With Muffled Lump-Hammer

The lead image is the current view from the side-hatch. Splendid stuff.

Enjoyed a most splendid cruise the other morning. I say morning, but it was dark when I set off. My intent was to take advantage of what Her Majesty’s Met Office told me would be a lull in the gustinations, and to visit the Services in Nantwich. These services can be busy, and there’s room for two short boats or one big one. I wanted to get there early.

Dawn dawns quite late these days so I made what preparations I could in the dark, by the light of my new twelve-trillion candlepower head-torch. The Cardinal, with speeders abounding, was moored with one (doubled-up) line at the stern to a nice mooring ring, and with two doubled-up lines at the bow, sporting a total of four pins (two per line, crossed, banged in to the hilt).

Two of the pins I managed to pull out using sheer brute strength (all of those sweaty years of gym membership did pay off eventually, even if I never actually went in). The other two pins required the attentions of Mr Biggenthwacker. Since even though we were post oh-six-hundred hours o’clock but perforce long afore oh-seven-hundred hours o’sundial, the neighbours would like as not still be in their pits, dreaming of electric sheep, I muffled my lump-hammer and took pains to avoid en-clank-inating the pins as I stowed them. The Cardinal’s engine thrummmppped into life just before I reeled in the stern line. It was as much as I could so.

The it of the morning was mildy chilly [ruddy freezing] and on the rainy side of drizzling. The Cardinal’s tunnel light became the Cardinal’s headlight for the last fifteen or twenty minutes of the night, and forty minutes or so saw us at the Service wharf.

Timing was indeed all, for I had gazundered, rubbished and watered and was in the process of getting ready to move on again when the first boat appeared mithering to be moored where I was moored. They were disconvenienced for but a minute or two. By this time daylight was in such full swing as it can be during an English late October. The Cardinal and I crept slowly past the long line of (narrow) moorings through Nantwich, leap-frogged Messrs BARGUS, the fuel boat, and back out into the Cheshire countryside.

Cardinal Wolsey crosses the vast, terrifying Nantwich Aqueduct once more, October 16th 2021

It was at this point that I left the Cardinal in a bridge-hole and nipped inside to swap my coat for two coats, layered, and retrieved my favoured fingerless gloves.

By the time we made it the two more miles or so to Hack Green locks there was some little traffic about. I think that I may have stolen a chap’s lock, although I have no clear memory Your Honour. I can’t remember the order of boats going up and down, and suspiciously soon after I’d begun draining the half-empty half-full lock to be in my favour a gentleman coming down appeared. If I did nick your lock sir, then you have my sincerest apologies, for twas never intentional. The possibility only dawned on me later in the day, and I was mortified at the prospect.

The gentleman seemed cheery though, assisted me through and negated the hop skip and jump of closing the top gate. I was, at this point, being pursued up the locks by a convoy of four boats. They were still mostly busying about finding somewhere to attach themselves that wasn’t actually on top of the boat moored overnight (and more, I suspect) on the lock landing bollards… tsk tsk.

Hack Green was welcoming, but I was aiming for somewhere for the week, and continued the next (totally straight) mile to bung ourselves onto the end of the Coole Pilate area, an end without the damnable restrictions.

This was to prove to be both a blessing and a curse, the blessing being armco and a chance to make a nice litre of thick black coffee (Southern Indian blend), the absolute bulldog-licking-p*ss-off-a-fresh-nettle curse being the [Local Angling Association]. Possibly the largest collection of miserable souls this side of the River Styx, although I can only go by my personal experience of both.

On Sunday morning I stepped off the bow (backwards and sideways as is my custom to avoid percussive nobulation of the brain-bone on the steel structure) to hear – without pleasant preamble or social introduction – ‘Are you moving on?’.

I replied in similar tones and unnecessarily florid language; ‘No’, and continued to clean the solar panels.

The angler then settled himself some thirty-six old-fashioned inches off my bow, and was joined by another a similar distance from our stern. Huge trolley-loads of worm-drowning equipment was arranged as they shouted to one another (as they shouted all day). From horizon to horizon at five yard intervals; anglers.

If one discounts their uncommon and unnecessary proximity, their yelling to one another all day, their p*ssing on the towpath and their dumping of un-used bait on the beaten trail – their reluctance to make way for walkers, cyclists and dogs – then there was little of the negative to their visit. Extracts tongue from cheek and sashays off, stage left…

The occassional laugh was provided. Once in a few hours one of them would send up a cry of ‘YEEE-ESSS!’ and drag ashore some struggling, sabre-toothed, man-eating ichthyosaur of perhaps 4″ or 5″ length. Once in a while someone would stroll along to visit the angler at our bow, settling himself full-length on the grass of the towpath – right where I knew that aforesaid gentleman had emptied his bladder not five minutes earlier…

What larks!

