Face to Face with a Fox

There are Benny Menefits to living on Ing-er-lund’s canals. One of these many such is that, once in a while, while on an early-morning Perambulation of Inspection, I see some great wildlife. This morning’s treat was a large adult, extremely healthy-looking fox. Mr Fox was bumbling along at the trot on the other side of the canal at Hurleston top, saw me, stopped, locked eyes with me for thirty or so seconds, and then vanished as swiftly as he had arrived.

Big grin? Yes, I very nearly broke my face.

Just to add the little glacé cherry to the top of my morning fairy-cake, while Fox and I were communing, a rabbit took the opportunity to scoot across the field behind Mr Fox, presumably rapidly back to the relative safety of relatives in the warren.

No photogramataph of course, since even if I’d tried it would have broken the spell. I just enjoyed the experience instead, and you’ll have to a., take it on trust and b., imagine it yourself.

I’d only sashayed down there to fetch a pail of potable water, dump a bag of rubbish and have a swift butchers at the Hurleston Flight in a spot of early sun and mist.

Bridges 1 and 1A of the Llangollen Canal, England. 2021.

Oh, and to enjoy some of You Know Who Ltd.’s contributions to the scenery.

First person to mention the phrase ‘control freaks’ will be given a fresh pilchard and asked to leave the lecture hall.

The signs say something about “all left-handed boats needing to be kept south of the Maginot Line but east of Corpus Christi except on the sixth Sunday after the Festival of Thribble Moo Wibble de-Clomp”. You know that you’re in the hands of some corporate pathology when the yoovill and yoovon’t orders are carried over onto das next wooden post.

Given that they’re blethering on about some campaign to “reduce plastics in the canals” I can’t help but think it tragic and hilarious that they’ve spent the past two years bunging up manifold items of ‘orrible blue plastic themselves. If only they’d really been bunging it up themselves. Oh Lord, the giftie gi’ us, tae see oorselves as others see us… [but not me, because I;mperf ect].

So. Hurleston Reservoir eh? Him heap big puddle. Am I still allowed to say things like that, or am I guilty of “cultural appropriation”? Eighty-five million gallons of wet stuff, replenished each day from the Llangollen Canal to the tune of Crimond twelve million gallons (all tasty-fresh farm run-off, sewage-farm discharge and cattle pee, with a little fresh water from the River Dee mixed in for flavour – oh, and incl whatever we boaters put into it, too…), keeping the Shropshire Union Canal topped up (generally, life offers no guarantees), and supplying nourishing and fruity yum-yum tap-water to all of the towns hereabouts.

One week’s supply in store.

Hurleston Reservor, England, 2021

Also used by fish resident in the reservoir for mating and pooing purposes.

For all I know there are also pooing porpoises in there, matey.

Strange building Number One. All water reservoirs must have at least one strange building that no-one really knows the true purpose of.

The rusty old weir over which the twelve million gallons a day flows usually strains out most of the more Welsh lumps. The Welsh have never really liked the English.

I did notice one item of detail that nobody else seems to have missed either.

Someone’s bright idea, Bridge 1, Llangollen Canal, England.

Whoever thought that not one but two plastic pipes with plastic fittings, poking out into the narrows of Bridge 1 on the Llangollen, the The Canal for the Insane, was “a really good idea” probably also designed the Ford Edsel and the Short-Horned Woolly Platypus.

Can you see this engineering marvel, at the water-line, just below the railings?

It’s probably just the mains water supply for Leighton Hospital or something. Scroll back to the earlier photograph and note the shape of that bolt alongside…

Once I’d finished my task-ettes and thoroughy grokked communing with a fox (whee!) I scooted back to the Cardinal and past, scoping out some moorings around the next bend. Then I oiked the Cardinal onto them. All done and coffee on the rear deck by 0700hrs. We’re “good to [not-] go” here for another forty-eight Earth hours, by which time – I hope upon hope – I’ll have made my mind up about this “itsacontactsportinnit” nonsense of the Llangollen.

Until I do make up my cranial-gland I’m not taking one step past the next winding hole!

