A misty morning spent cruising in the company of robins and kingfishers and squirrels.

This is what “cruising” is all about. Forget the insane nonsense of the The Canal Company Ltd and their desire to chase us all around the system stopping only briefly to put coin into the coffers of commercial enterprise. Race along so that you can tick off having “cruised all of the canals” if you wish. You will though have missed the best, and I believe firmly in quality not quantity.

Bona. Chuffing. Fide. Quality. As per the 1995 Waterways Act.

I cruised all of just shy of two miles at first light this morning, and all of it at tickover, taking me about an hour from start to finish. I got to enjoy the day beginning, the engine running more slowly but for longer gave the Cardinal’s batteries a better head-start on things. Had anyone appeared on the canal behind me I would have pulled over and waved them past, but there was not another boat moving. Not even a slow boat made of china.

The robins were round little balls of feathers with a beak and two matchstick legs; puffed up against the cold. The kingfishers, brilliantly coloured as ever, were sluggish and (relatively) slow, having not yet had a chance to warm their bones. I got to watch them birding for real, rather than just noticing a splash of blue fly by. The squirrels, and there were many, all grey, gave not a jot about my cruising past, being themselves too eager for breakfast on the towpath and in the trees.

That is Mr Sun trying to poke his sleepy head above the horizon.

The mist, such as it was, was nobbut a ground-mist gathered in the troughs of the rolling Cheshire fields, and contained by the hedgerows (occasionally over-topping, trying to escape onto the canal and reminding me of the film The Fog).

It doesn’t get better than this.

It does get different, an early-morning cruise in Summer or Spring having quite another flavour altogether.

It would have been a mortal sin, I think, to rush on a day like today.

I met, as I always do, the underwater obstruction that blights the (missing-)bridge hole shown below. With everything on this old constriction-construction being at some discordant angle I have yet to find a way through that doesn’t bless the Cardinal’s baseplate with a clonk, fresh blacking or no, and all that can be done is to minimise the mystery under-water scrape (and to avoid everything else, most especially the concrete and ancient-brick sides with their playful changes and angles).

The resultant view from the side-hatch was quite spectacular though. England may have permanently blotted its copybook in many ways as far as I am concerned, but you can’t fault the scenery…

The light, low mist was aided and abetted by the early sunshine – let’s hear it for the Sun, we haven’t seen much of him these past weeks. Hip hip – huzzah. Three or four hours of cheer-giving nukular radiation is better than nowt. Even in a world that’s gone full ginger and pomcletely its tup.

Not ten minutes after I bunged the Cardinal on a centreline and leapt off to get what phomatographs I could while I could he managed to get himself photographed on these moorings… a chap in the blurry far-distance over the canal, on the marina’s wee pathway, dressed in hi-vis… and that’s all of the description I can give you, Occifer…

Of course, I wasn’t wearing my best chewing-spectacles, the chap might just have loved the look of the Cardinal and wanted a photo for all I know. Ten. Chuffing. Minutes. Is that fame or notoriety? I tells yah, the Cardinal’s a paparazzi magnet. Or something. Probably something.

Still, a misty morning filled with robins and kingfishers and squirrels and queace and piet, eh? What better? Nun Finer.

The hedgerows, all neatly trimmed in these parts (is Cheshire sponsored by Victor Kiam and Remington?), produced some interestibode patterns…

…as did the fences…

To add to the oo-yes indeed of the morning I treated myself to another litre of my favourite coffee once properly moored up. Don’t worry; there’s still some blood in my caffeine.

The plan [Plan mate? There ain’t no plan… *Mad Max reference, original – and only decent – film] is to await the be-meeting of and with Messrs Bargus the Fuel Boat, and to take upon a re-fill of the old dinosaur remains sufficient to see us past the Silly Season. Fnigers corssed. The best-laid men of mice and plans, what?

Then I mun oik us on again before Thursday – my fourteen days in this “neighbourhood” – and find some wheres in which to lose myself until Spring has sprunged.


Chin-chin for the mo, Muskies. Do please keep on keeping on, if for no other reason than it seems to annoy a lot of people if you do.

