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.
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.