I do hope that these anglers enjoy life, but they don’t show many outward signs of joy.

It’s a couple of miles to the next town wherein there lies a Co-operative Shop. These days of course the corporation would have you believe that it is a Coop Store, but as far as I am and ever will be concerned, a “coop” is something that hens live in, and a “store” in this context is something that trans-Atlantic persons enjoy while we have shops. I’ve walked there on a couple of occasions because it is one half of the directional possibilities for walking in these parts, and because I was in search of something to tempt the jaded taste-buds in this dismal, dismal, dull, grey, overcast weather.

Shall I stay, as hitherto planned, until next week, or shall I move on a little before the Society of Cheerful Anglers moves in again at C&RT’s request and welcome? Part of me resists the notion of changing my plans; even encourages making a “stand” (My Dear Lieutenant Colonel Custer, I write in regard to the wise strategems employed at your recent, successful stand…).

I don’t though, think that I would wish upon even my seventeenth-worst enemy a(nother) day of watching animated garden-gnomes alternately piss on the towpath in full view and hunt pilchards with string and bent paper-clips. I may mooch on, mooch on, with hope in your heart, &etc – and you-ooo-ooo-ll ne-ver moor a-gainnn…*

*Other songs with uplifting lyrics are available, mention here does not imply endorsement.

On the peregrinatory perambulation to Audlem I noticed this most magnificent mush-er-oom growing alongside the armco. Doubtless as poisonous as a canal pilchard.

The mushroom was approximately eight inches tall and thus twice as large as the average local angler’s prize catch and – from unwilling recent visual experience – four times as long as the average local angler’s penis. Jus’ sayin’, is all.

I’m going to move on, aren’t I?

I know I am.

I shall.

Since I cannot take off and nuke the whole site from orbit, mooching on is the only way to be sure.

If that last sentence sounds familiar then that is because it’s a quote from either Sigourney Weaver or Confucius, I can’t remember which, and it matters not.

Still, since I have you captive for the moment I might as well show you a small construction that I generally put out when moored, just for doggos to p*ss and even sh*t on and for no other reason, while their human keepers/servants look on with clasped hands, a wistful sigh and a heart full of pride and love.

A small construction that I put out when moored, for doggos to pss and even sht on – generally while their human keepers/servants look on with clasped hands, a wistful sigh and a heart full of love

I should add, not that it should need adding, that the doggos are wholly innocent – it is the errant humans that I tip into the canal.

Have I mentioned recently that should any of you be in first-world need of Christmas cards, jigsaw puzzles or any other of all manner of posters, prints, and wotnots of my photographs, the ones you see here and others, that I sell same worldwide at very reasonable prices?

If you feel adventurous and/or you found a dropped and abandoned debit or credit card yesterday do please go and have a look. The link below will open in a new tab.

Ian Hutson at Fine Art American (and Worldwide).

Just click on “stationery” or click on the images and spend spend spend* from there.

*Viv Nicholson.

I do believe that in the greetings cards you can even enter your own message for printing therein or thereon or thereabouts. Is that grand or what?

Oh, I see.


Oh well.

Chin-chin, chaps, for the mo.

Ian H., and Cardinal W.


  1. But why on earth would they want to eat whatever they catch? Assuming they catch anything to begin with. Unless it’s an addiction and it’s they only way they they can continue to raise their, fishing poles.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. They seem to keep their big brave catches in a net, thus stopping the things from feeding for most of the day – hunger as a piscine punishment? – and then make a great fuss about weighing them… ee by ‘eck I’ve caught me’sen twelve grammes of perchosaur today, that sort of thing. It’s all most peculiar indeed.

      They are perhaps addicted to the rich aroma of sewage and heavy metals dumped in the water by farmers and industry.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Dog muck and angler pee isn’t a patch on spandex-wearing, yuppie, blue-toothed cyclists clearing their nostrils down the side of your boat whilst in conversation with some laddish office bore on the other end of the line, as you’re actually painting the boat at the time. My only hope is that he hit the fallen tree across the towpath round the bend and sank without trace.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. There’s never a specialised nutter group around when you need one is there? While the anglers were about I damned-near -prayed- for a herd of serious alpine-pole walkers and a couple of flocks of lycra-clad cyclists, but none came. This is how I know that there is no god.