Ian H., and Cardinal W. Adrift on the “High C” of life.


  1. It’s enough to make you go all misty-eyed. That said – seriously wonderful photothingys, scenery and accompanying description. Merry Christmas, Ian; God bless us, every one – enjoy the sprouts. And have the best possible 2022.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. A very happy and successful New Year to you. πŸ™‚ Please dig out some more history for us all. Sprouts Rule Yule.


  2. Speaking of kingfishers (which you did briefly) I recall once, cruising along somewhere up Garstang way, becoming caught up in my own personal cloud of the little buggers (I didn’t even know that kingfishers flocked together until that point – what drove them to surround the boat that morning I couldn’t even hazard a guess); all swooping and skimming in flashes of blue and orange alongside the old tub. It was a memorable experience, like being at the centre of some electrical neon storm.

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    1. My copy of Bradshaw’s suggests that when kingfishers swoop en masse to confuse it is usually because they are distracting you while one of them pinches the 13kg gas bottle from your bow locker…

      One that I miss on these moorings is the moorhen – a variety that I am very fond of even though it’s drab, because it simply gets on with living, refuses to beg at the side-hatch and if there’s a crowd of other birds about then they generally make themselves scarce.

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  3. ‘Tis a fine eye you have, sir, for the morning light. Magnificently done. πŸ™‚ … as for the ”oomins – bugger the lot of ’em … almost all of ’em. πŸ™‚

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    1. Thank’ee ma’am, most kindly. When Hollywooden spoke so loudly and so often in its products of a “zombie” apocalypse I naturally didn’t think further than eaters of brains… little did I know that an overwhelming proportion of the population would indeed become zombies, but of an unrecogniseable type, having no interest in brains at all… I am happy here in my little cloud of internet online bloggery pokery, where things are much different. πŸ™‚

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    1. Thank’ee. I couldn’t resist leaping off the Cardinal to wander back and forth enjoying the spectacle. The misty fields were at the end of the cruise and were all done with within half an hour when the (still weak) sun rose higher and the effect was lost.

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    1. Thank’ee most kindly, the mist and light were perfect yesterday morning (while this morning is dull and heavy and grey and oppressive)!


    1. When this Chipperfield’s side-show began in full and earnest I was initially taken in by it, then I found myself surprised and disappointed at how little thought most folk gave to even the obvious – and now I am one step deeper, being utterly amazed at not the lack of thought, but at the sheer bloody amount of hard work most people are prepared to put into -not- thinking about – anything-, ever.

      The ostrich may have the reputation, but we humans take the biscuit.

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  4. What beautiful pictures, love the autumnal colours, and the redeeming feature of this spoilt country, you are right is the amazing countryside. Let us hope HS2 doesn’t damage too much of it before we can rid ourselves of the Master Disaster in charge. You may be taking pictorial evidence for future generations.

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    1. I wish for the day when every -every- politician, every bureaucrat, every plutocrat, and every little traffic-warden analogue in hi-vis (anyone in hi-vis who isn’t performing a manual task near traffic…) meets Madame Guillotine. There can be no redemption for them now, they have (criss-)crossed the rubicon and the dfie is cast. If we want life to be in any way comfortable or “good” again we must dump the system in its entirety.

      The cruise-ette yesterday was a most delicious break from the nonsense… right up until not more than ten minutes after I moored up, and some hi-vis jackanapes sprang out of the marina and not only logged the Cardinal in his splendid winter isolation on these moorings but photohgraphed us as well – doubtless for Canal Company Ltd Records. They have a knack for somehow syphoning the joy out of everything.


    1. With a serendipity available only to The Universe, just as I began to type this a “Hooray Henry” boat came speeding past, H & W (presumably) on the stern, arguing loudly as they doubtless have since Tarquin, their only child, was born forty or more years ago… The sort who are not happy unless everyone around is “noticing” them! πŸ™‚ Sheesh, imabitch!


    1. The light was amazing – when I moored up I left the Cardinal on just a quick centre-line, so that I wouldn’t miss the moment. I don’t think that he minded… πŸ˜‰

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