Heat and Flies on the Llangollen. Also Malaria and Zombies.

We have mooched on, the Cardinal and I – and have about faced, having reached the deepest, farthest, darkest point of our trip up the Limpopo (on this occasion)…

…Thomason’s crodokile and hippotenuse-infested Watering Hole.

It is kind and generous of The Tyre Drowners to have placed such a tasteful and sympathetic signpost here indicating the Head of The Rapids. Countryside countryside countryside – huge strident-blue plastic hoarding – countryside countryside countryside. Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme millennial townies bunging up their hideous signage. Something more suited to two-hundred year-old Industrial Revolution Heritage? Perhaps a sign carved in wood by a local artisan? Or in blackened cast iron with the lettering picked out in white? Nope. Strident-blue and plastic, as everywhere. This from a venerable institution that is currently running some sort of “anti-plastics in on around and under the canals” campaign…

Janus Janus Janus, however do you manage with only two?

Beyond here anyway lies only a barren blasted wasteland inhabited by many fine holiday-boat hire companies and their splendid vessels. We’ll inspect that portion of the canal when the braying hordes have thinned out a little, and when passage through Grindley Brook is less likely to require – or to provoke – fisticuffs.

Just a couple of days ago the Cardinal and I set our alarm clock for sparrow-cough o’clock hundred hours (military time) and we pootled up some four and a half Earth miles and some five locks to Wrenbury. That was quite enough exercise for one day, thank you kindly.

It must be said that the lock gates at Baddiley Locks leak very goodiley. I barely had to open the paddles in Lock 3 to fill the chamber.

Some parts of the Limpopo are populated by the famous notorious Shrunken-Brain NIMBY Tribe…

No fewer than three of these little ‘We Wuv You” signs at the canal edge in this garden – and they are referring, of course, to mooring not alongside their garden BUT ON THE OPPOSITE SIDE OF THE CANAL! Bloated expectations of ownership, much.

…who like nothing better than to buy a house alongside a centuries-old canal and the moan constantly about “bloody canal boats”.

Another favourite hobby of the NIMBY Tribe is to find two brick walls, and to run between them, banging face-first into one and then the other, repeatedly. Like most people these days, they’ve been bred for stability in high winds, not for intelligence.

Some residents of the neighbourhood are rather more fond of the canal, and produce less in the way of manure…

They are the reason for slowing down on the canals (slowing down even more, that is) – a breaking wash from a narrowboat can easily tip over a poorly moored cow with emotional problems or with an inner-ear infection affecting its balance.

This morning we scooted on through Wrenbury Church Lift-Bridge, bunging the Cardinal’s bow on Das Wrong Side and then leaping, gazelle-like, onto the bank to wind the bridge up. Motor the Cardinal through, leap howler-monkey-style off the stern to tie up again on Das Wrong Side and wind the bridge down again. Free then to ring for maximum revs from the engine room. Full speed ahead and damn the lifeboats.

The moorings at Wrenbury Church are very nice indeed, the church bells peeling peelingly (Westminster Chimes) day and night – a little bit of England, in the distance, every quarter. The moorings do, however, lack interwebnetting signal (that said, the moorings all around Wrenbury barely have a sniff of a flying packet of aether-data anywhere).

The next lift-bridge along is the electric one on the edge of town – and holy of holies, wonder of seven or eight wonders, They have re-vamped the bridge and put the controls on the towpath side! Gobsmacked am I. Splendid job!

However, I didn’t need those controls – a friendly hodilay-hire boat appeared, coming in Das Oppositen Direction and very, very kindly operated the bridge for me. I was thus free to mooch on without overly-annoying the road traffic by making them wait for me to operate the bridge, sprint back to the Cardinal, untie, move him through, re-tie and then re-sprint back across the road to re-operate the bridge. What larks, eh? šŸ™‚ Splendid fellows. They’ve just cruised past again as I type, so I scared the bejabers out of them again by poking my head out of the back hatch and repeating my thank’ees. When you meet such cheerful gems they must be encouraged, especially in the face of The New Norm… which appears to be boaters whose faces match their sit-upons.

Of twelve moored boats passed thereafter, eight obviously occupied with folk outside, while five made full eye-contact, not a one smiled back, returned my wave or said ‘air-hair-lair fellow Hooman’ in reply. Boris et al’s work is done, human society – such as it ever was anyway – is now totally fractured.

Don’t misunderstand, there are still many fine and friendly folk about on the canals, it’s just that my godness me (sic), there are far more miserable ones than hithertofore, ere now and in times of old.

The canal gets a tad African Queen on the stretch to the Watering Hole (and not just in terms of unfriendly natives).

Could you make a torpedo, Mr Allnutt? Then please do so, Mr Allnutt.