We were, of course, royally rammed yesterday – an Anglo-Welsh “Constellation Class” scattered about with pi*ssed Hooray-Wannabees. Middle of a decent straight stretch of canal, no wind, no other traffic, and the [what shall we do with the] Sunken Drailers still leave dents and scratches on me. They were – as “Constellation Class” customers tend to be – gobby, too, and disinclined to come to terms with their steering shortcomings. They didn’t reduce speed before or during the ramming, and they didn’t reduce speed afterwards with any intention of seeing what damage they might have done or to – gosh, what? Oh yes – apologise.

The uber-great versus uber-bad distribution of holiday hireboat companies follows the usual bell-curve, and Anglo-Welsh are, in my personal experience, right at the bell end of the curve. They’re so consistent that it has to be some sort of conscious corporate policy.

Windy or in traffic or, worse, in both, then yep – everyone strays off the line sometimes, and in those circumstances, nobody really minds an unavoidable clonk (with a preference for rubbing-strip to rubbing-strip).

Stray and ram because you’re both arrogant and pi*ssed though? Swivel, Doris, swivel. Third time rammed this season, third time a boat from that same company.

The canal at these moorings – and I’ve only put the proverbial boating toe onto the Llangollen, really – is probably slightly narrower than the previous moorings. I’ll do my best to give it a couple of days before either joining the dark side entirely and going deeper into the jungle, or turning about and rushing back to (relative) civilisation.

Meanwhile – with my apologies to Canada, for whom this will be “yer ‘avin’ a larf, intcha?” – England has been in the chuffing high seventies and eighties Fahrengezundheiting, with humidity. Today is posted to be of the order of 86°F. Which is why I got done what needed to be done early.

Also why I have the rinky-dinky wee slow-cooker on with a nice, hot, curry.

If it was good enough for Mother and her regiment during the Indian rebellion of fifty-seven* then it’s good enough for me on a “warm” summer day in England.

*Eighteen fifty-seven.


Ian H., and Cardinal W. Both with fenders out all over the place, and each sporting a slightly haunted expression.


  1. We have a couple of foxes that frequent our garden every night. I like foxes, but our eldest cat doesn’t. It’s cost us a fortune in vets’ bills over the years, because, to be fair, the foxes always win.

    We have a couple of hedgehogs that like to help themselves to the cats’ leftovers as well. (At this time of year our cats like to have picnics on the lawn.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You have hedgehogs that like left-over cold chicken, champagne and Stilton & Truffle trifle? Do they eat it from the same gingham table-cloth as the cats? Aren’t you afraid that the chandeliers may fall and injure on of them?

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  2. It must have been a temptation to follow the Constellation Class with a hefty baseball bat and make a few of them see stars. You can bet if you’d been reported as the offending rammer they”d have looked to you to recover damages for any repairs. A video showing yourself to be moored up during the collision might help your side, next time.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Reminds me of happy student sailing days on the Norfolk Broads…a calamity a day guaranteed and the men from the boatyard hardly out of the water before returning to extricate another motor cruiser from a close embrace with the bridge at Potter Heigham…

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Someone must have made a good living out of producing little signs to be affixed to boats reading ‘This boat not to be taken under Potter Heigham Bridge’…

      Liked by 3 people

  4. Anglo Welsh. Who’d have thunk it. Now reach my levels of achievement and get blocked by them on twitter for daring to criticise their boats 🤣

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jebus H., it’s terrifying. 70′ hire boat in one direction goes full reverse alongside, [thankfully-]’ much smaller hire boat in t’other direction scrapes all along the side of the boat moored in front of me, then goes into full reverse and still manages to bury bow in the gap twixt me and the other moored boat’s bow (we’re sharing a mooring ring…) – hits so hard that it bounces out, spins, smacks the stern end… and then bounces out again to miss the Cardinal by a molecule.

      Funniest part was the woman on the smaller hire-boat, obviously trying to prepare some sort of lunch – pots, pans, food, the woman herself – all went flying. God knows where the spatula went. The expression on her face truly indicated that, for her, the Earth was moving. Best sex she’d ever had in her life, and on a boat, too…

      Liked by 2 people

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