of the more cute lock thingies. It’s for the wildlife, apparently.
Let us be generous. 2,000 miles of canal, all rural. 3 yards from canal to hedgerow (!). 1,760 yards to a mile. 10,560,000 square yards. 3,097,600 square yards to a square mile.
3.4 square miles. A hugely generous assumption. In truth it’s probably well under a square mile in total, in strips one or two yards wide.
England alone without the assistance of Wales is 50,337 square miles.
So, in order to give mating privacy to what? Three randy bees and a dandelion, some 36,000 boaters and gawds alone know how many holiday hire-boaters now leap off into the unknown. Is there actually a towpath under there? Given the state of repair that’s hardly guaranteed. Am I about to plant my favourite Gucci spangled sandals in some vast, hidden pile of dog-eggs?
Can I hold onto the centreline with my teeth in a breeze long enough to get the strimmer out to then be able to see where I am kneeling down to attach a couple of mooring lines? I’m kneeling and I can smell dog-eggs, but I can’t see them. That’s it, just lean forward a little more… don’t use one hand to steady yourself, use it to bat away the grasses and the insects instead, it’ll be fine, trust us – we’re a canal company.
It has been suggested that we each trim our own shrubberies, so to speak, and that’s a most excellent idea – a lot of folk do just that. However, how the hecky-heck do I moor up safely in the first place, the later to trim the overgrowth?
Leap off the boat holding an open pair of garden shears?
The Watery Wellness Trust Ltd have just emailed me to say that yes, in my case, they’d love me to leap off my boat holding open garden shears, just until something happens.
These are England’s canals, not the Zambezi or the Limpopo.
Up until five minutes ago the WWT Ltd was handing out ten year contracts for grass cutting.
There are already hundreds of miles where it is impossible for mortal man to moor. The towpath has crumbled, reeds have encroached, and in some cases because of the wild growth (much more than shown above, years of neglect) you can’t even see the towpath from the canal and vice versa, let alone get the boat near to the edge (never been dredged, the glorious leader being on record as stating that he has no intent to ever dredge anywhere other than the time-restricted “visitor” moorings).
Call me a cynical old Hector if you will, but could this possibly, just possibly be a cheap and dirty tactic by those boat & boater-loathing folk at C&RT Corporate to reduce the options for boaters even further, and thus drive us away?
No, no – it’s because we love bumbly bees and flatulent flutterbies and rare mothy-things and snails and bandylions and cutterbups. We is green!
Yes, well, C&RT may be thoroughly “green”, but I’m not so.
Love wildlife on our little 3.4 square miles by not trimming under or near the headgerows, by – and here’s a revolutionary notion – planting trees on the hundreds of miles of totally neglected, utterly un-tended embankments and cuttings, to replace the ones that fall over from sheer old age, regularly blocking the cut and causing landslips.
Love wildlife by not bunging tarmac on top of anything that SUSTRANS points at.
[…and just wait until SUSTRANS realises that all of the rural sections are now no-go areas unless you’re on a mountain-bike with a forward-firing flame-thrower…]
Mind you, what can one expect from metropolitan types when even the sky is used these days for blatant displays of separatist politics?
Rant over, and before anyone calls me a miserable old anti-nature duddy-fud, that English meadow-effect next-the-armco would look brilliant and be much appreciated – were it only on the opposite side of a wide towpath, under an equally rampant hedgerow.
There’s a time and a place for most things.
Now, where may I purchase two machetes and one of those crossed-holster things that will keep the handles conveniently over my shoulders?
It’s going to be a warm one today.
It’s going to get hotter still, I think, for “no win no fee” legal types.
Broken ankle you say, madam? Do come in. Ah – your little doggie jumped off the bow and then there was a lot of grass-rustling and something that sounded like velociraptors eating something crunchy and you haven’t seen Foo-Foo Floppypops III since but her diamonte collar turned up next day floating in the canal in a little patch of blood-coloured water? £Do£ £come£ £in£ £kerching£…
Dare I say it, what of walky-walky sticks? What of pushy-pushchairs? What of wheelchair users? What – horror of horrors – of a bumboid bee wheelchair user out with her family, enjoying the countryside, hubby struggling with the youngsters in a little double-decker bee-pushchair?
What, more importantly, of miserable old farts who have to use a trolley to drag comestibles to their boat?
Chin-chin, chaps and chappesses.