      Would that it were legally acceptable to lie atop one’s boat with a sniper rifle, removing these sorts from the gene puddle.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I don’t know what WordPress is doing, but it seems they’ve decided AGAIN to stop sending me emails when you post. I swear I’ve not unsubscribed, or done anything else naughty. I found a past email and got to your site, then kept clicking ‘next’ until I found your latest post.
    What’s going on? Has anyone else had a similar problem? It’s not only your site, but there are a couple of others I’ve ‘lost’.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. WP does this semi-regularly with annoying regularity. I keep a list of the URL’s of all the blogs I follow actively and if someone hasn’t shown up in a while I do a quick check to see if they’re still in the land of the living. . It’s a pain in the fundament to set up at first, but a tidy back-up when the WP ‘happiness engineers’, (I’m never going to refer to them without irony) turn everything tits-up again.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. WordPress has its wobbles, and probably more so on the “free” version, which this is, where my poor readers (both) are subjected to the occasional advertisement placed by wordpress. They are doubtless losing sight of their original intent and purpoe…

      Thank’ee most kindly indeed for your loyalty, tis much appreciated. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Shush! There are probably clubs of miserable lark-hunters out there too, and the last thing we want to do is to denude the countryside of larks… πŸ˜‰

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Please, please make your next article for NABO News about anglers. They do so love playing chicken with our boat passing their over sized carbon appendages.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. !!!!! There’s certainly plenty of material. I’ve cruised past half a dozen cheerful, happy, talkative anglers (and several hundred utter miseries). I’ve never been able to decide whether angling makes them miserable or whether the miserable select angling as their hobby. C&RT do allow some ridiculous occupations of the towpath – mile after mile after mile after mile of nowhere to pull in and moor because there are evenly-spaced worm-drowners drowning worms.

      There -has- to be a fun side to anglers, but I’ve never found it! πŸ˜‰


  5. As noted, the mushroom is a shaggy ink cap…neighbours in France abjured me to eat them absolutely fresh and only for breakfast as they were toxic if one had drink taken.
    Having dropped in on one such neighbour at his breakfast, i had reason to doubt. He was devouring them wholesale accompanied by a litre of rouge, Matk you I suspect he was totally pickled anyway after eighty odd years of devoted boozing…
    We found and ate oyster mushrooms growing on a dead coconut trunk here and are still alive, though this may be down to our employee promptly scraping off and destroying the others which we had destined for the next day’s breakfast – I think on the grounds that the dead did not employ him.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’ve often thought that mushrooms might be an interesting (if still unpleasant) way of [a character in a book] ending things – wander out to the woods each day with a Primus stove and a saute pan, some butter and garlic; pick and eat whatever they find. Sort of mushroom Russian roulette. Or roulade if you want to change recipes.

      Liked by 5 people

  6. We were moored behind Chester zoo earlier this year when Canal and river trust blocked the whole 48 moorings to teach teenagers to fish! Only one turned up for a lesson and several boats weren’t allowed to moor there.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Just shows C&RT’s priorities doesn’t it? It wouldn’t be so bad if this nonsense earned the canals extra money, but it doesn’t – because they couldn’t organise a bad smell in a crowded lift it all actually costs the canals money! The way these anglers last Sunday were spacing themselves there was no mooring for the whole length. C&RT need to be loaded into a leaky dinghy and pointed towards France…


  7. Mortified about nicking a lock, ’tis mere trifling. I am still mortified (several years later – I might add) from racing past a moored boat at full wack, whilst trying to outpace some oiks on the towpath. Completely missed seeing the moored boat, until the captain popped his head out and shouted at me to slow down – he looked a bit queasy, and was promptly seasick. Somehow, I got the feeling he wouldn’t like me to tell him the best way to cure seasickness. Anyways, just thinking about it makes me come over all red, embarrassed, mortified and ashamed of myself.

    The Mushroom is in fact the Shaggy ink cap. The drippy black stuff at the bottom is the “ink” and used to be used as . .. … ink.
    They are edible, but I’m not that keen on them, prefer a nice portobello, or chestnut ‘room myself.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tis easily done if your mind is on something else and once the crime has been committed there is no going back; only the gallows remain. I do my level best to move without causing anyone multiple or serious injury – and I have no idea why my brain only raised the issue with me some hours later in the day…

      Mushrooms are brilliant creatures, and I eat them whenever possible. There are two large flat mushrooms in the coolbox as I type, awaiting stuffing and summary ingestion. πŸ™‚ I constantly regret though that I have insufficient confidence in my knowledge to allow me to forage for wild mushrooms, and may eat only those in polystyrene and cellophane (or at best, a brown paper bag) that come with the assurance of a large corporate chain behind them.


      1. Same here on the Mushroom front. I did once have a very useful book called Food For Free by Richard Maybey. I lent it to someone who promptly scarpered. I also had a book called The Field Guide to Roadkill, which wasn’t bad, except that it was American, and you don’t often see squished alligators, possums, or skunk in the UK. Saying that, the first animal I ever ran over was a yellow budgie. I got either side of it with my front wheels, but then it promptly took flight, and the back wheels got it!!

        Liked by 2 people

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