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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
Just click on “stationery” or click on the images and spend spend spend* from there.
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.
Chin-chin, chaps, for the mo.
Ian H., and Cardinal W.