That’s us, moored way down the end there, a couple of boat-lengths away from the winding hole and yet not directly opposite the reed encroachment that is bad enough after the abysmal encroachment nearer the bridge. We does our best. Dib dib dib.

The mosquito nets are deployed. I am considering wearing one while cruising, since I’ve already been bitten from rectum to well it didn’t do them any good – and I have “balloon hands” from being horse-flied on a couple of fingers. My just desserts, I suppose, for giving horse-flies the two-fingers.

We’re in as much shade as we can get, which while better for me does nothing for the solar panels. Needs must when the Met Office gets it so wrong. I notice that all of the lovely symbols for thunder and lightning have removed themselves from the forecast for the next few days, most sadly indeed. Rain, yes, but I suspect that it will be like standing in a warm shower. Talking of which, it’s been so warm of late that my tweed cat-flap has required daily attention, so I’ve taken to wearing it in my customary cold shower. Unlike me, the cap’s then dry in half an hour and ready again to protect my brain-gland from the nuclear ravages of the day.

If the forces of nature remain in some sort of balance we’ll be here for a few days, and then we’ll begin our fleeing, the rush back towards relative civilisation (and fewer horse-flies). Those on the boats passing in the heat of the day all appear to be dancing the dance of St Vitus, slapping at flies biting chunks out of their living(?) flesh…

…at least, I assume that’s what they’re doing.

Chin-chin for the mo, while the interwebnetting signal lasts.

Ian H., up the Limpopo with barely a paddle to his name.


    1. I’ll gather a committee and formulate a plan of action in re scoping out the Elfin Saferty and other worrying practical and socio-political, not to say financial aspects of acceding to your request for size-advantaged signery of a geographically indicative nature viz those persons not specifically local &etc.

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    1. One of these years I’ll get to cruise the Llangollen without looking like a poorly-drawn cartoon character. Perhaps. I loathe horse-flies, by the time I realise I’m under attack they’ve thrown down their napkin, tipped the waiter and gone. They’re also very chewy if you swallow one.

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  1. Do you think the po faced boaters are those who have had to relinquish their fortnight on the Canal du Midi for a term of punishment on the reed infested waters of the tyre drowners?

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    1. There’s a distinct element of that this year with a lot of folk on hire boats who really do not want to be on a boat.- or at least, as you say, a boat here. Some of them though just looked as though they hadn’t been long out of the trees and feeling vulnerable at ground level near water.

      My trouble is, I think, that I was trained in social ways in the days when the world population was but three thousand million, rather than the eight or nine “billion” of today, and when the population of the Benighted Kingdom was but fifty or so milliode. It’s possible that I am enjoying a severe case of Geriatric Displacement.

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  2. There was a chap just outside Lancaster who would stalk down his back garden with a shotgun and threaten anybody who moored up opposite his house. (The police never seemed to do anything about it. Presumably we have different laws in Lancashire for people threatening others with guns.) I couldn’t help thinking that he might have been more suitable in a different house really…somewhere not on the canal, perhaps…or preferably in the bottom of a very large pit, filled with concrete.

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    1. Messrs Police & Co seem only to walk the Beat of Least Resistance these days – except when pretending to be riot cops and silencing unapproved protests (somme protests seem to be more equal than others in this respect).

      I do like to publicise those folk who bung up notices agin the Hoi and the Polloi mooring in certain places – there is a happy band of boaters who then make it a point…

      There’s a geezer on a boat on garden-end moorings on the (local) Shroppie who behaves in a similar way, throwing apples at boats that dare to moor opposite him. It’s like a red rag to a bull.

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        1. Many’s the happy afternoon I’ve spent dashing up and down the roof of the Cardinal, tennis club in hand, returning his serve… Wimbledon was never so healthy, even when it was held at Wentworth in Somerset.

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        1. This does explain why we have never been invaded by the Martians or any other extra-terrestrial species – they came, they saw, they went away again shaking their(multiple) heads and muttering about “primitives”.

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    1. A wrong turn? All of my life…! I like to think that if there’s some sort of cock-up-in-waiting I’ve taken it down from the shelf, dusted it off and given it a damned good go. šŸ˜‰

      Seriously though (huh? meh!) the Tyre Drowners Ltd leave all manner of things such as vegetation clearance to a formalised army of sturdy but busy volunteers. There are many stretches of canal that are more reeds than water, usually in the most awkward of places. Anyone not knowing how much the Tyre Drowners love boaters might be fooled into thinking that it’s some sort of deliberate discouragement technique… šŸ˜‰

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  3. I know this heat is getting to me but is there a bit of a duplicaton here?


    1. There was indeed – I am trying to put this up with naff all signal – but it ought to have gone now… I hope. šŸ™‚ Those “cookies” and “cache” being what they are though, well…


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